“It’s not personal; it’s just business.” How many times have you heard that phrase? It’s been ingrained so heavily into our business mindset through decades of repetition that we say it without even thinking. Dale Partridge, serial entrepreneur and author of the just launched book People Over Profit, looks at old cliches like this from a different angle than most of us. “Ask yourself, what are you doing simply because of tradition?” “People Over Profit is a journey through Partridge’s radical business philosophy that refutes capitalistic norms and simply values people first” states the book release from his publisher, Thomas Nelson. This is not an idealist manifesto, however. It’s the playbook from a successful entrepreneur that has been deep in the trenches, often being sleep deprived and emotionally drained like so many trying to build something remarkable. The company Dale founded, Sevenly, has driven over $25 million in revenue and because they donate $7 for every purchased item on their site, has contributed over $4.2 million to a variety of worthy causes. Dale is quick to mention that the book is NOT titled “People Instead Of Profit”. It’s extremely well researched and provides a unique perspective that only someone who has built something exceptional could offer.
The twist of the book, and what differentiates it from other founder insight books, is that Dale was shockingly fired from the company. Fired? For building a company up to nearly 50 employees, donating millions to charity, and building a brand consumers love and a place employees love to work? Yes, Dale was fired from his own company and transparently details the process in the book as well. Nevertheless, he speaks highly of Sevenly throughout, often weaving in examples of things they did to create a generous culture within the company in addition to their outward donations. Dale uses examples of companies like McDonald’s, Ford, and Google to illustrate what he calls “The 4 Eras Of Organizational Behavior” in a unique assessment of how companies begin with good intentions, but often compromise their founding values when under shareholder pressure for growth.
Partridge wrote the book because he “doesn’t want the patterns of the past to dictate the future of capitalism.” The notion I mentioned in the beginning of this article, that business is not personal compelled him to share new ways of doing business. “When did we decide to separate business and personal?” he wonders aloud in our recent conversation. At Sevenly, the way they fired employees was actually similar to how they brought them on board. Fired employees are invited back on Monday and receive affirmation from their colleagues, a letter of recommendation, and some even get to keep their computer. “Companies have to have security escort employees out of the building because of the way they fire people” states Partridge. Dale is not at all afraid of controversy or difficult conversations, however. He operates with brutal honesty and transparency unlike so many of today’s business leaders who have forgotten how to do something as simple as telling the truth. The Next Generation Of CEO’s “CEO’s live and operate on dashboards” explains Partridge. Most CEO’s, including myself, have somewhere between 5 to 10 key metrics or key performance indicators that they pay attention to monthly, quarterly, and annually. “This book is about being a more mature leader. For example, how about adding the 7 key metrics from the book as a culture or leadership dashboard”. He continues, “How much more money is the company making because people are happy and transparent? What has that done to sales and conversions? That’s the next generation of CEO’s.” What’s impressive is not only an entrepreneur’s ability to generate revenue according to Dale. “It’s impressive when people can generate wealth and be loved by the people around them.” Overall, the book is controversial in its attempt to push capitalism forward and will be uncomfortable for those focused on business as usual. Dale’s writing forces you to stretch your mind and to consider that there may be a better way to do business. Themes of authenticity, transparency, and generosity are evident throughout People Over Profit. And while many companies are jumping on the generosity bandwagon as it gains popularity, Dale reminds us that “Generosity must be built in, not tacked on.” People Over Profit is now available wherever books are sold. Visit the book website for more information. Is building a people over profit company realistic going forward or is it a trend that will pass? Let me know what you think in the comments section.