Guest Post By Stephanie Pollaro, President & Founder of International Sanctuary.
I write to you from a land that seems simultaneously frozen in time and speeding towards technology and innovation.
Mumbai India—where ox carts, huts, coconut stands are surrounded by skyscrapers, BMWs, electronic stores. INDIA–where the “rag picker” who now collects plastic for recycling passes the time listening to MP3s. INDIA—where more people own cell phones than toilets (59% vs 47%).
No longer isolated from the rest of the world the new generation of Indians are using internet, TV, and cell phones to connect with new ideas, trends, and current events. Technology is allowing the common person access to a world once reserved for the privileged few. India is a word-of-mouth culture and has taken to using social media to promote ideas and things. It reminds me of Godin’s Purple Cow, only since this is about India let’s call it a Holy Cow. In fact, I had my very own Purple/Holy Cow moment where I actually saw a cow and told everyone I knew about it… Really I’m not joking. However where my story deviates from Godin’s story is that it wasn’t a purple cow that I saw it was a 5 legged cow.
Yes… a 5 legged cow! And I told everyone about it… But when I told my friends in India about the unique creature I had encountered, most, if not all, were far from impressed. But when I returned home my story of the supernumerary cow was a show stopper! People loved seeing the pictures and hearing my story. This made me realize a couple things about idea implementation:
- Know your culture. Who is your target market? Who is going to catch your excitement and buy in to the idea and push for its realization? Also, remember what may be remarkable to one group of people can be lackluster to another.
- What is the best way to get them excited about your idea? Word of mouth, advertising, or Facebook. It used to be that the 65+ crowd didn’t have email and was terrified of Facebook but now seniors are the fastest growing demographic on the social media site. Of course as the seniors glom on to FB their grandchildren are seeking new and more innovated ways to communicate. Who’s attention are you trying to get? Are you using the right methods to get and hold their attention?
- Finding your 5 legged Holy Cow is great but maintaining the excitement over that new “thing” is really challenging. Staying up with all the new social media sites, trends, apps etc is vital in this quick changing and ever shrinking world we live in.
Once this has been contemplated all that remains is setting goals, creating an action plan, acquiring the necessary authorizations, developing an escape plan, creating a budget and getting the starting capital….Oh, that’s all, huh?!
Stephanie’s extended bio:
Stephanie Pollaro’s passion for empowering women and children suffering in the bonds of sexual slavery was born from a magazine article that she read in May 2003. The article outlined the brutality of human sex trafficking in India and around the world. After several short trips to India and a one-year volunteer stint with an Indian NGO in Andhra Pradesh that served women and girls in red light districts, Stephanie was struck by the need to provide skills training and employment alternatives for young women rescued from forced commercial sexual exploitation.
International Sanctuary is the realization of Stephanie’s dream to create a business that helps those freed from enslavement to sustain themselves with marketable artisan skills. Originally a California resident, Stephanie has lived in Mumbai, India since 2006, where she works with young women ages 14-25 rescued from commercial sexual exploitation; establishing a sanctuary center is where trafficking survivors come on a daily basis to learn the art of jewelry-making. In addition to driving International Sanctuary’s strategic direction as president, Stephanie is responsible for providing much of the first-person care and training to the girls who participate in iSanctuary’s programs.
Stephanie holds a Master’s degree in Counseling from California State University Long Beach, and was selected as one of OC Metro Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 Business Entrepreneurs of 2009.” It is Stephanie’s objective to see girls living lives free of bondage and full of hope.