Aside from marketing books on email, social media, and business, I also like some inspiration every now and then. I just finished reading a book called Thou Shall Prosper (second edition) by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. The basic premise is that serving others in the marketplace is the true foundation of a successful business; there can be no other way to grow your business and reputation in your community (whether local or online) for the long-term. Most people who’ve been in business for awhile know this intrinsically because they built their businesses on an ethic of service and pride in quality.
Another important claim of the book is that business is a noble profession. People who pursue it and do it well are rewarded with money (certificates of appreciation); respect from those they serve; and other pleasant effects, like feelings of purpose and gratitude, which are indispensable to a happy life.
Events in the world today (the riots in Europe and the “Occupy” sit-ins here in American cities) and some of the claims you see on the Internet can really make you wonder if people are genuinely willing to work toward combatting greed in our society, or if the underlying roots of these movements are envy and anger. There is almost a palpable fear of money these days that feels a little creepy to me. Fear of anything makes people act in strange ways, and fear spreads like wildfire.
What really stands out from Lapin’s book is his description of money as a profound metric for value and what that means to a person’s spirit and livelihood. How many times have you heard that you should “do what you love” and build a business around that. But the truth is, in order to prosper you must give people something that THEY want — not what what YOU want to give them.
Here’s an excerpt under the heading “The Real Role of Work:”
The obvious question is, “How do I know that I am bringing benefit to others?” Perhaps by spray-painting graffiti on neighborhood walls, I am really bringing benefit and beauty to unappreciative locals. That is where pay and profit come in. Without these indispensable barometers of people’s desires, people would all be inflicted with the involuntary consequences of activists’ enthusiasms. By bestowing the gift of money on His children, God gave them the advantage of being able to be supplied with the things that they want rather than with the things that others think they should have. Pay and profit tell you that you are supplying a need and filling other people’s wants. They are the not the motivation for your work, they are the validation of your work.
Greed is one thing, and people should righteously defend their money and prosecute those who would unlawfully steal it. However, money in itself is not evil. In fact it’s a pretty useful tool for exchange; and a great way to prove your faith in others’ work and talents.
Money is nothing less than a promise, an agreement among groups of people, to make good down the road. I give you $20 in exchange for your work becuase you don’t need my labor or products today; we can’t make an even exchange of the fruits of our individual labors. Therefore, you can exchange this piece of paper, a $20 bill, for something you choose for yourself. If people decide that money is evil, how is society suppposed to even work? Money only works if we believe in it and appreciate it! We have to be able to trust each other (and in general, we do). Money proves that diverse people can live in complex communities together (again; in general, we do).
I’m no economist, but I hope we can still believe in those basic foundations of our economy, or the fabric of our society has already worn beyond repair. We can and should pray for the wisdom and adherence to serve and provide for others to the best of our abilities. Pretty basic stuff, but it’s what will pull us through these tough times.
You can tell by the title that this book is full of Biblical history and mentions of God; no surprise that economics originated as a classical course of study alongside philosophy and religion. Some folks may not absorb it because of the language, but if you’re okay with that, then give this book a try. Thou Shall Prosper is a common sense Judeo-Christian response to current claims about prosperity and wealth, and a thoroughly creative discussion of prosperity from a unique and time-tested perspective. I’ll be purchasing a few more copies.
Meanwhile, if you are working like crazy and you have a great product you believe in; but you’re just not reaching the people who need it most; I urge you to give us a call. You might just need a really good email marketing and copywriting to boost your sales this year. I’d be honored to help.
Call us at toll free 855-279-0553 or in Austin at 512-351-3329.