Conscious Capitalism, Part 1

September 14, 2023

I gave a TED talk on the principles of conscious capitalism recently. It’s this idea that business is fundamentally for people and not spreadsheets. It’s built to benefit people. So, my companies have done some things that are unique and some that aren’t. We’ve taken ideas and principles from abroad and brought them stateside. One of the ideas that we brought stateside was the idea of microloans.

This works in a lot of instances. Someone will give a single individual like $300 to go open up a stand, buy inventory, and sell products in a marketplace. A lot of times, they work with people that are experiencing some sort of crisis or traumatic experience and they need a way to make money. So, it works really well.

We’ve taken this idea and brought it back to the stage and said, “Okay, so what we’re gonna do is take really, really talented practitioners that we know are great at what they do. We’re going to talk with them, put them through a training program that I’ve put together, then help them launch a business. We’ll give them financing, give them resources, give them all sorts of stuff, and then they get to run the business. They don’t have the cash, but they’ve got skills.”

We also do things like not allowing the highest paid person, which is typically the CEO (the co-founder, the whatever, the highest paid person) to make more than 5X the lowest paid person. This sounds like not too big a deal, but I have many friends who have had decently successful agencies or SaaS startups where the CEO ends up paying themselves $350K-$400K while their lowest paid person is making $40K.

It’s  a palpable feeling of disparity in outcomes. I’m not saying that it’s not hard to be the owner-founder, and I’m not saying not to take risks. There are ways that you can help people really improve their lives. We’ve done stuff like that. We really care about our people and we want to make their lives better through flipping the script on the concept of, “Hey, you’re an employee and I’m just going to get as much as I can out of you.” It’s really about inviting them into being a bigger part of what the company is doing and making sure they reap the rewards as well.

Here’s one of my favorite stories about conscious capitalism. There were these guys that we’d invested in. They have an agency, and when we started working with them, they had already kind of been doing agency work, but they really needed some direction and guidance. 

We are information rich as a society but we’re wisdom poor. It’s one of those things where entrepreneurs like yourself… we need you to invest in wisdom. We need you to invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs, and that’s not just young people. That could be someone that’s 65 that’s starting their first ever business, right? 

So I invested in them and I said, “Hey guys, I’m gonna show you the ropes. We’re gonna give you money, we’re gonna help you do this.” 

In the first seven months, they 9X’d their monthly recurring revenue. They’re like, “What just happened?” 

When you know how to play the game, you know, and you can get great results really, really quickly. When you don’t know how to play the game, you’re spinning those wheels in perpetuity and you’re wondering how can someone have all this amazing success.

What’s the secret sauce? What’s the magic? People are always trying to find that out. There actually are things that just get you there. I can help get you there. Conscious capitalism can help you get there.

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