I’m still feeling inspired and warm after bearing witness to the amazing inclusive economics talk given by Former President Bill Clinton at the Hope Global Forum in Atlanta, GA. The purpose of the conference was to explore the why and how to expand free enterprise on the global level. These numbers panels, discussions and work sessions explored how empowering communities with access to technology, electricity and capital made them economically better as a whole. It is interesting that being a capitalist often means that you do not consider being conscious to communities or the negative externalities generated by the work that you do. For instance, if you can market a beverage to a community, why not market one that is better for health and well being while still seeking to enhance your profit margin? Going the more conscious route is actually possible.
Philippe Bourguignon, CEO, Exclusive Resorts, pushed the limits of my understanding of globalization and economics. He discussed how the additional two billion people born in Asia, Africa and Latin America within the next 20 years are going to force us to change our business models, and on how we interact with the rest of the world. The leaders will finally have to adapt to the strategy of appealing to the new marketplace. His talk focused on how income inequality is of critical concern when looking at economic disparity within. When evaluating economic stability, we must assess if people have the opportunity for upward mobility in a society. If they do not have upward mobility, they lose hope and the society becomes less stable. The conclusion is simple - for a society to remain stable, fair and to progress, people must have hope and believe that they are part of the economic system.
Prior to hearing the address by Former President Bill Clinton, Kat Cole, the President of Cinnabon Inc., really inspired me with her perspective on conscious capitalism. She talked about her experience moving from Hooters of America, Inc. to Cinnabon in a statistically unlikely progression, which is inspirational as it is. But beyond that ‘inspirational against all odds’ story, I was also inspired by her passion for being a conscious capitalist. Though Cinnabon is not known for being an advocate for social welfare and change in the world, Kat Cole pledges her time to organizations that support women and children, nutrition, and homelessness prevention. She explained that being a connected capitalist helps by serving as a bridge between the two communities. The bridge-work is necessary to foster communication, progress and inclusion. According to her Twitter handle, Kat considers herself a Connected-Creative-Conscious-Capitalist. According to Conscious Capitalism http://www.consciouscapitalism.org/aboutus, there are four main principles to consider when engaging as a capitalist:
- Higher Purpose
- Stakeholder Orientation
- Conscious Leadership
- Conscious Culture
These principles show us that business strategy needs to incorporate economic inclusion and social externalities when evaluating outcomes. Also, by addressing the economic impact to communities, a capitalist can start to build trust with the communities, which will lead to support and drive customer adoption. By having this as part of the equation, society is progressed, not harmed, by innovation.
Absorbing such wisdom from speakers such as Kat Cole had already made me extremely happy that I attended this conference. At this point, whatever Former President Bill Clinton planned to share would be icing on the cake. He discussed several scenarios about inclusive economics on HIV/AIDS medications and community building in regions across the Caribbean and Africa. He mentioned how negotiations were easier when people understood the big picture on why certain decisions were better for the sustainability of the society as a whole. He also made a point to address how financial literacy is paramount in inspiring hope, entrepreneurship, and economic inclusion, especially in rural societies.
Being in the same room with someone of that stature is a feat in itself, but being in a position where my personal passion aligns directly with the purpose of the talk had me excited on a whole other level. I have been passionate about financial literacy for years, so much so that I have devoted my life towards it for the past five years. I have turned down opportunity after opportunity in the technology space because I really think that understanding money is more paramount to the stabilization and sustainability of society than producing the next great mobile app. Former President Bill Clinton and the other speakers brought up so many amazing talking points such as:
- Poverty is not believing in yourself (?? Meaning unclear for reader)
- You model what you see
- Wealth comes from confidence, self-esteem, mentorship, and aspiration
- All it takes is a positive influence to succeed
- The only thing sustainable is a living that you can earn
- You should measure impact by the lives that you change, not the money in your bank account
- You have to be a change agent by picking up the people left behind
- Education helps everyone in society, not just those receiving the education
Over the last couple years, I have become a bit disheartened because it seems that Americans place so little priority on economic and financial literacy. They would rather distract themselves with things offering little positive impact on their economic standing and happiness than make a conscious effort to change. At times, it is ignorance but most feel so discouraged that they don’t think they have enough control in their lives to make something happen. In reality, people in either of these cases have lost financial hope. It is financial hope that encourages people to keep on the path to their dreams. It is financial hope that inspires people to make better lives for themselves and their families. It is hope in general that pushes most of us to live lives full of accomplishment, service and gratitude. What do you have if you don’t have hope?
After attending this inspiring conference, I am encouraged to continue with my passion of being a change agent in the economic and financial literacy space. Even if I help only inspire one person to live an easier, more economically stable life, I know that I have succeeded in my duty to teach and mentor others.
About Dr. Roshawnna Novellus: A Wealthy Yogi that helps people achieve their inner an outer goals through smarter financial decisions. Curator of Goal Diggers Club, a community of savvy goal oriented individuals that pride themselves on living a fabulous life. President of Novellus Financial, a concierge style tax and financial strategy firm. Author of Budgeting is More Liberation Than Limitation, a simple guide of how to change your mindset about money so that you can jump-start reaching your dreams.