‚ÄčOn February 2, the Boston Chamber of Commerce hosted John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia, co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism Institute, and professor of Marketing at Bentley University. The two spoke about the secrets behind a successful business and the negative notions associated with big business today which they addressed in their new book, Conscious Capitalism. When capitalism began 200 years ago, more than 85% of our country was living off less than $1 per day. Despite a vast change in personal wealth, only 19% of individuals living in the United States today approve of big business, said Mackey and Sisodia. They attribute this to the common adjectives associated with big business: greed, power, exploitation and selfishness. Their book, Conscious Capitalism was written in an attempt to make the case for big business. Mackey and Sisodia argue the most successful businesses and their leaders embody characteristics opposite from greed and selfishness. These businesses (referred to as “conscious businesses”) do exist, and include Whole Food, which has been on Fortune Magazines' Best Companies to Work List for since its inception in 1998. In addition, these businesses are prosperous as a result of their:

  • Positive Company Culture, which is established by a given company's leaders, and involves every one of a company's stakeholders: customers, employees, suppliers, and the community members in which it works. For example, every five years Whole Foods organizes a “Future Search” to bring together the company's stakeholders to discuss the future of the company. Through the “Future Search,” Whole Foods founded “Whole Journeys,” food related and community service trips/activities.
  • Servant Leaders. These leaders are motivated by a higher purpose, not money or power. These leaders are down-to-earth and serve as mentors to inspire and motivate their colleagues.
  • Higher Purpose, or the goal or a vision of a company. Companies with higher purpose understand the need for social responsibility, practice environmental integrity and have a well-established company culture. Mackey pointed out that 80% of diseases, such as heart disease and stroke, directly correlate with obesity related causes, and currently 69 % percent of US individuals are overweight and 36% are obese. In response, Whole Foods is committed to educating society about health, lifestyle and diet options.
  • Win-Win Situations: Mackey explained there does not have to be trade-offs in business. If you have not determined a win-win situation for all involved you must “get back to the drawing board.” If a solution is not win-win, you have not found the solution yet.

Thanks to The Boston Chamber of Commerce for organizing an impressively motivational event. To learn more about the event, check out the conversation on Twitter #gbccef By Lauren Michaels, Assistant Account Executive at Solomon McCown & Company