A Pivotal Moment

by Elizabeth Weingarten

Racing down King George Street in Jerusalem, I reached a sweaty hand into my messenger bag to grab money for the bus. I was rushing to an important meeting with an organization I hoped would be a partner in my social jewelry business, Tribelle. My fingers clawed the inside of my bag. No wallet. I dumped my bag on the cobbled pavement, and stooped over to peer inside. It was gone.

Calculating that I still had enough money for a round-trip ticket, I looked longingly at the oncoming bus. If I returned to my hostel to search for the wallet now, I’d be late for the meeting. I should cancel, I thought.

But then, I made what was – for me – a surprising decision. I hoisted my bag, trekked to the meeting, and sealed the deal. Critically, I learned I care more about the success of Tribelle than a whole host items critical to my survival. In other words, I had a Psyche Pivot.

Let me explain. Entrepreneurs launching startups often talk about “pivoting” – the decision to steer their venture in a different direction. It references a change in a business plan – usually the result of an idea that’s not as viable as imagined.

I’d like to coin a new term to define another equally important startup moment: The Psyche Pivot. It’s realizing you’ve cannonballed into your venture’s water. And you’re thrilled about it. Turns out, you can swim!

For months, I’ve been dedicated to creating Tribelle, a jewelry collection that showcases the designs and stories of low-income Israeli women. That’s because investing in Israeli female entrepreneurs is key to strengthening a whole host of developmental and economic metrics – like GDP, literacy, and health.

But here’s a secret: I didn’t really feel ready to leap into my venture until just a few days ago, when I saw a few other people swimming in the water. Who were those divers? The PresenTense team. “The water’s not so bad!” they bellowed at the beginning of Global Lab.

PresenTense catalyzed my Psyche Pivot by demonstrating a massive investment my success. I’m not talking about cash – but rather an infusion of social capital. The leaders introduced me to mentors and subject matter experts. They guided me through branding and business plan seminars, and challenged me to rethink some of my basic enterprise assumptions.

And when I came back from my business meeting, wallet-less, they all immediately offered help. One new friend wordlessly slipped me 100 shekels, another offered the use of her cell phone to call my credit card companies.

Of course, the wallet was found later on in my hostel. I found myself strangely happy that – even for a short time – I had lost it. In its place, I found abundant confidence and a devoted community. Priceless.

Elizabeth Weingarten, from Washington, D.C., was a participant in the PresenTense 2013 Global Laboratory program.

Cross-posted on the PresenTense Blog