Higher Purpose

Elevating humanity through business

Conscious Leadership

Why Stories Matter in Business

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By Heidi Jon Schmidt

Every business leader, no matter how conscious, no matter how successful, keeps a tight focus on growth. More clients, better talent, higher productivity, reduced expenses. Give me those, he or she says, and I will be able to relax and think about telling my organization’s story.

What if telling your story is the route to growth?

We all live by the light of stories. Before the printing press, news traveled only by story—remembered at each step along the way by someone who couldn’t wait to retell it, to generate the laugh or gasp, the moment when two people gazed at each other in recognition—“Ah, I thought so!” or “That’s what I was afraid of.” Or, maybe best: “I wouldn’t have thought of that in a million years.”

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Conscious Leadership

Thea Polancic: Building Community and Purpose

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By Agata Antonow

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 —Attributed to Margaret Mead

On a quiet evening in January 2009, Thea Polancic was sticking large pieces of paper on the walls of her home. Her son was asleep upstairs, and finally her day as a busy business partner and consultant was winding down. She’d been in charge and taken names all day, yet her work was just beginning.

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Higher Purpose

In Pursuit of the Present Moment

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By Lizzie Vance 

What matters is to be a human being with another human being, to recognize the other person as another being in there… if you are trying to help a wounded bird, the first thing you have to know is that there is somebody in there, and that you have to wait for that “person,” that being in there, to be in contact with you. That seems to me to be the most important thing.

The Primacy of Human Presence, Eugene T. Gendlin

While Gendlin describes the relationship between the psychologist and patient, his work can be applied to any Conscious Capitalist in pursuit of the present moment, and in pursuit of connecting with the heart of why they do what they do, at every chance they can. Let’s take a look at one Conscious Capitalist who embodies this in his dental practice.

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Conscious Leadership

I Can Stop Apologizing

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By Genevieve Georget

To tell you about a conversation with Tara-Nicholle Nelson would be to tell you about a body of water that makes all of life possible. Instead, I want to share with you what it is like to have a conversation with Tara. I want to take you to the shore and have you watch the waves crash onto the sand. To have the saltwater spray on your face. Get you to look out past the horizon while the ground rumbles below you as the water washes up your shins, wetting your rolled-up blue jean cuffs, and then goes back out again.

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Higher Purpose

Building a Bridge Between Capitalism and Equity

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A Community Contribution by Stephanie Grise

When Judge Wilson handed down his ruling in what St. Louisans refer to as “The Stockley Verdict,” I was shaken. That ruling, which decided the fate of a law enforcement officer on trial for taking a life, caused me to question my role in our community as an attorney committed to social justice and as an attorney of color. Reading the judge’s words and opinions, I reflected on how the prosecutors presented the case, and it hurt me deeply to conclude that the system was designed to create a presumption of either guilt or innocence depending solely on how someone looked. From the circumstances that led the officer to pursue the victim that night, to how the circuit attorney’s office decided to file the charges and present its case, it seemed to all revolve around the looks of the victim. On top of it, the judge filled his written opinion with accolades for the police officer but only dismissive and racist comments about the victim. The verdict serves as a painful reminder that the system is loaded against poor communities and communities of color.

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Higher Purpose

Disrupt Her: How Miki Agrawal is driven by the value of people

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By Genevieve Georget and Lizzie Vance of Round Table Companies

Every day for months, I had been taking the subway to the World Trade Center. I would meet up with a friend who worked on the 100th floor, we would get coffee together at a cafe in the lobby, and then I would walk across the street to my office where I’d been working as an investment banker. This was how my mornings unfolded. On this day, however, the sun was shining through my bedroom window when I rolled over and opened my eyes. I looked over at the clock next to my bed and it read 10 a.m. Immediately, a degree of disbelief washed over me. I leapt out of bed and frantically got ready. On this day, I accidentally slept in, and half an hour after I woke up, nearly 3,000 people had died.

Up until this moment, I think I had advice to offer anyone looking to pursue life with a vengeance. I had graduated that spring and was working in the banking industry. I was driven and disciplined and right where I wanted to be. Or so I thought. But life—and advice—tends to change when towers come crashing down and you are spared the finality of being among those who lost their lives. When I tell people the story of that morning, I am faced with an often-recurring question: “Did my friend—whom I was supposed to meet for coffee—die that day?” The answer is no. My friend lived. So many of us lived. But we were also changed. And it was through that change that the question shifted from “Did we die?” to “How do we live?” This tragedy was either going to take my life from me or thrust life back into me. I was blessed enough to be handed the latter and knew I’d better live wisely.

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Higher Purpose

Learning to Wield the Double-Edged Sword of Purpose

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A community contribution by Susan Taylor

I’m five years old. My parents, sister, and I are headed to a cheese factory in Wisconsin in our “Brady Bunch” station wagon on a rainy day. We stop at a red light. Looking out my window, I see a billboard; there, larger than life, is a Native American chief with a tear running down his cheek. It is an advertisement to stop littering our planet, but the tears in that chief’s eyes reverberate through rain-spotted glass, and the drops of water running down the window turn into the tears of the world.

I knew it at that moment, though maybe not exactly how. I was going to help people smile, be happy, and love each other, bring love, harmony, and healing to the human condition. And so, in adulthood, exploring the deeper dimensions of human potential became my life’s work—first as a trained psychotherapist and later as a certified coach and facilitator of dialogue.

You might think I was lucky to discover my purpose at such a young age. We all yearn for that “certain something” that brings meaning and significance to our lives, so to discover it earlier than most people must be of tremendous benefit, right?

Well, yes . . . and no.

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Conscious Leadership

What You Can’t Be is a Hypocrite

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By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

A border wall. Abortion. Entitlement reform. Russian interference in the most recent presidential election. Gun control.

Pick a topic and it’s likely that Americans are deeply divided on the issue—polarized and separated by their interpretation of the facts, or even holding alternate sets of facts. Politics have become so toxic it sometimes seems as though Americans are living in two separate countries.

But there’s at least one place where people are setting aside their differences and uniting in harmony behind a common banner—Conscious Capitalism.

The Conscious Capitalism movement is a big tent that unites both ardent conservatives and committed liberals. It’s a place where people who voted for President Donald Trump can work with people who loved President Barack Obama.

It’s not so much that they ignore their differences as much as that they understand their common cause and respect those who are on the same journey.

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Higher Purpose

Sisodia Meets with BlackRock’s Larry Fink, Finds Conscious Capitalism in Action

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By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

Conscious Capitalism Inc. cofounder and chairman emeritus Raj Sisodia had just given a presentation at the Lead with Love Leadership Summit in Aspen, Colorado, when a woman approached him.

“You and Larry Fink need to meet,” she said before setting the meeting in motion.

Then just days before the meeting, Fink, cofounder and CEO of the BlackRock investment firm, sent a letter to the chief executives of the largest public companies, telling them they should focus on value creation for all stakeholders—that they needed to have a larger purpose than making profits—and that they must engage with the community and make a positive contribution to society.

And he included a warning: if a business doesn’t act in a way that promotes societal good, “it will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”

“As you read the letter, you see he was using our language,” said Sisodia,the FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He said he couldn’t help but be impressed by Fink and by the BlackRock firm.

First, despite Fink’s clout, Sisodia said that during the course of his 35-minute meeting, it was clear that Fink is a grounded, Conscious Leader, and “just a regular guy.” Second, Fink has been living Conscious Capitalism principles within his firm.

“He’s creating a different kind of financial firm,” Sisodia said. “It has a culture that is people-centered, and he speaks of emotional connection. People stay there instead of moving on to other jobs, which is the norm in this kind of high-pressure environment.”

Sisodia said he was able to talk to Fink about the Conscious Capitalism movement and even invited him to an upcoming CCI meeting. While Fink said he’s already committed at that time, he wants to send other top executives.

BlackRock’s influence in the financial community is hard to overstate.

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Higher Purpose

Facebook Forward: Conscious Capitalists Weigh In on the Social Network Giant

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By Katina Z. Jones of Round Table Companies

A Note from the Editor: This article is the first in a series of topical commentary pieces where opinions are curated from the Conscious Capitalism community.

Data breaches involving millions of people’s personal information.

Suicides being broadcast live.

Social injustice, captured and shared immediately around the world—bringing immediate outcry and support for the aggrieved.

Hate messages from a terrorist group.

Fake news designed to influence opinions—and possibly votes.

On Facebook, the drama unfolds every second and quickly multiplies—sometimes beyond our human capacity to comprehend its speed.

The social media giant has spearheaded connecting people around the world, but it also raises questions around the boundaries and responsibilities of free speech. A recent Fortune Data Sheet examined “Why Facebook Should Be Liable for What It Publishes,” and the piece raises some interesting questions: How much should be shared? How can we trust what we are reading or sharing? And, most important, who is ultimately responsible for the integrity of content?

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