For the EVOLution of Business

Imprinting Lives at Imprintable Solutions with Tina Paradiso

Episode Summary

Tina Paradiso is Imprinting Lives for young people with barriers to employment by taking care of basic needs, creating an environment where they feel safe and flexing to their needs. Along the way, they learn job skills and financial literacy, giving them the foundations and the courage to pursue their dreams, whether at Imprintable Solutions, as entrepreneurs, or in other pursuits. When Tina evolved her purpose from "being a service" through branding, printing, promotional products and decorated apparel, to "being of service" to these young people, she was hoping to help these young people grow, but was surprised to discover that it also helped her business to grow along the way.

Episode Notes

[1:00] Tina's previous careers leading up to Imprintable Solutions

[3:30] An EVOLution from "being a service" to "being of service" by employing at-risk youth

[5:30] Getting to know the interns through a "Learn to Earn" program and expanding the internship into full time employment and leadership roles

[8:20] Overview of the internship program
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[11:30] Understanding and overcoming barriers to employment - "If we're hungry and we're cold and we don't have a roof over our head or clothes on our back, everything else is just noise. It doesn't matter if you want to earn. It doesn't matter if you want to go to school. It doesn't matter. If those things can't be fulfilled...if you're hungry and you're scared, those are the first things that you have to take care of. That's #1 Priority."

[13:30] Tragic murder of an intern that was moving through the internship toward entrepreneurship

[15:15] Creating an environment where people feel safe and cared for - "If you're sensing or seeing something change in behavior, in timeliness, just ask the question. 'You doing OK? Is there anything that I can be of service with?'"

[17:40] Bottom line results of the evolution toward "being of service" with Imprinting Lives - manufacturing up 100%, efficiency up 30%

[19:00] Being flexible to the needs of interns - "So long as the customer's needs are met, you don't have to work inside the box. We decided to take the lid off the box."

[22:30] Advice to other aspiring social entrepreneurs - asking tough questions both of others and of yourself

[26:00] Intern stories and introducing the Imprinting Lives program to the rest of the employees

[30:30] Lessons learned so far: banking, tutoring, voter registration, taxes, childcare - "We all have a story. Everybody coming through the door has a story. If I can't remove a barrier, how can we facilitate to work around it? How can we tiptoe up to the line of a system? How can we ask a question differently?"

[34:00] Making Imprinting Lives a collaborative and solution-focused program

[36:30] Measuring success for the growth of interns and the resulting growth of the business

[40:00] Balancing short-term costs and long-term impact, knowing when to ask for help - "The power of community, the power of humanity. I think at our core, every single one of us wants to help, wants to be of service, wants to lift others up. Being creative, or figuring out who to ask...raise your hand up and ask the question!"

[44:00] Tina's EVOLution as a leader - "Pay attention and be awake to opportunities"

[46:45] Inspiration for the future of Imprinting Lives from HomeBoy Industries ( 
"How can we be impactful? It's OK if right now it's one young person at a time. If I'm of service and I'm being a serving leader and I'm showing my young people that, then they start modeling that and they start doing for others the same that has been done for them."

[50:20] How Rochester can help - plant tours, job shadows to show young people the opportunities out there and help them get from here to there

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