The OG of Impact
After selling his company in 2006, Stuart decided to take on an institutionalized sector of America's socioeconomic pyramid. At first, this decision made him incredibly unpopular in many segments of our society. However, over time, the work he has done with his family has shone a spotlight on chokepoints that have been hiding in plain site.
Today, he remains persona non grata within certain segments of the NGO, Change-Maker, Federal Government, and "Savior" segments wishing to maintain the status quo, and the shape of America's socioeconomic construct. However, using his creation of Impact Economics, he is slowly changing the shape for the betterment of our country.
Stuart - In His Own Words
Shortly after burying his first wife in 1960, a 56-year-old man drove his Rolls Royce to a small village he owned in Wales. His purpose was simple, to drop off and hide the 22-year-old woman who had been his wife’s private nurse.
In August 1961, a newly married couple walked into a maternity ward of a hospital in South Wales, where, the next day, a baby boy was born. Not even 24-hours after the birth, the parents of the child took off with no forwarding address, resulting in the midwife who delivered the baby boy adopting him.
If I was lucky enough to know Julian Fellowes, I would have been convinced that he had used the early part of my life as the premise for the plot about Marigold, the daughter of Lady Edith Crawley in Downtown Abbey. However, even though pure coincidence, the similarities continually bring back emotions that create juxtaposed positions in my opinions about social constructs.
For the first 14-years of my life, I lived with one foot in the top of Britain’s socioeconomic pyramid, and the other on the hamster’s wheel in the middle, watching my adopted mother fight and struggle to survive, and never knowing if my alcoholic father would show up drunk or sober. I did not know it at the time, but the dichotomy of my experiences would shape my purpose for the rest of my life. When I was 28, I discovered the truth about my “God-Parents”, and learned of the multiple half-brothers and sisters that I had (and they of my existence). More recently, Ancestry.com has been the catalyst for the discovery of additional family members, prompting me to realize that my Family Tree is way more akin to a burning bloody bush than it is to a Grand Oak.
I started my life as a capitalist, and I remain as such. I do however believe that capitalism needs to be edited, as do economics and business. In 1993 I was blessed to meet and work with the “Godmother of Social Investing”, Ms. Susan Davis, and our collaboration resulted in the creation of a platform called “Making A Profit While Making A Difference”, for which I own the trademark. In essence, the platform challenged global heads of state, CEOs of the world’s largest corporations, and owners and managers of the world’s largest asset pools to adopt a two-step process purposed to help create a sustainable future:
Step One: Make as much money as they wished, just not at the expense of any segment of humanity or the planet
Step Two: Once Step One had been achieved, then make as much money as they wished but by deliberately driving positive impact to segments of humanity and or the planet
Although the two steps sound somewhat similar, they are quite different. Their similarity is that the process of achieving either step relies upon the adoption of ownership, leadership, and management through the lens of Profit for Purpose.
As you might imagine, the revelation that organizations could make money while doing good took quite some time to be embraced by leaders of industry, while the Not-for-Profit sector branded us as part of the problem. We certainly were not the first, nor were we the only people working on initiatives like this, as remarkable people such as Hazel Henderson, Lawrence Bloom (to whom my book is dedicated), Wayne Silby, Amy Domini, Gil Friend, Barbara Marks Hubbard, Dr. Robin Lincoln Wood, Amory and Hunter Lovins, Don Beck, and of course Buckminster Fuller and Members of the Club of Rome, had already been deep into their own areas of expertise, also purposed to create designs for a sustainable future. However, there is no doubt that for quite some time Susan and I were two of a limited number of kites dancing in a hurricane. Today however, highly respected global business leaders have taken up our mantra, and whether they are decades too late, or Susan, I, and others were decades too early, matters not as we are now in unison.
For my part, I went on to use the tennets of “Making A Profit While Making A Difference” to help create meaningful returns for all stakeholders of the companies I co-founded, founded, or contributed to as a member of the C-Suite. This included almost $1B in realized equity values for their financial shareholders. It was through using these tenets that I clearly saw that the possibility existed to use edited forms of business, economics, and capitalism, to create communities that were economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable for all their residents.
Up until the end of 2007, the work I was doing to pursue the development of more inclusive, community-centric economies, was a passionate hobby because I was running quite a large business that I had co-founded in 1991. That business (The Strategic Research Institute -SRI) was sold in June of 2006 to Bruce Wasserstein’s private equity fund, and I was appointed to a 5-person executive team purposed to integrate SRI with 5 other companies in the fund’s portfolio. Amazingly enough, our team achieved this by the end of 2006, and in August 2007 the integrated entity was sold.
After remaining to help with the transition and integration into the acquiring company, I finally left in October 2007. So, in January 2008, and still in my mid-forties, I was free to fully immerse myself in my passion which was to create a more inclusive, efficient, and effective, community-centric economic model using edited forms of business, economics, and capitalism as its foundation. If you are interested in that journey and the incredible results that it is producing, I invite you to visit Impact Economics to learn more.
My family and I feel blessed to be able to help design solutions for the societal problems we are most passionate about. Whether working with Academic Institutions, Students, Community Leaders and Residents, Impact Entrepreneurs and Investors, Local Businesses and Global Corporations, Local and National Governments, and most importantly Residents of Marginalized Community Segments, we take pride in the results we have achieved. However, the stances we take, and the platforms we use that create solutions, often do not sit well with many people residing in certain sectors of the middle of America's socioeconomic pyramid. This is because we believe that rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic is not a solution to stop the ship form sinking.
I have only been able to achieve my dreams because I have been blessed to have had great mentors such as:
Mr. Alan Kingston, my first boss at Brewin LaRoche PLC in London, who taught me to listen far more than I spoke
Ms. Melanie Faldo, who taught me that your authentic self is good enough
Lady Diana Spencer, who taught me that compassion and kindness are two of the greatest gifts we were given, and how easily they can be rendered via a touch and a smile
Ms. Mary Decuollo, my children’s maternal great-grandmother, who with a 6th grade education was the smartest “uneducated” person I have ever met, taught me to trust compromise and commonsense
Emily, Alexander, and Olivia Williams, who continue to teach me what unconditional love means
Mr. Joseph J. Triarsi of Westfield, NJ, who taught me that there was no right way to do the wrong thing
Mr. James F. Crowley, my partner at SRI, who encouraged everyone to live and work by 4 simple rules:
- Be a good person and treat others as you would wish to be treated
- Always get A for Effort
- Give back what you can when you can
- If you benefit from the kindness and mentorship of others, make sure you do the same for someone else one day
Mr. Jeff Phillips, who taught me what true friendship really means
Ms. Pearl Johnson Biedron, who continues to teach me that we receive what we put out
Mr. Lawrence Bloom, who taught me the importance of consciousness and the wisdom of our world’s indigenous peoples
Ms. Rebecca Sirois-Williams, my brilliant entrepreneur wife who continues to teach me that good things happen to businesses leaders who do the right things for their clients
Mr. Tommy Baker, who reminded me in 2011 about the importance of community by telling me that if I was coming to Charleston to give, I would be welcomed with open arms, but if I was coming to take, I may as well leave.
Reverend Christian King of Charleston, SC, who taught me how to look at life through the lens of people who see it differently than I do
The last two examples are proof positive that we are never too old to learn or to take advice. They have resulted in my tenure of giving in Charleston providing me with more blessings than I could ever have hoped for.
I do have a regular bio on LinkedIn, the highlights of which are an incredible wife and three incredible children; over 10,000 hours of donated time to the College of Charleston; the creation of the Stuart M. Williams Impact Scholars Program; the creation of Impact Economics; and the life (personal and business) failures that have made me who I am today. I believe however, that the real extent of my passion, purpose, and work can be seen in three interviews conducted before the pandemic.
Having 3 children in their 20's, I have grave concerns about the future they will live through. I believe in America, and I believe that its Founders chose "e pluribus unum" for a reason. It is time for change, it is time for compromise, and it is time to once again become "we the people".