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profit (1)

  • "Profit". When you hear that word, is your gut reaction "Yeah!" or "Yuck!"? Or, like me, do you have both reactions simultaneously?

    For "Yuck!" people, the word "profit" brings up negative feelings along with images of heartless "big business" executives aggressively enriching themselves without giving a hoot about the consequences of their activities for other people. This attitude views profit as mostly a win-lose proposition.

    For "Yeah!" people, the word "profit" brings up positive feelings along with images of smart, disciplined businesspeople reaping well-deserved rewards for being creatively and efficiently responsive to what other people (customers) want. This attitude views profit as mostly a win-win proposition.

    Many of us have been conditioned pretty strongly with one attitude or the other. The professional, political, and personal communities we choose often reinforce our conditioning. It is challenging for us to engage productively with people with the opposite attitude. Too often, we don't even try.

    To effectively create and promote resilience tech (tech that helps users boost their psychological and biological ability to bounce back from adversity), I think we need to get past the win-lose thinking associated with the "Yuck!" attitude, and cultivate win-win thinking at a deeper level than is usually associated with the "Yeah!" attitude. This requires that we integrate wisdom from both attitudes.

    The "Yeah!" attitude wisely points out that, to maximize our positive impact, we need:

    • Outward Focus: Seeking profit forces us to be responsive to the people we want to help, since our profits depend on how they respond to what we do. Yeah!
    • Quantitative Focus: Numerical measures of success really matter, and seeking profit forces us to take them seriously. Yeah!
    • Self-Funding Products: Successful profitable products fund themselves as their impact scales up. Yeah!

    The "Yuck!" attitude wisely points out that, to maximize our positive impact, we cannot allow our desire for profit to lead to:

    • Narrow Focus: Seeking profit can narrow our focus to helping people who are able and willing to pay, or who are desirable advertising targets. Yuck!
    • Superficial Focus: Seeking profit can lead us to cater mainly to superficial desires that make people open their wallets, while neglecting their deeper needs. Yuck!
    • Short-Term Focus: Seeking profit focuses us on short-term concerns, often to the exclusion of important long-term considerations. Yuck!

    By integrating these points we can cultivate a wiser relationship to profit, opening up a deeper win-win basis for creating and promoting resilience technology.

    How? When the topic of profit comes up, notice how your own attitude arises as feelings, words, and images. Appreciate the wisdom it contains, then gently remind yourself of the wisdom reflected in the opposite attitude.

    If you tend toward the "Yuck!" reaction, remind yourself that the real source of that "Yuck!" feeling is not profit itself, but the narrow, superficial, and short term focus often associated with it. Seeking profit can actually result in helping more people more effectively than well-meaning nonprofit efforts that are not forced to focus outward, take numbers seriously, and make their products fund themselves.

    If you tend toward the "Yeah!" reaction, remind yourself that short term financial profit is just part of what you can win in business. By focusing also on broader, deeper, and longer term objectives and measures of success, you can achieve the short term profit you need along with a whole host of additional "winnings," such as a resilient brand, grateful and loyal customers, and deeper personal satisfaction.

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