Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is
When I first came to the US on a ticket paid for by a bank loan and some pocket money from my aunt, I never imagined for a moment that I would become an entrepreneur, and a somewhat successful one at that. But here I am today, having established and managed Edifecs successfully, and now running Roundglass in my quest to democratize wellbeing.
As I embarked on my new path as an authentic, passionate seeker of wellbeing, hoping to become a friend and mentor to others on theirs, I brought along learnings from my entrepreneurial journey.
One of the most important, if obvious, learnings was about financial management. As an entrepreneur, I have spent many sleepless nights asking myself some questions related to my finances:
- How many people can I employ and make sure they are all adequately paid?
- What’s my long-term vision for this company, and the most cost-effective way of growing it?
- What taxes do I need to pay according to the jurisdiction my company is in?
- How do I ensure that my company’s finances are aligned not only with my financial interests, but also my ethical values?
It is this last question that I end up pondering the most. As a seeker of Wholistic Wellbeing, it is important to me that I am financially stable, but also true to my values and beliefs.
It is natural to wonder: How can a single person make a lasting change in society? You may feel you don’t have enough money or clout to make a difference. There are, however, many small changes that can help you live by your principles and be part of something bigger.
The first step would be choosing a job that doesn’t compromise your principles, but rather upholds and reinforces them. Step two is identifying something we feel passionate about and can contribute to, through donations, outreach, or investments. Not everyone has the resources to support their principles through a full-scale project of their own. But simply finding out what projects are out there and contributing to the conversation about your passion is a great place to start. This has been my driving force to finding a balance between my passion and my business.
My path towards community wellbeing
Growing up in India at the very start of the Green Revolution, I’ve always been passionate about nature. More specifically: protecting it, nurturing it, and helping it thrive. And as you may be able to tell from the stories I share on Living with Sunny, I’m passionate about storytelling. I have channeled these two interests into a project called Roundglass Sustain, a social impact initiative is bringing the diverse biodiversity of India to a global audience through a media-rich digital encyclopedia of species and ecosystems.
Roundglass Sustain fuels my vision of a wilder, greener planet where humanity respects not only itself, but every living species. We use storytelling — visual, auditory, and verbal — to inspire a sense of wonder in India’s natural world while creating awareness and building a community.
Don’t do it for optics
I want to reiterate the importance of doing this with passion, as many people feel pressurized to “do the right thing” rather than doing things from the heart. This is also true for organizations looking to build a solid reputation and be attractive to their stakeholders and talent. Companies often subscribe to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) standards as these are today’s accepted benchmarks for measuring performance and not because they are aligned to these standards. I find this not only inauthentic, but also unsustainable.
What this means is that most people and corporations don’t invest from the heart. They put stock in investments fueled by short-term profits rather than long-term social or environmental impact. By putting your money where your heart is, you can forgo the moral paradox of prioritizing the return on investment (ROI) rather than the cause you’re investing in.
Find your true reason
There is great value in identifying what you’re passionate about and investing in it continually, as I have done with Roundglass Sustain and with the Roundglass Foundation, which supports social and environmental initiatives in Punjab, India, with the aim of improving the lives of communities there.
Remember that the next time your friends suggest you invest in a new product, app, or company, check whether apart from the ROI, does it compel you on an emotional level? Is it really something you feel passionately about? Is it worth risking a loss, knowing that you’ve spent your hard-earned money on something truly meaningful to you, or not?
No one wants to be the black sheep in the herd, but sometimes having courage in your convictions and prioritizing your values over profit requires you do to do just that. Financial wellbeing is, after all, only a piece of the Wholistic Wellbeing puzzle and it can find its legs not in money, but in authenticity.