Saturday, April 6, 2013

Doing Business and Managing Wealth-This Is How It Should Be Done !

The other day I happened to read online the first chapter of the Book written by the famous British business magnate, Sir Richard Branson. I also liked the way he chose to title the book as: Screw Business As Usual. I have not seen this man, but I have read about him and the way he made up his business empire, the Virgin Group. It is indeed a commendable thing that a boy with a learning difficulty (known now as dyslexia) overcame that in just about four decades to establish a multinational business empire from scratches by sheer dedication and sincerety to his work.

His book is in reality a kind of his autobiography and he has attempted it in the most down to earth manner which is very touching. In this book, he tells the world how to do business in the most ethical and honest manner and still remain profitable and sustainable. He repeatedly stresses the importance of doing things better, not for the sole purpose of making profits but for the overall benefit of all, the customers, the employees, the shareholders, the suppliers and most importantly to mother earth. And through his many examples, he highlights the fact that doing business this way is not difficult at all or rather it's easy and rewarding in the long run. Another important point he makes is the relevance of empowering the people in decision making and having a business organization that is not top heavy.

Richard Branson tells his contemporaries his idea of doing philanthropy and charity in the non-conventional manner wherein the synergies of the people are channelized to achieve overall good in the society. He explains touchingly how his Virgin Unite was founded for this purpose. On the overall, this modern day business man passionately believes and works for making his business as a force for good.

His book Screw Business As Usual is not yet available in my country-India- to buy. I think I would buy it and read the rest of his passionate business story once I get it. It is another matter that he has pledged all the royalty inocome from this book to charity. I feel that my country men, especially those inclined to do business and those already doing business should think of reading this book. Because, there are many in this country who think that business cannot be done ethically. Business in India, unfortunately, is linked to corruption and the general perception about business men is not good.

The preface and the first chapter of Screw Business As Usual is available free in this blog site of Richard Branson. [You may use the link in this site to read it ]

It is indeed a good thing that the number of business men who want to convert their wealth and money and their business acumen as tools for doing good for the society and the people, are increasing. It is also a good thing that many modern day politicians and governmental authorities are giving all encouragements to entrepreneurs to generate and manage wealth in a sustainable manner, ensuring overall good to the society or the country. There are also innumerable living examples where we see businessess adopting unethical practices perish, however big they might have been.

In this context, I am tempted to tell you what Jesus Christ had advised about the management of material wealth to a wealthy man of his times. This is from my favourite book, the Urantia Book, as, such details are not available other sources such as the Bible.

Jesus had explained ten different forms of material wealth and the best manner in which one should deal or manage it. The essence is managing wealth for the good of all, just as Richard Branson is perhaps doing in our times. [Incidentally, I do not know whether Mr Branson had read the Urantia Book or not!]

I give below those ten cases of managing wealth of various kinds as explained by Jesus Christ as given in the Urantia Book:

1. Managing Inherited Wealth — riches derived from parents and other ancestors.

As steward of inherited wealth you should consider its sources. You are under moral obligation to represent the past generation in the honest transmittal of legitimate wealth to succeeding generations after subtracting a fair toll for the benefit of the present generation. But you are not obligated to perpetuate any dishonesty or injustice involved in the unfair accumulation of wealth by your ancestors. Any portion of your inherited wealth which turns out to have been derived through fraud or unfairness, you may disburse in accordance with your convictions of justice, generosity, and restitution. The remainder of your legitimate inherited wealth you may use in equity and transmit in security as the trustee of one generation for another. Wise discrimination and sound judgment should dictate your decisions regarding the bequest of riches to your successors.

2. Discovered wealth — riches derived from the uncultivated resources of mother earth.

Everyone who enjoys wealth as a result of discovery should remember that one individual can live on earth but a short season and should, therefore, make adequate provision for the sharing of these discoveries in helpful ways by the largest possible number of his fellow men. While the discoverer should not be denied all reward for efforts of discovery, neither should he selfishly presume to lay claim to all of the advantages and blessings to be derived from the uncovering of nature’s hoarded resources.

3. Trade wealth — riches obtained as a fair profit in the exchange and barter of material goods.

As long as men choose to conduct the world’s business by trade and barter, they are entitled to a fair and legitimate profit. Every tradesman deserves wages for his services; the merchant is entitled to his hire. The fairness of trade and the honest treatment accorded one’s fellows in the organized business of the world create many different sorts of profit wealth, and all these sources of wealth must be judged by the highest principles of justice, honesty, and fairness. The honest trader should not hesitate to take the same profit which he would gladly accord his fellow trader in a similar transaction. While this sort of  wealth is not identical with individually earned income when business dealings are conducted on a large scale, at the same time, such honestly accumulated wealth endows its possessor with a considerable equity as regards a voice in its subsequent distribution.

4. Unfair wealth — riches derived from the unfair exploitation or the enslavement of one’s fellows.

No mortal who knows God and seeks to do the divine will can stoop to engage in the oppressions of wealth. No noble man will strive to accumulate riches and amass wealth-power by the enslavement or unfair exploitation of his brothers in the flesh. Riches are a moral curse and a spiritual stigma when they are derived from the sweat of oppressed mortal man. All such wealth should be restored to those who have thus been robbed or to their children and their children’s children. An enduring civilization cannot be built upon the practice of defrauding the laborer of his hire.

5. Interest wealth — income derived from the fair and just earning possibilities of invested capital.

Honest wealth is entitled to interest. As long as men borrow and lend, that which is fair interest may be collected provided the capital lent was legitimate wealth. First cleanse your capital before you lay claim to the interest. Do not become so small and grasping that you would stoop to the practice of usury. Never permit yourself to be so selfish as to employ money-power to gain unfair advantage over your struggling fellows. Yield not to the temptation to take usury from your brother in financial distress.

6. Genius wealth — riches accruing from the rewards of the creative and inventive endowments of the human mind.

If you chance to secure wealth by flights of genius, if your riches are derived from the rewards of inventive endowment, do not lay claim to an unfair portion of such rewards. The genius owes something to both his ancestors and his progeny; likewise is he under obligation to the race, nation, and circumstances of his inventive discoveries; he should also remember that it was as man among men that he labored and wrought out his inventions. It would be equally unjust to deprive the genius of all his increment of wealth. And it will ever be impossible for men to establish rules and regulations applicable equally to all these problems of the equitable distribution of wealth. You must first recognize man as your brother, and if you honestly desire to do by him as you would have him do by you, the commonplace dictates of justice, honesty, and fairness will guide you in the just and impartial settlement of every recurring problem of economic rewards and social justice.

7. Accidental wealth— riches derived from the generosity of one’s fellows or taking origin in the circumstances of life.

Except for the just and legitimate fees earned in administration, no man should lay personal claim to that wealth which time and chance may cause to fall into his hands. Accidental riches should be regarded somewhat in the light of a trust to be expended for the benefit of one’s social or economic group. The possessors of such wealth should be accorded the major voice in the determination of the wise and effective distribution of such unearned resources. Civilized man will not always look upon all that he controls as his personal and private possession.

8. Stolen wealth — riches secured by unfairness, dishonesty, theft, or fraud.

If any portion of your fortune has been knowingly derived from fraud; if aught of your wealth has been accumulated by dishonest practices or unfair methods; if your riches are the product of unjust dealings with your fellows, make haste to restore all these ill-gotten gains to the rightful owners. Make full amends and thus cleanse your fortune of all dishonest riches.

9. Trust funds — wealth lodged in your hands by your fellows for some specific use, now or in the future.

The trusteeship of the wealth of one person for the benefit of others is a solemn and sacred responsibility. Do not hazard or jeopardize such a trust. Take for yourself of any trust only that which all honest men would allow.

10. Earned wealth — riches derived directly from your own personal labor, the fair and just reward of your own daily efforts of mind and body.

That part of your fortune which represents the earnings of your own mental and physical efforts — if your work has been done in fairness and equity — is truly your own. No man can gainsay your right to hold and use such wealth as you may see fit provided your exercise of this right does not work harm upon your fellows.”

My dear reader, I hope you could appreciate the essence of the above. Managing wealth most appropriately for the good of all in our planet is a great responsibility . We need to encourage and honour those who do it responsibly in the manner that God wants them to do it.

Material prosperity by an individual might tarnish his prospects for spiritual growth because of the danger of that person fully pre-occupied with material pursuits and greed for self aggrandizements.

However, it is also important to realize that material prosperity is a necessary thing for civilization to prosper to greater hights where individuals get the opportunity to pursue intellectual and spiritual knowledge and mind capacities. 

The Urantia Book stresses the need for leisure just as it stresses the importance of work. Sincere work, more sincere work and more sincere work and that is very important. 

Materialism and spiritualism have to go hand in hand. A hungry and physically tired person cannot possibly have a mind suited for spiritual advancements in a material world.

And no human being should be deprived of his legitimate share of a decent material living. And that is to be ensured not just for this generation, but for the generations ahead.

And that is a great responsibility. And whoever works to achieve that needs to be admired !

Let me conclude this with another quote from the Urantia Book :

High civilizations are born of the sagacious correlation of material wealth, intellectual greatness, moral worth, social cleverness, and cosmic insight.

[Please also take some time to come back and read my previous  blogs and blogs on other topics as well. You can reach to those by clicking the links in this page. I would be happy if you take some time to express your views using the comments facility down below. Please  use the same comment facility to interact with me for any doubts or clarifications that you might have. Here is the page link which gives the   list of all my blogs  where you can open all my blog titles.]

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