Joel Solomon of Renewal Funds on glorifying wisdom over money

How do you choose to spend your time and money?

This question, and that of choice, is at the heart of Joel Solomon’s career story. Heir to a family shopping mall business, Joel morally struggled with inheriting a lucrative business that was rooted in strip malls- a source of de-urbanization.

When his father died, he needed to make a choice: to follow in the family footsteps or pursue another path. He chose to become a social entrepreneur – to bring more meaning into money by considering the impact of people and the planet, not just profit.

Joel’s journey to becoming a founding partner of Renewal Funds, a $98 million mission based venture capital firm, is unlike any other- it includes reflection and loss, tragedy and triumph and jobs in politics and gardening.

Joel believes it’s time we understand where our money comes from and at what expense. It’s time we choose to think beyond ourselves and change the way we view money.

Why is the clean money revolution- and investing for change- so important to you?

Our money is doing a lot of damage in the world, to this planet, and to its people.

Our technological and financial skills have superceded the carrying capacity of the natural world that supports the well being of the 7.5 billion, going on 10 billion, humans. With our tremendous mental and technical ingenuity, we are risking the well being of future generations.

We have more than enough money to solve almost all of the challenges we face. Now we must rapidly shift trillions of dollars from destructive uses to regeneration.

Clean money to me is about that awakening, to know where our money is and what is doing to people and places right this moment. Once we develop that ability, we can make wiser choices.

Our money must be aligned with our values, meaning and purpose. It’s up to us to make a world that is safe, clean, fair and prosperous for 500 more years and beyond.

What’s been the greatest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to pursue your social impact career dreams?

There is a spiritual evolution needed to overcome the fear and greed that enables us to ignore the consequences of what our money is doing. It shows up as a certain cold heartedness, a very selfish attitude.

We have lost our sense of the core spiritual practice of all traditions: to treat “others” as we would want to be treated. “Others” in this case, are humans, as well as the brilliant diversity of life forms on our planet.

We need a new consciousness that helps us understand we are all in this together.

We have all the money needed, literally tens of trillions that can solve almost every problem. We can do this while creating great prosperity. We need a better system that has a central purpose of the long term well being of everyone. A pubic sector that protects the commons such that income, taxes and public services are distributed more fairly.

As a mission based venture capital firm, what industries and types of businesses excite you the most?

As a mission venture capital firm, we prove to our investors and their families, advisors, friends and communities that it’s profitable, satisfying and meaningful to use money for creating solutions.

Renewal Funds invests in organics and environmental technologies, two areas with tremendous opportunity for success, both financially and for a safe future.

Where are you seeing the most opportunity for mission driven entrepreneurs?

Opportunities are abundant. The mindset and determination are the missing ingredients. A renaissance of understanding is well underway. Entrepreneurial creativity, combined with intelligent public and social sectors are demonstrating wiser ways of doing the business of soon providing for 10 billion people. Every field has incredible potential to be done more wisely. It is the greatest money making opportunity in history, to reinvent the economy from top to bottom.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received and are there any other leadership lessons you’ve learned throughout your career that inform how you work with others?

“How much money do we need? Enough. How much meaning, kindness, generosity, and love do we need? Infinite. The smartest financial person, can too often be the most unhappy. We glorify big money. We now must glorify big wisdom. Future generations are counting on us.”
My greatest learning is that the emotional, psychological and spiritual skills are the most essential. Learning business has never been more accessible. We have a virtual new world religion of entrepreneurship, with incubators and mentorship programs spreading around the planet. We are increasingly well trained to want those skills but our learning too often skips the inner skills. We need the practical tools but we also need the softer, personal skills to become a truly successful person.

How much money do we need? Enough. How much meaning, kindness, generosity, and love do we need? Infinite. The smartest financial person, can too often be the most unhappy. We glorify big money. We now must glorify big wisdom. Future generations are counting on us.


Learn more about Joel Solomon’s story and mission based venture capital in his book The Clean Money Revolution.

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Amanda Minuk

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1 Comment

  1. Mauricio
    December 4, 2018 at 2:30 pm — Reply

    “We glorify big money. We now must glorify big wisdom”. What a beautiful and true sentence.
    Mr. Solomon you are an inspiration to all of us that believe in the power of Clean Money.

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