Are you creating good business karma?

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Published: 12th July 2010
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The idea of karma has become more high profile recently - both within popular culture and within corporations. In this article we review at the basics of karma, how the translation of karma has emerged within business, and at some online platforms that can assist with your karma.

What is Karma?

Put simply, karma is the idea that actions we perform right now have an impact on what happens to us in the future. So, if we do a 'good' deed today, then we will benefit tomorrow. If we perform something 'bad'... then don't be surprised if things don't go in your favour for a period of time.

Spiritual karma has its roots in the Eastern spiritual philosophies of almost 3000 years ago and is central to followings such as Buddhism and Hinduism. It suggests that all of our action have a karmic effect - either for good or negative.

An interesting notion, but surely these 'philosophical' belief systems don't have any relation with the business world?

Karma in business

Perhaps as a consequence to the breakdown of trust the public have in the world of commerce, and the increase in the prevalence of moral business practices, karma has seen a return to good turn in business practices.

A recent instance of corporations applying the karma philosophy to their business models include Pepsi, who've redistributed $20m from their advertising campaign to give as donations to community projects.

Aside from these efforts at social responsibility by large multinationals, however, an additional interesting development in the popularity of karmic acts in business is the rise in popularity of the 'open source' movement. Individuals are wholeheartedly engaging in collaborative projects for no apparent and immediate direct reward other than acknowledgement within their peer group. This indirect benefit is an important nuance to the karma theme - a knowing that, although helpful actions may not provide instant payback, they are likely to create a 'halo effect' on your professional reputation that will result in benefits in the longer term.

Are you creating the right business Karma?

In reality, if you break your day down then you might spend more time than you would have thought working with 'karmic influences'. Did you assist a colleague who was stuck on a problem? Good karma; did a colleague return a favour after you introduced them to a contact last month? Karma paying you back; did you send an inflammatory and unnecessary email in the heat of the moment? Bad karma.

Karma - even though it may not have been explicitly considered it as that - has always made the business world go round and, if you don't help other people out and make allies as you continue, you'll realise it is more difficult to get assistance when you really could do with it at those all important junctures on the way to the top.

Helpful actions that have little value to you - but huge value to the person you are helping - can create a huge difference to how you are looked upon without compromising your own situation or professional reputation. Contributing your knowledge with a colleague or contact, making a helpful business introduction, or name-checking someone who needs a boost are all acts that will generate a good aura around you.

Online platforms

There has been an increase in the number of platforms that enable you to give out positive karma to your contacts, peers and colleagues. Business networking sites such as LinkedIn, XING and Viadeo enable you to create useful introductions to your contacts, and there are also knowledge sharing tools like Slideshare and Scribd that enable you to distribute your expertise in the community - one of these expertise sharing sites,, encourages business insights become 'open source'. Users can write articles, share knowledge and give their 'business insights' and literally develop their karma through a karma score - which adds up as they help other people out.

So, next time you're asked for a favour or some assistance and can't see a immediate benefit for your help, bear karma in mind and think about the possible long term impacts on your career development and professional reputation by distributing good karma and assisting others.

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