I heard recently that, in future generations, the word “billionaire” will no longer be a term used to describe your net worth, but rather it will be a means of describing the number of lives you’ve touched over the course of your life.
I was thinking about this as I walked the grounds of our hotel one afternoon in the middle of the Arizona desert. Three days earlier, nearly six hundred people descended upon this resort for the Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference. Authors, bankers, scientists, investors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, philanthropists; all of these people were coming together to share in the light of their one common goal: to make business personal, meaningful, and filled with integrity.
The movement of Conscious Capitalism is the idea that you don’t have to sacrifice people for profit. That in creating businesses that care for all stakeholders—from the community to employees to the environment—we are then elevating the greatest tools at our disposal for even greater good. As the Conscious Capitalism Credo states…
“Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.”
And as I took some time to process all that we had taken in over the course of our time there, I felt overwhelmed by inspiration. We got to hear the likes of Randi Zuckerberg, John Mackey, and the Gardner brothers as we sat down to dinner with The Motley Fool. We got to experience how companies are embracing the determination and healing of women who have been incarcerated throughout the US. We got celebrate the launch of Safwan Shah’s new book It’s About TIME, which documents the incredible movement that is changing the way companies pay their employees so those employees get stability and help when they need it most. Everywhere you turned, people were supporting the hungry, creating revolutionary projects, bringing life to globally impactful ideas.
And then there was me.
And the experience of sharing space with all of these brilliant minds had me seriously wondering: Who was I, really?
Because I don’t change the face of global business. I’m not digging wells in Africa or saving the environment. I’m not a banker who is bringing ethics to an otherwise compromised industry.
I’m just me.
I’m a girl who uses vulnerable storytelling to help break down the walls between us.
Which made me wonder: Is there room for me here? Is there room for any of us who don’t have investment portfolios or global reach or media influence? Can we walk in a room, with our heads held high, knowing that our conscious impact may only go as far as our living room or our next door neighbor or the colleague who sits next to us at work?
And with the Arizona sun beating down on me, I concluded that the answer was a resounding yes. Because if the Conscious Capitalism Conference has taught me anything, it’s that a billion lives start with one life.
That one life we’ve all been given.
And whether we are starting a small business from our dining room table or leading one of the world’s biggest empires or using our personal stories to connect people across space and time, it always starts with one life.
When we treat our one life with purpose, value, and integrity . . . a subtle earthquake begins to rumble at the bottom of the ocean, which leads to a tidal wave of impact. Until, pretty soon, every individual life becomes a part of the billion.
But we can’t build communities if we don’t know our neighbor’s name. We can’t raise leaders if we don’t harness our children’s gifts. We can’t step into integrity if we don’t see our clients as our fellow humans first.
And that is what this idea, this event, these people are really about: it’s not about the billion dollars; it’s about the billion lives.
But first, it’s about the one.