Published: December 18, 2015, Copyright (c) Sandy Elrick
Career Awakening and the Concept of Business Justness
As I sit next to a crackling log fire, I am reminded of the peace and tranquility that being in nature brings. It brings back some mental clarity to me. As a borderline introvert (I dance the line but spend more time on the introvert side as opposed to the extrovert side), I gain my energy from spending time by myself to reflect on the big ideas floating around in my head. That being said, I am always reminded that I love being around people and practically crave the need to see others succeed, improve, and reach their potential.
Knowing this about myself is a key component on my career re-awakening. It is perhaps one of my single most important strengths – to see the potential in everyone and every situation – and then to make that come to its best fruition. It is also one of the most frustrating strengths to have when you feel largely powerless to enact it. I am not desolate as I take satisfaction from many meaningful changes – whether big or small.
I take a look outside to nature again and I see a little chickadee bird flitting around the pine tree, trying to eek out its existence – seems somewhat poetic that nature is reminding exactly of why I am writing and that I struggle to define my purpose right now. Everyone has a struggle – in the moment, in the day, in the month, in the year or even life. It is without these struggles that we may not realize our true purpose. Entrepreneurs live and breathe these struggles. Companies struggle to exist (how long does a company live before it is bought and absorbed or falls to various issues?). Each of us has the potential to grow from these struggles just as a business grows from innovation and change. I hope I can provide a little bit of insight and help to encourage others to embrace their struggles and the change around them.
The Struggle of Capitalism
Back in my previous article about the changes occurring within the IT field, I was speaking to some specific observations I had within business but with an IT focus and from a Calgary perspective. Today, after some more reading and thinking, I am going to open up the thought process to business in a general perspective.
Some of you may recall a movie from 1990 called ‘Awakenings’ (speaks so true to how I feel sometimes). A film directed by Penny Marshall which tells about the discovery of the ‘beneficial side effects of a drug L-Dopa’1. It was this drug that took individuals from a near catatonic state to a healthy and vibrant state. I believe business in North America has an opportunity to experience a similar transformation. It needs a new drug. That drug is Corporate Justness.
Corporate Justness is a relatively new concept introduced by billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II. His belief is that the current model of business success has a limit and will soon be reached. For an economy to function well, it needs to be concerned with more than just profit. I will provide links to his new non-profit (JUST Capital) and his Ted talk at the end of this article.
JUST Capital is an independent nonprofit organization that provides all market stakeholders – consumers, employees, concerned citizens, investors, business leaders and so on – with the information they need to assess how companies perform against America’s definition of just business behavior. In doing so, we allow resources and capital to flow to corporations that have higher achievement ratings, thereby incentivizing and rewarding more just corporate behavior.
Struggling with Purpose
Not all businesses are run as pure profit makers. So what can a business do to change if wants to be more just and more balanced? The first and perhaps best thing its leaders can do is listen. They can listen to their own employees, they can listen to the communities they are in, and they can listen to the countries and global community as a whole. A holistic approach to business (usually seen in non-profit corporations), is a good example of how business can run (successfully and profitably) and truly give back in meaningful ways to those in the local communities where they have the greatest impacts.
How does one accomplish this? As I said, listening is a core component. Trust is the second component. Trust is a human factor. If all you do is break down your business to wheels, pegs, and pulleys or financial mechanisms – you’ve created a machine – not a living, breathing, hoping entity (human, anyone?). The depth and breadth of your company exists only as long as all members (leadership, employees, and customers) value it. What do we value in a company, what do we value within ourselves? Trust and goodwill are great commodities in success.
Struggling to Be
If listening and trust are the first two legs of the three legged stool that supports your business, what is the third leg? Business results require action – actions like hiring the right people, to do the right thing for your employees – will ultimately allow you to be successful and your company to be a profitable (with goodwill) and healthy contributing member of its community. Remember – as an entrepreneur or leader, you pin your hopes on this dream (or nightmare) of yours.
What I have seen (in many small to large businesses), is a struggle to action (perhaps daily) that dream. Too many leaders, employees, and customers get caught up in the quick fix, quick profit, or moment. Strength comes from within and from working together. Short-sightedness without listening, without trust, and without action – become easily repeatable but ultimately self-defeating (burnout, errors in judgement, and more struggle). Being the calm, ever-present person allows everyone to execute at their best and see what needs to be done.
Thinking long term enables everyone to get onboard and feel like they are contributing. To use a music analogy – while a soloist can move you, a chorus can take you to heights you never thought possible.
The common theme of this article comes down to people. Quintessentially we are all driven to some level to do something, be part of something, to build a community around us. In this day and age, community doesn’t end with your block or your city – it can and is world-wide and in all relationships. In the Information Age, we gained the ability to share our story, our business, our passion globally. As we pass into the Data Age, we need to be sure our intentions are true, are of value, and have meaningful purpose.
The speed with which every decision we can now make means the rapidity of the result is even more impactful. Take a moment to listen (yourself first and foremost, those around you, and your communities) before you execute. Take a moment to trust in your decision and then finally, without hesitation and without regret, put your whole into your action.
Paul Tudor Jones II and JUST Capital