When I was 9 years old, I was not allowed to see Star Wars, because it had the word “Wars” in it. Days after the release, once all my friends had seen it, my dad finally took me to see this movie that opened up a whole new universe to me. Now, 38 years later, I had the opportunity to take my own kids to see the latest episode of the Star Wars saga “The Force Awakens.”
What I always remember from Star Wars is “The Force”, the energy field created by all living things. Those that can use the force are called the Jedi, such as Luke Skywalker, who use it for good, while the sinister Sith use it for evil purposes, the “Dark Side”.
As business owners, I can’t help but feel that we are the Jedi of our generation. Yes, entrepreneurs are a special breed, the chosen ones who can tap into the Force as we master its use. Some use the Force for evil, capitalizing on greed and using their talent to shortcut their journey to wealth via dirty tricks and by hurting others. Some of these Dark Side entrepreneurs crave power at all costs, while others crave fame and riches. A perfect example of the Dark Force entrepreneurs are those who design and run the Cryptolocker Trojan that holds a person’s files ransom in exchange for the extortion money.
Hopefully, those reading this are on the Light side of the Force, who take its power and harness it for good. There is a growing movement of entrepreneurs who are trading in the business for profit mentality in exchange for the business for purpose mindset. They find that the only way to appreciate what you have is to give back to those who need it most. Think Toms Shoes who gives a pair of shoes for every one bought. By building in the cost of the extra pair in the sale, they can both make a profit and help others.
A great example of this was at the Thrive event in Las Vegas. Gary Vaynerchuk talked about how he wants to build the highest tower in town, figuratively referring to his business. There are two ways you can do this, he said. You can either build the highest tower, or build an ordinary one and burn down all those around you so that you are now the highest tower. His point was that playing dirty, using the dark side of the Force is cheating and he has no respect for those that cheat. I won’t repeat what he called these ones, but safe to say they were called some colourful names. With the advent of the internet, all those who do use the Dark Side will be exposed as there are no more secrets in the digital age.
Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame was so moved by the previous speakers that he spent most of his 45 minutes sharing stories, off the cuff, of his rise to fame and how the pursuit of money is never ending and doesn’t fulfill deep desires of happiness. I’m sure he was moved by Wesley Chapman, who shared his harrowing experience of sexual, mental and physical abuse as a child before turning his life around and starting “A Human Project”. These entrepreneurs were using the Light side of the Force to make their money matter, the tagline for the event.
What kind of entrepreneur are you?
How can you make your business for purpose?
How will you make a difference in the lives of others?
It’s not just about giving money. For some, just being a Yoda-like mentor to someone, not expecting a financial compensation can be life changing. As a business consultant, I find it so rewarding to help people start their Jedi journey simply by sharing my experience with them and giving them a roadmap to accomplish their goals. No amount of money can give you the satisfaction of seeing someone reach their goals, using the mindsets and tactics you thought them. My practice is not a non-profit, but why not help some along the way to learn to master the Force and reinforce the belief that being honest in business and generous is rewarding in itself.
Star Wars is but fiction, but there is a New Hope that those who are Rebels against the status quo will join forces and let their Lightsabers shine brightly in defiance to the Dark Side of Business.
If you want to contribute to a great cause, check out our campaign page for Pencils of Promise here: http://www.stayclassy.org/mmtinnercircle and help build a school which will inspire and empower many children to awaken the Force Within.
By Randal Wark