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Pluto Matters. Musings from #BIF2015

The world is flooded with the notion that story is the key to finding and discovering the next great idea, exposing your true business model, and exploring the landscape of a deep problem. At Business Innovation Factory’s 2015 event in Providence, this concept hit the pavement and left many parts of my brain raw, exposed, and ready to dig deeper into what I was experiencing.

Judge a Person’s Heart, not a Person’s Part.

At a pivotal moment of self reflection, Cat (Founder and CEO of Defy Ventures) brought up two of her recent program graduates. To break the ice, she asked them to describe their start up idea.

Carol was a demure woman, you could pass her on the street and instantly want to grab a cup of coffee with her. She presented as shy on stage, with a bright and vibrant smile. She was approachable, embraceable, and soft spoken. I was drawn in and captured, confident in her business presentation — I also REALLY wanted her to hand over the tasty treats she mentioned on stage were part of her new culinary company. I was invested in her success and the pride she reflected in telling her dream to the room.

Carol had just served 20 years for murder.

A stinging shock and audible response sprung through me.

I gasped when she said it. Carol had acted through a 3rd party after finding out her husband at the time was touching their daughter. That news seemed to soften my stinging self, but ultimately — it was a visceral moment of awareness and education on just how swiftly judgments will happen in the workplace, the school, the park, the world — and how human the voice is behind the excerpt of the whole.

Cat is on a quest to help the prison system recidivism rates (a fancy term for the number that represents those returning to prison after being there once before). Her program — Defy Ventures — creates a community of support, training, and business start-up funding for those who have served time to society and want the opportunity to do something more. The curriculum costs something like $330 per person and in 5+ years now, it has a 98% success rate for keeping people out of the prison system and contributing to society with steady jobs and new businesses. It’s awesome. I can’t wait to find a way to contribute meaningfully to their work.

Judge a person’s heart, not a person’s part.

Pluto Matters.

Speaking of judgments, poor Pluto.
It’s really been through the judgment triathlon.

Multiple times during BIF15, the speakers mentioned Pluto and shared the new images we have of Pluto and reflected on its great presence as a small planet/being/object/star/thingamajig.

Stepping back, I became aware of just how much Pluto meant to how we think about things. In real-time, for most of our lives, Pluto has been a blurred image that is now in crisp HD footage. We judged it, gave it a label, and assigned expectations for it as a result.

But then, Pluto rebelled.

By volume, Pluto takes up less volume than the moon we all look at each night. It is some 38 times farther away from the Sun than Earth. Yet, here it sits as a most-known orb. Pluto challenges us to expand horizons and think differently, not just about what a definition means but in how we create and categorize systems — and planets. The wisdom gained from our ability to stay open to and take in new information drives great things, like embracing Pluto for whatever it wants to be.

Pluto matters.

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This post originally appeared on Medium.com/@MsWZ