Wealth Podcast Post

Doing Good and Making Money with Bessi Graham

George Grombacher September 2, 2022

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Doing Good and Making Money with Bessi Graham

LifeBlood: We talked about doing good while making money at the same time, shifting our thinking towards a more nuanced approach, what organizations and individuals can do to more fully align with their values,  and how to get started, with Bessi Graham, entrepreneur, coach and podcaster. 

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You can learn more about Bessi at BessiGraham.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Bessi Graham

Episode Transcript

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
let’s go. This is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Bessie grant Bessie, are you ready to do this? I am indeed. Let’s go. Bessie is an award winning entrepreneur, she’s got over 20 years working with business owners, governments large funding bodies to bring doing good and making money back together. She’s a coach and a podcaster, helping people to find fulfilment, so they can leverage their wealth to make a massive difference. Bessie, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do? Sure. Well, I grew up in Australia, in a family that really our core values were around things like work ethic and independence and perspective and social justice. So there was kind of this big drive to figure out, how do you actually contribute to the world? And that has really driven a lot of my work over particularly this last 20 plus years, where I’ve been trying to figure out how do you bring these worlds together of doing good and making money that too often are seen as very separate things that cannot coexist? And for me, it was about saying, Okay, I want to not just work in the government space, or the charitable sector, or the corporate world, I see value in all those spices. So how do I bring them together? And that really has has driven what for me, if you think of that overarching Why was about saying, I want to awaken for people that possibility that you can do good and make money in the same business. And that business can be a really powerful agent for change. So that has driven the establishment of an incubator that worked with social enterprises across Australia and the Pacific Islands. I’ve set up investment funds, and done a whole bunch of work with government, as you said, in introduction, government, and different big funding bodies, as well as that really practical work with business owners and entrepreneurs that are trying to get their organization to actually do some good in the world. So make a positive impact, but not do that in a way that assumes it can’t be financially rewarding as well.

Unknown Speaker 2:28
I appreciate I appreciate all that. I’m a massive fan of work ethic, I think perspective is one of the most valuable and most challenging things that we have. And justice is one of my core values. So

Unknown Speaker 2:42
all very, very, very, very important. As you look and I think it is interesting, it

Unknown Speaker 2:49
strikes me that it very much used to be these these two buckets, right? It’s we were making money, it’s capitalism and and get out of our way. And then we have the nonprofit or charitable worlds.

Unknown Speaker 3:03
And today, with the rise of conversations around stakeholder capital, and equity and inclusion, and dei and and impact investing, and snow, all these things.

Unknown Speaker 3:18
How are we doing?

Unknown Speaker 3:20
Well, I think on the surface, you could say there is that progress, as you said, there’s more of a conversation now, I had the privilege of in back in 2000. So a while ago, working with the first ethical investment advisors in Australia. And the reality is that we have decades of track record in the ethical investment space, which as you said, now we’re kind of calling impact investment. There’s been this this move to different phases and different focus areas. There has been work going on for decades, but it hasn’t been mainstream. And it’s still been almost that piece of saying, well, that’s wishful thinking as if you could actually make money while you were actively choosing where you put your money to work in the world. And yet, we can actually see that that is possible. So on one level, we’re doing really well because more people are becoming conscious of and talking about these things. But I think the piece it’s interesting for me in all the organizations that I’ve worked with, and when you get to engaging with boards and others that are making decisions, while people are fascinated by the conversation, and there is this deeply human component of wanting to find ways to be more aligned, and bring that fullness of who we are at home and what we value into our work. When it comes to that difficult point of now making a decision of where do I invest this money or how do I make my decisions differently? What’s my risk appetite? When it comes to the signing of a check, or the transferring of cash? Then these often unclear

Unknown Speaker 5:00
Shindand unconscious aspects of the fact that we still have a mindset that thinks those two pieces are different comes out. And I have seen that many times over that while the conversation seems like people have progressed, we’re not seeing the actual decision making changes rapidly as the conversation seems to be. And the transfer of that money and the way we make decisions is just not yet connected. But there is progress. So I think that would be how I would sum that up. Yeah, thank you. Little bit of lip service going on, which I guess,

Unknown Speaker 5:36
part of the evolution, never to be on the tip of everybody’s tongue than then the not there at all. But it hasn’t found its way down to the hand to write the check, actually. So I get it.

Unknown Speaker 5:51
When you hear the term, go, woke, go broke. When you think about when we’re talking about sustainability, and particularly when it comes to new forms of energy, I feel like a lot of people out there think that it’s that sustainability isn’t sustainable. When do you have maybe those two phrases? Does that make your skin crawl? Do you? What What are your thoughts?

Unknown Speaker 6:15
I think probably the aspect with both of those phrases, even sustainability, which on its on its own isn’t necessarily flipping to an extreme. But what comes to mind for me is that they still feel like this piece of make a choice, which one is it? We’re still going down that road of

Unknown Speaker 6:32
you are going all in in one direction? And then you just crossing your fingers that you’ve got it right? Like there’s no room for, for saying, what is the nuance here? What is the conversation that needs to examine what’s required, if we’re actually clear on what we’re trying to achieve. And this is where some of those aspects of the mindset shift and starting to think differently about how what businesses role is, what the role of capital is, what the role of charity is, all of these different things. Once we’re clear on what we’re trying to achieve, then we can think about okay, so actually, to address that problem, there is going to be a role for philanthropy. So what is it that we’re going to do which work needs to be paid for with granting dollars, or what’s the role of government and, and the delivery of charities, but where is the place for investment that should unapologetically be making a return, because it’s taking a risk, right? So we need to have a conversation, that is not pushing people into these extremes of,

Unknown Speaker 7:36
you know, all the intense one end of the spectrum, because that type of thinking also then starts to, when we get to that position I spoke about before of, we’re actually getting to the pointy end, and we have to transfer that money or make the decision differently, the fear kicks in, right, so we might have been excited. And then we suddenly think I’m gonna lose everything like this is all in.

Unknown Speaker 8:04
Whereas I think the conversation that we need to have is to start to say there is a combination, when we come into, say, the impact investment space. And for me, when I say that I’m not talking about it as an asset class, it’s a lens that you look at all of the capital you have, and how you’re using that in the world. So it’s a broader sense of impact investment. But when we look at that, if we say there’s actually a mix of precedent, there are examples like I spoke about in ethical investment with his decades of data that you can look at and actually see people making money in these different investments that they’re making, where they’re consciously choosing and measuring, you know, that the impact that it’s having both financially and socially or environmentally, so there is precedent, so we can take away some of that fear of this is completely new and out there. And we don’t know what will happen. But we do have to be honest, that there are aspects of it, where we are pioneering. So there’s both precedent and the pioneering aspect. And if we’re more conscious of that, we can say, oh, in this particular investment, there is a part of it, where we are taking a bigger risk, and we don’t exactly know what’s going to happen. And then you can think about which type of capital you want to put to work there. So in in a typical investment portfolio, you will have some money that you are happy to be quite speculative with and if you lose it, you lose it. But then you have other money where you think, you know, I need to be able to retire on this. And it has to actually be pretty conservative in the risk it’s taking. So I would say looking at those types of things. And rather than having this extreme where we’re flipping to, you must choose one thing over the other. It’s starting to just examine it in a more holistic way.

Unknown Speaker 9:53
Makes a lot of sense. And the more nuanced look, we can take at any all situation

Unknown Speaker 10:00
Since the better,

Unknown Speaker 10:02
it’s not all ones and zeros. No, I’m I unders I think that I might. Pardon me, I think I understand what what what you’re saying I’m still having a hard time bringing it all together in my brain, with with a corporation. Here in the States, obviously there’s a CEO, they have a board that they’re responsible to. And then there’s all the shareholders. So they used to be that they had their enterprise and then they maybe had an arm that was for charitable giving. And we’re talking about going a step beyond that. And saying, we need to

Unknown Speaker 10:42
have clarity on the organization in general and what we’re doing and and do a better job of blending all of it. Yeah, so I think one of the things I always talk to organizations about is starting to have an approach that that is looking for the opportunities to do good inside the business. So the core business, you’re right, we all have these arms, where we can do corporate social responsibility, or we have a philanthropic foundation, there’s different avenues, where people are either making a donation or contributing pro bono time. Now, those things are great, and we should do that. But this approach is about saying, we are as organizations are already having an impact on the world, whether that is in the well being of our staff, whether that is in the changes, or transformation we’re creating for our customers, whether that’s around the environmental impacts of our products. So there’s all of these impacts that are happening, based on the decisions that a CEO or an executive or a board are making. And this approach is to say, come back to those things and look at within your core business, how could you make decisions differently or allocate money differently, that actually contributes and makes a difference in the world. So it’s that piece of not simply waiting till we can make a donation or give something to a charity, but taking responsibility for the business itself and the impact it’s having on the world.

Unknown Speaker 12:13
interesting, fascinating, smart. Certainly, at every level, I’m thinking about just a giant nameless, faceless corporation that has 1000s of employees.

Unknown Speaker 12:23
Everywhere that they’re spending their money, if it’s the paper towels that they’re putting in the restroom and the however their employees are getting to work, there’s opportunities probably at every single level to make different decisions that could be more aligned with your value and the impact that the organization is interested in having. Yeah, and if we tie that back to your previous question about, you know, sustainability, and is it sustainable, the piece when you approach it in this way that saying, we’re we’re attempting to bring back together doing good and making money, it’s important to remember that we still had the making money piece in that conversation. So we’re not saying an organization needs to be looking for what are all the ways within the business that you can contribute to your staff’s well being or have an environmental impact, and ignore the realities of what that does to your bottom line. We’re saying how do we think about this and design an organization that can do both. And some of the ways that you do that when you’re more conscious of identifying those pieces within the business, you can do things like as you have staff that are in a place where they are feeling the environment, the culture is, is a more conducive one to them not feeling stressed and overwhelmed and overworked, you will see reductions in people leaving, like your turnover will go down, you’ll have retention, which will mean you’ll have less costs around employing new people training new people, you will have happier staff that then treat your customers better and drive revenue into your business. So we’re not trying to simply do good, we’re saying there’s actually ways that these two pieces can be mutually reinforcing. And that piece helps to take away some of that fear of the decision making when we get to implementing some of these things. Because where we have done the thinking and design the business in a way where we can be confident that we will see increases in profitability and revenue on the back of the increases in the positive impact. We’re having

Unknown Speaker 14:30
better to have a long series of small decisions than just one giant decision of yes, we’re doing this or no, we’re not doing it on the table. Yeah, yeah. Got it. And what what is the starting point for for an organization, how do they how do they start by dipping their toe in the water but then eventually jump all the way on?

Unknown Speaker 14:54
So some of those pieces that that I already spoke about? So there’s an aspect of needing to look at for the organization to

Unknown Speaker 15:00
Depending how big it is, if it’s quite small, it might be just the founder or the owner having these conversations. at a small level, it’s a big organization, looking at the organization itself, and really understanding the components around, what are the core values? What are the drivers of this organization? What’s the vision of where we actually want to go? What we’re trying to be in the world? And how do we actually have a very clear sense of what success looks like. So there’s these internal conversations that need to happen first, that give clarity and almost that baseline to come back as a touchstone of our our decisions aligned with this. So you need to be clear as an organization around those critical factors, then it’s the moving into the components that I spoke about are starting to think about, where do we spend money? So where do we spend the most of our money? And are there opportunities in that, to put this to work? So where do we spend money? And where do we have decision making? Right? So where are we already making decisions or influencing things. And that is the place to start. Because as you said, you don’t want to go to this massive all in grand statement, that actually you can’t really have a direct impact on and then people will start to feel disappointed and lose interest over time. So I think it’s that aspect of the internal peace, the clarity of where those opportunities might lie. And then, as I said, drawing that into how do we bring the doing good back into the core business itself, not simply as something we do once we make profit? Got it. A similar process for for us as individuals? Absolutely. So again, it’s that self examination piece, that I always say to people, you can’t lead others until you lead yourself. There’s the work that needs to happen to be aware of and conscious of your own values and drivers and how you are currently behaving and making decisions. So that pace changes slightly. And it’s just more of a personal exploration rather than an organizational and but the same steps then apply in terms of

Unknown Speaker 17:14
where are you spending money? How are you making decisions? And how do you bring the good back into the things you actually have control over?

Unknown Speaker 17:22
A little bit? It’s

Unknown Speaker 17:23
particularly because with all of our consumer behaviors, and where we’re spending our money, there’s probably an opportunity to just look one or two layers deeper, and to have a pretty profound impact and to have how we’re voting with our dollars and spending our dollars more closely aligned, if not perfectly aligned with what is most important to us. And that vision that we see for for the world. So I love it.

Unknown Speaker 17:54
Well, Betsy, you’ve given us a lot, but the people are ready for that difference making tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 18:00
So for me, I think the the piece would be for people to realize they are already having an impact in the world. So don’t assume that that’s something that will come later realize you’re already having an impact. And the question is, is it a positive one. So to make a difference, now you need to stop waiting for when you’ve made it or sold your business or you retire. So don’t put put it off to that point. But do that work that we spoke about of knowing yourself, knowing what you want to be part of contributing to in the world, and then acting on those pieces that you can already make decisions on that are already within your control? So those pieces are the critical steps. And really, it’s that aspect of you’ve got this like just do it do the thinking and then jump into actually implementing that in the world?

Unknown Speaker 18:53
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. Busy. Thank thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you? Where can they find your podcast.

Unknown Speaker 19:04
So my podcast is called both end with Bessie Graham. So instead of thinking about either or and having to choose, I believe you can have both. So you can check out the podcast or go to Bessie graham.com and get in touch with me there to either get on the waiting list for our next six month program or any of my quarterly sessions. So I’m back in the US again in October for our next round. And we’d love to just talk to people if they want to have a call and explore what does this look like for their organization. Again, you can contact me through the website se graham.com

Unknown Speaker 19:39
If you enjoyed this as much as I did, show us your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas check out the both and with Bessie Graham podcast wherever you listen to your podcast and then go to Bessie graham.com It’s B ESSIGRHA m.com. And check out all

Unknown Speaker 20:00
other different resources and figure out how to better understand and know yourself and then just get started thanks again Jesse Thank you and until next time keep fighting the good fight we’re all in this together

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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