You will have seen the story across social media recently about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan who wrote an open letter to their new-born daughter saying they want her to ‘grow up in a world better than ours’.
They have committed to giving away 99 per cent of their Facebook shares (that’s estimated at around 45 billion dollars right now) to charitable causes. They will still be exceedingly rich but there’s no doubt that their philanthropic statement brought them even more notoriety and their fair share of controversy too.
‘If I had only one dollar left I’d spend it on marketing’ is one of Bill Gates favourite sayings and he certainly got some column inches in the UK recently too (and probably got paid for his time!) about his financial giving. There was a heart-warming interview in the Daily Mail ‘You’ magazine – Meet the everyday billionaires, Judith Woods spoke to Bill and Melinda Gates and found a grounded lovely family with strong values.
‘Bill loves doing the washing up and I like to slip into my yoga pants and eat popcorn’: At home with the world’s richest couple’ was one of the boxed out headlines and of course the angle of the piece was not to promote themselves and their corporation (let’s face it their net worth is £53 billion – more than the wealth of some small countries!) however they were clearly willing to put themselves in the frame – to stand in the spotlight – in order to get even more awareness for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which doesn’t fund its own projects but channels funds into existing organisations such as the World Health Organisation and Unicef.
The couple have poured over 19 billion of their own money into it and the investor Warren Buffet has also donated billions. They are very ‘hands on’ though and shared their vision of large scale philanthropy with the interviewer.
For me as the reader looking at this three page article with images of Bill and Melinda with their children and on a visit to one of their charitable projects in Haiti it made me totally warm to them, it gave me an insight into what makes them tick, and if it’s still important to Bill (and I’m guessing it will be!) he should pat himself on the back that he has reassured yet another customer that he (and his wife) are people that we can do business with – because we feel we can Like, Know and Trust them.
Like me, you are probably not at the stage where you will be asked to appear in a three page spread about your life and work in a national Sunday supplement, you almost certainly won’t have a cool 45 billion dollars to donate to good causes, you may not yet be in a position to leave your day job in order to follow your passion but remember the saying…’You don’t have to get it right, you do have to get it going’ and if you are going to succeed in a heart centred business you must remember that people do business with those they like, know and trust. Be prepared to be visible within your business.
Oh and according to Melinda you should be willing to take some risks, Warren Buffet gave them this advice when establishing the foundation… ’Don’t just go for the safe projects, take on the really tough problems’. If you have got an idea brewing that seems just too scary…ask yourself – should I feel the fear and do it anyway?
If you have a book to write, a business to launch or grow, an idea to nurture, a programme to promote, take a risk and get it going. Be willing to put yourself in the spotlight and don’t forget to attract some attention….your marketing may cost a little more than a dollar but without todays social networking opportunities maybe not much more!