Why you should build on love not fear

Richard Branson sitting on the edge of a pool table talking to a woman seated next to him
Image from Virgin Unite
A close up of Richard Branson smiling, looking at the camera
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 17 April 2019

Investing in businesses that are doing good in the world pays off more than investing in ones that don’t. From my five decades in business, I’ve seen this in action time and time again. There used to be so much skepticism around this idea, but now it is becoming so much more accepted.

Kip Tindell, co-founder and chairman of The Container Store, is a big believer in conscious capitalism. Speaking at our recent Igniting Change Gathering, he cited my old friend Herb Kelleher, who ran Southwest Airlines with humour and humanity for so long. “You can build a lot better business on love than on fear.”

Male speaker with microphone addressing a audience with a presentation behind.
Image from Virgin Unite

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the next set of financial results, get hooked on short-termism, and forget what you are there for – to make a positive difference in the world. As Kip said: “The old business model was based on fear. There is still a sense in too many people, deep down, that doubling down on ruthlessness can make the most money.” It’s simply not true.

Karl Lokko speaking to man and woman at a Virgin Unite event on Necker Island
Image from Virgin Unite

However, the tide is turning, and now we expect businesses to be purposeful, not just profitable. If you aren’t trying to make the world a better place, people will not want to work with you. If you are using the Earth’s precious resources and doing nothing to protect it, people will choose another company. If you treat your people with as disposable rather than fundamental to your success, they will dispose of you.

How important is it to you that the business you work for is purposeful? How about the companies you shop with? I look forward to reading your views on social.