Our ability to make a difference is often conditioned by three types of capital, i.e. our money Capital, our time Capital, and our people Capital. But here is the thing. We all end up running out of money, there aren`t enough hours in a day, and managing people is an expensive and time-consuming thing which eventually ends up draining your energy.
But what if there was a fourth type of Capital available? Something related to your ability to make an Impact and which, who knows, might act as a multiplicator to increase your cash, time and people resources? In this article, I explore a very simple idea: The 4Cs. Because you also have an Impact Capital (and you probably don’t even know about it). Keep reading!
Meet the 4Cs: You also have an IMPACT Capital (and you don’t know about it).
Fact: making a difference is a challenge. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a salesperson, a high-level executive, a fundraiser, a researcher or a stand-alone doer, changing the world is a daily challenge. The struggle is constant, the reasons for acting (or failing) are varied, and the concerns differ depending on your skills, priorities, and budgets.
At the end of the day, though, we all have some assets in common. Whatever our strengths and weaknesses, we all possess a set of three indispensable Capital factors. One is our Financial Capital. Another is our Time Capital. The third is our Human Capital.
Albeit at different levels, these three types of resources are available to us. Yet money, time and human resources aren’t a guaranteed way to make a difference and we are not equal when it comes to getting results. Money isn’t eternal nor unlimited, time flies, and managing people will eventually drain the remaining cash and time you have. The question is, what other means do we have at our disposal to make a difference?
Well, here is the thing. What really makes the difference is a fourth asset. An asset that everyone has and can use. But an asset that most people ignore they have and never use. Except for the successful ones, of course.
I call this asset our Impact Capital, and I find it extremely powerful. Why? Because when you leverage your Impact Capital on top of the Financial, Time and Human Capital, your possibilities increase exponentially.
The idea at the heart of the 4Cs is easy to catch. Impact Thinking – or the habit of integrating Impact into the equation – is an absolute game changer. Like it or not, but thinking that 3+1 equals 4 is outdated. When Impact Thinking gets into the equation, 3+1 equals 9, 10, or even 45. The limit is your imagination, really.
The 3Cs are the engine.
The first three Cs are important for a simple reason: they represent both the fuel and the engine of whatever Impact or change you are trying to make. Used wisely, they enable you to run your organization. Optimized, they might even manage you to obtain better results than expected.
The first C: your Financial Capital.
The first asset in your Capital toolbox is financial. This won’t come to you as a surprise, but your cash is your most obvious form of Capital, and it is usually the one you leverage in priority.
Cash is important for reasons that we don’t need to explore in great depth here. It has an enabling power. It can buy you time and expertise. In a for-profit organization, cash is also a benchmark and a mirror when it comes to assessing your progress and results. It is also the reason why most of us wake up in the morning, by the way.
In a nutshell, cash is the fuel that keeps your organization up and running, and it is also a major bait when it comes to attracting partners. But there is more than cash.
The second C: your Time Capital.
Time is the second asset in your toolbox. Again, the point seems logical, I know. But in reality time is probably one of the most overused and under-optimized tools at your disposal.
In theory, your time is what enables your activity – outside of money talks – and the time you are ready to invest into a task or project is often decisive when it comes to getting stuff done.
In reality, however, most entrepreneurs and executives hardly optimize their time resource. Something needs to get done? They go for it. Is it essential? Doesn’t matter. Making a difference between what is urgent and important makes little sense to them, they just go for it.
The problem is, you only have a limited amount of time in a day, and the time you spend on something pointless is proof of bad management skills. Time is a resource and a major aspect of your personal capital. Hence, badly used time equals to poor resource allocation. And poor resource allocation means bad investment. It’s as simple as that.
The key take is, time is an asset, and you need to decide to use it carefuly to increase your chances of getting results. Oh, and you can obviously try to buy more time, but that will cost you a significant chunk of your cash capital, you see?
The third C: your Human Capital.
The third asset in your Capital toolbox is your Human Capital.
We all have a Human Capital, and we all use it in different ways. Some see their Human Capital in terms of personal negotiation skills, or in terms of networking skills. Others see their Human Capital as an ability to obtain the best from others, which includes their suppliers, their agents or, of course, their staff. Someone has to get things done eventually, right?
The difficulty is that our Human Capital is difficult to quantify and allocate. in fact, the Human Capital is usually a largely under-optimized asset. You’d be surprised to see how many people just go along with their routine without even wondering whether and how they could optimize the way they deal with people…
Why is that? Well, dealing with people now to get things done now is intuitive and faster than taking the time to think about how to do it differently a little later. Again, important and urgent are two different concepts.
The point is, your Human Capital is a powerful tool and it needs to be leveraged if you want to achieve results. In fact, investing in your Human Capital is probably one of the best investments you could do in terms of development. Except that you are probably not doing it. Or are you?
Asset 3+1: we all have an Impact Capital, and it acts as a multiplicator.
As I said before, the 3Cs are the fuel and engine of your organization, and your ability to optimize their allocation will allow you to obtain improved results at best. Not good enough? Well, this is where talking about Impact Thinking can make an exponential difference.
The fourth C: your Impact Capital.
The question deserves to be asked, what if there was an additional asset worth using to make an exponential difference? At the end of the day, the 3Cs aren’t unlimited and won’t produce infinite results, so having a way to create a hockey stick curve when assessing your results – and to turn your results into a visible impact by the same token – shouldn’t be ignored.
The fourth C is your Impact Capital, and it is interesting because it has the potential to radically change your usual equation.
Why? Because your Impact Capital is not just a resource you can use independently, in addition to the rest. No. Your Impact Capital is a multiplier.
Call it a catalyst, a leverage tool, a voice amplificator, or a potential maximiser. Just pick a name. The key idea here is that adding some Impact Thinking to whatever you do and adding an Impact goal to your activities is a powerful path to success.
At the end of the day, Impact Thinking is a way to rally others to your cause and to achieve more results without investing more resources yourself.
Simply put? Talking about Impact gives you an opportunity to inspire and leverage people, capital and man-hours. Talking about the Impact you want to have is the best way to get people on board, to create a common language. And when you do, your growth possibilities – as well as your Impact potential – become far more significant.
Key formula: Impact capital = Ability to leverage the right resource to achieve the right identified goal.
If you think about it, your Impact Capital is pretty much like soft power. When a country wants to make friends all over the world what do they do? They certainly don’t send tanks!
No, they build relationships. They create cultural alliances and find ways to introduce their culture to people of the countries they want to build a stable relationship with. Political scientists call this Soft Power, and in some situations they even talk about Smart Power (ask Nye, actually).
Well, Impact Thinking works the same way. The point is, playing things smartly demultiplies your Impact. And the rule clearly applies to your organization.
Whether you do business or research, making a difference isn’t just about sending the army in, or about doing things nobody notices.
Making a difference is about setting the right goal, about building the proper relations, about creating the right strategy and about involving the right resources to reach that goal. Investing in your Impact Capital does make sense. Acting otherwise simply doesn’t.
Most of us don’t even have conscience that this added capital is available, however, which means that once you are aware of the idea, there is ONE and UNIQUE way to move forward. You’ve got to be smart and start thinking impactfully. If you don’t, that’s fine. But that’s clearly on you.
Nothing easy there. You’ve got to sit down and think.
What is your Impact capital really about and how you can use it efficiently.
Then comes the question of how. There are two ways to use your Impact Capital, really. The first one relates to getting a big picture on what you do and how you do it. The second one is about deciding what to do, precisely, very precisely, to get things in the good direction.
Impact Capital: big picture mode.
First step, you need to think big.
Make yourself a cup of coffee (on this, here is a tip: tea works too, beer only works up to a certain extent, vodka is a guaranteed fail). Since you’re at it, switch your phone off too. Get a sheet of paper and a pen. And ask yourself the correct questions.
How do I spend my Financial Capital? Even better, how do I invest it in tasks and routines that actually make sense and makes a difference now or tomorrow? How do I use my Time Capital? How do I use the limited hours I have so that my work yields results? How do I invest in people to make sure that things get done efficiently, with specific skillsets and expertises?
Oh. And of course, what difference do I want to make? How do I Impact the world? How do I change the status quo? How do I solve that problem faced by this community or that other one? What is my impactfull value proposition?
The key thing here is this: cut the c***, and leave the BS away. Be honest with yourself. Find out what works and what doesn’t.
Impact Capital: defining the next steps.
Once you are clear with yourself – I mean, really clear – you can move to the next step. How do you turn results into exponentially bigger results?
What tools could you use to get things done faster, with a lesser investment in terms of time? What tools can you invest into to automate time-consuming tasks that basically keep you busy in a stupid way?
Have you considered how your research can actually help? What is you value out there in the wild? How is it going to change lives? How is it going to change a rule which makes no sense? How will it reduce a harm?
How do you make sure that your organization is actually visible, from a website perspective but also from your personal side of things? Do you have a story? Have you prepared a message to share with people? Do you even know how to formulate and communicate on a message?
These questions aren’t just decorum. They are a very serious and reliable tool when it comes to doing business more efficiently.
Funnily enough – or not, actually – when I look for one concrete case study to illustrate this idea, I can’t just find one story to tell in particular. Why? I have tons. Why tons? Because these questions are the core questions that very few people take the time to explore on their own.
I’ve worked in business, in academia, and even for the United Nation. And my conclusion is always that very few of the people I’ve talked to have actually taken the time to really think about where they were going and how.
Some of them tried to, but thinking about these things on your own usually isn’t a functional way to move forward so they got nowhere.
Those who didn’t make the effort didn’t go anywhere either, as it turned out. Even worse, they eventually got stuck. And that’s not surprising at all.
If you think about it, how can you get somewhere when you have no Impact strategy into place? How do you make the right investment choices when you have no idea about your basic assets? How do you build something when you haven’t taken the time to identify your strengths and your weaknesses? How do you make a difference if you don’t think in terms of actually making one?
Your Impact Capital is your core resource: you need to use it!
At the end of the day, the practical reality of business is this one: your cash, time and human Capital assets are the basis of your work, and your Impact Capital is your ability to put the right systems into place to optimize the use and profitability of the various resources you have at hand.
Most people never use their Impact Capital, but yours is your core resource. You need to use it!
Actionable takeaway: You have an Impact Capital, the only thing you have to do is to start using it.
The actionable takeaway here is very simple. We all have an action Capital built on three elements. Money. Time. And people.
More importantly, we also have an Impact Capital, which is a very powerful tool when it comes to leveraging the three assets we’ve just mentioned. Your Impact Capital isn’t just a fancy word nor a bad excuse to read a blog post instead of doing your work.
No. Your Impact Capital is THE tool you can use to amplify and multiply your results. Because thinking about the way you do things is the best way to excel at doing them. Simples!
Oh, and of course, if you need a little push to get there, please get in touch. I’ll be happy to help!
About Antoine Martin (Ph.D.)?
I am an Impact Thinking advocate and strategist. My journey with Impact began in Hong Kong in 2018 when I was tasked with developing an Impact strategy for academics.
Since then, I have developed a framework for Impact Thinking and coached academics, entrepreneurs and business teams on what Impact strategies can bring to their projects. I regularly write, speak and consult on the topic, please get in touch for more information!