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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business Hardcover – January 15, 2013
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Mackey and Sisodia, leaders of the corporation Conscious Capitalism, describe the movement in the context of Mackey’s reflections as cofounder of Whole Foods Market. The term conscious capitalism refers to businesses that serve the interests of all major stakeholders—customers, employees, investors, communities, suppliers, and the environment. Mackey’s realization of conscious capitalism began on Memorial Day 1981, as the fledgling Whole Foods Market was basically wiped out by a flood. Unexpectedly, dozens of customers and neighbors showed up to help; employees worked for free, not knowing if the store would survive; suppliers resupplied on credit; investors stepped up, too, and the Whole Foods Market’s bank loaned it money to restock; the store reopened in 28 days. Following two introductory chapters, part 1 covers purpose; part 2 is about stakeholders; part 3, conscious leadership; and part 4, conscious culture and management. Mackey and Sisodia cite companies such as Southwest Airlines, Google, the Container Store, Whole Foods Market, and Nordstrom as embracing this sound vision of reality. A very solid examination. --Mary Whaley
at a time when the public reputation of big business has hit a dangerous low, surely the efforts of Messrs. Gates, Porter and Mackeyand even Ms. Nooyito make capitalism better can't be all bad. As the authors put it: "Free market capitalism is one of the most powerful ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more. Let's not be afraid to climb higher." Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal
"... a good read with useful insights for those who are, or aspire to be, entrepreneurial." Pamela Hartigan, Financial Times
Even if you don’t agree with all or most of Mackey and Sisodia’s arguments, their visionessentially, startups for grownupsseems viscerally compelling, and describes the sort of enterprise that I suspect most would love to join.” David Shaywitz, Forbes.com
Had [Mackey and Sisodia’s] application of higher consciousness been in the boardroom a generation ago, we might have avoided the suffocating regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and the dire straits of companies like General Motors, Sears, Citibank, and even Enron Conscious Capitalism is still an inspiring blueprint for a better world.” Mark Skousen, BARRON’s
Conscious Capitalism is a wonderful book, full of fiery passion and incisive insights. So buy it. Read it. Implement it. It’s a true guide to future.” Steve Denning, Forbes.com
Mackey and Sisodia make a valiant effort to redeem a practice often tainted by greed and corruption and show that if the individuals managing the system commit to conscious capitalism, everyone benefits.” Publishers Weekly
I would place Conscious Capitalism at the top of my list of good readingby far. It's not just the writing; the intent of the book is very good.” Gilda Chan, Senior Merchandising Planner at Vera Bradley
Conscious Capitalism, raises valid points about heroic entrepreneurs’ and conscious companies’ that are butterflies’ as opposed to the normal caterpillar’ companies, focused only on profit optimisation and shareholder value.” Outlook Business (India)
The book is an exceptional guide to best practices in organizational leadership. It is refreshing, high on ideals, and has a fair dose of prescription for creating and operating enterprises with a conscience.” Business World
Conscious Capitalism builds the case for free market enterprise, driven by a purpose other than profit.” Mint (livemint.com)
In stark contrast to today’s often pessimistic view of capitalism, MacKey and Sisodia defend the old principles while simultaneously urging business leaders to transform how they do business. Business cases ... show that companies are perfectly capable of creating more value for all of their stakeholders, from customers, employees, suppliers, and investors to society as whole and the environment. Business Digest (France)
In all the chapters, you’ll find how the effects of having a passionate, inspired team build stakeholder relations at a variety of firms in many industries.” Jim Pawlak, Dallas Morning News
a must-read, with a message especially appropriate for these times of dysfunctional political polarization, with red-state” Republicans over-simplistically depicted as conservative and pro-business and blue-state” Democrats as liberal and anti-business.” Lanny Davis, TheHill.com
Conscious Capitalism is in keeping with the ancient wisdom of India as it views leadership as trusteeship, which is all about focusing on the right actions and not being attached to outcome.” The Economic Times
the most powerful part of Mackey’s message: running a wholesome business doesn’t mean your business has to cut back on profitability. Doing the right thing pays, Mackey writes.” Robert Gratton, Austin Business Journal
Whole Foods co-founder Mackey, writing with economist Sisodia, offers a persuasive paean to free enterprise. Light on ideology and long on thoughtful analysisa good book to hand to the budding entrepreneur in the family.” Kirkus Reviews
Conscious Capitalism demonstrates conclusively that in business, nice guys don’t always finish last. They may finish first.” Anthony J. Sadar, Washington Times
A timely explanation of what is wrong with capitalism and how it can be made right. Recommended for business owners, employees, customers, and investors.” Library Journal
As an HR professional [this book] has helped me realize I need to focus on the business mission and company values to reconcile my professional goals and personal values.” HR Magazine
Like a trip to Whole Foods, you may not buy everything Mackey offers, but overall, the book rings up as good value and good for you.” Associations Now
a superb new book essential reading for every businessman, investor, or lover of a good story. This is a fascinating tale. Read the book. Enjoy the story. And spread the word." Alexander Green, Investment U Chief Investment Strategist, Market Daily News
Conscious Capitalism spells out the practices which Mackey, I and many others believe will restore the trust which has been eroded, both in corporations and markets, and will allow capitalism to continue. I welcome this book and hope asset-managers will take heed.” Hazel Henderson, Seeking Alpha
Thus it is the responsibility of ethical and conscious businesspeople and entrepreneurs to demonstrate to society their important role in the world, what businesses can do for local communities, for families and to solve deep social problems. Conscious capitalism is therefore not only a story worth telling but is a vision of our world worth preserving.” The Classic Libertarian Perspective (Blog)
If you believe in fair, open, and voluntary exchange, you’ll love Mackey’s book. If you don’t believe in those things, you need Mackey’s book.” Hennessy’s View (Blog)
very good, with useful insights on almost every page ” Marc Gunther, Sustainable Business Forum
Conscious capitalism is a refreshing vision of economics that assumes people want more than just money. It’s also a vision that supplements the narrow interests of investors with the broader interests of employees, managers, customers, and the larger community. As the success of Whole Foods demonstrates, it works.” James A. Ogilvy, strategy+business
Conscious Capitalism is a book you will want to share with every business owner, manager, and worker you know.” Jo Ann Skousen, Liberty
an inspiring defense of free enterprise an exceptional guide to best practices in organizational leadership...Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business is a treatise for a cultural revolution.” Wesley Gant, Values and Capitalism, an initiative at the American Enterprise Institute
Conscious Capitalism is [Mackey's] philosophy of how capitalism and good business can - and should - be the driving force of change in the world. Business leaders must be attuned to an 'ethical consciousness', argue the authors, and through this all stakeholders, including employees, customers, shareholders and society as a whole will benefit.... making the case that companies who take genuine care of their workers and communities and the environment actually end up creating the most profits and long-term shareholder value.” SAPress South Africa
ADVANCE PRAISE for Conscious Capitalism:
From the Foreword: Bill George, bestselling author of True North
This is the book I always wanted to write.”
Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO, Starbucks
I have long believed that companies have a responsibility to balance profitability with a social conscience, yet few leaders have an inherent understanding of just how to do it. In Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey and Raj Sisodia provide a timely, realistic framework so companies can better serve a variety of stakeholders. I highly recommend listening to what they have to say.”
Herb Kelleher, former Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines
Conscious Capitalism is a welcome explication and endorsement of the virtues of free-enterprise capitalismproperly comprehended, there is no more beneficial economic systemand a simultaneously pragmatic and inspirational extolment of higher purpose and humanism in business. I hail and revere the tenets of Conscious Capitalism!”
Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons
This book provides the script for a much-needed different narrative for free- enterprise capitalism. Businesses need to be driven by a purpose higher than maximizing profit, and they must ensure optimal benefits to all stakeholders. Only if that happens can capitalism deliver to all humanity the full societal benefits it is capable of.”
Sally Jewell, CEO, REI
By so clearly and thoughtfully articulating the tenets of Conscious Capitalism, Raj and John have helped me understand the power behind the sustainable success in our business, raising my consciousness in guiding REI forward to serve a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”
Biz Stone, Cofounder and Creative Director, Twitter
John Mackey’s journey to awakening is an inspiration not just to entrepreneurs, but to anyone who believes in a new definition of success for capitalismone that includes positive societal impact as well as traditional business metrics.”
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There are four principles that underpin the practice of Conscious Capitalism: Higher purpose and core values, stakeholder integration; conscious culture and management; and conscious leadership. I am going to focus on the first two.
Author Richard Leider, asks every audience he addresses the following question: What are the two most important days in your life? Most people, he reports, identify the day they were born and an event such as their wedding day. The answer Leider wants them to get to is, obviously the day you are born, but less obviously the day you realize why you were born.
(Pause here and think about this.)
Consider how different your working life would be when it dawns on you that you were born to ensure fairness in business, which is why you are a commercial litigator. You were born to make people’s movement about their cities and country safer and smoother. That is why you are so committed to your work in the Integrated Traffic Systems department of the local roads authority.
When the employees of your company, department or unit, see their work as infused with meaning, you will see a commitment rarely seen elsewhere.
Executive of Medtronics, the world’s largest medical technology company, regularly tell staff: “Your job here is not just to make money for the company; your job is to restore people to full life and health.” To drive this point home six patients are brought to every year-end party to describe about how a Medtronic defibrillator, or a stent, or a spinal surgery with a stimulator has changed their lives.
The Container Store, a hugely successful, multinational chain of stores selling containers, practices Conscious Capitalism. Their purpose is to “help people get organized so that they can lead happier lives.” Cofounder and CEO encourages his sales staff to do everything they can to sell customers products that they might not be aware they need.
He repeats “his lost man in the desert story” at every opportunity. Imagine a man lost for days in the desert, dehydrated, terrified and almost delusional with thirst. He sees you and desperately asks for water. Most people would feel good that they have helped the man by giving him a flask of fresh water. That is all the thirsty man asks for and wants at that moment.
However, there is so much more one can do for him. “He probably has heat exhaustion or sunstroke; he obviously needs a hat and sunscreen; he needs to be re-hydrated. You could call his wife and family and let them know he’s okay, since he’s been missing for days.”
A salesperson whose only focus is to meet target behaves very differently from salesman with a higher purpose. Up-, on- and cross-selling containers is not a way to extract more sales, but a way to get the customer more organized so he can lead a happier life. Purpose-driven salespeople outperform the target driven type across all product groups.
I have emphasised this principle of higher purpose because in my experience with a wide variety of companies in 14 countries, it is the one that seems to “get lost” over time. Often, the founders of the firm where driven by a higher purpose, but without a constant reminders, in a wide variety of ways, (bringing patients to the party or telling stories,) their initial purpose fades or is ambushed by slumps or the race to meet payroll.
It is well worth revisiting the issue of your business’ higher purpose if for no other reason than its economic value.
“Stakeholder integration,” another Conscious Capitalism principle, is a philosophical issue with profound practical consequences.
The stakeholders in any business are the shareholders, the staff, suppliers, the customers or clients, and the community in which the business operates. The common view of stakeholder groups is as a zero-sum game. There is only so much to go around and if staff get increases or suppliers are paid on time, and if contributions are made to the community, someone must get less.
The “Conscious” part of the book’s title “Conscious Capitalism, refers to wider and deeper understanding of how the world really works. People who are not highly conscious, think narrowly and in short time-frames. The do not see the whole picture and they do not see consequences.
When stakeholders are seen as an integrated whole, and this collective is not viewed in terms of a zero-sum game, we know we have to think win-win, and be highly creative.
If staff feel underpaid they will be disgruntled so they may work with less enthusiasm. This leads to lower profits of shareholders, and less satisfied customers. Businesses run on Conscious Capitalism principles outperform businesses based on other economic models.
The business is not mechanical it is organic. Every part affects every other part because each part is connected and interdependent.
There is much food for thought in this wise book. It deserves a slow read.
Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
What makes this book different than some others is the authors demonstrate the practicality of how by being intentionally conscious about one's behavior, any business from the smallest to the largest can be make money and be a positive contributor to all stakeholders through the 4 tenets of: Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Integration, Conscious Leadership and Conscious Integration
I particularly enjoyed the purpose reference specific to Plato's transcendent ideals of The Good, The True and The Beautiful. The authors adding a four ideal purpose of Heroic reaffirmed the necessity of businesses to identify and define their purpose.
Additionally, the authors present some very strong facts about how capitalism is good especially South Korea that went from one of the poorest countries in the world to one of the richest in approximately 50 years.
This is truly a practical, hands on book that can support any business to Be the Red Jacket and propel that organization ahead of the flow.
Having no formal business background myself, I gained many new insights and inspiration from "Conscious Capitalism." John and Raj cite several examples of purpose-driven companies that are successful and highly regarded, from Southwest Airlines, The Container Store and Google to UPS and TATA. I found telling a Gallup poll about human happiness cited by the authors that revealed, "... the leading determinant of happiness is 'a good job': work that is meaningful and done in the company of people we care about," rather than wealth, health or family. Every aspect - or "stakeholder" - of business is discussed in detail in the book from employees to customers, from suppliers to investors, from the environment to nonprofit organizations. As a longtime nonprofit executive, I appreciated the opinion of the authors, "business is a natural ally of the nonprofit sector, and the two should work hand in hand. Conscious businesses seek ways to be more effective serving their community stakeholders. Conscious nonprofits can leverage this desire to help fulfill their own purposes."
Helpful information regarding leadership skills, the importance of innovation, how to transform into a "conscious" business, and the positive effect conscious capitalism can have on the "bottom line" is included. The book contains an extensive bibliography for additional follow-up. I was impressed - but not surprised - that the book was published by Harvard Business Review Press.