The forces of good and profit
I was raised on the idea that the world is divided into two camps: those who do good, and those who make money. This idea causes great harm.
Why do we, as a society, ask people that dedicate their lives to doing some of the most noble work, to do it at a severe discount? How can you be expected to make an impact in the world when you are struggling to support yourself and your family?
To make a positive impact your own financial house must be in order. You can’t save the world if you’re broke. Take the sage advice of flight attendants everywhere and put on your oxygen mask before helping starving children in Africa…or fixing a city…or building a cathedral…or saving the environment…or building a business.
Fix your finances first. Take your profit first. And don’t feel guilty about it. This approach isn’t selfish. This approach will ensure that you can apply your energy and talents to the cause that you care about in perpetuity.
The famous idiom coined by Benjamin Franklin implores the profiteer to “do well by doing good.” Indeed, those whose mission is first and foremost to make money would be wise to consider their impact. But what about those of us who start with impact? I want to flip the idiom and implore idealists to do good by doing well. And I want to be clear about what this means. Doing well is not just about making more money; it is about fiscal health, financial health, and organizational health. It’s about efficiency and effectiveness. It’s about getting paid what you are worth, but also minimizing organizational dysfunction and taking pride and providing deep value in the work that you do.