Flashback: I’m seventeen and my mom and I are driving somewhere, talking about my future career goals. College application season was in full swing so the topic weighed heavy on me. What did I want to study?
My mom would have loved for me to pursue acting or journalism, but I wanted to study business and go into advertising or marketing. Rebel.
Some people know exactly what they want to do and go for it. But I was never the person who had an early calling on any one thing. Maybe you can relate? My attention span is too short, my interests too varied.
From age ten, one of my older brothers wanted to be a lawyer. And at fifty, he’s now…a successful lawyer. How I envied such clarity.
Some of my friends wanted to be doctors, teachers, scientists. Wanting to make a difference myself, I was torn up by my non-philanthropic career goals. I longed to create, communicate and impact in my own way, like running marketing for a city arts or theatre company.
“Maria, it’s okay to do something you love,” Mom said. “Not everyone can pursue a ‘noble’ profession. Things still need to get done. But you can still do good in the world, no matter what you do for a living.”
This conversation is a hazy memory, I’m not sure if it was real or imagined. Regardless, it has shaped my world view.
My deeper purpose has always been to engage, inform and delight with my work in order to make the world a better place. And it informs one of my primary values: With great success comes great responsibility.
With great success comes great responsibility: 5 ways your biz can make the world better @redslice Click To Tweet
We don’t all have the drive to join the PeaceCorps. We can’t all run into burning buildings to save puppies. Our work may not involve curing cancer or advancing world peace, but we can do many philanthropic things with our businesses.
Here are five ways your business can make the world a better place:
- Donate a percentage of profits: You can use your good fortune to help worthy causes. This type of social entrepreneurship is getting more and more popular. Why not make yourself successful so you can in turn support honorable causes? You can do this consistently or with special promotions. You could become a one-for-one company and donate an item to people in need for every item you sell like Tom’s or Embrace Baby Warmers. If you can’t be in the trenches, find a way to use your profits to support those who are.
- Give the gift of giving back: I do this every year at the holidays. Instead of useless mugs or pens that will just get lost or thrown away, I thank my clients and partners by allowing them to choose from a selection of my favorite charities and I give a gift in their name. They remember my brand with respect, feel good about not cluttering their desk, and the organization gets the resources to continue its good work. #winning
- Take on a pro bono project: My friend used to run a design agency and every quarter they would take on one pro bono project to help a community organization. They had deep values in promoting social good and did a lot of paid work for socially responsible companies. Those paid gigs enabled them to generously donate their time and talent to help local worthy causes with tiny budgets. And side bonus: the PR was priceless.
- Choose your clients wisely: No one says you have to serve organizations who pollute the environment or product marketers who scam old people. It’s your business! You absolutely have the right and responsibility to define your values and work only with people or brands who do no harm. This includes partners. The more you support those kinds of people or businesses, the more we all win.
- Be a good, authentic person: You can choose to add to the scandalous marketing trash out there polluting our hearts and minds or you can rise above. Stay truthful in your advertising. You are called to create something that matters, so offer value and substance. Be good to your customers and clients. Show empathy. Keep your word. You can only control yourself, so be the example.
Image Credit via Flickr