Serial Entrepreneur, Investor, and Host of ‘Activist Capitalist’ Steve Little on Leveraging Conscious Values … to Build the Value of Your Company

Your company can save the world.

It’s a rousing sentence, and an enormous claim.

Here’s the thing about this enormous claim: it’s backed by an enormous need for companies who are making an effort to dispel the suffering of humanity within their communities.

Especially now with Coronavirus, there is an enormous demand for companies who are helping to repair our ecosystem.

I call it Activism Capitalism.

Using Activism Capitalism, I’ve helped a lot of people all around the world while also adding many zeros to the value of many companies. It’s the only way I’ll do business.

Healing the planet and people’s lives is the number one value driver for company growth – and the one thing almost every customer on the planet wants from a company, even when they don’t know what they want.

Say they want a new pair of shoes. So, they sit down at their computer. Are they searching for shoes? Sure, but what they are reading are the reviews, and what they are learning about is the company itself. In the reviews they’re searching for a company they can trust. Maybe they come across Zappos.com, which pours its resources into improving the lifestyles of their employees and building up their communities. That’s why Zappos has a reputation for world class customer service that leaves everyone feeling like a part of the Zappos family. Zappos started in 1999 as a small owner-operated Internet store called shoesite.com. Ten years later it was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion.

Or maybe this customer finds Toms Shoes’ buy-one-give-one program that promises for every pair of shoes sold, a person in need receives a free pair of shoes for themselves. Why buy any old pair of shoes when you can buy Toms and contribute to humanity for the same price? When Toms launched this mission nine years ago, the company was worth a few billion. Today, it’s worth upwards of $600 billion.

The Internet changed everything. Purchasing decisions are no longer just product driven. If your product or service doesn’t live up to its value promise, AND your company doesn’t have some positive impact in the world, your company is going down the drain fast. It’s as simple as that. The law of supply and demand directly fuels Activism Capitalism.

Helping to save the world is in demand. It’s good for your soul, good for your family, good for your legacy, good for your company, and good for your entire community. Activism Capitalism inspires real, scalable hope for the future of mankind.

There are Four Pillars of Activism Capitalism … or HEAL

H- Humanity First

E- Ecosystem

A- Align Your Values with Your Practices and

L- Lead People to Become Leaders

A Gallup poll recently found that three out of four people believe that most businesses operate immorally, blindly chasing revenue at the expense of humanity. These people are YOUR people! They are your neighbors. Your team members. Your community. Your customers. Your investors.

So let’s HEAL:

H- Humanity First. What is the best way for your company to help ease the suffering of humanity? Start with the humans who work for your company.

Richard Branson says, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

One of the secrets to changing the world is to think globally and act locally. What can you and your company do to care more deeply about the health and emotional wellbeing of your team? Improve the lives of the people who represent your company, and they will feel the call to do so too! They’ll join you in your mission to improve the lives of your customers, while adding tremendous value to your bottom line, and securing the longevity of your company. The Healing Organization, by Raj Sisodia and Michael J. Gelbs, is a leading resource for becoming an Activist Capitalist. “Whatever one’s level of income, when meaning and purpose are absent, when we feel dehumanized and objectified, we experience emotional and spiritual suffering,” the book says.

A living wage is vital, especially in our Pandemic-hit economy. Yet there is more to it than that. Part of being human is needing to be seen and heard. The hard-nosed, emotionally detached, CEO stereotype is dead. Literally, these guys are dying of heart attacks and strokes every day. The Ebeneezers of the world are dropping like flies. It’s no way to live, and it doesn’t work anymore.

Starbucks recently launched a company-wide re-training program that cost them millions to implement. The reason? The policies they had in place unwittingly resulted in a very public display of dehumanizing two customers in Philadelphia. The entire purpose of Starbuck’s 7 figure investment into this training project is essentially to reinstate the first pillar: Humanity First. Always.

People want to work toward a higher purpose. A greater good. That is what inspires people. And it DOES work. In fact, a recent study done by Harvard Business Review found that companies who practice prioritizing humanity and improving individual lives are 10X more successful.

E – Ecosystem

A poll taken by Gallup discovered that 65% of Americans believe that environmental protection should be prioritized over economic growth.  Your people are saying: “We care about the environment. We care about animals. And we notice when companies are using OUR money to help the planet that we will be leaving to our children.”

So what’s the best way for your company to lay the groundwork for saving the planet?

Think globally and act locally.

The first ecosystem to improve is the one you’ve created within your company, and the second is within the immediate community. Saving the world begins as an inside job. We’ve already touched on taking care of your people first. When there is a discrepancy between the way your company values employees and the way your company values customers, the value of your business will ALWAYS suffer somewhere down the line, so it is vital to the value of your company to start saving the world right where you live and work first.

Every community has areas of decline and disparity. Getting your company involved with the organizations who are actively contributing to the community in your marketspace, has a return on investment that is both spiritually and financially enriching.

A – Align Your Values with Your Personal Practices

YOU are more than the owner of your company. It’s time to take ownership of your company’s values and ethics and becoming the physical embodiment of your company’s promise. You have a responsibility to your business plan to live into your company’s values and ethics in every interaction you have every single day. It doesn’t matter if that interaction is with your Starbucks barista, or your head of marketing. As the owner, you will always set the bar for how well your company is represented. Your conduct determines whether your company’s mission is a passionate way of life, or words on a sheet of paper.

Returning to your company’s values and ethics before making every decision whether it’s regarding a client, a friend, or a total stranger, means you always have a guiding light. Leaders are at the core of their company, and authenticity at the core yields good fruit.

L – Lead People to Become Leaders

Uplift your team members in a way that also furthers them in their own personal journey.

This is the difference between a boss and a leader. A boss cracks the whip. A leader creates a path and shows others the way. Your employees care more about their jobs than just for the purpose of income, and if they don’t, they desperately want to.

In The Healing Organization, CEOs are encouraged to “…seek nothing less than the transformation of the workplace from a place of stress and fear to one of inspiration and growth, from what feels to many like a miserable prison to a joyful playground.”

As a leader, you are in a position to educate and influence the people who work for you. You can save the world by providing  your community, a new wave of passionate, thriving, activated leaders.

Simon Sinek once said, “A boss has a title, a leader has the people.”

So now that you have The Four Pillars of Activism Capitalism, it’s time for you to answer the call.

Remember, saving the world is an inside job.

Begin modeling the values and ethics you wish your company to be known for having. Make a list of the virtues you want as your company’s reputation, and brainstorm ways you can implement these virtues into your own character.

Your company can save the world, and while you’re busy thinking globally and acting locally, your company’s value will be busy skyrocketing. That’s the way of the Activist Capitalist.

Steve Little is a serial entrepreneur building 6 of his own companies to 9-figure exits and helping CEOs and Founders multiply their valuation growth and exit multiples leveraging “Activist Capitalist values as the CEO and Founder of Zero Limits Ventures. Listen to the Activist Capitalist Podcast on Podopolo.