If someone tells you they’re going to check on their investments, you probably expect them to visit an online stock trading site or grab the Markets section from the Wall Street Journal. And that might be exactly what they are doing. But there are many other places you can invest your money than the stock market and many other things you can invest besides your money.
Let’s look at money first, since they say that’s what makes the world go round. If someone you trust gives you a “sure-thing” tip on a stock, then, of course, go for it. But otherwise, I’d like to challenge you to invest at least a small portion of your money in the types of companies aiming for the kind of world you would like to see someday.
If environmental issues are important to you, invest in green companies trying to make a difference. If humanitarian concerns pull at your heartstrings, invest in organizations providing food and clothing for those living in economically depressed areas. If your religious faith is a big part of your life, invest in faith-based groups spreading the word about that faith in ways that help people physically, emotionally and spiritually.
My company, 4Patriots LLC (www.4patriots.com), donates to a variety of worthy causes. One of those causes that matches up well with a product we produce and sell is solar energy. We recently made a donation to a company called Solar Roadways, which is attempting to create solar roads and parking lots that will generate electricity.
It’s a huge undertaking and a big challenge – some people have told them they’re wasting their time in an impossible task – but the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) believes in them strongly enough to award them some $850,000 in grants. In fact, the DOT is working with the company to develop a “parking lot” demonstration array with solar cells, LED lights and a built-in heating system. The DOT has also helped test the arrays for safety, functionality and ability to withstand a variety of road conditions.
Now, this project may end up failing, despite assistance from the DOT. But because my company produces a series of do-it-yourself videos and manuals showing people how to build solar panels, wind turbines, solar water heaters and solar air heaters, this is a cause I believe in. I want to do my “small part” to help Solar Roadways reach a worthwhile goal with my investment because I want solar energy to be a “big part” of our world in the future.
I mentioned earlier there are other things you can invest besides money. The most essential of these is time. And the most important thing you can invest your time in is your family. Someday you’re going to look back and remember the most meaningful things that occurred in your life. You won’t remember what you accomplished by staying late at the office night after night, but you will remember the times you left work early to pick up your kids from school. Or watch them play soccer. Or attend one of their music performances. Or just take them out for a bowl of ice cream.
So, invest your money in the type of future you want to see, and invest your time in the children who are that future.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, based in Nashville.