Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The art of balancing motives and making money

Achieving balance is not easy. Most of the time, we'll tend to lean more to one side. Whatever we do, there is always a motive behind it. Good or bad, there is a motive. I'm in my last semester of studies and surprisingly the module is on policy. This was an elective module which is very different from the econs and finance modules i've been taking. I have to study the motives behind the policies that the government makes and how they balance social and economic motives. It's an arts major module.

Social justice or economic prosperity?

There is always a debate of whether a government policy is for the welfare of its people or just about making money? The government cannot have too many policies for welfare but not be able to generate income in order to sustain it. The government also cannot have zero welfare policies but everything is about making money. A balance has to be achieved to win the hearts of its people.

The government has a huge responsibility in policy making. These policies change the direction of a country and impacts our lives indefinitely. Film makers who publish movies also have a responsibility in the films they produce. These films changes the mindset and culture of people and indirectly affects our lives. They can produce a movie which depicts bad moral values or they can produce a movie which lifts the moral standards of society.

Film makers for social justice or profits?

There have been numerous cultural films which won international awards at the oscar and cannes film festival. One example is the movie: "12 years a slave" which won the best picture film in the oscar awards 2014. The director dedicated this movie to those who endured slavery and the 21 million who are still suffering from slavery today. There is a good purpose to the film.

Bringing the scene one step closer to home, local home grown director Anthony Chen, won the cannes film festival Camera d'Or prize for best feature film for his movie Ilo Ilo. This is a film on the life of a typical Singaporean family who hired a Filipino maid and how the maid integrated to become part of the Singaporean family culture. It is a simple film with a heart-warming message behind it. Both of the movie directors made an impact to society and at the same time their film was recognised which created profits. This is making money with a purpose.

On the other end, we see people using unscrupulous ways to make money. They cheat, they lie and they cause harm to society. This is making money just for the sake of money.

Money and purpose

What about ourselves? Do we do business just to make money? Do we invest just to make money? What is our motive behind making money? If our motive for doing something is just for the money, then money has no purpose at all. Focus instead on creating value. Be it in business, investing or your workplace, create value which will make an impact to society. When investing, invest in the company which creates value. Even traders in the stock market have a purpose. Traders have the responsibility to balance price levels in the economy. Collectively, they can move market prices such as oil prices which will affect our lives. They reward the good companies and they punish the bad companies. That's what investors do too. They invest in good companies who are socially responsible. Well, maybe some don't and thus create imbalances in the economy.

Imagine if everyone starts to be greedy and only want to make money but not caring about how it will affect society. This behaviour is what lead to the 2008 financial/sub prime mortgage crisis. Many people had invested in what we called toxic products which the banks sold aggressively. When everything crashed, many lost their life savings.

We have a choice to make. We can strike a balance between our motives and making money. You can choose to make money with a purpose. Focus on creating value and money will come. Focus on just making money may cause great destruction not just to you but the people around you. Learn the art of balancing.

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Related Posts:
1. The pursuit of money or happyness?
2. What if money was no object?
3. A generation of instant gratification - The cause of unhappiness


  1. Hi SGYI,

    Unfortunately, good ethical companies don't last. It's hard, when almost everyone else isn't. The most practical way is to make money a priority at the initial stage of your business. Only when your business is afloat can you talk about ethical and good motives really. Because if you're too upright (read: lawfully good), you'll go bust before you can make a difference to the industry you're in.

    That being said, everything has a cause and effect. Just be mindful of the things you do, because perhaps one day when you least expect, something from the past might come to haunt you.

  2. Hi LP,

    I was told this many times before too. If want to be successful, then have to be unethical. That may be a reason why people always sad rich people are greedy and bad. Well, where there is money, there is politics and greed.

    I shall not comment further as it can be quite complicated. In the end, its up to us to decide which path we want to take.