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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

To Make Money or Make Sense?

While waiting to go into a seminar, my friend and I struck a conversation with a stranger who was very impressed with the previous seminar in this same institution and was looking forward to the evening's event. He opined that it is a rare to find university professors who can make money and not just talk about making money. Further he emphasized that the professor in the previous seminar did not only reveal  "how to make money", but "how to make OBSCENE sums of money".

Curious about who we were talking to, we asked for this stranger's name and got an "Andy". 
"Andy? ...and your surname is?", we asked.
"Andy will do," he replied firmly.

And so we called him "Andy Will Do".

"Andy Warhol!", I added in jest. 
"Not Andy Warhol!" he retorted, and then went on to criticise Warhol for being overly commercialised and that he would not regard that man as an artist.

"But Warhol makes money! Not only that, he makes OBSCENE sums of money!" I added.

Evidently, Andy Will Do did not see that coming and was instantly silenced.

Then, it was time for the seminar and we went into the room.

Thankfully, and to my surprise, the seminar was not about maximisation of profits, or making OBSCENE sums of money, but rather about "Running Companies Through Humanistic Approaches". And that coming from three medium-sized companies in China is commendable. That was surprise number two. 

The three companies mentioned were:
  • Tecsun Wood Houses
  • Fotile Kitchen Ware
  • Good -Ark Electronics.
All three of the companies practised Confucian values and Tao philosphy and purportedly placed a lot of emphasis to allow their employees to reach their personal goals and potentials in the long term. And all that happening with a very healthy bottom-line and rapidly expanding businesses too.

Tecsun's core values, for instance are "Honest, Diligent, Having a loving heart and Do not take short cuts". Its Employee Handbook has been reprinted 30 times and sold over half a million copies.

Fotile's mission is to "Make people feel better about their homes". In 2013, their growth exceeded 45% and the number of its patents exceeded the sum of those of its nine competitors.

Good Ark explicitly makes happiness the company's purpose since 2011 and is committed to introducing Sage culture, embracing Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism,  to the world and creating happiness to humanity.

So apparently, it is possible to "Make Money AND Make Sense".

The seminar was a refreshing change. Too many business seminars are about making money and more money and then deliberately making the audience feel inadequate and small, before heading for the final kill of selling you a highly priced follow-up course. It didn't happen here and I am glad. I left the seminar feeling inspired and hopeful for humanity.

This commentary is made based on what we listened to during the seminar. We are not related to any of the companies and do not have access to business data for us to verify the claims made in the seminar. Nevertheless, I am happy to accept them at face value.

Incidentally, just after I had finished this post, I got this "Thought of the Day", flashed in a website I stumbled upon:
Thought Of The Day
'Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.' 
- Andy Warhol.

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