I read a quote a few years ago that really resonated with me. The quote is attributed to Jeffrey Hammerbacher, an early Facebook employee that left to found Cloudera, a data analytics company. The quote went like this:
“The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads. That sucks.”
That actually dovetailed with something I’d heard in the mid 2000s, when someone lamented that the best technical minds in computer science weren’t working to further our industry or even just produce amazing software. Many of them had left industries to work inside financial institutions, manipulating our stock markets and money systems to make millions.
I can’t blame anyone for choosing to engage in a business that will reward them. That’s the beauty of capitalism. I think you can go too far, but I’d hope that most people, while pursuing their success, would look beyond just money. At least at some point. I would like to believe that most of us find there to be things at least as, if not more so, important than money.
Larry Page founded Google, and is one of the richest people in the world. I ran across an article on his beautiful mind, which looks at the ways in which Mr. Page is trying to change the world. Perhaps he has an eye on profit, but my impression is that he also wants to make life better for more and more people around the globe. His focus happens to be ways technology might help us, and I’m hoping he succeeds. Much like I admire Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to improve health around the world. Those aren’t my passions, but I’m glad someone is driven by them.
Many of us aren’t financially secure for life or able to fund whatever endeavor comes to mind. However, we can make a difference in the world. We can be examples that show there is something beyond making money at work. We can also volunteer or donate some of our time to help others. We can all be a Larry Page in some way, impacting the world in a small way to make it better for everyone.