Berry Gordy – Invest In Your People

Before there was Motown Records, there was Pop and Bertha Berry. This is a story about investing in your people. 

The entrepreneurial couple had grocery stores, contracting businesses, and an insurance agency on their list of accomplishments. None of them became Fortune 500 companies, but the companies were theirs.

The ethos came from Booker T. Washington’s philosophy of self-reliance. They passed the ethos on to their (8!) kids.

And boy did one of them do something with it. Here’s how. 

The family had a joint “savings” fund called the Ber-Berry Co-Op.* Everybody contributed to the fund. 

Let me stop for a second – *everybody contributed* to the fund. As in, everyone had skin in the game. With regular and required contributions. And, instead of going out and buying stocks or something abstract, the point of these investments was for family ideas. I f***ing love this idea so much. OK, back to it:

If anyone had a business idea, the family as a whole would consider it. If the family approved, a loan would be issued from the Ber-Berry fund to get things going. 

Berry Gordy started his first record label on an $800 loan from the Ber-Berry family fund.That first venture into music, is what to Motown. And what did Motown do better than anyone? Find and develop local artists into international stars. 

Save for your people. Save with your people. Invest for your people. Invest with your people. Invest in your people. 

*Ber-Berry. I mean, come on people, this is amazing. Don’t you want to name your family co-op something this cool if nothing else?!

h/t Dan Charnas who mentions this story in Dilla Time, and the Motown Museum website which highlights the Ber-Berry fund here.