In The Trenches

Why you do well when you do good

Published on September 29, 2014 Back to blog

About 7 years ago, I was sitting in a class about social responsibility when the professor asked to see a show of hands to determine which of the following beliefs the students found to be more true:

1. When you do well, you do good; or
2. When you do good, you do well

The majority of the class, including me, chose the former – and, I imagine most of those who chose the latter did so to “suck up” to the professor. I mean, it’s kind of obvious – in order to do good, you need to have some money and time to spare. So, how would anyone that’s busy making a living (or building a business) be able to do much good? Right?

Of course, to demonstrate that doing good can lead to doing well, the professor shared several case studies about companies like Tom’s Shoes and Timberland. However, while each case study was inspirational and impressive, they didn’t really explain why doing good causes you to do well.

Shortly after taking that class, I started Small Army for a Cause and the annual Be Bold, Be Bald! cancer fundraiser. It was not a calculated business decision – it was just something I felt I needed to do after losing my friend and business partner to cancer. Maybe it was a coping mechanism, or some form of guilt that drove me to do it. But now, I’m confident that I (and Small Army) do well, in large part, because of the good that we do. And, I believe I’m able to articulate why this has happened:

1. When you do good, you feel better about yourself
The most important part of doing well is feeling good about yourself. And, there is no better feeling than that which you get from helping others. Try it, and you will know exactly what I mean. It can even be addicting.

2. When you do good, others view you in a more positive light
It seems a bit strange to acknowledge this, but the reality is that when you do good, people hold you in higher regard. I’ve been given many more opportunities in business because of the work we’ve done with Be Bold, Be Bald! Who would you rather do business with – a professional sales person or a philanthropist?

3. Doing good makes for a much better story than doing well
Making a difference is much more interesting and appealing than making money. Companies like Tom’s shoes do not get much press about the quality of their shoes – they get press (and lots of it) for the shoes they give away.

4. Doing good builds stronger relationships with people
When you authentically believe in a cause, and put your heart into it, you find like-minded people who are equally as passionate. These relationships are among the strongest you will have because they are built upon shared beliefs. You share your heart with these people.

5. Doing good makes for more motivated and happier teams
At the end of the day, any company is only as good as its people. And people do their best work when they feel good about who they are working for.

Whether you are a student or a CEO, I encourage you to take these points to heart as you plan for your future. When you do good, you do well – not just financially but, more importantly, emotionally. Find your passion and put your heart into it – even if it seems to take time away from “making a living.” If it is truly authentic, it will not only help the cause, but it will help you build something much more meaningful to you and those connected to it.

Have a great day!
Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners

PS. The sixth annual Be Bold, Be Bald! event is coming up soon – October 17. There is still time to get sign up, start a team and get involved. Alternatively, if you’re not bold enough to go bald on Oct 17, please help by sponsoring me for doing it.