Integrity, Ambition and the Power of Commerce to Drive Ethical Progress

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

  • R. Buckminster Fuller

[The following was an idea for a book that didn’t get written, yet I keep returning to it’s central premise, the enlarging of a middle way in our lives and careers, the ability to do well and do good throughout our lives.]

A false dichotomy has held sway in business leadership for many generations. It basically goes as follows:

Maniacally pursue wealth and influence, do whatever it takes to get there, hook or crook. Once you arrive at “the number,” that magical status where you think you’ve got enough security, or you feel the societal pressure to think of others, you can turn your attention to philanthropy.

Today, if you’re smart, ambitious and industrious, this is the option you’ll probably pursue. For the most part, there’s logic and prior evidence to support this way of life. There is also a very common fallacy. Because it has been this way, it will continue to be this way in the future. Always.

On the other side of this old dichotomy is the soft-hearted do-gooder. Our business myth says these folks couldn’t handle the dog eat dog realities of aggressive competition in business, so they settle for the diminished standards and slow progress of the non-profit. Their kindness makes them weak. They live on the handouts of elite business people and are mostly reduced to begging, what is called “development” in the non-profit sector. They live their lives in cycles of beg and spend. Their organizations can function as vehicles of moral absolution for the people in the first category, but if they attempted to truly address the systemic issues that generate social stratification and the most acute causes of human suffering, they would risk alienating their donor base. These people must placate and enable the wealthiest and most powerful among us.

For a growing contingent of our most promising business people, these two categories hold little appeal. We don’t want to be oligarchs attending charity balls or hamstrung bleeding hearts unable to have a massive rapid impact.

We want to be compassion-driven business leaders and we think there are a lot of you out there who feel the same. But how?

To paraphrase Jim Collins, there is an “and/both” solution, a bursting of this false dichotomy that casts a smothering shadow on our society. We can come from both strength and kindness, doing good at every turn while we erect engines of change that scale through the power of profits.

Deeply Connected is a revolutionary book on how to become a different kind of entrepreneur, one who does well by doing good all along the way.

Authored by serial entrepreneurs Arjun Dev Arora and Raman Frey, two guys who have served on non-profit boards and built businesses with friends in the innovation hothouse of Silicon Valley, Deeply Connected seeks to light the way.

This book shows the path to being “deeply connected,” to yourself and your own mind and emotions, to those of your team, your vendors, your customers, to clearly articulating your values, asking that others hold you accountable to make decisions rooted in those values and course correcting back to those values gently when you drift astray.

Ultimately, Deeply Connected is about empowering a nascent generation of business leaders to marry the idealistic and the practical, to align their “intrinsic motives” with profit motive, to feel good about how we all treat others and are treated and to reveal all the strategic advantages that come from this new and/both hybrid of values driven commerce.

Social and psychological studies have exploded with evidence that debunks the American myth of the “rugged individualist.” Darwinist ideas have themselves grown in nuance, revealing that the strongest individual, in isolation, is poorly adapted to deal with rapid change; it is groups defined by implicit trust, diverse backgrounds and complementary skills that do best in today’s rapidly evolving world. Human beings are socially entwined with those around us; habits of mind, speech and action spread like contagions, suggesting that who we spend our time with matters more than almost any other factor in choices around work. Our minds and identities literally blend at their edges with those of the people we collaborate with.

We’ll explore the neuroscience of how our personal lives, work productivity and capacity to collaborate and be creative all grow in contexts of vulnerability and trust; life in the prefrontal cortex, shaped by both IQ and EQ, rather than in the amygdala, operating from fear and a scarcity mentality.

Mindfulness and well being as integrated into elite work cultures are all the rage, but what do we do once these tools have helped us become more introspective and self-aware? Deeply Connected examines the way systems and organizations can produce values aligned progress and positive sum dynamics that truly lift all boats.

We’ll share specific stories of business leaders who have built cultures of learning and exploration and how they invented new market categories, rather than fighting within existing saturated verticals. These business leaders offer you tools you can use now to either shift your current workplace or create new business paradigms that will render the old “zero sum” business ethics obsolete.

We often forget that some of civilizations’ great leaps forward in the ethical treatment of others were fueled by the power of commerce. Deeply Connected envisions a vibrant future where most of us thrive and all life flourishes, elevating forms of business that are regenerative of ecosystems and people’s spirits.

In the future these visionaries are building, everyone has the opportunity to be creative, candid and kind, building up magnetic organizations that grow to serve and bring our world into balance, rather than growing simply for the sake of growth.

Good People and Meaningful Conversations