Tony Schwartz, The Energy Project – Hero of Conscious Capitalism
Being a conscious capitalist means taking care of and actively investing in your own employees. The Energy Project, the company that Tony Schwartz founded and for which he serves as CEO, aims to help organizations do just that. “We are in the capacity building business,” Schwartz says. “Energy is defined as the capacity to do work. We help individuals more effectively manage their own energy; leaders better manage the energy of others in their role as “Chief Energy Officers;” and organizations build policies, practices and cultures that fuel sustainable high performance.”
In a world of relentlessly rising demand and complexity, Schwartz believes that businesses must better meet the internal needs of their employees – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual – in order to free, fuel and motivate them to bring more of their skill, talent and potential to work. Take better care of your employees, Schwartz says, and they will take better your customers. It is a virtuous circle. The Energy Project has worked with an eclectic group of companies such as Facebook, Genentech, Nestle, Kaiser, Coty, Google, Coke and PWC, as well as other organizations including the National Security Agency, Kaiser Permanente, the Air Force, and the FBI.
The Energy Project’s principles and strategies are grounded in the multidisciplinary science of high performance – which includes physiology, neurochemistry and psychology. For example, Schwartz explains, human beings are not designed to operate in the same way computers do: at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time. Instead, every system in the human body is designed to pulse between spending and renewing energy. That’s why both sleep and intermittent daytime rest and renewal are so critical to performance.
“Because organizations are so externally focused,” Schwartz says, “they vastly underestimate how profoundly the way people feel internally influences the way they perform.” People perform at entirely different levels if they’re feeling energized, optimistic and focused than if they feel depleted, fearful and distracted. Schwartz’s team of facilitators teach people at all levels in organizations how to move from the “Survival” and “Burnout” into the “Renewal Zone” – in order to spend more time in the “Performance Zone.”
Ultimately, Schwartz believes that investing in people requires company cultures that support and expect continuous personal development, alongside skill-building. The Energy Project sees itself a living laboratory, and Schwartz is committed to having its own employees live its principles and walk its talk.
Finally, Schwartz himself has himself engaged in philanthropy, giving $55,000 early in 2017 to the National Immigration Law Center and other nonprofits that assist immigrants on their path to citizenship, and $50,000 more recently to help victims of the hurricane in Puerto Rico. “The most enduringly powerful source of energy is serving something larger than yourself,” Schwartz says. “It’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.”