Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My change-the-world money

Money makes the world go 'round. No matter how many of these heart-breaking letters Doctors without Borders, the Grameen Bank, or Amnesty International send me, I won't have anywhere near enough in the foreseeable future to send much to all of them. I can only pick one at a time.

I once read that good entrepreneurs are inherently insecure people — that they're insecure about their material wealth and status, and so they work hard to acquire more, and are never satisfied. In this sense, I worry about my own effectiveness as an entrepreneur, because if that greed is what has to serve as the driving force or the fire or the motivation — whatever you wish to call it — then I am severely lacking it.

It's commonly accepted that the most powerful force that can drive a man is self-interest. Now, the only reason I see for amassing billions in personal wealth is to make the world a better place. I'm a little embarrassed to admit such a touchy-feely motivation — I like to think of myself as a hard-driving capitalist. The people I see most effective in the world are those with loads of cash, and the touchy-feely people I know seem to be digging dams with spoons.

I could make a difference on a small scale, and it's true that everything has to start on a small scale. Even in my line of work, I work iteratively and start small on pretty much everything I do. Maybe one day I'll be okay with just chipping away at enormous problems in the world rather than blowing them to smithereens.