The Process Lab: Cultivating Social Impact as The Standard of Business with Talia Antonietta
“To be a better leader in society you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and to be committed to growth in your personal levels and that will ultimately reflect in your business or professional endeavours.” - Talia Antonietta
The Modern Altruneur (formerly TypA Co.) is a social impact business created by Talia Antonietta who aims to support female founders in scaling social impact in businesses by incorporating better business models. In an interview with Talia, we discussed her journey through entrepreneurship, her philosophy around social impact, and her vision for Modern Altruneur as well as the landscape of women-owned social impact businesses.
Self-awareness and open-mindedness in exploring impactful career options
When thinking back to her first memory of wanting to build social impact, Talia remembers being interviewed by her local paper after graduating high school as a valedictorian. When asked, “What do you wanna do in the future?”, she had replied saying she wanted to have a dance studio that did performances but also raised awareness about social issues. Reflecting back now, she can see a thread of building social impact in every career path she has explored.
Throughout her journey, Talia has demonstrated great self-awareness and openness to exploring diverse experiences. Talia chose to attend Sarah Lawrence College where she was able to curate her educational path more flexibly than the typical educational framework found in most post-secondary institutions. While in school, she worked multiple part-time jobs and interned at non-profits and at a financial tech company.
Although her plan was to get an MBA after a couple of years working in finance, she found herself not resonating with the hustle culture and non-inclusive environment of her finance job. She felt burnt out as a young professional and decided to pursue certification in classical pilates while working at her job. After two years, she moved from New York to Los Angeles with the self-awareness that she did not want to work for other people and was self-motivated.
She took a wellness course and wanted to start her own wellness consulting business. This phase led to the first version TypA Co which launched in Dec 2018 with the intention of being a health and wellness consulting company for Type A social impact entrepreneurs that would want to invest in their wellness and to prevent burnout.
After a while, Talia did not feel fulfilled meal-planning and teaching pilates to others. She asked herself “What am I going to do?”.
This is the pivotal point where she identified that her pilates clients were often successful women entrepreneurs who were trail-blazing in their respective industries, and that is how Talia’s podcast “[Not] Business as Usual” was born as one facet of TypA Co.
[Not] Business as Usual: the beginning of building a social impact entrepreneurial community for women
[Not] Business as Usual is a weekly podcast that highlights female founders paving the way for a sustainable future by integrating social impact across industries. Talia chats with "TypA" entrepreneurs - ambitious, altruistic & taking action - about the future of business for companies and consumers (Spotify).
Talia started by interviewing female founders from her pilates classes and asked herself, where do I want to take my business from here?
A gap Talia noticed was how much entrepreneurs, especially female social impact entrepreneurs, wanted community. Entrepreneurship in itself is a lonely road. You are the person who cares the most about your business and its wellbeing. With community comes growth, support, and mentorship.
Recognizing this gap in the industry and coupling that with her expertise in the social impact sphere, Talia launched the Social Impact Network in September 2020 with the goal to create a space for women founders and business owners to come together to discuss building social impact into their businesses.
Where can I go from here? Helping other women build impactful businesses
After successfully launching the Social Impact Network, Talia asked herself (again), how can I expand my business and impact? Her next endeavour was none other than offering her wealth of knowledge and experience in the format of online courses.
With the goal of wanting to use her expertise to help people incorporate social impact into their new or ongoing businesses, she worked on and launched Modern Altruneur’s first course The Social Impact Startup.
When a door closes, another one opens: the origin story of “Modern Altruneur”
Like with all things in entrepreneurship, things do not go as expected. When initially launching her business as a limited liability company (LLC), she did not have the financial means to hire a lawyer and thought she had covered her trademark bases by getting a domain name under TypA Co. Fast forward to one day after launching the course with TypA Co. branding, Talia’s lawyer informed her that she was infringing on multiple trademarks not only by the business name choice but also products and services.
While this was a difficult and risky position to be in, Talia rebuilt the entire brand face into Modern Altruenur with the same mission to make social impact the standard of business by helping female founders.
Talia anticipated that the new name would still resonate with her existing audience and could even more explicitly convey her brand’s identity to new audiences.
Building social impact into traditional businesses: What does social impact mean?
To Talia, social impact means being driven by helping others and not just by self-interest. Social impact can come to life in many different ways and through many different models. In order to incorporate social impact, you have to be strategic about how it relates to your brand.
There are opportunities and challenges associated with building social impact. Firstly, there has been no standard for how you can incorporate it into your business (as for unsuccessful cases, we have all seen companies that resort to greenwashing, activism washing etc). But because there is no standard, it is much easier for people to implement social impact into their business.
In traditional corporate spaces, what needs to happen is adopting the mindset that social impact is important and should be prioritized instead of being an afterthought. Because profit maximization can become the main focus in traditional/big companies, anything related to impact is dealt with as a side project.
“Businesses are getting the idea about the consumer movement, where people want to support accountable brands that advocate for something. Brands have to have a voice about something.”
The challenge of re-iterating as an entrepreneur
Talia mentioned that when you create something that hasn’t been done before, you are not sure what is going to stick. It can be exhausting to be committed to trying a lot of different things before you arrive at what works. This can take a lot of strategy, content creation, and testing different platforms and modalities.
It is important to let go of the idea of perfectionism, and try to just launch things as you create them with the intention of being a process.
"In entrepreneurship and in the social impact space, you have to be comfortable with the process of iteration and recognize that your first product is not going to be perfect."
What empowers you today?
What empowers Talia is that every single day she wakes up and works out in order to become in tune with herself. Talia is a mover; she uses yoga, running, and dancing as a way out of her head and becoming in tune with her body. The other thing empowering Talia is drawing boundaries with others.
“People can respect me, and the only people who would be upset about me having boundaries are those that constantly cross them.”
Talia believes that prioritizing her mental wellbeing and recognizing patterns of behaviour that she may have been conditioned into have been crucial steps in entering the next level of her life that will ultimately allow her to succeed in her entrepreneurial goals.
What is your vision for your work and for the world at large?
“To change the landscape of business by supporting women in business.”
The business sphere is quite male-dominated and the narratives and priorities of the society at large reflects the same pattern. Supporting women-owned businesses can help build impact in new ways that can change the landscape of the business industry.
Talia explains her vision for this systemic shift, “We live in a capitalist society. Money is still influential and it should be the resource that helps you implement long term change. Business has a responsibility to show up and implement frameworks of social impact which will empower a systemic shift for long-term change.”
Using this approach, we can start at the root of the problem, leverage the already existing frameworks in our society and reconfigure so it serves a better purpose and ultimately solve problems for all groups in the community.