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Nersan Naidoo, cheif executive of Sanlam Investments. Picture: SUPPLIED/SANLAM INVESTMENTS
Nersan Naidoo, cheif executive of Sanlam Investments. Picture: SUPPLIED/SANLAM INVESTMENTS

Purposeful optimism is not easy, especially in a time of pervasive negativity. But there are innumerable positive developments to celebrate. Tech and human-centric advancements mean there’s never been a better time to invest in opportunity – especially opportunities to make a real positive impact on the world. 

Nersan Naidoo, chief executive of Sanlam Investments, believes purposeful optimism is a practical philosophy and process that opens minds and helps create healthy dialogue around innovation, possibilities and opportunity.  

Importantly, this catalyses resilience, alongside other sustainable benefits: 

  • A 2019 article in Harvard Business Review (HBR) shows a link between optimism and financial health. Author Michelle Gielan conducted studies showing that optimism was found to ‘propel positive action’ by promoting a solution-focused mindset.
  • Gielan also conducted a study with Frost that showed optimists experience better financial health than pessimists.
  • Several studies – including one by the University of Oklahoma – equate entrepreneurial optimism with successful business start-ups and growth.
  • Nature Journal published a study that shows optimists tend to think more creatively as they’re not limited by negative constraints.
  • Another study in Sage Journal shows optimists tend to persevere despite setbacks. 

“Optimism becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because if you look hard enough, use enough innovation, and refuse to give up, you’ll ultimately yield the fruit of that positive thinking: in our case, new sources of alpha for our clients and the industry itself," says Naidoo. 

Optimism with purpose

Sydney Mbhele, CEO of Sanlam brand, says there’s a rallying cry for businesses to be bastions of social good and enforcers of positive change. “We need to do what we can to re-anchor ourselves; to appreciate what we have while coming up with real solutions to the challenges South Africans face. In 1994, we negotiated a new SA. Since then, there have been many times we’ve come together to move this country to the next level of growth.” 

As found in the HBR study, optimism instils a solution-focused mindset and propels positive action. For example, investing in Climate Fund Managers’ Climate Investor One debut investment vehicle means you help serve electricity to 13m people, avoid the emission of 2m tonnes of carbon dioxide and create 10,000 jobs, while making good financial returns. The rise of this kind of impact investing reflects a global optimism. 

Naidoo says: “Within Sanlam Investments, we actively cultivate a dynamic culture of seeking out new opportunities, even in the face of adverse market conditions. Now is the time to jump on these. Now is the time to change the narrative. Now is the time to be a force for good.”

This article was paid for by Sanlam Investments.