Almost everyone in business has heard the name Ivan Boesky. The character of Gordon Gecko in Wall Street was loosely based on him and his Greed is Good philosophy of business and life.

There’s no arguing that Boesky was good at what he did. He was that guy who’d go in and take over failing companies, fire everyone, re-structure then sell at enormous profit. There was very little room for emotion or even humanity in the actions of his company. 

He was one of the first businessmen to attain celebrity status as he preached his Greed is Good mantra to generations of business students all eager to lap up anything that would give them that killer edge.

There are still people in business today who live by this philosophy. They believe that chasing down the almighty buck is the American dream and shouldn’t be trifled with. 

Hey, how’s that workin’ out for you Don Blankenship, CEO at Massey Energy?

Lucky for us there is a new business model in town. One that considers Boesky’s 20 year old attitude to be not only antiquated but actually contrary to our nature as human beings.

In his book, Born to Be Good, social scientist Dacher Keltner has researched just what the Greed is Good paradigm has done to generations of people. How we have been raised to believe that attaining that competitive edge by disregarding the needs of our fellow man (woman) would ultimately lead to success.

Instead Keltner suggest that a “meaningful life” is akin to a successful life and that our lives cannot have meaning without some part of us thinking of the greater good. 

Ok, now that the groundwork is there I’ll let you in on how Keltner’s book and some Darwin-ist philosophy have come together to create a new business model that will make Boesky-type success look so reprehensible that no one in their right mind would seek it out. 

Here’s how it all comes together. According to Keltner, if you want to be successful in business and in life, you will need to stop thinking about “what’s in it for me?” and start thinking about “what can I do for you?”. In serving the greater good you will develop an authenticity that is missing from the greed model. Your customers will trust you to steer them in the right direction. You will create a stronger bond that will, in turn, create a larger return customer base. 

So where does Darwin come in? Keltner contends that most historians and social scientists have missed a major point that Darwin brought to light; we, as humans, are ultimately sympathetic beings. We want to help others and, when we do, we feel good. We feel fulfilled, we feel successful and appreciative and are…wait for it…HAPPY.

I know it sounds a bit hippy-esque but anyone that says they don’t want to be happy is lying. No one wants to be miserable and happy people do more for society.  

The great thing about social media and its application is that in order to play in the social media sandbox one must leave the greed is good idea behind. No one cares how great you say your company is. No one cares how many cars you sold. The “toot your own horn” era is over, at least in the online space.

If your site is not providing value to your visitors, authentic value, then you are not going to keep them there or get them back. But your competition will. You can bet on it. 

As consumers continue to use the internet for their number one source of information, authenticity and accountability will be held in the highest regard. Making sure your social media game plan encompasses that will be the difference between a successful campaign and a lame one like, I dunno, BP?

The Social Media Canada site is dedicated to helping people figure out what they need to create a social media strategy. All of the elements are there, for free, for anyone. The result of giving away this information is a consistently increasing client-base. 

Written by jax