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.

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. Announces New Board Co-Chairs Dedicated to Elevating Humanity Through Business

Uncategorized
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Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the nonprofit corporation dedicated to elevating humanity through business, announced today the election of Kip Tindell and Raj Sisodia as Board of Directors co-chairmen. Tindell and Sisodia will seek to introduce the philosophy of Conscious Capitalism to more business leaders around the world while garnering new levels of engagement with the Conscious Capitalism organization.

The Conscious Capitalist Credo expresses what connects these pioneering business leaders in a global network. They believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble 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, Inc. convenes and hosts these like-mind business leaders at world-class conferences that build the community; designs and offers learning and development experiences to support the growth of the business leaders; and serves as an advocate for the Conscious Capitalists and their successful business practices in order to change the perception of business in media and society to shape our culture.

Kip Tindell is Co-Founder and Chairman of The Container Store, the nation’s leading retailer of storage and organization products — a concept they originated in 1978. Today, the company has stores across the country with over 11,000 storage and organization solutions designed to save space and time. Tindell is the author of UNCONTAINABLE: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, highlighting the retailer’s unique approach to business and culture, which guides decisions impacting The Container Store’s entire interdependent set of stakeholders, starting with employees and including customers, vendors, the community and shareholders. Tindell’s commitment to their employees landed The Container Store on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For” year after year for nearly two decades, including number one twice. Tindell is a former Chairman of the National Retail Federation and currently sits on its executive committee. In 2015, he was elected to the World Retail Hall of Fame, which honors founders of some of the retail world’s most iconic brands.

Raj Sisodia is the FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College in Wellesley, MA. He is a co-founder of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and has written numerous bestselling books. Sisodia is the co-author (with John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market) of “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.” He co-authored (with Barry-Wehmiller CEO, Bob Chapman) “Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, which was named Best Leadership and Management book of 2015 by 800-CEO-READ and one of 15 best books of 2015 by Forbes. His book “Firms of Endearment: How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose” is considered a foundational work in explaining the precepts and performance implications of pursuing a conscious approach to business. His most recent book, published earlier this year, is “The Conscious Capitalism Field Guide: Tools for Transforming Your Organization” (co-authored with Timothy Henry and Thomas Eckschmidt).

“As Conscious Capitalism continues to prove itself as the model business philosophy for both today and the future, we are honored and grateful to Kip and Raj for their commitment to not only continue their leadership but take on this greater role in growing Conscious Capitalism,” said Alexander McCobin, chief executive officer of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. “Our global movement believes the opportunity to liberate the heroic spirit of business and entrepreneurship is more important today than ever, and the experience Kip and Raj bring to the movement will help to get us there.”

To learn more about the movement dedicated to changing the practice and perception of business so that it is recognized as a powerful force for good, visit ConsciousCapitalism.org.

 

About Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is the 501c3 nonprofit corporation dedicated to elevating humanity through business. The practice of Conscious Capitalism includes implementing the tenets of Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Culture and Conscious Leadership. Founded in 2010, Conscious Capitalism, Inc. has offices in San Francisco, New York City and Detroit. The international organization serves a global movement of Conscious Capitalists by producing transformational events and learning opportunities to inspire, educate and connect a growing community of leaders around the world interested in advancing the practice and perception of business as a force for good.

Why Stories Matter in Business

Conscious Leadership
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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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Thea Polancic: Building Community and Purpose

Conscious Leadership
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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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In Pursuit of the Present Moment

Higher Purpose
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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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I Can Stop Apologizing

Conscious Leadership
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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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The New CCI Chapter Model Explained

Conscious Culture
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By Agata Antonow and Lizzie Vance 

Imagine this. It’s a warm May Atlanta night, and you’re standing outside Grace Midtown, a church topped with a big white dome. In front of you is a parking lot shining with cars. A man in a red T-shirt passes by with sliders from Arby’s, tilting the tray so you can take one. A woman in a long-sleeved shirt walks up with her own tray.

“Beer? Wine? I can get you a soft drink, too, if you like.”

You’re not at a wedding or a confirmation or a church social. Close. This is a celebration, but a celebration of what business can do. This is one of the regular events hosted by the Conscious Capitalism Atlanta chapter. Today, two speakers will be talking about Higher Purpose, and before and after they speak, entrepreneurs and company owners from all over Atlanta will have their own discussions, spilling out over the grass lawn and the concrete parking lot with fries and beer, sharing ideas and their passion for doing good in the world with business.

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Consciously Firing

Conscious Culture
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By Alexander McCobin 

In 2016, the influential media publication Ad Age named Dan Golden’s company the number one agency to work at—and the following two weeks were the worst of the CEO’s professional career. His digital marketing agency Be Found Online (BFO) had just received the most prestigious recognition one can hope for in advertising, but BFO was also in turmoil from an increasingly toxic situation. The reason was no secret to BFO’s entire executive team: while their largest customer brought a lot of revenue and had helped put BFO on the map, it was clear that several years into the relationship, many of BFO’s major problems stemmed from the relationship with this client.

For years, BFO had cultivated a team and culture that they were proud of, one where people enjoyed going to work each day and felt like they were able to make a difference. No matter how much they did internally to cultivate that, they couldn’t control the culture of their client, and it was starting to have detrimental effects.

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The Conscious Merger

Conscious Leadership
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A Community Contribution by Brandi Beakley 

After building a purpose-driven retail business that had experienced more than 100 percent YOY growth for four straight years, CEO Steve Hall knew driversselect was poised to scale. But the business model had outpaced his abilities to scale it without taking on serious financial and cultural risks. For one thing, driversselect was in desperate need of a much larger facility. Tribe members (driversselect employees) were on top of each other at the existing location, and inventory was being parked at an overflow lot several miles away due to lack of space. The growing pains were palpable.

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