You could say it all started when Dan Price was hiking with his friend Valerie in the Cascade mountains that tower over Seattle. As they walked, Valerie told Dan that her life was in chaos, that her landlord had increased her monthly rent by $200 and she was struggling to pay her bills. Dan got really angry. After all, Valerie — who he had once dated — had served for 11 years in the military, doing two tours in Iraq, and was now working 50 hours a week in two jobs.

“She is somebody for whom service, honor and hard work just defines who she is as a person,” he told BBC. Even though Valerie was earning around $40,000 a year, in Seattle that wasn’t enough to afford a decent home.

Dan, on the other hand, was a millionaire. He set up his company, Gravity Payments, in his teens, and it had about 2,000 customers and was estimated to be worth millions of dollars. He was earning $1.1M a year, but Valerie really made Dan realize that a lot of his staff might be struggling. So he set out to change that.

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While reading on happiness, Dan stumbled upon a paper, saying that additional income can make a significant difference in a person’s emotional well-being up to the point when they earn about $75,000 a year.

So, he increased the salaries for all of his 120 employees raising the minimum salary to $70,000 and slashed his $1 million salary by 90% in order to make it happen.

Many praised the brave decision, but it has had its fair share of doubters and haters as well. Recently, Dan shared a powerful message for all of them.

Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

“People are starving or being laid off or being taken advantage of, so that somebody can have a penthouse at the top of a tower in New York with gold chairs,” Dan said. “We’re glorifying greed all the time as a society, in our culture. And, you know, the Forbes list is the worst example – ‘Bill Gates has passed Jeff Bezos as the richest man.’ Who cares!?”

The belief is that when employees are not preoccupied with the problem of how to make ends meet, they are more focused on their jobs, and happier because they work for a company that recognizes their value. And apparently it’s working.

It makes Dan very happy. “What I got back in return was better than anything I could have ever imagined, and was truly exciting and shocking in some ways,” he told the afore-criticized Forbes. “What I got back in return is, we went from instead of having zero first-time homeowners per year, now we have many first-time homeowners here at Gravity, and that is so exciting to me.”

Secondly, the rate for things like retirement, for people at Gravity, has also skyrocketed. But the absolute best thing for the CEO out of instituting the increased wage has been hearing about how they went from close to zero first-time parents every year at Gravity to about 20 babies born to families there each year.

“I can’t think of anything better that I could get in return out of it than that, and that’s the impact. That’s the legacy. Because, those babies, they carry with them almost infinite potential, solving some of the existential crises of humanity, curing cancer, solving things like global warming. You name it. Who knows what those babies are going to do, and probably I won’t be around to find out all the cascading effects that will come from that.”

His tweets sparked an important discussion on the way companies treat their employees

Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

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Image credits: DanPriceSeattle

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