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A Market Disrupter meets the Common Good

May 29, 2021 (370 words)

The goal of any responsible journalist is to shed new light and increase understanding. Along those lines my own particular interest is trying to get friendly readers to reconsider their most cherished liberal or conservative assumptions. While these familiar categories of thought each contain worthy aspects to recommend them, the real answers to society’s most pressing issues lie somewhere in the easy-to-miss and hard-to-flesh-out radical middle, it seems to me.

That’s why any straightforward celebration of either conventional viewpoint never holds my interest. Instead, I find myself drawn to and fascinated by any newspaper article or magazine profile in which the protagonist has started to straddle that old, familiar liberal-conservative dialectic. Some sort of epiphany has recently occurred which reveals to him or her the playbook they dutifully followed to achieve worldly success and notoriety is, in the end, missing a few pages.

The current issue of a popular business monthly features a cover story on the young man who in 2012 made a viral video about razor blades that garnered 27 million views on YouTube, and prompted 12,000 orders of his new product in two days.

Yes, this is the Dollar Shave Club we are talking about, and the young man in question is Michael Dubin, now 42 years old. He sold DSC to Unilever in 2015, but stayed on as CEO until recently, to help grow the business even further.

Before deciding on what his next big thing will be, Dubin is enjoying a brief sabbatical that has so far been largely devoted to inspired reading – titles like Bill Gates’ How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, and Robert Reich’s The Common Good.

“Now that I have more time,” Dubin says, “one of the things I’m thinking about is, how do I put great ideas out into the world, without actually having to sell a product on the other side?”

He drives a white Chevy Volt, and wants to create an ad encouraging people to drive electric cars. “I think the story hasn’t been told as artfully as it could be. I think it can touch the heart, touch the funny bone. It’s been fun to think about. What ideas can have a real impact without profiting me?”

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
May 29, 2021

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