Dear Conscious Capitalism Community,
Four years ago, I attended my first Conscious Capitalism conference in San Francisco. Fifteen months ago, I joined Conscious Capitalism, Inc. (CCI) as co-CEO. Today, I am honored and humbled to write this letter as CEO of this incredible organization.
We live in a world begging for Conscious Capitalism. We know of capitalism’s proven ability to raise billions out of poverty. But we also know that, like anything with great potential power, it can be abused. Only by being exemplary stewards of Conscious Capitalism can we, as a unified movement, prove free-enterprise capitalism to be inarguably the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. In the face of mounting moral and ethical challenges presented by what some consider “business as usual,” we must remain steadfast in our determination to let the truth about Conscious Capitalism’s potential to elevate humanity through business win the narrative.
CCI would not be where it is today without the incredible and dedicated work of trailblazers over the years.
It began when Muhammad Yunus first used the term “socially conscious capitalist enterprise” in a 1995 Atlantic Monthly article about Grameen Bank’s efforts to develop poor economies with innovative lending products. In 2006, a small nonprofit called Freedom Lights Our World, started by John Mackey, Michael Strong, and Phyllis Blees, began organizing “Conscious Capitalism” gatherings to articulate the philosophy. Over the following years, like-minded business leaders began to join the meetings and push the philosophy forward, such as The Container Store’s Kip Tindell, Stagen Academy’s Rand Stagen, Panera Bread’s Ron Shaich, Starbuck’s Howard Behar, Costco’s James Sinegal, Jamba Juice’s James White, and many others. By 2010, Conscious Capitalism, Inc. was its own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Today, due to the support, energy, and commitment of countless executives, coaches, and chapter leaders, this community is vibrant, diverse, and poised to change the world.
In particular, I want to express my gratitude to Doug Rauch, the first CEO of CCI, and my co-CEO for the last 15 months. What Doug did for the movement and how he did it cannot be understated. When Doug took on the role of CEO in 2011 (originally presented to him as an “interim” role while the organization sought a full-time CEO), he set three principal goals for his tenure: (1) to unify the diverse Conscious Capitalism efforts under a single organization that would be stronger together than separated; (2) to create an organization that is “transpersonal,” i.e. it does not depend on any one individual or business to succeed; and (3) attract a viable, strong full time CEO. Without question, he accomplished the first two. I hope to live up to his belief that he has done the third.
What’s more, Doug is the embodiment of Conscious Leadership. He honed his leadership philosophy and skills while president of Trader Joe’s, and brought forth warmth, humor, and wisdom that was a pleasure to experience as co-CEO. I am glad to know that he will remain an active member of the CCI Board, and I am encouraged to see that his other project, Daily Table, will be receiving more of his much deserved attention. I am reminded of when Thomas Jefferson became ambassador to France. When asked what it was like to replace the esteemed Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson would respond that Dr. Franklin could not be replaced; he was merely Franklin’s successor. I am no Jefferson, but Doug is certainly a modern day Dr. Franklin.
I recognize both that a great deal of trust has been vested in me and that a great deal of responsibility has been given to me. The most important thing I learned during my tenure at Students For Liberty, when the organization grew from a flicker of an idea to a global movement changing the world, was that it all came down to the people. An idea alone has no power. The right idea with the right people, though, can change the world. My commitment is to bring the right people together in this community to do just that, contributing what I can: a strong back to carry the load, an analytical mind to build the future, and an open heart to experience this journey with others.
So, what can you expect of CCI going forward?
- New Initiatives – We realize that what got us here won’t sufficiently get us to where we want to go. To that end, we are currently exploring new offerings to roll out in the coming months and years. Some will succeed. And yes, some will fail. But we will keep trying new things to deliver the most support to our community that we can.
- Investments in the Ecosystem – CCI is not the same thing as the Conscious Capitalism movement. Nor do we want it to be. The movement is larger than one organization. Instead, we will try to be the ecosystem in which the movement can thrive, the foundation upon which others can build, the nucleus that holds a myriad of energetic particles together.
- Support for Conscious Business Practices – CCI will continue to provide thought leadership around the principles of Conscious Capitalism. In addition, we will begin to actively support the practical implementation of those principles in actual businesses.
- Story-Telling of Business as a Force for Good – We are not just here to change the way business is practiced. We’re also here to change the way business is perceived. To that end, we’ll be launching new efforts to share more stories of how business elevates humanity through traditional media, social networks and CCI’s own communications channels.
- Community Engagement – I want to work with you to fulfill the incredible potential of this community. That means more transparency about CCI’s activities and more requests for ideas and input from you on how to improve CCI. I want to invite you to help CCI grow the Conscious Capitalism movement. You can do so by one or more of the following: Attending one of our conferences, joining a chapter, becoming a sponsor, or just letting me know what we can do to better help you. As one step to that end, I will hold the first CCI CEO “Ask Me Anything” session. On Wednesday, July 26th at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time, I’ll be live on CCI’s Facebook page answering questions from the community. Please join me to give me your suggestions and ask any questions you may have about me, CCI, or anything else.
I am here to serve this cause, this community, and this movement. To the extent that I am able to help this movement fulfill its potential, it will be because I am standing on the shoulders of giants who came before and working arm in arm with those who are here today. And because I am confident in the abilities of those who came before and are part of this movement now, I am confident in saying: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
What inspired me to join CCI in the first place is the foundation upon which this organization was founded. I believe that the words of the Conscious Capitalist Credo will continue to guide our way forward, and I encourage everyone to share it with those who wish to know more about why we are so passionate about the need for this movement.
Conscious Capitalist Credo
We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.
Conscious Capitalism is a way of thinking about capitalism and business that better reflects where we are in the human journey, the state of our world today, and the innate potential of business to make a positive impact on the world. Conscious businesses are galvanized by higher purposes that serve, align, and integrate the interests of all their major stakeholders. Their higher state of consciousness makes visible to them the interdependencies that exist across all stakeholders, allowing them to discover and harvest synergies from situations that otherwise seem replete with trade-offs. They have conscious leaders who are driven by service to the company’s purpose, all the people the business touches, and the planet we all share together. Conscious businesses have trusting, authentic, innovative and caring cultures that make working there a source of both personal growth and professional fulfillment. They endeavor to create financial, intellectual, social, cultural, emotional, spiritual, physical and ecological wealth for all their stakeholders.
Conscious businesses will 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.