What’s all this guff about ‘businesses with soul’
Second blog in a series of nine about, “How to grow your business with soul – to generate wealth, wellness and well-being.”
In the first blog, ‘Business with soul – a vital new trend’ we indicated multiple versions of businesses with soul are emerging around the world as a strong antidote to unbridled capitalism gone wrong. But what do we mean by business with soul? Should we create one or more? How?
What do we mean by soul?
Business with soul? Soul, soul, soul! What on earth do we mean by soul? Well, soul ain’t easy to define. In Greek, ‘soul’ and ‘psyche’ are the same. And dictionaries give soul multiple definitions. They use synonyms like spirit, heart, psyche, essence, mind – capturing ‘soul’ as everything it means to be human, except ‘body’.
So…soul combines the ‘non-body’ bits of us humans – our mental, emotional, psychological and spiritual states.
Not about god stuff
For our teams at our two venture banks, soul is neither necessarily religious, nor ‘eternal’. Soul is our unique ‘essence’ as a human.
- our everyday ‘psyche’, or spirit, or ‘mind’
- our true, or authentic selves
- our inner well-spring that integrates us and brings us fully alive
- the ‘source’ of our conscious and unconscious abundance and health – or our poverty:
“What we ‘think’, ‘feel’ and ‘sense’ with our mind-heart-spirit-soul, we are, and we become.”
Soul in art
“In each picture is a whole lifetime imprisoned, a whole lifetime of fears, doubts, hopes, and joys. Whither is this lifetime tending? What is the message of the competent artist? … To harmonize the whole is the task of art,” writes the great Russian painter and art theorist, Wassily Kadinsky, in his, ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’.
Soul in business
And in business, or any other organization, soul is our ‘personality’, our culture – or the way we are in the world, and the ways we do things around here.
“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek, ethnographer, and author of ‘Start with Why?’
“Our culture is friendly and intense, but if push comes to shove we’ll settle for intense.” Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com.
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” Doug Conant, former President and CEO of Campbell Soup
“In any M&A or spin-off, don’t wipe everything out. Find one thing in the organisation that was good and use it as a cornerstone for a new culture. People don’t want to work for an organisation for years and then be told its rubbish.” Bob Every, former Chairman, Boral and Wesfarmers.
“There is a high cost associated with building a culture: team retreats, gym memberships, personal and professional development classes. All this is to facilitate the personal evolution of each person who contributes to the company.” David Hassell, Founder and CEO of 15Five.
“When you’re building an institution, you’re consciously growing something that will … will exist without you, it’ll grow beyond you, it’ll sustain itself beyond you … it’s about creating culture and values that persist. It’s that psychic glue that holds it all together. By establishing a candid culture, companies, non-profits, governments, alike can empower future frontrunners to never stop challenging the status quo – and each other, in order to create sustainable, positive impact.’ Nandan Nielkani, Co-Founder & Ex-CEO, Infosys.
Soul-full versus soul-less
In essence any distinction between soul-less, and soul-full, comes down to the old division: Humankind, life, business are about ‘body’ — just tangible, ‘greedy-needy’ material things. Versus: humankind, life, business are about material things, plus ‘gutsy-generous’, heart, mind, spirit and soul things.
A material girl
And U.S. soldier Ralph Peters captures part of the soul-full world when he writes: “The great paradox of the 21st century is that, in this age of powerful technology, the biggest problems we face internationally are problems of the human soul.”
Soul-full individuals and business see riches and wealth as far, far more, than material cash, assets, capital. ‘Wealth’ includes wholeness, wellness, and well-being.
While soul-less individuals and business see riches and wealth only as material – as money, and what money can do, and buy: So, their life and business task is to grab as much of it as they can – no matter what!
A wonderful duet in Cabaret between Liza Minelli and Joel Grey puts this so wonderfully: “Money, money, money, money… money makes the world go round…”
Businesses with soul
Of course, every person, every business has its own unique ‘essence’, or culture, or soul. But some ‘soul-full’ businesses have ‘generous’ souls.
And some ‘soul-less’ businesses have really ‘grubby’ souls.And the trend is now clear: businesses with [generous] souls are part of a significant new way of being in business. And of doing business. We[change I to we] say ‘a new way’. But before the industrial revolution most businesses were businesses with soul.That revolution, and the growth of cities, started a split between who we are, how we live our lives, and how we earn our living.
Seven key elements
Okay, so what’s the way forward for you and me?
Hopefully, you’ve decided you want to create one or more businesses with soul. So, what are their core ingredients?
As we explore in more detail in later blogs, soul-filled business, are custom-baked from up to 7 key ingredients, which go to make up their distinctive focus, and eventually their ‘bottom lines’.
These seven ‘bottom lines’ are:
Getting to the bottom line
Now, we all know Profit is usually called the bottom line of any business. And that obsessive fixation is sometimes the source of many troubles, vexations, and bad, mad, sad human behaviour.
In reality, Profit, while essential, is but one of the great enabling mechanisms of any business – whether soul-less or soul-full. However, there are at least these six other ingredients that make up the bottom lines of a business with soul. Here they are once again: Purpose. People. Potential. Performance. Planet. Philanthropy.
Our business as us writ large
And here’s where the choice comes in.
The great, wonderful, amazing thing about creating, resourcing, building and growing our own business, is it can either be an extension of us, and our personality, our interests, our learnings, and the best we can be – that is, of our souls.
Or it can be some Frankenstein monster quite separate from our highest potential, and be merely a money-making, profit-producing machine.
That is, our business can be the vehicle for incubating our human spirit, soul and potential – and the spirit, soul, and potential of others. Or it can be a destroyer of the human spirit! Our choice! Your choice! My choice!
- At the extreme, of we desire is to be another Mother Theresa, we can make our business precisely a vehicle for that. Or whatever! Our choice!
- If we wish to build a solo, home-based business, our choice.
- If we wish to create the next killer app, our choice.
- If we wish to build a tribe, and be part of a confederation of entrepreneurs, our choice.
- If we wish to be a social entrepreneur, and change the world for good, our choice.
- If we wish to be a solo entrepreneur, or a communal entrepreneur, or a collaborative entrepreneur, our choice
- If we decide to be a serial entrepreneur and create multiple ventures, our choice.
What makes the difference?
Whatever! But whenever we choose to create a business with soul, we seek to make a difference to the world is some way:
- We aim to add value, rather than rob or merely redistribute value.
- We collaborate and co-operate in order to compete.
- We share as well as own.
- We create, not destroy. And
- Our intent is to do well by doing good.
In its own particular, specific, unique, customized way, each individual business with soul weaves together as many as seven quite distinct elements – as its seven-fold ‘bottom line’. We look at each of these seven, in detail, in later blogs.
The theme of our blogs
With each of these nine blogs, we lead you through these seven elements and give you scores of examples, ideas, tips and ‘how to’s’.
Taken together these challenge you, and show you how to generate wealth, wellness and well- being, by creating and growing your business, or business, with soul – with seven, or more, distinct sources of income.
Travel abundantly! And travel First-Class, and soul-fully, or not at all!
What’s all this guff about ‘business with soul?’ is the second Blog of nine in the series how to generate wealth, wellness and well- being, by growing your business, with soul by Neville Christie.
In this series of nine blogs, Neville invites you to create and build soul-full businesses with at least seven bottom lines and seven multiple streams of income. He shows you how. And he points you to actual possibilities.
Next: Have you designed the right sort of business for you?