Brandel, Scholtz, Williams, and Zapeda are all co-founders and CEOs of their own enterprises that each exist to solve a real-world problem. By the end of 2016, they were each fed up with the unicorn paradigm that’s dominant in Silicon Valley: that the highest good is finding, starting, or investing in unicorn companies that exist for the sake of exponential growth, 10x returns, and a quick exit. By the time the four met through a series of serendipitous encounters, each of them had been working on alternative models and narratives. They decided to join forces to give name and shape to their shared vision for an alternative business culture. They chose the zebra as their symbol, because, as Brandel and Zepeda explain, “they are not black and white, but both, combining profit and purpose; they come in many different stripes; are collaborative as well as fierce; and represent the ethos of solving real-world, systemic problems rather than chasing a quick buck.”
In March 2017, the team published the movement’s manifesto, “Zebras Fix what Unicorns Break.” It immediately struck a chord. In the nine months that followed, they raised close to $150,000 from government, investors, companies, entrepreneurs, and leading foundations like MacArthur, Knight, Rockefeller, and Long Now to convene over 250 founders, funders, and thought leaders to DazzleCon, their 2017 inaugural conference in Portland, Oregon. “DazzleCon is not ‘our’ conference,” says Scholtz, “but the expression of the answer to our question ‘I wonder how many others think and feel as we do?’ It’s our effort and offering to create a generous, welcoming container where we can co-create the community and tools that entrepreneurs like us need and want.”
Favorite leadership advice
“Leadership is the willingness to be yourself in all circumstances, and to create an environment for others to do the same. Not leaving your true self and desires at the door gives permission for others to bring their full vision forward, too.” — JB
What are the key traits of a truly conscious leader?
“They treat others as others wish to be treated. They do so by caring enough to actually ask how others wish to be treated, and they are extraordinary listeners.” — JB
You can read the entire article, featuring all 30 amazing women, online at Conscious Company Media