Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Poetic Justice in a Forgery

Pierre Lagrange spent 17 million to buy a Jackson Pollock painting that turned out to be a forgery. Now the hedge fund executive is suing to reclaim his investment. . Poor Pierre. A painting that looks like a Rembrant but isn’t, is, at least, still beautiful, but a Jackson Pollock forgery is just so much paint flung against a canvas. What a shame. It kind of reminds me of what the banks and hedge fund managers like Pierre did to all of us back in the Jackson Pollock days of derivatives, credit swaps and other financial shell games.... just sling a bunch of crap at the wall, and if anything sticks, give it an A+ rating and watch the suckers line up to buy the junk.

Here’s what I’d like to see: Recover the $17million and return it to its rightful owner – the public, all the poor schmucks who got suckered by the idea that we can expect a system which rewards profit and greed to deliver something for the rest of us other than profit and greed. And Lagrange can keep the painting-there’d be poetic justice in that. He could rechristen it “My Mess”

Monday, February 20, 2012

SEB Legislation is Coming to Connecticut

Social Enterprise may be coming to Connecticut!  A bill is now being considered by the Commerce Committee that would create a new Social Enterprise Business (SEB) designation.

This is good news to all!  I've been asked a few very good questions that I wanted to share:

What makes SEBs different from another type of business?
With this SEB designation a company
  • needs to be mission based, and this mission must be for social benefit, and be spelled out in the by-laws
  • needs to plow at least 20% of any distributed profits back to the mission
  • needs to disclose the compensation of the highest earners
  • can not return to a traditional for-profit status, and if it is to be sold then the assets will go to another SEB or a nonprofit with a similar mission.

Why not just set up as a nonprofit?

Entrepreneurs who start a social enterprise business own that business, can earn a return on their investment and sell the company for a profit. There is no real "owner" of a nonprofit organization in that traditional sense, and the founder can not turn around and sell it for a profit.

Then why not just set up as a regular for profit?
Think about Ben and Jerry's Icecream. They had a social enterprise philosophy and ran their company accordingly, but without this designation, when they sold the company to Unilever, the guts of the philosophy got sucked out of the company and all that is left is the husk of their intention which is used as a marketing tool. If they had been able to set up as an SEB it would continue to run as they intended today. A social enterprise designation allows an entrepreneur with a conscious to combine purpose with profit.

With this legislation we have an opportunity to create a business designation for those people who want to use business to solve community problems.  Business is a huge and powerful force, and with this legislation we can help make it a force for good in Connecticut!

Perspectives change when things change

Your kid gets his liscence and suddenly you look back at all the carting around you did with wistfulness.  A flood in the basement and all that stuff you couldn't part with because so much flotsam and you can't wait to get it out of your life.  All the daily pressures and inconveniences get you down until a house fire makes you grateful for the mere existence of those you love.  

Wouldn't we be wise to conjur up these moments to help us sort out our priorities every day.  Things are changing all around us and we're moving to a future most of us can't imagine.  Either we stay focused on what is really important to us and let that guide our choices, or we'll find ourselves grieving the lost time and opportunity.