NPR had an interesting article today about an interview with Whole Foods founder, John Mackey, who discusses his new book venture Conscious Capitalism, co-authored with Rajendra Sisodia. His new book seems like a worthwhile read on ethics in the modern businesses place. A timely issue considering corporate personhood, record corporate profits and declining worker wages. The concept of business success while maintaining integrity and purpose seems to be a worthwhile topic and one that is close to my own heart.
From book description:
As leaders of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Mackey and Sisodia argue that aspiring leaders and business builders need to continue on this path of transformation—for the good of both business and society as a whole.
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, this book provides a new lens for individuals and companies looking to build a more cooperative, humane, and positive future.
Joy to a businessman that “gets it” and has proven that a business model that incorporates ethics can do great things AND be profitable. “Reimaging” capitalism is a great term for it. We need a new template by which businesses operate. Following the logic of Nobel Laureate John Nash’s theory of equilibrium, a model that benefits others and ourselves will be the most successful coarse.
The idea of Consciousness in economics is not a new one and this all reminded me a bit of Stonyfield Farms founder Samuel Kaymen in Food, Inc. when he discussed his reasons for marketing his products through WalMart. Although the company came under intense fire as a “Sell out” of their ideals by mass distributing their foods through the often hostilely viewed ultimate mega-corporation, Samuel Kaymen felt that you couldn’t buck the system, you had to try to change the system by working within the existing framework. We have a capitalist system, so understanding that profit drives industry, finding a way for ethics to be profitable is the key. Certainly John Mackey has found the sweet spot with a business that supports sustainable practices and turns a tidy profit. This example could truly change the world.
I was struck by a quote from Mackey from his interview in the NPR article. I have a personal interest in diet and lifestyle change and have written in the past about how passionately afraid people are of changing their diets. John Mackey sums up this issue very eloquently in his interview.
“People in America are addicted to sugar, and to fat and to salt,” he says, and as a nation, it’s holding us back. “Food is intensely pleasurable, and people are afraid that if they change the way they eat, they’ll stop having pleasure.”
People feel a sense of loss at the idea of changing their diet and lifestyle. Whole Foods as a company has done a lot to change the widely held belief that healthy food doesn’t taste good, by marketing organic foods in an attractive and appealing way. When you go into a Whole Foods store there is a buffet of great looking food, a cafe filled with happy people, you stroll wide, clear aisles with lovely signage and everything looks amazing. The experience is idyllic and makes you feel like you are enjoying the finest things in life. In practice, Whole Foods is changing the system from within, by overcoming consumer fears and giving them a product that they value while maintaining their own ideals.
This is the height of smart business practice for larger thinking. All of us who wish to support sustainable, globally minded practices can benefit from understanding a bit about business and how to make our ideals a value to everyone. Give something of value and people will want it, this benefits everyone.
Read the original article: