2016 Keynote: Eighth Worldwide Meeting on Human Values, Monterrey, Mexico

This is is a keynote speech delivered in Monterrey, Mexico, at Octavo Encuentro Mundial de Valores, the Eighth Worldwide Meeting on Human Values, on October 21, 2016.

The Pivot Toward Flourishing

I believe that the highest purpose of every business should be to create a just, peaceful, and vibrant world. Today may be the most important day in the history of humanity, going back hundreds of thousands or even millions of years. It may be more important than the day someone noticed that fire could be domesticated and used for cooking and security and story-telling. More important than the day someone thought of growing vegetables in a garden. More important than the morning someone woke up and thought, I need to build a temple, or I need to sing the first song, or create the first painting on the wall of a cave. Today may be more decisive than the first moment someone thought of inventing a steam engine, or an electric light, or a personal computer. More important than who will win the next election, or what we should eat for lunch, or whether we should wear the blue shoes or the brown shoes.

As human beings, one of the most significant decisions we will ever make is how we engage with the world through the work we do, day in and day out. We build bridges and web sites and chairs. We work in factories and offices and schools. We plant crops and clean bathrooms and translate one language to another. Through work we support ourselves and our families. We work in businesses, large and small. We have jobs in which we create things of utility or beauty.

And sometimes we create things that are profitable but destructive.

Today you and I — through our actions — may decide the outcome of the experiment of human life on the planet earth. We live our lives — all of us — in relationship to commerce and business. Our choices and actions — where we work, how we work, what we buy, how we use resources — are decisive. We face a stark choice between two possible futures.

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