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Noble Goals Don’t Increase Stock Price

February 29, 2012

Jonah Goldberg made this post today, and I’ve said similar things in the past, so I thought I’d use it to say them here.  Still following me?

There’s an old story about the late great Julian Simon going to an oil facility in Alaska and being given a tour. The flack kept touting the installation’s “environmental benefits” so much that Simon eventually shouted in exasperation, “What do you produce here, oil or environmental benefits?”

For quite a while now oil companies have taken a similar approach to their advertising campaigns. Since long before the Gulf Oil spill, we’ve been complaining around here about the idiocy of BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” campaign. It’s like widget companies touting how ashamed they are to make widgets.

I’d note that the company I work for just started talking about certification of conflict-free silicon, and I suppose that’s a fine thing to do.  But how about making them so that people see value in the product, not the packaging?  Obviously, this is my own opinion, since my company prefers to tout other stuff.

Or to a better case: not long ago I was talking to a friend who runs our eco-technology business and research team.  She was struggling with how to get her team to deliver on its promises.  When I asked why people were working there (knowing the answer already), she  commented that they were committed to making the planet better, satisfying the needs of the global population, and the like.  My comment back was that she was running a group that needed to find ways to make money.  Yes, she acknowledged, but they had to feel good about it.

Here’s a nice rule of thumb: if it was easy and fun, they wouldn’t call it work.

Look, I like it when I actually enjoy what I do.  I like it when I can have fun at work.  I also like it when our stock price goes up, and we can show that we’re competitive in production of our product lines, not in PR about world goodness.

And to the point: I average between 45-60  minutes every workday every year volunteering for local community projects, and my company rewards that by providing money back to many of those projects through our foundation.  But I dont’ do it because it’s something that I want the company to be known for doing.  I’d prefer the company be known as the best in its business.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 3, 2012 4:15 pm

    A family member works for an energy company. They are very much invested in PR and everything green. Admittedly PR has been bad, largely because nobody likes a bill, but they are pretty doctrinaire environmentalists. There is something to be said about misplaced priorities. They seem to be so focused on green, they actually blew up a neighborhood in a Bay Area.

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