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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

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As seen on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday

A New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller

In 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...

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Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business

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Overview


As seen on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday

A New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller

In 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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
How can capitalist enterprises embrace a more socially conscious approach to doing business? Mackey, co-CEO and cofounder of Whole Foods Market, and Bentley University marketing professor Sisodia (Firms of Endearment) seek to inspire the creation of businesses galvanized by "higher purposes that serve and align the interests of all major stakeholders." To emphasize their message, they offer a fairly dry historical perspective on capitalism, occasionally enlivened by stories from the early days of Whole Foods, including "showering" in a Hobart dishwasher and devastating floods that nearly bankrupted the company. The authors show how other organizations, including Waste Management and the Tata Group, operate with a conscious capitalism mindset and reap tremendous value. They identify four tenets of conscious capitalism—higher purpose, loyal customers, conscious leadership, and conscious culture—and offer guidance on related issues. The most challenging of these tenets involves stakeholders, and the authors rightly devote attention to the challenge of creating a win for all, including team members, environment, and community. Mackey and Sisodia make a valiant effort to redeem a practice often tainted by greed and corruption and show that if the individuals managing the system commit to conscious capitalism, everyone benefits. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, Sagalyn Literary Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Conscious Capitalism is full of thoughtful insights and original observations that could help organisations from start-ups to multinationals become better at creating financial and social wealth for all their stakeholders… I recommend it to entrepreneurs and investors everywhere – I strongly suspect it will be one of the outstanding business books of the year.” — Luke Johnson, Financial Times

“…at a time when the public reputation of big business has hit a dangerous low, surely the efforts of Messrs. Gates, Porter and Mackey—and even Ms. Nooyi—to make capitalism better can't be all bad. As the authors put it: "Free market capitalism is one of the most powerful ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more. Let's not be afraid to climb higher." — Alan Murray, The Wall Street Journal

"... a good read with useful insights for those who are, or aspire to be, entrepreneurial." — Pamela Hartigan, Financial Times

“Even if you don’t agree with all or most of Mackey and Sisodia’s arguments, their vision—essentially, startups for grownups—seems viscerally compelling, and describes the sort of enterprise that I suspect most would love to join.” — David Shaywitz, Forbes.com

“Had [Mackey and Sisodia’s] application of higher consciousness been in the boardroom a generation ago, we might have avoided the suffocating regulations of Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, and the dire straits of companies like General Motors, Sears, Citibank, and even Enron…Conscious Capitalism is still an inspiring blueprint for a better world.” — Mark Skousen, BARRON’s

Conscious Capitalism is a wonderful book, full of fiery passion and incisive insights. So buy it. Read it. Implement it. It’s a true guide to future.” — Steve Denning, Forbes.com

“Mackey and Sisodia make a valiant effort to redeem a practice often tainted by greed and corruption and show that if the individuals managing the system commit to conscious capitalism, everyone benefits.” — Publishers Weekly

“I would place Conscious Capitalism at the top of my list of good reading—by far. It's not just the writing; the intent of the book is very good.” — Gilda Chan, Senior Merchandising Planner at Vera Bradley

Conscious Capitalism, raises valid points about ‘heroic entrepreneurs’ and ‘conscious companies’ that are ‘butterflies’ as opposed to the normal ‘caterpillar’ companies, focused only on profit optimisation and shareholder value.” — Outlook Business (India)

“The book is an exceptional guide to best practices in organizational leadership. It is refreshing, high on ideals, and has a fair dose of prescription for creating and operating enterprises with a conscience.” — Business World

Conscious Capitalism builds the case for free market enterprise, driven by a purpose other than profit.” — Mint (livemint.com)

In stark contrast to today’s often pessimistic view of capitalism, MacKey and Sisodia defend the old principles while simultaneously urging business leaders to transform how they do business. Business cases ... show that companies are perfectly capable of creating more value for all of their stakeholders, from customers, employees, suppliers, and investors to society as whole and the environment. — Business Digest (France)

“In all the chapters, you’ll find how the effects of having a passionate, inspired team build stakeholder relations at a variety of firms in many industries.” – Jim Pawlak, Dallas Morning News

“…a must-read, with a message especially appropriate for these times of dysfunctional political polarization, with “red-state” Republicans over-simplistically depicted as conservative and pro-business and “blue-state” Democrats as liberal and anti-business.” — Lanny Davis, TheHill.com

Conscious Capitalism is in keeping with the ancient wisdom of India as it views leadership as trusteeship, which is all about focusing on the right actions and not being attached to outcome.” — The Economic Times

“… the most powerful part of Mackey’s message: running a wholesome business doesn’t mean your business has to cut back on profitability. Doing the right thing pays, Mackey writes.” – Robert Gratton, Austin Business Journal

“Whole Foods co-founder Mackey, writing with economist Sisodia, offers a persuasive paean to free enterprise. Light on ideology and long on thoughtful analysis—a good book to hand to the budding entrepreneur in the family.” — Kirkus Reviews

Conscious Capitalism demonstrates conclusively that in business, nice guys don’t always finish last. They may finish first.” — Anthony J. Sadar, Washington Times

“A timely explanation of what is wrong with capitalism and how it can be made right. Recommended for business owners, employees, customers, and investors.” — Library Journal

“As an HR professional [this book] has helped me realize I need to focus on the business mission and company values to reconcile my professional goals and personal values.” — HR Magazine

“Like a trip to Whole Foods, you may not buy everything Mackey offers, but overall, the book rings up as good value and good for you.” — Associations Now

“… a superb new book… essential reading for every businessman, investor, or lover of a good story. This is a fascinating tale. Read the book. Enjoy the story. And spread the word." — Alexander Green, Investment U Chief Investment Strategist, Market Daily News

Conscious Capitalism spells out the practices which Mackey, I and many others believe will restore the trust which has been eroded, both in corporations and markets, and will allow capitalism to continue. I welcome this book and hope asset-managers will take heed.” — Hazel Henderson, Seeking Alpha

“Thus it is the responsibility of ethical and conscious businesspeople and entrepreneurs to demonstrate to society their important role in the world, what businesses can do for local communities, for families and to solve deep social problems. Conscious capitalism is therefore not only a story worth telling but is a vision of our world worth preserving.”— The Classic Libertarian Perspective (Blog)

“If you believe in fair, open, and voluntary exchange, you’ll love Mackey’s book. If you don’t believe in those things, you need Mackey’s book.” — Hennessy’s View (Blog)

“… very good, with useful insights on almost every page…” — Marc Gunther, Sustainable Business Forum

Conscious capitalism is a refreshing vision of economics that assumes people want more than just money. It’s also a vision that supplements the narrow interests of investors with the broader interests of employees, managers, customers, and the larger community. As the success of Whole Foods demonstrates, it works.” — James A. Ogilvy, strategy+business

Conscious Capitalism is a book you will want to share with every business owner, manager, and worker you know.” — Jo Ann Skousen, Liberty

“an inspiring defense of free enterprise…an exceptional guide to best practices in organizational leadership...Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business is a treatise for a cultural revolution.” — Wesley Gant, Values and Capitalism, an initiative at the American Enterprise Institute

Conscious Capitalism is [Mackey's] philosophy of how capitalism and good business can - and should - be the driving force of change in the world. Business leaders must be attuned to an 'ethical consciousness', argue the authors, and through this all stakeholders, including employees, customers, shareholders and society as a whole will benefit.... making the case that companies who take genuine care of their workers and communities and the environment actually end up creating the most profits and long-term shareholder value.” — SAPress – South Africa

ADVANCE PRAISE for Conscious Capitalism:

From the Foreword: Bill George, bestselling author of True North
“This is the book I always wanted to write.”

Howard Schultz, chairman, president, and CEO, Starbucks—
“I have long believed that companies have a responsibility to balance profitability with a social conscience, yet few leaders have an inherent understanding of just how to do it. In Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey and Raj Sisodia provide a timely, realistic framework so companies can better serve a variety of stakeholders. I highly recommend listening to what they have to say.”

Herb Kelleher, former Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines—
Conscious Capitalism is a welcome explication and endorsement of the virtues of free-enterprise capitalism—properly comprehended, there is no more beneficial economic system—and a simultaneously pragmatic and inspirational extolment of higher purpose and humanism in business. I hail and revere the tenets of Conscious Capitalism!”

Ratan N. Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons—
“This book provides the script for a much-needed different narrative for free- enterprise capitalism. Businesses need to be driven by a purpose higher than maximizing profit, and they must ensure optimal benefits to all stakeholders. Only if that happens can capitalism deliver to all humanity the full societal benefits it is capable of.”

Sally Jewell, CEO, REI—
“By so clearly and thoughtfully articulating the tenets of Conscious Capitalism, Raj and John have helped me understand the power behind the sustainable success in our business, raising my consciousness in guiding REI forward to serve a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts and environmental stewards.”

Biz Stone, Cofounder and Creative Director, Twitter
“John Mackey’s journey to awakening is an inspiration not just to entrepreneurs, but to anyone who believes in a new definition of success for capitalism—one that includes positive societal impact as well as traditional business metrics.”

Kirkus Reviews
Whole Foods co-founder Mackey, writing with economist Sisodia, offers a persuasive paean to free enterprise. "In the long arc of history, no human creation has had a greater positive impact on more people more rapidly than free-enterprise capitalism," write the authors. That statement serves as a good summary of this book, which combines a brief but lucid history of the capitalist system with Mackey's own sometimes-idiosyncratic interpretation of it. Flying in the face of Economics 101, for instance, he insists that a goal of the capitalist need not be profit maximization and that self-interest can be broader than the mere individual self. Mackey combines a strong sense of social service with the thought that there are goals beyond mere money for the successful investors. As the book progresses, Mackey's vision becomes more singular, with sharp attacks on crony capitalism--the unholy wedding of big government with certain strands of big business--side arguments on animal welfare, and heightened consciousness and a well-reasoned critique of the vaunted "triple bottom line." Throughout, his insistence on long-term thinking is welcome--and too seldom found in popular business writing. Though he has been in the news lately for seemingly off-the-mark statements equating health care reform with fascism and holding that there's a positive side to climate change, Mackey presents a reasonable and mostly unobjectionable defense of capitalism at a time when, thanks to the excesses of the wealthy, it needs defending. Light on ideology and long on thoughtful analysis--a good book to hand to the budding entrepreneur in the family.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422144206
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 65,168
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author


John Mackey is co-CEO and cofounder of Whole Foods Market and cofounder of the nonprofit Conscious Capitalism, Inc. He has devoted his life to selling natural and organic foods and to building a better business model. Dr. Rajendra (Raj) Sisodia is cofounder and trustee of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and professor of marketing at Bentley University. He has authored seven books, including Firms of Endearment.
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Table of Contents

Foreword: Getting Capitalism Back on Track Bill George ix

Introduction: Awakenings 1

1 Capitalism: Marvelous, Misunderstood, Maligned 11

2 Conscious Capitalism and the Heroic Spirit of Business 25

Part 1 The First Tenet: Higher Purpose 41

3 Purpose: The Corporation's Search for Meaning 45

4 Discovering and Growing Purpose 57

Part 2 The Second Tenet: Stakeholder Integration 69

5 Loyal, Trusting Customers 75

6 Passionate, Inspired Team Members 85

7 Patient, Purposeful Investors 99

8 Collaborative, Innovative Suppliers 111

9 Flourishing, Welcoming Communities 123

10 A Healthy, Vibrant Environment 139

11 The Outer Circle of Stakeholders 153

12 The Interdependence of Stakeholders 167

Part 3 The Third Tenet: Conscious Leadership 177

13 The Qualities of Conscious Leaders 183

14 Becoming a Conscious Leader 195

Part 4 The Fourth Tenet: Conscious Culture and Management 215

15 Conscious Cultures 217

16 Conscious Management 235

17 Becoming a Conscious Business 251

18 The Power and Beauty of Conscious Capitalism 263

The Conscious Capitalism Credo 273

Appendix A The Business Case for Conscious Capitalism 275

Appendix B Conscious Capitalism and Related Ideas 291

Appendix C Misconceptions About Conscious Capitalism 299

Notes 307

Index 323

Acknowledgments 339

About the Authors 343

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Thoughtful....

    Read the book before passing judgment-you will find unwavering firsthand knowledge of the free enterprise system. And yes, Obamacare IS Fascism. Look it up and read the law and its rules.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Negative reviewers

    The couple of people who gave negative reviews clearly did not read the book. You may disagree with the premise or arguments contained in the book, but at least read it in order to make intelligent counter-arguments. Mackey does an excellent job of outlining a business that is designed to maximize fiscal, mental and physical wellbeing for all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers, etc.

    As more businesses follow this and similar models, we will all profit in our personal and financial lives. Rather than complain because you dislike free enterprise, why not praise those companies that want to maximize the potential of everyone? Give your business to those companies that show concern for and seek to benefit the environment, their customers, their employees, and, yes, those willing to invest in such companies.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Excellent! I recommend this book for all schools to make it a re

    Excellent! I recommend this book for all schools to make it a requirement for younger students to read and live by it!!!
    Even way before I read this book, I share the same ideals as John Mackey!
    In response to YarnHog, I think you are confused. John Mackey cares for the human race (progress) so much so that he structured his
    company in such a way that almost every one will have an opportunity  to earn a decent  living, live healthier and be sustainable!!
    What are you talking about? Being healthy is proof enough that it ensures human progress!!!!!
    Are you kidding me? Are you healthy? How much do you weigh? And are you financially sound?

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2013

    John Mackey equates Obamacare with fascism and he has the nerve

    John Mackey equates Obamacare with fascism and he has the nerve to write a book with the word 'conscious' in the title?
    Give me a break. He cares little for "human progress." Given the recent spate of horrible publicity and apologies
    this book is a joke.

    4 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2013

    This book is a breath of fresh air! I agree with the authors' bo

    This book is a breath of fresh air! I agree with the authors' book wholeheartedly, and my family would be shocked.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2013

    Capital is defined as such by the process of an owner of labor m

    Capital is defined as such by the process of an owner of labor making more money out of money. The Planet's resources are finite - the crucial, cheap natural resources that Capital Accumulation ("growth", i.e. capitalist economic "stability) relies on, the most important being oil, cannot be exploited limitlessly. The Space on Earth
    is itself limited, the foresting industry cannot serve as an endless field of accumulation, the fossil fuel industries (on which the whole modern capitalist economy runs) cannot provide as a profitable field of accumulation in the next decades as oil becomes harder to find, demand increases as the capitalist economies continue to blindly expand in the sought for necessarily higher profits. Today, global Agriculture produces enough food to feed 12 Billion humans with 2,700 kc a day, yet, 1 Billion humans are considered by the UN "permanently severely undernourished". Capitalism can NEVER be conscious of human needs, it serves CAPITAL and not LABOR, humans. Producing Wealth for the fulfillment of Human Needs is the other other system: Communism.   

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    A Must Read

    I have found this book to be life changing, as a future international attorney I will only work for companies who practice and live the conscious capitalism credo in their corporation.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2013

    Putting it simply, the first part of this book is thick with the

    Putting it simply, the first part of this book is thick with the air of Mr. Mackey's self-promotion and grandiosity. Even when he was writing about the heroic traits of another company, the story was often brought back to underlining his heroism. It seems in his mind, he is Whole Foods. When shopping at WF's I intentionally hold the idea that I am only supporting organic food, fair trade, sustainable products and quality employees.

    The second half of the book does lay out some interesting non-ego-maniacal points, but I found it grueling to get through the first half. All the information could have been more succinctly addressed in an essay, as much is repeated many, many times. I also found many of the conclusions erroneous. Following are a few points that scream out:

    Mr. Mackey states WF "think of customers as our most important stakeholders...the well-being of customers must be treated as an end." Yet at the beginning of the book he talks about how he and his partner/girlfriend lived in an office above their first store, Safer Way. (to save on paying rent) "there was no shower or bathtub there, so we took `showers' in the stores dishwasher...pretty sure that violated several city health codes." Woa, can you imagine going to someone's house for dinner, eating and then the hosts bragging they took their showers in the same sink they washed their pots and pans and bragging that they got away with breaking the city's health codes? P-U-K-E! That is not in alignment with caring about anothers well-being, just being a cheapskate about paying rent.

    Mr. Mackey claims "the ethical basis of free-enterprise capitalism" has been "hijacked intellectually by economists..." though the disaster capitalism economist, Milton Friedman is one of his hero's. This is the same MF, who promoted disaster capitalism and who counseled many US presidents who implemented his suggestions. According to Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine, "the economic chaos that we're seeing right now on Wall St., main st. and Washington, stems from many factors including the ideas (put into practice) of Milton Friedman."

    In Conscious Capitalism, Mr. Mackey writes quite extensively about the heroic role he and Whole Foods' plays and has played in educating the public about organic foods, the well-being of livestock, etc. to the blatant exclusion of all the advocates and educators of the 1920's, 30's etc. who were mocked, scorned, and ridiculed by the industrial farmers and chemical companies.

    Does it make one a hero who takes advantage of an opportunity borne from the hard work of others who were mocked, dismissed, and undermined by the industrial farming advocates and who with great courage and trust in the truth, continued to educate and inform even though it did not begin to be mildly profitable until the 1960's?

    In his book it seems Mr. Mackey thinks if he does not mention all the organic, sustainable and/or green businesses' and meat and fish advocates that came before him, he will convince the world that he and Whole Foods are the only hero's in this area. In all the businesses highlighted in the book not one of the well known, pre-Whole Foods' businesses is mentioned. In fact in his list of companies practicing the tenets of "Conscious Capitalism," he includes the overly stocked, bloated examples of Ikea and Costco.

    He also celebrates the fact that companies like CocaCola, Pepsi and Wallmart are getting into organic and/or natural healthy foods. This is the same PepsiCo who was caught illegally adding a synthetically produced ingredient to it's Naked Juice products as well as including GMO's and continuing to label the drinks as "all natural." We won't even get started on Wallmart or CocaCola. Isn't this like letting the fox into the hen house or a wolf in sheep's clothing in the field of sheep? I mean come on now!!!!

    Also, anyone getting into the organic business allows them a seat on the organic standards board. These standards were long and hard won and do not need to be undermined by wolves in sheep's clothing.

    Another important point, Mr. Mackey states, "customers look to WF to be their `editors,' as we carefully examine and evaluate the products we sell." He also states "WF talks and walks our values selling the highest quality natural and organic products available. Trust is critical to having a good relationship with customers and is developed by dealing with them with authenticity, transparency, integrity, respect and love."
    Yet, under all these lofty statements, among other things, WF has sold unlabeled GMO ingredients in some of their products. As a longtime shopper, I find that totally dishonest. Many ethical natural and organic foods' companies have voluntarily labeled their products GMO free. Mr. Mackey with great fanfare promises WF will do that soon. That some products have included GMO's is not in alignment with their promise of being honest and transparent!

    There are many more holes in the conclusions and ideas he puts forth in this book. It would be nice to believe business owners can and are heroes. When I was a kid I did believe in fairy tales, but real life and real people came along and I had to wake up. There was no regulation when the automobile giants forced out Tesla. There was no regulation in pre-union days when the greedy mine owners and industrial tycoons used their clout to get the police and government soldiers to shoot and/or kill their striking employees. So to suggest regulations are what caused businessmen to behave so badly is ludicrous or incredibly naive. I've noticed being raised by a rich daddy who can make one's dreams come true, twice does have a tendency to distort one's judgment.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2013

    All the arguments against ever reading this book are clearly lis

    All the arguments against ever reading this book are clearly listed in John Mackey's promotional interview with Mother Jones magazine.

    0 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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