Pillar 2 - Special Skills

Special Skills /speSHəl skillz/ – Compound Noun: Skills, abilities, gifts, and/or knowledge in a particular area. Competence or proficiency in a field of operation.

Special Skills... the second of seven key pillars in our Seven Pillar Methodology for Social Entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, the pillars are: vision, special skills, nonduplication,partnership, credit sharing, feedback and staying power.

Your expertise, proficiencies and gifts add up to "special skills." There are many ways to bring about a vision, and you will succeed best if you bring your special skills to bear. My skills will be different from yours, because everyone is unique.

Our mascot has the special skill of "watching" (she's a watch dog), and the student who created this representation of the seven pillars demonstrated great skill as well. Blondie's skill is watching... watch dog! Also, look at the skill in this student art!

When asked "What are your special skills, and how can they be useful?" our students in India had a hard time identifying any skills at first, but within a few minutes they realized that they had many special skills their teachers did not possess, and that they each possessed skills that others in the room did not. Some spoke Urdu, some Hindi, and some spoke still other languages. Some could sew, others could drive a taxi, and so on.

Three Examples from Social Entrepreneurship

Here are three examples of how social entrepreneurs put their special skills to use, making a positive difference. You may highlight one or all of these, or choose an alternative from our spreadsheet [PDF]:

  • Jack McConnell, a medical doctor, retired and moved to Florida where he gathered retired medical professionals and founded Volunteers in Medicine.
  • Rosanne Haggerty put her background in architecture to work tackling long-term homelessness.
  • Will Allen drew on his skills farming, and now, with Growing Power, his urban farm brings fresh food to an urban "food desert."

Other Local Example

You don't have to work in a nonprofit.  You might have a small business, or work in a large company. There are many ways to get involved. And even if your special skills are rare, unusual, or really specific, you can put them to use in making a positive change. Consider guitar maker John F. Mello who produced a CD featuring guitarists and sold them to raise funds for soup kitchens.

About this page

NOTE: This is a sub-page with details of one portion of the "Seven Pillars" methodology we use and teach. It is not meant as a standalone.