• April 2013

Conscious Capitalism: Business the Whole Foods Way

What is Conscious Capitalism? It’s John Mackey’s way of liberating the heroic spirit of business—and its tenets reveal the philosophy of this savvy businessman, who dropped out of college and lists “busboy” and “waiter” on his resume just below his current job, CEO of Whole Foods Market.

With coauthor and marketing professor Raj Sisodia, who is the cofounder of the Conscious Capitalism movement, Mackey takes us through the four tenets of what it takes for any company to powerfully create value for all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.

Scroll down for our feature on Mackey, our April 2013 Entrepreneur of the Month. And don’t miss Sisodia’s Six Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Also in this issue:

  • Author Vanessa Diffenbaugh is our Truly Amazing Woman this month, for not only is this foster mother the scribe behind the bestseller, “The Language of Flowers,” she’s the co-founder of our Nonprofit of the Month, the Camillia Network. “When it became clear that my book about a child emancipated from the foster care system would get a lot of attention nationally, I wanted to create a platform to help the kids I was writing about,” Diffenbaugh explains. Click here to see why she’s truly amazing.
  • Camillia Network embraces the idea of Conscious Capitalism by helping kids emancipated from the foster care system on their 18th birthday realize that they are supported and loved. Crowd-sourcing is the key, and a community of thousands have donated goods and time to ensure the kids have what they need to find success as adults. Executive director Isis Dallis Keigwin explains.
  • That’s just a taste of what you’ll find in this month’s issue, which is packed with great insights on putting Conscious Capitalism to work. Bryan Beatty talks about “The Inflation Issue,” Andrea Keating explains how she built an international company that has stood the the test of time, Lyndsey DePalma serves up foods that will heal you, and Barbara Mitchell tells us how to help employees love their job.
  • We are also proud to announce our new program: Inkandescent Internships. To celebrate the launch, we asked our former intern, now editorial assistant, Ashley Freund about her experience, and her tips on acing an internship. If you know a college student, recent grad, or career-changer who is looking for a way to get their feet wet in the industry of their dreams, check out the program: InkandescentInternships.com. In addition to providing training in PR and marketing, the program will be a clearinghouse for placing interns in a variety of small businesses in our network.

We leave you with these parting words from Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey: “Before I co-founded Whole Foods Market, I attended two universities, where I accumulated about 120 hours of electives, primarily in philosophy, religion, and history. I only took classes I was interested in, and if a class bored me, I quickly dropped it. I never took a single business class. I actually think it worked to my advantage in business, for as an entrepreneur, I had nothing to unlearn. I only had room for innovation, and new possibilities.”

Here’s to possibilities! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, Be Inkandescent magazine • founder, The Inkandescent Group, LLC

Why Is Capitalism Under Attack?

APRIL 2013


By Hope Katz Gibbs
Publisher, Be Inkandescent

“Despite enabling widespread prosperity, free-enterprise capitalism has earned little respect from intellectuals and almost no affection from the masses,” observed Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey when he spoke recently at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

“Rather than being seen for what they really are—the heroes of the story—capitalism and business are all too frequently vilified as the bad guys and blamed for virtually everything our postmodern critics dislike about the world,” he said, quoting from his 2013 book, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.”

Before we leap into a discussion about Mackey’s big ideas, here are the four tenets of what he and co-author Raj Sisodia see as the basic elements of Conscious Capitalism.

Defining Conscious Capitalism

Tenet 1: Higher Purpose. Business has a much broader positive impact on the world when it is based on a higher purpose that goes beyond only generating profits and creating shareholder value. Purpose is the reason a company exists. A compelling sense of higher purpose creates an extraordinary degree of engagement among all stakeholders and catalyzes creativity, innovation, and organizational commitment.

Tenet 2: Stakeholder Integration. Stakeholders are all the entities that impact or are impacted by business. Conscious businesses recognize that each of their stakeholders is important and all are connected and interdependent, and that the business must seek to optimize value creation for all of them. All the stakeholders are motivated by a shared sense of purpose and core values. When conflicts and potential trade-offs arise between major stakeholders, conscious businesses engage the limitless power of human creativity to create win-win-win-win-win-win situations that transcend those conflicts and create a harmony of interests among the interdependent stakeholders.

Tenet 3: Conscious Leadership. Conscious business requires conscious leadership. Conscious leaders are motivated primarily by service to the firm’s higher purpose and creating value for all stakeholders. They reject a zero-sum, trade-off-oriented view of business and look for creative, synergistic, win-win-win approaches that deliver multiple kinds of value simultaneously.

Tenet 4: Conscious Culture and Management. The culture of a conscious business is a source of great strength and stability for the firm, ensuring that its purpose and core values endure over time and through leadership transitions. Conscious cultures naturally evolve from the enterprise’s commitments to higher purpose, stakeholder interdependence, and conscious leadership. They usually share many traits, such as trust, accountability, transparency, integrity, loyalty, egalitarianism, fairness, personal growth, and love and care.

So why is capitalism under attack?

If these tenets are true, why does free enterprise earn so little respect from intellectuals and the masses?

“Capitalism,” Mackey says, “is portrayed as exploiting workers, cheating customers, causing inequality by benefiting the rich but not the poor, homogenizing society, fragmenting communities, and destroying the environment.”

Plus, he says, most entrepreneurs are accused of being motivated primarily by selfishness and greed. Mackey insists that entrepreneurs are the true heroes in a free-enterprise economy because historically they are the ones driving progress.

“[Entrepreneurs] solve problems by creatively envisioning different ways the world could be and should be,” explains the Whole Foods Market co-founder. “With their imagination, creativity, passion, and energy, they are the greatest creators of widespread change in the world.”

The entrepreneur as hero, huh?

Consider this idea from former educator Candace Smith, now vice president of the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics: “Ultimately, the hero is the representative of the new—the founder of a new age, a new religion, a new city, the founder of a new way of life or a new way of protecting the village against harm; the founder of processes or products that make people in their communities and the world better off.

“In our modern world, the wealth creators are the entrepreneurs,” Smith insists. “They travel the heroic path and are every bit as bold and daring as the heroes who fought dragons or overcame evil.”

If USA Today’s March 26 cover story is any indication, this idea may be catching on, especially with Millennials.

Written by marketing reporter Bruce Horovitz, the article is entitled, Millennials Spur Capitalism With a Conscience, and describes how Millennials are demanding capitalism with a conscience—and some of America’s biggest brands are delivering.

He quotes Mackey saying, “In an ultra-transparent world, where information zips from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram, just about everything a company does is out in the open. “If everything you’re doing is seen, it’s human nature to do things that people would approve of.”

Horovitz adds: “But it’s no longer just outliers such as Ben & Jerry’s and Whole Foods doing the right thing. Big consumer brands such as Panera, Starbucks, and Nordstrom are members in good standing of the Do-Gooder Society. More likely sooner than later, corporate kindness that doesn’t have its origins in the public relations or human resources department may become as common as coupons. Event in a dicey economy, kindness sells.”

Moving to Higher Ground

Of course Mackey and Sisodia are clear that not all business people are conscious. The book dedicates some of the book to topics including “The Intellectual Hijacking of Capitalism,” “The Unintended Consequences of Low-Conscious Business,” “The “Myth of Maximum Profit,” and “The Cancer of Crony Capitalism.”

On this last point, the authors say: “As the size of government has grown, a mutant variation of capitalism has also grown, spurred on by those unable to compete in the marketplace by creating genuine value and earning the affection and loyalty of stakeholders.” And, they argue that “while free-enterprise capitalism is inherently virtuous and vitally necessary for democracy and prosperity, crony capitalism is intrinsically unethical and poses a grave threat to our freedom and well-being.”

If Mackey and Sisodia have have anything to say about it, the future will favor Conscious Capitalists.

“Business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on a 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,” Mackey insists. “Free-enterprise capitalism is one of the most powerful ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more. Let us not be afraid to climb higher.”

Are you ready to join the Conscious Capitalism movement?

• Learn more about the April 5-6, 2013 Conscious Capitalism Conference here.
• Learn more about it in our podcast interview with Sisodia on the Inkandescent Radio Network.
• And be sure to check out his Six Tips for Entrepreneurs.

Marketing Professor Raj Sisodia's Six Tips for Conscious Success

What is Conscious Capitalism? For the full story, we went straight to the source: Raj Sisodia, a founding member of the Conscious Capitalism movement.

He is also the chairman of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, and the co-author of the bestselling book he wrote with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, “Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,” which was published in 2013 by Harvard Business Review Press—and is the cover story for our April 2013 issue of Be Inkandescent magazine.

A professor of Marketing at Bentley University, Sisodia has also published seven books and more than 100 academic articles. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Fortune, Financial Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and on CNBC.

He has been honored with numerous awards as well; he is one of the “50 Leading Marketing Thinkers” and has been named to the “Guru Gallery” by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Bentley University honored him with the Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2007 and the Innovation in Teaching Award in 2008. He was named one of the “10 Outstanding Trailblazers of 2010” by Good Business International, and one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America for 2010 and 2011.

So we are very happy to talk with Sisodia about this growing movement, which USA Today featured on its front page on March 26 in an article by Bruce Horovitz entitled: Millenialls Spur Capitalism With a Conscience, which explains that Millennials are demanding capitalism with a conscience, and how some of America’s biggest brands are delivering.

Scroll down for our Q&A with the man behind the movement.

• Click here to listen to our entire podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

Inkandescent: Raj, let’s start with the essential question—what is Conscious Capitalism?

Raj Sisodia: Conscious Capitalism is a different way of thinking about business. Whether you own or manage a business, whether you are a citizen or observer of business, there is an attitude that has been out there about what is business and what is capitalism for 150 years or so.

That attitude, which has been quite corrosive and damaging, was created by outsiders and critics. Economists and Marxists actually defined the terms of what businesses are supposedly about: maximizing profits and serving shareholders—other stakeholders are just a means to that end. That narrow, self-serving narrative became the dominant paradigm; that is what we are taught in economics and then in business schools. In reality, business is not about that.

Inkandescent: We couldn’t agree more. So tell us, what do you think business is, and should be, about?

Raj Sisodia: As many of your listeners know, business is about doing something that you have a passion for. It is meeting the needs, real needs, of people. It is about providing a means of elevating your existence beyond a base level.

Look at the impact of capitalism. Up until the past 200 years, the average person earned between $400 and $600 per year worldwide for thousands of years. Income really started rising around the year 1800, and now we have reached close to $9,000 per person in real terms.

Ninety percent of people used to live on less than a dollar a day. That is now down to about 15 percent. We used to live 30 years on average and now we live about 68 years worldwide. Illiteracy rates have plummeted, and many other indicators of our well-being are way higher than they used to be. A lot of that is because of capitalism. That is one part of the story.

The second part is that once we become conscious of what business and capitalism are really about and what they can do, we can amplify the positive impact of businesses to a much higher level. We can actually negate some of the negative side-effects of what we have built. It doesn’t have to be that businesses can only prosper and make money if they damage the environment, which has a negative impact on people’s health and causes a lot of stress. None of that has to be the case. Business can be done in the spectrum of positive side-effects, including great financial components.

Inkandescent: So Conscious Capitalism is the philosophy that business has a higher purpose that goes beyond profit, the reason why it exists.

Raj Sisodia: Right. And we have to think of all of the stakeholders as important in their own right, not just a means to an end of making money. We have to create value for all of them.

Also, we need leaders who are driven by purpose, service, and the caring that they feel for their stakeholders—not just by power and personal enrichment.

And lastly, businesses have unique cultures that are based on trust, caring, transparency, authenticity, and integrity that allow them to continue to operate in this way even though the context around them might change. That is Conscious Capitalism in a nutshell.

Inkandescent: How did you meet John Mackey, and what inspired you to write this book together?

Raj Sisodia: I met John because of one of my earlier books, “Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit From Passion and Purpose.” In that book, which was published in 2007, we featured 28 companies, 18 public and 10 private, that were loved by all of their stakeholders: customers, supplies, communities, and investors. We set out to understand what is it that makes that happen.

We found essentially the principles of what I just outlined. These companies do have something distinct and unique about them, which is their purpose. They have different kinds of leaders and they do care about their stakeholders and so on. Whole Foods was one of the companies we featured, though we had not actually interviewed John because he did not grant interviews to book authors then.

The book was in a draft form and my coauthor happened to be on an airplane talking to someone next to him about the book. She is a friend of John Mackey’s and she said he would really like it. We emailed her the document, John actually read it, and he got back to us saying, “This is exactly what I believe in. I really have a passion around propagating this more broadly.”

He invited us to meet him, which I did in October of that year. I shared my dream for what I was calling, “The Institute for New Capitalism.” He said, “Well, I call it Conscious Capitalism.” After that, we started meeting more and having retreats at his ranch. We pulled together a group of people who have passion around this and launched the movement in 2008 with a big conference in Austin, Texas. It has gone from there.

As we have started to get traction as well as a deeper understanding of what this is, we realized we needed to write a book that lays out the whole thing in detail. John asked me to work on it with him and it has been a great joy to be involved in this project.

Inkandescent: How is it being received by readers?

Raj Sisodia: The book has done very well. I think it is in the second position on The Wall Street Journal list right now. For those people who have taken the time to read it, it has received almost uniformly positive reviews. Some people are attacking it without actually reading it because they just don’t believe business is capable of doing good consciously. They think we are doing a white-washing job on business in trying to create a happy, feel-good story about business, and that business actually is greedy and selfish.

That mental model is very hard for some people to overcome. We want to try to overcome that impression because we really think that all of the challenges that we face on this planet are not going to be solved by governments, NGOs, or religious organizations. Free-enterprise organizations will ultimately have to meet the needs and solve the problems that we have. We do it by having conscious organizations, not ones that are merely focused on short-term gain, but ones focused on long-term, broad value creation.

Inkandescent: What is your ultimate goal with the book—and the Conscious Capitalism movement?

Raj Sisodia: The goal of the movement really is to raise consciousness broadly and to get more new businesses to start up this way. It’s also to get large, existing businesses to move in this direction because the way that they are operating is not sustainable, and it ultimately will not continue to exist. We want to enable the transition to happen.

We think the transition to Conscious Capitalism is going to happen anyway because we are living through a period of rapid gain or increases in our consciousness. Even so, we are trying to accelerate that process and make the process itself more conscious for people.

Inkandescent: You are hosting the 2013 Conscious Capitalism Conference on April 5-6 in San Francisco, CA. Our team will be there to cover it for our radio network, www.InkandescentRadio.com, We also have all the details posted on our Networking website, www.InkandescentNetworking.com. What do you and your team hope to accomplish at this event?

Raj Sisodia: This will actually be our 13th conference, and they have been hosted in the United States, India, Australia, and Brazil. This event will be huge, though, since we are using the opportunity to reintroduce Conscious Capitalism now that the book is out, and we are reaching a larger audience.

The first day will be an event with a lot of short presentations and panel discussions for a large number of people. The second day will include 32 interactive workshops where four parallel tracks will be going on, and eight things are happening on each of those tracks, so attendees can pick and choose any of those 32 things to attend. Those are more in-depth on some of the pillars of Conscious Capitalism and how to actually make it happen with a lot of practitioners, coaches, and consultants who have experience in implementing these ideas.

Inkandescent: It sounds very exciting, and we look forward to covering the event. Before we sign off, can you share with our readers and listeners a few of the ways that entrepreneurs and small business owners can be more conscious about their work?

Raj Sisodia: I think most small businesses that are succeeding and thriving are clearly doing most of these things right already. There is something special about them that is resonating with people. There is a much closer relationship with customers and team employees. I think this says they are unconscious, conscious capitalists!

Try these tips for increasing the consciousness in your business:

1. When you become conscious about how you do business, and you explicitly think about your purpose, ask yourself what your customers would say your purpose is. Sometimes you may find that you haven’t articulated your purpose. If you haven’t, then come together with your team and come up with a statement about what you’re about and why you exist. That is actually deeply inspiring, as it tends to build on itself. Once you have articulated it, it takes on a life of its own.

2. Think of stakeholders not as means to an end, but as important in their own right. This becomes easier the more conscious you are. Considering stakeholder needs helps bring about wins for everyone involved with your business.

3. Think about how you’re creating value for your employees at different levels. When you do this, your employees will regard their work not just as a job or career, but a calling. They will become more deeply invested in the company, both emotionally and spiritually.

4. Think about how you are creating values for your suppliers. Many companies have a blind spot when it comes to their suppliers. They think that they can treat everyone else with love and care, but that suppliers don’t matter because they are outside the business. In fact, suppliers are incredibly important to businesses. If you really treat your suppliers consciously, almost like customers, then you find that you have a great advantage in the market. The best suppliers ultimately lead to the best business.

5. Be more conscious about your company’s leadership. Recognize that you need people in leadership roles who not only have technical skills, but emotional and spiritual intelligence as well. Select people for those attributes and then build by learning and growing.

6. Finally, pay explicit attention to the culture of your company. Most companies, even many large companies, don’t pay attention to their culture; they just let it evolve. Every company has a culture, but if you don’t pay attention to it, it could actually end up holding you back. There are lots of toxic cultures out there that are highly adverse to change and stand in the way of growing and evolving as a business.

When we bring our attention to bear on anything, it grows and flourishes. I think that is what we can do in business as well, even if you have already started the process as an unconscious, conscious capitalist!

Inkandescent: Thank you so much for all of your time and thoughtful responses, Raj. We look forward to seeing you at the Conscious Capitalism Conference on April 5-6, and to continuing to stay on top of the Conscious Capitalism movement.

Click here to learn more about the conference: consciouscapitalism.org/cc2013

Click here to register.

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.”

– Francesca Reigle

The less effort, the faster and more powerful you will be.”

– Bruce Lee

‎That which grows fast withers as rapidly; that which grows slowly endures.”

– J.G. Holland, novelist

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”


Whosoever knows how to fight well is not angry. Whosoever knows how to conquer enemies does not fight them.”

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

The person who makes a success of living is the one who see his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication.”

– Cecil B. DeMille

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

– Jimi Hendrix

At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

– Lao Tzu

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

– Magical

We need to learn to set our course by the stars, not by the lights of every passing ship.”

– General Omar Bradley

Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.”

– Woodrow Wilson

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leon Joseph Suenens

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago.”

– J. Robert Oppenheimer

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Never never never never give up.”

– Winston Churchill

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.

Almost anyone can start a community, but it takes real talent and commitment to get people to show up and keep coming back.”

– Andy Sernovitz

I will pay more for the ability to deal with people than any other ability under the sun.”

– John D. Rockefeller

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leo Jozef Suenens

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

But all the while I was alone, the past was close behind, I seen a lot of women, but she never escaped my mind, and I just grew, tangled up in blue.”

– Bob Dylan

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”

– Henry Miller

Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.”

– Anthony Trollope

There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

– Carl Rogers

Don’t wait for someone else to lead you to your right life; that privilege—and responsibility—is yours alone.”

– Martha Beck

He who wants to tear down a house must be prepared to rebuild it.”

– African Proverb

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.”

– Louisa May Alcott

No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”

– Martha Beck, from "Leaving the Saints"

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

– Eckhart Tolle

You don’t go into a field that requires cracking people’s heads open or operating on something as delicate as the spinal cord unless you are comfortable with taking risks.”

– Dr. Ben Carson

Death is to lose the earth you know, for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”

– Thomas Wolfe

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

– Thomas Carlyle

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”

– Bob Dylan

A discovery is said to be an accident meeting a prepared mind.”

– Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”

– Charles R. Swindoll

The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity.”

– Marcel Proust

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. 
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.”

– Mary Jean Irion

Be Inkandescent Magazine's Back Issues

Don’t miss the great advice our entrepreneurs have offered in the past. Click below to view our back issues.