Capitalism and philanthropy can go hand in hand

21/2/2018 – Article published previously in the blog “USA. And Emerging Markets “of CincoDí

“You will never get up without learning something new every day.” This has happened to me with Salesforce, with its Dreamforce world event and, especially with its founder and business leader Marc Benioff. 32 years working with and for companies in all sectors such as Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, Santander, CaixaBank, Abertis, Gas Natural Fenosa, Hewlett-Packard (HPE and HP Inc) SAP, Oracle, Sage, Microsoft, El Corte Inglés, Eroski , Bankinter; Cellnex Telecom; La Caixa Banking Foundation, Intel, IBM, etc., give perspective and a lot of learning.

From time to time you will find people who impress you, because of their character, leadership, human and professional virtues, as happens with Isidre Fainé, president of La Caixa Banking Foundation and Gas Natural Fenosa. Isidre Fainé – and its CEO, Jaume Giró – believes in a humanistic capitalism. I studied -between six other university careers- philosophy and, of Saint Thomas Aquinas I learned that capitalism and social justice (the “Aquinate”, as it is called in philosophical environments, did not speak of philanthropy) can and should go hand in hand. Already in the twentieth century, Pope John Paul II articulated the Social Doctrine of the Church, born a century and a half earlier, with encyclicals such as “De solicitudo rei socialis”, “Centessimus annus” and others. A capitalism that, obviously, seeks benefits through excellent business management and that contributes to the good of society. That’s what I’ve seen in Isidre Fainé, in the La Caixa Banking Foundation, in Jaume Giró and in CaixaBank, in Europe, since the La Caixa Banking Foundation is the first in Europe with more than 500 million euros of dedicated annual budget to social projects.

Taking my business focus from Advice Strategic Consultants and its Advice Study of Business Success, among many others, in the IBEX-35 companies of all sectors, it is logical to emphasize La Caixa, Isidre Fainé and “their” companies as Gas Natural Fenosa and CaixaBank. But I come from a tradition -which I maintain- of having worked for 733 technological companies, ICT, in all its areas: hardware, software, connectivity, Internet, in the Third Industrial Revolution, that of Computing in the nineties of the last century. I lived and suffered the crash of the at the beginning of the new century. I myself have worked as general director for Anglo-Saxon and North American companies related to new technologies, today, in the field of the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Digitalization, in which I am one hundred percent plunged: this year the company that I direct has made 101 studies and Reports on Economic and Business Digitization. Having been general manager of Ipsos Public Affairs, Intel, Porter Novelli International, Brodeur Worldwide and Shandwick Consultants over the last three decades, I have known initiatives of specific people in the technology sector – the most important in the United States, together with the financial – in favor of this union of capitalism and philanthropy. This is what has happened to me with Marc Benioff, Salesforce business leader and its founder.

I admit that “I do not have the pleasure of knowing you”. I was invited by the company (Salesforce) to attend their world event in my homeland, United States, in San Francisco, called Dreamforce, but I had to decline because events in Spain demanded my presence near the IBEX-35 companies. But I have seen the videos of Marc Benioff’s interventions and of two very close friends: Michelle Obama – she has appeared in press, radio, TV and Internet how and when we met, in August 2010 in Marbella, living in the same hotel- whose husband, Barack, I have published six books and the actor and investor in start-ups Ashton Kushner, smart man where there are. There were many other high-profile speakers, such as Virgina Rommetti, president of IBM and actress Natalie Portman. I admire both, but I do not know them.

The intervention of Marc Benioff left me impressed. I insist that I have not had any interaction with him. I have known very well three presidents in active of the United States, but not to the president of Salesforce. I say this because nobody thinks that my “compliments” to Marc Benioff are rally. If the company, Salesforce, invited me to the event – attended by 171,000 people – I do not think it was because of my non-existent relationship with its president, but because I enjoy interacting with an audience (the word “followers” or “followers” does not like nothing) of six million people, because every day I appear in media like El País and Cinco Días, TVE, Telecinco, Cuatro TV or New York Times, L’Monde, and, thus, up to 30 international media. My last two recently published books, “Trump, year one” and “Digitization and business success” have received positive reviews with more than 500 full-page news or press, radio, TV and Internet: not “reviews”, but serious critics and extensive. So I do not call myself a cheat: I’m not a journalist, but if I went to Dreamforce in San Francisco, I probably would have written in those thirty media with which I collaborate daily about the event.

At least, I’ve seen the Dreamforce videos. From Michelle Obama and Ashton Kushner … what will a friend say? Good things: inspiring, motivating, passionate and with a clear and shared idea about the union between humanistic capitalism (Isidre Fainé, Jaume Giró) and philanthropy.

Marc Benioff surprised me because he did not talk about himself during the two hours of his speech. He spoke of the attendees, of the clients – of which there were about 200 Spaniards, such as Liberty Seguros, Santander, IBM, etc -, of the employees, even of the multitude of NGOs present, which were many. This attitude and behavior tells me that Mr. Benioff believes in what he says about capitalism and philanthropy. He runs a very successful company, which is among the first Fortune 100 (50) future companies and has not stopped growing profitably in just two decades of history. It is a pioneer in the cloud. And everything it does -its solutions and products- are cloud, be it Marketing, Sales, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), CRM, SCM, IA, etc. This is already a novelty and companies like Adidas -whose CEO accompanied Marc Benioff on the stand to tell his success story: the guy sells almost two million sneakers every day! – explained that Artificial Intelligence (Einstein) What gives them Salesforce makes Adidas an even more successful company. It’s just an example.

Formidable the exhibition of Benioff of his philanthropic model: Triple One; 1% of the company’s equity; 1% of employee time; 1% of its products dedicated to social causes. Thousands of companies have adopted this model, said Benioff and this is particularly in the United States – the richest country in the world but without a social network such as Europe – or in poor countries in Africa where they have nothing.

Therefore, although I did not go to Dreamforce – despite having been kindly invited by Salesforce -, after watching the videos of Marc Benioff, Michelle Obama and Ashton Kushner, etc; and remember the philosophy of Isidre Fainé and the Banca La Caixa Foundation that combines capitalism and philanthropy, I have decided to write a few words about something that is worth knowing. Benioff ended his presentation with his leit motif: “the purpose of business is to make a better world”.