Jose Corona goes 'all in' for his community

His Inner City Advisors in the Bay Area shows that social businesses can create good jobs, even in the heart of a recession.

By , Talking GOOD

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    'The most important thing you can do to help others is to do exactly what you say you are going to do. This builds trust, and citizenship and philanthropy is all about trust,' says Jose Corona, CEO of Inner City Advisors in Oakland, Calif.
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If the myth of entrepreneurship is that it is a solo adventure, then the reality is that it’s a team game. And if that team had a coach, it would be Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors (ICA). He goes “all in” for his companies and his community.

Among his management tools are a blinding smile, an indefatigable spirit, an endless network of contacts, and a relentless commitment to helping build successful teams behind social entrepreneurial ventures. And it has worked.

ICA can count among their successes innovative social enterprises like Blue Bottle Coffee, Revolution Foods (video), and Give Something Back. ICA is also continuously developing curriculum and resources for social entrepreneurs to learn business strategy, financial management, and branding.

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Jose and his team built Inner City Advisors to create equity and impact on the Bay Area economy. Through a network of donors, pro-bono business advisors, employees, and sponsors, they set out to demonstrate that building social businesses can create good jobs, even in the heart of a recession. By their last official count, they and their member companies are responsible for the creation and retention of over 2,600 good jobs in 2012, and over 10,000 jobs since its inception.

Jose knows his, and our collective, work is not done. The world is buzzing with entrepreneurs who want to grow jobs, grow businesses, and grow communities in a socially responsible way. Now they can turn to Jose and his team for a model on how it can be done.

• For more visit Inner City Advisors (ICA)

 The 10 questions

IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?

To live a life full of integrity in both personal and professional life, and to help bring out the same in others that are working towards changing our communities for the better.

HOW HAS THIS WORK CHANGED YOU?

I have finally understood what it means to be an entrepreneur. My father is one. And the reasons for which I resented him when I was growing up, I now see in a different light and understand that they were sacrifices that an entrepreneur makes in order to see his or her vision forward.

WHAT DO YOU GET FROM GIVING?

Humility.

WHO IS A LIVING HERO AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM IF GIVEN THE CHANCE?

My living hero is my father, and I have asked him every question that I can think of ... except “Are you happy?”  Wow, I just realized that now!

WHAT EVERYDAY RESOURCES COULD HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR PHILANTHROPIC GOALS?

I am a firm believer that people invest in people. So, for me, it is about meeting the right people that will be partners in supporting each other in advancing our respective goals.

WHAT IS A BURNING QUESTION THAT YOU HAVE FOR THIS COMMUNITY?

Is the development that is happening in our city producing the kind of development that the community wants?  How do you know?

WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK BE?

I Am a Farmer. Really.

TELL US SOMETHING YOU RARELY SHARE IN PUBLIC?

I am actually really scared of public speaking.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE CITIZEN PHILANTHROPISTS?

Be true to yourself and to others. The most important thing you can do to help others is to do exactly what you say you are going to do. This builds trust, and citizenship and philanthropy is all about trust.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE INSPIRATIONAL SAYING?

"We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time."

– T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

Dan Cohen is Founder and Principal of Full Court Press Communications. He’s a recovering political consultant, lawyer, and big-brand PR guy who now uses his skills to help make social change through strategic communications (mostly in California). His article was originally posted at Talking GOOD, a series of interviews with “citizen philanthropists” who champion causes and lead by example. To nominate someone for a Talking GOOD interview, visit this link.

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