Can conscious capitalists solve the world’s problems?

I’ve been researching impact investing and some of the ideas around it including stakeholder capitalism, conscious capital and frugal innovation. There is a ground swell happening that is important to acknowledge. More and more people of all ages are looking for broader meaning in their work.

I’ll share a few ideas and discoveries now and will circle back with more.

Sophisticated Options

It seems like everyone wants to point their finger to one reason or another for why healthcare costs have skyrocketed. However, the one reason that doesn’t get much attention is the “number of sophisticated options” available to healthcare consumers now. It’s likely because progress is viewed as something positive.

The problem is that many people don’t have access to the sophisticated options because they’re too expensive. Did you know that over 5 Billion people don’t have access to safe surgical services? It’s a bigger problem than HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria combined. Equipment costs are part of the problem.

Frugal Innovation

I recently discovered an emerging medical device company that is making the needed equipment more affordable through frugal innovation. 

They have been working in some of the most resource constrained countries and challenging situations with high demand and now are making inroads into the US healthcare market. It will be interesting to learn if their value proposition translates and how physicians respond to the idea of frugal innovation. 

Frugal innovation is more than a strategy. It denotes a new frame of mind: one that sees resource constraints not as a liability but as an opportunity — and one that favors agility over efficiency. Frugal organizations don’t seek to wow customers with technically sophisticated products, but instead strive to create good-quality solutions that deliver the greatest value to customers at the lowest cost.


According to Be the Solution, 75% of the $1.4 Trillion annual US healthcare spend is on chronic diseases that are preventable with better lifestyle choices. It seems like a big number. However, it’s inline with my 2018 estimate of $874 Billion which includes the spend for spine and joint issues [35%], heart disease [35%], diabetes [12%] and obesity [18%].

Changing bad habits is not easy. Habit formation experts believe that changing a habit that requires one decision [i.e. flossing or exercising daily] is easier than changing a habit [i.e. diet] that requires moment-to-moment mindfulness, virtuous behavior or an entire set of new habits. Even then, bad habits can be easily rekindled if you’re not mindful. 

What’s not clear to me yet is whether or not there is a viable business model to support habit change or if sales tax is the better solution for curbing unhealthy behavior.


Be the Solution is somewhat refreshing. The book acknowledges the magnitude of the problems ahead but reframes them as opportunities for entrepreneurs and conscious capitalists. You can’t take on the world’s challenges if you’re not in the right state of mind. So I’ll leave you with a reframe exercise to do.

According to positive psychologist Martin Seligman doing these seven [7] things will improve your health, happiness and well-being:

1/ Cultivate positive emotions about the past by increasing gratitude, forgiveness and letting go.

2/ Cultivate positive emotions about the future by learning to recognize and dispute pessimistic thoughts.

3/ Cultivate positive emotions about the present.

4/ Cultivate a state of flow.

5/ Develop virtues that lead toward a sense of gratification.

6/ Develop your signature strengths in work, love and parenting.

7/ Use your signature strength in service of something bigger than you.