Changers Of Commerce – Meeting For Change
While attending TDN2K’s recent Global Best Practices Conference, Changers of Commerce took an extra half-day to meet and share. Jeff Klein, an executive team member of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. (http://www.consciouscapitalism.org/) and CEO of Working For Good, spoke with us about what it means to be a part of Conscious Capitalism. It’s about working to give people a good and sustainable life. Capitalism began with the first seed savers (as a farmer’s daughter, I found this point quite interesting). When humans realized that they could save seeds from vegetation and plant them, trading food for other resources, capitalism began. It is the most successful form of global participation and benefits all of us. At its core, it’s about connecting one another and developing specialties that can serve the world. We need to hold this concept up to survive, propagate and flourish. Now, as capitalism has evolved, it’s time to reexamine our practices and determine how we are putting meaning and purpose into our work.
Jeff also made a comment that has really stuck with me. If you think of the world of business in a way that aligns with the human body, it makes perfect sense that businesses must have a purpose beyond making money. Each of us, every human being on the planet, produces red blood cells. These red blood cells are necessary to sustain human life. We produce these blood cells daily. However, when was the last time you thought, “Just another day of churning out red blood cells”? Probably never. We are more than what we produce or make. We are more than the reflexes that helped us learn to walk and are more than just lumps of cells bumping into each other all day. In the same regard, a business must be about more than just its product or service. Those products must serve as a vehicle to fulfill its purpose.
Then Laura Roberts of Pantheon Enterprises spoke. To say that Laura is impressive is a gross understatement. As she spoke, so many thoughts ran through my mind, primarily the following:
“How impressive. An elementary school teacher turned industrial chemical CEO…”
“How did she do that?”
“Doesn’t she ever sleep?”
“I wonder if she knows Erin Brockovich.”
“Wait, she has kids, too? Amazing…”
“I’m not worthy…”
“That’s it, I’m diving into my third bag of Hail Merry Macaroons.”
Laura Roberts is now a personal hero of mine (I’m shoving aside my demons of jealousy and inadequacy for the greater good). She saw an opportunity to take her father’s cleaning chemical business and make a huge impact on the toxic chemical footprint in the world. She still has investors, speaks intelligently about the world of business and has financial goals. But all of these business objectives stem from her company’s purpose, to create safer industrial cleaning alternatives. Check out her full story here – http://www.pantheonchemical.com/
Jeff and Laura had so many great insights to share and the conversations that they started were inspiring. There was so much discussion around how to spark this change and how to present the concept to those who may be hesitant at first.
I was reminded several times of Jerry McGuire, when Jerry creates a Mission Statement about how the company should change – giving fewer clients more personal attention – and was promptly and unceremoniously sacked in response. Change is scary. To suggest in this economic climate that you focus on a purpose beyond profits may sound a bit loony.
Several points were made in terms of how to get others on board. In a nutshell, it has to start at the top. If the leadership of a company is aligned and focused on the same purpose, others will follow suit. Even if they don’t necessarily agree at first, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. When they begin to see the intrinsic value in terms of employee engagement, customer loyalty and brand awareness, it will be a no-brainer. That’s not to say that we have an easy path in front of us. Most of us would agree, getting leaders to align on any matter falls just short of an act of congress. We have our work cut out for us, but I take so much comfort in the fact that these conversations are starting. The tide is shifting and being a part of this movement makes me excited for the future of business. Please share your thoughts, concerns and questions below. Let’s keep this conversation going!
~ Jessica Hatcher