The Spectacular Recovery of the Post-Maduro Venezuela: My Reasons to Believe

Impact Stories
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By Maria Antonia Marturet Rios

"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:

  • Diaspora comeback 
  • Private and public investments
  • Conscious Capitalism is already in place
  • The lesson is learned

Copyright 2019 by Americas Quarterly

Diaspora comeback

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 purpose in 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 integrations around 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.

It’s a matter of time; mark my words.

8 Ways NOT to Grow Your Company

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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. Adds Lynne Twist and Ron Shaich to Board of Directors

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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."

- Ron Shaich


Lynne Twist and Ron Schaich are speakers at the upcoming 2019 Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference taking place April 23-25 in Phoenix, AZ. Learn more about Lynne Twist and Ron Shaich.


"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.

Why I’m excited about the Conscious Capitalism Certification Program, and why you should be too.

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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 learning@consciouscapitalism.org and let’s get to work.

On the Shoulders of Giants

Conscious Leadership
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Remembering Jack Bogle and Herb Kelleher

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.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT / SITE

Learning & Development
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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 Jeff.

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 Celebration.

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 Tech design.

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 performance.

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 Service. Wellness.

“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 Visit.

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 change.

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.

2019: A Year for Growing Conscious Capitalism

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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 movement.

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.

Building Community

  • 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 ActionOn 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!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With love & gratitude,

Alexander McCobin
CEO, Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Why Origin Stories Matter: Capturing Your Story in a Book

CC Press
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By Round Table Companies

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.

2019: The Year of YOUR Story

CC Press
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By Round Table Companies

It’s nearly midnight on a Friday, and there you are: sitting on the living room couch, a cup of hot tea in your hand, and your dog (or cat) snuggled up beside you. You need the dog/cat, the tea and any other comfort you can get. You are, finally, about to read through the first full draft of your book. Sure, it’s a business book, but it’s a book about YOUR business, and everything about your life is on display there. Reading a badly written paragraph, you’ll hear the devil cackling at the humiliation you’ll feel when everyone, everywhere, can read your thoughts and do a full-scale inventory assessment of all your life’s decisions.

WHY did you do this? What on earth possessed you to make yourself so vulnerable? It had seemed like a good idea at the time; after all, your business is your pride and joy. When the idea to start your business had first crossed your mind, you had the sense to grab it and begin considering it when others would have waved it away. You saw the merit and the questions. But instead of giving in to doubt, you kept searching, resolving problems, seeing new possibilities. People shook their heads, and some days you feared they were right, but you kept on breathing more life into it every day (and so many countless nights) until it began to pulse with its own energy, attract the interest of others. Your business grew in ways you’d never expected, until here it is, today, a thriving business that supports not only your family, but many others, too. A business that was once a concept now makes a difference for its investors, employees and customers. Of course you wanted to tell this story!

So, just as you set out on the task of building the company, you set out on the adventure of writing about it. You committed yourself to sharing an honest, authentic tale that engages others on every level. You found a brilliant team who could act as your champions, help you find the essential moments of your journey, and bring them to life. For a year you’ve been exploring with them, watching your ideas, thoughts, the beauty of your life bloom into language. You’ve added layers to your understanding with every conversation. This understanding becomes part of you, adds a dimension to your relationships and the way you think about your business. In turn, it has opened up new avenues of communication and possibility.

As you share your new way of seeing with others, those of like minds are inspired by your humanity and your energy (because this self-inquiry always brings a new burst of energy), and they are drawn closer.

This is the truest benefit of sharing your story: meeting new minds, finding new links between people and sometimes between unlikely people. In writing the book, you’ve brought your deepest humanity to the forefront, and sharing that has had a magnetic effect. You’ve heard authors talk about this benefit often, and they’ve likened it to that glorious feeling of breaking the surface of water after a deep, joyful dive.

You recall that before you dove you stood at the end of the board, vacillating. Your business was growing, yes, but hardly at the Fortune 500 level. Was it hubris to imagine anyone would be interested? Surely a book would reveal you as an ordinary schlub, and your company, your gorgeous invention, as a mediocre idea. You’ve got plenty of problems already, so why take on another? Maybe next year, you told yourself. You reasoned that you’d be older and wiser by then.

And still, you’re a person who takes the leap. You dove into business, you dove into writing the book. A step, a jump, a flight over and into a new element. So here you are, with the manuscript on your lap, the tea, the dog/cat, the cozy couch, and the courage to face whatever it is you are in the process of making.

You’ll have grown through the writing process, considering your values, understanding them in all of their aspects, capturing them in vivid language so others could take them in. After all this work, you’ll be a far better representative for the company now that you’ve wrestled your unique mission into words.

Even better, you will be filled with grateful pride, knowing that you recognized the worth of your story, looked back over the path that brought you here, and, in so doing, clarified the path ahead. You’ll have taken it seriously, having made this investment in yourself and your company’s future. You told the world that you and your mission matter by your actions, and you proved it, page by page.

Make 2019 the year you engage on the deepest level with your central ideas and beliefs, the year you attract allies and supporters through the clarity of your vision; make this the year you write your story.

Every one of us wants to touch the lives of others. When we fully share our stories, we offer more of ourselves and welcome more from others; we open a door to understanding, learning and collaboration. It’s nothing less than the first step to making a real difference in the world.

If you’re interested in writing your book and publishing it through Conscious Capitalism Press, you can find more information here.

In it for the Long Haul: An Anti-Revolving Door Approach to Leadership

Conscious Leadership
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4 lessons from a decade as CEO and how to apply them to your own company

By Rob Waldron, CEO at Curriculum Associates

In the current business landscape, the chief executive seat is often held by leaders with short-term outlooks who move from one company to the next. According to a recent Equilar study, the median tenure for CEOs at large-cap (S&P 500) companies was just 5 years at the end of 2017.

This year marks a milestone in my career—10 years as CEO of Boston-area education technology company Curriculum Associates. When I started during the financial crash of 2008 (a likely indicator of a short tenure if there ever was one!), the company’s chairman presented me with a contract with 20-year terms. I thought he was insane. Today at the halfway mark, I realize how wrong I was, as this long-term commitment is our company’s strongest competitive advantage.

I’ve identified a few lessons to help other leaders rethink the urge to play musical chairs and instead focus on making meaningful impact by digging in for the long haul. If you’re starting out in a new leadership role or thinking about making a move, here’s some perspective from a 10-year (and counting) veteran:

1. Hire (and keep) good people

One of the most important things I’ve learned from leading with a long-term lens is that hiring one stellar recruit is far more exciting—and valuable—than landing a massive order. I’ve seen time and time again that our people are our most valuable asset and key to sustainable success. This lesson was hammered home for me when chatting with a district superintendent (with whom we have a multi-million-dollar contract) who told me plainly, “I love your company, but if [my account manager] Mike leaves, I’m going with him.” Our people and the trusted relationships they nurture are what set us apart, and I’ll choose a Mike over a million dollars every time.

I believe in hiring people, not filling positions, so I spend more than 50 percent of my time as CEO recruiting and hiring talented individuals that are not only the best fit for the role, but also the best fit for our values and culture. As a result, we‘ve had remarkably low turnover (less than 8 percent), and the average length of stay for employees is over 13 years.

2. Listen… and do what they say

I believe great CEOs are those who listen best, encourage employees to advocate for what’s needed, and then (most importantly) don’t screw it up.

I learned early in my career that in any organization, the people who know the most are those actually doing the work. In my first leadership role at Kaplan Educational Centers, I was thrown into their worst performing center. Quite frankly, I was scared, and I asked the office coordinator what I should do. Long story short, Gloria knew best, and I can only take credit for having the wisdom to listen to her. Implementing her practical ideas led our turnaround, and within months we saw a 50 percent increase in sales.

At Curriculum Associates, I take listening one step further, inviting every employee to participate anonymously in my annual review. I’ll be honest, sometimes their feedback is hard to hear, but I report the results to the entire company nonetheless. I also require that the board tie a portion of my bonus to employee satisfaction scores. This process has helped me become a better leader, and employees know their input is heard.

3. Go in with a long-term outlook

A decade ago, I joined a sleepy print publishing company that was deeply impacted by the market crash. A CEO looking to spend a quick couple of years pumping profits would have been well advised to run for the hills.

I found that during these tough times, it mattered most to our employees and customers that I was in it for the long run. The assurance that “I’m staying through this” at a time when other companies were shedding employees and anxiety levels were high set the tone for a stable, future-focused workplace. Our team doubled-down on long-term strategy, developing new solutions from scratch and bringing the company into the digital age without taking on debt. As a result, we grew during the downturn while competitors grasped at short-sighted solutions. Since that time, we’ve seen exponential growth, today serving more than 7 million K-12 students across the country

4. Take a conscious approach

My first job after college was at Morgan Stanley in New York City. After work, I’d lose the suit and volunteer at a local homeless shelter. It was in this environment, working with folks committed to societal change during the height of the crack epidemic, that I understood the power of purpose. Organizations driven by values and not solely by their bottom line will always work harder, making them difficult to compete against. When your customers and employees see this commitment, they will stay with you.

One of the main things that drew me to Curriculum Associates was the fact that a focus on giving had been baked into their corporate structure from the start. The great honor of my career came last year, when I managed the gift of majority ownership of our company and proceeds of approximately $200 million to charity. Historic philanthropy at this scale is not realistic for most businesses, and I’ve learned that prioritizing good corporate citizenship does not simply mean writing big checks. Service at our company takes many forms, from our voluntary decision to raise the company’s minimum wage to $15/hour to pairing every customer with a dedicated support team. Working with leaders across sectors through organizations like Conscious Capitalism, I’ve seen how a purpose-first approach shapes culture and can be a company’s greatest competitive advantage.

As with any long-term adventure, these 10 years as CEO at Curriculum Associates have been trying at times… but thrilling and fulfilling more times than I can count. It’s been the best decade of my career so far, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring.


Rob Waldron is a speaker at our upcoming Conscious Capitalism Annual Conference taking place April 23-25 in Phoenix, AZ. Visit conference.consciouscapitalism.org to learn more and register.