The Problem with Solving Problems

As business leaders, we are dedicated to changing the world we live in. If we care enough to be entrepreneurs of value, we strive to offer something that will help someone else have a better life. But what does it mean to offer that kind of value and change? How can we be sure that we are actually delivering it?

I want to share a story on that matter. A few years ago when I was still creative director at Red Bull, I got invited to an “innovation summit” in Austria. Red Bull invited 20 individuals that were actively shaping and redefining traditional industries through technology to come together and brainstorm. I was stoked to be a part of this group, but also skeptical about its outcome, because as most of you know ego can run high in these settings.

In the afternoon of our first day, we were getting nowhere. Just a lot of empty words being exchanged. So, I proposed a challenge to ourselves: we would break up into 4 teams of 5 people and come up with the biggest problem we can solve in order to make the world a better place.

There was a bit of laughter and frowned faces, of course, because this is a question everybody fears and loves at the same time. People say they will tackle it, but it seems too daunting and distracting. I figured that with a room of highly educated and intelligent people and a large sum of VC money to back us, we might be able to come up with something valuable.

I sat with one of the groups and it was truly inspiring to see everyone working so hard. But, I could tell that we were not thinking “deep” enough. The problems we came up with felt shallow, obvious and incoherent. At some point, I voiced my concern. Technological solutions to access water, food, medical supplies and equal opportunities are extremely important. But somehow I felt that they were all part of a bigger problem that this group had the resources and obligation to take on. But what was it?

Then suddenly, a woman from my group mumbled the answer: “education.” We got to work on that. Later in the day, each group shared their proposals to take on economic, social and environmental problems. When our group leader stood up and said, “the root of every relevant problem is education and this is why…” the room went silent. 

The takeaway is simple: The only meaningful way to bring value to someone is by offering betterment through education. Yes, every single one of us who is an entrepreneur of value (to bring change and betterment) is in the business of transferring knowledge. If we really want to help our clients, we must become entities that offer light and remove darkness. It is not enough to offer tools and detached support- that is fleeting. We must offer knowledge.

If you own a tire shop, you’re not going to teach your customers how to change their own tires. But you can teach your employees how to become agents of trust so that your customers see your mission for change.

If you own a supermarket, you can provide knowledge to people that will help them lead better lives by the way you select the items you place on your shelves, the way you train your staff, the inspiring messages you send out while your customers shop. 

If you own a car dealership, you can turn the experience into a welcoming and transparent encounter, teaching people that buying a car is not just a transactional moment in life, but a transfer of trust. By doing so, you are educating your clients to value their car, to value driving and the freedom that comes with it. 

If you own a restaurant, you can show people that eating is a pleasurable experience and that food is a gift we should honor and value, not take for granted. 

If you own an organization that wants to end homelessness, you don’t only suggest providing shelter or distributing food, you educate on financial stability, poverty cycles, mental health, addiction, community and caring for those who are the most vulnerable.

Education turns every shallow problem into a problem worth tackling. Knowledge brings light and removes darkness. It is the path towards betterment and the true agent of change.

We are all capable of using our purpose to build organizations that teach or guide clients to lead better lives. How are you doing this?

If you would like to learn more about how education/knowledge applies in your business, email us:


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