Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

No doubt you’ve caught wind of Conscious Capitalism via ringing endorsements from Glenn Beck, both on his radio show and TheBlaze TV.

Glenn’s recent declaration on Twitter sums up his feelings concerning this groundbreaking new book from the co-CEO of Whole Foods Market:

“Really digging into John Mackey’s Conscious Capitalism. A MUST READ FOR ALL AMERICANS. Best example of what we can be & do. A real road map.”

Wait a sec, you might be saying now. A positive book about capitalism…from the head of Whole Foods? The organic, environmentally correct store the left wing loves? Is that not a recipe for massive mutual exclusivity?

In a word…no.

As Glenn soon learned from Conscious Capitalism, Mackey (with professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia) argues for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, the authors illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.

Here’s Glenn breaking down his eye-opening journey with Conscious Capitalism:

Mackey has further observed that organizations that build strong businesses and help advance capitalism toward realizing its highest potential are marked by four specific tenets:

  • higher purpose
  • stakeholder integration
  • conscious leadership
  • conscious culture and management

Mackey joined Glenn on the radio to discuss his views in detail:

At once a bold defense and reimagining of capitalism and a blueprint for a new system for doing business grounded in a more evolved ethical consciousness, Conscious Capitalism is a new lens for individuals and companies looking to build a more cooperative, humane, and positive future.

The following excerpt from Conscious Capitalism offers a refreshing alternative to fear-based employment practices:

Rooted in its rating system for team members, GE’s policy was to fire the bottom 10 percent of its workforce every year (Enron had a similar policy). The rationale is that people are so scared of being in the bottom 10 percent that they work really hard to make sure they’re not. But even if people are working hard and think they are doing okay, they can’t be sure. People can be so afraid of being in the bottom 10 percent that they begin to see coworkers as rivals rather than as fellow teammates. They try to do what they can to make sure they’re ahead of the next person on the team. Viktor Frankl wrote with shame of the relief he and other inmates felt in the concentration camps when someone else was selected for termination: “better him than me” was the feeling. We think such a policy is very damaging to workplace morale, because it creates a climate of fear and pits people against each other. Fear can be an effective short-term motivator; in a crisis situation, it can elicit extraordinary efforts for a short time. But as an ongoing policy, it’s a disaster. Why create an arbitrary 10 percent turnover? If everyone is doing well, everyone should stay.

And a concluding thought from the Conscious Capitalism Credo:

We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free-enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to something even greater.