Who Wants To Be a Billionaire?
“Want to become a billionaire? Then help a billion people. The world’s biggest problems are the world’s biggest business opportunities.”
Peter Diamandis – Co-Founder, X-Prize
History has long demonized wealth and the rich. The problem with blaming the rich is that the very people who point their fingers in disdain have already reduced the possibility that wealth will ever come their way. More troubling is the fact that putting down wealth distracts us from social entrepreneurism, which is the practice of making sustainable solutions to world problems wildly profitable. Today, the best talent coming out of schools will often make a commitment to only work for an employer that is making our world a better place to live.
Shortly after launching Inspired Work, I met Dr. Robert Maurer. He is the head of behavioral science for the Family Residency Program at UCLA Medical School. Bo has said, “We learn nothing of value by studying dysfunction.” Extending that thought, if we want to become happy and successful business owners, study the best and brightest entrepreneurs. What are they doing that is different from the rest of us? By and large, they have a clearly defined mission, vision, and purpose. They don’t run from risks. They build strongly effective support systems. They respond to fear with courage. As a result, they take the very actions that make them successful.
Today, we are in a bit of a perfect storm with our national workforce. Rapidly accelerating change is forcing the need for all of us to change. But, without meaningful and directive leadership, about 50% of our workforce view themselves as underemployed. As task work crumbles, many people don’t know what they don’t know. They don’t know where to look for answers. When our leadership, on both sides of the political fence, promises jobs, they wait, hoping it is true. The problem with hope is it does not require action.
American optimism is one of our country’s most precious assets and yet it is under attack from cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, resignation, and frenzy. As change accelerates around us, it can feel easier to seek comfort in these filters, but ultimately, we have to take action.
The world needs a lot of help. The challenges facing all of us grow with each day. While non-profits play an enormous role for the good in our world, they are limited by models based on scarcity. The world is exploding with non-profits devoted to dealing with climate change. But social entrepreneurs are making green energy production more profitable than producing petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Green energy technology is becoming cheaper by the day and easier to find. No one knows this more intimately than Al Gore.
What has happened to Al Gore?
Vice President Gore produced two documentaries and received an Academy Award.
Gore is well on his way to becoming the richest ex-Vice President in the United States. Forbes recently updated Al Gore’s net worth from $200million to $300million in one year. After bringing world attention to the growth of greenhouse gases, Gore has been teaming up with venture capital partners such as Goldman Sachs and Kleiner Perkins to fund viable green energy start-ups. But, instead of giving away easy money, they have extraordinary business standards that must be met. Marching on Washington? Thank you, Jane Fonda. But, while she is getting arrested on behalf of climate change, fortunes are being made only to prove this is where we can go.
For those of us who are of a certain age, do you remember the one previous attempt to launch a new automobile manufacturer? In the 80s? Do you remember John Delorean doing a cocaine deal to keep his car alive? He had a bad business plan!
12 years ago, I was driving on the Santa Monica Freeway only to see a Lotus Elise overtaking my fast car. It sped past us. On the rear was the name, “Tesla.” Elon Musk had gutted the Lotus and installed an electric drivetrain. The first one was recently shot into space for publicity. Just 3 years later Tesla’s S class was released and wealthy neighborhoods began replacing gas hogs with the future of driving. In the last two years, their more affordable 3 series is replacing BMW as the tony entry-level luxury and sports car of choice. And, while American fat ass car makers have arrived late at the game, Tesla has become America’s single most valued automobile manufacturer.
Take a moment to think about this. If you had world-class talent, would you want to work for General Motors or Tesla? One of my clients made such a move. He describes a dramatic shift in employer culture. Before, his sole role was to increase shareholder value. Today, his role is to help change the world.
What’s next? It’s Boring!
Whenever someone puts down Los Angeles, I reply, “If it’s so bad, why do we spend hours in traffic?” Seriously, traffic can be so gridlocked in LA that I suggest bringing a picnic lunch and a catheter. Musk’s new adventure is in building underground tunnels with elctro-magnetic drives. Cars will be able to park on an elevator, be lowered into the ground, and flash through Los Angeles at over a hundred miles per hour.
So, my friends, let’s return to the beginning. Money is not the root of all evil. Standing in a pile, money has no morality. However, social entrepreneurs are bringing morality to how money is invested and made. I really cannot suggest a brighter way into the future of work.
While technology is disrupting all forms of work, it is also offering us freedom from monotonous and mind-numbing work. After spending 300 years at workstations, many of us are not thrilled with the specter of having to change everything. We need new mindsets, new skills, and new values. It is no longer enough to just settle for a job. Finding the work that you love will give you the fuel to push through the discomfort of change.
Is freedom frightful? Only because we have to change.
Our home is filled with dachshunds, These willful little dogs that do not have human owners or companions, they have staff. When we brought our first dachshund puppy home, she had been living in a crate about two and a half feet square. We brought her home in one of those little carry kennels. When we opened the gate, our little puppy came out with terror on her face. For a bit, she walked in the same dimension as the crate. Then, she looked up and was shocked to see a wildly bigger world. It didn’t take long for her to be running through the house. Soon, she would turn the tables and boss us around.
But it is the same kind of energy that drove America to go west, to build roads, create breathtaking technology hubs, and to strive towards more than better, we find our best when we reach towards the impossible. Of all our political leaders, John F Kennedy personified that ambition more eloquently than any of us. Today, some politicians are decrying Kennedy’s mission to place humans on the moon. That money could have built more schools. What a lack of imagination. That mission turned the United States into the world leader in technology.
There was a moment last year where a client summarized the whole ethos of the social entrepreneur. He is one of the world’s leading bioscientists. His team is working on an actual cure for cancer. One day, he took me into his lab, turned towards me, raised his arms and said,
“Welcome to my temple of hope.”
If life is short, why settle for less?
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