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📖 Some Thoughts On Social Performance (4 min read)

Hello from Singapore!  I've been mulling how to respond to a question from an old friend about whethe
📖 Some Thoughts On Social Performance (4 min read)
By Phil Hayes-St Clair • Issue #53 • View online
Hello from Singapore! 
I’ve been mulling how to respond to a question from an old friend about whether there is a role for entrepreneurs in shaping the social conscious. 
It’s a complex question and I came close to not posting my answer for fear of not striking the right balance between being righteous and being helpful. Nonetheless, here are my thoughts and I’m very interested to learn yours. 
Feel free to reply to this email or better yet, leave a comment here, below the post so we can start a conversation. 
Thanks, and have a great week!
- Phil

Some Thoughts On Social Performance
An old friend, Fulton Smith, asked me recently if there is a role for entrepreneurs in shaping the social conscious.
The answer is yes. And while I can’t speak on behalf of other entrepreneurs, I think shaping the social conscious can happen in two ways.
The first is through the products you make and how they influence people.
The second way is more personal and begins with an awareness of social performance or the way you contribute to the world as part of your work.
Influence through product
If you look closely at the anatomy of great products built by entrepreneurs they help their user achieve one of two objectives.
They move a person further from fear or they move a person closer to happiness.
It is as binary as it sounds and usually underlying the motivation to build a product that has one of these two effects on its users is the desire of the founder to create a happier life for a stranger.
And herein lies the entrepreneurs’ superpower when it comes to shaping the social conscious.
Not only are they intrinsically motivated by some form of social performance, entrepreneurs expose new ways to crack problems and more importantly, provide evidence that it can be done at scale.
Influence through social performance
A little over a decade ago an anthropologist introduced me to social performance. She shared its three tenets with incredible clarity and they have stayed with me ever since.
1. Social performance is the personal pursuit to improve the happiness of one other person.
It can scale to millions of people but it starts with just one person. The point here is that happiness is the quality to improve and whilst subtle, this is important because most people associate the word ‘social’ with disadvantage.
2. The measure of social performance is subjective.
In other words, you are the one to consciously self-assess whether your efforts to improve the happiness of another person meet your own standards, not someone else’s.
3. Social performance has its own network effect.
Efforts to increase the happiness of others will be magnetic to people you do and don’t know if you make known what you do. In other words, people can’t be what they can’t see.
Today, ten years on, these tenets influence my contribution to family, how I build businesses and why I support women entrepreneurs, donate blood and work to reintegrate veterans.
Everyone will describe the important themes of their life differently. These are mine and this structure helps me to maximise my contribution, which also means I deliberately don’t invest capital or effort in other areas.
Being louder on social issues
Fulton also asked if I thought the voice of entrepreneurs should be louder on social issues?
The answer is also yes but that said I hear the voices of my colleagues on social issues loud and clear, and I have for some time.
If you’re not hearing them, I suggest you take a look at what they’re building. There’s a good chance they’re speaking through their product.
One last thing...
If the idea of social performance is appealing and you’re wondering how to make it part of life, here are the two questions I ask myself most days.
First, am I increasing the happiness of at least one person every day? The answer is yes if your actions map to moving someone closer to happiness or away from fear.
The second question is ‘am I doing enough to make a difference?’ Although a deeply subjective question, the answer is relatively straightforward. If you think you can do more, do more.
I hope that’s helpful.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Phil Hayes-St Clair

My weekly diary of what I learn from building companies.

Family first. Serial entrepreneur. I share lessons on Youtube and on the Founder To Founder Podcast 🎧 - available everywhere you listen to podcasts.

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