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Episode
88

Brant Cooper

Founder & CEO of Moves the Needle

Ep
88

Hierarchy of Social Impact - Brant Cooper of Moves the Needle

Dec 7, 2021
With
Brant Cooper
42:47

Hierarchy of Social Impact

As the CEO and founder of Moves the Needle, as a New York Times bestselling author of The Lean Entrepreneur, and as one of the pioneers of the lean startup movement, Brant Cooper shares his advice and lessons learned from his decades of experience helping entrepreneurs digitally transform their businesses.


Brant shares what propelled him to go from the corporate world to the startup environment in the early years of his career, how to go from talking about solving the world’s biggest problems to actually turning those ideas into a reality, and how to become successful in doing so. 


He talks about the importance of understanding your audience and translating your mission into a purpose that is also meaningful for them as well as how charities or businesses and governments can not only learn from entrepreneurs but also work hand in hand so that impact-driven businesses, whether it’s small businesses or the huge corporate companies, thrive. And of course, Brant paints a beautiful picture of how he hopes to see the world in 10 years.


Brant’s key lessons and quotes from this episode were:

  • “I didn't want to do what other people wanted me to do. I wanted to do what I thought was best, so that sort of mindset kind of belongs more in a startup environment than it does in traditional companies.” (5:18)
  • “People are inspired by, whether they realize it or not, they're inspired by needs that they see out in the world that they want solved.” (8:11)
  • “If you're asking for investment or you're talking about startup investment, you don't say, ‘You're investing in the business,’ or, ‘You're investing in me, the founder.’ You're investing in the mission.” (17:18)
  • “Foundations and people that are giving money to the foundations need to demand the impact reports, and they need to demand a higher impact for their dollar spent, and maybe that starts creating the culture of improving the practices.” (28:40)
  • “As long as we have choices as consumers, there's pressure on the companies to actually do the right thing… I do think that individuals actually have more power than they think, both as shareholders and as consumers.” (33:22)


In this episode, we also talked about:

  • The beginning of Brant’s career (2:13)
  • Changes that need to happen in the startup ecosystem (7:43)
  • Brant’s advice to entrepreneurs and startup founders (16:48)
  • Common mistakes made my impact entrepreneurs (23:24)
  • How charities and governments could learn from entrepreneurs (27:14)
  • How digital transformation can turn corporations into positively impactful businesses (31:21)
  • Brant Cooper’s view of the world in 10 years (37:42)

Transcript of the episode

Maiko Schaffrath  00:02

You are listening to Impact Hustlers, and I am your host, Maiko Schaffrath. I have made it my mission to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to solve some of the world's biggest social and environmental problems. And for this reason, I am speaking to some of the best entrepreneurs out there who are solving problems such as food waste, climate change, poverty, and homelessness. My goal is that Impact Hustlers will inspire you, either by starting an impact business yourself, by joining the team of one, or by taking a small step, whatever that may be, towards being part of the solution to the world's biggest problems. In today's episode, I speak to Brant Cooper, New York Times bestselling author and CEO and founder of Moves the Needle, a company bringing entrepreneurial thinking to companies like Chase, Intuit, 7/11, and Nike. Together with Steve Blank and Eric Ries, he's been really amongst the pioneers of the lean startup movement. And since then, he became obsessed with helping both entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs make a positive impact and take better strategic decisions. It's really great to have you on the show, Brant.


Brant Cooper  01:25

Yeah, thanks for having me. Happy to be here.


Maiko Schaffrath  01:28

Thank you. So, you've been around Silicon Valley and entrepreneurs and startups for quite a while, probably longer than most people. You've written also some foundational books for the whole ecosystem. So, I'd just like to ask you, how did you initially enter the startup world and what was your driver for joining this space? What inspired you to actually break into the startup ecosystem initially when you first worked for startups?


Brant Cooper  02:05

Yeah. Interesting question. I mean, I think that after college, I went and worked for small firms, but they were consulting firms, typical structure and typical management and typical workdays and those type of things, and it just didn't always sit that well with me. I was living in the Bay Area and Netscape was maybe the biggest, the hottest thing going on, so the first browser, and to me, it kind of represented that first startup-y culture or vibe. Obviously, there were startups before that, but they were really hardware. The Apple computer and Intel chips and everything seemed hardware based and somehow, it didn't appeal to me, whereas Netscape was software. It was a browser. We could all touch and feel it. And in some ways, it's interesting, because it was really that conversion from the internet being about big companies and, "Oh, wait a second. Here's now where the internet is going to emerge and do something for businesses, smaller businesses, for departments inside of big businesses, and for consumers, for individuals. You can start to see where this technology is going to start benefiting individuals," and maybe that was something that appealed to me. There was a lot of buzz about it, obviously, already in the late 90s in the Bay Area. And so, I was an IT guy basically working inside of these consulting firms, helping set up networks and doing desktop support and all of that, and it was just interesting technology. I was hooking up Microsoft Mail systems to the internet via SMTP gateways when that stuff was- Microsoft didn't even have an SMTP gateway, so I had to use this third party software. And so, there was a lot of mentally challenging things to go on. You could not go get a degree in this stuff. You just kind of had to figure it out, and so it was fun. Playing around with that technology was the funner side of my job than whatever the consulting part was. At some point, I looked for startup jobs and found one down in Redwood City. The downside of that was I was living up in Oakland, which I absolutely love, and to get to Silicon Valley was quite a trek. It was a long drive, and so that was the trade-off, to be honest. I had a young family and so that's a lot of commuting hours. But, the job, you're going to spend eight plus hours at work. That ought to be the fun part of it, but that's kind of how I got into it. It was just sort of this vibe thing. I didn't know this, but it was sort of that entrepreneurial mindset that was calling me. Nobody wanted to manage me in the traditional companies, because I was tough to manage. I didn't want to do what other people wanted me to do. I wanted to do what I thought was best, so that sort of mindset kind of belongs more in a startup environment than it does in traditional companies.


Maiko Schaffrath  05:29

Absolutely, I think entrepreneurs listening to this and I think there's quite a few early stage entrepreneurs listening to this that are maybe just at that stage right now can definitely identify with that as like a very entrepreneurial gene to being unable to even work in a normal environment and only be focused on actually starting their own thing. I think the reason why I was so excited and looking forward to have you on the podcast is because from the content you're putting out there and the writing you're putting out there, it really seems like you put quite a massive focus on the need for impact-driven entrepreneurship, whether that's called impact-driven or not, but like for entrepreneurs to solve real problems and not just look at a quick buck and IPO and these things. On the other hand, obviously, if you look at Silicon Valley, there's this cliche term of "changing the world," like everybody's changing the world, and whatever they may be doing. And whether that's net positive or not, everybody's talking about changing the world if you're in Silicon Valley, and obviously, that replicated all over the world. Wherever you meet entrepreneurs, everybody's changing the world. So, it's become this term that everybody uses. And at the same time, I think I've been watching your Brant's Rants video series, which I can highly recommend, where you talk about the reality of startups. Often, the primary objective is really pursuing the monetary returns, pursuing the IPO, and that being potentially driven as well by the VCs, by the investors, by the bankers, pushing startups in the direction of that and maybe forgetting what actually the big problem that they need to solve is. So, the question here is, what do you think needs to change in the startup ecosystem for people to stop just talking about changing the world and actually tackling some of the most pressing issues that are out there?


Brant Cooper  07:40

Yeah, to be honest, as a startup entrepreneur, people don't sit down and weigh, should they work on something big or work on something small? Somebody doesn't sit there and think, "Should I build a consumer iPhone app, invent a new jet propulsion system, or go cure poverty in a developing nation?" I mean, it's just not how people think. People are inspired by, whether they realize it or not, they're inspired by needs that they see out in the world that they want solved. And so, some of them are going to be rather trivial socially, and other ones are going to be important. And so, I think that that's fine. I actually don't think we can look at the entrepreneurs, the individuals, sort of this micro viewpoint and say, "Well, really, you ought to go work on something more important." It's just not how innovation works. It's not how entrepreneurialism works. Before we got started, we were talking about government funding and how that influenced, really, the emergence that created Silicon Valley. And so, if we take a step back and look at it from the most macro point of view, if we want to start doing things more impactful, we need the institutions to invest in more impactful projects. In other words, universities are doing really good things. In The Lean Entrepreneur, there was the case study on the team at Stanford that ended up building the Embrace sleeping bag for infants and would keep them warm. They were preemie babies in a developing nation. That came out of Stanford, so I think, I mean, part of the answer is so difficult. It's a cultural thing. It's a society thing where we have to say, in the biggest companies and the government and in universities, that the research projects that are going on to do good should be spun out as startups in the same way that technology is, and yet we think of that as being different. We're going to go put them in this nonprofit world. We're going to go produce social impact stuff over here with this group. And they should think about it more in terms of, "No, we are investing in this because it is as valid as any startup is." For example, in the US now, weighing the Green New Deal, the Green Deal, or whatever we're calling it, which is the government going to invest into green technologies. That will produce, if it happens, hundreds, thousands of impact startups, because the government isn't going to go do the work. The government is going to fund the work, and that's actually what gets stuff going. And so, I think that it's just at the very top. And a matter of fact, we were talking about Mariana Mazzucato, who's a professor at UCL, and she writes about this in her book. She writes about these mission-oriented investments from government and this top-down investment in missions that solve some of the biggest problems in the world. And so, I really think it's got to start at the top. And then, there's the layer of investors, and investors, we need to build an investment system that weighs wins that are singles and doubles and even that pay interest to investors and that the whole innovation community is not funded with the idea that you need 10x returns. So, there's this whole investment layer there. I think it's absolutely insane that interest rates are so low right now, which is a good thing, but nobody can earn any interest. o What your gains are is you're buying treasuries that have a super low interest rate, and then you've got stock market equity gains, and there's almost nothing in between, and there's this whole range of returns from 5% to 15% or something that you could actually get returns on your investment that is not the 5x, 10x, 100x of startups, but is way more than these treasuries. And all of these impact projects maybe would fit inside of that huge range of returns that you're getting for smaller wins for companies that are producing impact, but also doing it in a for-profit sense where we're paying dividends or something. I mean, I think that there's more that we need to figure out there so that people can run for-profit businesses that are also having an impact on the world. So, there's a whole investment class there. And a matter of fact, really, foundations maybe you should be investing in nonprofits or B Corps that don't make a return, but they're returning based upon their impact. And instead, the foundations tend to spend their money as if, "By the end of the budget year, I just have to spend my money," and they're allocating these funds to whatever nonprofits they can. And yet, there's not this built-in concept of seed rounds, and A rounds, and B rounds and this concept of, "No, you have to drive impact, and you have to show me the impact for you to get more money from me." And so, if all of these foundations or did this themselves or they went through this different type of investment class that was treating the impact, the B Corps, and the nonprofits as being entities that have to show impact to get more value, well, then again, we're going to start seeing that behavior. And so, down to the lowest level, back down to the entrepreneurs, I think that they have to choose what the right corporate entity is, and then they have to say upfront, "This is what my mission is, so if you invest in me, you're investing in my mission. If I don't accomplish my mission, you're investing in an empty shell. That doesn't make any sense. You're investing in my mission, not in the business." And so, I do think that there's layers for everybody to make small changes, but I also do think we have to look at it from these macro perspectives as well as from down at the entrepreneurial level. I think, in the end, in the whole traditional startup world, I talk a lot about the myth of the visionary, "Oh, I'm solving such a big problem. I'm just going to go build a product, and everybody's going to come to my door." A lot of the social impact entrepreneurs have the same problem. It's similar, not exactly the same, but it's sort of like the myth of the do-gooder, and the myth of the do-gooder is, "I am solving such an important problem and I'm helping these people so much, everybody's going to give me money, because they also agree that I should be helping them," and then they sit around and they wait for the money, and it just doesn't work that way. They have to work like an entrepreneur, like any other entrepreneur. They need to be able to show impact. They need to be able to provide evidence that they're actually accomplishing their mission, and they need to ask for the funding in a way that's not just like, "Give me a grant and go away." It should be investment-style funding. Long answer, but it's a complicated ecosystem.


Maiko Schaffrath  15:54

Perfect. Cool. You just spoke earlier as well about the difficulty of social entrepreneurs solving these environmental and social issues being put into this box of charities or not quite like- is this something that you can even make money with? On the other hand, they also should have the ambition to measure themselves against the same standards as any other entrepreneur as well. What would your advice be for entrepreneurs that are starting out and that are very clear on solving a social or environmental challenge to not be put into that box? What's the key advice for them to make sure that they can be successful also in raising funding and establishing themselves as a successful startup?


Brant Cooper  16:48

Yeah, they have to not put themselves in the box. I think that happens. They want to be viewed as a special class. Again, if you want to be viewed as a special class, then go be a B Corp or a nonprofit. If you're a for-profit, social impact company, then state that loud and proud. I think that what people need to be better at is describing their mission, so that whenever somebody- if you're asking for investment or you're talking about startup investment, you don't say, "You're investing in the business," or, "You're investing in me, the founder." You're investing in the mission. Frankly, I actually just wrote this for my next book. I wrote this yesterday, because it's the same thing for large enterprises to be sure. I don't know if you've been tracking this all, but there's been this movement now just in the last couple years around big corporations saying, "Okay, yes, we're not only responsible for driving value to shareholders. It's also for employees and customers as well," and this was really referring back to Milton Friedman wrote this political screed in the New York Times back in 1970, and it really started this change where US corporations in particular were focused on maximizing value for shareholders. I was just kind of going through this logical argument with myself yesterday going like, "Well, how do you invest in a business that's maximizing shareholder value?" The business has a mission. I'm building widgets, and I'm selling these widgets to a customer. I mean, that's what you're investing in. If you were investing only in an entity that was supposed to be maximizing value to you, the investor, everybody would become a bank or a casino. You would actually be telling the company that they have to change their business in order to do whatever that is to drive more money to them. It doesn't make any sense, and nobody would ever argue that. What you're actually investing in is the mission of that business. "My business is in place to build this sort of product, a car for these types of people. I mean, that's the mission. Invest in me or don't." Well, impact entrepreneurs are the same thing. "My mission is this. I want to scale this. I'm going to grow. I'm for-profit, but the profit is, I earned the profit based upon accomplishing my mission, so what you're investing in is the mission." And I think that if founders are able to tell that story, if the investor does not want to invest in the mission, good. That's like a market segment that you don't want to spend any time on. But if they want to invest in the mission, then they know consciously that that's the contract.


Maiko Schaffrath  19:51

Got it. Do you think that's generally good advice for entrepreneurs to-? 


Brant Cooper  19:55

Yes!


Maiko Schaffrath  19:55

Focus on the mission first? It's not just impact entrepreneurs or good advice for a small segment. It's related to some of the stuff like Start With Why, Simon Sinek's book, things like that. People are not really inspired by companies that say, "Oh, we're just doing this thing." I'm not inspired to work for a company that says, "Oh, we're just here to maximize shareholder value." I've been in that position in the beginning of my career where I worked for a company like that, but you really ask yourself, "Yeah, every company wants to make money, but why are you actually here?" Yeah, so, amazing.


Brant Cooper  20:38

Well, and even that business, yeah, even that business you're talking about actually had a mission that was more than maximizing shareholder value, or they would just be writing checks to shareholders, which of course they do sometimes. Here in the US, when they get tax breaks, then they're sending dividends and stock buybacks and all the rest. But to your point, I mean, I think all entrepreneurs need to be able to state that mission, and I think what's interesting about it, it's really the premise of my next book is that if you get people to shift to that so that they're focused on the mission, there's a lot of other good things in society that automatically happens. So, if I say my mission is to provide this value to customers, then I need to keep my customers safe. I can't kill them, or else I don't have any customers, so I can't put bad things in my product that actually hurts my customer. That's not providing value to them. And if I don't treat my employees well, there's no way I also can serve my mission. So, okay, now, we've got to talk about treating our employees better. I mean, there ends up being sort of a snowball effect in the right direction if we focus on providing value to customers versus this myth around the shareholders. And guess what? If you succeed in providing value for customers, you get to create value for the shareholders as well. I mean, that's the logical flow. And so, I just think that if we could make this switch back to the customer value, there's a lot of these other societal impact things that happen naturally, and that, to be honest, also hopefully frees up the environment for those that are committed to impact to play right alongside. If I'm building a widget or I'm providing childcare for that same person, those things actually maybe go hand in hand instead of thought about as being completely different things.


Maiko Schaffrath  23:01

Got it. Amazing. Would you say there is a certain set of mistakes that you observe impact entrepreneurs make? Are they making different types of mistakes than the average entrepreneur, mainstream entrepreneur, whatever we're going to call it? Is there a specific advice you can share with them? Or are they much like the same?


Brant Cooper  23:23

I think they're very similar. I think that the words are different. I think that maybe there's word translation that goes on. For example, what do you call- you don't have customers. You have stakeholders, or constituents, or beneficiaries. I mean, there's some word there for who you're helping where the word "customer" might not be the best word, but you still need to segment them in a similar way. I mean, you're still going to have early adopters of whatever this constituency is that you're helping. There are people that are going to be more receptive early on, so it's going to follow that same life cycle adoption curve that we use in the regular startup world. I think all of the patterns are the same. It's the words that are different. And so, social impact entrepreneurs have to think about the words and then translate all of the teaching with those words in mind. Often, "stakeholders" is one that impact entrepreneurs use instead of "customers." And so, think about what's the pattern of your stakeholders who will be your early adopters? There's something about them where they get what you're trying to do. Maybe they thought of doing it themselves. They've been looking for ways to do this. And so, then, there's a great partnership there, because they already bought it. You don't have to convince them. There aren't other hurdles that you have to go over in order to convince what would be the early majority, or the late majority, or the last people that will ever sign up for whatever it is that you're doing. So, I guess I would encourage, generally, I think social impact entrepreneurs can go read all of the same books. They just need to figure out how to translate some of the words to make it meaningful for what they're doing. Does that make sense?


Maiko Schaffrath  25:28

Absolutely, absolutely. Obviously, "social impact entrepreneurs" is quite a wide phrase as well. It could describe somebody starting a big charity or foundation. It could describe somebody that starts a VC-backed company that just happens to solve a certain environmental or social issue, education company. We've had a founder of a renewable energy company here, inherently profitable business but happens to actually make sure that our energy is clean. So, there's such a broad range. And from my own experience, I've worked with charities before in my life, and I've worked with profit-driven entrepreneurs that happen to solve social and environmental issues. The question to you is, do you see that charities and maybe governments as well need to play catch up with some of the lessons that maybe the world of entrepreneurship has learned throughout the years? Or do not see it as black and white as that?


Brant Cooper  26:37

Oh, no, I totally agree. Yeah, yeah, I mean, for Moves the Needle, for a couple of years, we had a social impact arm of what we did, so teaching people all of these lean innovation techniques, and the two women that were with us are off doing it on on their own now, `Heather Hiscox, and Amelia Klawon. I don't know what the name of their business is, but there are people that are focused on teaching these lean innovation techniques to charities and to foundations that never really caught on to the level that we were hoping it would, and I think it's a money problem, because the foundations are giving monies to these charities, because they want that money spent obviously on the services. And so, it's really, to me, again, the foundations that should be leading the effort in terms of demanding impact on their giving, and the moment they want impact, then it sort of drives home the need to improve the operations and the efficiency of the charity in order to deliver higher impact per dollar given. So, I think the foundations are the ones that have to drive that. But unfortunately, the foundations themselves are often they kind of don't care. If you're giving away billions of dollars and every year, you have to give away so much of that, and nobody's asking for the results, then that money is just kind of a scam, to be honest. I hate to use the word, but I mean, the money just flows and there's nobody saying, "Well, what are we actually getting out of this?," and it's bogus. They're all good-minded people. They're all good-hearted people, but it's so inefficient in that way, and foundations and people that are giving money to the foundations need to demand the impact reports, and they need to demand a higher impact for their dollar spent, and maybe that starts creating the culture of improving the practices.


Maiko Schaffrath  29:00

Got it. One topic I've become increasingly passionate about is I love to spend time with entrepreneurs. It's really energizing to see people that solve important problems to be solved and, really, that energy of transformation and that magic of entrepreneurship, I think it's really energizing to see. But I think at the same time, I think it's really, the time has come for the broader economy to transform as well and to build social and environmental impact into their business models and for big corporates, for any size of organizations, to embrace this not as a CSR initiative, where it's like, "We're making money, however, we weren't making money and we're donating a little bit on the side," more like, "How can we fundamentally do good by doing business and make sure that we have a net positive impact?" So, I'd love to learn from you a little bit, because I think there's been this whole term of digital transformation. I'm sure the work you do with Moves the Needle is plugging into a lot of that work within corporates where they, in some ways, are trying to catch up with how the world has changed and new digital ways of working and digital products, etc. I believe that we're about to see more of a massive impact transformation in the sense that large corporates will want to fundamentally shift their business models to make sure that they have a net positive impact. I think you see corporates like Unilever, for example, that are really trying to do that and have developed some amazing technology to be able to track their impact and improve the impact that they have. My question to you is, after this long-winded introduction of the topic, my question to you is, you've been part of change initiatives and transformation or entrepreneurial, bringing entrepreneurial spirit into corporates for quite a while. Do you think the same methodology could be used to also make sure that big corporates shift and become net positive impact companies and make sure that they actually have a positive contribution to society?


Brant Cooper  31:19

Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I guess I'm betting on a lot that we can do this. It really is partly about what my next book is about as well. I think that even just getting companies to focus on customer value first is the first hurdle, especially here in the US. I mean, I think that there's a lot in Europe where companies are buying into the UN's sustainability programs. And so, I think there's companies in Europe that are already doing this and thinking about it. US, I think, in a lot of ways, is behind in that regard. I think that I agree with this whole- digital transformation to a lot of companies means, "We need to build a mobile app." And so, part of what I'm trying to do with my book is convince people that, "No, that's part of it. That's digital transformation, but what's really going on here is a digital revolution," and that the whole society is being changed. Everybody's walking around with a computer in their pocket, and it just means that we all have so much more information. And really, there's a lot of consumer power out there with social media, and review sites, and all of these types of things. And so, I think that even if you look at it from, I don't know, from a selfish point of view, the large corporations, many of them are thinking, "If my customers demand that we're more positively impactful, then we have to be more positively impactful in order to keep our customer." So, it becomes a point of competition. And so, I think that's already happening. Now, it also shows why all of this corporate consolidation that's been going on for the last 50 years is bad, because the more oligopoly or monopoly you have in a market, the less need there is for these companies to change, because the customers don't have the choice. So, as long as we have choices as consumers, there's pressure on the companies to actually do the right thing. I think that's changing whether people want it to or not, but I do think that individuals actually have more power than they think, both as shareholders and as consumers. So, can we get Amazon to change their behavior better by stop buying Amazon? No, but sort of as a class of people, if we're choosing brands that are more aligned with our values, that will affect corporations. And we've seen it happen with Black Lives Matter. We've seen it happen with the gay community. We've seen these things happen where corporations change their behavior because of the response of human beings. And so, I think that individuals need to, as much as possible, consume based upon their values. And if you invest, there are all sorts of shareholder organizations that you can belong to that put pressure on- I've talked to these people that are on boards, and they hear that there are labor organizations and shareholder groups that are saying, "We need to treat employees better," and there's whole movements around this stuff and so people can participate in that if you're an investor, and the corporations do respond to that. Ultimately, I don't think businesses are going to choose to take on a social mission that doesn't have a direct impact on their company. So, if the customers and the shareholders don't care, I don't think the business is going to care. There are going to be exceptions, but I also think that this is partly the role of the government. It goes all the way back to our first question in investing from the government into Green New Deal and into impact and changing the world in a positive way. I think the governments are going to lead that way. And so, then, what we have to do is build this firewall between corporations and the government. So, it doesn't make sense here in the US for companies to say, "Hey, we're not going to do any of that social stuff. That belongs to the government," and that's actually Milton Friedman says that specifically, "Those social issues belong to the government." Okay, so that's fine, but it doesn't make any sense for the corporation to say, "Okay, that belongs to the government. And oh, by the way, as a corporation, we're going to fund a bunch of politicians that don't let the government do it, or that we're going to lobby the government to not do those social issues." That is taking a stand on their social issues. And so, there's this hypocrisy that we need to end, and it's really bad here in the US, where they're declaring that they're not going to do the social stuff, but yet they engage in politics in a way that they are influencing the social stuff. And so, we need to build this firewall between the corporations and the government. And so, the corporations can run around and say, "Okay, we're not going to weigh in on those social issues." Fine, then get out of the politics, because that's how the people decide, what are the social issues that they want to resolve?


Maiko Schaffrath  37:00

Got it. I've got one last question for you that's inspired actually- also, I can't recommend it highly enough, your Brant's Rants episodes. I think at the end of the video, you talk about the vision of making capitalism work for a better world, which obviously, I can identify with a lot. My last question always on this show is, how does the world look like in 10 years if you succeed? And in your context, what I'd like to know, how does the world look like in 10 years if your message gets shared so widely that capitalism will work for a better world? How does that vision look like?


Brant Cooper  37:42

I think that we what we see is a reemergence of a strong middle class, and so I think that what we're seeing here in the US is just really this crazy gap opening up between the people that have and sort of everybody else. And so, we should see a reverse of that. We should see really more, if it happened globally, we would see more peace in the world. We'd see less turmoil. A lot of the turmoil that's going on now is this leaving the old economy behind. As a society, we don't necessarily do a real great job of helping people transition from the Old World to the New World. And so, I think that we need to be better at that. And so, I think that we would see some evidence of that. I think you would see a lot of a lot of impact businesses thriving. I think you would see a lot of environmental companies, green companies, and hopefully, you would even see, I don't know, 10 years' time, it'd be nice to see that there was some indication from our climate scientists that we had made an impact on climate change. So, you should see it socially. You should see it with black peoples and Latino and Latina people participating and Asian too. I mean, really, just all minorities, a greater participation in the economy, the reduction of systemic racism. I mean, you should just see it all the way flow through if stuff is happening correctly. The foundation is this. I write about this in my book. Sorry, I keep alluding to the book, but why can't we all just get along? We need this bipartisan approach to everything, and I actually don't think that's true. System stability happens when there's opposing forces, and they come to an equilibrium. And so, in a lot of ways, consumers, workers, and business owners are opposing forces, and what we want is the power of those opposing forces to shape an economic system that is what society wants. Society operates through government to determine what they want a stable system to look like. And so, what it looks like in terms of employment, what it looks like in terms of environmental policy, what it looks like in terms of diversity, society gets to choose those things and operates through the government. The government then needs to balance those power, the consumer, the company owner, and the worker, so that they're opposing in such a way that there's a stable system that reflects what society wants. And so, that's really where we need to get to, and we could do it in 10 years. It's actually not that difficult. One of the benefits of digital transformation is the amount of data that we have. We can actually figure this stuff out. A lot of great writing coming out, Stephanie Kelton, and like I mentioned before, Mariana Mazzucato, and these people that have looked at the data and have looked at different ways to analyze the complex system that is our society and the complex system that is our economy, and we know things better today than we knew 10 years ago or 20 years ago. And so, it's really just a mindset change that we need among that decision-making class both in economy, politics, education, and business, and I think change happens quickly once we get over that tipping point.


Maiko Schaffrath  41:58

Great. It's great to see how you've been part of that mindset change as well over the years and have a clear vision on how to continue that. It's been a real pleasure to have you on Impact Hustlers, and thanks for taking the time and joining us.


Brant Cooper  42:14

Yeah, thanks for having me. It's a fun discussion.


Maiko Schaffrath  42:19

Thank you so much for joining. 


Brant Cooper  42:21

Alright. Thank you.

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