We shouldn’t have to trade meaning for money.

There is a fallacy that I carried around throughout a good chunk of my career. It was the belief that meaning and money were polar opposites.

If you wanted to do good, you volunteered your time. You gave money to charities. But these things were separate from the business of doing business. Business was unemotional and calculating. And if a person offended someone in the process, he could simply state, “It’s not personal. It’s business.” It was like a free pass for being a jerk. Because that was the way business was done. You didn’t have to worry about bothersome things like ‘meaning’ or ‘purpose’.

Meaning and money and the virtuous circle

This crazy idea has started to emerge. What if doing good actually helps your business do better? What if there is a new equation for accelerated success? More meaning = more money.

I wrote about how this can create a virtuous circle for an organization:

But what if we could serve society while financially bettering the organization we work for. So we can turn around and help everyone prosper even more while we prosper. That creates a virtuous circle (I refuse to call it a “win-win” - you’re welcome). That’s what a Big Audacious Meaning does. It brings together meaning and money.

Does it really work? Yep. Just ask Unilever. Their purpose driven brands are growing at twice the pace of other brands in their portfolio. Unilever is just one of the organizations that is demonstrating that how we make a difference aligns with how we make a profit. They understand that doing good is not some corporate responsibility that they have to fulfill. They understand that bringing meaning into the equation is a strategic growth initiative.

They understand that there is no tradeoff.