Very wide ranging and extremely good stuff. On Tyler Cowen’s Podcast.
As a human nature thing something that I’ve become more sensitized to is that you might ask how does somebody who becomes CEO of a widget factory see their life’s work as having meaning, because who cares about all these widgets? Why didn’t they go if they’re that talented into whatever?
One thing that that kind of analysis will miss, the question of why does it matter if you’re just creating stuff for kids, or whatever, toys, is how much people end up identifying with their firm as the larger whole. How much it’s the health of the firm, the health of the workers, the corporate culture that people are really proud of that bind them together. That’s their community. That’s their neighborhood. That’s where their status comes from.
It is within that kind of outlook that this sort of corporate social responsibility stuff becomes very appealing, that if the place you’re deriving your value is from the idea of what sort of firm did you create — not what did your firm create, but what sort of firm did you create — then the question of what is the moral character of your firm, how proud are the people in your firm with being there, that becomes a very important part of the way that you personally get satisfaction from your work.
I have definitely run into CEOs who seem more interested in the character of the firm they’re creating than anything that their firm is creating.