Member Mark Johnsen Speaks: Fulfillment Doesn’t Rest on the Bottom Line

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by an executive who was offered the CEO role to commercialize an experimental treatment that promotes wellbeing in patients. There wasn’t a clear business case, but the evidence of the positive impact the treatment was having on people’s lives intrigued him.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were in your shoes, I’d refrain from focusing on commercialization potential and instead explore the positive impact this opportunity could have on people’s lives. A non-profit structure that deemphasizes the profit motive could be a wise approach.

Oftentimes it seems like we have to choose between making money or doing fulfilling work. It would be a no-brainer to jump on this opportunity if there were a clear business case. If I could make a suggestion, consider prioritizing the positive human impact potential of this opportunity and worry less about profitability. Especially if monetary success has already been largely achieved in other ventures, I would search for a deeper level of meaning in my career, which in this case could be to promote human wellbeing.

A non-profit approach may be ideal. Instead of worrying about capitalization tables and stock offers, as one would for a normal business, the mission to increase human health and happiness would serve as the driving force of the enterprise. It is a liberating question: what is our deeper driver beyond money? As anyone will tell you who has experienced the sudden loss of a loved one, your time alive on this planet is our most precious and finite resource. At the end of the day, money is not going to make us happy. It is more the meaning and fulfillment we get from aligning our efforts with our values. Best of luck!