My friend and past business partner, Salah Boukadoum, runs a company called Soap Hope in Dallas, Texas.  He started it to test some ideas about how business can be a vehicle to improve the human experience worldwide.  Salah was recently at TEDxGrandRapids giving a TEDtalk on his Good Returns model.

Perfect Coffee

The day after TEDxGrandRapids, Salah and I met at Madcap for coffee to talk about doing good and doing well.  By the way, Madcap is the best coffee experience in Michigan by far.  If you love coffee, go there and ask them to serve you something wonderful.   Don’t just order. Collaborate with them in creating your coffee experience.  They will enjoy the opportunity to show you what they do, and you’ll enjoy the outcome.

While drinking our perfect cappuccinos, Salah mentioned that he needed to drastically increase the size of Soap Hope to generate more profit that will be used to fund microloans for women owned business in third world countries.

Good Opportunity

Salah told me he needed to up-level his website and improve the brand design and user experience. He also needs 100,000 square feet of warehouse space to increase the product offering at Soap Hope.  His vision is to carry more products and to become a massive online retailer of “good” products. 

As we talked through the details of his growth needs, Salah also told me that Soap Hope specifically employs individuals who have recently been released from prison and helps train them to integrate back into society.  I couldn’t help thinking that more companies with a social awareness like Salah’s would be great for West Michigan.

I miss spending time with my friend Salah, and thought how much fun it would be to have him working in West Michigan. I knew he had a great experience of Grand Rapids through his participation as a speaker in TEDxGrandRapids and asked if he would consider moving Soap Hope to West Michigan.

“What are the benefits of doing that?”  he asked.

Benefits of Lakeshoring

I rattled off a list that included the following.

  1. Lower cost of living resulting in lower average salaries compared to other cities.
  2. A desire to bring good and growing companies to the area.
  3. High quality of life due to natural beauty and a spirited, caring community.
  4. Access to high quality and locally grown meat, veggies, and fruit.
  5. A large and talented design community interested in meaningful projects.
  6. And of course, the immense fresh water majesty of the lake.

He was impressed and said he would consider it.

That got me thinking.  There should be a name for that list.  There should be a single word that represents all the good stuff West Michigan has to offer and why companies should consider moving jobs and/or people here.  So I created a word.  That word is “Lakeshoring”.

Offshoring, Nearshoring, and Lakeshoring

Lakeshoring is the next step in a paradigm that includes offshoring and nearshoring.  It is an obvious solution to reducing business costs while retaining the benefits that come from a shared national culture. I believe it can be applied to most of the Great Lakes region.

Both offshoring and nearshoring arose as efforts to reduce costs.  There are benefits and drawbacks to taking jobs out of the country. Most of the drawbacks are due to geographic, time zone, and culture separations.   Lakeshoring does not have those drawbacks.  Lakeshore jobs are based in the loyal work ethic of the Midwest and are framed in the American culture, timezone, and English language.  That isn’t to say that Lakeshoring is only for American companies. International firms can also benefit from the salary savings, quality of life, and innovative environment endemic to West Michigan.

I’m going to give all this some more thought, but my instinct is that in the very near future the term “Lakeshoring” will be heard in boardrooms around the world.

Today is my 17,225th day of being a human being.