My brief trip to Ann Arbor last April introduced me to a real-life application of conscious capitalism. Zingerman’s Community of Businesses is a thriving enterprise that does good business while doing a lot of business good. Rather than extracting all the profits from their companies, the owners put back much more than they take out. It’s a model that deserves some deep contemplation, and it’s the example I turn to as I seek a new investing construct for myself. Allow me to introduce what I’m calling the Enough Project, a gonzo investing and writing experiment to see what kind of impact I can have by investing small amounts in good businesses committed to doing good.
Eating in Ann Arbor
It’s raining hard this April morning as our rental car speeds west down the short stretch of interstate 94 connecting the Detroit airport to Ann Arbor. The windshield wipers set quick cadence, a rhythmic background for the good-humored argument entangling my two colleagues and me. My boss, Josh, sits in the back scrolling through his iPhone, barking out various Yelp recommendations for good eating options in Ann Arbor. Daniel is in the front seat, and I’m behind the wheel. We’ve already shrugged off Josh’s first suggestion – that we let some group of restaurants called Zingerman’s monopolize all of our meals – and now he’s tossing out alternatives.
Josh is our company’s resident foodie, and so we usually defer to his better judgement when it comes to dining on the road. Plus his wife earned a masters at the University of Michigan, so he can call on first hand experience when it comes to the local restaurant scene.
Yet we challenge his every recommendation – we’re feeling argumentative – and so we’re now resorting to the advice of anonymous Yelpers.
As Josh relays their suggestions, we sense his heart isn’t into any of the substitutes.
Okay, we finally relent. Your original idea sounds fine.
“Great!” Josh responds, his demeanor changing instantly.He dials a number and within seconds we have a dinner reservation that evening for some place called Zingerman’s Roadhouse.
Second Thoughts on Investing
I’ve been mulling over a change to my investment approach for nearly a year now, seeking to reconcile my desire for high returns with a growing sensibility to do something constructive and socially beneficial with my money. Continue Reading…