Christmas is the season of giving and doing good. That´s the way it has been for us at Nordic Business Forum – and it has been a good thing for us.
It was this time of the year in 2010 when we sat down as a crew and watched together an inspirational DVD about Blake Mycoskie and his unique business, Toms Shoes. In that DVD, Mycoskie passionately explained how his business was found on One for One business model. They would give a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes purchased from Toms Shoes. It was an amazing real life story.
Everyone of us was excited about this guy. We thought he was really cool! Somehow in our hearts we agreed with Blake, business shouldn´t be only about making money or serving customers. If there´s a chance to do something good for the community as well, we should take the chance and do it.
Some time after we had seen the DVD Hans-Peter shared his idea about doing something similar. Hans-Peter said: ”I got an idea. We could provide a day of entrepreneurship education to a Finnish schoolchild for every seminar or training ticket sold. The work will be done on a 100% voluntary basis by Nordic Business Forum Oy, and it will not be subsidized by the government. This would be our voluntary thing as a company. What do you think? Are you in?”
That´s how the process began for us. After that, we planned, discussed and brainstormed around this idea in many meetings. All this resulted in Inspiration for Two concept. This year only, Inspiration for Two reached over 5000 students. It has taken some money and time but… Oh boy, it has been so much fun for us! You should see how students become joyful when Mikko and Jyri share their stories. We have heard so many enthusiastic testimonies and we´ve seen so many happy faces that it gives us a sense of purpose for doing this. We thought that we have something important to say, and everywhere we go students are agreeing. When you´re doing something for others you really feel like having purpose in life.
Now during the Christmas season, we have a little challenge for you: make a profit, take good care of your colleagues and serve your customers well – but do something for the community as well. We don´t say what you should do. What we want to say is: Do something. If you just do something for others, you´re going to feel good! As Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert has said: ”Helping others is one of the most selfish things you could do.” What he means is that in the end you may or may not help the others but you´re the one who´s going to feel good for sure (HBR 2012 Jan.p.90).
We´re not doing good because it´s good business. We´re not giving back because it helps our brand. Sure, that´s a nice bonus if that happens. And of course, business should be profitable. But in the end, we want to do good because we believe it´s the right thing to do. So when you think about doing good, think also about your ”what to be” –list, not only your ”what to do” -list. Christmas and New Year´s season is just the right time to stop and reflect on what kind of a person you really want to be like.
Blake Mycoskie´s testimony changed our course. He has been an inspiration for us. That one DVD and Hans-Peter´s vision born out of it has sent us to many schools, and the vision still keeps us going. If our story inspires you to do something, we would be extremely happy. You´re one of us, you want to make a difference, you´re the kind of person who does good – that´s what we believe. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!