I asked the zebra
Are you black with white stripes?
Or white with black stripes?
And the zebra asked me,
Or you good with bad habits?
Or are you bad with good habits?
Are you noisy with quiet times?
Or are you quiet with noisy times?
Are you happy with some sad days?
Or are you sad with some happy days?
Are you neat with some sloppy ways?
Or are you sloppy with some neat ways?
And on and on and on and on
And on and on he went.
I’ll never ask a zebra
We have an outdated definition of success. Since the second industrial revolution the focus has been on producing more, consuming more, everything more. However, I refuse to accept that growth and progress are only about numbers.
In my book, growth is about creating an impact, improving people’s lives and inspiring change. You would probably tell me: Catalina, this is very nice and dreamy, but get down on earth. In the real world, successful businesses need a solid business model that generates profit.
Don’t get me wrong there, I am not saying let’s all drop our businesses and go all philanthropic. I am aware that a business needs to make money to survive. All I am saying is let’s look beyond capital and the business as usual.
Let’s be more like Zebras, and less like Unicorns.
Wait, what? What the heck is up with this zoo?
Let’s start with the unicorns.
Since the whole Silicon Valley fever, most startups nowadays are aiming to become the next UBER or Airbnb that disrupts a whole industry and exits as fast as possible. These companies, that are valued at more than a billion dollars, have become to be known as ‘the unicorns’ in the venture capitalist world. This is how the whole ‘Get Big Fast’ mentality developed in the startup ecosystem. Since investors and venture capital firms are looking for a high rate of expansion and price cuts to gain market share advantage, this has been the focus for a lot of founders and entrepreneurs.
But how about the impact on the society as a whole?
Fast growth and quick returns are good for the investors, but how does society benefit from all this math?
This is where the current system is failing. As the ambassadors of the Zebra movement are pointing out, “business models breed behaviour and sometimes it can lead to destructive outcomes. Developing alternative business models has become a moral challenge of our time”.
This is where the Zebra steps in.
A few months ago I stumbled upon this awesome article about how the world is tired of Unicorns and how we desperately need to engage in a Zebra movement.
“Unlike unicorns, zebras are real.”
Zebras are the companies who don’t sacrifice purpose for profit, because who says you can’t have both?
The zebra movement opts for a different business framework. It is encouraging change on a bigger level that expands beyond the company and its immediate customers. It is about creating a culture of kindness, doing good and empowering people to grow professionally and personally.
Why a Zebra movement is totally possible and is not just a concept living in my dream world.
As humans we are inherently generous.
It is in our nature to want to help others and live a meaningful life. Therefore, we need a new business framework that encourages shared prosperity, sustainable growth and creation over consumption.
Those who are purpose driven engage in a sustainable form of ambition.
We often tend to think that people who are status driven are the most ambitious and have more chances to succeed. I must disagree there. Those driven by purpose aren’t less ambitious; moreover, they might be even more driven to succeed since they are intrinsically motivated to create a meaningful impact.
There are many entrepreneurs out there on a mission to make a change.
It is more difficult for unconventional founders to get funding, because they don’t look like the usual unicorns. But hey, the fact that there are so many businesses out there who don’t compromise their values for profit and persist besides the challenges, proves that there is commitment to create a better world.
For the aspiring entrepreneurs out there: we have the power to change the rules of the game. In 10-15 years from now, the business world will be the way we want it to be.
When passion meets purpose, magic happens.
So let’s be zebras. Let’s make a difference!
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