What Can Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Learn From a Worm?
After reading the small (and beautiful) book, Slow Money by Woody Tasch, I believe that Blankfein and other heavyweights in the “Too Big to Fail” financial sector might be well-advised to carefully observe, take note of, and even hang out with some earthworms.
Although Woody Tasch may be the first venture capitalist to speak of earthworms, soil fertility, and the economy in one sentence, he’s no newcomer to the world of finance. Tasch was former chairman of the Investor’s Circle; a non-profit network of angel investors, venture capitalists, foundations, and family offices that has facilitated the flow of over $130 million to early-stage companies and venture funds. Now serving as president of the newly formed NGO Slow Money Alliance, Tasch maintains that there is such a thing as money that is too fast. He believes that it’s time to “bring money back down to earth” and that means investing our money as if “food, farms, and fertility mattered.” Specifically, it means supporting local food production and small-scale organic food systems and businesses that are located within 50 miles of where we live.
Think about what might happen if some of your assets were invested in the businesses that surround you? How would your life change? How would the lives of those around you change? Tasch believes that slow money investing could usher in a new era of “Nurture Capitalism,” built around the principles of “carrying capacity, care of the commons, sense of place, and non-violence.” This place-based asset allocation would bring investors tangible results; results that they could see and even better, taste. The good news? Slow money investing is possible wherever you live. In both rural and urban settings, there are numerous opportunities for supporting small-scale local organic agriculture. Even in large cities; gardens, small farms, and CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) are popping up like dandelions in carefully manicured suburban lawns.
Tasch is urging people to start their slow money investing with a 1% investment into local small food enterprises. Some say that sounds radical, but that brings us back to Lloyd Blankfein and the worm. Tasch believes that the time of “Investor as Master of the Universe” is coming to an end. The new paradigm for investors? “Investor as Earthworm.”
Why worms? Have you ever seen an earthworm in a hurry? Or a worm that sacrifices the health of other creatures in the soil food web, so that it can get ahead? Quietly, and with utter devotion to their task, worms patiently till the soil, preparing it to support life. Humble, yet carrying out one of the most important jobs on the planet, earthworms leave behind a living legacy: topsoil.
What goes up, must come down. And if our current financial system continues its downward trajectory, I hope that it will land in a bed of carefully tilled soil and sprout into a new system, one capable of carrying us into a new era of organic and sustainable growth, at a speed more in tune with the natural rhythms of life.
Support Soil. Support Locally Grown Organic Food. Put your money where your mouth is and transform it into food security for yourself and others in your community.
There is such a thing as money that is too fast. Slow Money, like the Slow Food movement, may be one of the ideas that will help lead the way to a more grounded, restorative, and delicious future.