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Anger, Purpose, Impact, and Capital with Jed Emerson: Episode 43 of Money + Meaning

SOCAP March 24, 2020

A new episode of Money + Meaning, SOCAP’s podcast, is now available!


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An Impact Investing Pioneer Answers The Proust Questionnaire and Reveals his True Nature

“We’ve needed to be angry and assertive and challenging in order to get heard…I still feel like we need to get angry. I guess the trick is, you have to lose the anger and keep the outrage or else you end up just destroying yourself, ultimately, and destroying your relationships.”

“These are all ideas that have been explored by humanity for centuries. We’re just trying to catch up with ourselves. But if you get too far ahead of the current mainstream conversation you’re viewed as difficult or not understanding the realities of the situation or disruptive. At the end of the day, if this is it, if this is all I’ve got, I want to go down fighting.” 

–Jed Emerson on Money + Meaning

In his plenary address at SOCAP17, which he delivered wearing a black t-shirt that said “RESIST,” Jed Emerson said, “We need to understand the purpose of capital is not simply the absence of evil from our pursuit of wealth, something hard enough and potentially impossible for us to achieve, but the active pursuit of healing, wholeness, and love in this world.”

Jed Emerson, impact investing pioneer and originator of the concept of Blended Value, is so much more than a thought leader in the impact space. Some would also say that he is also its leading historian, poet, and evangelist. You may know him as the Founder of Blended Value Group or as the co-author (along with Antony Bugg-Levine) of Impact Investing: Transforming How We Make Money While Making a Difference, the very first book published on the topic. In his latest book, The Purpose of Capital, Emerson explores the deepest roots of capital, investing, and wealth management while connecting money and finance with meaning and impact.

As Lindsay planned her questions for this Money + Meaning episode she knew she wanted to hear Jed’s thoughts on the evolution of impact investing and tales from his long and storied career in social impact (which began in his 20s when he ran a program for homeless youth). But she also wanted to give him a chance to share some of the lesser known areas of his expertise and aspects of his life. She hit upon the idea of asking him questions from the Proust Questionnaire, a parlor game beloved by the famous French writer Marcel Proust. The answers could, Proust believed, reveal a person’s true nature. In the latest episode of Money + Meaning, Lindsay asks and Jed answers several of these questions including:

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?
  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?
  • Which living person do you most admire?
  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse? (Spoiler–it’s impact)

In this episode you’ll also hear Emerson’s thoughts on the field of impact investing from its origins to the present day when mainstream investors and financial institutions have joined (and are shaping) the conversation. He also shares why he believes our, “bifurcated value system, where you have to choose between doing well or doing good” is a new way of thinking that we must overcome.

Please note that this interview was recorded before the COVID-19 crisis began. Though this episode does not directly address the pandemic or its tragic effects around the globe, we wanted to share this conversation with you. So many of the things Jed and Lindsay discuss in this episode take on even greater poignancy and urgency in light of everything that is happening in today’s world.   

Featured Voices

Jed Emerson
Founder and Strategic Advisor
Blended Value Group

Lindsay Smalling

Learn More

Read more thoughts from Jed Emerson at He has also been a frequent speaker at SOCAP and contributor to the SOCAP blog:
Reflections on Impact Resistance by Jed Emerson

Jed Emerson’s Plenary Address on Blended Value at SOCAP16

Jed Emerson on Blended Value at SOCAP16

Jed Emerson’s Plenary Address at SOCAP17


The Purpose of Capital Session at SOCAP17

SOCAP17 - The Purpose of Capital: Past Perspectives, Present Possibilities

About Money + Meaning

Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. This series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors. 

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