I spent the last week in the Bay Area. Flew out for a full-day program kickoff. Because it fell during a week I’d already set aside for my monthly writing retreat, I figured I’d spend mornings working on articles and afternoons visiting with my sister.
From a productivity point of view, I definitely succeeded in visiting my sister. Writing, not so much.
I did come away with a lot of cool, inspirational seeds and ideas, though. Thrilled about that!
Let me share a bit about the Conscious Business Leadership Academy, or CBLA – the thing that called me to the Left Coast in the first place.
The CBLA, the brainchild of authors, speakers, and extraordinary visionaries, mapmakers and human beings Raj Sisodia and Neha Sangwan. Underwritten by BDO, populated by the irrepressible Hitesh Shah, the program brings together cohorts of CEOs to train them in the art, science, and practices of Conscious Capitalism…
So that they and their companies can, no kidding, play big roles in healing the world.
Given what garners news coverage, you may wonder – and you wouldn’t be alone here – how for-profit businesses figure into healing anything, much less the planet. After all, aren’t dyed-in-the-wool capitalists glued to Milton Friedman’s notion that increasing profit is the true and only business of business?
Turns out that strict adherence to Friedman’s idea has limits. Not surprising, if only because dogmatic absolutes have a way of running out of road.
Back in 2019, a group of 181 CEOs signed on to a commitment put forward by the US Business Roundtable that stated that business has a responsibility not only to shareholders, but to a broader range of stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, employees, and communities. In “The value of value creation” from the June, 2020 McKinsey Quarterly, authors Marc Goedhart and Tim Koller point out that both American and European companies that spread the shareholder love grow their employment numbers significantly over more myopic businesses. (I’m not doing justice to their work – the article covers a lot of ground.)
The CBLA is based on Raj and Neha’s individual work and combined effort, going well beyond the Business Roundtable pledge. While agreements and vows are great, the course takes CEOs on an inside-out journey that begins with the establishment of powerful listening practices, then stories from leaders living the work in their lives and organizational cultures. It then moves to developing a clear sense of individual, then organizational, purpose. There’s a deep plunge into essential values – the substantial, real, inner stuff, not just pretty words on a glitzy lobby graphic, prospectus, or annual report. With the stage set, the program rolls on to become an embodied, experiential exploration of the pillars and tenets of applied Conscious Capitalism.
I mention “applied” and “embodied” because, as thrilling as conceptual learning can be, if the learned ideas aren’t put to real-world, tangible use, why bother? Sure, the mind takes some cool notes and feels proud of its scholarly self… but if nothing happens, who gives a rat’s ass?
This is my second time through the CBLA, and my first being live on-site, blessedly far from another video conference on a computer screen. (I’m part of a small team of coaches working with the participant CEOs to help them enrich and integrate the work. Saying it’s a cool gig doesn’t do it justice. And it’s a very cool gig!)
There’s a lot I love about this work: The vision and mission are right up my alley. There are layers of complexity, interlaced systems, a holistic orientation, awesome people growing equally awesome businesses…
I also get to work with an incredible, intimate group of colleagues, and the leaders I get to coach fit the description of my ideal client to a “t.”
As exciting and fun as what I’ve described is, I’ve really only tossed out a few crumbs. I could go on for days. Truth be told – and circling back to a point I made at the top of this piece – I see so much potential for real change, healing, and growth in the work, structures, rich philosophical, and spiritual essence and academic underpinnings of the CBLA.
From some arguably simple, common-sense seeds – treating people as if they’re family, rather than cogs on a profit-wheel, for instance – an abundance of real-world magic grows. Lives are touched, communities are enriched, life-affirming systems are created and, as counter-intuitive as it might seem in a culture gone cynical about capitalism, good people doing good things make good money.
Here’s another brief article with some pre-pandemic share price data on different kinds of companies to tickle your curiosity…
Of course, I have my slightly selfish reasons for doing this work: I love knowing that this takes me a step closer to touching my legacy – namely leaving this world a better, healthier place for future generations.
That, dear people, is indeed a very good day at the office for which I’m deeply grateful.