Conscious Capitalism Conference 2015 – Review

I am a proponent of “capitalism.” I attended the 2015 Conscious Capitalism Conference April 7-9, in Chicago. It was my third “CC” Conference. As Professor Raj Sisodia points out, capitalism has been the most generative socio-economic system in human history.

Yet in recent decades capitalism has become threateningly self-destructive, reflecting a crisis in business culture. The notion of more conscious capitalism has appealed to me for the past 35 years, as I witnessed the suffocation of the Golden Goose — caused by the prioritization of shareholder value, and “ends justify the means ‘leadership’”.

There were many good speakers with important core messages at CC2015, among them Tony Schwartz, Bob Chapman, Rhonda Spencer, Matt Whiat and Simon Sinek.

Professor Raj Sisodia remains the extraordinary heart and conscience of Conscious Capitalism. His talk about the importance of Capitalism and the challenges of greed and disproportion that must be overcome to assure global economic viability and world peace may be the most important talk in the world, today. A magnificent version of this talk can be found on YouTube, here.

Likewise, the most important book for consumption and contemplation by business owners, board members, CEOs, C-Suite executives, and business leaders today is Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Rajendra S. Sisodia, Jagdish N. Seth and David B. Wolfe. This book is the germ seed and textbook for Conscious Capitalism. It should be required reading in all business schools, yet most have no idea it exists.

Perhaps two companies that have ventured further than others into the high-performing “conscious capitalism” culture are Whole Foods Market and The Container Store.

The highlight of the concurrent sessions was the illuminating Dr. Lisa Leit [pronounced, “light”], Founder of the Happy Whole Human Institute for Holistic Wellness. One of her client partners, Jessica Agneessens, Founder of the Academy for Conscious Leadership at Whole Foods Market, co-presented, highlighting the customization of the HWH™ Program for Whole Foods. Together, they presented wisdom and Happy Whole Human™ tools that demonstrate just how much further the most conscious corporations are going to support the performance maximizing benefits of “happy whole human” business culture.

Ultimately, the star of Conscious Capitalism 2015 was the extraordinary President, Chief Operating Officer and Director of The Container Store, Melissa Reiff! Relatively unheralded in the CC2015 program, she gave the keynote at the beginning of the final day of the Conference. She described how leadership fundamentally is about communicating,  and she listed 15 heartfelt characteristics of a true leader. She was so fresh and authentic from start to finish that the huge room glowed with her infectious respect for the conscious leadership in everyone. Her boss and colleague are Kip Tindell, the legendary Co-Founder, Chairman, and CEO of The Container Store, and it was clear from his exuberance that he is completely supportive!

At the top of the Conscious Capitalism Inc. community are Doug Rauch and Raj Sisodia. It is very observable that Rauch and Sisodia host and teach without arrogance or egoic hyperinflation. They are unusually conscious leaders of a complex conversation that desperately needs to be heard. Conscious leaders listen.