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How the Aleph venture capital fund is encouraging “karma” through pay it forward gamification.

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We all want to be part of a better society. When thinking about employees, a corporate culture or the business environment we’re in, we’d like people to do good deeds regardless of whether they will be reciprocated, earning “good karma” (the quasi-buddhist take) or actively engaging in “Pay it forward” (the less buddhist take).

Pay it forward is a great concept and has the power to create re-occurring cycles of good deeds. The idea is simple – when someone does you a favor and you cannot repay them, you can repay some else, that also needs a favor or a good deed done. This creates a sense of good luck and a ton of positive vibes.

Encouraging “pay it forward” in the corporate world has real benefits. Imagine an employee who, upon joining the company, receives support, informal mentorship or just a few great tips from another employee. Imagine that new employee paying it forward a year later, to a newly joined employee. That’s a workplace everyone would like to part of.

What about Karma? According to Wikipedia “Karma means action, work or deed; it also refers to the principle of causality where intent and actions of an individual influence the future of that individual. Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness…”. Karma in the workplace sense is doing good deeds for the sake of doing them.

That’s why reddit uses Karma Points. It uses them to reflect “how much good the user has done to the community”. explains how karma is created: “the best way to gain karma is to submit links that other people like and vote for…”. Actually my favorite part in the Q&A is the answer to the question “why should I try to accumulate karma?”. The Q&A appeals first to the game and leaderboard lust in all of us, responding with the question “why should you try to score points in a video game?”. Only then it advises you to “look at things from a less competitive and more altruistic perspective… don’t set out to accumulate karma; just set out to be a good person, and let your karma simply be a reminder of your legacy.”

That’s why I was delighted to see an attempt at gamifying karma – or pay it forward.



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