Empowering hoovers or how to open-source the creation of ecosystems

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Just like traditional entrepreneurs are good at micro-management, macro managers (I call them hoovers) are good at mapping out and organizing entire ecosystems. It’s the children of the next generation, this is the potential that refugees and digital migrants carry within them. They have seen, felt and understood in a very short period of time how flexible a system can be – also in a negative way – that everything is manmade and that often no one really has the key or the answer we are looking for. In the last years I personally also began to understand that money isn’t everything if you don’t have a common set of values as a base of communication with the people around you that allows you to live in freedom and in peace. My mother is from Greece, a country that despite massive financial support remains in a crisis today.

There is massive potential in the people around us if we enable them to support us in forming structures in underdeveloped regions, simply because no one can grasp the pain points of a dysfunctional system better than those who had to flee from it – who had to leave their lives behind. Refugees have gone through a type of education that can grow massive positive impact around the world if we enable those who possess this potential to use it to build the base for a better future.

Growing up as the only girl in a family that was financially very well off, I also had a cultural conflict to fight within myself. My heart kept telling me to go to Africa and build – but I had barriers in my mind that were asking me to take things slow – my surrounding kept telling me not to move so much, not to build so quickly, not to take authority of so many things..but it was just so effective! In my head I was not allowed to be too radical, too ‚robin hood’ but it was killing me inside. Many moments passed by in which I knew I could have prevented bad things from happening by using my ability as a ‚hoover’ but I refrained from doing so because I was embarrassed, felt it was not allowed or was just simply told that I am being extremely rude – today I understand that people simply still don’t get what it is I’m doing. In a way I am grateful for that.

It’s was difficult to always feel wrong – not wanting to fit in, rebelling against the normal and organized life as we know it. I was dating a wonderful man, I had rented an apartment that I was about to move into together with him and he had even bought me a dog! In a way, it was the life that every girl could only have dreamed of, but it wasn’t for me.

Today I find it unfortunate that I had to rip things off like a bandage. Looking back, I would rather have liked to be able to say that this life just isn’t for me and that I am made to create and to use my life in order to make a difference in this world, but emotions and instincts are sometimes hard to understand, particularly when they disrupt a culture.

It took a number of big bangs between my ex-partner and myself until we reached the point of no return that I really couldn’t explain for a very long time. The truth is that characters are different and paths of life are different. I am in no way wrong because of what I want and who I am, maybe I’m slightly crazy but I feel today that if I am able to use this craziness to form structures and organize ecosystems in different parts of the world for me this is enough. It is very hard to replicate my ability and after all I am in a position to change the world. I am proud to be part of this first generation of hoovers and it’s okay that it’s still sometimes a phenomenon that’s hard to be explained.

There are great micromanagers out there and I am not one of them. I have found my place. My team consists of people around the world who have learned to function and coordinate based on a mutual set of values. They don’t work for money but because they know that with every step we take together we change the world and if we don’t do it there might be other people with worse intentions who are also very capable and who will build other forms of structures in order to provide stability for individuals. This is what ISIS does and in a way, Trump seems to possess interesting patterns of a hoover too – but I don’t know if this is too far stretched…Still researching.

No hoover planned to make this type of life happen and some people have to leave the field again because they need to make a living and a life in a different way, or because they find it psychologically too challenging to be under so much pressure.

Those who stay become something like a family – we are the first generation and if we stand up for what we believe in, if we are brave and manage to give this knowledge to other people, if we listen to those who have gathered experiences of extreme mobility and the collapse of social, economic and political ecosystems we can quantify positive developments around the world by unlocking the unbelievable potential that sleeps inside of those who know just how important it is to create a better future for all.

I live on an unstructured island to play a part in structuring my home country as best as I can. Samos is located 1000 meters from the borders to Turkey. In three months, the community and I managed to build a new university, a remote healthcare station, we implemented wifi in the refugee camp and grew a global network of support that drives motivation to the region – despite of the difficult preconditions.

Every beginning is hard but we all know that we need to start somewhere and step by step we will grow – it’s a marathon, we need to think differently, communicate and work together. We’re in it for the long run because this is about a better future for ourselves and for our children.

I commute between non-structured regions and organized ecosystems such as Germany because I believe in the fact that one should be an ambassador of the values one wants to see in this world. This is what it means to lead and if we don’t personally begin to become ambassadors of a better future, then who else will? Why do we expect others to make changes and don’t try to shape the world in a positive way ourselves?

It’s not possible to be a good hoover from scratch because this is something that cannot be learned today. There is no theory on this but I might just start writing and pinning down results, methods, experiences and theories. along the way towards improving my ability.

I would like to end this piece by telling you that if you can identify with the things that I described in this article you are not crazy – you are not wrong – you are creative and you have gathered experiences that have made you grow into the person you have become. Maybe you are part of our first generation too. Please use your creative energy to change the world for the better – you will soon see that you can build in a peaceful way and that there is no reason to be angry when everything is possible…you can also always reach out to me and I’ll do my best to help you figure out a way forward.

Dear readers, please encourage people to communicate more – both online and offline, with others who don’t fit into traditional economic, social, educational or other standards – the so-called ‚misfits’ of society.

Remember that if you decide to start building you cannot fail because no one has the answer to the questions you are trying to solve and that if you build without ego, for the wellbeing of the community and with the willingness to iterate based on feedback from your peers you can only produce more value. Remember that not living your life, according to Martin Luther King, is worse than being dead, and that you might just miss your chance to change the world if you don’t get out there and find out just how much is possible.

the author

Paula Schwarz

Paula Schwarz is Founder of Startupboat.eu and thereby mobilizes ​tech, business and social innovators to create solutions that change the frontline of migration.

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