Growth for the Sake of Growth

Starbucks makes it easy to load money into its app to use at a future date. So easy, in fact, that it's holding about $1.6 billion of its customers' money, interest free.

This makes Starbucks look kinda like a bank that sells coffee β€” and a pretty lucrative one at that.

McDonalds owns most of its buildings. And since ~85% of its locations are franchises, it gets much of its income from leasing its property to franchisees.

This makes McDonalds look a little bit like a real estate company that happens to sell burgers and fries.

And airlines? Their loyalty programs often have valuations that are higher than the value of the actual companies that run them. This means that airlines actually have a negative valuation, at least if you analyze them in an overly reductive way.

They make their money selling miles to credit card companies, not from flights.

As organizations grow, they have a tendency to find ways of sustaining themselves on activities that are adjacent to or otherwise removed from the value they originally offered.

This isn't inherently bad. But if you get distracted by growing for the sake of it, you can start to lose sight of your mission. As environmentalist Edward Abbey pointed out, β€œGrowth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.”

So stay true to your north star β€”Β whether that's bringing something innovative to market, delighting others with your art, or opening doors so that others can enjoy the same level of success as you.

You might even discover you grow faster that way.


Reflections on creating systems to sustainably grow your impact on the world.
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