I think the people who help us define the post-COVID "new normal" are not those with influence prior. We need the folks who're happy with less to call the shots. Equating influence & "success" & credibility with wealth is what got us into all these messes to start with. I suspect wealth is inversely correlated with happiness, satisfaction, and kindness. We want to be sustainably prosperous, not wealthy.


When starting businesses, we shouldn't be asking "will some punter buy this?" (the only criteria now applied, far as I can see). We should ask: should the punter buy it, and is it good or bad for society as a whole if they do?

I would suggest that many, and perhaps most, businesses actually do net harm to the world.

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@lightweight omg yes.

I may have rose tinted prospective of being a child at the time, but looking 30 years ago it seems like many businesses were run because it was needed to employ people; the owners were in a position to have a business and needed a job anyway, and employing people was a nice bonus for society. Staff often took home more than the owner on a weekly basis. Of course there’s other perks for the owner, but still. And this was fine, because that way they all had jobs.

@swansinflight yup. I ran a business for 14 years on that sort of basis. :) - I was in it to be sustainable, not to profit.

@swansinflight @lightweight Sort of sounds like a business run by someone aiming for a lifestyle business. One not aiming to maximize profits but aiming to maximize the lifestyle of the owner (which usually is at odds with maximum profit)

@lightweight @swansinflight I also respect companies attempting to just be the best at a thing. Even if the owner is objectively miserable due to the work load.

@LovesTha @swansinflight speaking from experience, a bt of misery sometimes can lead to important breakthroughs. Lack of it can lead to complacency... And, as we all know, complacency kills :)

@LovesTha @swansinflight to me, maximum profit is a horrible (unethical!) motivation... maximum wellbeing for all involved and the surrounding community is a far better motivation, I'd say.

@lightweight @LovesTha true. I’m also thinking mainly trades that offer tangible services or products. Because as a kid that’s what I could see. Like local workshops. I grew up in provincial NZ, though have lived in bigger centres too since.

@swansinflight @LovesTha yup. I tend to have a strong affinity for services businesses which invest in human talent/ability. Over time, they sometimes get to know their markets well enough to identify real needs for products, too, and often do a good job of doing that, too. I'm a fan of boot-strapped companies, privately held. Never listed public or VC funded. That way dystopia lies.

@swansinflight @LovesTha I'm also a fan of charitable endeavours and community run initiatives/co-ops... communities are preferable to businesses in my experience (but some businesses can become communities, too).

@lightweight @LovesTha @swansinflight
I've come to understand that I need to work for something that's useful to society. I used to work for a custom store fixtures manufacturer. Clients were store chains, they would renew all the furniture and decoration every 7 years (even if it was still functional).

I now work for a small manufacturer in the healthcare industry. Our products help make patients' life a little more comfortable, and many of our products are still in use after 25 years.

@normandc @lightweight @swansinflight I haven't actively tried, but my experience is that everyone thinks they are trying to make the world better.

@normandc @lightweight @swansinflight Fully admitting my experience is limited in quantity and scope

@LovesTha @normandc @swansinflight I think a whole lotta people live with some serious cognitive dissonance on that score... humans are incredible, prodigious rationalisers.

@lightweight @LovesTha @normandc

Well said. I was thinking about a response to this; I know I like to think I’m doing my part, but when I actually look at my life I’m really just doing the same as everyone else trying to get by and “get ahead”. 😕

@swansinflight @LovesTha @normandc yup. It's very tricky. When I was running Egressive ( sw dev/outsourced IT shop) I was having to find work for our team to keep them paid... and we did work for a few companies that, deep down, I didn't really want to see succeed, because they weren't doing anything admirable for the world. Gave me an interesting perspective. I was fortunate to be able to reflect & have an opportunity to do something I think's unambiguiously good for the world.

@swansinflight @lightweight @normandc I'm an electronic engineer (software) and the weakest rational I've heard for a project I was on is "we want a cheaper device so it costs customers less"

Everything sounds good when explained by the people wanting to do it.

@lightweight Pretty hard to make ends meet with any product that meets that requirement.

@LovesTha yup - no one said it would be easy :) - but that's the sort of bar we should have. No one has a "right" to run a business. We have to earn it.

@lightweight It being hard to run one even without this bar makes it hard to get people to sign onto extra bars.

Also it is easy to see people trying to make a living writing software thinking they can clear it easier than others, as long as they don't confuse customers with people to exploit for profit.

@LovesTha I wonder at the cost to society (and the planet) of the 90ish% failure rate of new businesses in the first 2 years... that sounds extraordinarily wasteful to me.

@lightweight I don't see that stat changing, except in some horrible dystopian totalitarian communist hell hole. But there are things we can change about society so the failures aren't at the expense of the world, society, and individuals.

@LovesTha I sort of wish that people went into politics with the same frequency and fervour that they do into business (but without the "seeking investors" step, prior as is the case in the US and other countries ;) ). Then perhaps we'd get better governments.

@lightweight I'm still young enough to hope that governments can get better. By and large they sort of do. There just has been a bad trend the last couple of decades in places we like to think of as being good places.

@lightweight It is interesting how the US system on paper looks to be really resistant to this, but the subtle parts of it that push it strongly to a 2 party system with no control over the shape of the parties means it is locked into this structure. Australian politics is less locked in because the path to entry for a 3rd party is reasonably attainable for any party (really it just means the two parties need to be more representative to prevent the 3rd party mattering).

@lightweight I am not familiar with NZ politics in ways that let me comment on your situation.

@LovesTha I'm an expat yank, emigrated to NZ, so I have a horse in both races :) - I must admit that AU politics is a bit beyond me :) - and yeah, they're all broken, but I think NZ's is the most fixable, due to the relatively small amount of inertia (small population) and small country/big village thing which means most people know most people. Personal reputations matter here, "spin" (in the US sense) is harder here.

@LovesTha Nowadays it's more "will some punter buy this business" rather than "will some punter buy this product".

The latter's fairly justifiable (though it's important to do "R&D" work you don't know whether it'll successed), but I think @lightweight was more complaining about the former.


My first question when starting my business was will this sustainably support my family, and the families of colleagues and employees.

(Granted, it was always understood that it was going to be a FOSS business, so the good for society bit was kind of a given.)

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