(Photos from Public Domain (Virgin) and by TIME Magazine ... from an article series published in ENTREPRENEUR sponsored by Hewlett-Packard - www.HP.com )
Note: Special thanks to Mark Nieman who sent me this article. Mark has established his own foundation in Los Cabos and will also manage the Windermere Foundation here in Los Cabos. Since its formation, The Windermere Foundation has donated more than $22million to communities served by local Windermere offices throughout nine western States in the U.S.A. Please see: (http://www.windermere.com/blogs/windermere-foundation/posts)
BY RICHARD BRANSON | October 8, 2012
Q: You are spending a lot of time on your philanthropic ventures and volunteer work. Does this take time away from your job of steering the Virgin Group? Or does it help you to come up with new approaches to business problems?
A: When people ask me if a business can balance making a difference in people's lives with making a profit for the company, the point that I always try to make is that the two are not exclusive.
Business leaders should not focus solely on earning money. They must remember that a healthy profit means that a community supports and appreciates the products and services a business offers, and also how that business is managed.
My work on initiatives fostered by our nonprofit foundation, Virgin Unite, such as The Elders and The Branson Centres of Entrepreneurship, have given me a different outlook. I have a broader perspective than I did in the 1970s, when my focus was mostly on our local community and our customers, but as Virgin grew and our efforts expanded, I began working on philanthropy projects alongside inspirational figures such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. And then the types of projects expanded, taking on everything from urging world leaders to end the drug wars, to providing mentoring opportunities to young entrepreneurs, so that now I also tend to think in terms of the global community.
My philanthropic ventures have also been good for our team: People want to work for a company they are proud of, one whose values they believe in. I like to think that our staff is as proud as I am about the good that our companies do. And a happy and motivated workforce is a productive one.
Many people assume that the only way a business can contribute to its local community is by donating to charity, but they're mistaken.
If you are looking to change how you do business, the first step is to integrate great values into your business plan. Any company can do this, no matter what its size, location, or how long it has been in business. Small businesses can make a difference locally, bigger companies can make a difference nationally, and even bigger companies can make a difference internationally. And look at every stage of your business, from manufacturing to disposal, and consider the impact on your community. Are you really making people's lives better?
If you're thinking about launching a business, consider the new opportunities offered by some of the environmental challenges that your community faces -- what would happen if you were to find a solution? If your company offered a scalable solution to a problem like a local water shortage or waste disposal issues, you might help your community and others.
Philanthropic work undertaken not just by the CEO, but by any employee, is an asset to the group as a whole, bringing in new perspectives and relationships that the group wouldn't otherwise have. So encourage your employees to contribute, off the job and on, and in time people in your community will learn that business can bring positive change.In the meantime I will also be urging my team at Virgin to "Screw business as usual." It's what we do best.