Every Day Should Be Earth Day

Original drawing by Liza Donnelly in collaboration with Jacki Zehner for SheMoney

As published on LinkedIn as part of the SheMoney newsletter.

I have to admit, this article was a hard one to write. The intention, in honor of the celebration of Earth Day in April, was to write a piece about investing for positive environmental impact. In other words, investing in a way where seeking a positive financial return does not come at the expense of harming our planet. This is where the hard part comes in. To date, the extent of my personal commitment to investing for positive environmental impact has been limited at best. It’s mostly focused on a few of the ‘nots’, such as not directly purchasing oil and gas stocks. But honestly, that is about it.

So why haven’t I done better? It’s a fair question, and one that I don’t have a particularly good answer for. Mostly it comes down to the fact that because this is such a big issue, it often feels overwhelming, and I have not prioritized educating myself properly. But it’s time. Turns out the universe agrees. As I was pondering where to start with this article, a new report from Veris Wealth Partners landed in my inbox. Its title? The Time is Now. Okay universe, I get it. The time is very much now.

This report is their 2020-21 Impact Report, and it describes how they, as a wealth management firm, are 100% impact focused, including what they do to offset their carbon imprint. I have known many people at this outstanding firm for some time, and therefore I realized they were the obvious place to turn to for guidance on how I, you, all of us, can help align our financial resources for the betterment of the planet. Because this is all our responsibility, and time truly is running out.

To prepare for my interview with Veris, I read up on the history of Earth Day. This annual event is held every year on April 22nd in order to raise awareness on environmental protection. Every year a growing body of research shows the alarming and increasing impacts of climate change, but this is not an article to make the case for why this matters. Even the most conservative scientists now agree that that case is closed. However, just in case you were feeling a bit too cheery today, here are a couple of sobering statistics to consider this Earth Day.

  • 40% of the world’s population is “highly vulnerable” to the impacts of climate change
  • 2021 was the warmest year on record for ocean heat content, which increased markedly between 2020 and 2021
  • 2021 was the warmest year on record in 25 countries, and in areas where 1.8 billion people live
  • According to recent projections, we have anywhere from 5-12 years to reverse the effects of climate change

A professional headshot of Casey Verbeck smiling directly into the camera.It’s clear that the time is indeed now, and we all can and should do more to reduce our carbon footprint. There are countless resources out there to help you do so, but in particular I recommend this list by Columbia Climate School, which provides you with 35 easy things to do. That being said, this is SheMoney, so it’s time to get back to investing. I recently spoke with Casey Verbeck, Partner – Managing Director of Marketing & Business Development at Veris and author of the Veris Impact Report, and this is what he had to say about the possibilities inherent in positive environmental investing.

JZ: In your recent corporate Impact report, you said ‘you are a 100% impact focused wealth management firm? What does that mean?

CV: Since inception, Veris has worked closely with our clients to help them meet their financial goals while aligning their wealth with their values. We invest with an impact lens across all asset classes, and all products on the Veris platform fall into one of our key investment themes:

  • Climate Solutions and the Environment
  • Sustainable and Regenerative Agriculture
  • Racial and Gender Equity
  • Community Wealth Building

Within each of these themes, we seek to find ways to help our clients achieve their impact goals – from land conservation to affordable housing, renewable energy infrastructure, growing a more equitable and inclusive economy, and empowering historically marginalized communities. Our investment platform has been built on years of impact investing experience to provide access to what we believe are some of the leading-edge impactful strategies our society needs now.

JZ: In reading your report you talk about taking an intersectional approach as it relates to your investment themes about environmental and social impact. How did that approach come about and why do you feel it is so important?

CV: Social and environmental challenges are often intertwined. Investing through an intersectional lens means that we seek to find strategies within our themes that address interrelated challenges. For an example of how social and environmental challenges can be interconnected, think of the many ways that climate change is worsening social inequality – especially in communities with high levels of poverty. If droughts or flooding caused by climate change negatively impacts crop yields in a community that relies on subsistence farming, increased food insecurity will follow, which in turn can lead to declining health outcomes. We believe it is critical for impact investors to consider how social and environmental challenges are interlinked when considering which solutions to invest in.

JZ: I assume a lot of your clients come to you seeking positive financial returns and want to do it without harming the environment. If that is their goal, how do you get them started? 

CV: We first start by learning about their short and long-term financial goals and their vision for a better future. We do a deep dive into the issue areas they are most passionate about. Then we design a custom portfolio designed to meet their goals that is a true reflection of their values.

If you are looking for a way to get started there are many on-ramps for investors to consider. In today’s growing impact investing landscape, your options are at an all-time high. The market has exploded in the last three years with lots of product innovation to meet rapidly growing investor demand. I say, find a way to start. A few ideas to consider: a carveout (portion) approach of your current assets fully committed to impact, family foundation or DAF investable assets that align with your theory of change, or like most of our clients when they see and understand what is possible, they invest 100% of their portfolio through an impact lens. Ensure you have the right people around you to provide the advice you need. I also recommend getting out there and participating in conferences or networks to support your learning journey. Three great organizations that offer conferences and other learning opportunities are Confluence Philanthropy, NEXUS and US SIF.

JZ: Can you share options if you have smaller amounts to invest, versus larger amounts?

CV:  One area I tell people to look into are your local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and community investment notes addressing climate change. CDFIs in particular, provide a variety of options in the form of debt supporting your local communities in need, ranging from affordable housing projects to renewable energy infrastructure to lending to small business owners. Look at your fixed income allocation and shift to impact notes or loan funds as a place to start. Options will vary based on each individual’s financial situation and impact goals. Many strategies are highlighted in our recently published Impact Report.

An image of the title page of The Time is Now report by Veris

JZ: To those who think, “These problems are too big for me to feel like I can make a difference”, what would you say?

CV: No one individual can solve the big environmental and social challenges we face alone. It will take each of us working together. Investors make a much bigger impact when we invest together. When we act as a community, we deepen our understanding of our most pressing environmental and social challenges, and share knowledge of investable opportunities that will move the needle. We are stronger when we are united.

JZ: Anything else you would like to add?

CV:  I dedicated my career to impact investing 16 years ago. I come from a modest background and was directly impacted by the economic wealth gap when I was growing up. When I first learned about the ‘3 P’s’ – People, Planet and Profit – I was inspired to use the capital markets as a way to scale significant positive impact by rethinking the business paradigm and overall stakeholders. As investors, innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders and as parents we have a role to play in creating lasting systemic change. We need to continue to protect, preserve and improve our precious environment, and remember without a healthy planet we all suffer. By committing to learn from our past mistakes and challenge the status quo, together we will build a better future.

JZ: Thank you Casey and to Veris Wealth Partners for your incredible leadership in the field.

Casey and his team at Veris offer free consultations for those wishing to explore next steps.

………..

Wanting to leave you all with an additional something that was actionable and accessible, I went in search of a short list of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFS) that a person with any amount to invest might consider, and thankfully that is where GOOGLE does comes in handy. This month, in honor of Earth Day, there are a lot of articles being written with specific recommendations and I encourage you to do some searching, and of course, consult your investment advisor. This one in particular seemed worthy of further homework.  And, if you are already invested in this manner, please do share how you are doing it.

This is what I know for sure. Every single thing each and every one of us does to care for our planet matters. It all adds up. I am going to hold myself more accountable for knowing the impact of my investments and aligning my dollars with my love for our world and the people and animals that inhabit it, and I hope you do too.

-Happy Earth Day everyone.

The information contained herein has been provided for informational purposes only and represents only a summary of topics discussed. The contents should not be construed as the provision of personalized investment advice or recommendations or an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. Rather, the contents including, without limitation, any forward-looking statements, simply reflect the opinions and views of the speaker. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the speaker as of the date of publication and are subject to change without notice.

The Transformative Power of Social Capital

An original cartoon show block capital letters spelling out social capital. People are standing on the letters and helping others to climb up.

As published on LinkedIn as part of the SheMoney newsletter.

What will it take to get more money into the hands of more diverse fund managers and founders? More specifically, women and people of color. This is a question that I have been asking myself for a long, long time. Especially since my now infamous Cheerios article, and yes, I am going to talk about my Cheerios article again. That article (rant?) was inspired by the fact that 0.2% of all VC funding dollars in 2020 went to Black women and Latina founders. When you include the men, Black founders received 0.6% and Latinx founders received 1.7% of all VC funding dollars in 2020. And that is simply not acceptable. Full stop. Period.

It is too soon to know if 2021 as a whole was better for founders of color, but preliminary data shows that for the first five months of 2021, Black founders received 1.4% of all VC funding dollars, more than double the rate in 2020. However, analysts are quick to point out that this increase might only be a temporary boost stemming from the sudden interest in supporting Black-owned businesses in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement revival. And frankly, we should not be touting 1.4% as a success in the first place, because it’s not. Not by any metric. And I am committed to doing what I can to create more inclusive financial systems. Thankfully, I am not alone.

That’s why I would like to introduce you to Claude Grunitzky, the CEO and Managing Partner of The Equity Alliance. The Equity Alliance was founded in 2021 to invest in diverse, emerging venture capital fund managers, with a focus on managers of color and women. They seek to democratize access to capital, and expand opportunities to partner with investors and entrepreneurs who would otherwise remain outside of our collective field of vision. If anyone might have the answer to my question, it would be him.

Continue reading for the interview with Claude and join for a LinkedInLive Conversation tomorrow, see below for details.

A headshot photo of Claude Grunitzky looking straight at the camera.

JZ: Claude, I would love to hear about your background in terms of what brought you to this work at Equity Alliance.

CG: I came to New York two decades ago as a Togolese immigrant with my own vivid American dream. I created TRACE, a Black culture magazine, in my bedroom, and during my first couple of years in New York, I was living hand to mouth, struggling to make ends meet as a young Black entrepreneur who couldn’t woo any investors for my startup, even though there were early signs that the magazine had some traction. Perseverance paid off, however, and Ray McGuire, a prominent Black executive on Wall Street, ended up investing in TRACE. That changed everything for me, and for my team. TRACE magazine eventually became a successful media company that received funding from Goldman Sachs. In addition to the magazine, we launched a TV network and a marketing agency.

I sold that company, and for the past decade I’ve been doing a lot of pro bono work, angel investing, leading workshops at MIT, Harvard, and other academic institutions, and helping young entrepreneurs launch their own social enterprises and impact ventures. In 2015, I launched TRUE Africa, which is a Google-funded media company championing Black innovators all over the world. TRUE Africa gave birth to TRUE Africa University, a remote learning platform currently incubated at MIT’s J-WEL (Jameel-World Education Lab). I have always felt that I could help nurture Africa’s talent; those young people who will accelerate the continent’s development.

In my early days as a media entrepreneur in New York, I met Dick Parsons, back when he was the Chairman and CEO of Time Warner, which was then the world’s largest media company. We immediately hit it off, and I built a relationship with him over a 15 year period. Dick was always a huge inspiration, to me and to many other ambitious Black professionals. Here was an African-American Brooklyn guy who rose through the ranks to become one of the most important corporate leaders in the world, at a time when few Black people were in positions of power. A few months after George Floyd was killed, Dick reached out to me with the idea of the Equity Alliance. He asked if I would be interested in leading a fund that would invest exclusively in people of color and women. That is how the Equity Alliance was started.

JZ: Why this model and this mission?

CG: A study by the Knight Foundation found that, in asset management, a $70 trillion industry, only 1.4% of those assets are managed by diverse-owned firms. As we surveyed the venture landscape, we realized that a critical gap in the ecosystem was institutions that were positioned to put capital in the hands of diverse emerging fund managers. We know that beyond the fundamentals, investors also make decisions based on their lived experiences and problems that they can relate to. (me saying.. heck yes!!!!!) Our model is built to empower diverse fund managers who are fully dedicated to creating additional opportunities for diverse founders. In order to democratize access to capital for diverse founders, we need to drive capital to diverse investors. We also believe it is critical to support emerging fund managers because of the uphill battle they face when raising a first time fund. We invest more than money. We also provide additional support through what we’ve been calling our Social Capital Playbook. By focusing on social capital, we feel we can drive greater access to economic capital beyond the investments we make.

JZ: You have some very well known co-founders and collaborators. How did this group come together?

CG: The vision for the Equity Alliance came from our Chairman and Co-Founder, Dick Parsons. He did a lot of the early ideation with his close friend Ken Lerer, a Managing Partner at Lerer Hippeau, New York’s most active early stage VC firm. Ken Lerer is also a co-founder of the Huffington Post. The other Equity Alliance Founders are Benjamin Lerer and Eric Hippeau, who are also Managing Partners of Lerer Hippeau; Ronald Lauder, Board Member of the Estée Lauder Companies; Eric Zinterhofer, Founding Partner of Searchlight; Scott Kapnick, CEO of HPS Partners; and Michael Novogratz, CEO of Galaxy Investment Partners. We had a lot of heavy hitters back us as soon as we started raising money. One early backer was Schusterman Family Investments as our first anchor investor. They were followed by our two other anchor investors, which are Bank of America and the Ford Foundation.

JZ: You just closed on your first fund, oversubscribed at $28 million, and have already made some first investments. Can you talk about them?

CG: We have made 13 fund investments thus far. One recent fund investment we’re excited about that we made in the Fall is Divergent Capital. Divergent Capital is a deep tech pre-seed firm led by Katie Shea and Lucy Wang. While being sector agnostic, Divergent specializes in the combination of deep tech and innovative business models. Thus, companies with machine learning, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and robotics would be typical targets, however, ed-tech and beauty companies also fit their bill. The fund managers bring several years of investing, operating, and technical experience to the fund. Katie, as an operator turned investor, wears the CMO hat when assessing potential opportunities, while Lucy, a data scientist turned investor, applies the CTO lens.

I think it’s important to highlight that Equity Alliance also has the ability to make direct investments into start-ups, and we have made one direct investment thus far. When it comes to direct investments, we look for standout, mission-aligned companies that have already received investments from one of our funds. We made our first direct investment in the Series A round of Esusu, which had already received investment from two of our portfolio funds; Concrete Rose Capital and Serena Ventures.

Esusu was founded by first-generation Americans Abbey Wemimo (a Nigerian American) and Samir Goel (an Indian American), to address the fact that 45 million Americans, a majority of people of color, have too little history to qualify for a credit score. Esusu automates credit building by reporting monthly rent payments to credit bureaus, boosting credit scores for tenants one rent payment at a time. Esusu sells to property managers, who provide this service to their renters in order to increase retention and to be able to intervene with microloan solutions when the data suggests a renter would benefit from intervention.

Esusu recently announced a nationwide engagement with Freddie Mac, the largest financier of multifamily housing in the United States with over $2 trillion total assets. This collaboration set the stage for Esusu’s most recent Series B round of financing, led by Softbank, where the company achieved unicorn status in January 2022.

JZ: You’ve obviously put together a great team to support Equity Alliance. Can you comment on your efforts to bring in more women as LPs?

CG: Creating a diverse cap table requires intentionality. We wanted our LP base to reflect our values and mission to democratize access to capital. One of our biggest anchor investors is Stacy Schusterman, and as we got to know her and her team, we saw how deeply committed they are to the causes of racial equity and gender equity. Another early investor is Jacqueline Novogratz, who invested personally and not through the Acumen Fund. Her brother, Michael Novogratz, is one of the Equity Alliance’s original investors, and I believe she saw the kind of impact she could make through our fund. We are also seeking to deliver competitive returns for our investors, and feel it is critical for women and people of color to share in that success. To that end, we worked with our lawyers to make the fund available to investors who weren’t “qualified”. It was definitely more work on our end, but as we engaged with women and people of color who would become our LPs, we made it a point to ask them who in their networks might be interested in our efforts. For some of our LPs from this group, this was their first time investing in a fund vehicle like ours, and we took the time to connect authentically to explain what we were seeking to accomplish. If we are going to create a diverse venture ecosystem, it will require these kinds of targeted efforts on the behalf of venture fund managers.

JZ: If you had to sum up why so little funding has yet to find its way into the hands of women and people of color, what would you say?

CG: There are a number of compounding systemic reasons why so little capital flows to women and people of color. One critical piece that we have identified is the lack of social capital that women and people of color have access to.

Our Equity Alliance fund is positioning itself as a prime conduit to meaningful connections between many investors, VC firms, early stage companies, and women and people of color who are looking to gain a foothold in the world of venture capital. Despite being busy leading major firms on Wall Street, in VC or other industries, all of our main investors are leaning in to help various members of the wider Equity Alliance community. People like Scott Kapnick and Eric Zinterhofer have been leaning in for real. In addition to their financial investment, we expect their commitment to invest time and resources into the Equity Alliance’s Social Capital Playbook to become, over time, a major driver of success for underrepresented investors and entrepreneurs who would not benefit from this level of access were it not for the Equity Alliance.

If we don’t increase social capital by growing the size of the pie for people of color and women so that this new social capital leads to more economic capital for the people we set out to empower, we will consider that the Equity Alliance has failed.

Because we know that, traditionally, people of color and women endeavoring to access capital for startups or venture capital firms may be constrained by larger structural issues such as law, policy, racism, sexism, and implicit biases, our approach to living up to ESG promises is driven by the works of the French philosopher Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu argued that analyzing the relationship between socio-economic background, natural environment, and access to capital can illustrate hidden structures that facilitate or inhibit an individual’s life. One of our Equity Alliance board members is Renée Richardson Gosline, an African American MIT professor who studies social capital. Renée has been helping us to better understand how Bourdieu’s theories are relevant in 21st century America, which is incredibly polarized and stratified as a society. Particularly, Black people are still at the bottom of American society, and we have to work together to level the playing field.

Given that so many successful investors and institutions have already backed the Equity Alliance, we believe our focus on social capital can ultimately help change power dynamics in America as more people of color and women gain economic capital after gaining social capital.

JZ: What does success look like for you and Equity Alliance?

CG: In the near term, it is critical that the fund managers we support successfully execute on the funds they now operate. For this reason, we strive to create a vibrant community amongst our fund managers that will allow them to learn from one another and leverage our Social Capital Playbook to further the growth of their funds. We chose this strategy because of the potential impact fund managers can have on their underlying portfolio companies. We are excited by the fact that the 20+ funds we invest in will impact the way that 400+ start-ups operate with respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through our educational programming and engagement, we will equip our fund managers with the tools they need to better support the diverse founders within their portfolios.

Our long-term vision is to have each of the fund managers we invest in raise subsequent top-quartile funds, and be in a position to support and make investments in the generation of diverse fund managers that follows them. We believe that our investments can spark a virtuous cycle that builds parity within this crucial financial sector of our economy that drives innovation. We will have succeeded when the community of fund managers we invest in become leaders in the venture capital space, and when our track record serves as evidence that investing in diverse-owned firms is not only impactful in addressing the wealth gap that exists for women and people of color, but can also deliver superior returns. We hope that this evidence ultimately drives further investment by larger institutions in diverse-owned firms, helping to grow the total assets under management (AUM) allocated to these firms.

JZ: So what will it take to get more money into the hands of Black founders?

CG: It probably won’t surprise you that our solution is around empowering Black investors who will, in turn, drive capital to Black founders. In order for our industry to change, we need LPs around the table who are willing to support diverse emerging managers. It will mean taking a more holistic perspective on how to assess a fund manager’s track record beyond traditional institutional investing experience. At the Equity Alliance, we evaluate early investments made out of the fund, angel investing track records, and even relevant industry experience as another lens on the return potential of the funds we invest in.

Beyond our investment in funds, there is an important education piece. We want to provide our fund managers with the tools they need to become better investors. These tools will help them to better support Black founders, most of whom never really had any access to real money.

JZ: Anything else you would like to add?

CG: Look out for Equity Alliance Fund II, because we’ve got big plans.

JZ: Thank you Claude. What a powerful interview and big !!!!!! from me to all your answers. It should be no surprise to the readers that I too invested in Equity Alliance and will look forward to championing you, your team, your managers, and your founders. Count me in!

An event banner announcing the LinkedIn Live event, with headshots of Jacki and Claude.

Join Jacki Zehner and Claude Grunitzky, Founder of Equity Alliance, for a live conversation about the current landscape of venture capital, the untapped power of social capital, and the impact possible in supporting diverse fund managers and founders.

Investing In Human Flourishing

Cartoon collaboration with Liza Donnelly.

As published as part of the SheMoney newsletter on LinkedIn.

Welcome to SheMoney 2022! I hope your year is off to a lovely start so far. Of course, I have to acknowledge that we are still in the middle of a global pandemic, and therefore it may be hard to set intentions for a year full of peace, good health, prosperity, and perhaps even joy. That said, I invite you to do so anyway. And if you are like me, you could probably use some assistance. Thankfully, there are lots of tools, protocols, and digital therapeutics that are available to help, and most of these offerings are from relatively new companies. So how did these companies come to be and where are we going from here? Read on…

One of the reasons these resources exist in the world is because there are inspired investors who are tracking the science around the positive impact of contemplative practices. These investors have then supported the founders, and thereby the companies, that bring this science to life. In this first newsletter of SheMoney 2022, I want to highlight two investors who have developed and implemented an investment thesis that is truly changing lives for the better. They are investing in human flourishing, and I could not think of a more fantastic way to start the new year.

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to present Maureen Pelton and Charlie Hartwell. Our paths crossed a couple of years ago when they decided to move to Utah, and we were shortly thereafter introduced by mutual friends. Maureen is the Co-Founder of ShiftIt Institute (along with Charlie) and a pioneer in the field of embodiment, and Charlie is a change agent and Managing Director at Bridge Builders Collaborative (where Maureen is a partner). Not only are they married, but they have also blended their backgrounds to help ignite consciousness, inspire human potential, and create a paradigm shift. Their investment thesis started with a focus on the wellness of the individual as it relates to mindfulness, meditative practices, and mind-training to support human consciousness. Over the years, they have further developed a ‘going deeper’ approach. In this new phase of their work, together with the other partners at the Bridge Builders Collaborative, they are focusing on deeper levels of mental health, consciousness, and spirituality.

A photo of Charlie and Maureen looking directly into the camera.

Bridge Builders is an investment collaborative with eleven partners. When you visit their website, it welcomes you with this line: “From mind-training to deeper models of mental, social, spiritual well-being”. They invest in start-up companies that empower mental health, consciousness, and spirituality, and their first investment screen is Impact. As in, how will this company support (impact) a better planet? You can read more about their mission and criteria here, but let’s just say that their investment thesis has led them to invest in some of the most transformational companies of our time. Companies that are currently serving millions of people and supporting those people’s wellness journey. You can find a list of these companies here, but a few of their more well known examples include:

InsightTimer – A conscious community of 20M people, interacting with over 10,000 leading spiritual teachers in over 40 languages. The largest conscious community/library on the planet.

Pear Therapeutics – Recently IPOed, this is a whole new form of digital medicine, approved by the FDA (like software as a drug).

Muse – Muse is a brain-sensing headband that uses real-time biofeedback to help you refocus during the day and recover overnight.

Headspace – Headspace rebranded meditation and made it accessible to the masses, with over 60M downloads to date. And a multi billion dollar valuation.

The science, and their investment thesis, also led Maureen and Charlie into the world of psychedelics. Now, if you’re currently thinking, “Are you kidding me?!”, I was right there with you up until a couple of years ago. However, I have since learned, in part by reading the data put forth by MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies), that these compounds and protocols may offer hope to millions of people who are suffering from depression, PTSD, eating disorders, and more. There are over 50 publicly traded companies in this space, and even an ETF. Maureen and Charlie, through Bridge Builders Collaborative, have invested in a few companies, but I should note that they also have deep concerns about the direction many of the companies in this space are taking. While there is certainly a lot of hope that research and investment in this area might revolutionize behavioral health, there are also a lot of risks.  Maureen and Charlie believe that in order for the psychedelic movement to reach its transformative potential, we need to combine the molecules with very well-trained psychedelic therapists, and insure that intention and set and setting of the experience is appropriate for the patient. Crucially, this needs to be combined with proper preparation and integration after a psychedelic assisted therapy session.

To this end, one of the companies they are excited about is Synthesis, “a global leader of the modern psychedelic movement, advancing scientific research, training and education to create access to safe, legal psychedelic experiences for integrative healing and expansion.” They are also excited about HighVibe Network, a blockchain based ecosystem designed to integrate immersive experiences, multidimensional learning, and personal development, and HealthRhythms, a mental health app that uses Machine Learning to translate daily activity into sophisticated insights that can predict bad outcomes before they occur.

In the interest of transparency, I am not an investor in any of the companies listed above. However, I am a consumer. As more of these companies do go public, being both an investor and a consumer is possible. It’s also always worth remembering that one of the best screens for a stock you might consider investing in is whether or not you would be a consumer of their products and/or services.

There is so much more to talk about with Maureen and Charlie, and thankfully, you can visit the ShiftIt Institute and listen to podcasts they have done on a variety of topics. You can also join me on LinkedIn Live to ask them questions directly. This conversation will take place on Thursday, January 20th at 12pm MT//2pm ET. Click here to join.

Headshots of Jacki, Charlie, and Maureen announcing the LinkedIn Live event.

Many people I speak with are skeptical about whether or not there is any good that can come out of capitalism. They likely find phrases like “conscious capitalism” and “investing for good” particularly cringeworthy. But I don’t. I believe that investment capital, intentionally deployed in private and public companies, can create a better world. Yes, it takes time, effort, knowledge, and money to do so, and not everyone has those resources to deploy. But what we all have is our purchasing power. We all buy products and services every day, and the bottom line is that these transactions make the companies that receive investment capital successful. Facebook, now MetaPlatforms Inc., has a market capitalization of nearly one trillion dollars because, in part, we all use Facebook. If Facebook did not have so many users, people, both individual and institutional investors, would be less willing to own the stock. It really is as simple as that.

Therefore, whether you have capital to invest directly in companies or not, I invite you to develop your own investment thesis that can be realized through how you make every day purchasing decisions. The more we understand that every time we buy something, anything, we are transferring power from our hands to another, the better chance we have of actually making the world a better place. Maureen and Charlie are shining examples of how to do just that.