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Mark Zuckerberg sets an example for entrepreneurs, but is it a good one?

Mark Zuckerberg has infamously downplayed Facebook's responsibilities as a business in the content creation space. Instead, he defends it as a technology platform.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appears for a hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Is it time for faith communities to reclaim the role as moral teachers in American business? Let's look at what Mark Zuckerberg had to say during his recent Senate testimony:


“I think the mistake we made is viewing our responsibility as just building tools, rather than viewing our whole responsibility as making sure those tools were used for good.”

Mark’s comment raising an important question in American business: Who today teaches us what’s 'good'?

Having done some work with tech companies, Zuckerberg is the product of a generation that believes human problems are mechanical problems—change the algorithm and you can bring the world together for world peace. That is an entirely novel conception of how to create positive change in the world, and not one widely shared.

Without a common understanding of what is good, American business practices today are simply transactional and focused simply on what is profitable. One smart, young entrepreneur recently pointed out to me a profound observation about the rising generation, “We learned about what’s good in business from the Facebook movie. Basically, it taught us that the morality of leaders matters less than the ability to win. Stealing intellectual property (IP) might cause some problems in the short run, but if you can pull it off you can earn millions and become a celebrity.”

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve provided strategic coaching to over 200 social entrepreneurs. Their innovative business ventures seek to make the world a better place through both social impact and financial return. While there are plenty of places to teach them their business model, there are almost no places in American culture that teach them how to develop their moral leadership.

The collapse of religious affiliation and condescending views toward spirituality among the rising tech generation means spiritual leaders have forfeited their role teaching of the good.

The rising generation is marked by a sincere desire to make a profound social impact. And, at the same time, they continue to score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and are more depressed and anxious than previous generations. 

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg appears for a hearing at the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday April 10, 2018 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg, who is the CEO of Facebook is appearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The most successful social venture leaders I’ve worked with have found their moral compass usually through three primary paths: family, faith or through their own personal search. Most have tried and failed at something; have worked through a “long dark night of the soul.” They have built up a powerful, non-transactional social network and exhibit the traits of humility, curiosity and integrity.

In addition to my work with social ventures, I pastor a Swedenborgian church in downtown DC. This past year, we hosted a series of dinners and a gathering of “spiritual entrepreneurs” from around the country. Their vision is to marry together the process of building your social venture business model, including business plan and fundraising while also developing their inner, spiritual life through prayer, service and purpose work. All houses of worship should consider this as part of their mission.

The global challenges facing the rising generation are daunting. To change the world, we all need to work to become better people and create sound business models as we humbly moving forward to become tools for good.

Rich Tafel is Managing Director at Raffa Social Capital Advisors, Pastor of Church of the Holy City and Co-Founder to The American Project at Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Remote learning vs. online instruction: How COVID-19 woke America up to the difference

Educators and administrators must build new supports for faculty and student success in a world where the classroom might become virtual in the blink of an eye.

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Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • If you or someone you know is attending school remotely, you are more than likely learning through emergency remote instruction, which is not the same as online learning, write Rich DeMillo and Steve Harmon.
  • Education institutions must properly define and understand the difference between a course that is designed from inception to be taught in an online format and a course that has been rapidly converted to be offered to remote students.
  • In a future involving more online instruction than any of us ever imagined, it will be crucial to meticulously design factors like learner navigation, interactive recordings, feedback loops, exams and office hours in order to maximize learning potential within the virtual environment.
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If the Pentagon Is Hiding Aliens from Us, the Zoo Hypothesis May Explain Why

An MIT astronomer famously explained why aliens haven't contacted us yet.

Supporting climate science increases skepticism of out-groups

A study finds people are more influenced by what the other party says than their own. What gives?

Protesters demanding action against climate change

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new study has found evidence suggesting that conservative climate skepticism is driven by reactions to liberal support for science.
  • This was determined both by comparing polling data to records of cues given by leaders, and through a survey.
  • The findings could lead to new methods of influencing public opinion.
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What is counterfactual thinking?

Can thinking about the past really help us create a better present and future?

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Personal Growth
  • There are two types of counterfactual thinking: upward and downward.
  • Both upward and downward counterfactual thinking can be positive impacts on your current outlook - however, upward counterfactual thinking has been linked with depression.
  • While counterfactual thinking is a very normal and natural process, experts suggest the best course is to focus on the present and future and allow counterfactual thinking to act as a motivator when possible.
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