Successful entrepreneurs have the financial capability to do whatever they want in life, live where they want, buy whatever material possessions they desire and travel the world. With success comes one more incredible ability -- to support causes and organizations entrepreneurs feel strongly about. Philanthropy isn’t as sexy as Lamborghini’s and mansions, but it can be far more rewarding.
Related: Why Philanthropy Is Good Business
I was introduced to Luke Weil, founder of Andina Acquisition, a company focused on investments in the Andean region of South America. Weil is successful. He is the primary financial sponsor of the program and he is involved in all aspects of the process, including initial capital raises, target searches and selection, negotiation of terms and managing the go-public process.
While his success is great, it’s Weil’s philanthropy that impressed me the most. Weil is the co-founder of PlantMed, a U.S.-based 501c3 fundraising and awareness-raising vehicle that supports Rios Nete and aims to establish Amazonian medicine as a central pillar of medicine and healing. Weil recently co-founded LIMPIA, a 501c3, which means “clean” in Spanish, and stands for Long Island Marine Purification Initiative. The organization raises money and awareness around the issue of water quality, especially in and around Long Island, where Weil lives most the year.
When I asked Weil what prompted him to get involved, he said, “I came across problems or an unmet need, saw I could help and took action. This approach is no different than my non-philanthropic professional life. I feel there is a reason all of us walk the paths that we do, and along the way we will find unique ways to contribute. My goal with philanthropy is to not let these precious opportunities slip away.”
Philanthropy is something that all entrepreneurs should explore to some degree, myself included. I have always wanted to do something to help raise money for prostate cancer, which took my dad from us far too early. Here are five things we can all take away from Weil’s philanthropy.
1. Entrepreneurs are excellent problem solvers.
Most businesses are conceived because the founder wanted to solve a problem. I started my marketing agency because I was sick of the sub-par results I experienced from agencies throughout my previous entrepreneurial ventures. I also recently founded an influencer agency to solve a major void in the industry.
Whether starting a business or diving into philanthropy, it comes down to solving a problem.
“Successful entrepreneurs don’t ask themselves, ‘How do I make money?’ but rather, ‘What unmet need can I address?’ or ‘What problem can I help solve?’ Our unique experience positions us to see things that could contribute positively to people’s lives and this is how I came to found Andina Acquisition and this is how PlantMed and LIMPIA were born. Since philanthropy strips-out the self-interest, it’s a great way to practice and hone the same ability to spot these kinds of opportunities,” explained Weil.
2. Look for a personal connection.
When you start a business in an industry you are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work. That same personal connection that breeds success in business also carries over to philanthropy.
Weil stresses that, saying, “It’s an opportunity to think creatively -- to solve problems and improve situations that affect you personally. With LIMPIA, my goal is that our hard work results in the restoration of clean water around Long Island, which I would personally benefit from and if successful, it would be a complete joy to sit back and watch others reap the benefits as well.”
3. Leverage your networks.
Building a strong and powerful network has several benefits in business. New clients, new opportunities and new partnerships often come to life through your network.
Your network can also play a major role in philanthropic activities.
“Entrepreneurs are creative and resourceful by nature and often have powerful networks that when leveraged in philanthropic contexts can yield new solutions and initiatives. Your network can help elevate your philanthropic results to the next level, just as it can take your business to new heights,” adds Weil.
Talk openly about your philanthropy. Not only will it spread awareness, but it could introduce a key player that can help you make an even larger impact.
4. Philanthropy is an educational experience.
Weil feels the educational experience is priceless, saying, “Philanthropy is another great way to learn about the world, broaden your perspectives and develop empathy, as well as other skills, which are all useful for entrepreneurs. For example, in my work with PlantMed, I have gained exposure to a whole new world of individuals, cultures and entrepreneurs. It has also helped me with my Spanish, which has been useful in business.”
We learn and grow from every experience in life, whether it’s starting a business, experiencing a failure, experiencing success or helping to make a difference. Make an effort to learn and absorb as much information as possible.
5. Giving makes us better entrepreneurs.
The law of attraction talks about giving and receiving, but we typically analyze the “giving and receiving” concept when we feel we’re not receiving enough. When we have extra, it’s easier to give. We can all become better entrepreneurs by giving. It simply makes you feel better and that positive energy can roll over into other areas of our life, both professional and personal.
Weil adds, “I must admit to believing in karma and that good deeds all come back. It feels good helping other people and the planet, which nurtures us and makes us better entrepreneurs.”