Memes rule the modern world. Whether this word makes you think of the viral content that floods our social media feeds or Richard Dawkins's units of cultural transmissions, memes influence every aspect of our lives. According to billion-dollar builder Seth Taube, breaking away from the false narrative created by these cultural genes is crucial for achieving true success.
With more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, investor, leader, and speaker, Seth Taube’s professional career is a testament to his remarkable success. As a founder, he got multiple billion-dollar companies off the ground, two of which were later listed on the New York Stock Exchange. As an investor, he provided capital to more than 500 companies, creating jobs for hundreds of thousands of people in North America alone. As a leader and speaker, he has closely worked with and inspired some of the most promising entrepreneurs and businesses.
“I was living a life that a younger me would have been in awe of. For all intents and purposes, I had achieved the success that most entrepreneurs and people strive for," says Taube. “Surprisingly, I was not entirely happy and fulfilled with what I achieved. This is when I became aware of the false narrative that had been guiding me until then.”
This was the moment when Taube started his quest for self-fulfillment, investing more time in those parts of his life that he had been told to sacrifice. His family, friends, mental health, passion for music, and community soon became his primary focus as he sought to redefine his vision of success. This shift in perception eventually led him to increase his commitment to his philanthropic work, quickly becoming the driving force for which he would be best known.
“The prevailing model of self-interest is a virus that has spread across geographical, cultural, and temporary barriers,” explains Taube, who is also an advocate for mental health awareness. “This model is unsustainable, especially when you take the increasing number of existential threats into consideration. If a paradigm shift doesn’t occur, the snake will eat its own tail sooner or later.”
Taube has expressed his skepticism about humanity’s ability to achieve a “species-level morality”, as transcending the genetic link to self-interest is an arduous task. Taube believes that humanity can already benefit greatly from pushing for a “slightly increased portion of altruism”. Money, however, is not a good enough medium to ensure that this philanthropic approach is effective enough.
“I founded the Seth B. Taube Foundation when I started my own philanthropic journey, to which I directed a fixed percentage of all my earnings,” says Taube. “I soon found that to actually have a positive impact, I needed to take action and get myself engaged in the process, in addition to contributing money.. That was a key shift.”
In his personal life, the engagement Taube talks about has taken the form of actively working with the communities he supports, which include areas like education, the arts, entrepreneurship, mental health, and environmentalism. He has also used his expertise to highlight the work of people, organizations, and industries that are having a positive impact on the world.
“We live in a world in which technologies like AI, nuclear proliferation and genetic engineering are threatening many aspects of our lives,” Taube adds. “We need a new structure of incentives, and as such, we have to recognize those who are driving change in a positive way. Those are the people we can truly consider successful.”
Photography by: Courtesy of Seth Taube