Doing Good in Business – Does It Cost or Pay?
By: Mark Winter
I recently had the privilege of seeing Jim Hiller (the founder of Hiller’s Markets) speak at an early morning event hosted by Crain’s Detroit Business.
The Salute to Entrepreneurs event honored five companies for their entrepreneurial spirit. The companies ranged from an herbal tea company being run out of a church to a $100 million auto supplier. Jim was the keynote speaker.
Jim began his speech by telling the 250 plus attendees that he was so inspired by Monique Sasser (Nikki’s Ginger Tea) that he was going to carry her products in all seven of his stores. They had met for the first time that morning.
Jim was candid, colorful, moving and inspiring. He shared many personal experiences, one of which really stuck with me. Prior to building his specialty market chain, Jim practiced law. He said that he had a very random experience in a courtroom early in his career that left him confused at the time, but would eventually become crystal clear and define his purpose in business.
While visiting the bench, Jim could not help but notice a quote displayed in clear sight for all approaching attorneys to see. It simply read:
Doing Good is Better Than Doing Well.
Jim went on to explain that he would later gain great clarity on the message the judge was sending.
On his death bed, a close friend of Jim’s who was dying from lung cancer asked Jim to promise he would get rid of all tobacco products in his stores. Not a small request considering these products accounted for several million dollars a year in revenue. Jim agreed and quickly pulled all tobacco products from his stores.
Unfortunately, Wall Street has taught us to measure success in revenue, income and stock prices. The good news is that this country’s entrepreneurs have louder voices than ever and are not afraid to use them. Let’s hope their actions are amplified as others learn that doing good is not a cost or an expense. Rather, it’s an investment in the path to doing well.
Can you embrace this way of thinking, or do you not agree with it?