I first heard of Dale Partridge when I agreed to read and review his book: People Over Profit. I scanned the agent’s pitch, an agent I trust, glanced at the title and thought “Yeah, sure. I’ll do it.”
The book arrived. I liked the packaging, it came in a burlap sack. “Interesting,” I thought. “I’ll read it … soon.” Yawn.
A few days later I read the nicely-prepared press packet that came with the book. That’s when I realized Dale Partridge is a do-gooder and his company’s a do-gooder company.
He’s co-founder of Sevenly where "People Matter." Says so right on their website, right where old-school for-profit companies might put something like “Our employees are our greatest asset.” His profitable company has raised over $4.4 million for charities decided on each week by customers’ purchases, employees and followers.
I’m wary of do-gooders. In business, the politically-correct term I believe is “Social entrepreneur” and “Social venture” - I could be wrong.
It’s not their goodness and not their doing it that makes me wary. It’s their timeless fashion of passive-aggressive self-righteousness and self-censoring politically-correct speech that annoys the bejeezus out of me. So, when a company emblazons their website with pretty colors and a slogan of “People Matter” … my skepticism rockets to DEFCON-1. Maybe I should call it SKEPT-CON-1. “Sarcasm and mocking humor ready to launch, sir.”
In for a penny, in for a pound. I agreed to read it and review it. I moved forward. I looked at the book’s cover and saw the full title People Over Profit: Break the System. Live with Purpose, Be More Successful.
Been there, done that. Read the book, saw the movie. But then I thought, “Wait a minute. He said ‘Break the System.’ … Maybe Dale’s rebel soul remains alive and kickin’ and he really does believe "People Matter” that you can put "People Over Profit" and achieve higher profits by seeing and celebrating the best in people.
I flipped to the Foreward from Blake Mycoskie, found of TOMS Shoes where he writes:
“In today’s ever-changing business world, the idea of “people over profit” might be one of the easiest things to say but one of the hardest thing to actually do. Yet in the right hands and from the right heart - such as Dale’s - the words in this book can become incredibly powerful and galvanizing.
The beauty and brilliance of what Dale strives to achieve day in and day out, and what he has written about here, combine some of the most powerful and time-resistant business ethos - such as quality, authenticity, and transparency - with other essentials that resonate much deeper.”
That’s pretty good. Otherwise why have it as your foreward, right? Okay.
Then I turn the page and there’s this:
"In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."- George Orwell.
Whoa. How many business authors start their book with a quote from George Orwell? Not many. Matter of fact, Dale’s the first one.
The next quote he shares is from Shirley Chisholm. Shirley Chisholm?!!!As a Congresswoman from Texas Shirley Chisholm ran for President back in 1968, 1972? I remember her standing about 5’0” and speaking truth to power over and over. You may be asking “How’d that work out for her?” I imagine for her it worked out okay, because she knew her audience and she knew her job was to speak the truth to us. Our job was to listen, hear it, and act on it. We didn’t. And here we are.
Here’s her quote: "When morality comes up against profit it is seldom that profit loses."
Who IS this guy? Now, I’m suspicious that Dale’s got something to say. Turns out he does. My favorite data (datum?) he shared was this:
"In 1965, CEOs at America's largest companies earned about 20:1 what their average workers did. The ratio climbed to approximately 59:1 by 1989 and 199:1 by 1994. At the turn of the twenty-first century, these CEOs were earning more than their average workers at an approximate ratio of 411:1." - Page 38
The CEO’s salary is the sacred cow standing on the conference table during the meeting about employee engagement. He’s mooing loud and proud: “Feed me. Feed me.” Maybe that’s why no one in those meetings ever hears the others. So, I guess it’s okay that employees are never invited to those meetings “about” employee engagement. Wouldn’t matter. No one would hear them.
Sharing that tidbit about his fellow CEOs shows Dale walks his talk: He’s breaking the system. He’s living with purpose and heck, he’ll make a better profit by not walking in line, nose-to-tail, with the other CEOs and their Boards who pay them 411 times more than that of their average employee.
Oh. But there’s more. Dale weaves case studies, data, personal stories and yeah those inspiring quotes into - no, not a manifesto - but a well-reasoned business plan to put people over profits, bring greater profits to the company and greater benefits to the people it serves: customers, followers, investors, employees, charities it supports and those the charities help. People Over Profits isn’t some eye-in-the-sky, hosannah to living the life of your dreams, one full of promise and purpose ... and all you have to do is click your heels, Dorothy and keep saying “People Over Profits, People Over Profits …” No, it’s hard work. It’s disruptive. It’s done by breaking the system that failed to serve its constituents. Breaking systems, disruption, is hard work - the hardest, most demanding, most exciting work you’ll ever do.
But while it’s hard work he shows how it’s, well, simple. Simple isn’t simplistic or even easy. He offers 7 Important Lessons, core beliefs to help you first “Break the System for Good.” He devotes a chapter to each. It’s one thing to break a system. It’s an entirely different thing to “Break the System for Good.”
The first one is People Matter. The next 6 are all about ... well, being honest, transparent, genuine, maintaining integrity and courage. These are all the qualities that a leader, a spouse, a schoolteacher, a parent, a coach, law enforcement, employees, teammates … embody to show the people around them that they matter. Since we’re being honest, that’s how you break the system for good: you be honest, transparent, accountable, humble, a servant to those you lead.
As Mother Teresa said:
"Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway."
Yes, that’s a quote from Dale’s book. That’s how we - leader, friend, spouse, teammate, partner and/or parent - show people they matter. That sets us apart as leader, friend, spouse, teammate, partner and/or parent. It’s scary as hell, too, and sometimes I chicken out or make the wrong choice of discretion when blunt force trauma would work better and vice versa.
Had I read Dale’s book say, 10 years ago my journey would have been easier, smoother, my progress would have been faster and I think I may have helped others be more profitable. So, Dale, where were you buddy? I needed you then. SMILE. And lots of CEOs and leaders need you now. I hope they find you, find your book.