Higher Purpose

Elevating humanity through business

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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Higher Purpose

Want to Change the World…and Have Fun?

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Serial entrepreneur Miki Agrawal says you should start a business

By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

 

“I would never start a non-profit,” Miki Agrawal says. “It would be boring for me, to be honest. There’s no incentive to keep driving and wracking your brain on how you’re going to crack the code.”

In Agrawal’s eyes, as for all Conscious Capitalists, for-profit means for the greater good. Her companies Thinx, Icon, and Tushy help refine hygiene and personal care for users by offering affordable and innovative ways to deal with menstruation, incontinence, and hygiene. Thinx also helps get feminine hygiene products to women in Africa, while Tushy is involved with sanitation initiatives in India.

For Agrawal, creating a conscious business is the best path to changing the world, disrupting norms, and having fun while getting the job done. But making a difference doesn’t always start with a grand vision. For Agrawal, Thinx started with a three-legged race. In 2005, Agrawal and her twin sister were at a family barbecue, winning a race and intent on getting those coveted bragging rights, when Agrawal’s sister got her period. The two of them finished the event and then dashed together to the bathroom to handle the issue.

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Higher Purpose

Dear Business Schools: Profits are Not the Point

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Why academia needs to stop pigeonholing capitalism

By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

 

Capitalism exploits workers. Capitalists are greedy. Capitalists destroy the environment. Or so say capitalism’s critics.

The litany of complaints about capitalism stretches to the horizon, ignoring the fact that capitalism has improved the lives of countless millions and serves as the single-most powerful force for good the world has ever seen.

Why the disconnect? Any business people worth their salt know that the essential ingredient to long-term success is balancing the needs of the entire stakeholder chain. Yet there continues to be a mismatch between the prevailing narrative about business (greedy pigs) and the reality we know to be synonymous with a truly successful business (value-creators for everyone the business touches).

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Higher Purpose

Feature: Capitalism vs. Capital Markets

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Don’t Confuse Capitalism with Capital Markets

Why the stock market doesn’t represent the true power of business

By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

 

To many, the stock market is synonymous with the economy and, as a result, with capitalism.

But is it?

Increasingly, those within the Conscious Capitalism orbit say no.

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Higher Purpose

Member Profile: EPOCH Pi

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EPOCH Pi: Trailblazing a new era of purpose in business

By Geoff Campbell and Aleksandra Corwin of Round Table Companies

 

Investment banker William W. Vogelgesang said it took him nearly 25 years to learn that only a small percentage of people are motivated by money.

He never thought of business as “evil,” but he’d always believed that pursuit of financial goals to the exclusion of all else “can lead to sub-optimal outcomes.” And for himself, “I was never really motivated by making lots of money.”

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