The rise of ambitious capitalism

The era of modern American business is defined by CEOs celebrated for their wild growth, wild personalities, and wild wealth.

Why is it important: Leading my second company as CEO, I am increasingly convinced that this model of fame, growth at all costs and growth at all costs will not be enough for the next generation.

We need a new twist on ruthless capitalism – let’s call it ambitious capitalism.

  • You see it every day: Workers, made more powerful than ever by tight talent markets and easy social media activism, simply won’t tolerate wealth or profit like the only end goal.
  • Calm down, conservative readers: I’m not talking about giving in to activism or shifting to soft socialism. In my experience, a very small minority of workers want one or the other in the workplace. What they want is a deeper meaning.

What am I talking about is a different way of thinking about the success and obligation of a business. Here are four markers that the founders of Axios put in place to judge whether we are creating something truly great and enduring:

  1. Aspirational products. Create products and services that authentically solve problems or alleviate pain for people, communities or businesses. They should be healthy, intuitive, safe and reasonably priced.
  2. Ambitious longevity. Be proudly capitalist because it takes profit to grow and protect jobs and scale a business that outlives its creators. A cool, short-lived product that wins plaudits but fades or dies after the founders leave would be a massive failure.
  3. Aspirational sense. Most people around my age, 51 or older, wanted and expected little more than a paycheck from their employers. The new generation demands more – and rightly so. We spend so much of our waking hours working, so why shouldn’t we all be doing good, learning more, helping others at work?
  4. Ambitious improvement. Don’t roll your eyes, cynics. We truly believe that if you create the right culture and the right values ​​- and stick to both when it’s tough – people can leave better people at your company: smarter, more talented, more collaborative, more empathic.

So many of our institutions have loss of credibility and influencecorporations, then, might be the latest best-shared reality for rebuilding what makes America great.

The big picture: Put this one away. While many of you will send me an email that seems too recent or naive, I bet a decade from now the most successful companies will operate this way.