Jeff Klein and Conscious Capitalism, Conscious Business. Conscious Leadership

Russ Volckmann

Russ Volckmann

Jeff Klein

Russ Volckmann

Russ: I want to welcome Jeff Klein who has been a light that’s been shining around the integral and the consciousness world for some time. I have had the chance to talk to Jeff a little bit before, but I have a lot to learn from him. I hope, Jeff, you will permit me to be naïve and find out more about your work around conscious capitalism, conscious leadership and the like.

Jeff:  Thank you Russ. And the same goes for me. I have no doubt that I have a lot to learn and I will learn from our conversation and from you in this, as well. So we are on a learning journey together here.

Russ: Learning is one of the drivers in my life and why  Integral Leadership Review exists. Learning is so important to me, so I am glad you are a part of it.

Jeff: Great.

Russ: Let’s start with this idea of conscious capitalism. I am sure that people have heard this phrase and may be marginally familiar with it, maybe even have read about it in the work of Patricia Aburdeen, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism. She opens the door on this idea. How did you get involved in this arena?

Jeff: In many respects I began in this arena in the late 70’s, early 80’s when I was finishing college at Brown University. Did you ever hear the Bill Cosby routine, Noah and the Ark?

Russ: Yes I have.

Jeff: Do you remember, “Noah, This is the lord.”

Cosby says, ”Right. Who is this really?” God says, “Noah, I want you to build an ark.” Cosby asks, “What’s an ark?” And so on.

Back in the late 1970’s, early 80’s, this voice said, “Your mission should you accept it is to–.” First of all, I love to work. I have always loved to work – physically, mentally, applying attention to create something – by myself and with others. It is something that I always enjoyed.

I observed that many people work with an obligation, work with duty, but for me work was a blast! It was something that I learned from, I grew through. I had the sense that work for me was a path of discovery, exploration, and creativity. On the other hand I was an idealist, a college student looking to make a contribution, make the world a better place. I recognized two things. One was that business was the most powerful organized force on the planet, maybe second to the military of the time, the Soviet Union and the United States.

But business as an aggregate was really the mover and driver. If I cared to make the world a better place or have any significant impact, I needed to be involved in and influence business in some way.

Russ: And Eisenhower would have agreed with you 100% — the military industrial complex.

Jeff: Right. I also recognized that business was a generative force, right? That through business new things were manifest: energy, and I mean energy not in the form of petrol or chemical, but things happened right through business. Businesses can really move things in the world.

And then the other thing related to that is I recognized that most people received most of their information through marketing channels. I considered the media to be a marketing channel, principally. I had this recognition or awareness that if I wanted to have any effect, if I wanted to be effective and making a contribution in what happens, participating in transformation in some way, that I had to understand the language and the art of marketing.

So, again it was like, Jeff, Noah? Like okay, sure, right, business, marketing, whatever. And I went to a school that didn’t even have business and marketing courses. So I set out to do those things. It was a long and winding road; it was a journey with lots of different stops along the way. But all along I was building my relationship to work as a path for my own and others’ learning growth and development. I was developing my understanding of how business works, how people show up in business and experimenting with different ways of doing so. I was learning and practicing what I call the art of marketing. So does that answer your question Russ?

Russ: Yes. You spent some of your time actually working in organizations and some of your time as a consultant?

Jeff: Yes. Soon after I graduated from college I bumped into a guy named Rob Rodale on a bus trip.

Russ: What was the name?

Jeff: Robert Rodale, you know, Rodale Press, that organic gardening, prevention magazine, bicycling, runner’s world, all these active lifestyle magazines. They started with the organic gardening and prevention. Bob’s father had started the company and Bob was—I think he was trained as a CPA. When I met him he was the Chairman of the Board and the chief visionary officer. He wrote the editorial for Prevention and Organic Gardening. He was the visionary. He had started the Cornucopia Project doing an assessment of the food system of every state in the nation and then of the nation overall, because they were into sustainability and organics. He was looking at how dependent we were on petrol chemicals, how unstable the system was.

He started something called the People’s Medical Society looking at the health care system, as a non-profit underneath the company, an amazing visionary guy. Anyway, I met him on a bus. He was sitting across the aisle from me and I was reading a book called Agricultural Development in the Third World. I will never forget. He was in his 60’s then; he died in 1985 in a bus accident in Russia, where he was publishing the Soviet version of a magazine he started called New Farm with a Soviet publishing partner. That is why he was there when he died.

He leaned over and said, “Excuse me.” and asked, “What’s that book you are reading?” I showed it to him. He asked. “Why are you reading it?” I said, “Because I am interested in it!” And he asked, “Can I talk to you?” I didn’t know who he was until he introduced himself.

As we were talking, he asked about what I was interested in, what I was doing, and he said, “Well I am really interested in alternative economics. I am interested in social economics and natural resource economics. I really think it’s important for our company, and our own practices and also to look at future publications. Would you like to like do a research study for me on what’s going on in the field?”

Russ: Oh, wow!

Jeff: At first I said, “Gosh, I just said yes to doing something else. I don’t think I am going to be able to do it.” A week later I decided that I’ve got to do this. So I called him up, went in, and I spent three months travelling all over the country doing all this research. I wrote a 60-page paper on what was going on in natural resource and social economics. This was the beginning of the social investment industry. It was a time of pioneering exploration into alternative currencies, the ecological underpinnings of the economy and, in many ways, the stirrings of Conscious Capitalism.

It was a really interesting, germane and seminal time. Things were just getting started. So that was another boost to my journey on this path.

Then I was involved with a whole series of young entrepreneurial companies. In 1984 I really wanted to get marketing under my belt. I also wanted to get Spanish under my belt. And I wanted to connect with my best friend from high school. He was Venezuelan and was back in Venezuela taking a rundown radio station and building it up.

So I spent three months in Caracas, perfected my Spanish, hung out with my buddy and read. He had a Master’s in marketing and an MBA. So I read all his text books, did a market research project and got myself oriented to marketing. I came back to the States ready to dig in and to build something.

I was introduced to a guy named Peter Baumann who had been a member of a band called Tangerine Dream, a German electronic music band. He had this idea for starting a record company called Private Music. We hit it off and I was in the music business starting a company. I plugged in the first phone, built the infrastructure, and all with the intention of really learning how to market and develop a media product.

Throughout the journey, I took on mentors. I had as a mentor, a senior vice president of marketing of Estee Lauder who was the wife of our attorney. Then we signed a distribution agreement with RCA. Their whole sales force were my mentors. So I just took on mentors along the way, both for business in general, sales and marketing in particular. In the process we launched in a really innovative way, had an early success, built the company in a pretty sleek way and then we brought in a president with music business experience. I focused on marketing and sales and built the company from $400,000 the first year, a million and a half the second year. then to four to nine to 15 million in sales. In the process I built and broke in an artist named Yanni.

Russ: Brilliant.

Jeff: Through this process, I had the experience of producing events and building a talent.

Russ: You were going to Greece and places like that.

Jeff: I did go to Greece once and spent 10 days with Yanni and his family there.

Russ: You produced those big outdoor concerts?

Jeff: I didn’t do the Acropolis and Taj Mahal and all that. I did the first one. I produced his  first three or four Symphony concerts that led up to those. We did it in Dallas twice and Minneapolis.

Russ: Exciting.

Jeff: That was fun. And then after Private Music and managing Yanni, I helped to launch something called Spinning, a workout on a stationery bike. After getting Spinning off the ground, I moved to Santa Fe and ran an organic seed company called Seeds of Change.

Then I connected back with Peter Baumann and worked on a project in Southern Baja, Mexico, developing a retreat center there. After a couple years, when the project closed, I returned to the States and ended up back in the music business. In 2001 I started a business called Social Alliance Marketing with a partner who had experience in sponsorship. We developed alliance-based marketing programs, which addressed social and environmental issues, while advancing the missions and addressing the short term objectives and long term strategic interests of program partners. We worked with the Esalen Institute, The National Geographic Society, Global Giving, Institute of Noetic Sciences. Then I got a project with Peace Cereal and my partner, who had taken on some non-related clients, decided he needed to focus on more conventional business.

Through the program I produced for Peace Cereal I met Michael Strong, an educational entrepreneur who had recently started an organization called FLOW, with John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. FLOW was focused on the intersection of classical liberal economics and human potential and social consciousness. How do you use work as a path for personal growth and learning growth and development? How do you transform or elevate the functioning of business so that’s even more in service of work flourishing? I loved this and, clearly, it mapped onto my passion and purpose.

After several months of supporting Michael with marketing and business development counsel, he invited me to a retreat at John’s ranch outside Austin, Texas.

Within the first hour I started facilitating the retreat just with my questions and comments, because it was really not going very well. Michael asked if I would take over, I said, ”No, I don’t think so.” But I just kept doing what I was doing and within 24 hours they said, “Hey, would build this organization with us.” And it was such a cool thing and they were cool guys, so I said, “Yeah, sure.”

Within the first four to six months Michael was really looking at the relationship between business and peace and he came up with the idea of doing a program called Peace Through Commerce. So, using my marketing, communications background I packaged an overview of the Peace Through Commerce program. A few months later John Mackey saw the package and said “I love this. I want to do one on Conscious Capitalism.” That was the foundation of what would become Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and the emerging Conscious Capitalism community and movement, in a formal sense.

We convened a small retreat a year later with about 35 people and it has been building every year since. The following year we convened our first Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit, with about 100 people – a cross-section of CEOs, thought leaders, consultants academics and others. This year we are hosting 160 people, almost exclusively CEOs of companies with annual revenues greater than $8 MM, and an off the charts line up of presenters.

The Summit will also feature an afternoon of practicums – hands on workshops – and peer roundtables, which will meet four times over the course of the 48 hours of the Summit. We have found that one of the key things CEOs (and others) are looking for is peer learning community.

Russ: If I can pick up some of the threads here, it sounds like what you are looking at is business with a conscience. So it’s not just conscious but it’s also concerned with some ethical position, some moral position, some desire to improve the world of commerce and thereby the world as we know it. Is that a fair statement?

Jeff: That is a fair statement and—yes. In certain respects business is inherently ethical, if it’s honest business. Business, Capitalism, is a system of voluntary exchange – no one is forced to trade either their labor or other resources. Conscious Capitalists recognize the manipulation that is often exercised by people – business people, politicians and government agents, and others – to game the system and establish an unfair advantage, to manipulate and abuse the system and others. They also recognize that human activity can have an adverse effect on the ecosystems that sustain our lives and our economy. They understand that as people, as biological beings – in the context of our business activity – it is in the interest of all of us to consider and mitigate the adverse effects of our activity on natural systems, and to find ways to ameliorate those effects.

Russ: We know from the work of Hirschman that there serious questions about whether or not people have the kind of choice or capacity to exit that you are talking about. For those to be true choices, business must be ethical in relation to all stakeholders.

Jeff: Exactly, exactly. Ultimately it comes down to how is it actually practiced, right?

Russ: Yes.

Jeff: But in principle it’s ethical.

Russ: Okay.

Jeff:  And then there are always people who will transgress.

So here it is—and this comes to my perspective on the definition of business. If you really look at it, business is at its core people coming together to do something, right? It is a group of people coming together to accomplish something.

It’s a form of human social organization where people are coming together to do something with a purpose. To produce and deliver a product or to produce and deliver a service to other people, while creating value for themselves.

They are also creating meaning. They are creating relevance. They are creating opportunity for generating wealth, whatever that might look like, whether it’s financial, social, intellectual, etc. And they are creating value for the people that they are delivering the products and service to. They are creating value for the larger community in the jobs they create, the value of their products and services, all of the ways that they create value for the larger ecosystem.

Russ: The same thing could be said of organizations that are more community oriented. I am thinking of cooperatives, peer-to-peer and things like that where the consumers and the producers are the same people.

Jeff: Sure, absolutely. And you can say the same thing about non-profits, which are businesses. They are just structured slightly differently and the profits can’t go to any individuals, although they accrue to the organization. So yeah, absolutely, that’s what business is as well. It’s a form of human social organization that addresses human needs and desires, and creates many kinds of wealth.

Russ: The other thing that you alluded to is that, given the increases in the numbers of CEOs that are coming to your events, there is positive growth in this movement around conscious capitalism. Most of that growth is in mid-range companies, is that accurate?

Jeff: In general, yes. Mid-market companies have been the largest cohort in our community, today. It continues to grow and we are getting a surprising number of big companies, billions of dollars in revenues, who are very interested and who are showing up. One of the reasons is because Stagen and others have played a significant role in cultivating the community and the mid-market companies and CEOs constitute their community.

We are spending more energy and attention inviting CEOs of larger companies and they             are responding surprisingly well, including a growing number of public companies. And             we are seeing tremendous interest from entrepreneurs and CEOs of start-ups and early             stage companies.

Many of the entrepreneurs and CEOs who are showing up approach business this way –that is, they focus on purpose before profit, work to create value for all of their stakeholders, not simply their shareholders, and cultivate a conscious culture – even if they have not heard about Conscious Capitalism before. We playfully refer to them as unconscious Conscious Capitalists. They are attracted to Conscious Capitalism as a source of information, validation and best practices, and as an opportunity to learn with and from their peers – to be part of a learning community.

We find that the Millennials are strongly attracted to the idea and practice of Conscious Capitalism, as doing well by doing good. Serving others while you serve yourself is built into their DNA.

Russ: Okay let’s look at the big picture for a moment. Global capitalism is occurring in various shades and forms. Very large global companies are taking bigger and bigger chunks of the markets. That seems to me a counter trend or at least a trend that is a potential opportunity for what you are trying to do. Is that right?

Jeff:  There are a couple of things. One is Cronyism. Crony capitalism has a long history.

Cronyism in general has a history. And you know cronyism is cheating, right? It is manipulation and it exists, right? It exists. You’ve got huge companies making billions of dollars of profits that don’t pay taxes, right? Now how is that? You know, something is fishy.

The other thing is the financial system, the market. The financial markets are really geared towards a short-term orientation – and only on financial return, which is clearly counter to Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism considers the long-term implications and the effects of what we do on communities, on the environment and on people, etc.

The prevailing consciousness in our culture at this point is still counter to Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism represents an emerging paradigm shift or an emerging new orientation. It’s an orientation that has long deep roots through time and history. It is ethically based, which is long term oriented, and considers the implications of our effect on the bigger system and future generations.

While Conscious Capitalism is emerging, the old system persists. Whether it will continue to predominate in 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years, who knows?

Russ: I saw a report out of the United Kingdom, recently in which their government auditors identified 21,000 people in the world who have had over 25 trillion dollars in tax protected accounts. When I see figures like that, I wonder where is the potential leverage to change this?

There is also a Ray Kurzweil’s newsletter that came out recently that by using math and some other levels of analysis, the potential or probability of violence, major social violence in US society, is really getting very, very high. It seems like crisis times. Now crisis can breed disaster and it can also breed opportunity, how do you maintain your optimism in the face of things like that?


I just laughed a really big laugh at that really big question.

Jeff: There are so many ways of answering that. First of all, was it Maslow that said, fish swim, birds fly, musicians play music… If you are an optimist you are an optimist. I know you can cultivate optimism, and learn to look at the indications of life emerging, flourishing.

What I can remember as a teenager and planting vegetables and herbs in the garden, planting grass even, is that when the first little seed sprouted I would just be so turned on. Any sign of life for me is a sign of opportunity and I have been doing this for thirty some years, Russ. 30 years ago I was a freaking nutcase, right? I mean my parents were worried about my sanity, as did others. I just persisted because I didn’t have a choice. I was like, Noah.

Russ: Build the ark…

Jeff: Now what’s happened is when you look around, you are not alone. There are dozens, hundreds, thousands of others who are thinking the same way, who have been working the same way for 30 years or 10 years or 15 years, whatever it is. We are now finding each other. We have this easy conversation. We support each other with insights, understandings and practices. All of a sudden there is this community, this global community of people who are thinking and acting this way.

I look around and ask: are you kidding me? I was an optimist when there was no reason to be an optimist. Now it’s like, Wow! I would have to really be pathetic not to be optimistic when I see so many incredibly and motivated, intelligent people doing incredible things in organizations of all sizes.

Russ: It’s wonderful.

Jeff: Whether it prevails or not, who knows?

But this is flourishing, Russ. In spite of everything that government might do to crush it and put it down, in spite of everything the government might do to prop up the old crony system, in spite of all the power of the crony system, this is flourishing.

Russ: Fantastic. You mentioned Rand Stagen, who of course has the Stagen consulting and Integral Leadership Program in Dallas. So the integral community has had some influence. John Mackey, for example, has been a supporter of Ken Wilber’s work, at least informally; I don’t know in what other ways. I am wondering if in your own work has the integral approach been a part of that in any way?

Jeff: Well, let’s say some of the integral perspectives and thought tools have been useful lenses for understanding certain dynamics in systems. And they have also provided a common language, a foundation in language for some of our conversations. But it’s not essential.

Russ: What has been essential?

Jeff: The limitation of integral has been that it has not generated that much practical tools and development. It has taken a few people like Rand, Rick Voirin, Cindy Wigglesworth and others to build really useful learning platforms on top of it .

Does that make sense?

Russ: Oh absolutely! I think that’s one of its strengths. It does provide scaffolding for what you are talking about.

Jeff: Yes. It has provided a scaffolding in itself. If somebody didn’t build on top of it, it wouldn’t have been that useful. So it has served that as the platform for the applications. I am a kinesthetic type and I relate to the world through movement; I learn through movement. For me and for a lot of what I have observed, a lot of awareness practices, communication skills and practices, social intelligence, development, emotional intelligence—these are the things that are most essential to really showing up as a human being, right?

I find that conceptual tools are great. But if somebody shows up with just a concept — they could be the most brilliant person in the room — we are going nowhere. Ultimately, what makes the difference is people showing up as human beings with vulnerability, with their emotions, listening, awareness. I observe that the most advanced leaders are engaged in personal growth. It’s that emotional and social growth and intelligence that really makes a difference in building healthy cultures and healthy organizations.

Russ: Conscious leaders, then, are people who are building these practices into their lives, practices that support their development and evolution in the arenas you were just talking about and others.

Jeff: Precisely. This is not to negate the conceptual and the cognitive, which are profoundly valuable human capacities. Those capacities are so well developed in our education system and take the lead in our culture. It’s the sensory, physical, emotional, social that are really underdeveloped in our culture. And so that translates into business, right?

Russ: Yes. I wrote a Coda in the August 2012 issue of Integral Leadership Review that you might find amusing at least, Integral: The “New” Human Potential Movement in which I compare the integral movement to the human potential movement.

So many of the tools and so many of the approaches to adult development are related to when Wilber was a part of the Humanistic Psychology Institute, hanging out in San Francisco with Mike Murphy and George Leonard and all those folks at the Esalen Institute that you were involved with.

Jeff: Yes.

Russ: Many of these kinds of things that came out of that time are re-emerging in new forms with a significant difference. The significant difference is that instead of their being isolated piecemeal kinds of approaches, there is a real – and I think integral supports this in a very positive way and I suspect the same is true of the conscious business movement — a real attempt to integrate the full dimension of what it means to be human, what it means to be in business, what it means to be in a leader role.

Jeff: Yes! Very well said. I think there is a convergence and an integration — integral, the idea and the concept, right? And certainly the Integral Institute at its inception has been about wholeness, right? Esalen was and is a place for experience, right? It is a place for experiencing dimensions of our beings other than just the prevailing and predominant orientation, which is the conceptual and cognitive. Not that it didn’t have that element in it, but it was very experiential.

Robb Smith spent a good amount of time working on building a platform with Integral Life and it didn’t quite fly. They were working on the ILP, the Integral Life Practice, really looking at how we take these ideas and how we bring them into our physical, social, emotional and spiritual life. Certainly the integral model includes all these dimensions. It was just that they were there on the map, but they weren’t necessarily being embodied in the community that was talking about them, right? Does that make sense?

Russ: Like the Conscious Capitalism effort and conscious business effort, the integral development approach is in process.

Jeff: Right.

Russ: I don’t mean to draw the parallel too closely, but there is an infrastructure in both of those dimensions of our world and the infrastructure has its strengths and its weaknesses.

Jeff: Very well put.

Russ: Let’s just shift a little bit. I was really impressed about your very initial story about meeting Rodale. It sounded like he was an extraordinarily inspirational kind of guy.

When we think about leaders—what I prefer to think of as individuals in leader roles— because they move in and out of those roles all the time, many of them have an extraordinary capacity to inspire. I think it’s because maybe they are turned on by ideas like Conscious Business, their own sense of consciousness, that sort of thing. Would you agree?

Jeff: My experience with inspiration is that I tend to be inspired by and observe others being inspired by passion. It’s the energy. It’s the ideas plus energy, right? Ideas themselves are great, but if they don’t come with energy they don’t connect, right? They don’t—and it doesn’t mean they have to be bubbly and enthusiastic. Somebody can deliver an idea with a really deep, grounded, calm demeanor and energy. But the potency of how they are transmitting is as important as the concept.

Russ: This is the intensity—.

Jeff: Yes, there is an intensity—intensity and potency that can be reflected by exuberance and effusiveness. But it can also be reflected in a calm, just profound energy. So it’s not that it has to be one way or the other, but there is a presence and a force there beyond the words. Does that answer your question?

Russ: Yes, absolutely. And it has to do in part with things around something I know that you hold being important, which is the importance of purpose and the way we create and assign meaning in what it is we are doing in relation to our work, in our world with our purpose.

Jeff: Exactly! It also has to do with something a little different, which is presence, just plain presence. I took a communication workshop last year with Decker Associates called Communicate to Influence. Maybe that’s an appropriate title or not. But it is a wonderful public speaking course. In the first hour they asked us the following question: If you are going to take three factors — somebody’s physical appearance and presence, the tone of their voice and the content of what they say — out of 100%, which of those has the most effect and influence over an audience? So that’s (1) physical appearance, and how you show up, (2) the tone of your voice and (3) the content. Want to venture a guess?

Russ: Tone of their voice, 10% or more. The physical appearance is probably the first thing we notice and has 50%?.

Jeff: It’s 81% is the physical presence, 10% is the tone and 9% is the content.

Russ: Isn’t that amazing?

Jeff: The point is we are emotional, sensory beings first, right? And we are cognitive, conceptual second, even though we are really trained to be otherwise in this culture. That translates into the leadership thing. Ultimately your presence is what communicates. It’s what establishes connection, trust and obviously the extent to which there is congruency, right, where they all line up. That’s where the real potency is.

And that’s what conscious leaders do. They cultivate their presence. They cultivate who they are. They cultivate their minds and their understanding. The process of ongoing cultivation fosters integration, which leads to that congruency, right?

Russ: You be careful, Jeff. You are going to make me start having to wear neckties again or something.

Jeff: No that’s not—.

Russ: I know. Well, it depends on the audience.

Jeff: That’s the truth, it depends on the –. That’s hilarious, that was really funny.

Russ: So Conscious Capitalism, where is it going from here? What can we anticipate seeing or learning or hearing about this?

Jeff: That’s a good question. I am a Trustee on the Board, but that’s not a real functional board. I am on the executive team, which is. I also serve in a kind of consulting capacity here in marketing and business development and I produce the Conscious Capitalism events.

We are working on a web platform that will launch by October and that will be the hub for the global Conscious Capitalism community. We are starting a chapter network, round tables, and membership. In April we are going to have our first really substantial public event. Most of our events have been the CEO Summit and then an annual conference, which has been relatively small. We are opening it up and having a larger event in San Francisco. On the first day we are going to do a live webcast.

You could say that Conscious Capitalism is really coming out this next six to 12 months. John Mackey and Raj Sesodia have finished a book that Harvard Business Press is releasing in January called Conscious Capitalism. Next Fall Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, is coming out with a book on their embodiment of Conscious Capitalism. Between the website, the chapters, the round tables, the public event in the spring and the books, you are going to hear a lot about Conscious Capitalism in the next year.

Russ: When I looked at the materials that you sent me I saw four elements discussed. We mentioned purpose. We have already talked a bit about conscious leadership. Another is stakeholder orientation. By the way you know that whole stakeholder notion for me goes back to the 1980’s with Ian Mitroff’s exceptional work, Stakeholders of the Organizational Mind.

There is a guy at the University of Virginia whose name escapes me at the moment.

Jeff: Ed Freeman.

Russ: Right. The whole stakeholder thing is really so important, because it’s not just about the organizations and its customers —but it’s everybody who has a finger in the pot or who has a stake in that organization doing right, doing well.

The fourth element is conscious culture. Tell us a bit about conscious culture.

Jeff: The stakeholder thing is core. What the stakeholder orientation represents is a recognition of interconnectedness, right? Or interdependence—that’s really what it’s about. And it’s saying that what we do as a business, as a group of people coming together, has an effect on others. It has an effect on our customers, our employees, the investors, the communities we do business in, the environment, future generations—all you could consider stakeholders. We need to consider the implications of our actions on these other stakeholders as well as recognizing that they are part of our business. If we engage with them in a wholesome, healthy, positive way, then they are going to bring more energy to our business, right?

Russ: How does that relate to conscious culture?

Jeff:  This relates to conscious culture through the ethos. It’s the values. It’s the practices. It’s the rituals. It’s the way we relate to each other in the context of our business. Many people think of business as about how employees get along and the rules of the internal game. But it’s more than that. It’s the solution or the soil for the stakeholder ecosystem, because your customers, your vendors, investors, the communities, relate to who you are, right? Who you are is what you do and how you relate. Your culture is a big part of defining who you are and how you relate.

Russ: One of the things that many people say about culture is it’s about what’s shared. When I look at the culture of a system though, it’s not only about what’s shared it’s about what’s not shared. And so if you look at the culture of — I think you live in Marin County, don’t you?

Jeff: Yes I do.

Russ:  — if you look at the culture of Marin County, what you find among the houseboats of Sausalito is very different from what you are going to find in the hills of San Rafael or what you are going to find up in Novato or in the mountains above Muir Woods. There are all kinds of different stakeholders in that system of Marin County. The same is true of organizations. That’s one of the things I really liked about your stakeholder statement is that it really brings forth the fact that we are talking about a conscious business, a Conscious Capitalism, conscious individuals leading and dealing with a conscious culture that is very diverse and doing it well.

Jeff: Really well said, and even within an organization, right? I mean the accounting department has a different culture than the sales department, right?

Russ: Absolutely.

Jeff: And there is a unifying culture. So there is what distinguishes and then there is what unites. What distinguishes doesn’t have to separate us, right? It just identifies us. But what unites is those underlying agreements on why we are here, our purpose. The other part of a conscious culture is that it holds in its purpose the organization’s purposes, right? It has an orientation to the purpose. The conscious culture is infused with the recognition that we are in this together, meaning we the team, as well as our customers, suppliers, etc.

A conscious leader – rather than looking and asking, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” – a conscious leader is focused on advancing the organization’s purpose, creating value for all of the stakeholders and building a conscious culture. That conscious culture is one that recognizes that it exists in service to the purpose and the stakeholder ecosystem.

Call it integral – an integrated framework. It’s all about purpose and serving all.

Russ: Jeff, I really appreciated this conversation. There is still so much to open up to around these ideas and I look forward to learning more, so thank you.

Jeff: Well I did too Russ and I really enjoyed you. You are just a delightful human being and so curious and fun. It’s been really fun getting to know you and being with you this way, so thanks for the invitation.