Wednesday I had the pleasure of attending Insights 2019, the first conference
organized by the Columbus Chapter of Conscious Capitalism. While the day to day
of my work for CCI involves a lot of operations, my passion is in community
organizing, so attending events like this is the most fun part of my job.
Insights was a smashing success with over 150 attendees coming from across Ohio, many of them attending their first or second CC event. The guests heard from an engaging speaker lineup with representatives from Whole Foods Market, IGS Energy, the Stagen Leadership Academy, ootBox, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and EY. We made authentic connections and broke down barriers using We! Connect Cards. And at the end of the event every attendee made a commitment to bring a specific lesson they learned back into their work.
conference approximately marked the Chapter’s two-year anniversary, and its success
is a testament to the amazing work done by the Chapter’s volunteer board and
committee members to build the community and movement for Conscious Capitalism
often asked which factors make for a successful Conscious Capitalism Chapter,
and I usually point to aspects like leadership, board composition, network
density, and local company involvement. The Columbus Chapter has all of these
in spades, and all play a role in their success. But there is another that
stood out to me in my interactions with Chapter members.
vision is not just to practice Conscious Capitalism themselves, or to build a
local community of practitioners, or to get more companies involved. Those are
all important and necessary steps toward the ultimate goal of changing the
brand of the city of Columbus, so that when people think Columbus, they think “Conscious
Capitalism”. From what I have seen that civic pride and ambitious vision has
helped unite and drive their community and bring more impactful individuals and
companies into the movement.
builds on a trend I’ve noticed in other successful recently launched chapters in
Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region. Individuals
in these mid-market cities are motivated to really make a difference for their
home area and by tapping into that civic energy, and as a result the chapters
are making rapid strides toward making Conscious Capitalism a dominant paradigm
in their cities.
a Midwesterner I take particular pride in seeing this dynamic arise. One of the
many beautiful aspects of Conscious Capitalism is its potential to be a
unifying and empowering force for everyone, from big metropolises to state
capitols to suburbs and small towns. As our movement grows I am excited to see
more Chapters and communities thrive in all types of environments.
appreciation for Jacquie Bickel, Haley Boehning, Barry Chandler, Josh Harrison,
Jen Bowden, Mark Harris, Derek DeHart, and John Jowe, the volunteer leadership
Board for the Columbus Chapter, and especially Jen Bowden who as Event Chair
poured her time and energy into making the event a success. And none of it
would have been possible without the Chapter’s current Coordinator Rachyl
Kershaw and initial Coordinator Amanda Bogorad, who hustled every day to build
the chapter into the success that it is today.
rapid success and growth of chapters like Columbus and others in the region
gives me incredible optimism for the future of the Conscious Capitalism
movement. They are pioneering new models for growth that new chapters will be
able to replicate around the world.
We’re all aspiring leaders. No matter our age or position, we all have
big contributions to make, but frequently our best ideas don’t fit tidily into
a job description. Maybe you’re wanting to do more to influence others,
drive positive change, or take on greater challenges. However, no one has
placed you in official leadership.
What to do? We can’t just hop on a chair and start a
revolution. As emerging leaders, we have to respect the existing boundaries of
our company while still testing the limits.
You know the phrase “It doesn’t take a title to be a leader,” but how can you translate your vision into lasting impact without holding a top managerial or leadership role?
The intent of this worksheet is to begin answering that question. Use the following questions to put pen to paper (or thoughts to screen) and guide you on your journey of inspiring and influencing change.
Passion and skill are key to accomplishing important work. First,
you must connect your planned efforts to your desire. This will establish
clarity on exactly what is fueling you to show up as a leader. The initial step
to making waves is reflection: Why you?
Why are you here? Why do you care about this company, this job, this initiative?
What is personally important about this change
How does it reflect your values, your passion,
What makes you the best person to take this on?
What unique strengths do you bring to the table
that are assets to this business or effort?
2. Connect to Context
Now that you’re inspired, beware of jumping in too quickly. You’ll
need to carefully balance reflection, strategy AND action to ensure that your
changes are sustainable and lasting. You don’t want just any movement—you want
movement forward. And to do that, you
need to have a solid plan. Begin by understanding the context of your ideas so
that a blueprint for action can emerge.
Who has a vested interest in this project?
How do your changes affect people, and how are
you going to meet their needs when proposing these changes?
Who has power or incentive to block what you’re
proposing? How do you get them on your team?
How do you build trust with stakeholders and
share your vision in an appealing manner?
3. Connect to People
Humans are the sum of our experience, environment and inputs;
these components were created with the involvement of other people. We aren’t
capable of building anything alone, nor should we try! To have a meaningful
impact, you’ll need to build a strong team and utilize the various skills of
everyone involved. This team will give you the best chance of succeeding.
Who else cares about this work, complements your strengths, and can assist with the vision?
Who has done this before and could advise you?
Who else should be involved?
4. Connect to Action
It takes a special kind of grit (courage and resolution) to turn
talk into action. For that, you’ll need to create sustained momentum.
What do you envision the long-term change to be? What does your improved world look like?
What long-term strategies do you need to put in
place for this work?
What are the short-term goals?
What is the immediate next action I can take today to move me towards my vision?
Now you’re beautifully positioned to create something
meaningful, to make a splash. How do you accomplish this while still respecting
those in positions of authority?
5. Consider You
True leadership starts with self-leadership. Before trying
to solve the challenge for everyone, solve it for yourself!
Doing this will establish your credibility and experience so
that more people trust you with bigger responsibilities.
What’s the smallest possible thing you can do to solve this challenge for yourself personally?
How can you show off this solution within your
current circle of influence?
6. Care About Politics
Politics in business gets a bad rap. People will grumble,
“He got the position because he knew someone.”
While skill is an important qualification, relationships and
the strength of them do and should play
a part. When you “know someone,” that’s one way of saying you’ve built trust
with them. Those people are now willing to vouch for your good intentions and
capability to get the job done.
If you want to make a difference, invest in the people
around you. You’ll need that respect in order to serve.
How can you help others trust your intentions more?
How can you help others trust your capabilities
Who do you need to know? Who needs to know you?
The best leaders will be rewarded by the change they make, and
their fulfillment will come not from the praise they receive but from the
satisfaction of the lives they’ve impacted. As Lao Tzu says, “When the best
leader’s work is done, the people say: we did it ourselves.”
7. Create the Sell
To be truly effective, you’ll
need the sponsorship of those in authority, so share your vision and intentions
with them while also connecting it to a purpose they care about.
What are those in authority hoping to accomplish, and how does this vision help them get there?
How does this new reality (you wish to design
TOGETHER) move them towards their desired outcomes?
What do you need from them? How can they support
Now that you have direction for this important work, a final
Care deeply about the successful outcome of the vision, but
relinquish the need for the associated accolades, as you’ll have the best
chance of success when others get involved and feel recognized for their
Here’s to you, as you make big
waves while honoring the current structures. As you do, change becomes less of
a tsunami and more like the shifting of sands. You get to create something
permanent and beautiful—with thoughtful, sustained shifts over time.
"Maria Antonia Marturet Rios spoke at the first Latin America Conscious Capitalism Conference this March. While she is from Venezuela, like many others, she has left the country for the time being due to the circumstances the country finds itself in. We invited Toña to share her thoughts on how Conscious Capitalism can be a model for resolving the humanitarian crisis in her home country, by moving past the question of politics to create a system of opportunity that benefits everyone."
- Alexander McCobin, CEO, Conscious Capitalism, Inc.
The name field on my ID says Maria Antonia, but for every other purpose, you can call me Toña. I'm a Venezuelan engineer who was forced to flee communism in 2018 due to economic, social and security concerns in my country. I work as a Business Consultant in the Caribbean while leading 'Alimenta Una Sonrisa' from abroad, a social enterprise that enables vulnerable kids from Venezuela to study. Eyes on my work, heart in my country.
Back in the 80’s, the word “Venezuela” was associated with money, beautiful beaches and good baseball. In 2019, the word is, more often than not, related to corruption, hunger, communism and human rights violations.
A lot has been written on how we got here, and news are currently focused on the possible ways in which the Nicolás Maduro dictatorship will go down, probably sooner than later. Today, I want to reflect on what the future holds for Venezuela after the transition to democracy, and why is it that I’m so optimistic and excited to go back as soon as basic living conditions are restored.
I don’t hold the truth of the future of course, but after years of analysis and personal first-hand experience, here’s my take: After dethroning Maduro, in the 2020’s we will see Venezuela become the biggest economic miracle in the history of modern Latin America.
In the past forty years, we have seen a country go from prosperous oil paradise to corruption post-apocalyptic havoc. My bet is that in the next ten years we can expect to see the cohesive reconstruction of a free and prosperous society. Historical research on similar crisis show it will probably happen this way, and the intuition of most Venezuelans is aligned with this projection. Today, I’ll go over four key components that make me optimistic about the future:
Private and public investments
Conscious Capitalism is already in place
The lesson is learned
Copyright 2019 by Americas Quarterly
According to several studies, the size of the Venezuelan migrant population is between 3 and 6 million people (10% to 20% of total population) scattered around the globe, with heavy presence in Latin American countries, United States and Europe. I myself had to leave to the Dominican Republic eight months ago, struggling with the pain of forceful detachment of family and friends, and with the cheerfulness of leaving to go work in a country where my capabilities were going to be rewarded and my freedom respected.
While Venezuelans have been well received in most countries, the majority of us still want to go back after the storm passes: We live and work with an eye on the news back home, praying that someday we will be able to ride on a one-way plane to our cities, hug our families again, and put all the learnings that we have received abroad to good use in our own country.
It will be a reversed brain drain: People of all ages and genders, former residents of countries all around the world, going back to their land after having absorbed different cultures, experiences and ideas, after having studied and worked in all kind of fields, and after having experimented the difficulties of living in a land that can’t be called their own.
The force of this returning diaspora melting pot will be gigantic, and the synergies created from their union will set the stage for a massive recovery.
Private and public investments
Several international public organizations have already committed to investing in the Venezuelan recovery once Nicolás Maduro is out: The IMF and the World Bank will probably lead the investment rounds, with participation from other international institutes that also know that they will directly and indirectly benefit from a recovery. The United Nations, and several other aid organizations will also take big responsibilities in the restitution of basic health and alimentary conditions for the most vulnerable groups.
Big private organizations are also waiting to go in, or back in, as in the case of Kimberly Clark, Cemex, and General Motors to start operating in an economic environment where they will find little competitors, customers hungry for innovation, and a constant growth post-disaster economy in a country with the underground oil potential to become a huge Latin American player once again.
And then, there will also be the medium and small-sized private companies and families ready to take part in the picture and capitalize on the reconstruction: Migrants who were able to save money while abroad, local players who’ve been afraid to invest with uncertain conditions, international players that want to expand to a new region, and ‘sadly’ those who made big money on suspicious terms under the Chávez-Maduro administrations.
This kind of money, along with the income increase derived from the recovery of the oil industry, will fuel an unprecedented growth in the economy and overall living conditions of Venezuelan citizens.
Conscious Capitalism is already in place
Companies that are still on their feet have a higher purposein mind, and that’s what keeps them going even when faced with shortages, insecurity, government hostility and general economic depression. They are in Venezuela because they truly believe that they have some transcendental purpose there, which ties them to the country even in the hardest conditions. An example can be found in Pensamusic, a Caracas based startup that provides online music teaching to people around the world with the purpose of “Bring music to people through a learning experience that is transcendental, fun and unique”.
Operative companies depend on employees, suppliers, customers, service providers and even competitors that are also in the country, going through the same hardships as everyone else. To survive, companies have figured out how to maximize the conditions for all key players at the same time, because they know that if they don’t, there likely won’t be any replacement. This has yielded great contributions and stakeholder integrationsaround the center of the businesses, all paddling in the same direction towards a common goal of subsistence. A good example of this is St Honoré bakery, a store that lends their space for their main barista to teach coffee classes, sells scarce flour to their main competitors when they need it, shares profits with the key managers, and distributes all the remaining food of each day among their top performance employees.
Successful companies are being led by highly flexible managers that embrace a conscious culture to get through the crisis. Most businesses are now paying more than the minimum wage, giving off days to employees that need to shop for food on a certain day of the week, investing on education and motivation to decrease staff turnover, allowing people to work from home when there are protests, helping coworkers find scarce medicines when needed, and keeping up the overall enthusiasm even in the midst of the crisis. An example can be found in Cusica Live, a live music bar where most university students from the east of Caracas want to work, because of the family environment they experience there while making some money to support themselves.
St. Honoré Bakery Supervisor
The lesson is learned
Most people in the world have an intuition of what might happen to their countries if they vote for ill-intentioned politicians that promote corruption as the new rule of law. Venezuelans have learned it the hard way. Now, after two decades of heavy suffering, we’re conscious of the great gift and the great responsibility of living in a country that has given us everything, and hopefully, we are more prepared to run it in a way that embraces differences as blessings, that wants to be righteous, and that is willing to work hard to get back on its feet.
What has happened to us will not be forgotten, and the new hearted Venezuela that we will build will forever honor those who fell prey to communism, and those who helped us get back on our feet when we most needed it.
An irreverent guide from Corey Blake, publisher of CC Press
In this fast-paced, digital environment, buzzwords and marketing “trends” to make you more money seem to be taking the business world by storm with promises for things like “growth” and “opportunity.”
But why should we work so hard for something with such an unknown outcome? How about we forget what it is we need to do and get back to the status quo, shall we?
Want to remain in the land of status quo? Here are some tips that are sure to keep you firmly planted in the “safe” zone for as long as possible:
1. The Strategy of Hope. When you use hope as a strategy, it’s like gambling. And who doesn’t LOVE gambling? The hope-as-a-strategy approach also means no accountability when the strategy fails; which gives you the right to yell at everybody. #winning
2. Purpose Loophole. Make “making money” your purpose. Boom. Done. Then, tell people you’re a purpose-driven business and keep those hippies off your back.
3. Play More Games. We all know #winning is awesome. It’s also defined by making sure someone near you is NOT winning. Creating more losers around you betters your odds of being top dog.
4. Dumb it Down. We all know that ping pong tables and free coffee aren’t enough to keep employees happy. But who has the right to complain when they’ve got a paddle in one hand and a sweet mocha java in the other? As long as their guilt overrides their lack of joy, you’ll still be winning (see #3 above).
Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG
5. Go Medieval. Why do you think moats and castles on hills were the preferred location of Kings? Because isolation equals safety. When you prefer to be outstanding—and all alone—you (literally) set yourself apart from competitors.
6. Slay the Beastliest Beast. Every day, go out there and look for the biggest, most successful company you can find, covertly lure them into a distracting, unrelenting frenzy of social media chaos, and take their business down. The bigger the takedown, the greater your digital legacy.
7. Be the Mean Boyfriend. We’ve all heard this cliché. But clichés become clichés because they speak the truth. Employees like to be treated badly. And heck, if you break them down spiritually, where else are they going to go?
8. Are You Ringling Bros. or Barnum and Bailey? Who cares. The point is, it’s your circus, and those are your performers. It doesn’t matter how many of them would follow you into the unknown and which might jump ship; and you shouldn’t bother finding out. This consciousness stuff sounds adorable, but how about you DON’T poke the bear in the eye, k?
If you’ve gotten this far and are feeling like you’d rather take the high road in developing your strengths as a Conscious Leader, click here to download our authentic and heartfelt guide: 4 Keys to Jump-Start Your Growth as a Conscious Capitalist.
Claim your role in using business as a force for good—to elevate all of humanity. Download this free three-page guide to start your journey. In it, you’ll learn:
The key commitments you need to make when embarking on your Conscious Capitalist Journey
The four tenets of Conscious Capitalism that serve as guideposts for anybody on this journey
The importance of finding good leaders to learn from, spreading the word, and walking the talk
Get 4 Keys to Jump-Start Growth
as a Conscious Capitalist
Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the nonprofit corporation dedicated to elevating humanity through business, announced today the addition of two new board of directors, Lynne Twist (Co-Founder of Pachamama Alliance, Founder of the Soul of Money Institute and author of award-winning book, “The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life”) and Ron Shaich (Founder and Former Chairman & CEO of Panera Bread and now Managing Partner of Act III Holdings).
Lynne Twist is a global visionary recognized for her commitment to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability. Lynne has global hands-on experience leading the philanthropy of some of the most successful business leaders. Her work with the Soul of Money Institute has impacted over 100,000 people in 50 countries. Lynne’s expertise on fundraising with integrity, conscious philanthropy, strategic visioning and creating a healthy relationship with money aligns with Conscious Capitalism, Inc.’s increased initiatives in learning and development, which is a key part of the organization’s growth plans.
"I am honored to join the board of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. I have long admired John Mackey and Raj Sisodia for the leadership they are providing for companies all over the world. There are many people who challenge the very system of capitalism and there may be some validity to that, but given that that is the system we are living in, it is my intention and commitment to support business leaders in doing their work at the highest levels of consciousness, responsibility and integrity. I think the work of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is vital at this pivotal time in history and it is my privilege to serve the Conscious Capitalism movement in every way that I can. Thank you.”
- Lynne Twist
Ron Shaich is committed to long-term value and demonstrated this and the principles of Conscious Capitalism through Panera Bread, the best performing restaurant stock of the past 20 years, generating annualized returns of over 25% and delivering total shareholder returns of 44 times better than the S&P 500 from July 18, 1997 to July 18, 2017 all while building on values of clean, nutrient-rich and enjoyable food, caring for stakeholders and giving back to the community. Ron is now embarking on a journey to invest in public and private restaurants that are driving long-term value creation as Managing Partner of Act III Holdings. Ron’s involvement in the Conscious Capitalism movement and expertise in leading conscious business growth lends itself well to Conscious Capitalism, Inc.’s strategic goal of building community with like-minded business leaders.
"I was a Conscious Capitalist before I ever heard the term. This is my tribe, and more than that, it is a cause that I believe in. I'm excited to join the board of Conscious Capitalism to deepen my support for this important movement."
"I am honored that Lynne and Ron are providing their guidance, reputations, and time to build the Conscious Capitalism movement. As with Conscious Capitalism more broadly, these two have distinguished and diverse careers, coming from both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Their expertise and commitment to this cause will be invaluable in our work to elevate humanity through business."
- Alexander McCobin, Conscious Capitalism, Inc. CEO
The addition of Lynne Twist and Ron Shaich to the Conscious Capitalism, Inc. Board of Directors will enhance Conscious Capitalism, Inc.’s reach in the global community and help to reinforce the learning and development capabilities of the organization as it seeks to support business leaders’ practice of Conscious Capitalism.
Nathan Havey, Founder & CEO, Thrive Consulting Group
There are three moments that have proven to be pivotal in my conscious business journey so far…
1 > I’m driving the Alaska-Canada Highway deep in the Canadian Rockies and I’m listening to Firms of Endearment. My heart is racing and I feel like I need to pull over and jump up and down because I have finally been presented with hard evidence that the pro-people way I wish businesses could operate is not only viable, but is better for performance than profit-first business as usual. In that moment, I found my calling as a Conscious Capitalist.
2 >> A year later I’m sitting around a campfire on South Manitou Island passionately summarizing the four principles of Conscious Capitalism to a few people I’ve never met. The next morning, one of those people gives me his card and tells me to call him. Five years later, Michael McFall, Co-CEO of BIGGBY COFFEE tells the story of that night as the beginning of his conscious business journey. Our work together would help me build my consulting practice and create a $100 Million and 3000 person-strong ally as committed to spreading the principles of Conscious Capitalism as I am.
3 >>> A couple of months ago, I’m sitting across the table from the Amandas at a restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen that isn’t technically open yet. It’s our first face to face meeting and it’s going well. I’m hearing about their work at Conscious Capitalism, Inc. to grow the movement and I’m telling them about the year-long Conscious Capitalism curriculum Thrive wrote for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the 90 minute on-demand course we built for Conscious Company Magazine. In the follow-up email they send me that night, they float an idea that Conscious Capitalism, Inc. has been developing for a while that they think we could collaborate together on: a certification program for Conscious Capitalism consultants…
The idea intrigued me. Over the years, there are three things I’ve longed for as I built my consulting practice.
A community of fellow consultants who are hungry to grow this movement leader by leader, company by company until conscious capitalism is the new business as usual.
Somewhere to go to show my work to people who understand this stuff and who can help me get continually better at what I do.
And for Pete’s sake, I’ve wanted some way to make business development easier so that I can spend more time doing the work I love to do.
If I had those things, I know I could increase my impact. I saw how a certification program could deliver all of that. I started to get excited. What’s more, I thought, if there is one thing I’ve learned after hundreds of coffee meetings with other current and aspiring conscious business consultants across the country, it is that all of us want these same three things. If we all had them, all of us could increase our impact. The combined effect of that would be like rocket fuel for the movement. Now I was really excited.
I’ll admit that I’m prone to let my imagination run away with me and I indulged in thinking about how a certification program could grow and what it could mean for the adoption of Conscious Capitalism…
Hundreds of certified consultants hard at work bringing the principles of Conscious Capitalism to life in companies all around the world. Leader by leader, company by company, they will support bringing the promise of the Conscious Capitalist Credo to life as conscious businesses help evolve our world so that billions of people can flourish, leading lives infused with passion, purpose, love and creativity; a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity, and compassion.
Lofty as it sounds, this is the future I have been dreaming about. I know it is a great opportunity and responsibility to work with Conscious Capitalism, Inc. to make this real, and I am going to do everything I can to that end.
But it won’t become real. Not unless those hundreds of hypothetical consultants start as a few of “us” today.
If this is resonating with you then this might just be a pivotal moment for you. If you want to join in creating a future like this, email the Amandas for registration information at email@example.com and let’s get to work.
How do you carry on the legacy of a great individual? A start is by remembering what they taught. Another is to put those teachings into practice.
Earlier this year, the world lost two great individuals: John “Jack” Bogle and Herb Kelleher. Jack was the founder and longtime CEO of the Vanguard Group, bringing to market the very first index fund available to individual investors in 1976, the Vanguard 500, and grew The Vanguard Group into one of the world’s largest investment management companies. Herb Kelleher was the founder and longtime CEO of Southwest Airlines, who is recognized for revolutionizing low-cost air travel in the U.S.
Each one engaged Conscious Capitalism in his own way. Herb endorsed the book Conscious Capitalism with this: “Conscious Capitalism is a welcome explication and endorsement of the virtues of free-enterprise capitalism—properly comprehended, there is no more beneficial economic system—and a simultaneously pragmatic and inspirational extolment of higher purpose and humanism in business. I hail and revere the tenets of Conscious Capitalism!” Jack spoke at the 2017 Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference, with the full video available here.
The way they did this was thinking beyond the common understandings of how business “should” be done. Herb may have put it best when he said, “The business of business is people.” Or, as Jack said at the Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference: “The purpose of business is providing a public good that goes beyond oneself.”
That means taking care of employees. In his talk at the Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference, Jack explained the value of passing along savings to customers by having employees as shareholders. It may not make the founder, like Jack, as wealthy as others who structure the company differently, but as he put it: “What the hell is the matter with taking care of the people who built the business with you?” When it came to his employees, Herb’s philosophy was simple: “I just treated them like human beings.”
That means providing opportunities to customers that were previously not available. Both are known as democratizers. Jack is known for democratizing stocks and bonds, making them more accessible for more people. Kelleher is known for democratizing the skies, making air travel more accessible for more people.
Jack and Herb made big business out of making industries more accessible to more people, both for those they served and those who served alongside them. They practiced and preached the power of business to make people’s lives better.
They were giants not only in their industries, but also in capitalism, more broadly. Let us remember what they taught. Let us keep them alive by standing on their shoulders.
Observations from My Sight Visit to the Barry-Wehmiller Papersystems (BWPS) Plant in Phillips, WI.
By Kris Schaeffer
The owner, Bob
Chapman, together with Raj Sisodia, wrote about his people-centered leadership philosophy
in the acclaimed book, Everybody Matters! The Extraordinary Power of Caring
for Your People Like Family. Conscious Capitalism Inc. arranged this sight
visit for an intimate group 12 visitors – CEOs, presidents, founders, owners of
private and public companies. As an experienced management consultant, I wanted
to see, firsthand, how the Everybody Matters! philosophy had changed the plant’s
culture and impacted the business. It did. In very positive ways.
Falling in love with Jeff.
At our arrival dinner, I was seated with Jeff Stilts, one of
the front line team members at the Barry-Wehmiller Papersystems plant. Jeff and
I had a lot in common. We both have small town backgrounds — fishing, making
up our own games, the community feeling. Jeff asked and listened in a way that
bridged any differences in our job levels, education, gender, or geography.
Jeff is talented and common sense smart. I asked him why he
didn’t teach for the Barry-Wehmiller University, which is staffed by BW team
members. He replied that he still had children at home and didn’t want to spend
time away from them traveling. A rock-solid ethic for work-life balance was
important to Jeff and BW respected that.
Jeff certainly would have been an outstanding instructor.
What Jeff did not tell me about himself was that he had significantly influenced
the culture and direction of the company. In 2002, Jeff was a member of the
employee group that wrote the company’s Guiding Principles of Leadership (GPL).
I felt that I had missed the chance to talk with him about how a group of
employees came up with these ideas. It would have been like learning about the
US Constitution from one of its writers. Darn your humility, Jeff.
As dessert was being served, we took turns introducing our
partners to the larger group. I began by saying; “People will talk about us
because I fell in love with Jeff tonight.” Yes, a funny factoid for a small
town. But I was very impressed by Jeff’s innate skills. I wanted everyone to appreciate
Visiting the plant.
Barry-Wehmiller Papersystems makes the machines that make
different types of packaging. Each machine is custom-made. This factory is not
an assembly line; it is an assemblage of craftspeople who work on the various
parts that make up the customized machine. Sheet metal fabrication – Welding – Painting – Building electrical panels.
We got to the plant the next morning. As I checked in to get
my hard-toed shoes and safety glasses, I was asked, “Are you Kris?” Jeff had
already told them about our encounter. But this was not negative small town
gossip. He had passed along a vibe that made me feel welcomed, accepted, and
gladly anticipated. This is what I experienced with all the other BWPS team
members – how well they treat guests and each other.
Now on the factory floor, I could see firsthand how this openhearted
harmony worked. Dennis Lemke was our wise guide. Once an engineer and now a VP
at the plant, Dennis could point out how this people-centered culture helped
productivity. He told the story about the job sheets. A job sheet contains the
exact directions to do a job task — the learnings, short-cuts, and cautions
from the expert who has mastered the task. A job sheet would quickly guide
someone to execute the task. But at one point, employees had not written many
job sheets, for fear that someone could take their job.
The BW culture had turned this fear to trust during the 2009
economic downturn. The challenge — how could the business survive a 40% cut in
contracts with not one lay off? BW implemented a self-directed share-the-pain
solution. They designed furloughs that employees could schedule and barter. Once
employees saw that no one was going to lose their job, there was no further reason
for fear. As evidence of the wellspring of goodwill, today there are 17,000 job
sheets. Now, when sales at one plant are slow, they are able to “flex” inside
the building and serve their sister companies. The BW plants are a coordinated
resource to each other. BW plants reduce the need for outside contracting and
expense because they know how to do the work themselves.
Dennis described the morning Touch Meeting as another
example of daily teamwork. Everyone gathers around the Operations Board. Their
first business is not business. It’s a personal check in about birthdays, kids’
sports, trivia, and laughter. “It’s beautiful to hear how you feel.”
And then these craftspeople review the computer-generated
daily work plan. Assignments are not finished without human input. Team members
swap hours. “I need some help to get this done in 8 hours.” “I have a couple of
hours I can give you.” And together they work out the demands of the day. That
honest harmony leads Barry-Wehmiller team members to achieve their definition
of happiness – “Meaningful work among people we care about.”
Another way that trust shaped the plant is in continuous
improvement. Barry-Wehmiller uses every day to refine their systems. In the
first four months of the year, there have been over 300 improvement
suggestions. That’s an incredible number! At BWPS, lean manufacturing isn’t
just using your head to problem-solve. It’s also using your heart to see how to
wring out frustration from the system. Caring leads to better ideas or as one
person said, “Giving a sh*t.” That prompted a major declaration from one of the
participants. “We implemented Lean Manufacturing first. If I had to do it all
over again, I would have started by building the culture.”
Using Recognition and
In the plant, there is a prominent Recognition Board full of
pictures of awards and parties. It seemed as sincere and spontaneous as a
kitchen refrigerator with many photos of the kids’ recitals and graduations.
Awards are freely given and very cherished. Most awards are from peer
nominations. During one of the team member panels, Jennie Bruner told her
personal story of becoming a “Customer Trust Leader” because many people
encouraged her. “I learned that I had something to offer people.” It’s stunning
to have your co-workers value you.
The plant is full of team members wearing their awards. Badges. Jackets. Pins. They introduce others to guests with this recognition – not what the person does but what they have achieved. Personhood over position – “We give awards to people who achieve something that is important to our culture, not just to our bottom line.”
Barry-Wehmiller also recognizes and celebrates people simply
to let them know they matter. There were pictures of parties – birthday
parties, company anniversary parties. The factory has a very High Touch, Low
Tracy Williams, who is on the front line of Customer Trust,
was the first winner of the GPL prize – for exemplifying the Guiding Principles
of Leadership. She came to talk to us wearing her red shirt. For her, it was an
extraordinary award. Sometimes, she has to do an unpopular task. After the
sale, if a customer’s machine is down, Tracy may have to take a completed,
working part from a machine in progress and ship it to that customer so they
can get their plant running. As she puts it, it’s better to have havoc with a
BW production schedule than have a customer who is unable to work at all.
Talking about Culture and Leadership.
Now that we had seen that the people-centric culture worked,
we had questions about how to achieve it. Fortunately, the sight visit gave us
more exposure to BW team members, to Bob Chapman and to the other designers of
the company’s culture.
Brian Wellinghoff kicked off the discussion. He had started
as an engineer and moved on to be one of the BWU instructors. He explained Barry-Wehmiller’s
concept of culture. There are four components — Compassion. Integrity.
Consistency. Competence. Which element comes first? Most businesses would start
with Competence. Barry-Wehmiller turns around the sequence. Compassion comes
first. They believe that good people will give you good performance. He
explained that we develop people from the inside out.
Dennis Lemke provided an example of how to apply this model.
At the plant, Dennis used “responsible freedom” on Mike, a project estimator.
His job is to cost out a bid for a multi-million dollar machine. Mike would
spend 40 hours to price a machine yet it would take him only a few seconds to
give an estimate. But he was afraid to be wrong about his estimate. Dennis
said, “We instilled belief in himself so he could do a quick quote. This really
supports our sales department.” This is one example of using trust to build
Shayne Roberts, a former engineer now in charge of human
resources, reinforced the idea of compassion over competence. He said, “We
never terminate for performance. We do terminate for behavior issues such as
absenteeism or acting inappropriately. If someone is not performing, it’s the
leader’s job to help the team member get up to speed.”
Shayne continued, “Culture is a commitment. This shift in mindset requires patience. Leaders are expected to practice that “courageous patience” along with deep listening and authentic vulnerability.
Shayne explained that it took over six years to build
culture at this plant. “We wanted to build a culture that would last. Now we
have our culture in everything we do — Safety. Leadership. Documents (such as
the Guiding Principles of Leadership). Barry Wehmiller University. Vision of
“Every business has performance measures. We also have a
dashboard of people measures which each leader is responsible for – safety,
wellness, recognition, retention, and training participation.”
All of us agreed that it would take consistent leadership to
embed our own companies with this people-centric culture. We were committed to
try, though somewhat uncertain as to what would be the best path. Together we
developed some ideas: Have cultural dialogues. Look for people to believe and
get them to come along. Realize that it’s a journey; don’t expect quick
results. Convert your cultural aspirations into behavior. There can be multiple
interpretations of words. Actions tend to have “pure meaning.”
Wrapping up the Sight
This sight visit was ably designed by Conscious Capitalism, Inc.’s Chief Strategy Officer, Amanda Kathryn Roman and Barry-Wehmiller Leadership Institute’s partner, Brian Wellinghoff. It was a skillful blend of large and small group interactions, panels, and the plant visit. The Barry-Wehmiller way is to allow visitors full, unrestricted access to team members. Nothing is scripted. Everything is real.
About the author, Kris Schaeffer.
During the sight visit, I had an inspiring one on one with
Bob Chapman. “Bob, I flunked retirement twice.” Bob looked directly at me. “You
retire when all you have is work. You don’t retire when your work is a calling.”
What is a calling? Something good for the world; good for me; and ####. What is
my calling? Helping business to be a force for good.
I have worked on organizational culture for forty years.
“Every company has a culture, but few by design.” Culture is not a quick fix
but rather a steady, iterative effort over time. We get there by using a
combination of six “cultural levers” that create systemic, sustained organizational
Today, I work with Conscious Capitalists to convert their vision
and values into operational practices. “Values are exhibited in behaviors.” We
use this model for change: The organization inspects leadership, structure, and
process; while the individual level looks at people, tasks, and rewards. When
these levers are aligned toward the company’s values, the right actions occur.
The Barry-Wehmiller sight visit confirmed this.
In the spirit of tomorrow being Valentine’s Day, I want to
share my love and appreciation for all of you who are Conscious Capitalists,
working to elevate humanity through business and build the Conscious Capitalism
2018 was an incredible year for Conscious Capitalism. We had our largest gathering of Conscious Capitalists to date, our first international conference, the opening of new communities of Conscious Capitalists now totaling 50 communities in over 14 countries, new programs to help business leaders implement the four tenets of CC at their companies, and more media attention for Conscious Capitalists than ever before.
What I want to share with you now is not what we have done,
though. It’s what we’re going to do. Because as great as 2018 was, we have far
greater plans to build the Conscious Capitalism movement in 2019:
We are building community locally, regionally, and globally.
Locally: Conscious Capitalists are in over 14 countries around the globe building local communities to advance Conscious Capitalism. These chapters and communities are introducing Conscious Capitalism to new audiences and deepening their own practice and understanding of CC. You can find many of them in a single location online now.
Regionally: The 2018 Conscious Capitalism European Conference was our first foray into growing communities regionally outside the US. In 2019, the Conscious Capitalism network is growing with 3 Regional Conferences outside the US underway in Brazil (next month!), Europe and India.
Globally: The 2018 Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference was the largest Conscious Capitalism gathering ever; and in 2019, we’re putting together an even bigger and better CCAC for the global Conscious Capitalism movement in Phoenix, Arizona. And I am pleased to share that the 2019 CEO Summit will be themed around Raj Sisodia’s new book, coming out the month beforehand, titled, The Healing Organization. In addition to connecting with high caliber and quality peer leaders throughout the Summit, participants will hear from and work with business leaders featured in his book to explore how to turn their own businesses into Healing Organizations.
Improving the Practice of Conscious Capitalism
Last year, Conscious Capitalism, Inc. piloted several programs to help business leaders better understand Conscious Capitalism in action and help them put it into practice in their businesses. This included “Sight Visits” to companies like Barry-Wehmiller and Greyston Bakery, speaking engagements at conferences and businesses, and workshops on Conscious Capitalism for organizations who wanted to go in-depth.
In 2019, we are scaling this up even more with:
CCU – We have launched CCU — designed to help you solve the challenges of practicing Conscious Capitalism; all CCU offerings are built with YOU in mind. CCU provides learning opportunities for individual Conscious Capitalists to go deeper in their practice and application of the Conscious Capitalist Credo and the four principles of Conscious Capitalism…and this is just the beginning. Wherever you are on your journey as a Conscious Capitalist, CCU offerings will help you get to the heart of your practice. We currently have two CCU offerings available: Inner.U, an online course to support your conscious leadership development, and the Conscious Capitalism Consultant Certification Program; we will launch more offerings throughout the year.
Learning Labs & Immersive Experiences – In-person gatherings to help business leaders put Conscious Capitalism in action. You can enroll now in Awakening Conscious Leadership by diving deep into a one-day CCU Learning Lab and 6-month learning that will take you on a personal journey to identify your soul’s calling and uncover the practical pathways to help you achieve those higher goals through your business. And for CEOs and Founders, we have a special invitation for you to join us on an Immersive Learning Exchange on The Founder’s Journey, a fully immersive exploration into the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
Conscious Capitalism in Action – On our new website, you can also find tools and resources that will help elevate your story and experiences as a Conscious Capitalist around the world. We invite you to share your personal story, and the story of your company; use The Speaker Connection to request and refer speakers for events; and join the Global Conscious Capitalism Sight Visit Network of businesses around the world who are changing the practice and perception of business as a force for good. Share your company’s story with the community that surrounds your office. Conscious Capitalism, Inc. will provide you with an agenda, talking points, slide-deck, press release and more to support you in hosting a successful Sight Visit at your business. You and your team will have the opportunity to offer first-hand access and direct exposure to the operational tactics of living and leading a conscious business. Together, we will spread your story and highlight your business as a model of Conscious Capitalism in action.
For those who want to learn more about what this means and looks like, you’ll get a taste of all this at Conscious Capitalism’s conferences and gatherings throughout the world.
Celebrating the Stories and Sharing Best Practices of Conscious Capitalists
We want to share your story with others.
Marketing – CCI is ramping up our marketing of what is going on in the Conscious Capitalism movement, both what we are doing as an organization and how the leaders in our global network of conscious businesses are making an impact.
PR – This past year, CCI placed over 100 media hits on the Conscious Capitalism movement and our community members. This year, we are going to do even more to help Conscious Capitalists receive the recognition they should and inspire others to join us on the conscious leadership journey.
CC Press – We are thrilled to have partnered with Round Table Companies to launch Conscious Capitalism Press. In 2019, we will begin to publish books aligned with Conscious Capitalism’s principles to build out the thought leadership of Conscious Capitalism and provide more material for others to learn about how conscious business is a force for good that is elevating humanity around the world. Look out for books from Safwan Shah, Sunny Vanderbeck, and others launching soon. If you want to be one of our founding authors, learn more here. Join us for the CC Press Launch Event at the 2019 CCAC!
Conscious Capitalism Business Partnerships
CCI is rolling out a new partnership program to recognize businesses that are on the conscious journey, provide them with support to deepen their practice of Conscious Capitalism, and to share their best practices with others in the global business community. We now have a badge for Conscious Capitalism Partners to use online and in print as an outward symbol of our shared commitment to this movement, but this partnership will be more than just that. It will be an active and engaged relationship with Conscious Capitalism, Inc. that will provide support for the business in furthering its conscious journey, and each business will be working with Conscious Capitalism, Inc. to build the depth and breadth of our community.
Online Application – If you are interested in becoming a Conscious Capitalism Partner in 2019, you can apply here.
New Benefits – Conscious Capitalism Partners will receive access to more events, learning & development resources from other Partners, and celebration of their Conscious Capitalist journey like this month’s featured partner, EchoPark Automotive.
Longtime Supporters – I want to thank our current Conscious Capitalism Partners for their support in 2018 and over the years who have contributed to the birth of the Conscious Capitalism movement.
Most of all, I want to thank you for all that you are doing to build the Conscious Capitalism movement. You helped make 2018 our best year yet. And with your help, we are going to have an even better 2019!
Families share stories of adventure, obstacles, and heroism, passing down these tales along with photos, mementoes and often-repeated tales that become part of who we are. Some families pass along narratives about how great-grandparents made their way to a new nation or state. They’re origin stories and every tribe has one, including yours.
When you capture your business story and share it with others, two things happen. First, you invite people to understand who you are, not just what you know or your expertise. Second, you inspire them to conspire in your favor and help you manifest a new future that doesn’t currently exist. Simply put, you light up those who are your people while repelling those who would otherwise waste your precious resources.
Writing a company story is not about boosting your own ego. It is about establishing a profound trust with your audience by inviting them into the multi-dimensional journey of your company’s ups and downs.
Intimacy is a Dirty Word in Business
And yet, we know that people make decisions based first on emotion and then on logic that supports that emotion. Emotion becomes available when you authentically invite readers in. The gritty struggles that make your business the one it is today are paramount. Few people can relate emotionally to a linear story of sequential successes. That isn’t authentic to our experience of life. Just try and get emotional when reading a resume!
Instead, it is in our falling that we see ourselves in each other. Share the times you fell and then how you rose again. People will literally curl up in bed with your book if you allow them to see your business for who and what and why it is.
Corey Blake, founder of Round Table Companies, points out that readers will snuggle under the covers with a story and hope for a profound enough experience that they wake up the next morning feeling changed. If your story resonates with them, you’ve created a fan for life. These are the people who become your future partners, investors, or new talent.
A Lasting Legacy
Your story is a building block, a reference for future stories. Let your failures and successes inspire others to fail better and faster on their own way to impacting the world.
As a company, you want to articulate the core essence of your purpose in a way that demonstrates the contribution you are making to the world. Imagine the impact your story could have on current and future readers. What lessons could you teach? What innovations could you instigate?
Your business story matters. Write that book. Share that journey. Change the world.
If you’re interested in writing your book and publishing it through Conscious Capitalism Press, you’ll find more information here.