When we first started Paper Napkin Wisdom, the idea was that by inspiring entrepreneurs to change themselves, we could promote change in the world. Lucas Siegel, co-founder of Capital Peak Investments and AlternaScript has a similar idea in today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom. “If there’s something in the world you don’t like, then build a business to change it,” he says. He began AlternaScript with this concept in mind. “It’s fascinating how few people realize that a business is really just about solving a problem better than other people can.”
Growing up in an entrepreneurial household, his family always instilled a sense of worldly purpose within Lucas. After graduating from the University of Colorado and extensive travelling, he began to explore the problem with health supplements. “I discovered that most of them sucked and did not have any scientific backing. The underlying problem – which is what I based my company off of— surrounds how we can optimize health for American citizens and the world. How can we unleash people to live up to their potential, from a healthy living perspective? In my opinion, business is the only way to sustainably solve some of the world’s most massive, daunting problems,” he mused.
Beginning a business with a question in mind is a great way to stay on purpose through the entrepreneurial journey. “It’s so easy to lose track of why you’re here. Keeping that question at the forefront of your efforts helps to align your vision and your team,” says Lucas. Speaking of teams, he credits a lot of his success to his “tribe”. There are three types of people he keeps around him, “I surround myself with scalers, inventors and operators. And I make sure they’re all smarter than me and purpose driven individuals.”
Running a purpose driven business can be tough without the help of a well-oiled machine. Lucas ensures that he stays on track by running daily and reading (or, as he tells it, having a conversation with the author). Additionally, he develops six month goals which he writes down and reads twice a day. “I have micro goals inside of my larger term goals. Six months is the longest I’d like to plan. I read somewhere that strategizing on a year to year basis is less of a strategy and more of a dream. Putting tight timelines on things pushes your brain more,” he says.
A large part of Lucas’ purpose is to provide consumers with top notch products. He’s not prone to analysis paralysis and is an advocate for another popular idea on our show: ‘Make it bad then make it better.’ “We use consumer feedback to evolve our products. We have developed over fifty versions of our cognitive enhancement brain supplement,” he says. “The hard part is scaling and gaining traction and going through the 5,000 no’s to get to that one yes.”
While he credits his success to the idea of solving a problem with his business, Lucas also cautions fellow entrepreneurs to do the same. “A lot of people come to me to try and figure out why their business isn’t growing. I always tell them to think to themselves: ‘Am I solving a problem that exists? Or did I create the problem in my head’,” he muses.
What’s the ultimate worldly purpose behind your business? Tweet us @Wisenapkin with your answers!
To some, the concept of trusting the world may seem like a far-fetched philosophy. ‘How can I trust the world with everything that’s going on right now?’ you may ask. However, today’s Paper Napkin Wisdom guest, Leila Janah doesn’t feel like the concept is unrealistic. In fact, she uses it as the guiding principle in her personal and professional life. Leila is founder of Sama, a social enterprise that helps people lift themselves out of poverty, and Laxmi, a social impact luxury brand. Her interest in tackling these issues stemmed from her grandmother. An ‘adventurette’, Grandma Janah hiked around the world from 1949-1952 with only $5 to her name. She met Leila’s grandfather in Calcutta, where the two began to build a life. Years later, Leila’s parents were worried about their upcoming move to the United States. “My grandma took their hands and said: ‘The world is a beautiful place. Trust the world’. They imparted that philosophy on to me,” she says.
Birthed by impassioned adventurers, Leila expressed interest in world policy and events from an early age. “I’ve lived abroad in Japan and Switzerland because I wanted to be connected with people and see how they lived,” Leila recalls. After helming the inaugural chapter of Amnesty International at her local high school, she worked to provide equal access to AP courses within high schools in underprivileged communities. By taking the philosophy of connectedness and pairing it with action, she found a way to promote change in the world.
Trusting the world also applies to managerial styles. When one of her team members needed two days outside of his allotted PTO in order to go on his honeymoon, she found a way to ensure he wouldn’t have to take unpaid leave. “He didn’t ask me for this, but I wanted to give it to him. When you give people agency and you expect the best from them, that’s when they deliver,” she says. Instead of treating employees as mindless drones, she finds that this approach allows for them to take more pride in their work.
This is not to say you won’t be disappointed when humans you’ve trusted drop the ball. “It’s not always easy to view the world through this lens,” she admits, “But I believe that bad behavior is only the default when we expect it to be. When you have high expectations of other humans, they normally will rise to the challenge.” She also credits daily meditation with keeping her centered and focused. “Ben Franklin wrote down his virtues and reviewed them daily to make sure that he was abiding by his core principles. I did a similar exercise and I’ve found that it keeps me incredibly balanced. It’s a guide and a map for my decision making,” she says.
Do you apply this philosophy to your life? How has it impacted your life and your company? Tweet us with your answers @Wisenapkin