A Million Easier Ways to Make a Buck
"Getting rich" is not a company why.
Once Upon a Pitch Problem #17
“I want to make a lot of money and get rich,” the founder stated. We were both silent. “Oh, and of course, build the company and all that,” the founder tagged on with dismissive hand waves. I remained quiet. Nervously filling the silence, the founder continued, “Oh, and you know, create jobs.” I kept listening. “That’s a bad answer, huh?” I remained silent. “Really, it’s more than that, I want to lead this team,” the founder added, looking a bit distressed. “Everyone wants to get rich, right? I mean who doesn’t want to be rich?” the founder laughed uncomfortably. “You know, that’s not really it. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to make a lot of money but I love working with the engineers.” I nodded. Time silently passed. “Okay, you know what? If I wanted to get rich,” continued the founder with indignation, “I’d do something easier than this startup. I’d do real estate.” With my eyebrows up, I nodded. Suddenly, with shoulders back, full of confidence and command, the founder blurted, “I founded this company because I want everyone, in-the-world, to have cheap, on demand electricity. I mean, imagine that!” I smiled and thought, “My job here is done.”
Your personal why is not your company why. Your personal why is that spark in each of us that gets us through obstacles and over failures. It pushes us out of bed. When you received your first school grade that was not an A+, you didn’t drop out of school. You were back in class the next day because something inside of you, your personal why, helped manage that disappointment. Your personal why rallies you through failure, death, heartbreak, betrayal, and job termination to fight on to your next enlightened move. If your personal why is to get rich and that is what drives you, embrace it. Know also, though, that your personal why is not a company why. Candidates join a company to drive missions and purpose that align with their personal why, not to make you rich. Customers buy your product to solve their biggest problem, not so you can inventory vacation homes. Getting rich can be your personal why; creating a new world with that customer problem eliminated is the company why.
“And because of this . . ..” Many causes and effects occur as the result of solving the customer problem. Incumbents fail and new enterprises arise. New markets for services and products appear while old products and distribution channels disappear. New materials and processes give rise to other industries and applications, yielding more innovation. The enterprise, now emboldened with experience and success, can tackle the next, harder, and more impactful customer problem. And some people might get rich, but only a few compared to the total number of people who created the enterprise value. The bulk of the employees, customers, vendors, and partners are not going to get rich and you getting rich does not benefit them. These enterprise creators are the irreplaceable foundation of success; always temper your personal why to inspire these builders with a profound, world changing company why.
Value creation. Value creation is the process of turning labor and resources into something that meets the needs of others. Value creation is not the process of “getting rich;” that is a side effect for a limited few putting their labor into the value creation. Over the ark of human existence, if we assume the top 1% of the total 117,000,000,000 humans that ever lived (Population Reference Bureau) were rich relative to their era, over a billion rich people are completely forgotten; no one says their name, no one remembers them, no one knows who they were or what they did or didn’t do. They are dust. We know Confucius, Isaac Newton, and Marie Curie because they used their labor to uncover universal principles. Even Andrew Carnegie and Bill Gates, who “got rich,” are now known for using their labor to ease suffering and improve the quality of life for many. Value creation enriches everyone, not just one.
What They Said
Success comes when we wake up every day in that never-ending pursuit of WHY we do WHAT we do. Our achievements, WHAT we do, serve as the milestones to indicate we are on the right path. It is not an either/or - we need both. A wise man once said, “Money can’t buy happiness, but it pays for the yacht to pull alongside it.” There is great truth in this statement. The yacht represents achievement; it is easily seen and, with the right plan, completely attainable. The thing we pull alongside represents that hard-to-define feeling of success. Obviously, this is much harder to see and attain. They are distinct concepts, and sometimes they go together and sometimes they don’t. More importantly, some people, while in pursuit of success, simply mistake WHAT they achieve as the final destination. This is the reason they never feel satisfied no matter how big their yacht is, no matter how much they achieve. The false assumption we often make is that if we simply achieve more, the feeling of success will follow. But it rarely does. - Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, pages 181-182.
See You on the Track
Author The First Principles Pitch, startup storyteller, board member, advisor and investor. Once Upon a Pitch is a weekly newsletter looking at one business pitch problem and offering storytelling solutions to help solve that problem. On Demand startup pitch and business coaching now available for May 2023 at Jack Industries.
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