The Golden Rule In Business (LMU Suppliment)

Prompt 1: In Pope Francis’ 2015 address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, he said: “Let us remember the Golden Rule: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ (Mt 7:12). This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves.” While Pope Francis was speaking to elected leaders when he made these remarks, he was reminding all leaders of our obligations to each other. How do leaders and decision makers in any organization keep the Golden Rule in mind while striving for distinction and success?

While we pay for our apartment rent or home mortgage with green bills, we pay for our time on Earth with the value we provide for others.

As a business owner and entrepreneur, I recognize that every business needs to make money to survive and succeed. Unfortunately, in the world of business, a mountain of “impersonification” exists in which businesses have forgotten why they exist. Instead of realizing that giving value to the world brings them revenue, they chase revenue and then attribute it after the fact to providing value to the world.

Fortunately, thanks to the advice of Ezra Firestone to “serve the world unselfishly and profit,” I believe I have the right focus, one that aligns with leaders and decision makers who follow the Golden Rule.

As a morally conscious entrepreneur who founded two companies that support the LGBTQ community and teenagers suffering from acne problems, I strive to ensure my businesses provide first value to my customer and then happen to profit from the transactions. This ignites a cycle in which I can invest the revenue into the business for further value or I can give it to a charity supporting one of the causes I believe in. I have seen too many examples of businesses which sell a superficial product purely for the sake of money, only to experience a collapse without the pillars of the Golden Rule supporting them.

This focus on value first came to play with Supreme Pride Store, a t-shirt company which encouraged the marginalized in the LGBTQ community to “show their pride.” Hundreds, if not thousands, of t-shirt companies already existed—I needed to provide value to this community beyond just a comfortable shirt. Fortunately, one post on Instagram demonstrated the value I sought to provide.

A month into Supreme Pride Store, I logged onto Instagram and saw an individual under the name “@freshbrewery” had tagged us, writing, “I've never really felt the need to engage in advertisement… to bolster my own sense of pride…. But it's 2017…. Resistance is in 'visibility.'” I felt excitement run through me and responded with “Beautiful.” The beauty of it all came not in the public nature of the post, but that I had enabled someone to take pride in being visible and public about their sexual orientation.

While the next eight months produced $60,000 in sales with a 20 percent profit margin, I take much more joy in helping the LGBTQ community “show their pride.” We distributed flags and shirts to all 50 states and over 30 countries, all with the intent of giving back to this marginalized group. We spread a value, not a product—and in doing so, I believe we lived up to the Golden Rule.

I sought to continue my value-based approach with my most recent company, Jayclear. I knew from my own personal experience with cystic acne how troublesome and embarrassing this can feel. Instead of making a valueless book or pamphlet on how one could get rid of acne, I assembled a team of three professional researches to produce a well-researched, comprehensive information product. I provided over 120 pages of written material, an online course, and, most importantly, one-on-one coaching. This will eventually culminate in a physical product line, but I feel grateful that it originated out of a desire to bring value to the world, not money to my pocket.

In my study of executives and leaders who have reached the pinnacle of success, it does not surprise me to also see that they believe in the value of giving. Numerous billionaires such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg have all signed The Giving Pledge, promising to give at least half of their net worth away. In a similar vein, some executives like Gates wind up starting invaluable charities like the Melinda Gates Foundation. Finally, within specific companies, notable CEOs like James Parker of Southwest and Tony Hsieh at Zappos have created powerful cultures by giving significant perks and rewards to their employees.

In terms of dollars, I have not generated even a fraction of a percentage of what the names listed above have created. But I hope that in following their lead to exemplify The Golden Rule and serve unselfishly, I can strive for success in a valuable way that also provides profit.

Making money suggests success. But giving is success.

Jake Blanchfield