Three ways Company CEOs can help build a Golden Age

In order to build a better world, we have to imagine a future in which social ills have been alleviated and people are living freer and more prosperous lives. I call this vision the “Golden Age.”

I believe it is possible to create a Golden Age. And I believe that company CEOs are in a powerful position — perhaps the most powerful position — to activate the concept of the Golden Age and push society in a positive, better direction.

Here are three ways that company CEOs can help build a Golden Age:

1) CEOs can bake positive impact into the company’s mission. Starting a company is no laughing matter. It can takes years, or even decades, for an entrepreneur to see the type of financial stability and returns that motivated them in the first place.

People see Mark Zuckerberg and think it will take a few years to make several billions of dollars. Nothing could be further from the truth.

People like Zuckerberg, and companies like Facebook, are the exception to the rule.

And Facebook makes a lot of money by invading people’s sense of personal privacy. Is that really the type of business model young entrepreneurs should be aspiring to?

Entrepreneurship needs to contain a sense of decency and ethics in itself. And the best way to do this is to bake some type of positive impact directly into the company’s mission.

It’s not enough to make the best widget in your industry. The company’s mission needs to be making the best widget and also doing good at the same time.

I call this type of entrepreneurship “spiritual entrepreneurship.” It is a type of entrepreneurship that is not really celebrated. Yet.

But spiritual entrepreneurship is the future. I believe that the entrepreneurs of the future will not only be judged by how much money they make, but also, the problems they solved that were plaguing their respective societies.

Look around — there are many problems.

The art of building a company can no longer just be about money. It must also become a journey of personal discovery and spiritual betterment.

The world is in too precarious a state to just focus exclusively on money.

It is absolutely possible to build a healthy, profitable company that also contributes positively to the world. If you don’t believe that, then you shouldn’t be in business. 

2) CEOs must consider the real world impacts of their company’s business model. Running and growing a new enterprise is an exciting but arduous challenge. It’s easy to just try and focus on profitability and not worry about anything else.

But business models have real world consequences.

The fact that Uber and Lyft are putting so many taxi companies out of business — even leading taxi drivers to commit suicide — is something that can no longer be ignored.

A business model that produces profits through easy waste and pollution is ethically compromised. It should not be celebrated or followed.

I don’t agree with entrepreneurs who tell me that the only way to make money is to pollute or destroy lives. This is not what “disruption” is about. I think that is lazy. The best entrepreneurs are the ones who can figure out business models that make the world a better place. 

3) CEOs can use social impact as the reason people say “wow” about their products and services. Every industry has a leading brand that is able to continually impress people and get them to say “wow” about their products and services.

The first iPhone, the first Star Wars film, the first Tesla—the entrepreneurs who become cultural icons are the ones who can figure out how to amaze others and to show them a world they never knew was possible.

Figuring out how to build and develop a product or service that can mesmerize consumers and make them cry for more is the task of every great entrepreneur.

So why not combine that task with a positive social impact?

Why not make the thing that wows your customers go hand in hand with a socially beneficial contribution?

Imagine if everytime someone purchased a new iPhone, a ton of carbon was captured from the atmosphere, or plastic captured from the seas. Imagine if by simply seeing the new blockbuster movie, the movie producers sponsored an education for a needy child.

Companies can absolutely wow their audiences with a positive good. As the world becomes more precarious, these efforts will be absolutely critical in maintaining our shared way of life, and our shared civilization.