Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

August 12, 2013

The Scientific Business Case For “Survival Of The Unselfish.”

One of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was that the strongest member of a specie would continue to persist due to it’s resilience.  In his On The Origin of Species, penned in 1864, Darwin made the case that survival was determined by the suitability of a population to it’s location and the conditions at the time. Scientists reading Darwin’s work coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” to describe this gradual process.  Over the last 200 years, the phrase has lost most of it’s scientific meaning and is often used to describe human behavior in certain environments. Anthropologists used to think that this struggle for survival was a ruthless dog-eat-dog-eat-dog existence. That tone then carried over into the business world where  strategists prescribed cut-throat sales tactics that manipulated buyers into ill-timed purchases with highly pressured phrases and limited information.

And it made buyers evolve to distrust business people.

That cycle didn’t force many sales people to change their philosophy about sales.  Instead they sought out new tactics and different manipulation techniques in order  to continue to win at any cost. Sadly that cycle continues to build distrust with potential buyers. It slows down the sales process. And makes revenue growth an impossibly hard market condition. Science might have an explanation for this phenomenon.
Scientists have long argued that selfish behavior is a necessary attribute for survival. Using game theory research as a test for sustainability, scientists argued that selfish behavior would always better cooperative behavior.  Thus selfish behavior was a key requirement for survival. Recently, a molecular genetics professor at Michigan State University named Christoph Adami has groundbreaking research to debunk that theory. “We found that evolution will punish you if you’re selfish and mean,” Adami said in a press statement. “For a short time and against a specific set of opponents, some selfish organisms may come out ahead,” he explained. “But selfishness isn’t evolutionarily sustainable.” That’s because the selfish strategy only works when selfish players compete against players that aren’t using the same strategy, and don’t know that they’re being manipulated. Against other selfish opponents, the strategy isn’t viable, and so eventually, when the pool of players narrows to only selfish strategists, they need to adapt other strategies to win. According to Adami, “in the long run they would have to evolve away from being selfish and become more cooperative. So they wouldn’t be selfish strategists anymore.” (You can read more about that here)

That same science is powerfully true for business too.

To beat the selfish cycle, you have to become a giver. Kindness and gratitude are so rare that when we see them, it moves us at a deeply personal level that is empowering.  It is deeply moving.  Giving value beyond what people deserve right now is a way to reposition the confusing business cycle in your industry.  It creates an experience your customers won’t forget. And it guarantees your survival.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.