Paul Knowlton

Episode 45    11 October 2021

Partnership economics - shifting towards mutuality

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Partnership econmics - shifting towards mutualityPaul Knowlton
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Paul Knowlton

Of Counsel, Stanton Law LLC

IP Attorney, Author 

Paul Knowlton is a lawyer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is Of Counsel with a firm called Stanton Law LLC and is a specialist in IP law.

We discuss the book that he has recently co-authored, titled Better Capitalism: Jesus, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and MLK Jr. on Moving from Plantation to Partnership Economics

Bio

Show notes

Links

Transcript

Comments

Bio:

Paul Knowlton is a lawyer based in Atlanta, Georgia. He is Of Counsel with a firm called Stanton Law LLC and is a specialist in IP law.

 

Before entering the law, Paul worked in the corporate world in construction and engineering. 

 

He’s also a patent attorney, who has previously co-founded and managed an IP firm, became the director of another, and later served as the CEO of a large human services agency.

 

He is co-author of the book Better Capitalism: Jesus, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and MLK Jr. on Moving from Plantation to Partnership Economics.

 

Paul also completed seminary at Mercer University, where he developed a holistic approach to his practice.

 

Paul holds many other roles, including with the State Bar of Georgia in its wellness and lawyer assistance programs.

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Show notes:

  • [2:19] Paul explains his family background including his mother's Cuban immigrant roots and why he is not anti-capitalist.   

  • [5:20] The purpose of Better Capitalism is to get upstream and influence the theology and philosophies of business leaders.

  • [8:35] Paul details some of the book's practical solutions for businesses to move towards a mutuality mindset.  

  • [13:01] The same narrow thinking of maximising profits play out in law firms too.

  • [15:23] Paul explains tells the story of where the expression 'plantation economics' comes from, as used in the book.

  • [19:31] Viewing lawyers as 'fungible billing units' undermines the nobility and service element of the profession.

  • [22:59] Paul discusses how the billable hour model came to be and some practical alternatives. 

  • [30:00] Paul's view is that government must contribute to the solution and be measured by the happiness of the people .

  • [35:41] Better Capitalism aims to step upstream and find solutions at the root of the problems, which means changing mindsets. 

  • [40:51] The work of changing mindsets has a spiritual and theological element to it.

Links:

Paul's Bio at Stanton Law PLLC: 

Better Capitalism: Jesus, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and MLK Jr. on Moving from Plantation to Partnership Economics by Paul Knowlton and Aaron Hedges, at Amazon.

The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public by Lynn Stout, at Amazon

 

 
 
 
Ep 45 Image Quote IG.jpg
 

Transcript: 

Geraldine  0:12  
Hello, everyone and welcome to the New Earth lawyer podcast. My name is Geraldine Johns-Putra. I'm your host, I'm a lawyer based in Melbourne, Australia. I am coming to you from Boonwurrung country so I wish to pay my respects to the elders past, present and emerging. Today I have with us Paul Knowlton. He is a lawyer based in Georgia, in the United States. He is Of Counsel with a law firm called Stanton Law LLC. He's an IP law specialist, in fact, a patent attorney, as well. He previously co-founded and managed an IP firm, he became the director of another and he later served as the CEO of a large human services agency. Prior to the law, he had other careers in the corporate world in construction and engineering. On top of that, Paul is the co-author of a book about better capitalism. That's a personal interest of mine, we will probably get right into that during this interview. Paul, I want to mention, completed seminary at Mercer University where he developed a holistic approach to his practice. And it also informed the work he did on his book. And he holds many other roles, including with the State Bar of Georgia, in its wellness and lawyer assistance programs. Then there are other things that I haven't even mentioned about Paul, but I wanted to get into the interview and welcome you, Paul.

 

Paul  1:42  
Delightful. Thank you, Geraldine. I'm pleased to be here.

 

Geraldine  1:47  
Now. Well, let's start with the book. You know, we were talking about it before we started recording. And I said to you, I wanted to hear about your views on this. There's so much we could start with and get into. But yeah, I'd love to hear what your particular perspective was on how we can improve capitalism. Because I'm a corporate lawyer, you're an IP lawyer, we see, we work with corporates. And I imagine that you've seen that there's some things that aren't quite working so well.

 

Paul  2:19  
There's a lot that's not working well, it doesn't mean that capitalism of and by itself, doesn't work or can't work better. And we feel it can. My co-author and I would bristle at the thought or accusation of being called anti-capitalist, we're not at all. We're fully capitalist. I have a very quick backstory about my own experience. My mom was born in Cuba, and had to flee the country, we lost everything in her having to flee that country. We know what the other systems might look like, we are not socialists. But that, so that pain also helps inform the fact that we think capitalism is the best system, despite all the others out there. But capitalism gets reinvented every few decades, about every 50 years, really, we do a remake of it. The last remake, at least from the United States perspective was Milton Friedman, in his assertion that the sole social responsibility of the corporation is to maximise shareholder value. And that's not, that's simply not true. It's an assertion. It's a maybe even a hope, but one that certainly has played out here in the United States and around the world. Capitalism is played out in different ways. But where we have gone off our rails is that that is and has been the single mantra for so long. That is, that's the only thing we focus upon. The only thing that we should focus on is maximising profits and certainly, any entity needs profits, that's for sure, but it doesn't have to be the only thing we're about.

 

Geraldine  4:15  
So here in Australia, we've been grappling over the last few years with this very principle of who does the company serve. So our directors' duties include that directors must act in the best interests of the company. So we've had, we've had Parliamentary Committees give their view in the early 2000s on what that means and the outcome of those reviews were that directors are entitled to look at other stakeholders' interests. So in Australia, we tend to believe, that's come down from parliamentary inquiries, that our law allows directors to move away from shareholder primacy into multiple stakeholder interests. That's all well and good as a legal principle, but companies do tend to struggle when the rubber hits the road, as I like to say, you know, when they actually have to start making decisions.

 

Paul  5:20  
And I think the United States is experiencing very much the same, where there are companies stepping away from the shareholder primacy, in fact, wonderful book, as you're probably aware by Lynn Stout called The Myth of Shareholder Primacy, or The Shareholder Myth, and it's a bit of a false dichotomy, that it has to be one or the other, we can satisfy many needs at once. The purpose of our book, or one of the purposes of the book of Better Capitalism, is that we really want to get upstream of the thinking, we really want to get into the philosophy or the theology of the business owners and the business leaders and help them understand that we are all in this work together, though, the CEO may be paid literally 1000 fold more than the average employee, that CEO is not single-handedly generating all that wealth. There's a mutuality. And that's the phrase that we like to use we're introducing in the book, and the concept that we want to see evolve in our partnership economics model, is that we are partners in this, it's not a zero sum game, I really, truly need the associates in my office to help me generate or complete the work for our clients. Those associates really do need me to leverage my relationships and bring work into the front. So it's this mutuality that we want to, we think really solves that dichotomy of stakeholder primacy or shareholder primacy, we can all be fulfilled.

 

Geraldine  7:22  
Yeah. Do you think that there's a systemic issue, however, because I work with social enterprises as well, where people get it, even the shareholders get it, the investors, to an extent, may get it. And so those social enterprises can work if they've got that, if they've got those alignments, and then they can extend it to their employees, they can extend it to their suppliers. And within that ecosystem, it can work. But if it gets larger, if we're talking about listed companies, for example, how do they start to make sure that they could take that philosophy you know of basically looking at it as a network of relationships rather than, as you say, a zero sum game? How do they, how do they extend that to the ecosystem within this, you know, profit reporting, financial reporting cycle mantras that we get into or deadlines that we get into?

 

Paul  8:35  
So we've built this culture around maximising profits, right? I'll need to come back to that. Yeah, if that is our only mindset, then we will build the structures to support that mindset. If we step back and say, okay, that does not have to be our our primary focus, I mean, we can do other things, we can achieve other goals and benefits for as many as possible. I don't think it's reasonable to expect that we can, as some proposed, satisfy or benefit every single stakeholder that surrounds a publicly traded company, it's probably too much to ask for. But the third, the last third of our book, Better Capitalism, for example, we take the rubber meets the road approach and says, here are specific things we call them partnership in practice, that you can do in your business to move toward a mindset of mutuality, and, like a form of capitalism that benefits everyone involved. So simply, for example, we have something that we offer as an 'enough ratio', we would propose that executive compensation be held to a ratio of highest compensated executive against the average full time employee. We offer a factor of 40 times. So you know, we can scale this how we want, it's a very scalable, very easy, and all of our solutions tend to be simplistic, not simplistic to understand. That doesn't mean they won't be hard to implement, they will be hard to implement because, well some, some will be hard to implement, because everyone's invested in a system that maximises profit. That's just how we built our structures. But we can deconstruct those and reconstruct. I think all of us in our particularly as the professions have experienced reconfiguring the plane while we're still trying to fly. The world will not fall apart, no aspect of the world will fall apart, if the CEO of a publicly traded company is paid only 40 times the average salaried employee as opposed to, in the case United States, at least in we have many cases where it's it's 7, 800 times, 1000 times more. And that's just because we're incentivising the wrong thing. We're incentivising compensation against the stock price. 

 

Geraldine  11:44  
Yeah.

 

Paul  11:46  
We can reconfigure this, all of these things are constructs. And we don't have to stay with the constructs that we've had the last 50 years under Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, because we've had 50 years to see this really isn't working. The results are wage inequality, wealth inequality, or, you know, abuse of the environment. It's all of these ills, which we really can tie back to my co-author and I feel a very significant factor, which is, if the only thing we're interested in is maximising profit, we will burn everything in order to do that.

 

Geraldine  12:27  
That extractive mindset, which is something I wanted to come to, because you referenced it, when you were talking just earlier about how you are in a relationship of mutuality with your associates with the lawyers who work for you. So we also bring this extractive mindset to law firms. And you and I had a correspondence about some of your thoughts on on how we could do better in law firms when it comes to how we incentivise people.

 

Paul  13:01  
Yes, there are ways to incentivise that play out in the law firm, for example, in the United States, we have a metric called PPP, profits per Partner. And profits per Partner, I probably don't have time to go through the history of how that popped up, but that's only been the last 20 years or so where this profits per Partner is made public. Let me back up and say it's the profits per Partner in the larger firms are made public as a measure of some imagined success within the firm. This idea of profits for Partner is very fairly damaging in my perspective, because it's akin to the let's maximise our profits so that we can be at the top of this arbitrary list of who has the most profits for Partners. And that's what drives the high associate hour demands, and the high hourly rates. It's this false pursuit of a metric, which is very arbitrary. And the opposite side of that, if I were a client, reading the publication that lists the profits for a Partner, and I see that the firm I'm paying is at the top of that list, you know, the next quarterly or the next annual budget review, I'm going to be looking to cut those those attorney rates, because all I see as these guys are making killer profits on the billables that I'm paying, you know.

 

Geraldine  14:54  
Yeah, well where's the service element, not to even begin on the wellbeing element for the lawyers? All you are caring about is that margin, the larger it is, the happier you are. So you're squeezing, you're squeezing the costs down, you're squeezing wages down. So you can increase those profits. And you're increasing your prices where you can, it just doesn't make sense in terms of service culture.

 

Paul  15:23  
Right, but may I say, share a story with you that I share in the book. So I think I was really introduced, if not, sort of slapped up against the head with the awareness of this mindset when I was a young associate, I was about a fourth year associate, I'm sorry, maybe fifth. And I was attending this attorney retreat. I was fairly new to this firm. Attorneys had come in from all over the region. And we were, the Managing Partner was letting us know that there is going to happily be an increase in our rates, we were going to get raises. Well, it only guy took a second or two to figure out that that's going to be accompanied by an increase in the requirements for the hours. So a lot of lawyers were starting to pepper the Managing Partner about work life balance, how are they going to be able to manage these new hours and you know, actually, some said we don't care to have a raise, we would rather not have a raise and not have the extra hours. I was fairly new to the firm. So I wasn't going to contribute to the conversation. It didn't take very long before the Managing Partner got exasperated with the conversations and in his final defence or his final statement, he said, look, the practice of law is a plantation system, and you're all very well paid. And that shut down that conversation, right. And that phrase 'plantation system' was really stuck in my head, then, and since he was a bright man, and I don't think he meant plantation system in the, at least the American slavery example of it, it was deeper, it was greater than that. And we open our book Better Capitalism almost with that. We almost open that book with this story, because it forced us to dig deeper, into that deeper meaning about plantation systems. And as we uncovered this plantation system, sort of a shorthand for just the universal abuse that each of us takes for the other in exploitation. And that's exactly what the Partners of that firm were doing. They were exploiting the attorneys. Now probably anybody outside looking in would think, oh you poor attorneys, you're only gonna make $120,000, you're making $120,000 a year what are you complaining about, but it literally was, there was no life. But to make that income, so that some Partner could or some firm could list that their profits per Partner were higher this year than the previous year.

 

Geraldine  18:27  
And that's all that surrounds you when you're in that kind of culture. People talk about how many hours they've billed in a month with pride, in a year. I worked at one firm where people were billing, the highest billers in the entire firm was 3000 hours per year. Now if you think about what it takes to get there, that's basically working every day for a full year, long hours. Because those are the billable hours, those are not just the hours worked right. And the people who did that were heroes. So that's the messaging. You are given everything you need, 24 hour cafeterias, the gym on site, the doctor on site, the dentist on site, cab vouchers to go home at two o'clock in the morning after you've worked. Everything is set up so that you are purely there to generate billables and what does it create? It creates total robots.

 

Paul  19:31  
It does. And another attorney Partner used the phrase fungible billing units. It's not a phrase that I learned in law school, but I came to understand it. This otherwise powerful attorney in a another law firm referred to the associates this way, which really helped accelerate an exit of associates because I think we understood that that was the approach. But the sad part of all this, Geraldine, I feel is that the law is such a noble practice, it is a profession, it's an honourable profession, it is a necessary profession. It is, it will have its flaws, like any other profession. So we need to be cleaning up our house. But there is a lot of criticism in the law that it probably doesn't deserve. And so I'm quick to defend the law. I've been, I'm class of 98, so I've been practising now 23 years. By this time, at least in the States and my experience, at least 80% of attorneys have left the practice have been run out of the practice, we have pre designated exit spots about years four, seven, twelve, and then we start tapering off after there. So we sort of chew through our people and spit them out, which is a terrible loss of investment in education, training, and then experience because we simply will burn each other out, or our clients will burn us out, or the profit or the Partner seeking to maximise profit will burn us out. The firm I'm at now, we are working to have a different model, we're all experienced from spending time in well being. So that's a sort of just a big topic, I'm sure very familiar to your audience. But it's these buckets of intellectual well being, spiritual, physical, social, emotional, it's not that the day is all consumed with oh, I must be engaged in self care. Well, there's a balance here, of course, but we want to be able to work, serve our clients well, be happy, most days, most of the time, I think that's probably a reasonable goal, it's not a perfect world. We want to turn out good products work product for our clients. And then we want to be able to go home at a reasonable time and have our children recognise us and the dog recognise us and even have other outside activities. And then we can do that in the practice just like other professions do.

 

Geraldine  22:30  
So speaking of the firm you're at now and solutions to this billable hour problem that we've given ourselves. We were talking about some ideas in your head about how lawyers can actually take it into their own hands and negotiate alternative solutions. Could you tell us about some of your ideas there?

 

Paul  22:59  
Of course, so the billable hours, is, you know, kind of a standard model by which lawyers and clients work and keep track. I understand before my time and I'm not sure how it worked in Australia and other parts of the world, but before my time, there was the retainer arrangement. So a client usually a corporation would pay a lawyer or law firm on a retainer. So a fixed amount of money per month, and you had access to your attorney when you needed them. So as I understand from the folks who precede me is that the clients decided, okay, we don't want to pay lawyers that way, we don't want to in case they're not working and haven't earned the dollars we spent that year. So we're going to move to another model, we're just going to pay you for what you do, which is how the billable hour came about. And then we know where we are with that. Other models of compensation are being tried in different areas. There's the flat rate, of course, which you can get to and I have done that fairly regularly with kind of consistent work. Patents drafting for example, I can't give a definitely fixed rate to draft a particular patent because presumably a patent means you're literally creating something new. But so it's hard to tell exactly. But we can certainly give ranges if we know that what the technology is we can say well between, you know, 6 to 8000 for a very inexpensive matter or or 8 to 10 to a moderate complexity, mechanical device. So we can at least give ranges so that the client can budget, right, they have a sense of that there's some cost control. None of us I don't think any lawyer reasonably thinks their client has an open chequebook. No more than I want my mechanic to think I have an open chequebook when I go, you know to check the squeak in the front right tire, which I need to do soon.

 

But we have to have some controls. But a complicated, not just even complicated, but helping a client out shouldn't cost the lawyer both emotionally, physically and then financially, right? I've had difficult conversations with clients just because I'm trying to get them to understand. I've pulled them out of the figurative fire, we've set them back up, they're in good shape. And the last thing I want to do is now argue with them over the bill. I think it's fairly unreasonable that they should say, okay, sure you saved me, but do I really need to pay this much can you give me a 50 dollar break or whatever. It's just, you know, it's unfortunate that they have that mindset, in part because they're probably trying to maximise their every dollar. And that's the tension, right?

 

There's a story that I like that we tell at the end of Better Capitalism. It is a, it's a little bit about, you have to use your imagination a little bit. But if you'll just imagine walking into a conference room, that's like any conference rooms around the world, or there's maybe many different tables, and creatures sitting around each table with food in front of them. Imagine these creatures with very odd shaped arms from the shoulder to the elbow is a quarter of the length that it usually is and from the elbow to the end of the hand is three times that it is from ours. So you can picture that this creature can reach into the centre of the table, get the food that's there, but they can't pull their arm back to feed themselves. They can only with the spoon or fork at the end of the hand, reach into the food and feed the other people at the table. So this analogy at the end of our book is about partnering and mutuality, we all have access to the food. We, if we try to feed ourselves, it's going entirely and only, it will look much more like a food fight. You know, and we're throwing food up in the air trying to catch it with our mouths, but if we are willing and trusting with each other, with our time, our money, our expertise, and we're willing to have an attitude of mutuality, then we can work with our clients better, our clients can work with us better, in a trusted way. I mean, I think the reasonable corporate client really wants to keep their lawyers healthy, so the lawyers are at the ready to do the work when it's needed, right.

 

Geraldine  27:58  
And if you think about the culture that would grow up amongst creatures with their arms structured that way, they probably wouldn't have any clue what selfishness looks like, because none of them would have grown up that way. 

 

Paul  28:12  
Mm-hmm. Yes.

 

Geraldine  28:12  
It would just be second nature to them that everybody feeds other people not themselves. 

 

Paul  28:19  
Mm-hmm. Yes.

 

Geraldine  28:19  
So, you take your analogy, it's that we have to realise that we are actually more like those creatures. It's just that it's not made obvious to us because we've had the luxury of being able to exploit the planet and exploit each other. Because we've had this imaginary idea that we climb up the hierarchy and then we get to be the top exploiter, fewer people exploiting us, and we get to exploit more. And we're not seeing the costs that that has because the costs are long term, or they are disparate, you know, they don't sheet back to us individually, but they're out there and they are beginning to sheet back to us. So it is interesting just to, we need that reminder and before it gets too late, obviously. It's a lovely, lovely analogy.

 

Paul  29:10  
I'm glad you like it. I think it resonates once we think about it. But those costs are really coming back to catch us more frequently, much more frequently. We see it in our climate changes. We see it in our congestion. We see it in our social stresses. We see it in infrastructure stresses. So by way of another example, we feel that partnership, in order, in a healthy economic system, partnership needs to work that a lot of levels. Here in the United States, there's this mentality in many circles that smaller government is better government.

 

Geraldine  30:00  
Mm-hmm.

 

Paul  30:00  
Maybe citizens around the world feel that way. Certainly, that's not accurate. We spend some amount of time in Better Capitalism pointing out that Adam Smith, who I think universally, we call the father of capitalism, wrote Wealth of Nations. But his first worldwide bestseller was the Theory of Moral Sentiments. That was his theology and his philosophies about human nature. He was really a behavioural economist before he was, before he wrote Wealth of Nations. And there, in reading his early work, that's the lens by which we should be looking at Wealth of Nations. And he was a proponent of a government, any government, that benefits the people. In fact, he says the single mark and measure of a government is the happiness of the people. It is their role. And that doesn't mean a free handout to everybody or the government supporting everybody. It is the government creating the environment by which we can all flourish, which we can all you know, maximise our abilities for ourselves, and for each other. It is, yeah.

 

Geraldine  31:25  
Yeah, that's an important point. It's not the size of government, it's who the government is responsible to. You actually have a structure that I think is very noble and laudable. You have a true republic, where your government is supposed to act for the people, as opposed to say the monarchy in Australia, we have a, we have a liberal democracy, that's actually a constitutional monarchy. We have a Head of State who is the representative of the Queen. And ultimately, we answer to the Queen, which is one of the reasons why we have a significant Republican movement in Australia. But even our Republican movement in Australia doesn't necessarily recognise that we want to replace the Crown, this amorphous concept of the Crown symbolised by the Queen in England, with the, we want to give sovereignty to the people is my belief. Which is what your structure does. We would simply replace the Queen with an Australian head of state, we say. Which to me doesn't actually get to the nub of the issue. The nub of the issue is, who is in charge, if you like, or who do the government representatives answer to, and who, ultimately, not so much owns but has custodianship of the land. It should be the people.

 

Paul  32:49  
It should be, because as we point out several times too in Better Capitalism, we are they, they are us. The government, that we point the finger at, the government is, we elected them, we put them there. If we have poor politicians in office, it's our fault, you know, it truly is so. So again, we come back to this fundamental idea of mutuality, this idea that we are truly all in this together. And we have got to learn how to operate and cooperate together. In our economic system is a place where we can we feel can and should find mutuality, because that is absolutely the one thing that connects all of us, we may differ in all other aspects, certainly immutable characteristics, race, gender, all these things may be different, we may decide to distinguish each other by that, unfortunately, we'll work our ways through that. But certainly, economically, we are all tied together. And we can, we can grow the pie in every, or seek to grow the pie in every exchange, we have. And the law firm, I think, is a way to see that we don't have to just maximise the profits for Partner at the expense of the clerks and the associates. We, you know, they can live a perfectly fine life driving the two Maseratis instead of the four Maseratis at least you know, let them have at least the one fine, you know, enjoy it. But that doesn't mean that everybody else has to suffer. And that's the balance right? That's the balance. We should all have our measure of joy out of whatever our profession is. Because lawyers are not the only ones who are doing that. I think lawyers used to be among the height of stressed professionals but these days I propose that they're all high stress. They really are.

 

Geraldine  32:53  
Because they have that mindset of trying to squeeze more and more out of people, cost cutting, there just comes a point where you can't, you know, you're down to the bone, and you just cannot take any more out of the company, you can't increase efficiencies without basically leaning on your people far too much. I was interested in how you're finding the take-up of your ideas. Has there been a change through the years? Have you found that people are more welcoming towards the philosophies that you expressed in Better Capitalism?

 

Paul  35:41  
Were pleased to see that there is movement in the last number of years in a lot of different ways, right? So Better Capitalism, we were fortunate to be able to focus for about 18 months, because when we sat down to write it was just right before the pandemic. And so we were forced to stay cloistered away, and we focused on writing. So the book itself took us about 18 months, two or three months in production, and we published in May 2021. We're pleased to say that we join a group of others such as corporate capitalism, sorry... 

 

Geraldine  36:28  
Conscious capitalism. 

 

Paul  36:30  
Conscious capitalism is right. And there are the sorts of the B Corp efforts. There's lots of efforts around solutions, that, just different solutions, right? We think those solutions are still look too closely tied to maximising profit as the single social effort of a corporation. We are stepping back and up actually, trying to step upstream to get people to rethink ethics and their theology and their philosophies. But maybe we make the analogy of a river flooding. So we have a river and the river floods, and it causes damage. So there's suffering, people get washed away, that are injured, there's people whose homes are washed away, there's going to be different kinds of people who respond, there's going to be sort of the immediate responders are going to go and bandage people and get them out and want to help and heal. There's going to be other kinds of people like non-profits who want to build hospitals, or teach how not to build homes so close to rivers, right. And then at some point, there needs to be a dam builder. There needs to be somebody upstream far enough, who's building the dam, who says, okay, here's how we've got to regulate this damage that comes down. And so we hope to be the dam builder up there. We want to say, look, we need water to flow, we need water to come at a regular and good rate. So that's where we feel our work is really upstream here. Now, the flip side of that is, as a lawyer, you know, we'd like to see all sides of the argument, right? And it could be that there's a dam upstream there that's holding back all the resources, and that dam may be need to be blown up. So my undergraduate training, as a civil engineer, has me look at that dam in both ways, or that river problem in both ways. We need to control the flooding, so that people don't get washed away and harmed regularly by unfettered or wrongly fettered thinking, or for those again, who are holding back, which many are, and not, because I think it's a zero sum game that they must hold on to their wealth, and not put it in circulation. And for a corporation to hold on to a billion dollars in cash reserves just sitting there. That's a billion dollars of resources taken out of circulation out of benefits. It's like holding, it's like holding storehouses of food and just letting it rot, right. It doesn't benefit us. There's so much to talk about.

 

Geraldine  39:30  
I know. I have to agree with what you're saying, though, when you talk about going upstream. Because this has occurred to me time and time again. I had a spiritual journey beginning in the late 2000s, 2008, 2009 where I began to realise that there was something more to everything, and that actually, it started there but then informed my work so that I changed my corporate work into governance, working with B Corps and social enterprises and not for profits. If I hadn't started from realising that it's all about us, the entirety, it's not about me, I wouldn't have made that change. Some people start from realising that there's a problem. And I think what you're suggesting is that guiding them back to the originating philosophy, which is what actually led to the problem, you know, that we forgot about the oneness of all of us together in this, so you guide people back to that source, that root, then you're changing mindset, not actions, which will lead to a change in actions.

 

Paul  40:51  
That's the thinking and that's the intent and that's the work that we'll be doing. I spent so about 16 or 17 years into the practice, is when I paused, dialled back, went to help the friend with his law firm as the director. And I started seminary. So here in the United States, a Master in Divinity is three years, 90 credit hours, like just like law school, and, and I chose that route. And in this, in the program, we have a pastoral care and counselling concentration. I did not envision my going into seminary and coming out as a pastor of a church, I envisioned going in and trying to seeking to learn what makes us tick. And I didn't grow up in the church, I came later to understand the spiritual journey, which has taken me in and out of a lot of churches, and dojos and yogi's seminars and lots of other places, because we can't just learn from one aspect, right, this spiritual journey opens the eyes to the individual role, my neighbour's role, my community's role, my nation's role. And these are all just undeniably connected. And truly, you know, in the butterfly effect theory, you know, what I do here could easily impact you literally halfway around the world. And so I want that impact to be positive, I want that impact to benefit you, even if, you know, I'm grateful that we've met, but even should we never have met, I would want any impact I have to benefit you, even if I don't know you. Or your other listeners, right?

 

Geraldine  42:52  
Yeah. And that really is part of what this whole podcast is about. It's just trying to be, trying to make a change without actually having any expectations of what that change might be. But just releasing that, that hope, because that is actually how it starts. Paul, it's been a wonderful conversation. You're right, there's a lot we could have spoken about. There's still more, I'm going to order your book. And I recommend that anyone listening to this, order it. I'm certainly very interested now having heard you speak about it.

 

Paul  43:24  
Thank you. I'm delighted. If there's an opportunity to talk more about it, I will. Better Capitalism is out May 2021. The subtitle is quite a mouthful, but may help your readers get a sense of it. Its subtitle is Jesus, Adam Smith, Ayn Rand and Martin Luther King Jr. On Moving From Plantation to Partnership Economics. So there's a lot there just in the subtitle. Even though we cover a lot of territory, so I hope you enjoy it.

Geraldine  44:02  
Thank you so much.

 

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