When something in our bodies grows too fast with no limit, we usually need a doctor. But when a business does it, we celebrate its success.
A business should not exist with the primary goal of maximizing profits, but to offer a public service. Making money should be incidental.
A few years back, I met Vicky—cook and owner of a small Greek restaurant in Chicago. Her food was not just delicious, but also affordable. In America, this combination still surprises me, so I asked her why.
“I want people to eat well.”
Not a Michelin star mantra, but I think this approach is more important than appearing in a pneumatic food guide.
Vicky makes her tomatoes ripe in a box with a banana for 3 days before serving them. She only uses extra virgin olive oil over cheaper oils, even to fry food. And she only cooks fresh, not frozen, organic meat.
“I don't buy those hormone-pumped chicken breasts that are as big as mine.”
She makes money because she is offering a good service, not to chase endless growth that needs a doctor's attention.
This year, I met Vicky again. In Japan.
In Japan, Vicky was two decades older, had a different hair color, and spoke another language. But it was her: the tomatoes tasted the same.
She advised me and my partner against ordering two sandwiches because one was big enough to split. She would rather not maximize how many sandwiches we bought.
In Japan, you're not a customer—you're okyakusama, kind of a God.
In America, you're not a God: profit is. You're not even a customer: you're the consumer — that asshole who consumes, juiced out by as many psychological and legal tricks as conceivable.
Humans are desire-driven machines: a business should help dissipate desires by satisfying them without exploiting you.
Many of my friends feel something is off, but don't know what to do about it. Want to do something meaningful for the world, and for yourself?
Look around for Vickies. This is the most important action you can take now for yourself and for the economy. Who is your Vicky?
Whenever possible, always pick a Vicky over a business that exploits your needs.
And remember, you're okyakusama. You deserve respect.