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Soul of a Business, The Hardcover – October 1, 1993


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Managers must maximize profits while satisfying stockholders' expectations. Can these goals be achieved while following moral principles and values? Chappell, co-founder and president of Tom's of Maine (a natural-ingredients consumer-products company) and former Harvard Divinity School student, presents a thoughtful and practical study of business ethics. His report bursts with ideas from the Bible, Kant and Martin Buber (he gave copies of I and Thou to introduce numbers-oriented managers to his values-based approach to business). Adroitly developing his "middle way" of management, Chappell maintains executives can "use the two sides of all of us, the spiritual and the practical, to achieve whatever business goals you set for yourself." He explains the development of a media campaign that expressed the value of "goodness" on which Tom's is based and tackles issues from building a sense of community within the company to the obligations of citizenship in forming a new kind of business. This inspiring study neatly bridges the gap between theoretical ethics and managerial practices.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In 1974 Chappell and wife Kate founded Tom's of Maine, a company that makes products using only natural ingredients. By 1981 this company, started with a $5000 loan, was registering $1.5 million in sales. Despite this success, Chappell was unhappy; he felt disconnected from the company. He enrolled in divinity school, where he decided to re-create his company in a way that would encourage respect for the individual, the community, and the environment. This is the story of that transformation. Many of the ideas presented here, like starting a newsletter or creating small work groups, have been prevalent in management literature for some time, and few companies have the conditions needed to make their success possible. While Tom's of Maine consumers might enjoy reading this account, and others might find it inspirational, only the CEO of a small company could use it to follow in Chappell's footsteps.
- Joshua Cohen, Mid-Hudson Lib. System, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Printing edition (October 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553094238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553094237
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Carter Merkle on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Soul of a Business, though lesser known than many of the myriad of business advice books, does a better job than any other in giving a foundation from which to work.
The business guru often spends an entire book telling us how to treat others. Chappell tells us what basic principles he found that led him to this position of responsible commerce.
Shelves are full of books offering cliches and platitudes on why why ethical behavior leads to a better company and eventually more profits. However, Chappell's book goes back to the root question - why should we as individuals or companies seek one kind of relationship over another? In other words, what should guide us in how we treat each other?
For a book that delivers far beyond simple diagrams and behavior modification tricks, a book that provides the philosophical foundations of Buber and Edwards to guide us in how we should interact with our employees, customers and community read Chappell's book. I ended up owning both paperback and audio tape.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kevin A. Trapani on December 22, 1998
Format: Paperback
For those of us who have had difficulty reconciling our personal desires to make a difference with our career demands to turn a profit, this book connects. It's a study in managing value complexity and speaks well to the enormous rewards of striving for a goal much higher than improving ROE. Not all of us can take the same route as does Tom Chappell, but, if we're to be truly fulfilled by our business lives, we must find our own way to his destination.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Lippincott VINE VOICE on April 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was a wonderful book to read. After reading it I felt as though I probably know its author pretty good. Not as a friend or someone I'd necessarily like to be friends with, but he seems to be very open about his past, his present, and his beliefs. I am sure that what he discloses in this book will help any wanta-be entrepreneur or small to medium sized business owner rethink whether he or she is leading his or her company in the right direction. I highly recommend that entrepreneurs give this book a read.

Some of the issues addressed are as follows:

1. Will the mission of the company allow the company's leader to enjoy a reasonably good state of mind or conscience?

2. What does a CEO have to do at work to feel fulfilled?

3. Is the CEO of the company a happy and fulfilled person?

4. Are people who work at the company happy at work?

5. Does the company interface well with the community in which it operates?

6. Does the community appreciate the company?

7. Do people trust one another who work for the company?

8. Does much discrimination exist at the company?

9. Is the company all about profits, or not?

10. Is competition good?

11. Is winning always good?

12. Is there more to life than making a buck?

The above issues are just the first 12 that came to mind while I was writing this review. There were many more, but I'm not going to list them all here. The above issues are representative of the content of the book. Maybe the book provides answers, and maybe it doesn't. But the book is great because it reminds business people who are caught up in the rat race of making a living that there is more to business than just making a buck.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
This is the Tom's of Maine Tom Chappell. His story picks up after Tom's has become just another profit seeking business infested with MBAs and looking at the bottom line. It seems that Tom is disallusioned, depressed and goes searching for personal answers by enrolling in Harvard Divinity School. His search helps him and his wife bring the company back to the environmentally and socially conscious organization they began. His story gives some insights and suggestions on how to achieve this mind set turn around in any corporate structure.
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