I’ve never hidden the fact that I am a capitalist, through and through. I love the idea of creating something from scratch and turning it into something that can help make a difference in someone’s life, and at the same time improve the quality of life for my family. It’s like I am spinning my talent into gold. At least in theory.
But what happens when people start to focus on the gold instead of the people whose lives are changed by the spinning process? In the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek, we learn about the success of companies like Apple, Google, and Southwest Airlines. Those companies have a vision beyond their bottom line. Yes, turning a profit is important in any business (it has to be sustainable, after all). But the minute companies start putting money ahead of the people they are intended to serve, they have lost their public virtue. And without virtue, a company loses the trust of its customers and will ultimately fail.
Charles Handy, said, in the article What’s Business For?, “The purpose of a business… is not to make a profit, full stop. It is to make a profit so that the business can do something more or better.” So many companies today have lost sight of the fact that their purpose is not, and never was, to make money. Profit is the byproduct of using your talents to make the world a better place.
No wonder so many people are skeptical of capitalism these days. Do you remember this scene from Incredibles?
This is seriously what a lot of people think business is all about these days. But it’s not. For so many of little guys, business is about spreading a message and improving lives. Political agendas aside, I love that companies like Google and Facebook are trying to shake things up and use their massive profits to make a positive change in the world. Seeing companies pop up who donate clean water or shoes for every purchase is inspiring and, while it may not make a difference statistically, as Mother Theresa said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
One of the things that is important to me is helping the homeless. I have no idea how on earth I’ll be able to do it, but I want to figure out a way to use the talents and means that my business affords me to help those who have no place to lay their head.
What about you? If you were able to help, how would you do it? Is there a cause that speaks to you?