Conscious Company Magazine | Issue 12, Mar/Apr 2017

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WHAT IN THE CONSCIOUS BUSINESS MOVEMENT IS GIVING YOU HOPE? March / April 2017 | Issue 12 The Conscious Company Magazine Team CO-FOUNDER Meghan French Dunbar CO-FOUNDER Maren Keeley EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Rachel Zurer ART DIRECTOR Cia Lindgren CHIEF COMMUNITY OFFICER Kate Herrmann

That so many business leaders are using their positions and platforms to stand up publicly in support of tolerance, acceptance, and inclusion. Growth, traction, and demand. This is truly a movement, not a fad, and it’s gaining significant momentum, moving from niche to mainstream. Considering your impact and the greater good is hip, smart, and here to stay. How motivating and joyful it is to work for a company with a mission — purpose is a truly powerful force. That more businesses are making a change for the better, resisting politics, and refusing to stay silent. The fact that my dad is starting to understand why this is the future of the private sector.


That many companies who so often seem to stay neutral publicly are now using their voice to stand up for what’s right and speak out against what’s wrong.


The post-election courageous actions business leaders are taking every day to advocate for positive change in the world. And you, our readers, who are so passionate about making business a tool for good.

COPY EDITORS Robin Dickerhoof Shane Gassaway WEBSITE GURU Chad Kelsey Bunsun Designs TRANSCRIPTIONIST Carla Faraldo NEWSSTAND CONSULTANT Curtis Circulation Company PRINTING Publication Printers COVER PHOTO: Tommaso Mei










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CO-FOUNDER’S NOTE Let’s go ahead and name it: we’re living in unprecedented and challenging times. The country feels divided. Many feel scared, helpless, and even hopeless. But now is not the time to shrink. In a book I’ve found truly transformative lately,“The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership,” the authors write, “In the experience of growth, pressure plays a critical role. Reactive leaders often revert to seeing obstacles when they encounter a challenge. Alternatively, conscious leaders welcome this experience because they see the benefit of pressure; it either causes them to wake up and take action or allows new things to come forth.” The time has come for conscious leadership — leadership that sees opportunity in challenge, wakes up, and rises to the occasion. This is also a time to broaden our thinking — to see everyone, not just those who look like you or think like you, as a potential ally and partner

in change. From those in the Rust Belt region who feel left behind by the creative destruction of economic progress, to rural loggers, to social entrepreneurs of color, to employees who are not having an equal experience in the workplace — it’s time to embrace everyone who wants to use business to make positive change. It is time to work together, because leaving people behind is how we got to the place we are today. Inclusivity and broader thinking is the way forward. You may see it as a coincidence that just as the conscious business movement is at a critical tipping point toward becoming mainstream, we’ve also been called to action in a way we’ve never experienced before. I don’t. On the contrary, this confusing, confounding time is exactly the moment we’ve been waiting for. I see everything coming together perfectly.

I see opportunity. I am so inspired by the business leaders who have already begun to think beyond the narrower interests of their companies and recognize the positive change they can make by taking a stand. As Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario told us (see page 34), “If you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for anything. … At the end of the day, you want to live your life having done what you believe is the right thing to do, and not having taken some generic stance or the safe route.” It begs the question: What do you believe in? What will you and your company stand for? And what action will you take?

— Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media co-founder

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Founder of The Runway Project

Washington, DC // Founded 2016 // No paid employees (yet)


hen Hurricane Katrina hit her hometown of Mobile, AL, in 2005, Norwood saw firsthand what it meant to have financial resources and networks and how disaster affected people who didn’t. That experience inspired her to create the Emerging ChangeMakers Network, which since 2007 has found up-and-coming leaders and connected them to issues, ideas, people, and organizations that can make a significant impact in traditionally marginalized communities. Her latest venture is The Runway Project, an initiative to raise startup money for black-owned businesses. “When a business starts, entrepreneurs are told to get the early startup money by borrowing from their friends and family,” she says. “But what happens if their friends and family don’t have the money to lend?” White Americans have, on average, $144,200 in wealth (a lot of which is derived from equity in businesses), compared to black Americans, who have an average of $11,200. “Without friends-andfamily money, there will always be a lack of diversity in businesses that get started,” Norwood explains. “There will continue to be a lack of investment in people-ofcolor ventures.” The Runway Project has one simple goal: to remove the barrier to starting a business that individuals without a personal network of well-resourced friends and family face and replacing it with all of us — everyone — becoming a prospective business owner’s “friends and family.” The Runway Project launched in October 2016 with a goal of raising $300,000 for a pilot program in Oakland. Within two days it was oversubscribed at more than $450,000. After three months, the fundraising efforts closed 2016 at well over $1 million. In January 2017, The Runway Project became an initiative of the Association for Enterprise Opportunity for the purposes of expanding the Runway financial instruments and strategies into Baltimore, Cincinnati, Charlotte, New Orleans, Detroit, and Washington, DC.

moment had to be right to see the value of the business strategy I was proposing with The Runway Project. When I look at how quickly The Runway Project was received and supported, nationally and internationally, I am overwhelmed because it’s fast-moving. But the good thing was that we were ready. We had been waiting for the circumstances in the market to propel us forward, and it did. If you believe, stick with it. Too many people give up right before the tide changes.

What’s the most surprising business lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

What’s giving you hope?

Jessica Norwood: This may be a cliché lesson, but “don’t give up.” Some may think that The Runway Project came out of nowhere. But the truth is that each person on the Runway team has been working their whole lives towards closing the wealth gap. So this is not new to us. But the 10




What’s the most inspiring or game-changing business-related resource you’ve read, seen, or heard in the last 6 to 12 months? JN: For starters, I read everything. Over the past couple weeks I found myself quoting an unlikely subject: rap artist Lil Yachty. The New York Times covered him in December 2016 in an article called “The Sudden Rise of Lil Yachty.” The article talked about the 19-year-old’s one-year rise to the top of the Billboard charts and endorsement deals with companies like Nautica and other brands. He says in the article, “I’m not a rapper, I’m an artist. And I’m more than an artist. I’m a brand. Rappers don’t have endorsements because of their images. Endorsement money is huge. And I care about my character.” He added: “I don’t rap about drinking or smoking, ever, because I don’t do it. I don’t rap about anything I don’t do.” My takeaway: Lil Yachty doesn’t talk about what he doesn’t know; he speaks his truth, and that is what separates him from everyone else. As a business owner, I have had people challenge my desire to build a business that expressly speaks to the problems facing black business owners. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them and instead stuck with my truth. My truth gives me more understanding and makes me uniquely qualified.

JN: Every time I speak with our advisors, mentors, and partners, I am hopeful. They are prepared to bring all they have to the table to help communities that have been historically marginalized. I am honored and humbled and deeply in love with each person who has given time, money, and insight to make The Runway Project the best place for black visionaries to get support.

“If you believe, stick with it. Too many people give up right before the tide changes.�

Photo by Toni Riales



Chief Everything Officer of Sphaera Solutions Portland, OR // Founded 2015 // 4 Employees As an economist and longtime nonprofit executive, Scholz began to notice some troubling patterns in how the social change industry works. The ways organizations raise money, design and implement programs, and measure success in relative isolation from each other felt ineffectual in the face of the urgent crises the planet is facing. So she pivoted to become a for-purpose tech entrepreneur, and is now working to build a platform for organizations to share ideas, innovations, and solutions with others in their field. Sphaera’s mission is to accelerate the pace of change by connecting the practitioners, funders, and innovators working on the world’s toughest problems. So far, the company has raised about $2 million in non-dilutive funding, and has 15 early adopters of its enterprise product who are creating solution hubs for topics from inclusive economic opportunities in US cities to farmer-led agricultural practices in Africa to community economic development in island nations. The company had revenues of over $400,000 in 2016. >> HER INSPIRATION “I am motivated by the sense that if we can figure this out, the systems change I can help catalyze is orders of magnitude greater than what I could do running one organization.”

Photo by Sam Beebe


Founder and CEO of Sevamob

Atlanta, GA // Founded 2012 // 55 Employees

Saxena got the idea for a subscription-based healthcare business after his mother, who lives in Lucknow, India (population 2.8 million), almost lost her life from being misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated during a bout with Hepatitis C. “If this could happen in a ‘Tier 2’ [big] city,” Saxena says, “the situation in ‘Tier 3’ or ‘4’ towns and rural areas is even worse. I started Sevamob to address this healthcare gap in the developing countries.” On a subscription model, Sevamob’s popup clinics provide comprehensive care, including dental and vision care, nutrition information, and more, onsite in underserved urban and rural areas in India and South Africa. Meanwhile, the company’s tech platform also provides infrastructure for tele-health, healthcare IT, and point-of-care diagnostics to third-party clinics. The company currently facilitates 20,000 patient consultations per month in eight states of India and in South Africa, while about 500 third-party organizations are using the tech platform. >> RECENT LESSON “The healthcare sector has more regulations. A startup has greater likelihood of success if, instead of ‘disruption,’ it uses an approach of working with and adding value to existing players in the ecosystem.”






Founder and CEO of Pipeline Angels New York, NY // Founded 2011 // 4 Employees

Starting in 2008, Oberti Noguera built a network of female social entrepreneurs in New York from six early adopters to over 1,200 women. That network opened her eyes to how hard it was for many members to secure funding. “They were sharing their change-making ideas with their communities, people were getting excited, asking where to send the check ... and as soon as they would clarify that they were aiming to be for-profit social ventures, people would back away, saying, ‘Let us know when you’ve launched your sister nonprofit,’” Oberti Noguera says. “I realized that society has a gendered perception with respect to how people are changing the world.” Meanwhile, more and more evidence was emerging that angel investors and venture capitalists — who are mostly white men — tend to look for someone like them as they choose founders to fund. “I was interested in turning the concept of pattern matching on its head,” Oberti Noguera says. “If people invest in what looks like them, then let’s get more women and non-binary femme social entrepreneurs on the investing side, because we’ll probably be more open to investing in more of us on the entrepreneurship side.” That’s how the Pipeline Angels network was born; seasoned female investors run bootcamps for new investors along with pitch summits for startups looking for funding. Since 2011, more than 200 women have graduated from the angel-investing bootcamp and have invested over $2 million in more than 30 companies. >> RECENT LESSON “If you want to be inclusive, be explicit. We received feedback on how we could make one of the Pipeline Angels Pitch Summit criteria more inclusive. With guidance from Riley Hanson, co-founder and CTO of Inclusion Through Innovation, we updated the language to ‘Woman and/or nonbinary femme co-founder (we encourage anyone who identifies with womanhood — cis, trans, third gender — to apply).’ While prior language encouraged cis and/or trans women co-founders to apply, it was not enough. As Maya Angelou once said, ‘Now that I know better, I do better.’”

Photo by Paola Kudacki



Co-founder and CEO of FINNEGANS

Minneapolis, MN // Founded 2000 // 4 Employees Berglund’s brewery’s mission is “turning beer into food.” When Berglund was a child, her family struggled financially, kindling a lifelong desire to support the working poor and leave the world better than she found it. Since its inception, FINNEGANS beer company has donated 100 percent of its profits to its nonprofit partner, the FINNEGANS Community Fund, to purchase produce from local growers and donate it to local food pantries in all the states where the company operates. In 2016, the company passed the $1 million mark in total donations. FINNEGANS also pioneered — then shared freely — the idea of a Reverse Food Truck: a truck that collects food donations rather than selling food. There are now at least six reverse food trucks in the US and Canada. The next step: the company’s most ambitious project yet, a hotel and brewery concept near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium that will also include a social innovation incubator.

>> WHAT SHE’S READING “A book by Jenny Evans called ‘The Resiliency rEvolution’ — it’s about how to manage stress in a healthy way, and it has changed how I operate.”


Founder and CEO of United By Blue Philadelphia, PA // Founded 2010 // 45 Employees Linton grew up in and around the oceans in southeast Asia and always loved water. He started outdoor clothing company United By Blue first and foremost because he wanted to create a business that would have a meaningful impact on the “blue parts” of the planet. For every product sold, the company removes one pound of trash from oceans and waterways through companyorganized and hosted cleanups. UBB’s clothing is now sold in 500 retail stores globally and the cleanups have removed nearly a million pounds of trash from oceans and waterways across 27 US states and Canada.

>> HIS INSPIRATION “The thousands of volunteers who have

attended a United By Blue cleanup give me hope. I never cease to be surprised about the turnout — there are so many people out there who genuinely want to donate time and energy to making our planet a cleaner place.”






Co-founder and CEO of Celebrate EDU Boulder, CO // Founded 2013 // 3 Employees

Anderson started Celebrate EDU, which provides entrepreneurial education to young adults with autism and developmental disabilities, because of her older brother Brent, who is on the autism spectrum. After leaving high school, Brent struggled to find employment and purpose in his life. It wasn’t until Anderson’s mom helped him launch his own business that he finally found his voice. Today, Brent is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, and successful entrepreneur. “I started Celebrate EDU to create more stories like Brent’s,” Anderson says. The company’s proprietary programs use strength-based learning to teach entrepreneurship and business to help individuals with disabilities harness their passions and interests to create a career. Currently, 85 percent of adults with developmental disabilities are unemployed. In its first three years, Celebrate EDU has partnered with 22 schools and organizations in seven states to reach more than 400 young adults.

>> WHAT SHE’S LOVING “Mindfulness has really changed

my productivity in the past few months. There are so many interviews with entrepreneurs who say that meditating has changed their life. I’ve tried to pick it up multiple times in the past, but this time it finally stuck. I meditate every day using the Headspace app, which I love! This practice has kept me more grounded and present, thinking about what I am currently doing instead of the hundreds of things on my to-do list.”

Photo by Bob Rozycki


CEO of Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water Katonah, NY // Founded 2014 // 2 Employees In the spring of 2008, Lazar spent a day visiting maple farms in Vermont and saw maple syrup producers dispose of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water left over once the maple sugar had been removed. “After realizing this was a pure biological water, and knowing that our drinkable water supply was dwindling, I decided that I needed to find a way to bring this new water resource to consumers,” he says. That is how Asarasi — the first USDA organic-certified bottled water — was born. By sourcing the sparkling beverage from what was previously a waste stream, Asarasi avoids depleting groundwater and provides another source of income for maple farmers. The company is quickly growing towards nationwide distribution.

>> RECENT LESSON “The most impactful resource

we’ve seen is startup accelerators that provide new businesses the resources and contacts [they need] to grow faster than they would be able to on their own.”







Co-founder and CEO of HandUp

San Francisco, CA // Founded 2013 // 5 Employees

Poverty is one of the biggest global social challenges, but it’s not just occurring in developing countries: 43 million Americans live below the poverty line, and 3.5 million experience homelessness each year. Living in San Francisco, Broome was tired of seeing new apps for everything from ordering food to getting rides, but not for helping people who were suffering on her own city’s streets. She started her app HandUp because she wanted to make it easier to give directly to a specific person, and to see the impact of that donation. The fundraising platform works exclusively with human service organizations like those serving the homeless and at-risk populations, and has raised more than $1.86 million for over 100 poverty-focused nonprofits across the US. Top uses of funds are housing, food, and technology — the last being “a very important basic need, when you think about it,” Broome says. Like most fundraising platforms, the for-profit Public-Benefit Corporation takes a small percentage cut of transactions made on the platform. >> WHAT SHE’S READING “I’m a huge fan of Paul Graham and turn to his blog posts when I need business advice. His post on fundraising is especially enlightening.”

Photo by Jill Schneider


CEO of StoryTime

Washington, DC // Founded 2016 // 1 Employee A Yale-trained computer scientist, Esterman taught Head Start preschool in Florida where many families didn’t have books or time to read them; many were struggling just to meet their basic needs. Every family, though, had a phone. To help his own students and to get families reading, he built a service to send children’s books via text message to any phone for free. Now schools across 12 states use StoryTime to get families reading and build literacy, and the program has more than doubled the amount of reading done at home among those who use it. In 2017, StoryTime is on target to work with schools in all 50 states.

>> WHAT HE’S READING Daniel Kahneman







Co-founder and CEO of Sou Sou

Washington, DC // Founded 2014 // 7 Employees The practice goes by many names around the world: “gae don” or “kye” in South Korea, where Gilliam first encountered it; “hui” in other parts of Asia; “pandeiros” in Brazil; and “susu” in West Africa, to name a few. It’s an ancient form of capital-sharing (or rotating savings and credit) in which a group comes together regularly to pool a certain amount of money for a defined period. Each month, say, a different person takes home the whole pot of money, minus some interest. The club continues until everyone has had a chance to take home the pot. Gilliam’s goal with the peer-to-peer mobile app she’s creating is to formalize and modernize this practice with technology and innovative financial tools as a means for economic empowerment for women globally. “Our mission,” she says, “is to close the $320 billion gap in access to capital, which is financially crippling women globally, through crowd banking.” The beta version of the app is currently scheduled to launch in April 2017. >> RECENT LESSON “Smart prototyping and customer feedback are critical in the design and product development process. Don’t take it for granted or discount it. You must be willing to iterate and adapt based upon what you learn.”


Co-founder and CEO of Edovo Chicago, IL // Founded 2013 // 23 Employees

When Hill was growing up, his father taught in Folsom State Prison and at night would share stories about his students: their hopes and the way their lives were changing. “While I had no idea of the magnitude of the prison problem,” Hill says, “the experience ingrained a deep passion for providing a meaningful second, third, and fourth chance.” That passion led him to found Edovo, an education technology and services company that works to provide meaningful access to educational and self-improvement tools to unlock the potential of every person affected by incarceration. Their tablet-based, self-guided curricula are now available to inmates in 13 states, and have reached more than 22,000 users behind bars. “More importantly,” says Hill, “we are shifting the culture of corrections to focus on and demand rehabilitation through technology.” >> WHAT HE’S READING “‘Just Mercy,’ by Bryan Stevenson. I don’t know how this book slipped past my reading list for so many years, but Stevenson does an amazing job highlighting the multi-layered challenges in the criminal justice system and inspired me to think more deeply about the continuum of care that needs to exist pre-, during, and post-release.”







Founder and CEO of Social Nature

Vancouver, BC // Founded 2014 // 12 Employees

Each year, the average person uses about 200 products; that’s 200 choices people are making about what to put in their bodies and the environment. After starting (at age 24) and then selling a Groupon-like site focused on ethical companies, Krebs turned her attention to trying to influence consumer behavior around those product choices. Her B2B company, Social Nature, harnesses the power of word-of-mouth — the most trusted form of advertising — by getting new natural products in front of a community of everyday influencers who are excited to try them and spread the word about them to friends on social media. To date, Social Nature has raised $1 million from investors and has worked with more than 100 natural brands, reaching more than 100 million people on social media. >> RECENT LESSON “When you’re recruiting employees, you need to pitch your company, but don’t be afraid to also share your challenges. Top talent will be attracted to solving problems and will see these as opportunities to have a big impact.”

Photo by Mark Whitehead Photography Photo by Glenford Nunez


Co-founder and CEO of Shea Radiance Ellicott City, MD // Founded 2008 // 3 Employees Faced with their two children suffering from acute eczema, Alabi and her husband Shola, both from West Africa, started on a journey to help their children cope via better, more effective skincare products. Their solution is a line of beauty products made from sustainable, natural, raw ingredients and sourced directly from women-run co-ops in Nigeria and Ghana, providing steady sources of income for the families involved. While Alabi always conceived of the business as deeply intertwined with her mission to “influence the way women care for themselves, and for each other,” she didn’t always explain it that way. “I spent a lot of time making sure our products were amazing, and sharing the benefits of our ingredients and that they deliver the best results to the customer,” she says. “I was hesitant about making the mission front and center for fear of being perceived as a nonprofit. Lately, I’m learning that people care about the story behind our brand. When they realize the mission of the business, they almost get mad that I didn’t make it front and center.” >> HER INSPIRATION “The more retail doors and distribution channels that open up for us, the more economic access we provide to our suppliers in West Africa.” 18






Co-founders and co-CEOs of Werk

New York, NY // Founded 2016 // 6 Employees After Auerbach and Dean each had children while working in elite corporate environments, their ambitions didn’t change, but the ability to progress in their careers sure did. They both dealt with bias and limited career choices that helped them understand why less than 5 percent of top leadership roles in companies are held by women. “We believe a key, unaddressed reason is opting out,” explains Auerbach. “Over 30 percent of talented women leave the workforce entirely, and this doesn’t even take into account the droves of women who are forced onto a ‘mommy track.’” Werk is a job board on a mission to keep talented women in the leadership pipeline. The team works with A-list companies to prenegotiate flexibility in the positions it lists (e.g., flex hours, some ability to work from home, etc.), and markets those roles to a highly credentialed and ambitious mem-

ber base. In less than a year, Werk has closed a pre-seed funding round of $1 million, is launching its second tech product, has had over 1,000 applications to over 100 jobs, and is growing 30 percent month over month with no marketing or promotion. >> RECENT LESSONS

“Building a successful business is disproportionately about effective communication.” —Dean “I always thought that entrepreneurs were a different breed from me. The most surprising lesson I learned this year is that there isn’t a secret entrepreneur recipe. It’s just a matter of commitment and focus. Once you do those two things, nothing can stop you.” —Auerbach

Dean (left) and Auerbach Photos by Richard Jopson







Co-founder and CEO of Farmerline

Kumasi, Ghana // Founded 2012 // 24 Employees

After his parents divorced when he was 5, Attah spent 15 years on his aunt’s rural farm witnessing the challenges that small-scale farmers face, especially in accessing information. He studied natural resources management and software development in college, then founded Farmerline, a software company with the mission to transform millions of farmers into successful entrepreneurs. Farmerline sends SMS and voice messages on weather forecasts, market prices, new farming techniques, agrochemical applications, and finance directly to the mobile phones of farmers and fishermen, all in local languages. The company’s social business, software technology, and partnership network have reached over 200,000 farmers across five countries. Fish farmers who received Farmerline’s messages saw a 44 percent increase in the selling prices of their fish and other efficiency benefits that led to a 50 percent increase in farmer income. Farmerline achieved financial break-even in November 2015 and generated over $300,000 in revenue in 2016. >> HIS INSPIRATION “Millennials in Africa give me a lot of hope. My dream is to see a new economic system in Africa not reliant on aid, a forward market where there are fewer people at the bottom of the pyramid. The youth have a major role to play, and I want my work to inspire my generation to take charge and create sustainable businesses from the bottom up.”



Founder and CEO of COPIA

San Francisco, CA // Founded 2013 // 8 Employees “Access to food is a fundamental human right,” says Ahmad. “People throw away millions of pounds of food while others starve, and these groups often live across the street from each other. This is ethically and economically inefficient.” Ahmad’s company, COPIA, is solving that problem by instantly matching businesses and events that have surplus food with those in need and giving the donor businesses simplified tax reporting and powerful procurement analytics. Ahmad was inspired to launch the tech-based service while she was in training to become a naval officer and realized that many of the homeless people she encountered were veterans. “I’m motivated by hunger because it could happen to anyone and it should happen to no one,” she says. “In a world with so much abundance, innovation, talent, and technology, it doesn’t make sense for hunger to exist, which is why I call it ‘the world’s dumbest problem.’” So far, even with service limited to the Bay Area, COPIA redistributed 200,000 healthy meals to nonprofits in 2016. >> RECENT LESSON “It’s all about the hustle. The best idea or the best product won’t go anywhere without getting your hands dirty and getting things done.”


Co-founder and CEO of Mad Agriculture Boulder, CO // Founded 2016 // 2 Employees This Ph.D. researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology has set his sights on creating a food system rooted in culture, ecology, and radical creativity. His pathway to changing the world? Insects as animal feed. Mad Agriculture cultivates black soldier fly larvae using commercial food waste as the sole input in order to produce a healthy protein source that fish and chickens love to eat. The company’s production facility requires minimal water and energy and no arable land or synthetic chemicals, and the process is virtually zero-waste, as all foodwaste inputs are converted into either animal feed or frass (larval excreta, like worm castings), which is a rich compost that enhances soil fertility. The first batch of product is scheduled to hit store shelves in March 2017, with a pilot facility in operation and feeding trials with poultry underway. >> WHAT’S INSPIRING HIM The Land Institute in Salina, KS. “I attended their Prairie Festival this past fall, where I met Wendell Berry — Mad Agriculture is named after his ‘Mad Farmer’ poems. I discovered that this was the secret gathering place of the agrarian giants, like Michael Pollan, David Orr, Gary Nabhan, Fred Kirschenmann, Woody Tasch, and many others over the years. All of these visionaries have had the guts, will, and ability to go big with their ideas. One must stand on the shoulders of giants to move forward, and there is no better place than the Prairie Festival to find inspiration.” All photos by courtesy unless noted. CONSCIOUS COMPANY MAGAZINE






WISH ALL MISSION-DRIVEN FOUNDERS KNEW We asked experts at 10 top mission-driven incubators, accelerators, and venture capital funds for their best insights and advice for new startups. Here are their secrets to success.

What’s the most common mistake that you see mission-driven startups make as they scale?



Losing their core values; leaning toward investor demands instead of staying true to their core. Not focusing on the unsexy parts of the business. Operations and finance aren’t sexy, yet

they are critical when an organization is scaling. They are the foundation on which your business is built; if there are cracks or problems, the substructure can collapse, bringing your business with it. These fundamentals can’t be considered an afterthought.


Not fully proving product–market fit.


Believing the mission itself is sufficient to go from start to scale. The

mission won’t pull you through tough times for long if you haven’t built a culture, truly articulated a purpose, put in a baseline of stakeholder-management systems, and identified the leadership traits you want displayed in your organization. In our previous lives as management consultants, some, if not most, of the not-forprofits we [at Conscious Venture Lab] worked with — which are doing amazing and life-changing work — have also been miserable places to be an employee or partner. This is primarily because they were so focused on those the











Co-founder and CEO, SEED SPOT

Chief Operations Officer

Founder, The Pack

Director Of Programs, Director of Accelerators, Unreasonable Institute reSET Social Enterprise Trust

PAMELA ROUSSOS Chief Innovation Officer, Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship 24




mission primarily served that they neglected all other stakeholders. It turns out that a myopic focus or overemphasis on the “product” is simply another form of singlestakeholder centricity. It’s not shareholder centricity, but it can be just as dangerous. Even the very best idea, product, or service does not sell itself. Careful and thoughtful consideration of the sales cycle is a must. How does one efficiently and effectively reach the right audience, with the right message, in a timely manner?


What are the most common indicators that a company will successfully scale beyond a startup? The company being deeply CK committed to solving the problem rather than being deeply committed to their solution. The solution may change 10 or more times before it really scales. The founders who are committed to solving the problem can work through those iterations, whereas the teams that fall in love with their solution without recognizing it may not be the best one tend to fail.


The quality of the market potential — i.e., is the problem that the business is solving


significant? Are there enough people who have that particular problem and would purchase a solution to make the production of it viable? Businesses that successfully scale must rely on their ability to deliver value through some repeatable and marginally less expensive model to a much larger market.

single biggest indicator of companies that can go from start to scale. Understanding the resilience that is going to be required and being a team of true leaders who will “keep going through hell,” to paraphrase Winston Churchill, is a tremendous indicator of a business that can scale.

Capital is critical. In order to raise that investment capital, entrepreneurs need to have what we call a “justifiable ask” that includes details about how much funding is needed and in what form of capital, the use of the proceeds, and the return on investment. Having the right details that showcase the potential of the organization’s mission and its ability to execute towards that vision articulated in a clear and compelling story is essential. Additionally, investors want to see audited financial statements, operating budgets and financial projections, tax returns, legal documentation, and the like.

What advice do you wish every startup founder could hear?


Obviously, a company needs to be solving a problem that lots of people have and lots of people care about. This is the “ticket to the dance,” if you will. However, all things being equal, the quality of the leadership team — not the management team, but the leadership team — is the most important thing. Their ability to engage others in their success, disagree without falling apart, and pivot towards new ideas is the



Spend more time with your customers than you think you should.


Listen to the customer. As in, really listen.

Listen to your customers and give them what they want, not what you think they need.


Put yourself first and the business second. Too many entrepreneurs suffer from depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and mental exhaustion. Of course you care about achieving your goals and building your vision, but what’s it all worth if the journey is traumatic and damaging?











Director of Many Things, Social Venture Network

Managing Director, Better Ventures

Executive Director, XXcelerate Fund

Executive Director, Conscious Venture Lab

Director of Fellowship Programs, Echoing Green






“Win–win mechanisms are the future of business.” Win–win mechanisms are the future of business. Build at least one into your business model.


Focus, focus, focus. When you’re getting started, you don’t have the time or the resources for tackling all of the many opportunities that will surface. Identify one customer need, solve it, solve it consistently, make the economics work, get that win, and then you can look to the next mountain you want to climb.


Make sure the company you’re creating is a painkiller and not a vitamin (i.e., make sure the problem you’re solving is a real problem with lots of pain).


Entrepreneurs focus so myopically on valuation when they are attempting to raise money that many of them doom their businesses before they even get started. They seem to forget that a small piece of a massive pie is better than all of a tiny pie. Generally, if you are dealing with a reputable venture capitalist or angel investor, they don’t want to steal your company, they just want to be compensated for their own perceived risk. Many founders will have a valuation in mind that they can’t defend in any way other than “that’s what I think it should be worth,” and then they pressure investors over a few percentage points that no one’s going to care about in the long run.





Don’t re-invent the wheel. Each and every step of your path has been trod by others, at a different time, in a different place, for a different reason. Reach out — constantly — to gain the wisdom of others.


It may sound trite, but know thyself. It’s so important to have a deep connection to the work you’re doing. No matter how you got started, what will keep you going is your unwavering commitment to the mission or the population served. Social entrepreneurship is not only hard — often, it’s lonely. Alongside seeking out a community of support, the ability to draw upon internal motivation helps to sustain you. Have a written purpose statement that isn’t a truism (like “women’s rights are human rights”) but rather something more uniquely personal. Your purpose statement is your North Star and, at least for the first few years, one of your opening lines when you pitch your idea (personal = memorable).


That having a mission somehow fundamentally compromises the viability or profitability of the business. Truly successful mission-driven businesses should be profitable and sustainable, which will enable them to generate impact. There shouldn’t be a tradeoff, and there doesn’t need to be.


That impact can be achieved without profit. Someone always pays in the end. If it’s not your customers (via earned income) or your funders (via contributed income), it will be your employees (via lower wages) or you (via bootstrapping).


Because you are “doing good,” the world should or will beat a path to your door. Unfortunately, it’s usually the other way around. Because you are “doing good” the world is more skeptical: why hasn’t this been done before?


People aren’t always trying to steal your idea. Be open to sharing and soliciting feedback in the ideation phase. You need as many perspectives as possible. Judgment is good, but constructive feedback is better. Sure, you need thick skin to withstand and absorb critique, but doing that gets easier and builds your confidence in your proposal. Feedback also prepares you for fundraising, where you’ll hear the word “no” more than I say it to my toddler on a daily basis.


What myth or misconception about starting a mission-driven business do you wish you could banish or set straight? People think you have to be saving the whole world in order to be missiondriven, but in reality taking on one small challenge you see in your community is enough.






In the social entrepreneurship world, everyone talks about the benefits of failing fast so you can innovate and accelerate. But that’s easier said than done. How do you actually turn the searing pain of flubbing up into something useful? Try these three steps, and your next “oops” can become fodder for true future business success. BY JESSICA G. HARTUNG

1 // GET IN A FRAME OF MIND FOR LEARNING Have you ever had a store clerk admit to you that it’s their first day on the job? They sheepishly smile and say, “I’ve only worked here for six hours. I’m still getting the hang of this!” Their admission opens an opportunity for connection, empathy, and encouragement, perhaps even forgiveness. A new employee getting up to speed can admit incompetence without being incompetent. So how long does the “training period” last for social entrepreneurs carving new territory and discovering new ways of working? Human brains like certainty. We’re wired to feel good about knowing. Sometimes this positive feedback about knowing from the pleasure centers reinforces our innate desire to learn more, but the brain can

also become addicted to thinking we “already know” rather than always trying to learn. Uncertainty may also cause so much anxiety that we prematurely sacrifice potential insights because we are in such a rush to return to certainty’s comfortable embrace. Yet our missions call for us to do the most we can with what we’ve got. We have an imperative to find the best way forward. What if we miss a better approach because we “already know”? Unseat certainty for the purpose of learning. It’s highly likely that you don’t yet know some important thing, no matter the current situation. Borrowing the humility of the new store clerk, let’s admit that we’re running experiments about how to build an organization that serves a higher purpose while making a profit, taking good care of people, participating in the community, protecting the environment, following the reg-

ulations, using resources wisely, and more. Of course we’re likely to fail and recover along the way; it’s hard. Let’s admit we’re still figuring it out. This frame gives us a long-term license to make good-intentioned mistakes in service of learning our way to a better future. Failing together because we are exploring and innovating awesome stuff soothes the sting. As wildly successful restaurateur Danny Meyer once wrote, “The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled.”

2 // ASK QUESTIONS FROM A FUTURE PERSPECTIVE TO REVEAL INSIGHTS Usually the learning comes after the failure, sometimes much, much later — and sometimes not at all. We can spend a lifetime defending

against the discomfort of learning or we can go after it like we are deciphering a puzzle. Try shifting perspective to prepare for reflection questions. You could imagine yourself in a later stage in life — you’re retiring, it has been a wonderful career, and you look back on this instance of failure, considering it from a future vantage point. Now, with this future point of view in mind, seek to understand your contributions to the results in this instance. Becoming vulnerable by setting aside our defenses and allowing ourselves to truly face the failure allows the insights to penetrate. Ask: • How could this setback be a part of a larger arc of progress? List three ways. • If this type of situation were to work out ideally next time, what would it be like? • What are the most important aspects of your ideal outcome? What makes it great? • What would be even better? • What conditions would support a great outcome? • In what ways are your actions aligned with the needs of your vision? • From where you stand today, what first steps can you take based on what you have learned? Formulate your own questions, framed to notice what you can use from the experience to improve the future. Another perspective to try on: to

inspire more objectivity, imagine Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock saying “fascinating.” Cultivate curiosity to dispassionately evaluate data and behavior and find more options.

3 // IMPROVE ON MULTIPLE LEVELS WITH THE LESSONS LEARNED When we attribute the good or bad that happens to only the individuals involved, we may fail to see the roles of the systems and structures that shape behavior. What system, or lack thereof, gave rise to this failure? How can the system be adjusted based on the insights created from failure? Use small setbacks to improve the performance of critical systems. For instance, when a consultant at our firm once sent documents that had not been proofed to a client, the learning went beyond the individual. We explored onboarding procedures, training materials, and our mandatory “triple check” process for client deliverables. Was this consultant not adequately trained? Were the documents unclear? Or was this a slightly different circumstance that wasn’t covered by the systems we had in place? What could we learn or do to prevent this from happening again? By adjusting any or all of these systemic issues, we were able to reinforce the value created from learning at the individual, team, and organizational levels to create an easier pathway towards success in the future.

There are many ways to give meaning to failure, yet many people find themselves attached to negative explanations that make them feel bad and make it harder for them to move forward. Be more deliberate in thinking about how this failure impacts you and your feelings. Choose to see this failure compassionately, in the context of your intentions, and as just one of many steps and missteps you learned from on the journey. You may even someday enjoy telling the story of this failure with all its twists and turns — especially if the failure catalyzed a shift for the better.

Jessica G. Hartung is the founder and CEO of Integrated Work, a company that partners with mission-driven organizations to apply leadership development in everyday work experiences, accelerating impact and achieving measurable results. Building customized, real-time, applied leadership development systems for executive teams is Integrated Work’s passion. The company helps clarify focus, co-design strategic options, provide tools and mentorship, and build leadership capacity to accelerate positive impact.



It’s easy to put your needs last when starting a business, but the smartest entrepreneurs know they can’t afford NOT to make self-care a priority. BY GRACY OBUCHOWICZ

I’ve been my own boss for eight years now. It’s a great life that I recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who likes a challenge, enjoys taking charge of their own time, and doesn’t mind taking risks. However, I always caution people to make sure they are solid in their selfcare routine before creating a business. If they don’t possess the personal stability that comes from strong self-care, I worry about their long-term health — and the success of the enterprise they are devoting their life to. Why is this? I know from experience that starting your own venture almost always means cutting corners. In an ideal world, there would be enough time, energy, and money to launch your business in the way it deserves. However, the reality is that until your great idea takes off, there’s a lot of hard work that goes in without a clear payoff. During this time, you have to make many important decisions about how to use your resources. The tradeoff

is inevitable: to spend money or energy where you want, you must scrimp in other areas. You get used to doing without in the pursuit of doing what you love. One of the decisions I often see entrepreneurs make in the beginning is to cut back on self-care. The business comes first because it needs all our valuable energy to grow. Extras like gym memberships and massages must be cut from ever-tightening budgets. Plus, the stress of not knowing whether all this effort will pay off can adversely affect health in major ways. More nights than we entrepreneurs would like to admit are spent eating take-out food in front of a computer screen instead of working out. When we let self-care slide, though, we’ve got it all backwards. For the following five reasons, we need to realize that self-care should be one place we can’t afford to cut back.



After working all day, you might feel like you don’t have the energy to take care of yourself. Rather than go to the gym, you turn on a video so you can turn off your brain for a while, then get to bed later than planned. You still feel tired when you wake up in the morning and you’re less productive as you work. If you often notice yourself in this negative spiral of energy, it’s a good sign that you need more self-care. When practiced consistently, self-care will begin to give you energy, which will fuel both your work and increased selfcare efforts. Because you are most likely the one in charge, there’s no one else around to hold you accountable when your energy levels drop. Being honest with yourself about your focus and productivity is essential for measuring your energy and setting up good long-term work/life habits. When you notice that your energy is low and your mood is bad, go back to your consistent self-care routines to recharge and refocus.


It’s important to remember that you — when you’re at your best — are your own most powerful selling force. When you give yourself enough time for self-care, you will radiate an energy that is attractive to potential partners or clients. Personally, I prefer to work with people who seem like they are thriving. If someone seems overly stressed or disorganized, I am hesitant to bring that energy into my sphere. My goal is to improve my self-care by hanging out with people who radiate success. My guess is that your employees and potential clients and vendors feel the same way.


It can be easy to dismiss self-care as too expensive. But self-care doesn’t need to mean pampering like massages and pedicures, which can cost a lot of money. Last time I checked, going to bed early is free, as is giving yourself 10 minutes to meditate in the morning. Even better, packing a delicious homemade lunch and walking to work instead of taking a rideshare will even save you money. Also, a little input of self-care can save you a lot of output financially. Self-care like exercise and meditation helps mental focus, which can prevent costly mistakes and awkward mishaps with clients. And if you’re offering health care for your startup, encouraging and modeling self-care for your employees will add up in cost-savings for long-term medical expenses for you and your staff. You can’t afford not to be taking care of yourself.


My clients are always amazed by how much their self-care victories also build the muscle of their self-trust. This is because taking control of your self-care means taking responsibility for your life. No longer are you waiting for someone else to step in and tell you what to do. Instead, most days of the week, you’re proactively giving yourself what you need to feel well. The first step is figuring out what you need to feel well. Since self-care means different things to each of us, it’s OK if you don’t always know. A good way to begin is by noticing your anger. When it flares up, chances are that one of your self-care boundaries is being violated. If you get pissed when you have to stay late for the fourth night in a row, then it will be clear that for you, self-care involves a rotating schedule when it comes to working overtime. Understanding your self-care needs is essential for expressing these needs to others. As you confidently voice your needs and find workable resolutions, your relationships will improve. This positivity builds selftrust in the importance of your needs and in your power to express them. Not only does this self-trust help you, but it also helps everyone around you and creates the kind of work environment that you always dreamed of while in your old, toxic job.


Many outwardly successful people often feel like they don’t have enough. Even when earnings are consistent, these people feel a constant lack of resources and make business decisions from a place of fear rather than empowerment. However, an attitude of success is the only aspect of our business that we can truly control. It’s very easy to get trapped by the idea that your true success always lies in the future and that in this moment you never have enough. It’s just as easy to switch that attitude around and realize that you have enough to get through today, this week, and this quarter. Actually, you have more than enough because you are following your dreams and taking a big, brave risk. Self-care means giving yourself downtime to contemplate the bigger picture and celebrating your small wins along the way to a (hopefully) bigger victory. As for myself, taking time to travel and take part in trainings makes me feel abundance. Both stimulate the learning parts of my brain and activate my imagination for the next steps of my business. When I realize that I as a business owner am capable of adapting to the changing economic terrain, I feel infinite abundance.

Gracy Obuchowicz is a self-care mentor, workshop facilitator, and retreat leader in ever-stressed Washington, DC. She is a recovering perfectionist who has learned to live a life of real self-care and self-love. Through her self-care coaching programs, she helps overwhelmed professional women transform their lives. Get more of her essential self-care tips at





Patagonia’s CEO Rose Marcario is proud to use business to support causes she believes in.

Photo by Amy Kumler


SOMETHING Patagonia’s president and CEO Rose Marcario is the ultimate mindful leader. In this exclusive in-depth interview, she shares her best advice for companies and CEOs on taking risks, trusting your gut, and creating the change you want to see.


atagonia Inc. might be the world’s best example of a successful conscious company. Since its founding in 1973, the privately owned outdoor apparel maker has been a pioneer in treating its employees well, caring for the environment, and making a profit while doing good. While Patagonia is most well-known for its rugged outdoor clothes, these days its family of ventures includes a food company (Patagonia Provisions), a $42 million venture fund (Tin Shed Ventures), a small media company, and more, all tied to the common goal of using business to inspire and implement solutions to environmental challenges. The company’s groundbreaking practices include becoming one of California’s first Benefit Corporations; donating millions of dollars to grassroots nonprofits; hosting annual trainings for activists in the US and Europe; building global supply chains around better-quality raw ingredients such as organic cotton, traceable down, and sustainably grazed wool; providing onsite childcare at its offices in Reno, NV, and Ventura, CA; and being one of the most politically engaged companies in the country. In 2014, Rose Marcario took over as the CEO of Patagonia Works, the umbrella organization for all these initiatives, and has continued to expand the brand’s global impact. “This idea that business can only serve one interest — the shareholder interest — is so wrong-headed. It’s outdated,” she says. “We’re not going to have a world to live in if we continue to think that way. So, for me, it’s about making Patagonia as successful as possible to show that business can be a force for good; the example works.” And boy, is it working. Under her tenure as COO and CEO, she quadrupled the company’s profits and revenues. And the company’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, has called her the best leader his company has ever seen. CONSCIOUS COMPANY’s Chief Product and Marketing Officer Aaron Kahlow sat down with Marcario at Patagonia Provisions’ Sausalito, CA, offices to talk about how she came to be where she is, what makes a good leader, and what the role of business needs to be in the modern age.






What’s the story of how you got where you are as a leader? Rose Marcario: I feel like I took a long time to get here. I grew up in a world where it was about making the most money that you could. I achieved success by my immigrant grandparents’ measure: a college degree and a professional job. I was CFO of a public company in Silicon Valley when I was in my 30s, and I thought I had arrived. At the same time, I was studying Buddhism and having a whole spiritual life that felt disconnected from my work life. It started to feel so disingenuous that I couldn’t figure out what to do next. To be honest, I had kind of a midlife crisis. I quit my job, which was crazy because I was at the height of my career. I went to India. I meditated in a cave for a while. I thought about working for an NGO, or going deeper into my spiritual practice. Then I decided I should stay in my wheelhouse: I’m really good at making profits for shareholders. How could I convert that into something actually meaningful and good for people and the planet? That question started a whole journey of discovery that led me to Yvon Chouinard, because he’s the

ultimate responsible businessman. Everyone told me that Yvon hated bankers; I had done a stint in private equity after Silicon Valley, but we had a great conversation and we liked each other. I was skeptical that Patagonia was going to be all it was cracked up to be, but what I found was so much more than what the company was even known for. What was the trigger for that moment when you quit your job? RM: Getting much deeper into my spiritual practice and starting to feel this huge divide between how I was spending the majority of my time and what kind of an impact I wanted to be having in the world. Once you make a certain amount of money and security, I think that question becomes even more powerful. I had a moment where I was in a car in New York, and this homeless guy was taking a while to cross the street. He was holding up my car and I was getting agitated by it. I saw my reflection in the car window, and I thought, “I don’t even like who this person is anymore.” I got out of the car and I walked to Central Park because I wanted to be around some nature. That was a moment of going,

“Well, this is a choice now. I’m making choices. What am I going to choose to do with the rest of my life that’s going to have meaning?” I’m curious how you went from finance to executive leadership, because there’s a big gap between managing the numbers and managing the business. How did you make that transition? RM: When I was in finance, I always was much more operationally-minded than financially-minded. So you just happened to be in finance by default, or education? RM: Yeah, and I also happened to be in finance because “people in finance make a lot of money.” I would actually say a thing like that back then. But I think the best CFOs are always more operational than they are completely zeroed in on the numbers, so I always had that view of the business. That naturally evolved at Patagonia. I was the CFO when I started, and then I was the COO and had a lot more control of the operations, and then I became the CEO. It was a natural evolution. Actually, when I left Silicon Valley, they were

Photo by Tim Davis

Patagonia funded the award-winning documentary film “Damnation” as part of its environmental advocacy. 36




asking me to be the president of the company, but at the time I couldn’t do it. I felt like I would be burying myself deeper into a model I wasn’t totally bought into. What’s your advice to those in leadership positions who aren’t quite happy? How do they find greater purpose? RM: The biggest issue is finding companies that align with your values. If you’re in a situation where you’re not value-aligned, then you have to focus on what change is possible. You can always do something. You can always push the boundaries and try to raise awareness and consciousness wherever you are. It’s easier when things are value-aligned.

call “the three poisons,” you’re not making the world a better place. It’s kind of the Golden Rule. It’s treating people as you would want to be treated. At Patagonia, that translates into recognizing that our employees are people who have families and that those families deserve just as much consideration as the work we’re doing. At Patagonia you consider yourselves activists, while most organizations shy away from that label. What do you say to all your fellow CEOs out there who aren’t really being activists? What should they be considering? RM: I’ve seen a lot of CEOs of major companies — Nike, General Mills — step up and sign the carbon pledge and say that we should stay committed to the COP21

voting with their dollars and saying, “We care about these issues.” I think other CEOs need to know what they stand for. And this new generation wants you to stand for something. If you don’t stand for something, you don’t stand for anything. As many punches as I’ve taken about all kinds of stands I’ve taken publicly, I would do it again in a minute. It’s the right thing to do. At the end of the day, you want to live your life having done what you believe is the right thing to do, and not having taken some generic stance or the safe route. That’s just boring and ineffective. If you were to say one thing to all these other CEOs out there, what would be your call to action? RM: We need a radical revolution, and we need to scale on that radical

“AS LONG AS YOU STAND FOR SOMETHING, YOUR CUSTOMERS AND YOUR TRIBE WILL FOLLOW YOU.” What are your values? What guides you in the process of reconciling your own life with the decisions you have to make in business? RM: That’s a long conversation, but the values I try to bring to work are about this belief that people and planet and meaningful work can all work together in a healthy, synergistic ecosystem. Those are the things that will move the world forward. At the very top of the pyramid is the idea that we live in an interconnected world. Your actions — as a business and as a person — affect the world profoundly. To the extent that you’re focusing on hatred, ignorance, and greed, which in Buddhism they

[greenhouse gas reduction] goals. This is a time for business to have a voice beyond the narrow world of whatever our products are. Patagonia has always done that. It’s a core value of our founders. At the heart of everything they wanted to do was protecting wilderness. As long as you stand for something, your customers and your tribe will follow you. Sure, there will be some people who won’t want to buy our product because of a stand that we take on an issue, but that’s okay. They get to vote with their dollars. We had a lot of people vote on Black Friday [when the company donated 100 percent of sales to grassroots environmental organizations]. It was the biggest day of sales we’ve ever had. That was a great example of people

revolution. We can see what’s happening in Washington right now: the desire to have less transparency, the desire to negate science, the desire to hobble organizations that protect air, water, and soil. If we don’t speak up, we’re not going to have businesses to run in 50 years, we’re not going to have a planet we want to live on, our employees are not going to have healthy lives. At Patagonia, I’ve done a lot to scale the company in the last five years. We’re approaching $1 billion. It’s pretty big in terms of what we’ve been able to effect through our venture fund, through our multiple businesses. But more people need to join in from an environmental perspective. I’m starting to see it, but we have to be






bold, because right now we basically have this generation to do it in. If we don’t, if we just sit back and do nothing or we’re passive, that’s going to mean the destruction of the environment and the ecosystem. If we work together as businesses, I think we can impact the world in an incredibly positive way. Business could be the biggest positive agent for change — without compromising financial results. Our financial results are better than most of our public competitors’. That says it’s possible. The business case is there. Maya Angelou said that if you’re going to cultivate one virtue, you should cultivate courage, because it’s the one you need to cultivate all the other ones. That is very much in need right now.

For a CEO, part of the journey is obviously getting better and improving oneself. What are the things you’re working on within yourself right now? RM: The company has gotten a lot bigger in the last five years, so I have to do a better job of letting go of more and letting other people take the reins. I’m working on that. I’m also working personally on having more balance in my life, because it’s hard when you’re a CEO to not get wrapped up in working 24/7. I’m working on creating a certain amount of psychic and spiritual balance, and I do that through meditation. But I haven’t been able to go on any long retreats in a long time.

The balance piece is a common challenge for a lot of us out there; what are some of the things you’re trying to implement? RM: Meditation saves my life every day. I meditate first thing in the morning; it’s the first thing I do. And I meditate at night when I get home; it’s the first thing I do then, too. It bookends my day. When I can, I meditate with other people, but if I can’t do that, I carve out the time anyway. It’s something you can do anywhere. You just bake it into your day. I look forward to it — it’s not a grind. It really does help.

Photo by Tim Davis

The original tin shed where founder Yvon Chouinard began making equipment still inspires employees at Patagonia’s headquarters and gave its name to the company’s VC fund, Tin Shed Ventures.





You’ve got the practice, you’ve got your values. How does that play into the tough moments? RM: I think one of the toughest moments I’ve had as CEO was when a video was released from a wool ranch we used; there was some animal cruelty going on in a slaughtering operation. Petitions from PETA were rolling into my email. It wasn’t really connected to our fiber purchasing, but it was happening in a place where we got our wool, so we should have looked at it more carefully.

that way, but that’s tied to actually having a practice where you’re used to going inside and you feel confident. What is it like working with the founder of the company, and how does that dynamic play out? RM: No one else will ever be Yvon Chouinard. He’s the most iconoclastic person I’ve ever met, and he’s an amazing human being. He’s a character. I’m not him and he’s not me, but we work well together because I think I’m able to scale his

If I had to encapsulate what I’ve learned from him, it’s “lead by example.” What I’ve seen is that willingness to be the first one to do something takes a lot of courage. And he’s always encouraged me to do that. Can you tell us about mistakes? RM: The biggest decisions I’ve regretted have been hiring decisions, and now I spend a lot of time on hiring and talking to candidates, even [those applying for positions that are] a level below my direct reports.

“IF WE DON’T SPEAK UP, WE’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE BUSINESSES TO RUN IN 50 YEARS.” We normally don’t dump our suppliers; we work to fix the problems because that’s the way the problems end up ultimately getting fixed in the supply chain. In this case, though, there was a very broad network of farms and we felt like we could not get our arms around everything that was happening. It was also in South America and we just didn’t have the resources to do it, so we decided not to take supply from those suppliers. That was a really hard decision because those ranchers were people who made a living from our products. But at the same time, we didn’t feel like we could give our customers the assurances that the animal welfare issues were being handled appropriately. How do you get clarity yourself when you’re sitting amidst this data and various opinions? RM: You never have all the information when you’re making hard decisions. It helps to have a practice where you’re used to looking within and getting comfortable with whatever that answer is. I guess it’s easy to say “you trust your gut instinct,” and I basically make every decision

radical revolution in a way that he feels is consistent with his values. We’re very value-aligned. We don’t always agree on how to do things. He’s very critical, which is true of a lot of founders, but I appreciate his knowledge. He’s been at it for 42 years. If I have a problem, I can go to him and get a point of view that’s really helpful for me in running the company. He always brings me real nuggets and great insights, and he’s not overly controlling about the way he does that. What is the formula that makes you guys work so well together? RM: We have different strengths. He is very, very entrepreneurial, product-oriented. He’s always trying to fix something to make it better, in terms of product. He’s been looking at outdoor products for 40 years, so he knows that really well. Both of us like things to change. We’re always pushing for evolution. We’re not afraid to change direction, we’re not afraid to take a risk. And both of us are very curious people. We read a lot. We dig into things.

Because once you hire somebody, you’re married to them. I believe that if you have the most effective, inspired team, that’s really how you get amazing work done. You’ve got to have that, and you can’t be feeling like one person is just not carrying their weight or one person is not getting it, or whatever. That’s another gut-check moment. One of the biggest things I’ve learned at the CEO level is that it’s better to act quickly. I’ve never said, “Wow, I wish I had waited longer to fire someone.” Because it’s time and energy that the company’s not getting to fulfill its mission. How do you muster the courage to do what needs to be done? That’s where a lot of us run into a roadblock. The very prospect of that conversation itself gets in the way for a lot of us. RM: Well, that’s why you need to cultivate the virtue of courage. In most cases, I would say [continuing with the company] is not a good situation for the person in question, either. I try to think about it in that way. Usually, anecdotally, things work out better for the person in






the long run. They go off and find a better fit and a better culture and they’re more successful. How are you handling the current political climate? RM: I don’t think it’s good to disengage. I also think we have to put it in perspective. There have been a lot of difficult external situations in the world for decades and decades. I think of my grandparents; they came over as immigrants with no money, the Depression happened, they were struggling. My mother used to tell me about the day John Kennedy was shot and what a terrible, horrible day that was — and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King — and this feeling that the country was being taken over by people who were willing to kill our leaders. There have

been complicated times and challenging times all throughout history. And there’s also a flipside of that, which is this incredible amount of compassion and kindness and care for the world and other people that also exists. That didn’t go away. In Buddhism they talk about treading the middle of that path, because all of it is existent at the same time. That’s the world that we live in. The Tibetan monk Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “The arrival of chaos should be regarded as very good news,” and I think there’s some truth to that. It develops us as people. This situation is developing me as a leader. I see it even developing the people around me as they come to grips with what this means, as they deal with their own emotions. In most cases, the people working for us are environmentalists

Patagonia famously prioritizes work-life balance, including taking surfing breaks during work. Photo by Kyle Sparks 40 MARCH / APRIL 2017 |


and are concerned. They all have children. They care about a future for their children. I think that gives us a powerful army of people. What’s your advice to women in leadership? RM: I don’t think you should imitate men and the way that men lead. When I was coming up, all I had were male CEOs to gauge what a CEO is. At a certain point, I just had to abandon that idea because I didn’t relate to them at all. What’s most important is developing your own value system, what you believe is right and wrong, your own style. I have a good friend who’s a famous executive coach, and he said to me when I became CEO of Patagonia, “Do you want me to be your coach?” And I said, “I’ve been listening to old

Photo by Kyle Sparks

Patagonia employees can easily see their children during the work day thanks to the company’s on-site childcare.

white guys my entire career.” I love him, and we’re good friends, but I said, “I just want to listen to myself. I want to go inside and trust the decisions I’m going to make. If I need support in talking through some of my decisions, I’ll call you, but I don’t really want advice.” To go back to what we were talking about in the beginning, women understand that we live in an interconnected world. They bring that to the discussion. It’s critical to this conversation we need to have about business’s role long-term. Business is responsible for more than 60 percent of the pollution in the world. I think women can have a big role in solving those problems. So tapping deeper into the natural strengths of what it means to be feminine and accentuating that versus having to tamp it down for the rest of the world? RM: Or become an artifice of what you think a CEO is. I think Yvon is

very much that way. If you meet Yvon, he’s not anything like what you would think of as a typical CEO. He’s a very humble man and he’s very accessible, kind, and thoughtful. I’ve learned a lot from watching him feel totally comfortable being himself in a world where most people in his role are doing something very, very different. To be yourself, you have to know yourself. You have to be connected to yourself and what you think and feel, and take the time to understand that. For me, meditation has been a great practice. For others, it might be a sport or something else that connects them. What gives you hope in the world? RM: The global connectivity. Everyone’s freaking out about Trump right now, but the reality is we’ve never lived in a world with this kind of connectivity and ability to organize and activate. It’s

incredibly powerful. We had more people at the Women’s March than have ever marched in anything globally, ever in recorded history. That was organized in a month. There’s an incredible amount of power there in terms of decentralizing power and activating people to work for causes they care about, and who aren’t devoted to specific kinds of corporate interests. They’re just good people who want a good life for their family and their community. I think that’s incredibly powerful. I’m super optimistic about that. It sounds like you’re optimistic in general. RM: Yeah. It’s funny, Yvon always says he’s pessimistic about the world and he basically feels that’s what spurs him to action. But I would say I’m optimistic and that also spurs me to action. I have to balance his pessimism a little bit.





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Great Place To Work CEO Michael Bush knows the secret to a great workplace culture: trust. But he’s found even the best cultures have room to improve. What really makes a great place to work? That’s the question the Great Place to Work Institute (GPTW) has been researching for more than two decades. Most publicly, the San Franciscobased consulting and research firm’s annual global survey provides the data behind Fortune magazine’s long-running “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, but its mission goes way beyond merely celebrating the most successful or innovative companies. “We are building a better society by helping organizations transform their workplaces for all,” explains Michael Bush, GPTW’s CEO. “That’s why we do what we do.” After years of researching what makes a company good to work for, journalist Robert Levering founded GPTW in 1991, and the organization has since surveyed more than 100 million employees at tens of thousands of firms around the world via its offices in 44 countries. The end result is a surprisingly simple formula for creating a great place to work. “We’re trust experts,” explains Bush. “We help by measuring the trust level within organizations, and then we provide precise, focused actions to improve that trust level.” An engineer by training, Bush spent 30 years leading various businesses before taking over as GPTW’s CEO in 2015. Under his influence, the company recently added the words “for all” to the end of its mission statement, a subtle change that signals an important shift in the way GPTW will evaluate companies and create its rankings

Great Place to Work CEO Michael Bush






starting with the 2018 list. After looking at differences in survey results for the top 100 companies across gender, ethnicity, age, and hourly vs. salary lines, Bush “found you could be a ‘Great Place to Work’ and have people who were having a not-great experience,” he told the 2016 Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit. “I didn’t think that was ok. That’s why I added the ‘for all.’ For the 2018 list, we’re going to measure disparity. We’re going to be sure it’s a great place to work for all. You’re not going to get the label just because a group of people are having a great time.” We spoke with Bush about what

said in the decisions management makes? Are people asked for their opinions, so when they speak it matters? Are people developed as people so they’re being encouraged to give their personal best? Do people feel a sense of camaraderie, that they’re a part of something larger than themselves, and therefore take great pride in the work that they do because they know it matters? The way those things show up is that people are inspired by the work they do and the people they work for and with. They can be themselves, which is what camaraderie is all about, and be a part of a caring group. Then, as a result, they take

great place to work. You can have a person making $15,000 a year in a country outside the United States who feels the place they work is a great place to work. And they say that because of respect, credibility, and fairness — not because of pay. What trends are you noticing around the idea of culture in the workplace? MB: “Culture” was the word of the year in the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014, so something has definitely happened. It’s something that people globally are talking about more often. Another popular term

“Creating a high-trust culture is not expensive. That’s the beauty of it.”


GPTW has learned over the years about workplace culture, what his time there has taught him about leadership, and why the conscious business movement needs to take a hard look at the types of faces that appear in top leadership roles if it hopes to drive the kind of systemic societal change it envisions.

great pride in the work they do, and they’re willing to give extra to get the job done. That’s vital for innovation, where people not only have to do their work, but they also have to think about how to do it better, how to do it faster, or how to create something brand-new. For us, it all comes down to trust.

So, what makes a great place to work?

Is that answer — trust — universal?

Michael Bush: The root of the tree is trust. You can’t have engaged employees if they don’t feel trusted. The key to a person feeling trusted is that they are treated with respect, they feel their leaders are credible, and they’re treated fairly. That’s what our research has shown us. Do people get thanked for the work that they do? Do people feel that they’re cared for as human beings, and not just employees? Do people feel that when they speak, people listen, and they can see some of the results of things they’ve

MB: It is. It crosses all industries. We have the data to prove it. And not only that, to be a great place to work in San Francisco takes the same thing as to be a great place to work in Bogotá, Columbia. I can prove it, because we do surveys in Bogotá, Columbia. While people will say industries are different, technology sectors are different, nations are different — in terms of trust, it’s all the same. You can have a person making $150,000 a year who does not feel trusted in their job, and therefore, it’s not a




that has evolved over the last few years is “engagement.” It’s something people are measuring actively around the world, trying to see how connected people really are to the place where they work. Net Promoter Score is a fast-growing popular metric which is basically asking employees very, very frequently what their work experience is like and whether they’d recommend the place that they work to someone else. Underneath both of those is trust. We’ve shown the correlation that trust is the best predictive analytic metric for how you’re going to do in Net Promoter Score and engagement. In terms of trends, the idea of a once-a-year survey is being replaced with people wanting to provide feedback more frequently. Over the last few years, people want to be able to say how they’re feeling about their work experience whenever they want to say it — it’s fueling Glassdoor. GPTW is developing tools to make gathering feedback from employees happen in a way that’s

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR BEING A GREAT PLACE TO WORK GPTW’s massive data archive has allowed the company to make a strong, evidence-based case that creating a high-trust culture isn’t just good for employees — it’s good for the bottom line.

TALENT RETENTION Employees who DO NOT experience a great place to work




Employees who experience a great place to work

Employees who experience a great workplace are far more likely to want to remain at their organization for a long time — saving companies money and effort on recruiting and training while fostering the higher performance of stable teams.

90% 17X


Gen X

95% 7X


Baby Boomers

97% 0






Percentage of employees who indicate the survey statement is “Often true” or “Almost always true”




Russel 1000

According to independent investment firm FTSE Russell, comparative cumulative stock market returns among the publicly held Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For are nearly 3 times greater than the market average.

450% 400% 350% 300% 250%

Cumulative Return

Russel 3000

3X Return



Fortune 100 Best


Best Companies Provide Nearly


205.45% 205.13%

200% 150% 100% 50%


0% ’98 ’99 ’00 ’01

’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06


’08 ’09 ’10 ’11



’14 ’15

ARE WILLING TO GIVE EXTRA EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY “PEOPLE TO GET THE JOB DONE” Employees who DO NOT experience a great place to work Employees who experience a great place to work


93% 4X


Gen X

94% 4X


Baby Boomers Adapted from “The Business Case for a High-Trust Culture,” by Great Place to Work, 2016

When employees — no matter their generation — feel they are at a great workplace, they are more than 3 times more likely to report that their peers give extra to get the job done.



96% 0






Percentage of employees who indicate the survey statement is “Often true” or “Almost always true”


more frequent and less cumbersome, and done from a mobile device. I’d say the final thing, based on the Millennial generation, is that people expect to see change promptly after providing feedback. Other groups, say Gen Y or Baby Boomers, have developed more patience for how long it will take an organization to change. Millennials are saying, “Look, we’ve given you the feedback and we expect things to change now.” It means leaders have to be far more responsive to feedback. What common myths, mistakes, or misunderstandings do you encounter about being a great place to work? MB: The first misconception is probably the three Ps: that a great place to work is about perks, programs, and pay. That’s not true. I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but they are definitely not the reasons that people say a place is a great place to work. The perks

The third is that only big companies can do it, which is not true. We have people on our “100 Best” list with as few as 1,200 employees. People, by thinking that only big companies can do it — they miss out on improving their business based on getting input from their employees. And they think that it’s expensive. Creating a high-trust culture is not expensive. That’s the beauty of it. From your point of view, how does this idea of culture relate to what people call “management”? MB: Leadership has a responsibility to manage the culture. By managing it, I mean you’ve got to measure it. Then you have to have an action plan to improve it, and you have to hold people accountable, just like every other part of the business. Sometimes people look at culture as an HR thing that’s mushy. That’s totally the wrong way to look at it. It’s just like a product launch, a production line, or any other aspect of your

who are great at it, but we have done the research to understand what creates that, and we help create a situation where any leader can improve. When a leader improves — let’s say a leader who does not naturally thank or recognize people, when that leader begins to do that — it’s like dropping a boulder in a pond. That’s the ripple effect. Because people see the change, they feel the change, and then they start to change. We’re always asking employees to do more, but they’re only going to be inspired to do it if they see leaders are changing. It’s really a bunch of inside jobs. It’s more enjoyable to work with people who are changing, and then all of a sudden, “My leaders seem to be more thoughtful and more open to my innovative ideas, and they seem to want to help me develop and grow. And they’re sending me signals that regardless of who I am or what I believe in, I too can get to the top of this organization, provided that I work hard and

“Having a workplace where men feel like it’s great and women feel like it’s less great, it’s bad business. Forget about fairness and what’s right, you’re wasting human potential.” never come up for employees when they’re talking about what they love about where they work. They talk more about the respect, which is being given challenging work; being trusted with that work; being asked for their opinion and that they can see that their opinion matters; being treated fairly; given flexibility; and being treated like a fully formed adult. They talk about those things. They don’t talk about free lunches and pingpong tables. But those perks are the things that the media writes about most often. That leads to a misperception that those things affect whether a place is a great place to work or not. The second myth is that you can’t measure culture — you can’t measure trust. That’s just a misunderstanding. 48



business. You have to measure it, and then you have to take action and measure which actions are giving you the results you want. That’s up to leaders. How has your personal understanding of workplace culture evolved over the years? MB: Through most of my business career I thought there were leaders who were good at creating what I would call a great place to work. They were “different” leaders, and they had the ability to do that. It’s like the flaw of thinking you either have charisma or you don’t; “the high-trust leader — you either are that or you’re not.” That’s not true. There are some natural leaders


I do a good job,” which is sending a signal of respect. When leaders make minor adjustments in the way that they treat others, communicate to others, and listen to others, they get huge results. Some people naturally like what I’m saying right now, but there are others who say, “I need quantitative information. This is too touchy-feely for me.” Well, we have that. That’s the beauty of it. We’ve done the research on great companies versus not-great companies; we’ve compared profitabilities, stock market performance, attrition numbers, products getting to market, quality, reliability. We’ve done all the work so that we can win on the “It’s good to treat people great” plane, and we can win on the [plane of] “Show me

the facts and the path to profitability, and why if I treat people great, I’m going to have a more profitable business.” We published a study recently where we showed that on the metric of diversity, great companies’ revenue grew at a 24 percent higher rate. It was a huge finding done by an outside agency that just took the companies that had passed the “Great Place to Work” threshold versus companies in their industry sectors and compared revenue growth; they found 24 percent more revenue growth from companies that are Great Places to Work. We also just did a study with HIP Investor which analyzed small, medium, and large Great Places to Work companies that are publicly traded and compared their stock market returns over the past 15 years versus companies that are not on our list. The companies on our list outperformed those not on the list on the S&P by a factor of three, which is huge. It means if you invested $100,000 eleven years ago in an S&P 500, you’d have $200,000 today; if you’d invested in Great Place to Work companies, you’d have $400,000 today. We have that data. What changes to your own leadership toolbox or style, if any, have you made since coming to Great Place to Work and starting to absorb the lessons from all this data? MB: In my business career, I’ve always tried to run the business in a way that our people would say, “This is the best job I’ve ever had,” and that our customers would say, “You delivered the best service we’ve ever had.” So, you’re always guided by those two things. Then you’re moving through your life making tradeoff decisions every day to try and make those two things happen. Since being at Great Place to Work, I think about the people part all the time, and I realize that the

A leader’s role is to support employees through change, Bush says.

people part is what gets you the customer service part. Really, the thing to be thinking about is “What do I need to be doing as a leader to make the employee experience better?” It’s a lot more than I ever was consciously aware of. I know that the number one thing business leaders need to be doing right now is a better job of supporting employees through change. Change is rampant, the pace of it is nonstop, and people need support through it. It doesn’t just happen because you want it to happen. Culture work is the answer, and the top leadership team is there to provide the solution. Often, leaders don’t want to do this because they’re more comfortable doing profit and loss analysis, product launches, innovation, entering new markets, or looking at new ways of selling. Those things are more comfortable because it fits our personality, and probably is the reason we got in the job. The problem is, none of those things make employees feel supported through change. And when employees don’t feel supported through the change, they start to loosen their connection to the business, they start to

slow down. It looks like resistance. It’s not. They need communication more frequently, and in a very candid way, like a teacher would explain to a student, so they can connect the dots and understand why leadership is doing certain things. It takes conscious work. Leaders say they want to do a bunch of things — they want to run a great company, hit profit targets, grow the business, increase the value of the business. You can see a leader get an award for great growth or market dominance, but when you see a leader get an award their people feel, you see the leader become a human being, which is what I believe they’re all after, including myself. I get to see it all the time. I fly around the world watching people get awards from our list, and you see that that’s what they were searching for all along, but they didn’t know it. There’s a self-actualization thing that happens as a result of this work, but it doesn’t happen by accident — it takes conscious work and a plan for how you’re going to work in a way that supports people through the changes. You also get






the benefit of people being innovative, you get products to market faster, you can do fewer offsite meetings working on communication. The place is just lined up. I’ve run businesses through my whole career, and now I’m in a field that has been driven by human resource professionals, but I’m a business person, so I’m always thinking from the leadership point of view. But I am saying the same thing that the human resource professionals said, which is that people matter. Boy, do they really matter. And now I get it. They really matter. It’s made me a much better leader, and a much better communicator to other CEOs about the steps they need to take. Not their HR person, not their diversity person: the steps they need to take to create an environment where people feel supported through the change. What, on a day-to-day basis, does supporting employees through change actually look like?

TRUST INDEX SURVEY Women (percent who agree)

Men (percent who agree)

MB: You have to do more education and development. You have to bring your whole company along so that they understand how to run the business like it’s theirs. You have to be frequently educating and getting everybody on the same page about why the business is doing what it’s doing. It’s really a back-to-basics movement. Leaders assume people know. People don’t. They’ve been hired, they do a task, and they start working a ton of hours on that task. They really don’t understand why they’re doing it in terms of purpose or business strategy. You have to have frequent communications letting people know that this is why we’re launching this product, here’s what it does, and why. This is what it’s going to do for the customer, and the market opportunities. You should have your people having an experience once a month where they’re getting an education and getting developed at the same time about the basic parts of the business. That’s a way of supporting people through the change. You don’t

have one group that gets it and one group that doesn’t. You’re bringing everybody along, and that’s how you let them know you care about all of them. That’s a conscious act, a conscious decision, and you need to follow up on it. A lot of the best companies have a practice of having workgroups of people coming together with the role of connecting leaders to employees — we call ours the People Posse. They let leadership know what’s going on with employees and let employees know what’s going on with leaders. And a great place to work isn’t just the leaders’ responsibility. Every employee has that responsibility. You can’t just have leaders working on respecting employees, you’ve got to have it both ways. How do you see or understand the relationship between being a great place to work in all these ways we’ve been talking about and other forms of stakeholder responsibility or sustainability or corporate stewardship?

When Bush analyzed survey results from some of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list, he found large disparities in the answers given to certain questions along gender lines as well as by ethnicity, age, and other dimensions. A sample of gender disparities from one anonymous company’s survey is below.


Managers avoid playing favorites


If I am unfairly treated, I believe I’ll be given a fair shake if I appeal

84% 95%

Management is approachable, easy to talk with


Management’s actions match its words



95% 88%

This is a psychologically and emotionally healthy place to work

96% 0










MB: If we are conscious, it means by definition that “we’re awake, we’re aware, and we’re sensitive to things.” If you’re awake and aware and sensitive to things, you know that profit alone is not being conscious. That’s being unconscious. You’re not aware and awake to know the role your people play in making that happen, the role your community plays in making that happen, and for sustainability, the impact you have on the environment and its role in making that happen. For people to really care and give themselves 100 percent, it has to be about all the things that people see and experience and are sensitive to. Being a great place to work — because people are involved — of-

merrier. There’ll be more needles in the haystack. Our mission is building a better society by helping companies transform their workplaces in the way that people treat each other, because the way that you treat each other gets you more innovation, gets you more financial sustainability. Since I got involved, we added “for all” onto the end of our mission because there were great places to work on our list in the past that clearly weren’t great places to work for everybody. They were great places to work for some people, the dominant group. I added the “for all” for that reason, so that we’re sensitive to the whole sphere and not leaving anyone out. We have the data to prove that in

in the mirror, because what I see is that not all are sensitive, or super aware, or super awake, because the groups are dominated at the top by one group. That’s not conscious. There’s a ways to go, and I think “great place to work for all” can help that happen. That’s what we can add to it, because it’s absent today. When you say “one group,” just to make it more explicit, do you mean white men? MB: Yeah. I probably shouldn’t have to even imply it. All we have to do is look at head executive teams, at the audience in a gathering of CEOs, but most people just want to move onto the next subject.

“If you’re talking about Conscious Capitalism and your executive team all looks the same, I’m not sure that’s super attractive, except to others who look the same.” ten gets put on the HR bookshelf. That is unfortunate, because being a great place to work does involve the relationships people have with each other and the people they work for, but being a great place to work means you have a culture that fuels innovation. Otherwise, you’re going to have a great place to work that’s out of business in four years, and that’s not a great place to work. That was a great place to work. Being a great place to work means that you’ve got long-term viability and sustainability, which means that you’ve got a business mindset, which means that you need a culture that loves new ideas, testing new ideas, experimenting, trying, listening — that a good idea can come from anybody regardless of their age, what they look like, their color, or their sexual orientation. We want them all, because the more, the

any workplace, there are different work experiences based on age, gender, job classification, whether you’re getting paid a salary or hourly, and on color. These are facts. In the world’s best companies, these are facts. Having a workplace where men feel like it’s great and women feel like it’s less great, it’s bad business. Forget about fairness and what’s right, you’re wasting human potential. You’ve got a group of people who aren’t feeling the same about the workplace — they want to, but they don’t know if it’s wise to fully commit themselves. I am very aware of the wasted human potential that businesses can seize and increase their profitability. What Great Place to Work is now bringing to the conscious companies and Conscious Capitalism movement is that “for all” piece. If you’re a conscious business, you need to look

When hearing a lot about Conscious Capitalism and seeing what I was seeing, I was like, “That’s not really conscious. How can I help people get conscious?” The movement can be accelerated by being conscious of this piece. More people will want to be a part of it when they see people who look like them at the top of conscious companies. If you’re talking about Conscious Capitalism and your executive team all looks the same, I’m not sure that’s super attractive, except to others who look the same. If leaders are willing to look around the room and feel like perhaps they need to change some things, and that it’s possible to get a highly qualified, awesome team that’s more inclusive, that’s an opportunity. That’s something that will help transform society. Photos via Great Place to Work







COMPANY CULTURE WHEN MONEY IS SCARCE Even young businesses and startups can create highperformance cultures and become great places to work; it just takes some deliberate effort. By Jeff Cherry In my many years as a consultant and now as an investor in conscious businesses, it has become increasingly clear to me that the ability to create a high-performance culture is one of the most powerful competitive assets any company can wield. Imbuing your company with a conscious culture is one of the four foundational principles of Conscious Capitalism. I’d even go so far as to argue that an employee culture infused with a higher societal purpose is the critical element that allows an organization to connect with and maintain relationships across all other stakeholder dimensions. Culture is that one thing that allows your organization to pivot, move quickly, be healthy, stay resilient, and respond to market moves ahead of competitors. Building an environment that is supportive of your team, generates high levels of engagement, and inspires employees to deliver on that holy grail of “discretionary effort” is one of the most important — and most difficult — tasks any entrepreneur faces. 54



THE MYTH OF PERKS, PAY, AND BENEFITS As this notion of culture as a competitive advantage has gained more mainstream credibility, we hear myriad stories of the entrepreneurs who have excelled at building legendary workplace cultures. Places like Zappos, Patagonia, and The Container Store spring to mind, and we all envision the day when we can have catered lunches, on-demand massages, and parenting rooms in our gleaming new offices. But when you’re truly in startup mode, how do you build a great culture and great work environment if both money and time are scarce? This is a question we must answer every time we make an investment and begin down the path of building a new company at the Conscious Venture Lab, the Baltimore-based business accelerator I helped found. Embedded in this common question is the myth that culture is all about how much money you spend on employees. Give people enough “things”


and they’ll love coming to work and always go the extra mile, the myth says. If a place has cool furniture, games in the corner, and a keg in the kitchen, we’re led to believe that, by definition, it will be a fun and great place to work. While it’s true that great cultures have fun as a core part of the work experience, culture is not about the money we spend on activities and benefits. Expensive perks are nice, but the notion that you can buy your way to a great culture, offering rewards (and presumably punishment) so that employees behave as you would like, is not only a remnant of the industrial age but antithetical to how we should think of our coworkers in the context of building a conscious company. As University of Virginia Darden School of Business professor Ed Freeman, the father of stakeholder management, has said on many occasions, the only thing that belongs between a carrot and stick is a mule. We humans, on the other hand, are much more complex in what drives us. As such, building

a great work environment isn’t about how much you pay or how many toys you can fit in your office. (For more on what does make a great culture, see page 44). Plus, to paraphrase the HubSpot Culture Code (which every startup founder should commit to memory): a bankrupt company probably isn’t such a great place to work.

DEFINING COMPANY CULTURE So, what does it mean to have a great company culture? Let’s start by defining culture itself. For this exercise, I often turn to two of our most respected consultants and mentors at the Conscious Venture Lab: Susan Salgado, founder and managing partner of Hospitality Quotient, and Gerry McDonough, CEO of LeadFirst Learning Systems LLC. Both have advised businesses large and small on the intricacies of building highperformance cultures. For a simple definition, I love how McDonough has crystallized what he’s seen in advising companies for 30 years. He says culture boils down to “What behaviors does it take to get along and thrive around here?” Salgado also defines culture on behavioral terms, as a set of shared beliefs, values, practices, traditions, celebrations, stories, legends, heroes, norms, and — perhaps most importantly — language that we use to describe how we operate and how we achieve success. The key to both of these definitions is that culture is not about implementing the latest employee-benefit fad. The essence of culture is all about how we treat each other and those we encounter in the context of achieving our desired organizational purpose and executing our competitive strategy. What are the behaviors we will accept and which behaviors do we find unacceptable? Given this definition of culture, the real question for startups becomes much more specific: how will you create a behavioral operating system (bOS) that will source, attract, support, develop, and inspire people who behave in ways that will enable you to execute your short- and long-term strategic plan and win in the marketplace?

IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY FOR COMPANY CULTURE Beyond the “culture as employee benefits” mindset, there’s another myth that inhibits the progress of culture initiatives in the startup world: many founders mistakenly believe that culture only matters and only happens once you start to grow the organization. After all, how can you have a culture with just two people? We often hear various riffs on the same theme: “We’ve known each other for years and have a great working relationship,” “Our culture will develop intuitively based on how we are together — people will see that and act in the same way,” “We don’t need to worry about culture now, there are just a few of us and we need to focus on sales.” The fact is, the minute more than one person is involved in the organization, a culture starts to develop. And that culture — the way you interact with people, deliberately or not — will be the thing that propels you towards success or hinders your ability to execute. Culture is the key ingredient that creates sales, builds lasting relationships with suppliers, and gets communities engaged in the success of your company. The question is, will you guide it or let it simply happen and take its own shape? In other words, will you have culture by default or by design?



THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN BUILDING YOUR STARTUP’S COMPANY CULTURE 1. Culture is about behavior. 2. Culture is happening now, in startup mode. If you ignore it, it will be defined for you. 3. You don’t need to buy Thanksgiving turkeys, kegs, and foosball tables to establish culture. Bankrupt companies aren’t great places to work. 4. Establish a baseline and set a desired future state based on your business strategy and your purpose. 5. Be prepared to see your culture evolve as your stakeholder map grows. 6. Always create culture oriented from the employee or associate’s point of view. 7. Not all cultures are created equal: the best are focused on executing the company’s mission and strategy using Proactive, Agile, Collaborative, and External (PACE) values. 8. Employee culture is critical in terms of building and maintaining relationships across every other stakeholder dimension.





SOME WORKPLACE CULTURES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS A final piece worth considering is that all workplace cultures aren’t created equal. While this idea might seem obvious, creating a good culture is more nuanced than you might think. McDonough has had the opportunity at LeadFirst to screen thousands of employee cultures, and has developed an elegant model consisting of eight characteristics of culture that live in tension with one another in almost every organization. This “competing values” model (see below) helps companies understand what culture is and where they exist on the continuum of four cultural polarities (eight defining characteristics), and helps them shape healthy, engaging, and high-performing cultures.



These poles represent behavioral norms that either the organization has decided are important or that have simply taken hold over time. All of these behaviors, if they are to flourish, require reinforcement by myriad policies, processes, protocols, and leadership. On the left side of the diagram we see organizations that McDonough describes as “static.” They are more passive in terms of dealing with stakeholders and they value stability. Combat and a focus on survival of the fittest are priorities, and these organizations tend to have more of an internal focus, meaning they concentrate on the internal structure and processes of the organization as primary organizing principles. At the other pole, we have what McDonough describes as “dynamic” cultures. Companies closer to this pole value more proactive behaviors, favor agility over stability, tend to be more collaborative in their approaches, and have more of an external focus, seeking to understand the nature of their stakeholder relationships (primarily customers) as the driving force of decision-making. Conscious companies tend to adopt behaviors that correspond to the dynamic side of the poles, intentionally setting the PACE (Proactive, Agile, Collaborative, and Externally focused) for culture formation. This mindset helps them bring their missions to life in ways that honor each stakeholder as human beings of worth and dignity.

PUT IT INTO PRACTICE Now that we’ve explained what culture is and is not and the characteristics it can embody, here are five things you can start to implement today towards building a great place to work.

1. BE DELIBERATE Do the work to understand and articulate the behaviors that you as a management team think are important to your success. Far better yet, practice these behaviors both in “business as normal” situations and —

more importantly — in high-pressure situations. It’s impossible to build a culture in alignment with your strategy if you don’t take the time to think about what that culture looks like. If you leave it to chance, the likelihood that you’ll get something other than what propels you forward is very high. Every company will have a culture, and it will be based on the behaviors leaders consistently demonstrate and tolerate. As Peter Drucker has said, “There are only three things that happen naturally in organizations: friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership.” Lead your organization by working through a process to define the behaviors that will be required if you are to be a successful conscious company.

people who are likely to share those norms and thrive in that type of environment. The traditional way of hiring people is backwards: we hire on performance or the strength of a resume, and then we fire on behavior. Tools like RoundPegg and Diialog offer low-cost technology that can help you build a hiring process supportive of your desired culture.

4. TALK ABOUT IT Culture isn’t something you can set and forget. It continues to evolve as new employees join your team. Even when you get the hiring right, new people bring idiosyncrasies and ways of interacting that you can’t anticipate. To maintain and evolve your culture in a conscious manner, transparency and trust-building are essential.

may win the battle of the day, but too many compromises of that sort will lose the war of building a great culture. Ultimately, creating a great place to work isn’t about perks; it’s about action. It starts with understanding and articulating the behaviors that will be required to bring your purpose to life and help you best execute your competitive strategy. Using the tools and strategies I describe above, you can develop a plan for creating a high-performance culture and continually closing the gap between where you are now and where you hope to be. Remember: your goal is to develop processes and language such that the organization will always be clear about “what it takes to be successful around here.” This will keep you on

“EVERY COMPANY WILL HAVE A CULTURE, AND IT WILL BE BASED ON THE BEHAVIORS LEADERS CONSISTENTLY DEMONSTRATE AND TOLERATE.” 2. BUILD A BASELINE WITH DATA In culture, like in every other aspect of your business, WGMGD — what gets measured gets done. Even if you are just two founders, it’s imperative that you are deliberate about the behaviors you want to see as you grow and have a clear understanding of your own behavioral tendencies and those of your co-founders and early employees. This isn’t just about what you like to do or how you perceive yourself. It’s important that you get some professional help to understand where you stand vis-à-vis your desired future if you are going to put processes in place to close the gap. Look at tools like Diialog from LeadFirst and the Kolbe A Index analysis to help get you started.

3. LEARN HOW TO HIRE Once you’ve defined your culture in behavioral terms, you need to find

At Hungry Harvest, one of the most successful companies to come out of the Conscious Venture Lab, they have what they call an “Honesty Meeting” every Monday where employees can discuss essentially anything that’s on their minds. This type of engagement allows people to ask questions and probe actions that may seem misaligned with the culture they’ve formed.

track as you experience the natural tensions that come from expanding and scaling your base of stakeholders. Only by shaping company culture deliberately, from the start, can your company truly achieve its mission.

5. LEAD WITH YOUR ACTIONS At the Conscious Venture Lab, we’re often asked about the biggest mistake we see startup founders make in building a new company. Without question, sending mixed cultural signals is a tremendous failure we see far too often. It’s easy to live your values when things are going well, but in the heat of challenge will you abandon collaboration and take matters into your own hands? This

Jeff Cherry is the CEO and managing partner of the Porter Group LLC, an investment consulting and venture capital firm. He is also the founder and executive director of the Conscious Venture Lab, an accelerator for early-stage companies focused on purpose and profit:















There’s a startling statistic from Gallup that 70 percent of the workforce is not actively engaged in their work. Think about this for a moment. You’ve no doubt seen this — or maybe even experienced it yourself, when you just “phone it in.” But imagine how much more a company of actively engaged workers could accomplish. The company that can truly win the hearts and souls of its team excels. And the first step to winning those hearts and minds is creating an engaging vision for your business.



PR O V I D I N G T H E V IS IO N Your team wants something bigger that they’re working for, too. Creating a compelling and inspiring vision and mission is the key to making sure you get where you want to go and that your team is behind you. This is also how you know what to say yes to and, more importantly, what to say no to. Quite frankly, when I first got started in business, I thought visions and mission statements were pretty much total BS — just stuff that looked really good in a frame next to a bathroom. But two people have since greatly influenced me in this regard. The first is my friend Cameron Herold, author of “Double Double.” Cameron is the former COO of 1-800-Got-Junk, a company he helped grow from $2 million to $105 million in revenue in six years with no debt or outside shareholders — an awesome achievement by any standard. One of the “secrets” to his success is having put together a Vivid Vision, a document that gives a specific description of what he envisions the company looking like and acting like at a certain time in the future. You can get more details on his process at cameronherold .com/vivid-vision. My other significant mentor in this area is Ari Weinzweig, co-founder of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, a family of small food-related companies and entrepreneurial ventures in Ann Arbor, MI. Ari is loath to cite one secret of their success (and truthfully, there is never just one factor), but getting good at visioning is something they do everywhere in the organization, so there’s got to be something to that. “One of the biggest contributors to

the level of creativity in our organization is the regularity with which we teach, use, and stick to the visioning process,” he says. “We start pretty much every planning effort with a draft of a positive vision of the future. And we do it at every level of the organization. Whether we’re working on visions for a business five years out, a project that will be done in five months, or a dinner special that will be on the menu at 5:00 tonight, we’re pretty consistently ‘beginning with the end in mind.’” In fact, it has been demonstrated that when people use visioning instead of simply problem solving, energy levels increase, innovative ideas flow, and people are excited and eager about the future. What’s more, visioning also gets you clear on what you do not want to do in your business so that you can easily turn away seemingly golden — but distracting — opportunities that come your way. (This is why Ari and his partner said no to creating franchises or setting up other locations outside Ann Arbor.) At my current company, we show our Evolved EcoVerse Vision to everyone: current and prospective team members, partners, vendors, customers/members, etc. I want everyone enrolled in and excited about where we are going.

H OW DO YOU CREATE T H AT COM PELLING VISION? My process starts in my journal, where I dig deep into what really makes my heart sing and how I want to wake up excited to jump into the day. Ari

recommends always starting by writing down all of your “prouds” — those things that you’re most proud of in your business and your related accomplishments and wins. This sets a positive energy to start the process. I’d strongly suggest getting out of your office. I find water has an amazing creative effect on me, so if I can go to the beach or our local river, I’m often able to get some powerful pieces. Don’t edit or second-guess yourself because you think something isn’t possible. Your vision allows you to dream and not get hung up on where your business is today but where you are going in the three- to five-year timeframe you set. Cameron recommends three years, and I would mostly agree. However, for our most recent vision we went out to 2020, or four years, because it is such a perfect date for a vision, right?

W HAT SHOULD YOU INCLUDE? • Your cause, mission, and deepest reason why. • Your impact scoreboard and measurements. How do you create impact goals that have byproducts that force more profitability and success? For instance, when TOMS measures how many shoes they’ve given away in their buy one, give one model, the byproduct is profitable selling of those shoes. • Who you are serving and how? That’s your community and what makes you special and alluring. • Your team’s core values and how you help them fully engage.








Your role is not to worry about the “how” of bringing the vision into being at this point either; your job is to simply create the very specific “what” this would look and feel like if you were setting foot into your ideal company.

W H AT E L S E MIG H T YO U I N C L U D E ? • Your company size and scope. Are you a billion-dollar company or a multi-million-dollar company? How many team members are there? Are they in-person or virtual? What does the office consist of? • What does the brand feel like? • Who are your advisors? What are your partnerships? Which media outlets feature you? I’ve been re-reading our 2009 and 2012 visions as I write this, and it’s pretty amazing to see how much we did accomplish from each. Not everything, for sure — but more

often than not, what we included in the vision has started showing up as real. And the essence of what I’ve really wanted is always there. One smart tip from Ari is to write “Draft” at the top of your vision so that it doesn’t hold so much sway over you. Then circulate early drafts to people you trust to provide positive and constructive input. I also really like a graphic look for my visions, so I add my own doodles and have an artist on our team punch up some of the pieces. Do whatever makes you most excited about seeing this vision come to life.

MAKING IT FINAL It’s in the editing process that the magic truly happens; you start simplifying and cutting down to what’s most important. I might edit my document a dozen times or more. Each time, I’m looking to ensure it is clear and concise but also compelling. I want to make sure it’s truly special and unique to us, and that it gets me

Adapted from “Evolved Enterprise: An Illustrated Guide to Re-Think, Re-Imagine & Re-Invent Your Business to Deliver Meaningful Impact & Even Greater Profits” by Yanik Silver. Copyright 2017 by Yanik Silver. Adapted by permission of Ideapress Publishing. All rights reserved.

super excited. Last, once you have your final vision, don’t edit it before the date you’ve set. I admit I am often tempted to tinker with it, but I leave it alone since it’s more of a guidepost than anything else. I have included a sentence in our visions that helps me feel better about the notion that something new will show up that I haven’t considered: “The Evolved EcoVerse also has the unique flexibility to shift into new opportunities and projects that may not even be seen yet if they line up against the Mission, DNA, and values.” Make sure you use your vision everywhere; don’t just file it away. We refer to the vision when we have our quarterly strategy sessions, and I’ve even had team members read aloud from it. This powerful document is one of the most potent pieces you can add to help your organization achieve its greatest purpose and align with the key people who can drive it forward.

Yanik Silver redefines how business is played in the 21st century at the intersection of more profits, more fun, and more impact. He is the author of several best-selling books including his latest, “Evolved Enterprise.” He is also the founder of Maverick1000, a global collective of the top entrepreneurs and industry innovators. Yanik’s lifetime goal is to connect visionary leaders and game changers to catalyze innovative business models and new ideas for solving 100 of the world’s most impactful issues by the year 2100. Learn more about his work at CONSCIOUS COMPANY MAGAZINE






COMPETITION Competition seems like an inherent part of business, but by widening their point of view, these conscious business leaders are proving there’s another way. BY GINA HAYDEN

In my role as a leadership consultant, I was recently in the room at a global firm’s headquarters when a senior territory head told the assembled group how his company had lost virtually an entire team to a much smaller competitor. One day, this team had simply uprooted and left.

The facts of the story were surprising enough, but his reaction was even more shocking to me. “We will crush them!” he barked, with no curiosity about why the exodus might have happened. In a single stroke, he dismissed anything of value he might have gleaned from the situation. We

never did find out why all those team members left, or what was more appealing to them about the competitor. And the leader didn’t learn anything that could improve his own game and that of his organization.






COMPETITION IN TRADITIONAL BUSINESS While perhaps an extreme example, that executive’s reaction is a good illustration of what traditional competition looks like in business. Conventional narrative dictates that business is the place where battle lines are constantly drawn, where we are separated into “us” and “them,” where we create winners and losers, and where our sole ambition is to steal market share. Conventional business wisdom dictates that we draw our boundary lines tightly around ourselves, extending our company’s interests only as far as the doors of our office buildings. Frequently, we also draw boundary lines of competition within our companies, dividing ourselves into teams and departments, which often results in siloed thinking and a

with better pioneering solutions than we could on our own. Luckily, this is already starting to happen. We are entering a new era, that of the “collaborative economy” or “everyone-to-everyone” (E2E) economy, where we co-operate to create value and where collaboration trumps small-minded competitiveness. As we realize how interconnected we all are and the possibilities of what we can create together, it stops making sense to play the game of business in a small-minded way, as if we are somehow separate from others. Collective intelligence is where it’s at; We-Q supersedes IQ, and we create solutions and innovations together that we could not create on our own. We get to compete in a way that brings out the best in each and every one of us. It’s about everyone playing at their best.

imaginative ways. In fact, these CEOs favor “purposeful partnerships” by which a variety of stakeholders can collaborate with a specific goal in mind. They reported expecting collaboration to feature even more heavily in the next three to five years. As one leader I came across said: “If I get 10 more perspectives, my IQ goes up by 10 points.”

OBSTACLES TO LETTING GO OF THE COMPETITION MINDSET Talking about collaborating is one thing; doing it can be entirely another. What gets in the way? One habit worth examining is what happens when our egos get into the driver’s seat. Competition is founded on a mindset of scarcity. With our egos in charge, we are more likely to

“It is collaboration, rather than competition, that accesses our collective intelligence.” lack of communication, frustrating our efforts to achieve results. Beyond our organizations, we treat our competitors as the enemy.

BUSINESS’S CHANGING LANDSCAPE But things are changing. Many of our modern business challenges and opportunities are too complex to be figured out by the minds of just one person or a few people, or even one company, for that matter. Staying current, innovating, responding to moving targets: these challenges confound our logical minds as well as our past experience. The old forms of competition aren’t cut out for these new realities. We need to draw on something different: our collective human resourcefulness. We need to begin seeing ourselves as sources of wisdom, insight, and ideas whereby — together — we can come up 64



It is collaboration, rather than competition, that accesses our collective intelligence. Collaboration features highest on the list of CEO priorities in IBM’s CEO studies, which survey thousands of global CEOs every couple of years. Taking a longitudinal view, we can see how the theme of collaboration has inched further into the foreground of the minds of business leaders the world over. In 2008, the surveyed CEOs reported that their biggest headache was the unprecedented scale of change they were facing and the ever-increasing complexity they were required to manage. By 2010 and 2012, they were becoming fascinated with how they could increase creativity to find ways through this complexity. In the latest studies from 2015, what the CEOs said is even more clear is how important it has become to lead with bold creativity by connecting with customers and a wide range of other stakeholders in


believe that the pie is only so big, and if you get a larger slice of it than I do, then I am losing out. Ego provokes us to play small, defensively, warily, and, yes, destructively, as the example of the senior leader showed earlier. When we adopt the mindset of scarcity we operate from fear. This makes us less willing to trust others and more likely to cling to what we’ve got — or try for more to secure our own survival. Traditional forms of competition play seductively into our egos. Moving from the “me” to “we” thinking typified by collaboration — including collaboration with our competitors — requires a mindset shift. We need to begin thinking about what’s in it for all of us; how we can all benefit in a larger game. One leader who epitomizes this way of thinking is Tom Chi, an innovator whose business pedigree includes executive roles at Yahoo, influencing

the creation of Microsoft Outlook, and shaping Google X and Google Glass. Chi thinks big — universally big. “Collaboration versus competition is a false dichotomy,” he says. “People often say the natural state of nature is competition, but that’s not so. Every living thing, through its life cycle, improves the viability of life of every other thing in the ecosystem in the process of living its own life. The fact that we consider competition and collaboration to be opposites is a completely human construct. This is just us identifying two attributes of the natural world and pretending they’re in opposition. In truth, both things coexist effortlessly as part of a single thing, but this single thing is harder for us to identify. Because it has so much nuance and dimensionality to it, our perceptual models to understand it do not fit it very cleanly.” What Chi is reminding us of here is that when we zoom out really, really far, the whole of life is one undivided entity and it is only our mental models that carve it up into “mine” and “yours.” Business — especially conscious business — plays into this greater context. When we compete in conscious business, it’s worth asking ourselves: who are we competing with? And what are we competing for? Is it for our own gain? Or for the gain of everyone? Given these answers, how can we go about competing wisely?

WISE COMPETITION IN ACTION This mental switch tends not to be a natural stance for most of us, and we can easily fall back into a scarcity mindset, but for those who are interested in developing as conscious leaders and who want to run conscious businesses, it’s a question of catching ourselves in the act of playing small and reminding ourselves what the bigger context is. Rather than looking to compete, win, and achieve at all costs, conscious leaders can look to compete, win, and achieve together with others, for the benefit of many. Often they will seek to partner with so-called competitors to come up with new solutions and innovations that

serve the greater good. One leader who walks this line very consciously is Laura Roberts, CEO of Pantheon Enterprises, a conscious chemical company. Roberts is ultimately driven by her higher purpose of changing how the chemical industry operates, producing chemicals more responsibly and sustainably and not just pumping generated chemicals back into the ground with little regard for their effects. Roberts’ purpose provides the context for how she makes decisions, how her business competes, and how this drives Pantheon’s innovation. One of Pantheon’s practices is the creation of a large stakeholder map, visible to all. One branch lists stakeholders who used to be called “competitors,” except that this branch is now called “future potential partners.” “I want everyone inside the company to understand that even though someone might look and feel like a competitor in a traditional sense, they really are all future partners and customers,” Roberts says. “We live in a world of possibility. We can ask ourselves: what is still possible even though the current circumstances look like this today? Oftentimes I find that people who are more conscious can hold bigger containers for possibility. You’re trying to have bigger conversations. Granted, resources can get in the way, but if you push possibility conversations more often, and you role-model it, too, that helps.” On a large, established scale, Proctor & Gamble Co., for example, uses the advantages of conscious competition to drive its innovation strategy called Connect + Develop. P&G recognizes that one of the greatest challenges facing companies today is the range of innovation required. In answer, P&G collaborates with a whole range of stakeholders — inventors, suppliers, joint ventures, startups, and competitors — to drive more than 50 percent of its new initiatives. The benefits it enjoys are widespread: innovating outside of its specific areas of expertise, increasing the number of ideas taken to market, reducing risk by transforming potential competitors into collaborators, and encouraging more ideas to

7 Questions to Ask Yourself to Shift Your Competition Mindset 1 // How are you leveraging collaboration and collective intelligence in your company? 2 // From which under-represented corners of your organization can you seek input? 3 // Where would you choose to recast the boundary lines with your competition? 4 // What opportunities exist to create potential partnerships with your competitors around a common purpose? 5 // What does a win look like for you, for them, and for society? 6 // What is the value that can be created from innovating with your widest circle of stakeholders? 7 // Who else benefits when your organization benefits?






come forward. On the other side of the world, Dutch healthcare company Buurtzorg, which quickly secured 60 percent of its market, is so connected to its organizational purpose — to increase autonomy and meaningful life for sick patients in the community — that its founder publishes the company’s playbook in great detail to encourage the competition to imitate him. From an old paradigm, this makes no sense — why would you give away your secrets? From a conscious perspective, it makes no sense not to. More players in the market serving your

all, to be thinking about what we all need for the prosperity of everyone. Conscious leaders starting and running enterprises can help create this kind of culture in their organizations by dialing down fear and increasing the sense of confident abundance throughout their company, so that collaboration and innovation can flow more freely. One conscious leader who does this admirably is Sudhakar Ram, CEO of Mastek Ltd., a multinational and publicly traded IT company. Ram is intent on creating a company that is free of fear. “I try to come from a sense

a subset of their ego, not even their full ego. Our normal operating size is usually smaller than one person!” Through these examples, we get to see how conscious leaders model a particular mindset around competition in and around their companies. The way they manage their own reactions to the competitive business environment plays a crucial part in the way they help form their company’s culture and set up an atmosphere for innovation, and the way the company interacts with its stakeholders in the outside world. What becomes possible when we

“When we compete in conscious business, it’s worth asking ourselves:

who are we competing with? And what are we competing for?” united purpose ensures the purpose will be fulfilled more quickly. Whether it is large multinationals like P&G or much-loved players like Patagonia — which is nudging competitors like Nike and The North Face into using more sustainable materials by sharing its innovations in plantbased wetsuit technology — what becomes clear is that we cannot practice conscious competition by thinking about competing in the old way. If we come at it from a scarcity mindset, we’re only driving combative thinking. If we hold our higher purpose in mind, we begin to look for ways to serve that purpose beyond what we can do ourselves.

WHAT CONSCIOUS LEADERS DO Being conscious of a bigger context for the nature of competition is a daily practice, one that needs to be revisited as your company goes through its paces. With a higher purpose held firmly in mind, especially one that contributes to the whole of society or to the planet, it doesn’t make sense to be fighting for scraps on the ground. Better, for the benefit of 66



of abundance; that there are enough opportunities and enough choices,” he explains. “In Mastek, we’ll always create a situation where there is enough work for us. Although business is ingrained to be all about the self, all about surviving and beating the competition, winning at all costs, I’m about instilling an attitude of ‘Can we operate from a sense of abundance?’ As long as we get enough meaningful work for our people and we’re viable as an organization, that’s good enough. We don’t need to be number one in the world. That’s the context we set, which hopefully creates for our people the ability to exercise choice, freedom, and self-expression without being bothered that they are putting themselves at risk in any way.” Chi, for his part, holds in mind a vast context for competition and creation. “We get to choose when we apply the tools of creativity, and at what scope of compassion and consciousness we do it,” he points out. “Do we try to do it for seven billion people for 1,000 years, or do we do it for ourselves or for a smaller set? For example, for our company for this quarter — a very micro perspective. It’s actually even more micro than that — most people serve just


think about joining forces with those who might be traditional “competitors,” whom we don’t usually speak to, but with whom we might create something entirely new? What benefits might we create through the vehicle of business that positively impacts a larger proportion of people and the planet? Finally, while all of us build on these concepts and our understanding of conscious business develops, what partnerships are you willing to explore in the ways you think about conscious competition in your business?

Gina Hayden is the author of “Becoming a Conscious Leader: How to Lead Successfully in a World that’s Waking Up,” and has been advising companies globally for more than 20 years on developing their leaders for the future. She co-founded The Global Centre for Conscious Leadership and The Conscious Leadership Consultancy, and is a director for Conscious Capitalism UK.



Ryan Turman, above, runs a logging business that shares many traits with more traditionally “conscious� companies.



EPUBLICAN LOGGER RYAN TURMAN has strengthened his community through job-creation and shared ownership. Now he’s turning his attention to reversing climate change. What will it take to welcome him into the mission-driven business community? We’d better figure it out, because business can no longer remain a two-party system — conscious and unconscious.

Ryan Turman doesn’t know much about socially responsible, missiondriven, or triple-bottom-line (3BL) business. He’s never heard of impact investing or the localist movement. He’s a George W. Bush Republican — he once had Christmas dinner at the White House — and the heir to one of Virginia’s biggest logging companies, the Turman Group (TTG). But it just so happens that he and his father run a company that is planting trees, creating local jobs, employing a marginalized group, and offering company ownership to employees. Turman’s latest venture is Konnect Kloud (K2), a cloud-based truck-mapping system that in its proof-of-concept stage alone has already had a major impact on carbon emissions by avoiding 4.5 million trucking miles. As one of the


politically conservative leaders of an extractive company, Turman doesn’t fit many of our preconceived notions of what a conscious businessperson should be like. He’s a white male from a southern, rural, manufacturing community where a main local pastime is hunting. When it comes to business theory, he’s not shy about his margin-before-mission approach. In short, he seems like exactly the kind of businessperson we in the conscious business community are used to seeing — and treating — as our opponent, the evil foil to our better way of existing in the world. Yet when we consider what TTG has accomplished in boosting its local economy over the last 50 years, and Konnect Kloud’s potential to make a huge impact on reducing pollution and

slowing climate change, shouldn’t we wonder what we might learn from the Turman family? Clearly they’re doing something — or many things — right. If we want to truly integrate conscious business into the future of business as usual, those of us at the vanguard of the movement must set aside our idea that political conservatism is anathema to conscious business. We also need to set aside our personal pride about how superior and socially responsible we perceive our own lifestyles to be. We need to broaden our search for allies and welcome progress no matter what skin it’s in. The future of our work — and our planet — depends on it. And if we take the time to pay attention with an open mind and heart, we may just discover that we are not so different from the



Location: Hillsville, VA

Location: Blacksburg, VA

Founded: 1967

Founded: 2007

Employees: 550

Employees: 8

Annual Revenues: $120 million

Annual Revenues: $6 million




Ryan Turmans of the world after all. Despite the appearance of ideological opposition, several shared tenets run through both conscious business and the business ethic that has allowed Turman to succeed while doing good for his community and other stakeholders.

SHARED TENET #1 The People Make the Company An important tenet of conscious companies is their human-centered employment practices. The socially responsible business movement honors, supports, and invests in companies that are building employment access points for undereducated, underrepresented, and previously incarcerated workers. We applaud leaders who dedicate core resources to providing exceptional benefits for their employees. So could we acknowledge TTG for meeting these standards as well, even though its primary revenue stream is harvesting and selling trees?

Ryan Turman explains that his father, Mike, TTG’s co-founder, was always driven by his desire to create jobs. “When my father and a few friends started TTG in 1967, they were focused on keeping the lights on and not going broke,” Turman says. “There aren’t a ton of people falling over to create jobs in southern Virginia. Employing 550 people is a big deal, especially in the rural counties where we work.” When interviewing job candidates, TTG managers look primarily for strong work ethic. Degrees, criminal records, and past job history mean little — less than 5 percent of the company’s 550 employees have graduated from college. Turman knows that great mechanics, experienced fabricators, and precise lumber graders define how competitive TTG is in a global marketplace. “If you’re prepared to work, then the logical step for us is to find what you excel at and how that fits in,” he explains. Shared ownership is another identifier of mission-driven businesses, and the Turmans are excellent at finding

Ryan Turman (left) with his father Mike, who founded the Turman Group.

the right people to manage and operate individual facilities and business lines. In fact, they’ve been offering employee ownership for more than 40 years, and currently 32 employees have partial ownership in one or more TTG subsidiaries. “Nine times out of ten, the most qualified and loyal employees end up with ownership,” Turman says. “That person realizes the ownership they have represents their savings account. It’s a way for them to get ahead, and it comes with a lot of responsibility. Meanwhile, it’s how we grow.” Turman also points out that many TTG employees get plenty of unquantifiable satisfaction from their jobs, just as we expect in more obviously conscious workplaces. “Many of the people who cut the forests live in these same forests,” he says. “They camp and hunt and absolutely love being outdoors. They’ve chosen to work in their favorite place, and we give them that opportunity.” Sounds pretty similar to your local 3BL business, does it not?

SHARED TENET #2 Taking Responsibility For the Future Yet another similarity between the Turmans’ approach to business and the approach of iconic socially responsible businesses is a long-term sense of responsibility and accountability. Time and time again we’ve seen the destructive effects of short-term business vision: the severely disproportionate ratio of oil creation to oil use, the monoculture cropping on much of the US soil, or the housing crisis of 2008, to give just a few examples. Much of what is broken in our current economy is the result of action taken for shortterm gain. TTG, while considered a conventional business because of the product it sells, has always looked far down the road. “From our standpoint, we’re absolutely social,” Turman says. “Replanting the trees we cut has always been part of the equation. We ask ourselves, ‘What is the need for tomorrow?’” In the last 15 years, the market has moved away from white pine, which will grow back



in 20 to 30 years if replanted, toward slow-growing hardwoods like oak, cherry, and walnut. Since these trees need to regenerate on their own, and do so more slowly, TTG is building partnerships with other hardwood landowners to disperse the harvesting burden over more acreage. The company now only harvests 1 percent of its privately owned 22,000 acres every year, and recently set a new goal to achieve complete native species regeneration on its private lands within 40 years. In addition to land stewardship and ecological health, recycling is also critical to TTG’s business. “Every form of waste in a supply chain will result in an economic and social cost,” Turman adds. “The lumber industry is no different. Sawdust that isn’t being recycled as a heat source for lumber kilns will lead to the unnecessary burning of fuel and a deflated bottom line.” Since 1997, TTG has recycled 100 percent of its sawdust to heat kilns and produce residential heating pellets.

SHARED TENET #3 Look for Win–Win Mechanisms In the world of traditional business, the word “win” earns attention. In the world of socially responsible business, however, it’s really the phrase “win–win” that sparks interest. The idea that a business owner can win while their employees, suppliers, and investors are also winning is the crux of this movement’s work. The 3BL community views profit as a complex web of financial return, employee satisfaction, societal improvement, and environmental protection. Instead of buying into a “scale” economy in which one side has to go down for the other side to go up, the mission-driven business model suggests that a “web” economy could work better — one in which all components are interconnected on the same horizontal plane. New conscious companies are now emerging with business models based on win–win mechanisms, and Turman’s 72



newest business, Konnect Kloud (K2), is no different. K2 is an online database that matches import and export truck loads to create a more efficient transportation system. It developed out of a need Turman identified within TTG. “Producing great lumber products was only half the battle,” he says. Getting those products halfway around the world, into a global market, became the project of the second generation of Turman businessmen. “Our initial challenge was geography,” Turman explains. “We were 300 miles from a port and we couldn’t compete because of trucking costs.” So TTG reached out to a few neighboring importers and asked if it could use their empty containers to send TTG’s goods to port. The truckers increased their revenue and both shippers reduced their trucking costs. TTG’s lumber products then became viable in the global marketplace. “The initial goal was to match seven containers a week,” Turman says. “After we surpassed that, the logical next step was to do the same thing for other companies. We were blown away by how many containers were going in and out of ports empty.” Thus K2 was born, as Turman saw the incredible opportunity (and the incredible waste) in the intermodal industry. Under current practices, the average shipping container will spend 56 percent of its life empty: importers receive full containers from a port, but send back empty ones; conversely, exporters send full containers to port but receive empty ones. This antiquated system costs the US import/export industry $16 billion annually in wasteful truck trips simply to reposition empty containers. By matching up neighboring importers and exporters to share the same truck, K2 helps two trucks driving four legs become one truck driving two or three legs. “It took us five years to refine a manual process,” Turman says, “and then we started to build Konnect Kloud as a platform that allows any person in the international shipping community to match a container.”


Turman — a Republican — has launched a new venture that could reduce pollution in the shipping industry.

K2 is solving a very real need, and in using the platform nobody loses and everybody wins: trucker drivetime goes down 40 percent while pay increases 15 percent; shipper costs go down 25 percent while per-mile earnings increase 35 percent; and best of all, every trucking-trip match that K2 facilitates eliminates a cubic ton of carbon emissions from our atmosphere. Turman’s first case study, with Lowe’s in 2015, generated remarkable results, avoiding 216,000 truck miles by matching more than 350 import and export trucks. Now West Coast port shipping communities are very interested in the technology: last year Turman started discussions with a leading national environmental

It’s time for conscious capitalism to cast a much wider net than we ever thought possible before. group to launch a California pilot of K2 in response to Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015 executive order setting an aggressive carbon emissions reduction target. If he is successful in scaling the company, Turman expects K2 can further reduce carbon emissions tenfold in the next two or three years alone. This sort of across-the-aisle partnership is the exact relationship Turman needs more of as he looks to launch similar pilots in Charleston, SC; Norfolk, VA; and Savannah, GA. The beauty and elegance of K2 is that importers, exporters, dispatchers, and truckers now have a platform for collaborating on their own. As adoption of container-matching grows, everybody wins, and not just from a revenue, wellbeing, or emissions

standpoint. The shipping logistics community is now being connected in a more efficient way than ever before. And as this traditionally Boomer-led industry transitions into Millennial leadership hands, we can expect greater innovations in the coming years. What many call one of the dirtiest industries could have the greatest opportunity for cleaning.

To Scale Our Values, We Need A Broader Definition of “Conscious” K2’s partnership with environmentalists is a perfect example of the business relationships we risk losing by overlooking partners because of our own stereotypes. Turman’s key to success, in many

ways, has been his ability to ask for help and organize not just his colleagues but his competitors and opponents as well. In an ironic twist of fate, TTG, K2, and leading environmentalists are all connected now and moving into the web economy together. This unlikely partnership demonstrates that the most fertile ground for progress is often far from the world of black-and-white thinking. As Turman scales K2, he says he will consider becoming a Benefit Corporation. However, after bringing six previous products to market and leading business development for a $120-million-a-year company, he also knows that you only have 168 hours in a week. “There are only so many things you can focus on,” he says. In the end,







only willing to include individuals diverse in appearance “If the missionbut not in point of view. If we want the world to be driven business more accepting of those with varying sexual and movement can gender preferences, proceed strategically for example, let’s also do our part by being and open-mindedly, more accepting of those we may stand to gain with varying tax policy preferences, for example. more traction and We need to welcome great attention than ever ideas no matter where they come from — and fast. before.” It’s time for conscious capitalism to cast a much wider net than we ever thought possible before. We need to be engaged in the principles and detached from the personalities. We need he wants K2 to be a profitable compato evaluate ideas, programs, and ny even more than he cares about the collaborations with a newly refined formal hoops and certifications of the objective fervor. conscious business community. But This year marks a new frontier for that’s not because he doesn’t value the 3BL movement. Business as a force mission. Turman echoes something for good is rapidly becoming mainI’ve heard countless conscious CEOs stream, and a serial entrepreneur in say: “A successful company is in the the White House will draw a new level best position to have the biggest imof attention to national and global pact on the greater good.” businesses. Furthermore, margin and So this is where the rubber mission are shifting into deeper alignmeets the road. Donald Trump is ment as many conscious businesses, our president. All of a sudden, the like renewable energy companies, bemission-driven business community come profitable. There has never been stands faced with one of the most a clearer opportunity for socially reimpactful choices of the decade. Do sponsible leaders to step into the limewe dismiss the work of someone like light. If the mission-driven business Turman? Do we dismiss his values? movement can proceed strategically Or do we acknowledge his innovaand open-mindedly, we may stand to tive achievements through awards gain more traction and attention than programs, give him access to impact ever before. In a sense, the opportucapital, and connect him with advinity before us is one we face every day sors who could help him scale K2, like in our own work: we need to scale. we would with a typical emerging and But this time, instead of scaling a innovative B Corp? product or service, we need to scale This is where we must stare hard our values. If 3BL business values at our own values. It’s a frightening were a product, what would it take to moment, not just because of what get them into every household? Into changes we might dislike, but because the hands of every consumer? of the power we have gained thus The answer may lie in making our far and the opportunity that is now movement less partisan and banding before us. We have the potential to together to confront dangers that become a force for good, not just in know no party line: natural disasters, business but in the world at large. water scarcity, poverty, and disease, We cannot, however, be champions for example. We need to take collaboof diversity and inclusion if we are ration to a new level. Business can no 74




longer remain a two-party system — conscious and unconscious. To become united, we need to start by acknowledging any progressive initiative within any company, and any leader who is doing the right thing. The time of pettiness and policing is over. We need all business leaders to know that we will not reject them for not being just like us. Rather, we will commend them for any attempts they make to put people and planet on the same line as profit — the bottom one. If the need to judge arises, let us commit to turning the magnifying glass on ourselves before examining others. Am I being inclusive? Am I being tolerant? Am I being compassionate? Am I listening to — and really hearing — what others are saying? Am I focusing on our differences or our similarities? In the end, Konnect Kloud will always have been founded by a Republican logger. So when Turman drastically reduces carbon emissions while caring deeply for his employees and bringing the intermodal industry into the 21st century, will we congratulate him? Partner with him? Invest in him? Or will we dismiss him, because of the political party he’s historically supported? I hope we choose the former. I hope we reach out across every proverbial aisle — front, back, and sideways. If we do, we will build the greatest single force for good, business or otherwise, that has ever existed. Photos by Heather Turman

Risa Blumlein has led and advised nonprofits for 14 years and is delighted to serve the Social Venture Network community as Finance Director. She volunteers with the Nonprofit Overhead Project, the SF Bicycle Coalition, and SOCAP, and serves on the finance committee of the SF Wholesale Produce Market. Risa enjoys writing on Evox and Medium as @TheEmoBiz, a question-asking blogger exploring the juicy and provocative intersection of emotion and business.


H PE? WE ASKED OUR NETWORK OF CEOs AND LEADERS A SIMPLE QUESTION: WHAT IN THE CONSCIOUS BUSINESS MOVEMENT IS GIVING YOU HOPE? HERE ARE SOME OF THEIR INSPIRING ANSWERS. “More consumers than ever before are looking for companies that are making positive change.” - Kevin Rutherford, Chief Eternal Optimist (CEO), nuun hydration

“Not only seeing other companies focusing on a more conscious purpose in their business practices, but also seeing companies work together to achieve this purpose.” - Candyce Hedlund, Marketing Manager, Sierra Designs

“The notion that our culture is moving more towards a mindset where shared transportation resources — and resources in general — are widely encouraged and adopted. The more people integrate sharing behavior into their daily lives, the more resources we collectively conserve and the better our society’s quality of life becomes.” 76




- Paul DeLong, CEO, car2go North America

“Young people today are prioritizing the mission of the company they work for just as much as the size of their paycheck.”

“We are seeing more and more companies providing an increasing range of ‘better for you’ products to a much larger demographic of consumers than ever before.”

- Evan Walden, CEO, Monday

- Bret A. Furio, CEO, Zarbee’s Naturals

“The discussion within the movement. I used to think it was just me who thought the world was a little off, our priorities were wrong. Through social media, I’ve found out we’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of us out there. The discussion continues, and our numbers grow.” - Matthew Griffin, CEO, Combat Flip Flops

“In our financial calculations, mundane as they seem, we can and do build models that assign value as if all life matters. Every day, across the globe, I see folks bringing a logic of fairness and justice to their investing practices. We will simply continue to exercise our power.”

“Entrepreneurs are moving beyond Silicon Valley’s funding model of hyper-capitalized companies fueled ‘to achieve billiondollar status or die trying.’ We are seeing the opposite — new entrepreneurs focusing on building something real, long-lasting, and good for the world.”

- Joy Anderson, President and Founder, Criterion Institute

- Peter Henig, Founder and Managing Partner, Greenhouse Capital Partners

“Companies are becoming more vocal about their values and politics instead of shying away for fear of losing customers.” - Annie Nyborg, Director of Corporate Responsibility and Community, Peak Design

“The tenacity of the entrepreneurial underdog spirit remains relentless in the face of fear and determined that fairness, equity, and love will win the day.” - Mike Rowlands, President and CEO, Junxion Strategy CONSCIOUS COMPANY MAGAZINE




“Those with capital (businesses, celebrities, institutions, etc.) have realized they have a vital responsibility — to amplify the voice of those who are overlooked and be a catalyst for change.”

- Lani Dolifka, Co-founder and CEO, Watermill Express “Both the quantity (sheer number) and quality (depth of conviction) of impact investors and social entrepreneurs seem to be growing in lockstep at an almost exponential rate right now.”

“The increasing awareness among business leaders that doing good and making money are not mutually exclusive — in fact, they are becoming a necessary partnership.”

- Don Shaffer, President and CEO, RSF Social Finance

- Adam Hudson, Founder, Reliable Education

“It feels good to know that if faced with a choice, the consumer will most likely make the better decision for all of us, the animals, and the planet — even if it does cost a little bit more. Without them caring, any conscious business movement would be nearly impossible.” - Daniel Uretsky, President, ALLIED Feather & Down

“The increasing awareness that all things on our planet are connected, and that therefore all businesses and their actions have global effects, no matter how seemingly small or locally focused they may be.” - Mark Overbay, Founder and President, Big Spoon Roasters

“It inspires me to hear business executives speaking out against injustice, bigotry, and environmental negligence. It’s not the idealism of the statements that makes me most hopeful, but rather the unmistakable fact that these statements are thought of as ‘good for business.’” - Julia Drachman, Intern Architect, McLennan Design




“I point to the recent example of Lyft donating $1 million to the ACLU in response to political decisions that are not in line with the needs of the people. This is a powerful demonstration of how businesses can not only provide customers with a product or service but can also influence the protection of civil rights.” - Rahama Wright, Founder and CEO, Shea Yeleen Health and Beauty LLC


“More than ever, our ideas are catching fire. As the conscious business community grows, consumers can integrate their values into their lives, vote with their wallets, and begin inspiring others with these same ideals. Supporting a conscious business can be the first step that galvanizes people to action.” - Rachel Connors, Co-founder, Yellow Leaf Hammocks

“In the face of government inaction or antipathy, businesses are increasingly willing to stick their necks out for those who are disadvantaged or persecuted. This includes firms like Salesforce and Google that pushed back against ‘bathroom bills’ in Indiana and North Carolina, and Starbucks, which is promising to hire refugees all around the world. The good news is that even ‘traditional’ companies are recognizing that taking a stand is important — firms like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and even NASCAR have spoken out against intolerance.” - Randall Kempner, Executive Director, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

“Fellow B Corp leaders, now over 2,000 strong, who are uniting around specific goals to advance an inclusivity economy. Unleashing the unlimited potential of all people will fuel our businesses, enrich our communities, and advance our nation”.

“Each year I’m seeing more and more businesses choose to give back in powerful ways, from transparency in sourcing to empowering lives in developing countries. I’m hopeful the movement is increasing as I see more B Corps popping up monthly.”

- John Replogle, CEO, Seventh Generation

- Bryan Papé, Founder and CEO, MiiR Inc.

“Protests. Activism. Women. The sudden appropriateness of asking the question, ‘Would you consider running for office?’ and following it up immediately with, ‘I hope you do.’ Gen Z. Our customers. And the long list of heroines and heroes who are blazing ahead hyper-focused on leveraging the power of business to attack some of our world’s most difficult and complex problems.” - Tom McDougall, Founder, 4P Foods





parting thought... “The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present. When you’re worrying about whether you’re hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic — who cares? The main thing is that you’re showing up, that you’re here, and that you’re finding ever more capacity to love this world. ... That’s what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.” — Joanna Macy

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