Frankly, I’m a little sick and tired of hearing about social entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, we as a community do a good deal of talking about helping others, but at the end of the day there are too few people stepping up and actually doing anything concrete. Now that we’re deep in the throws of an economic downturn, people like Thomas Friedman of the NY Times are asking questions like “Does the economic downturn spell the end of the green movement?” What do you think? I love Tom Friedman and I don’t believe that the economic environment will be more than a blip on the socially conscious movement in the long run. It’s a great question and one that will sell lots of books and attention though. Nice one again Tom, love ya.
Back to my rant though…What’s the deal people? What the hell is a “socially conscious” movement anyway? Perhaps “movement” IS the right word as in “crap“. Are we all full of it? Perhaps we should call it a “socially UNconscious” movement. I mean, really, what is social entrepreneurship anyway? What’s a social enterprise? Is social entrepreneur a state of mind, like insanity? Are we just a bunch of granola eating, tree hugging folks who light candles, sing songs, do yoga, buy cage free eggs, listen to U2, and complain that corporations make too much money? I’ll tell you one thing, I am not one of those people. Greed IS good AND, GREEN is GOOD. CSR is GOOD. Intention…, is good. Action…., that’s a different story. Actions speak much more loudly than words. People, let me say something. In my opinion and experience so far, I’ve see way too much talk of doing, and not enough doing. Now that I think about it though, Tom Friedman might be onto something here. Perhaps the economic downturn is the end of this social entrepreneurship movement. Why? People are afraid. As a wealth manager, I can tell you that fear of loss is the number one concern of the wealthy. No matter how much money you have, fear continues to be a major concern among people. While the prospect of going bankrupt might not be a concern, there’s a very real possibility that one’s lifestyle could be altered. When it comes to emotions, many people view change as a win/lose proposition. If I don’t have to alter my lifestyle, I win. If I am forced to change the way I live, I lose. I would tend to agree with that assessment. I absolutely hate change. Before I had surgery, moving used to be my least favorite thing in the world. When change happens, and it isn’t on your terms, change sucks, excuse my French.
Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” said something I have always liked. He said that his definition of “wealthy”, was “the ability to continue to pay yourself if you decide to stop working”, or something close to that. Some have described this scenario as “escaping the rat race”, or being “financially independent”. In reality, I think my friend Randy Ottinger of LMR Advisors in Seattle said it best in his book, “Beyond Success: Building a Personal, Financial, and Philanthropic Legacy” McGraw Hill 2008. Randy interviewed some of top minds in business and philanthropy including Bill Gates, Sr., Jeff Brotman of Costco, and Sandy Weill, former Chairman of Citigroup. Randy discusses the concept of a moving “Wealth Divide”. This divide is the concept of the conversation around the question “How much is enough?” We as human beings are hunter gatherers and are wired to want more and accumulate for those long winter months (like the current economic winter we’re in now) . Call it “keeping up with the Jones’s”, call it whatever you like. The fact remains, that we all have these fears about coming to the Wealth Divide, looking across, making the leap, and falling flat on our face. Until we recognize that this Wealth Divide is a moving target for many people, and come to understand that money and wealth do not make us happy, we will continue to live in fear that we will lose what we have. The net result of this fear is that our social entrepreneurial “movement” will continue to be just talk, eventually be flushed down the pages of history by free market capitalism (which is really working well at the moment isn’t it?), dismissed as another promising social experiment gone awry.
“My social entrepreneurial friends”, (can I pull a McCain here?) let me speak honestly with you for a moment as someone who has a little experience in this whole wealth management thing and understands a little thing about this whole planning and economic situation we are in. This is an intervention. I’m doing this because I love you and because you are sick. If you’ve ever watched the television show, “Intervention” on A&E, the main interventionist’s (is that a word?) name is Jeff VanVonderen and he is blatantly blunt with folks who are at rock bottom. Addicts don’t like change, but then he asks “How’s that workin for you?”. Usually the answer is, “not so good, right?” Are you happy? Are you truly doing what you want to be doing? Are you talking about social entrepreneurship, saying “someday I’ll do that”, or “I’m not smart enough”, or “I don’t have time for that”. If you are, let me ask you, “how’s that workin for ya?” You want to change? You want to do something good for this world? STOP SAYING SOMETIME, SOMEDAY. Understand you will never have enough money to make you happy and that happiness comes from DOING, not HAVING. Money is just a means to an end, not the end itself. Happiness comes from pursuing dreams and goals and things that seem crazy. If you doubt me, visit my friend Gail Lynne Goodwin’s site and read about her “Global Hugs Tour”. You think she’s happy?
This is YOUR intervention. FLASH!
Tomorrow, you visit your doctor and he tells you that you have a rare medical condition and that you only have 6 months to live. First assignment, right now, write your own eulogy. Take 30 seconds and think about what you want people to say about you as they put you into the ground…Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Great, are you living life that way now or are there any things that are left undone in your life that you would want to resolve before they cover you with 6 feet of dirt? While you may have created a lot of money in business and been a great entrepreneur, how about your family? Might you want to spend more time with them before you die? Than why aren’t you doing it now? What is the purpose of your work? Is it to provide? How much? When does more time with the family come? Where does the volunteering ever happen? When does “retirement” happen for you? Oh, so you’re one of those who will never retire cause you don’t want to be bored out of your mind and have your brain turn to mush watching TV shows on Hulu huh? So you work cause you don’t want to be bored huh? Sounds like fear to me? Fear of, say,…. loss of purpose? Ringing a bell anyone? I’ll ask you again, are you happy? How’s that fear thing workin for ya? Any family stress because Daddy is never home and always stressed when he is? That’s not you right? Perhaps watching The Last Lecture again is what you folks need.
My “budding social entrepreneurial friends”, this is YOUR intervention. I had a dream. That dream was helping to turn successful business owners into social entrepreneurs. So far, this has been just a dream because while I’m here, you are still there with your talk, talk, talk. If any of you have been “successful” in your “day job” and actually wish to do something with your life greater than earning a profit, let me know. I don’t work miracles, but more than likely, I can help design and manage the financial extrication strategy that you are fearing and keeping you living in your unfulfilled, profit motivated, life of “sometime, someday” I’ll have enough. Today is the day. END RANT/ END INTERVENTION DO YOU FOLLOW ME?