On today’s podcast I am interviewing Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money and founder of the Soul of Money Institute. Lynne is also a founding member of The Pachamama Alliance, an organization dedicated to rain forest preservation. On today’s show we will discuss branding in the non-profit world, and the significant role that money plays in our business and personal lives.
Listen to the Podcast here:
The Soul of Money with Lynne Twist
The following is an edited transcript of this podcast. Since how we talk and how write is often very different, this transcript may contain uses of the English language (including grammar) that are not 100% correct. We are counting on your understanding in advance.
Karen Leland Branding Expert: Hi everyone. This is Karen Leland and I want to welcome you. My guest today is Lynne Twist. She is the author of The Soul of Money. She is the founder of the Soul of Money Institute. Good morning, Lynne.
Good morning, Karen.
So happy to have you on the podcast today.
I am so delighted to be on your podcast. Thank you for asking me.
You’re welcome. You’re about to leave tomorrow for the Ecuadorean Rainforest, correct?
I am. I’m going to go deep into the Amazon to be with the women who live there that we call the Jungle Mamas.
Fabulous. Actually, that’s a great place to start. You do many things, but talk a little bit about your relationship with Pachamama and what it is and what you do with them, which is your reason for going to the Ecuadorean Rainforest.
The Pachamama Alliance, which is the whole name of our wonderful organization – which is really actually a movement – is an alliance between the indigenous peoples of the Amazon Rainforest. The Achuar, the Shuar, the Zaparo, the Andoas, and the Quechuas. These really remarkable people who live in Southern Ecuador and Northern Peru.
It’s an alliance between the indigenous peoples of the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon and conscious committed people like you, Karen and I would imagine all the people listening to this broadcast, for the sustainability of life itself.
The word ‘Pachamama’ means mother earth, or to the Quechua people whose language that is, it means: the earth, the sky, the universe, and all time. This alliance is a huge part of my life. We work with these remarkable people who are fierce protectors of the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon, which is the largest fresh water source in the world. It’s right on the equator. It is the most bio-diverse ecosystem on this planet, meaning many, many, more species than anywhere else in the world. It made it through the Ice Age and repopulated life after the Ice Age.
It’s a critical ecosystem for the long term future of life because if other ecosystems fail, which we know is part of what we’re facing as a human family, this particular ecosystem can repopulate life in every ecosystem on earth. Everything is precious, every ecosystem is precious, every specie is precious. This particular place, I’m very, very blessed to say, turns out to be – and we didn’t know this when we first were called there – one of the most important ecosystems on earth to make sure that it’s not destroyed or compromised.
Unfortunately, for all of us, there’s massive oil underneath this particular part of the rainforest. The threat to get in there and extract in a way that would be very, very harmful, not only to the ecology but to the spiritual power of this place, is a constant threat.
Our work is to support and empower the indigenous people who are its natural custodians and are fiercely committed to preserving it, to continue to succeed in protecting it. It’s pristine, it’s untouched, it’s roadless. Out of the lessons learned from that, bring forth a new consciousness on this planet, which we call a new dream, an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet.
This tiny and critical ecosystem is tiny compared to the rest of the world – but it’s vast, 100 million acres – is the source of a huge educational, transformational movement around the world to awaken us from the trance and have us look to a different kind of future.
Part of what I wanted to ask you – and that’s a beautiful explanation of it, thank you – is that you, for a long time, have been involved in social justice, sustainability. That’s been a part of, for lack of a better word, your personal brand for a very long time. How do you feel you take something like the work of the Pachamama Alliance and how do you express it to people in a way, in my language, how do you brand it? How do you talk about it in a way that it’s inclusive?
As you know, we both have lots of friends who are on very different sides of how they feel about ecology, sustainability, global warming, etc. There’s a huge diversity of points of view. How do you talk about Pachamama and the work you do in a way that’s the most inclusive rather than exclusive? I think one of the problems we have today is people tend to get very rigid about the “brands” and that rigidity excludes people.
That’s a great question. I feel that everybody is interested in the sustainability of life itself. Anyone who has children or loves children, has grand children or loves children, knows that our world is in a particular passage where we need to really give our attention, our expertise, our love, our talents and treasures to ensuring that future generations have what they need to live a healthy and productive life. I don’t think that there’s anybody who doesn’t think that.
This work that we do is, is it really about that. It is ensuring that future generations have healthy and productive lives. The context of our species, the human family, is one that takes care of everyone, not just some of us but all of us.
I used to work, as you did, with Buckminster Fuller. The wonderful phrase that he coined during his lifetime, “Let’s create a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out.” Back in the 70s, when Bucky said that, I remember that just resonated in my heart and soul. I don’t think there’s anyone who wouldn’t agree that we want a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out.
For many years, as you know, I worked for and with, and I was all about the Hunger Project. Really looking at how to end world hunger and make sure that the people who are left out of the equation so desperately that they couldn’t even feed themselves or feed their children, was a way of making the world work for everyone with no one left out.
Now, I realize I’m making the world work for everyone with no one and nothing left out, including all species, including the very life support system on which we depend, including all future generations. In other words, all children of all species for all time. That phrase, that we’re doing work that would benefit all children of all species for all time, is one that is so inclusive that it’s hard to argue with.
That’s very clear. It’s interesting because in addition to Pachamama and being a founding member of Pachamama, you also are the president of the Soul of Money Institute. That phrase comes from the book you wrote called The Soul of Money. I’d love for you to just talk a little bit about what the soul of money is and what your point of view is about it. What is your goal with The Soul of Money? I know it’s related to what you’ve been talking about but in a different domain.
One of the great gifts of the lifetime that I’ve been given is that I have always worked in the arena of what I call proactivism or issues, global issues. When I say proactivism, I mean I’m a pro activist, an activist for, not against. In other words, I see what’s in the way but I’m motivated or pulled by a vision rather than being against something I’m angry with.
As a proactivist, one of the things that you have the opportunity and responsibility to do, especially if you’re in the sector that often is called nonprofit – I call it the social profit sector – you raise money. You’re moving money towards the highest good in every way you can through personal fund raising or philanthropy in your own life or working with large financial institutions and entities, like companies and foundations and governments, to see if you can be helpful in facilitating the reallocation of resources away from what we fear and towards what we love and what we care about.
I’ve been a fundraiser all my life. I actually started when I was five years old. I did a fundraising event in kindergarten. Most people can’t say that. Through fundraising and philanthropy, which are both arenas where you deal with money, and also working in hunger where I have worked with the most resource poor people on this planet – people who could not feed themselves or their children – to some of our global billionaires with whom I’ve had long and deep and intimate relationships around philanthropy, I learned a whole lot about money. And everybody in between by the way, like you and me.
Our dysfunctional, frightening, anxious, upsetting, often unfortunate relationship with money. Almost everybody has worries, upsets, anguish, anxiety and what I’ll call pretty profound suffering in their relationship with money. We all think, and I thought, that when you have a whole lot more of it, that goes away. Actually, it does relieve it but it doesn’t go away all together.
In fact, some of our wealthiest families have horrendous problems with addiction and abandonment and all kinds of substance abuse and hatred and they don’t speak to each other etc. Not all of them of course. The money amplifies all that and sometimes it’s the cause of it.
I’ve learned that we have real baggage upsets, horrendous problems in our relationship with money. I started to look underneath that. What was that? What is it that has so much of this suffering in a marriage, in a divorce? So much suffering sometimes inside of a family, so much suffering around people’s capacity to meet their needs all over this planet. What is that? I got really educated, I could say, in my journey. Even working with Mother Theresa, a saint, who taught me a whole lot about money. You wouldn’t expect that, but she did.
I realized, I’ve learned to understand our relationship with money and why there’s so much suffering there in a way that might be unique because of my work. Approaching it not from a financial person’s or an economist person’s point of view because I wasn’t trained in any of that. Just from the experience of being with people all the way across the broadest possible spectrum of the economic lens.
I wrote a book about that, called it The Soul of Money, which now, to give you all that background, is really about how to transform our dysfunctional relationship with money. That’s really the message in that book.
That’s fabulous. Just a little bit, that book is getting re-released, correct?
It is. It’s getting re-released by the publisher, WW Norton, in the spring of 2017, probably March or April. It’s been out for thirteen years. They call it a long term best-selling paperback. It was a hardback first then a paperback. It just seems to have a steady life. The publishers feel that it’s more relevant now than ever, given the immense inequality in the United States and also all over the world right now.
You mentioned fundraising and I wanted to ask you a little bit [on that]. In the times that I know, that I’ve worked with nonprofits, I have absolutely seen that the strength of the brand and the reputation of the nonprofit has a huge impact on fundraising. I’d love to know your thoughts about that.
Absolutely. Because people really respond in that world just like they do in the profit making world. They get a feeling from a brand. Particularly when you’re dealing with the social profit issues that I deal with, feeling is as powerful, maybe overrides logic and rationality when you’re deciding where to put your time, your energy and your money.
A brand can give you a good feeling or it can give you a weary feeling or it can give you a hyped feeling or it can give you a flashy feeling or it can give you a deep feeling. In the work that I do, it can sometimes turn people off so they won’t go any further. You don’t want that of course, nobody wants that. I think it’s even more important. It might be, I don’t know. You’re an expert on this. It might be more important in the kind of work that I do than any of us know.
I think that’s an excellent point because I think a lot of people that are in the nonprofit world don’t really understand the power that the brand has to shape what they’re doing. I think they assume that just because they have “a good cause” or something that’s of use, that they don’t really need a brand, that the good cause itself is the brand. That actually hasn’t been my experience. I’d be curious if you have anything you want to add to that because obviously you spend your life in that world.
I think we can be, in this sector, pretty naïve. We can sometimes think our passion and our commitment and our intensity and our vision is enough. Why don’t people just line up and give us their money? I don’t feel that way, but I teach fundraising and I often run into that attitude. What it is, is a blind spot. It’s just a blind spot. You can give people that sight there. I think that’s one of the things that you do so well.
I try to do that in my fundraising workshops and in my book. My book is not technically about fundraising but a lot of the stories I tell about money and the transformation of people’s relationships with money is around philanthropy and fundraising in the book, but not all.
I feel that one of the most important things that’s happening now, and you’re one of the people making it happen, is the “activist” or social cause community you could say, is realizing they cannot do their work successfully without partnering with the business community or the corporate community where there’s so much muscles, there’s so much power, there’s so much expertise, there’s so much excellence.
There’s also some downside and some damage and some blindness there. These two sectors coming together to resolve the biggest problems that we face as a human community is what I’m all about, what I think you’re about and what’s happening now. I have a commitment to de-fang the corporate world for the activist world and to de-fang the activist world for the corporate world. So that we realize we have got to work with each other and not accuse each other of stuff. Not point fingers but actually now work together.
Because business is the largest institution on this planet. It didn’t get there by not being successful. It got there by doing things very effectively. The muscle, the expertise, the savvy, the discipline actually that business is, because if you’re not successful, you go out of business, is really important now, those principles for what people call the nonprofit sector or the activist sector, which I call the social profit sector. Because we do generate a very powerful profit, and so social profit.
In the social profit sector, we have a whole lot to give to the business or corporate sector with integrity and passion and staying the course and being unstoppable and not letting yourself be daunted by the mountain you’re climbing and the deep heart that is in that sector. It’s like the heart and the mind of humanity really needs to come together to resolve the problems that face us today. It’s a good thing that our problems are so huge that we can’t resolve them in any one sector. We all need to get in there and work together.
I think that is such an important point. It’s interesting, Lynne, when you were talking, I was thinking that CSR or corporate social responsibility has become such a big issue for corporations. Particularly, large Fortune 1000 corporations. I think it’s because of what you just said, that we need corporate social responsibility. Companies are embracing that CSR, that corporate social responsibility, because they understand that fundamentally, we cannot do it just in sectors. It has to be something that really comes together.
It’s interesting because more and more now, corporations, large corporations had CSR directors or corporate social responsibility executives or managers because they’ve recognized the importance of the community and taking care of the community.
It’s really a beautiful trend. There’s the B Corps and conscious capitalism and social venture network and businesses with social responsibility and on and on. It’s a very significant movement in the business world. To me, it’s historic. I want to frame it that way so that it gets ennobled. Because often it becomes suspect sometimes. You’re doing this to make more money or you’re doing this because you have to or you’re doing this because people won’t let you off the hook unless you do or you’re doing it keep your millennials.
All of those things may be true on the surface, the surface of the water. Deep down, at the bottom of the ocean of who business people are and who companies really are is a mission. Or as Simon Sinek, the great TED Talk that he’s done – he’s a collaborator with the Pachamama Alliance right now – what he says is if you’re in touch with why you’re doing business, why you’re drawn to service, why you’re living that life. Not just what you’re doing. He says, people don’t buy what you’re doing, they buy why you’re doing it. This is one of the phrases from Simon.
What I think he really means is that it’s time for us to find a closer relationship to our soul even in the business world. The social profit world is very deeply connected with the soul but not always in a way that’s totally effective and strong and unstoppable. The way that if we work together, we all can be much more effective.
I think that’s so true in my experience working with corporations and companies today. I’d like to ask you, Lynne, in terms of your own brand, your personal brand as the founder of the Soul of Money, as the author of that and the work that you’ve done, what are some of the transformations you found that your own personal brand has gone through over the last few years?
I’ll just say honestly, in the very beginning, I thought I was starting another nonprofit. I tried to do it as a nonprofit and I couldn’t get at nonprofit status. The IRS said, “No, this is a business.” I was shocked.
You mean the Soul of Money Institute?
The Soul of Money Institute, yeah. When I tried to register it as a nonprofit and fill out all the papers, they would not allow it because they told me, “No, you’re running a business. This is a business.” I really hadn’t had a business construct in my head for it. I really just wanted to serve people raising money, giving money, dealing with money in a way that would make their life more peaceful and not with so much Sturm and Drang.
I had discovered really an access to living a life of what I call sufficiency. I wanted to serve, really. Everybody wants to serve. I really saw that it’s a nonprofit and I couldn’t get nonprofit status. I had to start a little company, I thought, I didn’t know anything about business. I still have SoulOfMoney.org because I couldn’t get SoulOfMoney.com. Anyway, I’m sort of a hybrid, frankly.
I’m learning more and more about how important it is to be compensated for your service to the world. I’m saying it in a particular way, but in the very beginning, everything I did for free. That’s not a very good thing for a business. People would ask me to give a talk or come in to their company and inspire their people. I would do it in a heartbeat because I wanted to.
It would end up costing me money to fly there and costing me money to do the talk. Sometimes they would pay me and sometimes they wouldn’t. I started to realize, wait a minute, this isn’t a business. This is me giving everything away. I had some real challenges really, shifting my own consciousness to realize that not only did I deserve to be compensated, but it was out of integrity to not be.
That was a real breakthrough for me. It wasn’t just, I earned this. It was out of integrity, out of whack, out of balance to provide value, real value for people, get a standing ovation inside of Microsoft or inside of a Harvard Business School class, and not get compensated for it. It was out of balance. It was demonstrating something that really didn’t have a wholeness or integrity to it. That was the breakthrough, when I really saw that.
That was with the help of some other friends of mine, people that you know, Karen, who really said, “No, no, no. Listen, if you’re going to coach someone for an entire year,” a philanthropist, which I now do, or someone who has some money issues, “You need to be compensated. You don’t need to be compensated so much but it’s out of integrity for them to not compensate you. If the relationship has that exchange and it able to have integrity, everybody will show up, you will provide even more value. They will receive the value because they’re paying for it. It’s a really important part of the picture, Lynn.”
With a lot of coaching and a lot of what I say getting off, letting go of my bleeding heart position there of, “I want to serve,” really getting that this work for everybody better, not just for me, but work better for everybody to actually be adequately and appropriately compensated for the service that you provide to the world. That was a giant breakthrough in my life. Now, that’s something that I have helped people with.
I think that’s a really important point. I also want to point out that you also still do a tremendous amount of probono and volunteer work.
You do a huge amount of that. I think what you saw in your own brand was to represent your personal brand appropriately, there had to be that compensation and that honoring of what you were contributing in certain contexts.
In my case, this might just be personal to me, the Soul of Money Institute is my business. The Pachamama Alliance is my probono work. I’m on the board, I’m the founder, with my husband, Bill Twist and John Perkins is the other co-founder. I’m privileged to be a founder myself. All that work, and I do a lot of work with Pachamama Alliance, is all probono.
My Soul of Money Institute work and clients know that they make it possible for me to do that. I tell them that. I have a coaching business where I take on two or three coaching clients for an entire year. It’s a very high tariff for that service. I charge a lot. People are not only willing to pay it but they know that by paying it, they make me available to Pachamama Alliance, financially able to do that.
It works very, very well. For me, it’s the truth about who I am. I am a business woman now. I never thought I would be but I am. I continue to be both a philanthropist and someone who founded and spends a lot of time as a proactivist, giving my service to the world as a contribution. It’s a fit for who I am.
I think the really important point there is that you are both. Your personal brand has become a blend of both. You’re very upfront that you want to run a business and it makes a profit. You’re also very upfront that the other side of that hand is this contribution that you make through Pachamama Alliance. I think that’s really a beautiful brand and a beautiful way to present it.
It’s interesting because a lot of corporations today are taking on corporate social responsibility because “it’s the right thing to do.” I’ve always said, I don’t think it ever works as part of your brand to do something because it looks good or because it’s the “right thing to do” or because it’s what is expected.
I think the only way to have it really be part of authentic and conscious branding is to take on some corporate social responsibility, personally or professionally whether you’re a large corporation or a small one, because in your heart, you really believe that that’s the right thing to do. I say that, I feel like it sounds a little bit mom, God, and apple pie-ish to say, “Do it because it’s the right thing.”
In reality, I do think that people can sense the difference between a corporate brand or a personal brand where there is an authentic connection with that responsibility and that sense of contributing, and when it’s just what you’re doing because you’re supposed to do it.
I totally agree with that. I will say something else about it though that I think is important. Sometimes when it’s being done because it looks good or it’s the right thing to do, it is the entry point, it is the baby step. A lot of people in the “activist community” make it wrong when they see what they call commune washing or phony baloney social activism.
I don’t see it that way because I am so grateful when people even move a little bit in that direction because they will find their soul there. I liken it to sometimes you go to an event because you love the person who invited you and you want to make them happy. You get to the event and the thing that’s happening there totally touches your soul.
You went not for the reason that you wanted to contribute to that organization or go to that fundraiser because you wanted to give money. You went because your friend invited you and you like them and you want them to be happy, which is not the reason that is very deep or profound. But then you get there, and because you did the favor for your “friend” or because you went because you wanted to meet somebody who you knew would be there, which is a little bit of a false reason for being there. You get there and then the message is so compelling, you become completely devoted to the cause. That’s legitimate.
We all need a hook. We all need a first step. We all need a baby step. We all need an entry point. I agree with you totally. At the same time anything that moves business in the direction of being for benefit rather than only for profit, I celebrate it. I have a tenet, and this is part of the Soul of Money message, what you appreciate, appreciates. What you appreciate, appreciates.
When a company is attacked for green washing or having some false social justice phase, they’ll retract it and go backwards. But if there is an appreciation that at least they’re trying, it will grow. Everything grows in the nourishment of our appreciation. What we appreciate will always appreciate. That’s a tenet of the Soul of Money message.
It’s really good because I’ve actually never thought about it that way. That gives me a whole different perspective on the value of people engaging it even if it’s not 100% authentic at first. Even if it’s just for how they look, that can be the path that leads them to realizing that there’s actually deep value in it. Authentically, deep value in it.
There’s certainly the possibility of it. It’s like an indicator. It’s like a little bit of a marker. I feel like we want to always move people toward the best in them. That’s part of the Soul of Money message too. It’s always there waiting for your attention, your capacity to see it, your capacity to draw it out, your capacity to celebrate it.
If we have that, listening for the goal in every situation, listening for the best in every situation, then we draw that out. It actually has enormous power. I’m not talking Pollyanna here. It’s very practical. I think it’s what you do. As a client of yours, Karen, I find that what you do is you bring out, in every conversation you have with Soul of Money Institute, the essence, the best of who we are. I think that that’s what makes you such an excellent branding and marketing master.
Thank you, Lynne. I appreciate that.
As you were talking, one of the things I was thinking about is that I often run into people and when I work with people, either on their personal brand or their CEO brand or their business brand, or if they’re rebranding their company, in all of these circumstances, or in their executive brand, in all these circumstances, I often find that people want to position their brand, business or personal, CEO or executive, as in some way being “better” than someone else or something else or that they do it better.
My point of view about that is to always tell people, it’s not about that you do it better, it’s not about the ways in which you do it better, it’s about the unique contribution that you bring to it. For some people, your contribution is exactly what they need. For other people, your competitor’s contribution is exactly what they need.
I know you talk a lot in The Soul of Money about scarcity. I think what’s underlying a lot of this, “We’re better than the other guy branding,” has to do with scarcity. I’d love it if you just talk a little bit about how you see that.
That’s great. I love that you think that way. That’s so wonderful. There’s a mindset, a paradigm you could say, a way of seeing the world, that I think we swim in and without knowing we’re swimming in it. It’s almost like being underwater and not know you’re underwater, of which is called the mindset of scarcity or the toxic condition of thinking that there’s not enough.
There’s not enough time, there’s not enough money, there’s not enough market share, there’s not enough customers, there’s not enough volunteers, there’s not enough vacations, there’s not enough love, there’s not enough sex. There’s not enough. There’s not enough. There’s not enough. It’s not enough or you’re not enough, I’m not enough, it’s not enough. It’s the siren song of the consumer culture.
The consumer culture promotes that, fosters it, ferments it. We live inside of that. It is a very intense mindset. I call it an unconscious unexamined mindset. An unconscious unexamined mindset means it’s one you didn’t even know you have. You believe that it’s true without looking to see if it’s an unconscious unexamined mindset.
An example is that most people wake up in the morning and immediately think they didn’t get enough sleep. An automatic pilot response to life, and then go through the day thinking that they didn’t have enough time and then at the end of the day thinking that they didn’t get enough done. The whole day is all about not enough, not enough. It starts to get into the very psyche of who we are. We start thinking, “I am not enough.” Not just, it’s not enough, there’s not enough, we didn’t do enough. It starts to be, I am not enough.
We have a culture that’s like a deficit culture. We have mental illness at an all-time high. We have depression rates at an all-time high. We have obesity rates, which is people thinking they don’t have enough to eat really, at an all-time high. Everything’s at an all-time high in this mindset, I call it a false mindset, of there’s not enough and more is better.
There’s a whole litany in The Soul of Money book that talks about the three toxic myths that make up a mindset of scarcity. There’s not enough, more is better and that’s just the way that it is. I think all of that is false. I called it a lie.
In marketing, I would say, or even in fundraising, which is more my expertise, we think we’re competing with each other rather than realizing there is so much out there. You want the people that are actually the perfect fit for your company, your product, your service, to be your customers. Not everybody, but the people who really what you’re doing calls to them and it’s a fit for them.
The job is to represent yourself in a way that that unique contribution that’s yours to make is visible so that the people for whom it’s an actual fit find you. The same thing is true in fundraising. People often feel that there’s not enough money and there’s a pie of resources and it’s shrinking and they only have a tiny slice and they don’t want anybody else to get a piece of the pie because then their slice would be smaller.
When in fact, the job is to communicate who you are and what you’re about in a way that the people who are your natural partners, financial partners, can see you, can find you and can partner with you. The ones that aren’t, that you can bless and release them so that they can find the right fit.
I think that probably true, it’s true in fundraising and working with social causes. I’m sure it’s true in marketing. I love what you just said about that because I really do feel that brands that say, “We’re better than this or these guys don’t do it right and we do it right,” I’m ever drawn to them. Maybe it’s a good marketing tactic for a campaign or something, but ultimately you stay with a brand, a product, a service that’s actually a fit for you because you see its unique gifts and you are a match for receiving them.
I think that’s absolutely true in fundraising and with nonprofits. I think that’s true with corporations. I think that’s true with personal brands, by the way, as well. Whether it’s an executive personal brand or a CEO personal brand or a startup founder personal brand. That’s absolutely true.
We all know how painful it is when you get into a partnership or relationship that actually wasn’t meant to be. It looks good on the surface at the beginning, and then when you have to let go of it, it’s so painful. We can avoid that at the outset.
I think we all know the pain of that. Everyone listening probably has had at least one experience of the pain of that. It’s interesting because in some ways, it comes out of I think people’s egos. They want to be seen as the best. They want to be seen as the most popular. They want to be seen as the most desired. I don’t think there’s anyone listening, including myself or you, who hasn’t at some point suffered from that bout of ego.
I think it’s important to be the best you could possibly be. Competition has its place. It is very important and very useful. It’s just that it gets sometimes into the DNA of stuff where it doesn’t belong and then comes around to bite us.
I love the Warrior basketball team, for example. They’re such a wonderful team and I’m a big fan. I’ll just say because they are all about winning the next game, winning the next game, they are getting more and more excellent as athletes. More and more, they understand and have respect for their opponents. Knowing their opponent and knowing the excellence of their opponent gives them a chance to develop their own excellence.
I really do think competition is helpful. I really think it’s beautiful. I know that it exists in nature. What the prevailing message of nature, particularly in all ecosystems, particularly in the rainforest, is what survives and what thrives is those species that collaborate, that effectively collaborate. They effectively compete. What’s more important is they effective collaborate.
It’s so interesting because that thing about collaboration I think is a big part of what’s happening in modern branding. I know that for my business a lot of who, 15 or 20 years ago, I might have considered my competitors are actually people I collaborate with now.
Almost everyone I know who’s being successful has seen that reaching out and connecting with people that are in your field and collaborating with them is a way that everybody wins. It’s that expression of a rising tide raises all boats. I’m not sure that’s exactly the expression, but you know what I mean.
I have three principles that I call the principles of sufficiency. The first being, what you appreciate, appreciates. The second being, money is like water, know the flow. I’ll say something about that in a moment. The third is, collaboration is the source of prosperity.
The word collaboration comes from co-labor, work together. Collaboration I think is the source of true prosperity, the prosperity that you share. True prosperity always something you share. It’s never about accumulation, it’s never about holding on. You can’t experience prosperity alone. It’s always something you share with other people.
I totally agree with that. What I love about a lot of the business partnerships that I know about is they’re collaborative rather than they’re mergers and acquisitions. In other words, it’s not somebody eating somebody and then firing a bunch of people and taking more money out of the company and giving it people at the top or the stock holders. They collaborate rather than destroy each other. That really is a wonderful trend in business.
I completely agree. Lynne, you work with a lot of people who are very high profile, who have a lot of wealth, who have a lot of influence. Many of them have very strong public brands that are well known. Obviously, without saying anyone’s name, which you wouldn’t do, what are some of the breakdowns that you see that those people have around money? Despite the fact that they may have an incredibly well established public brand.
Let’s see. The breakdowns that I see are when they get seduced by the bottom line rather than the vision. I can tell you a story, if we have time, about a very famous and popular actor who had a conversation with me after I’ve been in India with a group of women working on female infanticide.
The women in India talked to me about, “Can you go home and do something about the horrible violence in movies that come to our country? It’s so awful. Every movie is more violent than the one before.” I was talking to them about female infanticide, which is a horrible act of violence to smother your baby girl when she’s born because she’s not a boy and your husband is demanding a son. Which is a horrible practice that is ended now. This was in 1981, I think.
I came back to the United States after helping them stop this horrible practice. They asked me to stop the horrible practice of violence in India. It’s a big topic and I didn’t take it on exactly. After that, I came back and I spoke with this actor who had done a film, very atypical film that was a horror film that I had seen a trailer for. He’s the kind of guy who never did stuff like that. Very famous person. You would know his name instantly. Beautiful actor, Academy award-winning, etc. At that time though, he did this horrible film that I saw a trailer for on the plane.
I came back and I said to him, “How in the world did you allow yourself to make that film? What was the reason for that? This is so not like you.” He’s someone who has three daughters. I said, “Would you allow your little girls to see that film?” He said, “No. Not in a million years. I’d never let them go.” I said, “Someone’s children are going to see that. How did you do that?”
He said, “To tell you the truth, my wife and I had this big, big ranch that we love and that our children love. The ranch next door, we’ve always wanted to expand and buy it. It came for sale. The price tag was exactly the same price tag as the payment I would receive for this horror movie. It was a three week shoot. It was an all-cash offer. It was exactly the same, almost penny for penny, what the next door neighbor was asking for their ranch. I thought about it for about two seconds and I took the job and I did it. I got the money and I bought the ranch.”
I said, “God, doesn’t that just make your heart ache that you did that?” He said, “Yes, and it almost destroyed my career. I will never do that again.” That’s an example.
I once heard Bette Midler talk, publicly, she said this on an interview. They asked her about a movie that she’d done. I don’t remember the movie. She said she didn’t like doing it and she was really upset. She said, “I knew. I knew before I took it that it was not going to be the right thing.” He said, “Why did you take it?” She looked at him and she said, “For the money. I’ll never ever do that again.”
Of course, I don’t get paid the amount that Hollywood stars get paid. Not even close. But I’ve had that experience. I’m sure most people listening have had that experience and realized, it’s just not worth doing it “for the money.”
If it’s only for the money.
If it’s only for the money.
There are times when you’re doing it for the money because it’s a good thing and you know that you want to do it and the money is really great and so you put it as a priority over something else that wouldn’t give you as much money. I think what you and I are saying is, if you sell your soul or sell your brand only for the money, then you get yourself in trouble and it comes back to hurt you financially and in every other way.
It’s actually damaging to your brand. Ultimately it is damaging to your brand, business or personal, to do that.
I’ve had that experience myself. I’ve done things just because I knew if I did this I’d be able to meet this need or that need. I can’t accuse other people of doing that and me not doing it myself. I think that’s the slippery slope we all walk in running a company or being in business. Even people taking a job just for the money.
What we teach in this money course that I lead with some colleagues of mine, that there are times in your life where you take a job for the money. For example, you’ve just gotten divorced, you have to earn money to get your kids through school. Your settlement hasn’t taken place and you need money now. You take a job at the local school being a teacher’s aide, which is way less than what you’re worth. Or you take a job being the hostess at the nearby restaurant, which is not a job that’s consistent with your talents or skills. But it doesn’t sell your soul.
Often times, people do something for the money because they need the money but it’s not something that diminishes their …
No, because it’s for a higher purpose.
It’s for a higher purpose, exactly.
It’s interesting because I don’t think it’s just taking a job just for the money. I think it also damages your brand if you do things that are just for the … I don’t know if it damages your brand externally all the time, although it can. It can also damage your internal sense of who you are, your authenticity when we do things for the ego of it, for the checkmark in the box.
Again, I’ve done that. I’m sure you’ve done it. I’m sure most anyone listening has done it. It’s not a criticism that people do that. I think the clearer we get about our brands and our contributions, the less we do that.
When you know and catch yourself, it’s so powerful. That’s walking the path of authenticity. Authenticity always, always serves the highest good in your life and for your clients and for the world.
The work that I believe in is that conscious branding is all about that. It’s all about authentically being your best self, your highest contribution. Not about spinning or putting together some story that looks good to other people.
I’m going to ask you two questions I ask everyone. The first question is, think someone in your life who you had a hard time with or who you felt really did a disservice to you or did a wrong to you. Don’t tell us their name, obviously. What you’ve learned from that and how you handled it?
Wow. My goodness. Let’s see. An incident is coming up from a few years ago. First of all, what I learned from it was that how that happened was that I wasn’t responsible. It was someone who was working very closely with me. I had a hunch that what they were doing was taking us off track. My hunch, I ignored. Hunch, my intuition you might say, my instinct, was, “They’re taking us off track.” I acted with almost, “It’s their problem, they’ll get themselves in trouble, it’s not my problem.”
I did this horrible thing, which is I abdicated the responsibility that I had to ensure that that person succeeded because it was someone that I was employing. Rather, I just thought maybe it will work out and they’ll see that they’re off course on their own. I don’t know. I just let it happen. I let it happen.
It was my responsibility to stop that activity, to stop that action, to have that thing not happen, and it happened. There were consequences weren’t just for that one person. The consequences were for my organization, for my mission, for me, for all of us. They were heavy consequences.
What I learned from it is that when you are in charge, when you are the founder or the CEO or the president or the boss or the person running the division, whatever it is, your level of responsibility, the people that are under you. They’re not under you, I’m sorry. Your colleagues, you are responsible for their actions too.
You can’t change them, you can’t force them to be a certain way. You’re responsible for creating a space of integrity and authenticity that has them do business, do their work in a way that’s consistent with your own values. If you don’t do that, you will end up really regretting it and there will be consequences.
That was the teaching. Once I got that teaching, then I could responsively resolve or clean up the mess, if I can put it that way. I have a theory that everything can get resolved in communication. Another teaching is that I didn’t communicate when I felt that it was going off.
After I took responsibility, then I got everyone in communication. All the people that were withholding their this that or the other thing shared what they were withholding. It made us all stronger and we’ll never make that particular mistake again. I increased my capacity to be responsible for the people that I am in partnership with. It was a huge lesson. Now, I’m grateful that it happened.
That’s a great example. The second question is, think of someone who’s actually made a huge difference in your life, who really contributed something to them. Their name you can say, if you’d like. What you learned from that?
Let’s see. Tammy White, my partner in this course that I lead called “True Prosperity for Evolving Wisdom.” She has brought me into the world of financial literacy. She is a financial literacy expert, I think. She wouldn’t say that but I say it. She has such a deep love for spreadsheets, she loves them. She calls it the joy of cash flow. She loves it so much. She makes it so much fun that something that I’ve been afraid of and always I’ve turned over to other people and hope it was turning out okay, has become an area that I know feel I can be responsible for and actually engage in.
The gift she’s given me, it’s just immense, given that I work with money, the Soul of Money Institute. There’s this person founding it and running, being the president of it, who was afraid for year of being financial literate with spreadsheets and retirement benefits and legal things. Because my husband is very good at that, I just left it to him.
Tammy has really given me a runway, an opening, a pathway to take that on myself so that I am a more whole and complete person in my relationship with money.
That’s fantastic. Lynne, as always, it’s a pleasure to talk to you. It’s always eye opening and thought provoking. I really want to thank you for taking the time to be with me. Would you let people know the website where they can find out more about you?
I will. The website is TheSoulofMoney.org. It’s still .org, we hope to change it at some point, or LynneTwist.com. The Pachamama Alliance is Pachamama.org. Those are the two websites or the three websites. Actually the first two that I said lead you to the same place. LynneTwist.com or SoulofMoney.org lead you to the same place. Pachamama.org where you can find lots more information about everything we’ve talked about.
Fantastic. Lynne, just one more time, the name of your book which will be re-released in the spring of 2017, correct?
Fantastic. Lynne, thank you so much for taking the time. I think you’re headed out to the jungle tomorrow, to the Amazon, yes?
Have a good trip.
Thank you, Karen.
Thank you so much for listening everyone. My guest has been Lynne Twist. The author of The Soul of Money.
- Soul of Money Institute
- Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Life
- The Hunger Project
- Pachamama Allicance
- True Prosperity for Evolving Wisdom
About Lynne Twist
For more than 40 years, Lynne Twist has been a recognized global visionary committed to alleviating poverty and hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability.
From working with Mother Teresa in Calcutta to the refugee camps in Ethiopia and the threatened rainforests of the Amazon, Lynne’s on-the-ground work has brought her a deep understanding of the social tapestry of the world and the historical landscape of the times we are living in.
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Karen Leland is President of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm. She works with individuals, businesses and teams to enhance their business and personal brands. Her clients include LinkedIn, American Express, Apple, Marriott Hotels and others. Her ninth book, The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build and Accelerate Your Brand, (Entrepreneur Press, 2016) is available online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and in bookstores now.