In the early days of my career, right after my college, a friend recommended a book. I was mind blown by it. The book is Maverick by Ricardo Semler. I know the terms like holocracy is quite popular now, but two decades ago, Ricardo had pioneered a unique way of running an organisation and building his business, Semco. Being transparent about balance sheet with employees, educating them on how to read the P&L statement, all employees having the authority of deciding their salaries as well as their bosses. It was a revolutionary read. Its been more than 15 years since I came across the book. When someone recommends this book (which rarely happens because Semler is not Buffet or Covey), I feel a kinship with them. The only group, who I know has recommended this book was Jason Fried and DHH.
Today, I learnt about another businessman who has such contrarian views. He also has a successful business. It is Brunello Cucinelli. He is called “king of cashmere” by The New Yorker. He owns a fashion brand that is known for making luxury cashmere sweaters.
But what invoked the memories of Ricardo Semler, is his way of doing business. He gives 20% of his company's profits to his charitable foundation in the name of “human dignity”. He pays his workers wages, that are 20% higher than the industry standard. He does this because it allows his company to encourage and continue the Italian craftsman traditions.
But the cherry on the cake is that his company is a publicly listed one. It makes a revenue of 350 million Euro. The story of Brunello is such an inspiring and heartwarming one.
In the next coming days, I want to dig more on to this and think through, why I like these kinds of business and how they got started.