Success is the measure of a person. Not success in pure dollars and cents terms — or boat and plane terms, if we’re being honest. No, true success is using the gifts you’ve been given to make the world a better place.
Relatively few entrepreneurs and business leaders who achieve conventional, boat-and-plane success take the next step.
Sure, they donate to their favored causes, maybe even set up a charitable trust or donor-advised fund. But they don’t throw themselves into helping the less fortunate or commit to giving the bulk of their wealth away.
These five entrepreneurs and business leaders are different, though. Here’s why, and what we can learn from them.
1. Steve Streit
Florida-based Steve Streit is best known as the founder of Green Dot, a pioneering fintech that democratized the payments industry and empowered millions of underbanked people. Streit took Green Dot from kitchen table idea to billion-dollar public company — no small feat.
Now that he’s stepped back from day-to-day operations at Green Dot, Streit is applying the same customer-first philosophy to philanthropy. He supports a who’s-who of charities large and small, from Patty’s Way — an homage to his late mother — to civic athletics leagues in underserved L.A. neighborhoods.
The guy surely encounter several problem building his business empire, but now he mastered on how to avoid six common business errors.
2. Mary Powell
Mary Powell isn’t a nationally renowned philanthropist, but her work is no less important for it. In fact, as arguably the greenest utility executive in the country, Powell has done more than just about anyone else to tackle the climate crisis head-on.
On Powell’s watch, Vermont-based utility Green Mountain Power more than tripled in size while significantly reducing its carbon intensity. Now, Powell is head of Sunrun, the United States’ largest residential solar company. Safe to say, she’s not done yet.
3. Andrew Kassoy, Bart Houlahan, Jay Coen Gilbert
Three globally minded entrepreneurs for the price of one? That’s what you get with B Lab, the two-decade-old nonprofit that jumpstarted the B Corporation movement.
Back in the day, B Lab’s three founders — Kassoy, Houlahan, and Gilbert — asked themselves a simple question: why shouldn’t companies care about more than just the bottom line? Or, put differently: why should companies have three bottom lines — not just for profit, but for people and the planet too?
This idea became B Lab’s signature “triple bottom line,” which thousands of certified B Corps now practice. And the organization’s three founders proved that it’s possible to make money without losing sight of your principles.
4. Karim Abouelnaga
Karim Abouelnaga is the wunderkind founder of Practice Makes Perfect NYC, a fee-based philanthropy that empowers low-income kids and families in New York City.
As a teenager, Abouelnaga experienced the achievement gap firsthand — and though he was fortunate enough to make it to the Ivy League, many of his childhood friends didn’t. He came up with a straightforward solution: an intensive summer program that paired struggling youths with high-achieving mentors from the same parts of town.
Fast forward 15 years and Practice Makes Perfect has given thousands of kids opportunities many before them never had.
5. Bill Gates
No list of globally minded entrepreneurs would be complete without Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates.
Like contemporaries Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, Gates spent the early part of his career with his head down — building what would become one of the world’s biggest corporations. But at some point, Gates decided he wanted to do more than bring personal computing to the masses.
He and Melinda Gates built the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a sprawling charity that has invested billions of dollars in some of the planet’s most pressing challenges. Surely he has a brilliant ways to improve web traffic for your business!
It’s Not Too Late To Make Your Mark
There’s an old saying: “Nothing happens until you start.”
That’s true in business, as every successful entrepreneur can attest. There are places to start business in the US soon!
It’s also true in philanthropy. Making your money isn’t the “easy part” by any stretch, but it’s easier to rest in relative luxury than it is to take the uncomfortable next step and redistribute your take.
If you’re motivated by the promise of material wealth, spare a thought for the less fortunate and think about how you’ll help them when you’re in a position to do so. With these five leaders as your guide, that could serve as its own motivation to achieve.