RECENTLY, THE US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR issued guidance about investing retirement plans in socially responsible companies. In what appeared to be a reversal of the previous administration’s guidance, DOL stated that investments based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria aren’t always a “prudent choice” and that such factors shouldn’t “too readily” be considered as economically relevant.

There’s some truth to this, but it’s really no different from saying that non-financial criteria ANYWHERE might cloud your view in making purely financial decisions.

Here’s the problem: This is taking a very narrow and short-term view of investing.

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YOU’RE DEDICATED TO YOUR CAUSE of making the world a better place to live. So much, in fact, that you’ve built it into your business model. You have favored charities. You actively promote certain causes.

So now it comes your marketing, and you get stalled.

It feels like you’re bragging. Are you?

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A FEW YEARS AGO, Simon Sinek explained a framework he called Why-How-What. He was drawing a distinction between the way we usually market to customers, and a much more effective method of capturing the emotion and inspiration first.

I have a link to his TED talk at the end; it’s quite good.

I’ve noticed that the same process works remarkably well with engaging and inspiring employees.

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AS I WAS DRIVING DOWN THE STREET YESTERDAY, I saw a business proudly displaying a sign out front:

“We care about our customers and what’s best for them”

This kind of thing just drives me crazy. Seriously, somebody thought this would be an effective marketing strategy?

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THERE SEEMS TO BE A HUGE DISCONNECT between how older people define “career” versus younger people.

This was well articulated by the author of 50 Ways to Get a Job, Dev Aujila. In a recent interview, he spoke of stability based jobs versus skill based jobs. He was speaking to job seekers, but business leaders have a lot to learn from this.

My parents grew up with the model that success looks like having one employer and one career for your entire working life. That model was already breaking down in the 1970s, and now it’s rarely effective.

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BEES ARE INCREDIBLE LITTLE CREATURES. And, as we’re finding out, vital to our entire food chain.

But they don’t actually produce food themselves, except honey. That’s not what makes them important.

Their role is crucial because they enable plants to do what they do best. They’re the catalyst, in a way, for why our food chain works.

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RECENTLY I HAD A CHANCE to speak on a panel about nurturing international and cross-cultural relationships. This is a wonderfully rich topic, because it can get to the core of who we are as humans.

Here’s the deal: I think I’m normal, but everyone else is various shades of weird.

We’re all like that.

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THORNS ARE A REAL PAIN to deal with. In your business, perhaps your “thorns” are:

  • Customers that are demanding, unappreciative, and don’t pay on time
  • Employees who don’t get along well
  • Regulations
  • Mistakes
  • Life

This is what makes leadership so difficult. When things are going well, great! But there always seems to be a few aspects which are painful.

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PLANNING IS FANTASTIC, but it has one big problem:

Reality gets in the way.

You go to all this work to create the fully robust plan, to get everyone on board, even to test various scenarios. It’s wonderful! But the plan was put in a binder on the shelf, never to be opened again.

Why is that?

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AS OWNER OR LEADER, YOU are one of the key assets of the business. Your employees are wonderful, I understand, but without leadership it will all fall apart.

Yet it seems we’re the last one to get taken care of.

I admire leaders who recognize what it takes to sustain their own focus, energy, and inspiration. Without doing that, you can’t pass it off to your people.

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