Georgetown Entrepreneurship Hosts Author Michael Eisenberg to Discuss How Biblical Wisdom Can Be Used as a Guide for Modern Business
Entrepreneurs, business people, and investors alike are constantly seeking the newest trends and practices to transform their businesses. But what if the most successful principles for business, economics, and negotiation already exist – and date back to the Book of Genesis?
Georgetown Entrepreneurship welcomed Michael Eisenberg, venture capitalist and author of The Tree of Life and Prosperity: 21st Century Business Principles from the Book of Genesis, to discuss how the Torah can be used as a guide for today’s business world.
Interlaced between the books of the Torah is a common message: business can be used as a force for good when guided by ethical and moral principles. Eisenberg used the parallels between economics and religion as the foundation for the lessons outlined in his book.
Georgetown undergraduate students enrolled in the signature course, Entrepreneurship and the Common Good, had the opportunity to learn these business insights firsthand with Eisenberg. The class discussion was facilitated by Georgetown alumni and advisory board members, Artie (B’92) and Theresa Minson (B’92).
Throughout the session, Eisenberg called attention to several stories from the Torah that can be used as guiding principles for present-day leaders, which he calls “the wisdom of the ancients for the moderns.”
When discussing stories from the Book of Genesis, he believes these business lessons are exemplified through stories like Noah. While many are quick to associate Noah with the story of the ark, he also was credited as a successful inventor. In the Torah, Noah creates the plow and other agricultural tools for farming, and he also plants the first vineyard and develops the fermentation process for wine.
“Noah invents the plow unleashing prosperity on humanity because all of a sudden you could get mechanized farming – but humanity destroys itself because of Noah’s innovation,” said Eisenberg. “It unleashes unbelievable prosperity but also licentious behavior, and God decides he needs to destroy the world with the flood which leads the story we all know about Noah and the ark.”
Eisenberg argues that Noah’s inventions allude to a pattern that is still evident in businesses today. Innovations, like Noah’s plow and vineyards, require an enduring ethical framework around them in order to create sustainable impact. Responsible innovation helps move us forward, while also keeping businesses from creating unintentional harm to society.
“We have a pattern here. Noah invents the plow and creates the fermentation process for wine, but the innovation goes sideways – humanity destroys itself. I think this is a chilling story about what happens when we have innovation without an ethical framework around it,” said Eisingberg. “We need to find timeless values of ethical frameworks; otherwise we actually have not just human destruction but economic destruction as well.”
The class session also discussed the concept of common good investing and aligning long-term principles to profitable outcomes.
“Let me be really clear, this is not impact investing or a charity – this is an absolute profit-seeking, uncompromisingly profitable investment thesis,” said Eisengberg. “It is however my thesis that what you refer to as common good investing, what I call long-term aligned principles, are the heart of products and business and lead to better and more profitable outcomes in the 21st century.”
Eisenberg co-founded Aleph, an early stage venture capital fund, to partner with Israeli entrepreneurs and build global brands that align with his own moral principles. Since its founding in 2013, Aleph has invested in more than 40 companies, including Melio, Lemonade, Bringg, JoyTunes, Healthy.io, and Nexar.
He believes the mission of entrepreneurship for the common good is carried forward by the next generation of leaders who can sit at the intersection of business and ethics.
“I think the challenge that Georgetown has presented to you around integrating faith with business studies or foreign service studies is exactly what is needed,” Eisinberg said. “How do we bring hard problems, but commitment to solving them, into everything we do? And how do we find a community of like-minded people who want to be a part of that together?”
Georgetown students are uniquely positioned to become positive leaders in the business world. Shaped by Jesuit values, they are taught to embrace change and innovation while continuing to honor the long-held beliefs of serving as women and men for others. These principles are furthered by initiatives like Georgetown Entrepreneurship, which offers programming, curriculum, and events to help aspiring entrepreneurs create a positive impact on the world around them.
“I have felt since I went here that there is a ‘Georgetown way’ of doing business, where you’re taught to always do the right thing,” said Artie Minson.
Entrepreneurship and the Common Good is a course offered to all Georgetown undergraduate students to ensure each graduate recognizes the importance of an entrepreneurial mindset. The course explores how leaders can use creativity and innovation to solve important problems and make a positive impact on society. View the recording from the class session with Eisenberg.
To learn more about entrepreneurship courses, activities, and resources available at Georgetown, visit eship.georgetown.edu