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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

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A Wall Street Journal BestsellerIn this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: inclu A Wall Street Journal BestsellerIn this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.These "�Conscious Capitalism" companies include Whole Foods Market, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, UPS, and dozens of others. We know them; we buy their products or use their services. Now it’s time to better understand how these organizations use four specific tenets—higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management—to build strong businesses and help advance capitalism further toward realizing its highest potential.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.


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A Wall Street Journal BestsellerIn this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: inclu A Wall Street Journal BestsellerIn this book, Whole Foods Market cofounder John Mackey and professor and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. cofounder Raj Sisodia argue for the inherent good of both business and capitalism. Featuring some of today’s best-known companies, they illustrate how these two forces can—and do—work most powerfully to create value for all stakeholders: including customers, employees, suppliers, investors, society, and the environment.These "�Conscious Capitalism" companies include Whole Foods Market, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, UPS, and dozens of others. We know them; we buy their products or use their services. Now it’s time to better understand how these organizations use four specific tenets—higher purpose, stakeholder integration, conscious leadership, and conscious culture and management—to build strong businesses and help advance capitalism further toward realizing its highest potential.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.

30 review for Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

  1. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    I read this book in an effort to catch up on recent thinking around Sustainable business strategy and practices. There aren't as many books as I'd hoped to find on this topic (please send recommendations if you have any). I actually really liked the central idea of this book and I did find some interesting insights, but it was sadly devoid of evidence and full of hokey, prescriptive spiritual buzzwords. Ultimately, the amount of eye-rolling this book inspired has probably left me with damaged vi I read this book in an effort to catch up on recent thinking around Sustainable business strategy and practices. There aren't as many books as I'd hoped to find on this topic (please send recommendations if you have any). I actually really liked the central idea of this book and I did find some interesting insights, but it was sadly devoid of evidence and full of hokey, prescriptive spiritual buzzwords. Ultimately, the amount of eye-rolling this book inspired has probably left me with damaged vision. I don't think I've ever read a book that used the word "must" so frequently. "You must..." "Business leaders must..." "Companies must..." Somehow Mackey thought it necessary to prescribe meditation and denounce caffeine and animal foods in the middle of a book on business strategy. I suppose he'd say this is part of the SYQ (Systems Intelligence) that he promotes (which, actually, was one of the more interesting take-aways of the book), but I found it annoying and patronizing as hell. Most of my colleagues in finance would laugh this book out of the library. I get where Mackey is coming from (I was raised by Dead Heads and spent my teenage years practicing transcendental meditation and reading Eckhart Tolle), but I really wish a book like this would be tackled by an economist or business leader with a stronger background in finance. Overall, the book was ok. If you're new to the corporate, for-profit world and are struggling to reconcile its values (or lack thereof) with your own sense of ethics/spirituality/humanism, this might be a satisfying read and maybe even serve as a sort of business Bible for do-gooders. But don't expect all companies to embrace these principles, nor for those business that do embrace them (at the expense of more traditional business principles) to automatically achieve success.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Helene

    Disappointed with this book. Why? Well: 1) I assumed the book would talk about many different case studies of different companies utilizing conscious capitalism. NO! Instead, dear John Mackey talked so much about Whole Foods and how great it is, blahblahblah, that I felt the book needed a better subtitle: "How Whole Foods Does it". 2) HUGE section devoted to shareholders, very small sections for all the other tenets of conscious capitalism. Come on, Mackey and Sisodia: if you're going to say all f Disappointed with this book. Why? Well: 1) I assumed the book would talk about many different case studies of different companies utilizing conscious capitalism. NO! Instead, dear John Mackey talked so much about Whole Foods and how great it is, blahblahblah, that I felt the book needed a better subtitle: "How Whole Foods Does it". 2) HUGE section devoted to shareholders, very small sections for all the other tenets of conscious capitalism. Come on, Mackey and Sisodia: if you're going to say all four tenets are balanced, spend the same amount of space on EACH tenet. I became really frustrated with reading about every single kind of shareholder. Honestly, the two men probably did not have much to say about any of the tenets and figured to beef up the shareholder section to make the book lengthier. Such a huge waste of time to wade through this whole section; not that I don't care about shareholders, but come on! Equal = equal. Plus, I was terribly disappointed with how small the section on "conscious leadership" was. I wanted to learn more about this tenet. 3) Essentially, the book is all propaganda for Whole Foods and eating better. Not a bad thing, right? Well, to be honest, if I had wanted to read about Whole Foods, I would have looked for another book. This book should have been more objective with the companies it mentions....instead of shoving in my face that it's all "WHOLE FOODS IS THE BEST!" and etc. etc. Don't read this book. Find an article online (for FREE!) and read about conscious capitalism that way. I am saving you time with this review!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim Ainsworth

    Whole Foods CEO Mackey and Co-Founder of Conscious Capitalism Sisodia teamed to write a book that should be read by every working American, no matter where they are on the wage scale or organization chart. As I turned the first page, I was a little hesitant for two reasons. First, Whole Foods and Mackey have been portrayed as a “hippie” culture. I expected a lot of esoteric drivel that has little to do with the world of business. Mackey does mention Holotropic Breathwork, usually associated with Whole Foods CEO Mackey and Co-Founder of Conscious Capitalism Sisodia teamed to write a book that should be read by every working American, no matter where they are on the wage scale or organization chart. As I turned the first page, I was a little hesitant for two reasons. First, Whole Foods and Mackey have been portrayed as a “hippie” culture. I expected a lot of esoteric drivel that has little to do with the world of business. Mackey does mention Holotropic Breathwork, usually associated with psychedelic psychotherapy, but he doesn’t drift far enough afield to lose me. Also, he does posit excellent advice in that realm that all of us can use. Second, I knew he was caught posting anonymously on Yahoo message boards criticizing a competitor. Anonymous posting is almost unforgivable until you find out that almost all such postings are anonymous. Unless you are a stockholder or customer, you may learn more about Whole Foods than you ever want to know, but along the way, you will learn a lot of valuable insights or have your own solid beliefs confirmed in a real-world company. The best thing about this book is that it focuses attention on business and investing truisms that receive little or no attention elsewhere. For example . . . The Stock Market—As a former financial consultant, Mackey got my attention by correctly pointing out that short term investing is a contradiction in terms. He says it should be called trading. I say it should be called legalized gambling. This book also shines a light on a largely overlooked but very important statistic. The average holding period for stocks in the forties was twelve years, eight years in the sixties, and is now well below one year. That is not good for an efficient market and terrible for the small investor. He also confirms another of my long-held beliefs saying . . . “the values and philosophy of Wall Street has become a type of cancer that is corrupting the healthier parts of the business system.” The Federal Reserve—The Fed has kept interest rates artificially low enabling the very financial institutions we had to bail out in the 2008-2009 debacle to make very high and virtually risk-free profits on interest rate spreads—“a prime example of crony capitalism run amok”. And this . . . “much of the animosity toward capitalism today comes from the distortions that crony capitalism has created”. Crony capitalism is not free enterprise capitalism, which this book exhorts. Amen. Executive Pay—I love free enterprise, and companies who do not take government handouts should be free to pay their execs whatever they want, but that does not keep it from being bad business to pay exorbitant salaries, bonuses and perks. The best executive in the world should be able to struggle along on three million a year. Pour the rest back into R&D, employee salaries or benefits, infrastructure, and dividends that find their way back into the wider economy. Companies, like countries, should be run by people who are not motivated by the pursuit of power or personal enrichment. The authors also talk about finding purpose in your life and in the company’s life and embedding that purpose with everyone who works there. I learned early on that stories are the best way to do that and that eventually led me to write fiction. Mackey confirms that. Mackey addresses another of my pet peeves when he discusses how all leaders, especially highly charismatic ones, are subject to the trap of narcissism and that as a nation, we worship fame for fame’s sake, not skills and accomplishment. This book quotes from several other good reads, including Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Dan Pink, the author, distills our intrinsic motivations into three elements: autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives (I called it freedom), mastery (the desire to continually improve something that matters), and purpose (the desire to do things in service to something larger than ourselves). “One of the reasons free enterprise works better than any economic system that’s ever been created—particularly better than government bureaucracies and command and control structures, is that it recognizes that the collective knowledge and intelligence in a society and in organizations is wifely diffused.” This is more than a business book. It has many gems for personal lives and careers. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says or does, but Mackey may be one of the brightest and boldest CEO’s in the country. One caveat: He unfairly criticizes Jack Welch, another great CEO who happens to have a different style that also works.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    I don't even know where to begin.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine Bader

    The starting premise of "Conscious Capitalism" will be enough to turn off many: that business is "fundamentally good and ethical." It is true that economic development has lifted millions out of poverty. But business has also harmed individuals and communities around the world, as demonstrated by mining accidents from West Virginia to Africa, labor abuses in factories from China to New York, and the global financial crisis. Saying that business is "inherently virtuous" because it has helped some The starting premise of "Conscious Capitalism" will be enough to turn off many: that business is "fundamentally good and ethical." It is true that economic development has lifted millions out of poverty. But business has also harmed individuals and communities around the world, as demonstrated by mining accidents from West Virginia to Africa, labor abuses in factories from China to New York, and the global financial crisis. Saying that business is "inherently virtuous" because it has helped some people is like saying that cars are inherently good because one helped me get to Grandma's. But cars have killed people too. Of course, cars don't kill people: reckless drivers do. Mackey might argue that business doesn't kill people: those who haven't followed his path to enlightenment do. But if business was inherently good, why should it matter whether its leaders are enlightened or not? Couldn't automatons run companies, and as long as they don't get in the way, their organizations would run their inevitably beneficial course? I wanted to like this book, as we so desperately need more enlightened business leaders. But to me this read as self-promoting and willfully blind to the complexities of the real world. I wrote a longer review on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christi...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Skousen

    I just reviewed John Mackey's new bestseller, "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Herioc Spirit of Business" (Harvard Business Press) in Feb. 2 issue of Barron's (forthcoming). I'll post the link when it comes out. "Conscious Capitalism" is revolutionary in changing the brand of capitalism and taking it to a new level. John Mackey will be at FreedomFest once again this year, where we have dozens of new authors speak.....C-SPAN Book TV will be there this year (July 10-13, Caesars Palace, Las Ve I just reviewed John Mackey's new bestseller, "Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Herioc Spirit of Business" (Harvard Business Press) in Feb. 2 issue of Barron's (forthcoming). I'll post the link when it comes out. "Conscious Capitalism" is revolutionary in changing the brand of capitalism and taking it to a new level. John Mackey will be at FreedomFest once again this year, where we have dozens of new authors speak.....C-SPAN Book TV will be there this year (July 10-13, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas) doing in depth half-hour interviews with major authors: Art Laffer, Steve Moore, Charles Murray, Steve Forbes, John Stossel, many more: www.freedomfest.com.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    Written by the Whole Foods founder, Conscious Capitalism urges companies to at the gist of it, have more empathy with fellow human beings. This book captures the impetus behind the rise of the number companies who do good from the very core, not just including for benefit corporations, but also Walmart!! (Whole foods founder praising walmart?!). With the recent acquisition by Amazon, it will be interesting to see how a company steeped in its beliefs and core values deal with Amazon's priority on Written by the Whole Foods founder, Conscious Capitalism urges companies to at the gist of it, have more empathy with fellow human beings. This book captures the impetus behind the rise of the number companies who do good from the very core, not just including for benefit corporations, but also Walmart!! (Whole foods founder praising walmart?!). With the recent acquisition by Amazon, it will be interesting to see how a company steeped in its beliefs and core values deal with Amazon's priority on customers and clockwork efficiency.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This is a really great book. I gave it three stars because it had quite a bit of inspirational material that I thought could have been omitted or assigned to another book. That's just my opinion. Maybe others will find those parts indispensable. In any case, I think this book is beginning to change my view of business. For a long time, I've thought that beneficent businesses were possible but idealistic and only workable on a small scale: only folks with personality disorders (narcissism, sociop This is a really great book. I gave it three stars because it had quite a bit of inspirational material that I thought could have been omitted or assigned to another book. That's just my opinion. Maybe others will find those parts indispensable. In any case, I think this book is beginning to change my view of business. For a long time, I've thought that beneficent businesses were possible but idealistic and only workable on a small scale: only folks with personality disorders (narcissism, sociopathy) can manage large companies. But Mackey is, I think, showing that today the businesses run by empathetic and caring CEOs are actually outperforming those run by the 'traditional egoistic businessman'. This being said, I'm still wondering why Mackey keeps listing certain businesses, such as Costco and Amazon, as being 'conscious'. ADDITION: After watching John Mackey on youtube, I wonder why he considers Obamacare fascism and is opposed to the minimum wage. First, though, as a Canadian I don't understand Obamacare entirely, it seems that if a company is paying its employees well and provides insurance, it shouldn't worry about these kinds of governmental interferences (other interferences might be more problematic) since they are in place to provide a minimum standard that prevents companies from taking advantage of potential or actual workers. There is a sense that transactions between a business and its employees are fair. This is often the case, especially among white-collar jobs. But this is often not the case when hunger, medical needs, and mental capabilities prevent employees from knowing what all their options are.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    I was given this book as a gift and I had looked forward to reading it. The first 20 pages or so were imaginative, yet it quickly disappointed. I felt like I was back in the late '90's reading a book that fell in to the genre of "Emotional Intelligence". There were a whole spate of books that came out in the 90's that claimed to explain how to be successful in the workplace and corporate culture. John Mackey (or his ghost writer) were overly pretentious, continually applauding the way the chose I was given this book as a gift and I had looked forward to reading it. The first 20 pages or so were imaginative, yet it quickly disappointed. I felt like I was back in the late '90's reading a book that fell in to the genre of "Emotional Intelligence". There were a whole spate of books that came out in the 90's that claimed to explain how to be successful in the workplace and corporate culture. John Mackey (or his ghost writer) were overly pretentious, continually applauding the way the chose to run his business. Unfortunately, from a personal perspective, I have not witnessed many of his innovations at the Whole Foods in the Boston area. Perhaps his concepts of team have not "translated" to my Whole Foods. Yes, I have run across incredible customer service at his stores in some neighborhoods, but my most recent experiences have been off-putting. I have asked for a particular bakery item that is carried in most Whole Foods locally, 5 times, and each time been told to talk to the manager, who is never in when I am shopping. If indeed his team members were all "enabled" as he states in his book, then a smile and "I'll pass that request on" would be the appropriate response. Yes, I am venting here, but it was maddening reading about how successful he is at cultivating a great work environment, but not seeing it myself. My advise is not to waste your time or money on this read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    Capitalism has probably raised the standard of living of more people than any system yet devised by man but even Adam Smith, renowned champion of the free market folks, realized that pure capitalism of "bloody tooth and claw" needed some restraint, usually via regulatory action. Still that has not prevented the type of excess we now see throughout the system as "gunslinger" management with the focus on their pocketbooks to the expense of others and the short term focus which has ground the middl Capitalism has probably raised the standard of living of more people than any system yet devised by man but even Adam Smith, renowned champion of the free market folks, realized that pure capitalism of "bloody tooth and claw" needed some restraint, usually via regulatory action. Still that has not prevented the type of excess we now see throughout the system as "gunslinger" management with the focus on their pocketbooks to the expense of others and the short term focus which has ground the middle class to a pulp. A major proscription is inherent in the philosophy of this book - run corporations with an eye to fairly balancing the needs of the various stakeholders in the enterprise. Firms that seem fairly enlightened in the regard are some of my personal favorites - Costco, Southwest Airlines, The Container Store, Whole Foods, etc. The most encouraging aspect, to me, is the fact that when profits are the by product of great products and services as opposed to the only objective, the numbers are usually superior from nearly any business measure, be it stock price, return on equity, profitability, etc. A worthy read and a worthy approach to the world of business.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Terry

    I really enjoyed the first third or so if this book. It convincingly refutes the current popular notion that business is evil by laying out the incredible advances in the human condition since free market capitalism has been around (vast reductions in poverty and illiteracy and incredible advances in education and standard of living). He points out that the things people don't like about capitalism are actually the result of what he calls, "crony capitalism," which is capitalism tainted by gover I really enjoyed the first third or so if this book. It convincingly refutes the current popular notion that business is evil by laying out the incredible advances in the human condition since free market capitalism has been around (vast reductions in poverty and illiteracy and incredible advances in education and standard of living). He points out that the things people don't like about capitalism are actually the result of what he calls, "crony capitalism," which is capitalism tainted by government interference meant to favor a few. While government ought to legislate just enough to ensure fair competition, when it starts to favor certain industries or companies or require people or organizations to support certain companies (Common Core, Obamacare, etc.), then free market capitalism has been replaced by something different, which doesn't have the same power to elevate. The rest of the book is a how-to manual for businesses, and while there are some interesting case studies and quotes, I had a hard time staying absorbed.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    The authors propose that the current model of capitalism is struggling and that businesses need to follow a re-freshed, re-badged form of capitalism which focusses on the organisation having a higher purpose, appreciating the role of ALL stakeholders to a business including suppliers, being a leader who appreciates this approach and focussing on company culture. While I think the approach proposed is a good one I found the writing in this book a bit loose sometimes and the examples used didn't al The authors propose that the current model of capitalism is struggling and that businesses need to follow a re-freshed, re-badged form of capitalism which focusses on the organisation having a higher purpose, appreciating the role of ALL stakeholders to a business including suppliers, being a leader who appreciates this approach and focussing on company culture. While I think the approach proposed is a good one I found the writing in this book a bit loose sometimes and the examples used didn't always sit well with me. Some of the examples of a conscious culture or leadership simply didn't hit the mark especially companies like Google and Amazon which have in recent times come under fire for their approach. This doesn't, however, take away from the concept, which I think has merit.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Stepper

    I very much appreciate the direction the authors are advocating. And I liked the stories from Whole Foods, a store I visit frequently, and whose service and employees I like very much. And I would have liked even more stories and details. More quotes form employees and customers and other stakeholders, and perhaps less advocating for why “business is good.” If you like the ideas behind this book, I highly recommend “Everybody Matters,” which is a detailed account of a manufacturing company, Barr I very much appreciate the direction the authors are advocating. And I liked the stories from Whole Foods, a store I visit frequently, and whose service and employees I like very much. And I would have liked even more stories and details. More quotes form employees and customers and other stakeholders, and perhaps less advocating for why “business is good.” If you like the ideas behind this book, I highly recommend “Everybody Matters,” which is a detailed account of a manufacturing company, Barry-Wehmiller, that seems to have instilled the principles of Conscious Capitalism and more.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen P

    A thorough explanation of Whole Foods social-values based business philosophy and view of capitalism, which contains many admirable principles. The question remains, is it a sustainable business philosophy? Conscious Capitalism was written before significant competition entered the niche and Whole Foods was the price setter. Since written, other grocers have entered and Whole Foods sales and profits have diminished as a result. So it remains to be seen if the cost structure associated with consc A thorough explanation of Whole Foods social-values based business philosophy and view of capitalism, which contains many admirable principles. The question remains, is it a sustainable business philosophy? Conscious Capitalism was written before significant competition entered the niche and Whole Foods was the price setter. Since written, other grocers have entered and Whole Foods sales and profits have diminished as a result. So it remains to be seen if the cost structure associated with conscious capitalism is sustainable. Amazon's recently announced acquisition of Whole Foods is another question mark, as the two companies don't necessarily share the same values.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Athan Tolis

    A preachy book about management, not capitalism. I'm frustrated by what's been happening with capitalism. I'm old enough to remember the times when some of us had to defend capitalism against what many believed to be sensible alternatives and it makes me sick to the stomach to watch a cabal of no more than ten thousand big money investors and their CEO puppets do some truly nasty things in the name of capitalism. Other than call today's state of capitalism by its name (crony capitalism) this book A preachy book about management, not capitalism. I'm frustrated by what's been happening with capitalism. I'm old enough to remember the times when some of us had to defend capitalism against what many believed to be sensible alternatives and it makes me sick to the stomach to watch a cabal of no more than ten thousand big money investors and their CEO puppets do some truly nasty things in the name of capitalism. Other than call today's state of capitalism by its name (crony capitalism) this book does not address any of the issues I have with the system. It does even try to discuss why businesses today have stopped reinvesting their profits, why business today carries so much debt, why business these days spends record high amounts on lobbying and record-low amounts on pay. Conscious Capitalism is, instead, a manual on how to manage retail businesses. The most important point the authors make is that first you need to honestly and wholeheartedly embrace a purpose, a set of core values, and then the rest will flow, profitability included. The second most important point the authors make is that you should look after all stakeholders of a business: clients, suppliers, employees, communities, the environment, even the competition, activists and unions, and then the shareholders will reap their dues, because taking care of all stakeholders will result in the excellence that will be essential for profits. The third and fourth big points I could not tell apart, they concern "conscious" management, leadership and culture. That's where the going got a bit heavy with me. Like, a good manager should meditate, allegedly. I suppose if he's got the spare time it's a free country go ahead and meditate, but I would not list it in my top ten thousand priorities when I used to run my company. Hell, I skipped going to the dentist, I seem to remember. Here's my big problem with the book: it sets out to refute some paper that was apparently written by Milton Friedman which said a business answers to its shareholders and nobody else. The authors say "no, it should do all these other things first and what's good for the shareholder will follow." Perhaps. But I was not convinced. I was never sold on why Milton Friedman is wrong (practically or morally) and I was never sold on why a cigarette company, for example, will deliver better results to its shareholders if it goes all moral on us, when its very purpose is not what I would consider moral. On the other hand, the book did actually convince me that a company that buys from many suppliers and sells to the wider public can benefit from being all crunchy like the authors of the book seem to be. So if you're in that type business, do read the book, you'll get some good pointers. And be prepared to deal with long strings of adjectives. Under this scheme, lives become" long, healthy, vibrant, productive and meaningful," for example. The scheme itself entails "living a life of meaning and purpose, service to others, striving for excellence, growing as an individual, friendship, partnering, love, and generosity." Hope you get the idea. Oh, and prepare to LOVE Whole Foods, the Container Store, Medtronic and a few more companies that the authors like, while other companies you might actually have heard of (I'm thinking Google and Amazon, for example) only get brought into the discussion when it suits. That said, if you have a good stomach for this type of hype, this is not a bad book about how to win in retailing. It's probably a very good book on that narrow topic. And it's got nothing to do with reforming capitalism, I'm afraid. That entails change to tax laws, regulations, property rights, intellectual property rights in particular, immigration laws, world trade agreements, foreign policy etc. Meditation? Not so sure. And one last thought: a bit like I left that Howard Stern movie some fifteen years ago thinking he made a movie to apologize to his wife, or at least defend his actions to her, the thought crossed my mind many times that the Whole Foods CEO co-wrote this book with one of his gurus to feel better about having anonymously blogged about his competitors. I'm probably wrong about this. But I could not kick the feeling, it did color my reading of the book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Well, this was interesting in terms of the case studies racked up. Certainly the writing makes _Leaning In_ look like a candidate for the Pritzker Prize--yes, the prize that rewards good architecture. Cause CC doesn't have one. I think the many people who have praised this book just haven't read many books of the entrepreneur genre, as the insights that business is "fundamentally good and ethical" seemed rather gateway to me--if a timely reminder of the "higher calling" that many of the 1% incre Well, this was interesting in terms of the case studies racked up. Certainly the writing makes _Leaning In_ look like a candidate for the Pritzker Prize--yes, the prize that rewards good architecture. Cause CC doesn't have one. I think the many people who have praised this book just haven't read many books of the entrepreneur genre, as the insights that business is "fundamentally good and ethical" seemed rather gateway to me--if a timely reminder of the "higher calling" that many of the 1% increasingly feel they need to embrace, from GOOD magazine to Bill Gates. Not really a page-turner, though, on a scale of 1 to robber-baron-fire-and-brimstone, though one suspects an equally secularized religious subtext underwrites it all. I hate that Mackey hates guaranteed health care, and hate that he hates unions; workers should be allowed to hate unions. More ethnographically (which is to say, anecdotally):I have friends who work at WF and really like it; and you CAN get their daily healthy meal for $5.95, I think, though they don't know how to prepare tofu; this is cheaper than, say, Chipotle. And half-price pizzas once a week--hey, I live 2 blocks from the place, and it is, by proximity, my local café for grading papers. If you shop prudently, you can find some good bargains, they don't shrink-wrap things to death, and I am happy that the 1% masses who don't know how to shop prudently do so in enough volume to make my occasional purchasing possible.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mike Tannenbaum

    Decent book for an introduction to better ways of running organizations. Nothing groundbreaking, though, especially for someone who reads a ton about capitalism, organizational dynamics, and complex systems. Also, the fact that the authors site Walmart as a "conscious" company really angered me. They've done so much damage in the past, a little bit of good nowadays doesn't really earn them the reward. All in all, I liked that this book got me to think about capitalism as an effective system. It w Decent book for an introduction to better ways of running organizations. Nothing groundbreaking, though, especially for someone who reads a ton about capitalism, organizational dynamics, and complex systems. Also, the fact that the authors site Walmart as a "conscious" company really angered me. They've done so much damage in the past, a little bit of good nowadays doesn't really earn them the reward. All in all, I liked that this book got me to think about capitalism as an effective system. It works. It lifted lots of poverty and bettered the lives of so many people post 1800's. Right now, though, we're living through the negative effects of "crony capitalism" where we're seeing the massive inequality chasm continue to grow. This book does a good job introducing concepts on how to be intentional and purposeful (i.e. conscious) with your organization. It provides practical ideas to help you shift your thinking. But, it doesn't really impress me on the whole, as I've read it all before. Maybe that's because it's 5 years old, or because I'm immersed in the question of "how do we create better economical and organizational systems?".

  18. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The title of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business begs the question, “Really?” With corporate greed and misdeeds undermining American’s faith in capitalism it’s not easy to envision business as the hero of the story. As I picked up the book, I thought to myself, “Sounds too good to be true, convince me”. The Bottom Line The idea of all stakeholders, including the environment, benefiting from conscious capitalism is compelling. It appeals to the human desire to work togeth The title of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business begs the question, “Really?” With corporate greed and misdeeds undermining American’s faith in capitalism it’s not easy to envision business as the hero of the story. As I picked up the book, I thought to myself, “Sounds too good to be true, convince me”. The Bottom Line The idea of all stakeholders, including the environment, benefiting from conscious capitalism is compelling. It appeals to the human desire to work together towards a common purpose with other people who value humor and compassion just as much as brains or brawn. The old way of doing business is burning out our people and killing our planet. Conscious capitalism provides a viable alternative. I recommend Conscious Capitalism to anyone who either owns, works for, buys from, supplies, or invests in a business, in other words all adults. Read the whole review at: http://greengroundswell.com/conscious...

  19. 5 out of 5

    The American Conservative

    'Having read dozens of business books over the years, I can say with considerable authority that Conscious Capitalism is the most ambitious management model ever conceived, and if implemented it could catapult the world of business to what Adam Smith described eloquently as the “highest degree of opulence.” Indeed, if Mackey’s application of higher consciousness had been in the boardroom a generation ago, I like to think that we could have avoided the suffocating regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley an 'Having read dozens of business books over the years, I can say with considerable authority that Conscious Capitalism is the most ambitious management model ever conceived, and if implemented it could catapult the world of business to what Adam Smith described eloquently as the “highest degree of opulence.” Indeed, if Mackey’s application of higher consciousness had been in the boardroom a generation ago, I like to think that we could have avoided the suffocating regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank and the dire straits of companies like GM, Sears, and Citibank (even Enron).' Read the full review, "Whole Foods' Better Business," on our website: http://www.theamericanconservative.co...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    This is a book that needs to be read by those that think capitalism is a blight on the world and those who tend to idolize profit as their God. Mackey and Sisodia show effectively how the break down in capitalism is truly not a pure capitalism but a bastardized crony capitalism. At the same time, they are able to show how business is truly at it's best when it is motivated not just by profits but by having a 'conscious' while striving to bring value to all stakeholders. This is the business mode This is a book that needs to be read by those that think capitalism is a blight on the world and those who tend to idolize profit as their God. Mackey and Sisodia show effectively how the break down in capitalism is truly not a pure capitalism but a bastardized crony capitalism. At the same time, they are able to show how business is truly at it's best when it is motivated not just by profits but by having a 'conscious' while striving to bring value to all stakeholders. This is the business model of many thriving and celebrated corporations and I believe that model for the future. This is highly recommended for anyone in business or aspiring to be.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jewel Miller

    This book illustrates how the word "Capitalism" has evolved to be said with a sneer. There is a negative emotional reaction to the thought. Conscious Capitalism describes a way of doing business that removes all positions of "Us v. Them". Labor v. Management, Quality v. Cost, Morals v. Profits, Production v. Environment. If you consider all individuals involved with your business as a stakeholder in the business, with no one individual being more important than any other, you can have a Win/Win/ This book illustrates how the word "Capitalism" has evolved to be said with a sneer. There is a negative emotional reaction to the thought. Conscious Capitalism describes a way of doing business that removes all positions of "Us v. Them". Labor v. Management, Quality v. Cost, Morals v. Profits, Production v. Environment. If you consider all individuals involved with your business as a stakeholder in the business, with no one individual being more important than any other, you can have a Win/Win/Win/Win/Win/Win (Win to the 6th) outcome. Now who wouldn't want that?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Papermoon

    Really disappointed in this book, I enjoyed Yvon Chouinard's "Let My People Go Surfing" and was hoping for a personal tale with many lessons I could take away from. Unfortunately, this book full of self-congratulating platitudes, I couldn't get through 50 pages without wanting to gag. Everything interesting in this book can be found on the podcast "How I Built This", skip this and read something actually useful like "Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place" Really disappointed in this book, I enjoyed Yvon Chouinard's "Let My People Go Surfing" and was hoping for a personal tale with many lessons I could take away from. Unfortunately, this book full of self-congratulating platitudes, I couldn't get through 50 pages without wanting to gag. Everything interesting in this book can be found on the podcast "How I Built This", skip this and read something actually useful like "Companies We Keep: Employee Ownership and the Business of Community and Place" by John Abrams.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alyce

    Loved it, but then again I was already down with the philosophy. I think it's an important book for lots of people to read and at least try to challenge certain black/white assumptions about what GOOD capitalism and entrepreneurship really is (opposed to the prevailing notions and politicized and polarized opinions these days). Review on Fool.com here: http://www.fool.com/investing/general...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Hennessy

    Free market capitalism is dying, and this book is the only cure. Any manager or executive who fails to read and apply the ideas Mackey presents is ripping off his or her shareholders, employees, bosses, community, and country. Businesses that have no purpose excepting making money deserve our contempt, not our patronage. Conscious Capitalism will launch a revolution, or free markets will die.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burns

    Great book, encourages real capitalism which is responsible and conscious instead of what most of us know which the book label's "Crony Capitalism" which looks for profits above all else. Truly great read from the owner of a great company

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jurgen Appelo

    Must-read about an amazing company. I just can't stomach the spiritual fluff.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas Robison

    While I agree with most of the points in this book, unfortunately it's largely superfluous and contributes very little original thinking into the overall discussion.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Johannes

    Great book! Great context from the founder of Whole Foods

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mathew Heggem

    Loved it. Use it as a manual for SUM Innovation and a text book for all the leadership, entrepreneurship, and business workshops I do. Mention often in blogs/presentations.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Having participated in a publicly traded company for many years that valued shareholder value over stakeholder value, and watching how the administrative categories in the company were squeezed harder and harder, while exec. compensation rose higher and higher, I can attest that a purpose driven culture may not be popular to companies who are subject to the market analyst's quarterly grading. The company will pay in other areas, from other stakeholders such as recruiting, training and retaining Having participated in a publicly traded company for many years that valued shareholder value over stakeholder value, and watching how the administrative categories in the company were squeezed harder and harder, while exec. compensation rose higher and higher, I can attest that a purpose driven culture may not be popular to companies who are subject to the market analyst's quarterly grading. The company will pay in other areas, from other stakeholders such as recruiting, training and retaining team members who now view companies as a strategic move in their own personal career path, and suppliers who are manipulated more than partnered with. A move to view ALL stakeholders as important is essential for long-term success. That is the most highlighted section of the book. There are poor reviews here from people in the financial sector, and others who are offput by the overuse of the Whole Foods Market "way" of doing it. I get that. Publicly held companies are still held to close scrutiny by Wall Street and candidly, I have no idea when that will change. Privately held companies have a easier and better chance of changing their operations in this way than those on the Forbes 500 list. At least for now. Courageous leaders may see the future possibility and go for it as the companies take the tumble that was seen in Q4 of 2018. But come on, did we really not see that coming - there's always a drop, and then the best come back swinging. but I digress... My takeaway was the framework that is being presented here. Purpose is key to all business success even though it doesn't have a line on the balance sheet. There is a movement of consciousness coming. More "upstarts" will knock giants out of the way, similar to what we saw with the "to big to fail" disasters prior to 2010. Nobody has a crystal ball - that is why Good to Great was considered such a great book for so long. If one were to read it today, it's laughable how many of the businesses that are tagged as "GREAT" have fallen or failed. I believe the same will happen for many of the businesses in the future that continue to operate without purpose as their driver. Innovation and creativity at every organizations biggest assets, yet when times are tough, these long term success areas often take a hit first to meet short term needs. The short term problems are the problems that the finance folks must solve, and so they are tasked with looking for answers that will get results now, and that's probably where some of their frustration comes from with this book - there's not a lot of HOW to keep the boat afloat and become this type of organization (and one can look at the financial growth of the companies, outside of WFM, that are mentioned in this book to see that it's doable and NOT just crunchy granola Birkenstock type business logic). Profits are essential, and there are multiple ways to get profits. A bigger pie, rather than more slices of the same size pie is the optimal way. Every business focuses on growth, and utilize various strategies to realize those goals, this book not giving you a lesson on growth and how to manage costs - that's something else I think many people find missing in this book. Win x6 is possible and this book is an example of how it works. Is it a playbook? No. It is definitely a book that is directed to shaping the tone at the top. People in the middle of an organization will likely find it lacking any tools for them to implement. Most companies will need outside help to become this kind of organization, and it is highly adaptable depending on the actual business, but it comes down to the fundamental question of WHY does the business exist in the first place. (hint: the answer is NOT to provide shareholder value) That is the critical starting point of every business plan, and a place to recalibrate for existing businesses. One place that I see the book hugely lacking is in examples outside of the retail/consumer sector. How successful is this with B2B sector? I sense that it is, but would have liked to see some representation and examples of other business sectors. PS - a sad postscript of sorts. It's ironic that one of the business leaders in the forefront of this movement who is heavily referred to in the book, died today - the day I finished the book. Herb Kellerher was 87 years old. I'm flying SoWest on 1/5 too, coincidentally. He was adored and highly respected by his company. He truly built a Conscious culture.

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