When Values Trump Profits
Like many aspiring writers out there, I’ve read my fair share of “How To Grow Your Readership, Publish A Book, Make A Six Figure Salary And Get Voted President In Just One Year” posts. I’ve done my best to understand how people build platforms and tribes. I’ve memorised mantras like “don’t guest post without making sure there’s a link to your email sign up form.”
But a few days ago I went against all that advice and published an article that was heart felt and values based, anonymously.
There were a variety of reasons that I published it anonymously, and I knew in doing it that I would lose the opportunity to create a “call to action” that would gain me readers.
But the piece just didn’t belong here on changewriter.net, and I had to get the message out.
So I did. And with a lump in my throat I hit publish.
Over the last 72 hours, I’ve watched it become the most widely read piece I’ve ever written.
Even though I haven’t grown my personal empire through it, I’m still happy that I chose this way to get my message out. Because sometimes the value of what we have to say outweighs the gains we can make by saying it.
Several years ago the outdoor clothing brand Patagonia made a plea to their customers that surprised them: Don’t Buy This Jacket. Their message was that if they had the choice between buying a new jacket and a recycled one, they should take the option that causes the least damage to the environment: the recycled one.
They released their campaign during Black Friday. The day in America when many people go out of their way to shop the latest products at discount prices.
They told people:
“The environmental cost of everything we make is astonishing…Consider the R2 Jacket shown, one of our best sellers. To make it required 135 liters of water, enough to meet the daily needs (three glasses a day) of 45 people. Its journey from its origin as 60% recycled polyester to our Reno warehouse generated nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide, 24 times the weight of the finished product. This jacket left behind, on its way to Reno, two-thirds its weight in waste.”
Their message made one thing clear: here’s a company that puts their values before their profit margins. These are people who care about the environment, and taking care of their planet is a higher value for them than selling jackets.
On their company website they explained:
“It would be hypocritical for us to work for environmental change without encouraging customers to think before they buy. To reduce environmental damage, we all have to reduce consumption as well as make products in more environmentally sensitive, less harmful ways. It’s not hypocrisy for us to address the need to reduce consumption. On the other hand, it’s folly to assume that a healthy economy can be based on buying and selling more and more things people don’t need – and it’s time for people who believe that’s folly to say so.”
Fairphone are another company that have impressed me with similar commitment to values over profit.
This summer the company tweeted a link to an article entitled “Why I Love The Fairphone — And Why I Won’t Buy One”
— Fairphone (@Fairphone) July 7, 2015
The article explained that the best way to take care of the environment and the supply chain of electronic devices is to buy less of them. The best way to serve the core values of Fairphone is not to buy their phone, but to continue using your old one. Until it wears out.
Of course Fairphone didn’t go as far as to launch a campaign to stop people buying their phones. After all, they don’t yet have the committed consumer base of Patagonia, but in promoting this tweet I caught a glimpse of a company that puts their values before their profits.
So, with that said, who wants to sign up to my email list? 😉