People often ask me how I came up with the idea of PiWear. When I tell them, “I was mugged, hit with a stick, and lost the vision in my eye,” there is rarely a follow-up question. Thinking about this, I realize that trauma and suffering beget passion, and the best business ideas always start with someone’s passion.
Most people think that the word “passion” implies something good, but the word derives from the Latin word “to suffer, to endure.” When you or someone you love is forced to endure something unpleasant, it generates emotion and later passion to help that person.
When you buy a pair PiWear glasses, we donate a cataract surgery in India to make a blind person see again. It goes beyond the buy one/give one model because the donation equals our gross margin – we would go out of business if this was our only product. And it goes beyond the normal “let’s contribute 1% of revenues to something” decision that most companies do, for three reasons:
- The donation changes one person’s life significantly, as well as hundreds of people in their community.
- Our employees develop a 1:1 connection with another human being.
- We can do this over and over again
We are fortunate in the sense that our business lends itself to these types of life-changing donations that are within the sphere of our business. In larger companies, most employees are usually separated from the donation recipient, except once or twice a year. In these situations, my recommendation is for companies to find something relevant to the business – perhaps stemming from the founder’s passion – but also tangible to the employees. That way both the corporate mission is satisfied, and you create a more joyful corporate culture among the staff who can sense the joy of giving through their contribution to another human.