Thankfully, most businesses do not follow the stereotypical image of Ebenezer Scrooge, the man who refused to give to children’s charities and only reluctantly gave his one loyal employee the day off for Christmas.
Take Harvey Massey, CEO of Massey Services, as an example. Massey has fostered a culture at his pest prevention, termite protection and landscape care company that has cultivated three straight decades of financial growth. He shares his success with the Central Florida community by investing in arts, health care and education, and was named Corporate Philanthropist of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal in 2016.
Massey Services is a business done the right way, providing healthy, secure jobs for other citizens so they too can pursue their own dreams.
You see, most companies are led by very ethical capitalists like Massey — Charlie Grey, Harris Rosen, Waymon Armstrong, Angela Alban, Scott Sorensen and myself to name a few. But our stories do not get told. The media often overshadows the tales of successful companies with headlines of greed and selfishness. This tends to eclipse the power of ethical capitalism, overshadowing the companies setting a positive example.
Exalting Freedom Through Ethical Capitalism
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is what our Constitution is founded on. The ultimate freedom granted to an individual is the freedom to pursue life. Capitalism, as well, is centered on the pursuit of personal rights and ambitions. However, in order to fully support one another in this pursuit of freedom — to uphold these personal rights and elevate the rights of others — we must practice capitalism ethically.
The definition of ethics is simple: Doing the right thing. In my time working with many Central Florida businesses, I have discovered that the key to successful entrepreneurialism is based on personal responsibility, a “sky’s the limit” optimism and, above all, value-based ethical decisions.
When left unmonitored or unregulated by ethics, capitalism can drift into the greed and abuse of rights that we too frequently hear about in the news. Your personal pursuit cannot take the same freedom away from another person because it is no longer a right if it infringes on another person’s rights. When your business model is taking financial advantage of someone else’s ability, you are no longer practicing ethical capitalism.
We all have the freedom to pursue our own personal happiness, determine our meaning in life, and drive our future toward success and prosperity. Along this journey to fulfill our purpose, whether it is to serve the community or shape an industry, we must hold ethics in the highest regard.
Shaping a Value-Based Business, Organization or Life
Twentieth-century novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand had a similar outlook on the capitalist system of individual rights. Rand’s philosophy, known as “Objectivism,” places emphasis on ethical self-interest. Your life belongs to you; therefore, it is yours to pursue. But there is no established code of ethics, so you must lead your life by the values you choose. What produces your happiness, and what course of action is required to protect individual rights?
“Man must choose his actions, values and goals… by the standard of that which is proper to man — in order to achieve, maintain, fulfill and enjoy that ultimate value, that end in itself, which is his own life.”
Interestingly, Rand’s philosophy advocates a form of selfishness. Not the selfishness showcased in headlines, where people are victimized and their rights infringed upon. Instead, Rand’s approach to selfishness is a noble goal:
Work hard to achieve a life of purpose and productiveness.
Earn genuine self-esteem.
Pursue your own happiness as your highest moral aim.
Prosper by treating others as individuals, trading value for value.
In reflection of that last portion, there is nothing more valuable than people. In relationships, both business and personal, value creation is critical. If you are not helping the other person grow, and if you are unable to add value to their life, you become inconsequential. To exercise ethical capitalism, and to elevate the rights of others, value must be exchanged.
Empowering, Educating and Connecting Entrepreneurs
The entrepreneurial spirit is the freedom to release the aspirations inside us. We feel most alive when we pursue a vision, one that challenges the imaginations and abilities of ourselves and of others.
With my co-author Eric Wright, we have produced a mentoring tool for both aspiring and established entrepreneurs based on timeless values. In our signature philosophy, “Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars,” we collected the wisdom and discoveries of ethical capitalists and created a set of principles that serve as a guidance system on your journey to success and prosperity.
Because the pursuit of the entrepreneurial spirit, guided by the principles of ethical capitalism, truly represents the best opportunity for everyone’s future.
Jeff Piersall, a former award-winning collegiate basketball coach, is the CEO and founder of SCB Marketing, an innovative content marketing company that inspires brands to higher levels of success by elevating trust and connecting brands with key people of influence. Jeff is a successful entrepreneur, business consultant, speaker and co-author of “Dogs Don’t Bark at Parked Cars.”