Heroic Public Benefit Corporation
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Update: Check out WeFunder.com/Heroic for the latest!
My dear fellow Optimize Heroes:
This is Brian. I hope you and your family are doing great.
As we discussed in my recent notes on my thoughts on the election, the election (politics aside), has catalyzed clarity on the next steps of my life’s work—bringing me, as Walt Whitman said about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s effects on him, from “simmering, simmering, simmering to a boil.”
Today I am excited to tell you more about this new Heroic venture and invite you to join us as one of our founding investors (even if it’s just for $100). More on that at the very end.
I think I finally have an answer to THIS question that one of our Optimizers (Nathaniel) posed to me at the end of an offline event we hosted years ago called Hero Training 101.
This clip captures the essence of WHY I am so excited about the contents of the rest of this letter. (I’m sending Love to all of you who were there that weekend.)
Okay. Wiping tears away, here’s how I think I can answer that question in the most powerful possible way such that we can fulfill our Mission to change the world, one person at a time, TOGETHER, starting with you and me, Today.
First, here’s some context on how I’m seeing things…
Optimize is a strong business and brand. We believe it has the potential to become an even stronger business and brand. Optimize now features 1,000+ Optimize +1s, 500+ PhilosophersNotes, and 50 Optimal Living 101 classes. We have served individuals from nearly every country in the world with our Core membership program and over 2,500 Optimizers from 75+ countries have signed up for our Optimize Coach program—which has been scientifically proven to change lives.
The Core wisdom membership and Coach training program will remain the cornerstones of this business. We are also excited to expand our Corporate efforts as we continue to execute on our impact strategy to fulfill its potential. Our ambitious targets remain clear: 1 million+ Optimizers and 100,000+ Optimize Coaches by the end of this decade.
I am proud of this body of work and our current levels of impact. And, I am very excited to create a world-class member experience, including a curated introduction to the best content we have via our Top 3 Best of series and a follow-up best of series of PNs and +1s (and 101s). We can (and will) be able to share this content over a period of years.
Having said that, although “Optimize with Brian Johnson” and Optimize.me are appropriate for my body of work and the individual’s personal Optimization and actualization, they are not quite the right brand/URL for a broader vision that includes wisdom from other world-class teachers and a social platform that helps us all connect and serve together.
As such, I have created a new venture through which we can go to the next level in serving you (and the world) profoundly as I personally step out of the hermit-Philosopher mode and into an integrated Philosopher + CEO mode.
Which leads us to…
Heroic Public Benefit Corporation
I am incredibly excited to let you know that we have created a new company called Heroic Public Benefit Corporation. I am the Founder and CEΦ of this new business.
Our mission with Heroic is simple. We will change the world. One person at a time. Together. Starting with you and us. TODAY.
(btw: For those following along, you may have noticed that I figured out how to integrate the “Philosopher” side of my Big 3 Work Identity (represented by the phi symbol “Φ”) with the “CEO” side of my Work Identity. I woke up with a vision of this symbol on Election night—I could see that my Identity was no longer “Philosopher + CEO”—which always led to a sort of disintegrated dichotomy (which one would I be Today?)—but an integrated CEΦ. The epiphany was a profound one for me.)
Practically speaking, Heroic will acquire Optimize such that it basically transcends and includes our current business. Existing Optimize investors will have the option to sell their shares or roll them into the new entity.
Rather than go the traditional route and primarily raise money from venture capitalists and wealthy investors (which is how I’ve raised the bulk of the $10 million for my prior businesses), we will finance this business via invested capital from YOU, our community of Optimizing Heroes and other Luminaries and strategic investors who share our values and commitment to using business as a positive force for good in the world.
In the process, we intend to, literally, make history.
As it turns out, in early 2021 the Federal limits on crowdfunded startups (known as Reg CF) will go from $1 million to $5 million.
We intend to make Heroic Public Benefit Corporation THE first company to EVER raise $5 million from everyday people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to support a business like ours. With your support, on Day 1 we will open and close the largest crowdfunded startup financing in history.
We plan to make history. And then we plan to change the course of history.
(btw: When I think about all this making-history business, I think of Gandhi and one of his lines we talk about in our Notes on Eknath Easwaran’s great book Gandhi the Man.)
Easwaran tells us: “The historian J.B. Kripalani, who became one of Gandhi’s closest co-workers, has said that the first time he heard Gandhi talk this way he was so shocked that he went up to him and told him point-blank: ‘Mr. Gandhi, you may know all about the Bible or the Bhagavad Gita, but you know nothing at all about history. Never has a nation been able to free itself without violence.’
Gandhi smiled. ‘You know nothing about history,’ he corrected gently. ‘The first thing you have to learn about history is that because something has not taken place in the past, that does not mean it cannot take place in the future.’”
In addition to Optimize, the new business (as we’re currently seeing it) will have three primary components: Heroic Press, Heroic Productions, and Heroic Social. Here’s a quick look at each.
We plan to launch Heroic Press in 2021 with my new book You Are a Hero. Our unabashedly ambitious target is to launch as a #1 New York Times bestseller and stick in the Top 10 for 300 weeks, selling 3 million+ copies in 30+ languages. (To put that in perspective, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits was on the NYT list for 200 weeks in the 1990s en route to selling over 25 million copies.)
We asked our Optimize community if they’re excited about our upcoming book and if there’s anything they’d like to share with prospective partners. From generals, bishops, and CEOs to college professors, school principals and professional moms, our community committed to pre-ordering 10,000 copies of the book. Here’s a sample of what they said.
The best time for this book was Yesterday. The next best is Now. I can confidently say that this book will change millions of lives. The word Bestseller would not do justice to this book
The world is unwell, humanity needs healing, this book is part of that cure.
This will be a modern classic without a doubt.
Brian is my favorite teacher. He has literally changed my life dozens and dozens of times over. He's helped me become a better husband, father, scientist, and human being in general. I'll pre-order the book the first day it's available.
Let's get this book to #1 for the next decade!
This will be the best book in modern history for personal development. Period.
The Optimize community is more than just a source of potential buyers, we’re evangelists for Optimizing.
Brian's work has the power to change lives and change the world. Sharing that with the people who matter most to me will be an honor and privilege.
We need Brian's book now more than ever to face the current unprecedented challenges and use them as fuel to build a flourishing future for humanity.
This book will be a classic handbook such as 7 Habits and How To Win Friends. Timeless principles.
We are very confident in our ability to sell the requisite number of books to hit the major lists as a bestseller. Our challenge will be sticking in the Top 10 as a perennial seller. This book will be supported by (and benefit) both Optimize and Heroic growth initiatives.
Renowned book designer Chip Kidd (watch his TED Talks here) has created what we believe has the potential to be an iconic cover. Here it is:
Note: Here’s a PDF with Phil Stutz’s foreword, the table of contents and the first chapter/introduction called “Objective O: Flip the Switch.”
Here’s an excerpt from Phil’s foreword:
Plus, just for fun… Here are some kind words from a few friends with whom I’ve shared the manuscript:
btw: Speaking of Finding Joe… Heroic Public Benefit Corporation is basically how I’m answering my own call to adventure while inviting YOU to join me on an epic Heroic quest!!
btw3: Pat and his crew flew out to Austin a few weeks ago to film me for a documentarian-quality “pitch” video for Heroic. I’ll be sharing that with you near the end of the year!
We plan to follow up my book with a series of related books including a daily journal (Carpe Diem!), workbook, etc. In addition, we plan to create a series of books with world-class authors featuring the distillation of their life’s work into 101-page, manifesto-like, quick-reading, inspiring, beautifully designed, and equally practical field guides to their area of expertise featuring 30 of the absolute best, most life-changing ideas they’ve gleaned over their life’s work.
These will be called “Hero’s Handbooks.” (Think: Rather than “For Dummies” or “Idiot’s Guides,” we’re going to create wisdom to empower HEROES.)
Note: The Dummies series has 2,500 titles and more than 200 million books in print. (Browse subjects here. Self-Development isn’t even one of their major categories.) (Idiot’s Guides has 127 titles. Browse subjects here.)
Our Hero’s Handbooks will feature more wisdom in less time, helping us train an army of virtuous Heroes to move from Theory to Practice to Mastery so we can, individually and collectively, give the world all we’ve got.
Chip Kidd is also working with us to create what we intend to make an iconic brand for the series. (To put it in perspective, Chip designed the Jurassic Park icon and was also commissioned by TED to design the look and feel for their TED Books series. And, fun: He literally wrote the book on great design. Highly recommend it!)
We are currently working with other industry leaders and will continue recruiting a world-class team to help us launch what we intend to make one of the world’s next great publishing houses.
Further, as part of our commitment to demonstrate the power of a virtues-based, Heroic Public Benefit Corporation, we plan to give away one book for every book sold and initiating a range of other ways to bring this wisdom to the people and communities who need it most.
In addition, we are working on a series of Heroic portraits. I have these Heroes hanging from my office walls (both the indoor AND the outdoor office!) so I can turn for Wisdom from my favorite Heroes whenever I need it. Here’s a sample of the first batch. (Note: More women Heroes en route!)
Question: Who’s YOUR favorite Hero? Let us know and we’ll see if we can make a Heroic portrait for you!
Hero Training Master Classes
In addition to planning on publishing a series of Hero’s Handbooks with some of the world’s leading teachers and thinkers, we also plan to produce a series of MasterClass-quality courses with them featuring some of the best Big Ideas from their Handbooks. These classes will be available as part of a premium membership program.
Philosophical aside… When I (and our Team) reach out to friends/prospective partners to chat about how we may be able to create some magic together, I always lean on some wisdom we discuss in our Notes on one of my Top 3 All Time favorite books: James and Suzie Pawelski’s Happy Together.
As James and Suzie tell us, Aristotle told us that we can have one of a few different types of relationships.
We can have a relationship based purely on having fun. This is hedonic in nature. When the fun ends, the relationship tends to end. Nothing wrong with this, of course, but Aristotle tells us this isn’t the highest form of a relationship and that we can do better.
The next kind of relationship is based on making money together. These relationships are transactional. When the money dries up, the friendship tends to do the same. Again, nothing inherently wrong with this type of relationship per se, but it’s not the highest form of a relationship.
Aristotle tells us that the best relationships are eudaimonic in nature. In these relationships, we deeply care about the other person’s well-being and we truly want to see them and help them flourish. THIS, he says, is the highest form of a relationship. James and Suzie call this an Aristotelian relationship and, in their book on intimate relationships, wisely encourage us to become “Aristotelian lovers.”
All of that is awesome.
I think there’s another level to which we can all aspire to form relationships.
If Optimize = Optimus = Best = Eudaimon = Hero then, I say, let’s form HEROIC relationships.
Let’s transcend AND include all the other levels.
Let’s (definitely!) have fun. And, when the context is appropriate to do so, let’s make money together. And, let’s support one another in flourishing.
Let’s Heroically change the world together.
That’s LITERALLY the “pitch” I give to my friends like Tal Ben-Shahar, Phil Stutz and Susan Peirce Thompson (and everyone else with whom I chat) when I tell them that it’s time for Heroes to unite so we can change the world together.
They’re in. How about you?
btw: Speaking of Tal and Susan, I’m honored that they will be investing in Heroic! (Phil is already an investor in Optimize and will be an investor in Heroic as well!)
I printed Tal’s kind words out and taped it up on my office wall as it so perfectly captures the Soul Force of my ambition and vision for Heroic:
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we will launch our Heroic social platform. Our social platform will be financed primarily by revenue from our online membership programs (both Optimize + Heroic) and offline publishing efforts. This revenue model will allow us to avoid the unintended, catastrophic (!) consequences of building your business by selling your community’s attention.
If you’ve watched The Social Dilemma, you don’t need me to tell you about the horrific unintended consequences of our current social technology. If you haven’t watched that documentary yet, I would strongly encourage you to do yourself and your family a favor and watch it. Immediately.
The premise of the documentary is, essentially, that platforms like Facebook (and Instagram, YouTube, etc.) are part of what’s called “the attention economy.” What that means is that they make their money by selling your attention.
In short: If you think that Facebook is the product, you’re wrong. YOU are the product. Facebook sells your attention to the highest bidder. Although they can deliver a lot of benefits, ultimately, their sites are not architected to help you become a better human being so you can flourish and give the world your best. Their sites are architected to make as much money off your attention as they possibly can.
This, as the experts in the documentary point out, has led to horrific unintended consequences that are leading to catastrophic levels of political polarization, depression, anxiety and social and personal unrest.
Again, watch the movie for the full picture.
Over the last 20 years, when I wasn’t reading and writing and teaching (and running Optimize), I built and sold two social platforms.
The first was for families involved in youth sports. It was called eteamz. It serves over 3 million teams and, at one point, was the platform Little League Baseball used. The second was for people who wanted to change the world. It was called Zaadz. John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, invested in that business and Whole Foods nearly bought us (we wound up selling it to another publicly traded company called Gaiam). I’ll share more on all that another time. (And… You can check out the introduction to my book for more on my background.)
For now, the point I want to make is that, since I sold my last social platform business over a decade ago, I’ve been waiting for someone to create a scalable alternative to Facebook—a platform for people who want to make a difference in the world that is founded on virtue.
Enter: Heroic Social.
The one-line description? The answer to the social dilemma.
Our URL? Heroes.us
The Heroic App Icon
In one of our strategic conversations, I challenged Chip Kidd to create an icon for our social app that could become one of the next great global cultural icons.
He said, “You mean you want me to create the button people press to enter the Heroic world?” To which I replied, “EXACTLY.”
I knew that I wanted Chip to use the Heroic virtue compass I had designed but I had no idea he’d create an icon that so perfectly captures the Soul Force of our Heroic Public Benefit Corporation. Here’s the image (imagine this on your smartphone!) and then I’ll walk you through the symbolic meaning of various components.
Our Moral Compass: Four Cardinal Virtues
The first thing to notice is the fact that the four cardinal virtues of Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science are represented as a moral compass. As we discuss throughout my work, although they may have different perspectives on the details, all the great wisdom traditions across all time and across all cultures tell us that the four cardinal virtues are, essentially: Wisdom + Self-Mastery + Courage + Love.
The Hero’s Secret Weapon (and Ultimate Source of Power)
When I sketch the virtue compass, I represent “Wisdom” in the “North” position. Chip decided to tilt the compass by 45 degrees and set the directional point to Love. This is absolutely (!) brilliant for a number of reasons.
First, quick context: If you’ve been following along, I don’t need to ask but… if you’re new to the program I’ll ask anyway to be safe… Do you know what the word hero means?
In ancient Greek, the word hero didn’t mean “killer of bad guys” or “tough guy” or anything like that it. It meant “PROTECTOR.” A hero, as I often say, has strength for two. And, very importantly, a hero is willing to do the HARD work to HAVE that strength for two.
And, do you know what the secret weapon of the ancient hero was? LOVE.
It’s LOVE that fuels our commitment to DO that hard work to HAVE the strength for two. It’s LOVE that gives us the Courage to act in the presence of fear and do what needs to get done whether we feel like it or not. Which is why our Hero compass is pointing straight to LOVE.
Light and Dark
You’ll notice the light and dark colors. This represents the eternal battle between the best and worst within us—the battle between your daimon and your demon. We each have this battle within. And, if we want to change the world together, we each must do the hard work to WIN that battle—to end the civil war raging within so we can give the world our Heroic best.
The Three Primary Colors = The Big 3
You’ll also notice that Chip used the three primary colors: Yellow + Blue + Red. We wanted to focus on the fundamentals of life through which we can create everything. These “Big 3” colors also correspond to our Big 3: Energy + Work + Love.
The H: Directionality
You’ll notice an “H” that represents “Hero.” It’s deliberately pointed up and to the right—implying forward motion and the fact that the Hero runs TOWARD the battle. Armed with all the Virtues.
The H Is Also an I
As my wife, Alexandra, pointed out, if you turn the H the other way you see the I. As in: “I am the Hero I have been waiting for!!!”
Ayn Rand comes to mind here as well. She once said that “One cannot say ‘I love you’ without first saying the ‘I.’” I agree.
With that in mind, notice that the I is framed by Wisdom + Self-Mastery. We must first develop the Wisdom to know the game that we’re playing and how to play it well while also developing the Self-Mastery to actually play that game well Today. Then we’re ready to show up with all the Courage and Love we need to serve Heroically.
A Spartan Shield
The icon also forms a Spartan-like shield. This makes me think of a couple things. First, we need to know that we are protected by our virtue. A noble, virtuous life protects us and our families from much of the viciousness of the world. The Spartan shield also represents the power of community. The power of “us.”
As you may know, the most important piece of equipment for a Spartan soldier was not his sword. It was his shield. Why? Because the shield was used to protect his fellow soldiers in the heat of battle.
A Spartan warrior might drop his sword during a battle. That was unfortunate, but it would only make him vulnerable. On the other hand, (and I have goosebumps as I type this), they were FORBIDDEN to ever drop their shield. If they lost their shield, their fellow Spartans would be vulnerable. And THAT was simply unacceptable.
Which is why Spartan warriors leaving for battle were told: “Return with your shield or on it.”
How to Actually Change the World
I’ve been obsessing about how to change the world for decades. I think Gandhi got it right. We need to be the change we want to see.
For the record, when Gandhi encouraged us to “be the change we want to see in the world,” he wasn’t saying that in some woo-woo “oh that sounds nice” kinda way—he was saying it in a fiercely practical, HEROIC kinda way in which each of us needs to do the hard work to win the civil war raging within so we have the strength to meet life’s challenges head-on and lead our families and communities and world to a better place.
Practically speaking, to win that battle and move from Theory to Practice to Mastery, I think it all comes down to two primary things: Wisdom + Community.
I like to say that Wisdom is “inside out.” You give someone a Big Idea that can change his or her life. That’s important. And often the first step. (I believe we’ll be able to check this box via my body of work at Optimize and our Hero’s Handbooks, Hero Training classes, etc.)
Then we have Community which is “outside in.” Science says that this is actually the fastest way to boost someone’s well-being. When someone joins a Community with high standards you know what happens? Boom! They immediately take a big step forward in becoming the most Heroic versions of themselves.
Which is why I’m so excited about our Heroic social platform. It’s a key component to truly operationalizing all this Wisdom and helping us move from Theory to Practice to Mastery so we can be that change we need to be and, as a result, have the Heroic strength we need to make the world a better place.
The Social Platform Itself
So… What will make our social platform different from all the others? That’s a very good question and one that we will be obsessing about with some of the world’s best thinkers.
I’ve been chatting with my friend Cal Newport about this for years. Cal, of course, is the author of Deep Work and Digital Minimalism (and So Good They Can’t Ignore You and How to Become a Straight-A Student). He’s also a Visiting Faculty member for our Coach program. And, he even created his own Digital Minimalism 101 class with us.
As you may know, he also gave a TED Talk called “Why you should quit social media.” It’s been viewed over 7.5 million times.
Note: Cal has never joined ANY social platform. I told him that I wouldn’t consider our social platform a success until we arrive at a place where it’s so good that HE would join it.
I’ll be sharing more on the Heroic Social platform soon, along with some exciting prototypes showing you what it will look like and all that.
For now… Fun things he and I have explored include a “Digital Sunset” such that you’re basically kicked off the platform at night with a message that says, “Go to bed so you can wake up feeling Energized and give us all you’ve got tomorrow!” (Laughing. Seriously.)
In addition to an incredibly clear user agreement that demands you show up as your best self, (lest you get booted off the platform), we’ll also limit the number of times you can hit the site per day while reducing notifications and all that stuff.
We’re also really excited to work with our Luminaries to make Heroic their primary social platform—the place where they share their daily practices and connect with their community of students and fans outside of the noise of the other platforms. A sort of Oasis for Heroes.
We’re going to see how many of my friends and fellow Heroes will make the social buttons on their sites look like this:
Again, the intention of our Heroic Social platform will be REALLY simple: We want to help you become the most Heroic version of yourself, not hack your brainstem and sell your attention.
Another REALLY (!!!) important facet of our Heroic Social platform is that we plan to integrate the ONLINE community with a REALLY (!) strong OFFLINE community.
Years ago, when we asked our community if they’d like to help us launch Local meetup-like groups to connect with other Optimizers in their communities, we had people from 750 cities in 75 countries tell us they’re in.
Imagine Heroic Local meetups around the world. Heroic Austin. Heroic NYC. Heroic LA. Heroic Sydney. Heroic London. Heroic Paris. Heroic Tokyo. Heroic Mumbai. Heroic Buenos Aires. Heroic Cairo. Heroic Cape Town. Etc.
Vision: 1,000 Heroic Cities in 100 Countries by our official launch in Fall 2021.
Heroic Social Business Model
As we briefly discussed, the fundamental problem with many social media companies is that their business models, as currently constructed, are predicated on hacking our brain stems via addictive technologies that drive us to overconsume their content so our attention can be sold to the highest bidder.
To create a conscious, Heroic social platform, we, of course, must find a different way to make our money.
With Optimize, we’ve successfully built a multi-million dollar membership business that is predicated on getting paid to help people become better humans. We plan to leverage that basic business model and make THAT the primary engine to our economic success.
Further, to be clear (and to state the obvious), there is nothing inherently wrong with an advertising-driven model per se. It’s just easy to get in trouble with attention economics. We plan to work with Heroic companies and proudly serve as a matchmaker between our Heroes and brands worthy of them while making the connection in ways that serve everyone’s flourishing.
In short: We will make money by helping people become the best, most virtuous and Heroic versions of themselves.
Rather than focus on user engagement metrics that drive an attention economy business model, we’re going to measure member WELL-BEING metrics. In fact, we will be working with some of the world’s leading social scientists to architect a platform that is explicitly designed to measure and enhance the well-being (and Heroic flourishing!) of our members.
And now we’re back where we began.
It’s time to make history and then change the course of history.
As we discussed, most startups are capitalized by the elite few in Silicon Valley or its equivalent around the world. We think there’s a better way to finance a public benefit business like ours, which is why we are going to do so with the support of an army of small investors who believe in our mission and who would otherwise not have the opportunity to invest in a startup like ours.
We are working with a company called Wefunder to give our community of Optimizers and Optimize Coaches an opportunity to invest in our mission and own a stake in our business.
Note: One of the reasons I really like Wefunder is that they are also a Public Benefit Corporation. Cruise on over here to learn more about their mission and how they make it possible for everyday people to invest as little as $100 in businesses they love.
We’ve talked about a lot of warm and fuzzy, inspiring stuff.
Startups like ours are a powerful way to create a better future while creating value for each of our stakeholders: Society + Partners + Investors + Customers + Employees.
Of course, startups are also inherently incredibly risky ventures—which is why the SEC limits the amount that “unaccredited” investors can invest.
As Wefunder wisely advises, you shouldn’t invest more than you can afford to lose. You also shouldn’t invest unless you’re ready to play the long game—not expecting any returns for 7+ years.
I’d like to be very clear on this point as we all take a deep breath…
Do not invest a SINGLE dollar you cannot afford to (and are not prepared to) lose. Again, startups are inherently risky ventures. Most fail. You need to be well aware of that possibility and embrace it fully.
Further, and related: Do not invest a single dollar that you cannot live without for at least 7+ years. Your investment will be illiquid. There will be no market through which you can easily transfer shares.
Although I will be doing my absolute (!) best to serve you and our other SPICEY stakeholders (and, for the record, I’ve never lost a single dollar that has been invested in me!), I repeat: I do not want a single dollar from you that you are not prepared to lose and/or that you will need for at least 7+ years.
You must be prepared for things NOT to work and your investment turning into a sad face $0. 😕 (Lol)
Having said that…
The high risk goeswith a potentially high return—in society and for yourself and for your family.
I have unapologetically ambitious goals with Heroic. I am, as we discuss in our Notes on Abraham Maslow’s Future Visions, post-ambivalent.
I literally want to change the world. And, I think that we can achieve that while creating a multibillion-dollar business that is one of the most virtuous, respected, beloved and impactful companies and brands on the planet.
Although you should be prepared to get a 0x return on your investment, you should also know that I will be doing everything I can to create a 100x return on your investment. (And, frankly, although it’s just on this side (or is it the other? 😉) of impossible, I’d like to add a zero to that 100x.)
(btw: I just Googled Amazon’s ROI to their early investors. Amazon is, of course, one of THE greatest businesses in HISTORY, so OBVIOUSLY we can’t expect to see their returns. But… Do you know what $10,000 invested in their IPO is worth today? Well over $10,000,000. And the 22 people who put in $50k+ on Day 1 are all billionaires. Again, those are CRAZY numbers and, well, here’s to the crazy ones.)
It’s hard to put into words just how motivated I am by the prospect of fulfilling our Mission while striving to help you and your families create significant wealth from your investment in us.
I actually got tears in my eyes as I typed that as I remembered the moment—nearly 15 years ago—when I first read John Mackey’s debate with Milton Friedman in Reason magazine. Friedman, as you may know, was an intellectual giant who played an incredibly important role in shaping our understanding of the power of free markets and capitalism.
In the debate from the October 2005 edition of the magazine (check it out: Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business), John Mackey, co-Founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market and ardent free market supporter, argued that there was a force even more powerful than free markets: Love.
In the debate, John walked us through the success of Whole Foods Market and the fact that his commitment to serving not just his investor stakeholder is WHY he was able to give those investors such a great return.
I literally wept when I read this debate on the power of conscious capitalism. As a young man and young entrepreneur struggling to find a way to integrate my noble intentions with the marketplace, I found John’s exemplary commitment to virtue to be incredibly inspiring—only matched by his ability to articulate the mechanics of what drove him and why his approach worked.
As it turns out, John and I met shortly after I read that piece. I was able to tell him just how much he inspired me and how much I appreciated him and his wisdom—which led to a friendship that endures today. (Alexandra and the kids literally ran into him at Whole Foods in Austin the day before I wrote this. Focus of their chat? Our respective chickens!! John has 30. Emerson told him about our 5 fully grown ones and the two chicks. Hah. 🐔)
But what REALLY got me was reading the COMMENTS to John’s blog post on the Whole Foods website. I can’t find that post now and don’t recall the precise details but I remember one person saying something along the lines of the fact that their investment in Whole Foods was so profitable for them that it literally helped pay for their kids’ college education.
When I read that, I remember sobbing—nearly uncontrollably.
For whatever set of reasons, it was an extraordinarily powerful moment for me.
I imagined the ripples of impact that one man could have as he strived to serve heroically in partnership with countless others. I knew I wanted to be that type of man.
All that to say that I intend to make Heroic Public Benefit Corporation the vehicle through which we can do great things together—while, if we do our Jobs, creating an astonishing amount of value for Society, Partners, Investors, Customers, Employees and YOU.
So, with eyes wide open and a full awareness that this quest of ours is SUPPOSED to be hard (we’re going to be battling dragons, folks, not side-stepping lizards! See: +1s on Lincoln’s Response to (Epic) Failure and Reverse Indicators), let’s remember Joseph Campbell’s wisdom on the subject from Pathways to Bliss where he tells us:
The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly. What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss.
Of course, we have a lot more details to get clarity on before we’re ready to officially launch our investment campaign and have some serious chats about the opportunity to play together.
If you think you might like to support our Mission to change the world by investing in Heroic Public Benefit Corporation, please let us know!!!
We set up a super-simple form for you to express your interest. Just cruise on over here and we’ll keep you posted as we take the next steps in this Heroic quest of ours.
As always, I’m honored to be a part of your life and I appreciate your support. I’m excited about the possibilities of taking the next steps in this Heroic adventure together with you.
It’s time to change the world. One person at a time. Together. Starting with you and me mastering ourselves and serving Heroically. TODAY.
With Love + Courage + Wisdom + Self-Mastery.
P.S. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
P.P.S. Here are some kind words from a few friends/investors!!
P.P.P.S. If you were wondering if our movement has an (unofficial) theme song (lol), the answer is YES! One of our strategic advisors (who happens to be a Coach I graduate!) recently shared the song Unstoppable by The Score with me. It PERFECTLY captures the spirit of the mission. (The Score is my new favorite band. I basically have their best songs on autorepeat these days. Play list here. 🤠)
Pro Tip: Turn it up loud…
btw2: Exciting news: I’m in the process of booking The Score for what we plan to make an EPICALLY (!) Heroic Launch party. Mark your calendars. Austin. Early October 2021. Founding Investors who put in more than $1,000 will get a free ticket!! 🤓
btw3: One of the perks of being a Founding Heroic Investor will be getting invites to cool stuff like this!!