January 22, 2021

phield notes #2 Success cannot be measured by traditional business metrics alone

As Britney Spears once sang, “And the world is spinning, and she keeps on winning / But tell me what happens when it stops?”

In 2020 the world stopped spinning– at least at its usual speed, and the world stopped winning according to its usual metrics of success.

At phidel we believe shaping a better economy contributes to shaping a better world. 

But how do we define a better world? Especially when we consider that “better” is subjective and what is better for one, may not be best for all. For example, prior to the pandemic the plastic-free, waste-free lifestyle was gaining momentum, people attempted to wean themselves off of Amazon, and there was a growing awareness about how chemicals in common household products harm our waterways and ourselves. Then the pandemic arrived and everything was in a cardboard box filled with styrofoam or plastic packaging and bleach found its way under the sink once more. Yes, sheltering in place was and remains important for containing the virus, but small businesses took a hit. Entire industries took a hit. Families took a hit–to put it lightly.


How do we collectively do better?

In an effort to define the common good, we look to Jean Tirole’s Economics for the Common Good. Tirole claims it is possible to “eliminate some of the arbitrariness inherent in defining the common good.”

In the introduction alone he makes three points that struck us:


  1. The quest for common good…involves constructing institutions to reconcile, as far as possible, the interests of the individual with the general interest.
  2. It does not prejudge solutions and has no criteria other than the collective interest.
  3. It allows for the private use of goods for the well-being of individuals, but not their abuse at the expense of others. (Tirole 4).


Tirole’s theory on economics for the common good is at the heart of phidel’s philosophy. As such, we wish to highlight the work of some of our partners’ work in 2020. Boy Smells candles brought warmth to dark days and championed inclusivity. SKT TING TV brought us the tools to cultivate joy while also relieving our physical aches and pains. DOLAN offered us face covers to protect ourselves and our community while also providing those experiencing homelessness with clean clothes. FEKKAI kept virgin plastic out of their supply chain. In their own way, they all offered some aspect of Tirole’s common good.


Central to phidel is the belief that success cannot be measured by traditional business metrics alone. Kindness, in the forms of sustainability, transparency and community, is critical to longevity.

As J.W. Anderson said to Tim Blanks, “…we are so shrouded in the idea of not being transparent because transparency scares us.” Last year was a testament to why transparency scares us. We slowed down enough to hear and see what marginalized people have been talking about for centuries. We slowed down enough for science to cut through the noise. We slowed down enough to realize we cannot go back to how things were, so we might as well start building the world we want.

Two pillars support our current society, the public and private sector.  And for phidel, we embrace this in our corporate governance by recognizing we must: a) fuel missional brands and our missional marketing method and b) give our resources and time. Each week we discuss performance marketing KPIs. However, as we reflect on 2020, we’d like to highlight Kindness metrics.


Below are just some of the ways our partners shaped a better world in 2020.


  • 7,500 loads of laundry for people homelessness in Los Angeles
  • 80,000 masks donated
  • Recycled almost 7 million plastic bottles
  • Commitment to planting 1 million trees over the next ten years
  • Cause marketing partnerships to support the LGBTQ+ community, healthcare workers, and minority organizations


Alongside supporting and amplifying our partners endeavors to sustainability, activism, inclusivity, we learned as a new company to foster and support communities through protesting and through donations. Organizations supported throughout 2020:

  • Color of Change
  • God’s Love We Deliver
  • Association of American Indian Affairs
  • The Trevor Project
  • The Ali Forney Center
  • Black Urban Growers
  • Transsanta


2020 has ended. The need for change and kindness is very much needed in 2021. Someday soon we will venture back out into a new world. A world we actively make together. And while we started with Spears, we leave you with Sontag, “Kindness, kindness, kindness. I want to make a New Year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.”



But how do we define a better world? Especially when we consider that “better” is subjective and what is better for one, may not be best for all.