Key Learnings for Conscious Transformation in Business

firms of endearment book cover


As I have mentioned, the book Firms of Endearment inspired me to work harder to make a difference in the world of business. So I want to share some insights I gained from an informative and insightful webinar by one of the authors, Raj Sisodia.  I am repeating it now because it is fundamental to Creating Joyful Work.

The topic was Conscious Capitalism: Realizing Business & Human Potential. Dr. Shubhro Sen, Co-Founder (along with Raj) & Executive Director of CCI was the host & moderator.

There are some speakers one can listen to many times, & Dr. Raj Sisodia is definitely one of them. In yesterday’s MasterClass, Raj once again informed, enlightened & rallied the attendees.

Dr. Sen introduced Dr. Sisodia by talking about his journey through many countries as he was growing up — the variety of influences that helped to develop Raj’s expanded world view & inclusive nature.

The “Ah-Ha” Discovery

Raj then shared that he started work on his book Firms of Endearment because he noticed businesses spending more & more resources on marketing with less return. Referring to the trillion dollars spent annually on marketing in the U.S. alone, Raj states, “As a matter of fact, if you look at the aggregate overall impact, you can’t necessarily say that it is all positive.”

So Raj (also a Professor of Marketing at Babson University) & his colleagues went “in search of marketing excellence” & found that companies with excellent marketing results did not necessarily spend the most. More important, those organizations which excelled had additional stellar qualities which far outweighed the success of their customer outreach. What they discovered were Firms of Endearment (FoE) — companies that focused on the success of a variety of stakeholders & purposes, with pursuit of profit as a secondary achievement. The FoE classification has morphed to Conscious Businesses, but the foundations & meaning remain pure & strong.

Age of Transcendence

Speaking of metamorphosis, Raj began his presentation with an empowering image of a caterpillar changing into a butterfly. He talked about how the caterpillar’s sole purpose is to consume, but the result of their transformation is a creature of light & beauty. He reminded us that humans are also capable of this change, as are businesses & other organizations we create in our image. Raj stated, “They (businesses) are capable of operating at a much higher level of consciousness.”

Key Learnings for Conscious Transformation in Business

Those of you reading this post probably don’t need to be reminded why the time has come for Conscious Capitalism, so I won’t discuss the sad reasons why a change like this is becoming absolutely necessary. I will stay with the positive & dive right into the key learning points for me.

  • Our human population is becoming more self-actualized which is leading to self-transcendence. I had an ah-ha moment when I heard Raj say that our businesses are laggards in this transformation. Since I have long worked in high-tech, my mindset was that businesses lead the way in new discoveries — mostly because of exemplars like Apple & Google. But, more powerful than technological or organizational “new discoveries” is the truth of our own being; & corporations (& other organizations) for the most part have been actively seeking to sublimate that growth. Our world is changing & like the demise of the Berlin Wall, this toxic infrastructure is being undermined by the light of human dignity & spirit.
  • Why Whole Foods is an outstanding exemplar of a Conscious Business. The one that stayed with me is that CEO John Mackey is a conscious leader — his primary loyalty is to the (higher) purpose of the business & the people it affects. Mr. Mackey signed a letter to all team members “Much love, John.” After hearing John speak several times, I do believe that his love for the purpose of Whole Foods is large enough to encompass all 60,000 employees.
  • The goal of Conscious Capitalism is to change TGIF to TGIM!…Thank God It’s Friday to Thank God It’s Monday. What if the term “work” could make us think of our calling, fulfilling our passions? How good can we stand it?
  • A Conscious Culture is TACTILE. It includes: Trust, Authenticity, Caring, Transparency, Integrity, Learning & Empowerment.
  • “Business can be one of the most beautiful, noble undertakings in the world.”
  • Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a narrow view of the solution. CSR still keeps Society, Business & Environment mostly in separate silos with a small amount of overlap. The Conscious View is more analog, joining all life into one interdependent universe—impacting each other always & in all ways.
  • Conscious Business is commerce with positive side effects. When businesses take a larger worldview & longer-term attitude, lower gross margins turn into higher net margins (& higher profits). These enterprises take more effort & time to create, but over time they almost run themselves.

How do we end the tyranny of Wall Street’s short-term view & quarterly reports? One attendee asked this question that is near to my heart. Raj & Shubhro answered that like all leading-edge goals, the change associated with Conscious Capitalism is a journey of education. Companies like The Container Store are actively working to demonstrate that their methods blow away traditional methods for achieving & measuring success. For more information, see Michael Jensen’s Wall Street Project.

Hope restored. After the MasterClass, a colleague, the owner of a small business, shared with me that he was about to publish a blog post on the demise of our economy & society, but the MasterClass had given him pause…

In the chat room I saw that many of the attendees came today because they had the opportunity to hear Raj in the past &, like me, wanted to know more. I hope today’s “class” was much more than that, and like my colleague above, it was the beginning of a potent journey. Thank you to AuthorsGlobe for their support of our journey & for being a meaningful exemplar themselves.

Our challenges are great, but…

In closing, I leave you with Raj’s empowering words “Our challenges are great, but so is our consciousness & our ability to change things. We have all the tools we need; we just need to unleash human ingenuity on our challenges in a holistic, conscious, caring way. Natural resources are finite. Human resources are infinite. Rather than being a resource, human beings are a source—like the sun.”


(Our guest blogger is Lisa Hamaker, Principal of Kaliday Marketing. Lisa provides her insights from participating in the Conscious Capitalism Institute (CCI) virtual MasterClass with Dr. Raj Sisodia, Co-Founder & Chairman of CCI, on January 26, 2011.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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