On a recent podcast episode, one of my guests enthusiastically suggested that I check out Arthur Blank’s new book, Good Company. (I always ask my guests what their favorite books are because I ❤️ to read.)
So I started reading his book this past week and by page 16 I had highlighted more passages than I typically do in an entire book (I’m a big reading nerd, highlighting passages and writing in the margins).
What struck me most of all is how aligned I am with how Arthur thinks about business being a force for good in the world. I mean, I always respected him, but reading this book is like looking in a mirror (you know, minus the billions).
Right out of the gate I knew Arthur was my guy because he has President Jimmy Carter write the foreword! I’m such a fan of President Carter, having had a chance to meet him a few times as well as serve on the Board of Counselors for The Carter Center. (And I’ve never shared this before, but, being a believer that if you don’t ask you’ll never know, I did try to see if I could get President Carter to write the foreword to my first book, The 5-Day Turnaround. My request was politely declined…but I did receive a signed book by him #winning.)
Here are some passages from Good Company:
Business can and should do great things. They can be part of the solution, not the problem. In fact, because corporations wield so much power and influence in our society, they have an unmatched opportunity to do good, for the people who work in them and for the communities in which they do business… When we leverage our business interests for the greater good of our people’s lives and our community’s well-being while at the same increasing profit, business and philanthropy become inseparable.
Commercial success does not have to come at the cost of community, relationships, and happiness — it can and should arise because of those things.
I probably write more about this concept — that your business can (and yes, should!) work to both increase shareholder value AND make the world a better place — than anything else. Proof.
Community, for a good company, does not just mean the people within its own walls or on its block. In fact, its influence ripples out like a series of concentric circles.
Ok, this is where I stopped and thought, has Arthur been reading my diary? “Ripples?” I literally created a nonprofit in 2019 called Ripples of Hope with this same philosophy.
A good company has the opportunity to do something that is often overlooked in business plans or MBA programs: it can make people happier…I consider it part of my purpose in life to increase the happiness of others, and all of my many business ventures are outlets for this purpose.
Seriously, Arthur, are you punking me? Dragon Army’s purpose is to “inspire happiness”. And, outside of Zappos (RIP Tony Hsieh), it’s something I’ve never heard another company or person express as their purpose.
A good company can set an example — for others in its industry. When a company takes a risk to do the right thing and is rewarded by improvements in revenue and reputation, it can give others the courage to do the same.
It’s always been part of my focus to make sure that my companies are successful while also doing good so that others will see they can do the same. I was interviewed last year by a magazine and this is a quote they used: “I want Dragon Army to be a forever company because I really want people to see you can have great success while also focusing on doing good.”
There are so many more passages I could share. He talks about the importance of striving to create racial equity and social justice (in 2020 I co-founded The A Pledge) and how bringing the community together to do good is something leaders should aim to do (in 2015 I co-founded 48in48).
I’ll be honest, I was pretty sure I was on the right path with my business endeavors, but now I’m even more confident that by putting heart and purpose first, and working hard and staying focused (two other Arthur traits that ring true in this book), that good things will follow.
Oh, and I hope you’re happy :)
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And remember, always lead with purpose!