How to change the world

Google has revealed their newest project – 10^100 (a.k.a. a googol).  The project is as follows:

“A call for ideas to change the world by helping as many people as possible… Send us your idea… We’ll post a selection of one hundred ideas and ask you, the public, to choose twenty semi-finalists. Then an advisory board will select up to five final ideas… We’re committing $10 million to implement these projects, and our goal is to help as many people as possible.”

Truly inspiring.

I’ve thought a lot lately about how the structure of businesses is flawed.  Umair Haque has been thinking about it, too.  With the fall of these enormous institutions, screwing thousands of people’s lives over while CEOs walk away with millions, it’s become extremely clear that something is wrong with the traditional way of running a business.

The old way of doing things = caring only about stockholder value and the bottom line, whatever the cost.

It doesn’t work.  It allows too much room for self-interest to ruin things for everyone else.  We’ve been going down the wrong road for too long, and now it’s time to turn back.

Google, whose motto is “do no evil,” is one of the companies that knows about the old way.  And they’re choosing to avoid it.  They know that a company founded on shady principles will fail in the long run.  But so many companies are still playing by the old rules.  And the reality they’re living in is dying out.

The easy buck is very tempting, but it doesn’t last.  A paycheck is just a paycheck – it doesn’t reveal anything about the ethics of your company.

You can react to this recession in a few ways.  You can do what everyone else is doing and complain about the economy, wish for the best in the future, and work hard at your job in hopes that you won’t be laid off.

Or you can look at this recession and see potential. ENORMOUS, unfathomable potential. Now is the time when we can change things.  We can change how businesses are run.  We can create lasting value that has the power to enrich lives long after we’re gone.  We can genuinely care about the people we’ll never meet.

We can change the world for the better.

But first, you have to dismiss the old rules and adopt the new ones.  You also have to be a genuinely good person that’s not adjusted to a sick society.  That’s the hard part.

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