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Leveling up our definition of human flourishing

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Greetings all,

In this week’s episode of Ventures, In this episode of Ventures, my guest Daniel Wilson and I continue our conversation from last episode to dive into how Web3 can (and should) be used to help promote human flourishing. We talk about the basics of Web3, how creators can receive direct compensation for their work easily from anywhere in the world, the implications of programmable money for developing communities, the story behind Daniel’s startup (https://smartstream.app/), and how NFTs can be used to start all kinds of businesses and NGOs globally.

Check it out: Web3 and human flourishing in the developing world :: with Daniel Wilson, PhD

What is “Human Flourishing” ?

As we talked about last week, Daniel is part of the NGO International Literacy and Development (ILAD). I recently had the opportunity to meet the team and I was profoundly impacted by their definition of the same term we use at Prota Ventures.  

To them - borrowing from this paper from Tyler J. VanderWeele - Human Flourishing refers to doing or being well in the following five domains:

  1. Happiness and life satisfaction
  2. Physical and mental health
  3. Meaning and purpose
  4. Character and virtue
  5. Close social relationships

It’s been enlightening to meditate on these in light of Prota’s purpose (i.e. to promote human flourishing by investing holistically in entrepreneurs).

While my partners and I certainly believe in flourishing for all - including those in the United States and other developed countries - my studies and attention recently has shifted more toward those in the developing world where #1 above is incredibly difficult because of #2. In other words, without the basics of physical and mental health even accessible, it is extraordinarily difficult to be happy and satisfied.

Interestingly, however, those around the world who experience hardship of various kinds often have the most resilient character/virtue and close social relationships. The many trials bring their personhood and community into focus.

Not surprisingly, then, the most inspiring entrepreneurs I have worked with the past 15+ years often have stories of extreme hardship. This hardship has usually come both during and before their business began. Not only is life itself hard - especially in the developing world - but adding the stress of starting/growing a business on top of this is extremely difficult.

Overall, what’s clear here is that an abundance of money doesn’t necessarily lead to flourishing. In fact, the definition of human flourishing above doesn’t even include money, and can often be inversely correlated. Therefore, while my partners and I have been fortunate to invest in entrepreneurs who have built large companies, the deeper work we are doing is to “get real” with the people we work with to address - inasmuch as it is reasonable/appropriate - happiness and life satisfaction, physical and mental health, meaning and purpose, character and virtue, and close social relationships.

Have a great rest of your week!