Is Greed Good for the Goal of Improving Society?

By:


Remember the infamous quote of villain financier Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street…back in 1987?

“I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them! The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed–for lack of a better word–is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms–greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge–has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed–you mark my words–will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA”.

I guess in this context, Gekko is using “greed” to define the constant desire for more, whether someone else has it or not.  He likens it to an evolutionary drive, that the need for more makes us figure out how to get it faster, more efficiently, and ultimately, easier.  And that this, in turn, results in benefits to everyone.

This is clearly a very particular definition of greed, and if you look at it from that perspective, it is indeed “good” in that it is a simple motivator that derives benefits beyond the individual actor.  In essence, it’s an “ends justify the means” argument.

Though this was quoted over two decades ago in one of the most controversial Hollywood movies ever, it resonates more than ever today… The only difference is that it is occurring at a much bigger scale.

So what do you make of it? Is greed good?

I guess as with any question like this, we need to start with the word “good.”

It is a fault of our language that “good” is most often used in an unqualified way. This is a symptom of our natural preference for dualistic thought. So what does unqualified ‘good’ mean?

Is greed good if your goal is monetary gain?  Absolutely, it’s the prime motivator.  Is greed good if your goal is running a successful soup kitchen?  Probably not.

Is greed “good” for the goal of living a happy life?  It could be, because it motivates you to improve your life in very real ways; on the other hand, there’s a fair amount of research that indicates over-attachment to material belongings draws your focus from other aspects of life that pay higher happiness dividends (personal relationships, self-improvement, etc).

Is greed “good” for the goal of improving society?  I doubt it.  I suppose it could motivate you to amass more resources, which you could then apply to humanitarian causes, but a very greedy person would probably also be unlikely to part with it.

Another way to use the unqualified “good” is as a sort of estimated sum of how effective greed is for helping you meet each of your goals, weighted by priority.  Let’s call this the “all-in-all” meaning.

So, is greed “good” in the all-in-all sense?  Will greed help you live a happier life?

From a wide-scope approach, it might be said that an economy of greedy people is an economy of motivated, productive workers.  This might be true, to a certain extent.  However, a society of extremely greedy people would mean a society of very stingy people; I doubt a country of greedy financiers, sitting on their money would lead to a robust, healthy economy.

But this is all about your average person.  Aberrations exist.  What if you’re not like most people?  What if poverty starvation is a serious possibility in your life?  Well then yes, greed would be a good thing to have.  What if material wealth is the big thing that makes you happy?  The only thing that makes you happy?  What if greed is your only motivator, the only thing that gets you out of bed and drives you to accomplish?  Then yes, having greed would be good in relation to your goals.  You might get better results though from examining your priorities and possibly changing your goals.

So in general, I would say that a little greed is good; it’s nature’s way of getting you to take care of your self-interests.  It’s also one of the major forces that keep societies progressing past the survival point.  Too much greed though poisons you.  There are countless examples of callous damage done to the world by the business community, and the only cause we can point to is human greed.

Bottom Line: I believe greed is ‘good’ only to the extent that it can be channeled productively.  Most of modern greed leads to people skimming money off of the productive and creative members of society; it results in many people with enormous intelligence and capability dedicating their lives to essentially worthless endeavors (such as predicting minor movements in stocks, bonds, currencies, etc.).  It also leads to frivolous lawsuits, ‘gaming the system’, overcharging and overbilling, etc.  It also leads individuals to steal and engage in other criminal activities.  Greed – when it leads one to invent, create, increase productivity, work harder, etc. can be good.  But it doesn’t always or even rarely has that effect.

I have no problem with people that amass large amounts of wealth — but if it pools up, it leads to problems. Wealth, like water, needs to move. Ideally that motion through society will be generated by the heavenly virtue that is classically contrasted with the deadly sin of greed.

Share your thoughts…

Tagged:

Monetizing your Knowledge – Convert Knowledge into Money

By:


It is amazing the number of people  I meet on a daily basis who have all kinds of knowledge stored in their brains but still have not figured out yet how to convert all this knowledge into money.

Can this be achieved? … Well, here are my personal thoughts.

  1. Knowledge does not convert into money. Knowledge is the multiplier for work. Work converts into money. It is only challenging to say the least to convert knowledge into money if one is not willing to put any work to support their knowledge with. So for all the day dreamers out there, it all starts with “smart work”.
  2. Work is not translated into dollars until you find people willing to embrace your product or service. In other words, unless you have knowledge that others 1) need in its raw form, 2) cannot acquire on their own, and 3) are willing to pay for, then knowledge by itself is just potential. Like a car with no gas. Combine knowledge with the energy/effort needed to apply it to a purpose, you might get somewhere.
  3. Stop thinking and start doing. Most people would rather talk and not perform any actual work. They’re thinkers, not doers. Or, it could be that they are scared to fail, or find out that their knowledge isn’t all that unique or important.  Start executing and lose the fear.
  4. Be realistic. One cannot expect to make it rich by writing a book on the fact that the earth is egg-shaped, or photosynthesis. People know that already. So unless you write very well, or become a teacher, or something of the kind, you will not convert knowledge into money.
  5. Master networking. At the end of the day, unless you have an insane amount of practical knowledge, you’re going to be less successful than the people who are really good at networking. Big businesses these days are shifting towards looking for people who can network, rather than people with theoretical knowledge about their business, because they figure that when you’re doing a degree in higher education you don’t actually learn to work for someone, and you don’t necessarily learn the skills that you’ll need for the job they want you to do; so the idea is that they take someone who has a personality suited to generating contacts and networking between businesses (which is not something you can easily teach) and teach them the skills they’ll need to work the job (which is something that is easily taught).

Bottom Line: Knowledge is the application of intelligence.  There are some smart people who can rattle off facts and figures but can’t think their way out of a wet paper bag.  Most investors have the facts and figures of the stock market which are readily available but how do you put that together to formulate a winning strategy and do so more often than not?  That takes knowledge of the broader environment to understand how a product might be received in the general buying public and take off when the raw numbers might indicate just a so-so reaction.  That kind of knowledge comes with time and experience.  You need to learn from those that possess such knowledge and learn the skills yourself.

Every type of knowledge is not born equal. Their value fluctuate according to the times, and according to each situation. You may either flow towards areas of knowledge which are known to generate money or figure out a niche where your knowledge is considered to be of value to other people.

Money is only one of the values knowledge can be turned into, either directly or indirectly, through monetizable activities. Those activities which bring material wealth are mostly of concern to the poor or greedy, because they depend so much on it. Once our basic needs are taken care of, most of us will be on the lookout for those values which have little to do with money, but can sometimes be acquired in exchange of it. Since material wealth is a socially constructed phenomena, knowledge ought to be subjected to market trends, as a tool, a service or a product, in order to be transformed into numbers in a bank account. (Oddly so, money can be one of the less tangible and most fictional of values created by knowledge. Such monkeys we are…)

To sum it up, look around you. Ask yourself how you and your knowledge can be of service to others. Develop a business model around an area of activity which can sustain itself through the value it brings to others. Learn to enjoy knowledge for itself and never forget why people are willing to pay for it.

Share your thoughts…

Tagged:

Raising Money For Non-Profit Organization – Ziad K Abdelnour

By:


I am frequently asked if there is a better way to raise money for non-profits than having to constantly ask for repeated contributions.

Well … I believe there are many ways to do so. Some are very non-traditional. Of course, if you are trying to raise millions or hundreds of thousands, you have a very limited number of things you can do because few sources have that much.

But if you are ok with raising smaller amounts, you can get loans, donations, grants, and do various side hustle things or a large number of other simple money-generating things.

The best way to pull your non-profit out of the rut of having to make a million small asks, run a million small events, and send out monthly fundraising letters is to develop a strong annual giving program.

Annual giving programs focus on small and medium sized donors, with the goal of building a core group of recurring donors — donors who give year after year.  Each year, some donors fall off the radar, and others come on board, but the end result is that your non-profit has a base amount of revenue that can be banked on each year.  Ideally, with work from your development office, this base amount will grow year in and year out.

As you cultivate individual givers for your annual giving program, you will want to try to get a number of them to sign up for multi-year (3 or 5 year) commitments.

Of course, no fundraising method is work-free.  Your development office will need to work hard to build this annual giving program through the standard channels:  building a prospect universe, introducing donors to your organization, cultivating them, getting them involved, and moving them to a one-year or multi-year gift.  The benefit with the annual giving model is that this program is scalable, and you can build upon previous year’s efforts with a stable of recurring donors.

Repeated requests for contributions is the marketing function of a charity.  You will always need to ask repeatedly, and your goal should be to do this well.  Just like a commercial enterprise must do.  Your donors are your stakeholders, and must have a vested interest in the quality of work you are doing.  The best way to not have to ‘ask’ for contributions is to be so excellent at what you do, that they ask you to please take their money.

Anyone involved in fundraising nowadays should realize that it is one of the most dynamic, exciting professions that exists. What makes it special is that it has a unique ‘win win’ dynamic built in philanthropically.  The charity asks and then proves worthwhile to be supported and when the donor decides to give their money they get as much reward for doing so as does the charity.  Many people live lives filled with ‘quiet desperation’.  Giving to a cause that is special to them brings happiness, a sense of renewal and pride in their affiliation that rejuvenates them towards feeling that indeed they are have a worthwhile purpose beyond their dull comfortable lives.

Yes, you can avoid all these ‘asks’ by coming up with some sort of commercial enterprise that will support your work…. or you can bring your supporters on their own individual ‘donor journey’ . . . creating commitment to the cause, engaging them as volunteers and directly in the work.  You can bring them along from the occasional donor, to the committed regular giver by direct monthly payment, to securing corporate support at the office, to become a major donor when their children leave home, and then planned giving and/or a legacy upon their death.  Aim for the long term investment of stakeholders who are passionate about your cause — the money will follow.  It’s an exciting experience to watch their lives transformed.

You don’t always have to be focused on “asking for money.” People who are connected to your organization (especially volunteers) and who have an abiding and deep interest in it will be the ones most interested in, and committed to, sustaining it. (But don’t stick your volunteers with the jobs you don’t want to do, like calling to ask for money, or stuffing envelopes, because they won’t want to do them either.) You won’t have to do much asking of people who are already involved.

Make it easy to actually get involved. Ask a friend to ask another friend for their help and advice (genuinely ask – not just as a means of raising money from them) and you’ll build supporters who will be committed to you. Create ripples of engagement and interest in the community by bringing people together to help you figure out how to keep your organization going. You’re interested in it, right? So other people should be, too. They’ll be your front line of supporters.

And think creative. Keep those ripples spreading. Let other people do the asking. Get other people involved.

The answers that advocate recurring donations are exactly right: the recurring donation, even each gift seems relatively smaller, adds up over time, and is significantly more efficient than having to return to the donor again and again to ask for a new gift.

I’d add that for “person to person” style giving , the monthly recurring gift is king, as opposed to the annual.

Monthly giving engages the donor on a loyalty and relational basis, allowing opportunity for regular touches throughout the year instead of risking the collapse of vision over a year. And donors tend to give monthly amounts out of their budget rather than their wealth (or tax-related gifts), which can be significantly more reliable.

One very important step your nonprofit can take to move away from repeated asks is to invest in a sustainer giving program where a donor gives a monthly, or quarterly, recurring gift on a credit or debit card.  Once the recurring gift is in place my experience is that donors let the gift continue for a long period of time.  I suggest branding the giving circle, and address the members in a different way, such as with a special newsletter or branded email series, to let them know how important they are to the organization.

Also, here again, suggest to donors that they consider a multi-year pledge.  This allows the nonprofit to save time and resources by not having to  re-solicit the donor each year, and can allow a donor a bigger naming opportunity then they might be able to do over one year, and helps the nonprofit with revenue forecasting.

Ziggedy is a brand new fundraising option for non profits or charities. As a user you simply have to shop on Ziggedy

through partnered businesses and 50% of this referral commission goes to the charity of your choice. If you are already shopping online I think it is a great option to raise money at no cost to you.

There are other creative ways too such as raising money through hosting annual dinner events which include silent auctions and dancing. If possible, solicit from client base the products that are auctioned off – contributions which are also great ways of a company showing support for the non-profit, as well as getting those products in front of friendly audience.
Hope all of this helps.
Please share your thoughts.

Tagged:

My Thoughts Regarding Wealth Redistribution

By:


Much of the rhetoric we’re hearing in the media today talks about the huge gap between rich and poor. Politicians on both sides discuss this issue, but neither seems to get to the root of the problem.

It’s true that the gap between the richest 10 percent of the country and the remaining 90 percent is growing, but from that point on, most politicians get it wrong.

The issue isn’t a matter of “wealth redistribution”, nor is it about protecting current tax rates. The real issue at hand is that most Americans just don’t understand the rules of personal finance. They believe what they hear from friends or people selling them products. It comes down to a lack of financial education.

Schools are turning out students who are not fully prepared for the real world. They might know the basics of history, science, math, and English, but there is no real teaching of money in school. I majored in economics and finance and I spent 25 years on Wall Street honing my skills, so I know firsthand how boring the topics can be. But I’m not talking about the heavy theory or detailed rules. I’m talking about simple personal finance — the money issues that will come up for people in the real world.

It is a sad fact today that when students they break out on their own, they are left unarmed when sellers of credit come calling. To be clear, it’s not that people are dumb — the sly and ingenious credit card companies make handling credit seem easy. But either way, the new consumers don’t see or know that taking on debt at a young age is killing their financial security. Saving at a young age is critical. Simple facts about personal finance are not taught and thus bright people are caught making financial mistakes.

Plans to redistribute wealth take money from those who know what they’re doing financially and give it to people who don’t know basic financial principles. The subprime mortgage crisis was a perfect example of that. Hardworking taxpayers were paying to bail out banks and individuals who made negligent transactions. People who were financially ignorant were allowed to take big loans from equally ignorant (or in some cases, criminal) mortgage brokers. Greed from Wall Street made it worse. Had more people known about simple financial principles, this would not have happened, nor would we be arguing about how to pay for it.

It’s not a matter of fiscal theory or taxation. It’s all about education. I’m not a fan of big government, but this is one place the government can step in and help. If there were mandatory programs for graduation that included personal finance, our economy could be on the right track in a generation or two.

While no politician is doing much to solve the real issue here, I think that we as entrepreneurs can begin to fix this problem. Have lunch with your staff and teach them about personal finance. If you’re not up to teaching the class, bring in an expert. Make sure the expert isn’t selling something or else you could be adding to the confusion. Refer them to the Financial Policy Council and start attending our events.

If we start by educating our staffs, we can work to build a financially intelligent country and get back on track at the same time. Plus, isn’t this a great benefit to give to the people who make your company work? If you invest in their financial knowledge, I’m sure it will help your bottom line.

I strongly believe any redistribution of wealth by the government, in either the executive, legislative, or judicial branches, has no place in a free, democratic society.

Some of our politicians reach for all the favorite conservative buzzwords. But they fail to cite any evidence to refute the simple, and I think quite obvious, assertion that the marketplace works most efficiently when entry of new businesses is a realistic possibility and predatory pricing is outlawed. That’s what the antitrust laws are supposed to accomplish. And business people who compete fairly and squarely need not worry about them for a moment.

You know you are capitalism’s ideal puppet when winning the lottery is your only chance to realizing financial freedom.
Want to change the outcome and start truly learning the process? The Financial Policy Council is the place to be. See for yourself.

Tagged:

Winning Financial Support For Your Non Profit

By:


As Founder & President of the Financial Policy Council since 2011, I learned over the last few years more than a few effective ways to win financial support for non-profit organizations.

I thought of sharing some with you in here for the benefit of anyone looking to enter the great world of non profits.

Here’s the lay of the land…

  1. Don’t Chase the Money – You have to qualify, qualify, qualify. Make sure your mission and purpose fits closely with the funding entity’s mission and purpose. Don’t apply for a grant because your business sort of, kind of fits it. Don’t tailor what your business does to get the funding. In hindsight, I learned to apply only for grants that look like they’re specifically written for me, my business.
  2. Be Laser Like Focused – Identifying private foundations, and other organizations that give grants to individuals or small businesses requires considerable time, effort and research. For starters, look in your own backyard to find grant-makers that have previously funded projects or services for businesses like yours. Use a rifle approach never a gunshot approach.
  3. Determine Your Approach – Once you identify potential funders, determine how you intend to approach them. Make a personal contact and cultivate relationships by e-mail, telephone call, office visit and/or letter of inquiry. During this stage you want to determine 1) their interest in your project or company, and 2) what they would like to see first as the initial document of entry (i.e., letter of inquiry or concept paper). Many funding organizations now prefer that requests be submitted first in letter format before accepting a full proposal.
  4. Get To Know Your Funder – Don’t write the proposal first and then go looking for funders. Your grant proposal has to be prescriptive to what that funder is seeking. Get to know potential grant-makers better by obtaining copies of their annual reports. Scrutinize their website. What buzz words do they use. You can even incorporate that funder’s colors into the fonts and graphics that you use in your grant proposal.
  5. Do Whatever the “Request For Proposal” Says – Most importantly, request a copy of the grant guidelines. Follow the requirements of the funding notice or application to the letter. Your guide for what to include or not to include in your document is the request for proposal (RFP) or grant application. Give the funder exactly what they ask for, no more and no less. If it says give a brief statement, you write a paragraph. If it says give us two to four pages that is what you will provide—not one page or four and a half pages.
  6. State Measurable Not Fluffy Objectives – In general, your proposal will start with an introduction, which includes the amount requested, followed by a description and brief history of your company and its products, services or programs. Your proposal should describe anticipated and immediate short-term and long-term results, proposed implementation, staff or key personnel, budget, methodology, benchmarks, and timetable. A common mistake in writing a proposal is failing to distinguish between a goal and objective. To provide value added services to financially savvy professionals helping to create wealth is a goal not an objective. Your objective must be S.M.A.R.T, that is specific, measurable, obtainable, realistic, and time bound. A measurable objective will have a subject, an action, a location, a timeframe and a percentage.
  7. Spell Out How You Intend to Spend the Money – The person giving you the money has to make sure you know how to spend it – line item by line item. Some reviewers look at the budget first to gauge applicants. People often are disqualified for providing an improper budget. They usually get tripped up by either over estimating or underestimating their costs.
  8. Consult a Professional Grant Writer – Don’t be fooled by advertisements and promotions for granting writing. There are a lot of scammers, especially on the internet. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource for checking the references of a grant writer. Expect to pay from $1,000 to $3,000 for a grant proposal for private or foundation funding and $4,000 to $15,000 for a grant proposal for government funding, since such grant applications tend to be more intricate.  Even if you don’t hire someone to write it, you should consider hiring someone to review it.

Now you know …. Share your thoughts if you believe I missed anything of significance.

Good luck with your funding.

Tagged:
Page 2 of 5
1 2 3 4 5