KINS stands for “Key Innovator Network Strategy.” The networks below have emerged as a result of more than 40 years of collaboration, cooperation, and connectivity and exemplify the effectiveness of the KINS Method.
Case Study: The Solar Circle
On a Friday night in the summer of 2002, at a resort on Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva, about three dozen people pulled up their chairs for a strange meeting. Most of the faces in the room were unfamiliar. They had been summoned here by a stranger, and they had no idea what surprises awaited them.
“Everyone who went to the first meeting was a little skeptical,” said Denis Hayes, a co-founder of Earth Day and an attendee. “This sounded like it was going to involve a lot of banging on drums and meditating.”
It was the first meeting of the Solar Circle, a group of industry leaders that would go on to meet twice a year, every year, for 14 years and counting, playing a subtle role in bringing solar mainstream.
Six months earlier, a Hong Kong businessman named Robert Sherriff had had a vision. He’d had an experience with a healer that made him realize his purpose in life: to convene a group of leaders who could make solar the dominant source of energy on Earth. To make it real, he got on a plane and booked an urgent meeting with a woman in Milwaukee.
That woman was Susan Davis. She’d had an eclectic career in finance and publishing, and two years earlier she had started a company, KINS Innovation Networks, with an unusual process for creating professional groups. Sherriff put up a sum to get the group started, which grew to $60,000 with the help of other donors, including Marion Rockefeller Weber, an heir to the Rockefeller oil fortune.
“We spent Saturday and Sunday discussing how he could manifest his life purpose through Solar Circle,” Davis said of the meeting with Sherriff. “We shook hands on Saturday lunch, and I just did it.” (Sherriff did not respond to requests for an interview.)
Davis’ goal was very specific. She had six months to bring together exactly 30 world leaders in solar, an industry of which she had no particular knowledge. They needed to represent 30 constituencies from every aspect of the supply chain, from invention to production to policy to media, and have an unswerving commitment to the solar cause. Furthermore, they had to share a particular outlook on life.
She made hundreds of phone calls, she said, most of which started thus:
“I’m doing kind of an executive search, looking for people who have qualities that are somewhat unusual. Can I share with you these qualities?” she would ask. She would continue: “We’re looking for the people who have the highest credentials in their field, they give back the most in their field. We’re looking for people who have a reputation for integrity, people with advanced collaborative skills, people who have a heart-centered practice, they’re not just operating out of their minds.”
In her career, Davis has set up numerous such circles. Most are private, and some are defunct, but some continue to meet and are public, like the Committee of 200, which is now a group of 400 top businesswomen, and the Chicago Network, as well as the Investors’ Circle, the country’s largest group of social-responsibility angel investors.
It was Davis who led the meeting that Friday night at Lake Geneva. After an organic dinner, the participants met in a circle, and Davis asked them to take turns answering a revealing question:
“Take a minute, sit back, think about a time you most trusted your intuition to take risks around your values to find your destiny path of joy.”
Members of the circle say they jelled in no time.
“The chemistry of the Solar Circle members was felt immediately and overwhelmingly,” wrote Mike Eckhart, who at the time was the founding president of the American Council on Renewable Energy and is now the global head of sustainability and environmental finance at Citigroup.
In an endorsement of Davis’ e-book “The Trojan Horse of Love,” he continued: “We all got chills of excitement as we went around the group in the first meeting, each telling our stories and realizing as we listened to one after another that Susan had assembled the true leaders of solar energy in America, and we were deeply honored to meet and now know each other. Within hours, we became a bonded force of mutual admiration, trust and hope, colleagues and close friends for life, dedicated to the common cause of making solar energy successful in the world.”
The group spent Saturday doing an analysis of the challenges and opportunities of the solar industry and understanding what each person’s role was within it, members of the circle said in interviews. They established a set of guidelines that were at once minimal and durable: They would formally meet for a weekend twice a year, at their own expense, once on the West Coast and once on the East Coast.
Several people invited to that first meeting did not continue, including William McDonough, an architect and well-known author on sustainability; Christine Ervin, the first CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, which created LEED, the world’s most common sustainable-building standard; Hermann Scheer, now deceased, a giant in Germany’s adoption of solar power and a member of Germany’s Bundestag; Glenn Hamer, a former head of the Solar Energy Industries Association and now CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Chet Farris, a former head of Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s solar program and now CEO of Stion, a Silicon Valley thin-film solar company; and Dan Reicher, who was an assistant secretary of Energy during the Clinton presidency and would go on to head Google’s energy and climate initiatives.
That night, the group started to bond in other ways.
“I know who’s good at playing guitar, I know who’s good at singing, I know who lost his wedding ring, after being married for a month, in this lake in Wisconsin,” said Nancy Floyd, a longtime clean technology venture capitalist who was at that first meeting, smiling at the memory. “We all tried finding it and getting diving gear. I mean, it was great.”
— David Ferris
Testimonials from KINS Members
The Following Groups Emerged from KINS Networks
KINS networks are by invitation-only. Some groups are public, others are private. Each KINS group comes together around a unique mission shared by the diverse members. While many have ongoing missions, others have completed their mission and closed. What all the networks have in common is the KINS energy field, which is generated by the KINS Operating Principles which builds trust, unleashes creative energy, and enhances collaboration.
Social Venture Network – 1987-present (for-profit industry) SVN is one of the nation’s first and most influential peer organizations dedicated to demonstrating the ‘triple bottom line’ potential of valuing people, planet, and profit.
“Making a Profit While Making a Difference” Conference – 1996-1999
Serving the social investment industry by collaborating in social investment analysis, shareholder advocacy, community development financing and social venture capital.
Private KINS Networks
Financial Forum – 1983 – 1995
Teaching Chicago’s wealthiest women to manage their wealth.
Harris Bank Family Management Office Conference – 1985-1990
Families with Wealth of $100 Million Plus Manifesting the family office industry to maximize collaboration among family offices
Capital Circle – 1995-1997
Women venture capitalists achieving good returns investing in women-led businesses.
Growing Businesses Network – 1996-2000
Manifesting micro-enterprise in Nigeria
Destiny Circle – 1998
Individual members create, fund, and manifest their life missions
DreamMakers’ Forums – 1999-2004
African-American-owned business forums to maximize investment opportunities. (sponsored by Northern Trust financial services corporation)
VisionKeepers’ Forum – 2000 – 2002
Advancing the investment expertise of female CEOs. A program of Northern Trust Financial Services.
Kindred Spirits Network – 2003-2005
U.S. Business leaders deepen their life missions while reconnecting with Earth.
Ayni Vilcabamba (Reciprocity Vilcabamba) – 2007-2009
Villagers manifesting intercultural ecological projects to create a local living economy good for all life.
Tipping Point Network – 2006-2009
Creating a whole-systems approach for sustainability to reach 10% market share – the ‘tipping point’ of success.
Destiny Funding Circle – 2011
U.S. Sustainability leaders manifesting funding to fulfill their life missions.
KINS 4 All – 2012 – 2014
U.S. social entrepreneurs create, fund, and manifest their life missions.
KINS 4 Philantropists – 2006 – present
Activating a global giving spiral of life affirming capital ﬂows to finance whole system breakthrough initiatives with a New Source Code for Human Enterprise built inside and out.
Ohana Investing Circle – 2012-2014
Integrating consciousness into all sectors of finance
KINS For All Life – 2019 – present
Collaborating to make the world work for 100% of humanity
The Sisterhood – 2019 – present
Spiritual support and camaraderie for social and environmental activists