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Startup Strategy: Preach lofty ideals as your mission, but maximize profits

These days it's become hip to slap lofty missions and ideals on for-profit companies.

It's not anymore about ROI, market domination and good ol' bottom line.
Sometimes it's not even anymore about outstanding service and making our customers happy.

Today it's about saving the world, sharing wisdom... And the biggest catchphrase of them all: "make an impact" on people's lives.

Of course, they also want money, they say.
But they don't want "dirty" money: they either make money doing good things for the world, or they wouldn't do it at all.
This game especially true -and a must- for all companies and "gurus" working in training, self-help, and self-development.

Now don't get me wrong: this is good!

Even if most people just pay lip service and even if often most companies don't walk the talk, it might still help to go in the right direction.
And it's great that society is developing more stringent ethical expectations for the business.

But at the same time, don't buy the hype.

People haven't really changed that much from the years when business was all about making money and increasing the bottom line.
And 99% of the worst snake-oil salesmen also hide behind the "I'm here to do good" front.

There are thousands of examples (see "companies' manipulation").
Think of Therano's founder Elizabeth Holmes.
Or look at the WeWork example:

adam neumann quoteThis guy swindled investors... And then asked a billion just to let them fix his mess. But sure he had a grand mission

Keep Your Eyes on Money & Psychology

And if you're in business and want to make a good career, you shouldn't get swayed by values and slogans.
What really matters is still the same:

  1. Increase the bottom line  
  2. Be good at politics
    1. Don't piss off the wrong person
    2. Make friends with the right persons

Remember what a smart guy once said:

The world is run by self-interest.

We are still based on selfish genes that maximize for the individual, not the collective.
And lofty visions and missions haven't changed that.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think there are a few exceptions to the rule. Nikola Tesla, Elon Musk, Martin Luther King being a few examples.

Oh for sure, there are.

People are capable of both the lowest lows, and the highest highs.

I always get a bit emotional when I think of this doctor, and of his epic answer:

Asked on why he didn't patent his vaccine discovery, which would have made him extra rich, he replies "could you patent the sun".

Wonderful.

This section of the forum though is not for the highest highs and for the positive examples -there are plenty of sources for that-.
This section focuses on the lowest lows and on the "banality of evils", serving as a warning.

And sometimes, you also want to be careful of those who put goals and mission above everything else.
Because that "everything else" can end up meaning that a lot of "everyone else" have to suffer to make that goal possible.

Hitler, for example, put his mission above money. And above the life of millions.
It's an extreme example, but there are plenty of people for whom goals matter far more than people.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

There was a great psychological profile on Adolf Hitler which predicted his eventual fall: https://www.cia.gov/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP78-02646R000100030002-2.pdf

I would add that the lowest of the lows usually includes someone who's trying to use achievements to make up for past hurts that they hadn't resolved within themselves. Elizabeth Holmes would fall into that camp as well. There's a huge basis in shame there: these rigid leaders who would do anything to reach their goals---even when it's obvious to others that their goal isn't worth the slaughter it would take to reach it. It's based a lot on toxic shame and the desire to rid themselves of anything that resembles weakness.

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Lucio Buffalmano
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