Alexander McCobin:  Conscious Capitalism – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Alexander McCobin: Conscious Capitalism – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Alexander McCobin:  Conscious Capitalism – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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Conscious capitalism is a term, a movement and the name of the non-profit organization, Conscious Capitalism, Inc. (CCI), whose role it is to be the foundation of the movement. CCI brings business leaders together to share best practices for implementing the ideals of conscious capitalism.

Aspects of conscious capitalism have been around for decades. As we discuss in the interview, Conscious Capitalism provides an organizing principle for many practices that put humans at the center of the business ecosystem.  During our conversation, Alexander passionately describes the opportunities,  challenges and future of Conscious Capitalism.

Season  2  |  Episode 11   |   March 3, 2020

Show Notes

“By delivering a genuine, no-baloney product for our guests and environment for our employees to work in, we then could deliver for our shareholders…  Starting from that place of authenticity and caring profoundly about the lives of other people leads to better financial results because of the way the economy and capitalism works.”

Ron Shaich

CEO and Founder, Panera Bread

Can We Make Conscious Capitalism Redundant?

That’s the long term goal.

The general opinion of capitalism and of the for-profit business world is one of greed and scarcity, a winner-take-all mindset,  and overpaid executives at the expense of underpaid and under-insured employees (just listen to the 2020 election rhetoric!).  While that opinion has been earned, there is a movement underway that is gaining support from capitalist business leaders across the globe to change that.

Alexander McCobin is CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., an organization founded by successful corporate CEOs and founders who are committed to shepherding in a new way of running businesses.  As Alexander says in the interview, it’s a Copernican Revolution, putting humans at the center of business rather than profits.  And the good news is that it’s not an either-or choice.  As Ron Shaich said in the quote, above, caring profoundly about employees and customers leads to better (and long-term) results!

Stand-out Quotes from My Interview With Alexander

[10:29]“It’s about creating a foundation for people to build the movement the way they want to…We need to let a thousand flowers bloom if we’re going to achieve our long term goal, which is for Conscious Capitalism to become redundant.” 

[00:11:17] “The times are changing. This is an idea whose time has come, finally. A decade ago, when this idea was being kicked around and introduced to conferences and boardrooms, it was being laughed out of those spaces. It wasn’t taken seriously. The initial job of Conscious Capitalism Inc. and even the reason for writing the book was to make the case for this, to change people’s minds, because everyone thought business is just about maximizing profit, serving the shareholders, and everyone and everything else is serving that end.”

[00:12:35] “The Business Roundtable is a group of 190, 200 or so CEOs of the largest companies in the United States. We’re talking everyone from J.P. Morgan, to Amazon, and if you know the name of the company and it’s a Fortune 100, it’s probably in there. In 1997, they adopted a statement on the purpose of the corporation being to serve shareholder interests. That this is the reason they exist.

Last year they changed that. They said that the purpose of the corporation is to serve a higher purpose and to take care of all their stakeholders. They basically took the conscious capitalist’s credo, reworded and adopted themselves, and that is tremendously exciting because it shows these principles and ideas are becoming well-accepted and these are CEOs making a commitment that this is how they’re going to run their businesses going forward that they can now be held accountable to. If they’re not living up to it, we are able to say, “You made this pledge. We’re going to hold you to it and we’re ready to help you accomplish it too.”

[00:16:23] “…Very explicitly, when we look at the businesses that we think we can have the greatest impact with who are most likely to adopt conscious capitalism not just in their rhetoric, but in their actions as well, it’s mid-market businesses. In particular, private and family-owned businesses, either because they’re still founder-driven who has the moral authority to implement changes like this, or they still remember the values they were rooted in from the very beginning and they want to maintain them as they grow. We not only see these private and family midmarket businesses getting involved with this already, but we are very proactively trying to work with more of them because they want to grow.”

[00:22:29]: “That is part of the stakeholder model. We need businesses to be at the forefront of addressing the challenges of climate change and environmental degradation conservation. Business has the greatest impact in these areas and it has the greatest opportunity to innovate and figure out what the solution is, because we’re not there yet and it’s not going to come from committee. It’s not going to come from bureaucracy. It’s going to come from businesses solving those problems themselves and they need to take that on.”

A Stakeholder Economy is Central to Conscious Capitalism

Outside of my conversation with Alexander, I’m collecting stories and artifacts about this shift to a long-term focus and the complexities associated with it.  We’ve built financial, accountability and status systems based on the Miltonian idea that profit is king.  This philosophy is not going to be easy to undo.  And it shouldn’t be completely undone!

Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest money management firm, publishes an Annual Letter to CEOs.  His urgency regarding climate change is increasing.  His letter this year essentially states that BlackRock will be allocating more capital that mitigates climate risk and voting against corporate managers who aren’t making progress on fighting the climate crisis.

Larry Fink’s 2020 Letter

The New York Times’ podcast The Daily, published these episodes about the Business Roundtable’s Commitment and Larry Fink’s 2020 Letter:

The Daily:  Can Corporations Stop Climate Change? (January 2020)

What American CEOs are Worried About (August 2019)

More Links from this Episode

Download the full transcript (full of valuable links!)

Conscious Capitalism Philosophy

Find Your Local Chapter

Annual Conference (April each year)

CEO Summit (October each year)

Conscious Capitalism Blog

After listening to the interview and reading the notes, I wonder what your takeaway is?

Thanks for tuning in!


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Awe + Art + Observation:  Bonnie Pitman

Awe + Art + Observation: Bonnie Pitman

Awe + Art + Observation:  Bonnie Pitman

Bonnie Pitman shares how Doing Something New inspires us to make each day extraordinary.  Her Power of Observation Framework instructs us on the critical steps for moving from the first glance to making new meaning of our observations. She is both delightful and incredibly grounded in her approach to appreciating the banal and sublime.

Season  1  |  Episode 10   |   February 11, 2020

Show Notes

Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Albert Szen-Gyorgi

1937 Nobel Laureate


Make Everyday Extraordinary

Awe and wonder are getting a lot of attention these days because of what happens in our brain when we’re in these states of mind. Inspiration and generosity spike and we feel more connected to the world around us.  And as a result, stress and rumination decrease*.  Overall wellbeing is amplified.  The great news is that we can experience awe and wonder as part of our daily life – we just have to become more aware of what is already in our midst.

Bonnie Pitman, with her long and distinguished history in the world of art, developed two foundational practices that support the onboarding of these states in response to a life-changing illness that she continues to navigate.  She shares how Doing Something New inspires us to make each day extraordinary.  Her Power of Observation Framework instructs us on the critical steps for moving from the first glance to making new meaning of our observations. She is both delightful and incredibly grounded in her approach to appreciating the banal and sublime.

*Source:  What Awe Looks Like in Your Brain

Stand-out Quotes from My Interview With Bonnie

[14:04]“Do Something New is about having the courage to take a moment and really celebrate it. And finding a way … to move beyond simply seeing and looking to really deep observation, or deep listening. It’s about going further than I normally would.” 

[16:06] “I’ve discovered that one of the really important things, which we’ve been talking about, comes from my meditation practice:  the power of staying in the moment and just seeing things in new ways, or seeing the world in new ways.  To slow down and really invest in those moments and to – just like when you’re meditating – focus on your breathing, focus on the people or the place”

[22:33] “…80% of the way you acquire information is through visual images. Particularly important for physicians is that ability to see if a patient over the days that they are seeing them in the hospital, or in their clinics is evolving in a positive way, or a negative way. That need to be able to look quickly and observe quickly and get solid information, to be able to remember it is something that’s very important for them.”

[ 25:56 ] “Those tangible, experiential moments transform a two-dimensional experience into memory in your brain.  Now your hippocampus – your whole limbic system – is working in a different way and at a higher level to codify this memory as one you’re going to hold on to.”

the Do Something New™ practice

Take a few minutes of an ordinary day and make it extraordinary through:

  1. New places
  2. New people
  3. New experiences
  4. New experiences with old friends in new ways
  5. New big things & new little things
  6. New flavors of ice cream are ok!
  7. Cannot be work or medical
  8. Cannot carry forward to the next day

Follow Bonnie Doing Something New on Instagram!

The Power of Observation Framework™

ScanningTaking a first look

AttendingFocusing intentionally over time

ConnectingSeeking and processing information to make new connections

TransformingEngaging deeply and creating a personal response

Note:  Download the full Power of Observation Framework here

More Links

Download the full transcript

Bonnie Pitman Instagram

DMA – Speechless:  Different by Design

What Awe Looks Like in Your Brain – Greater Good Magazine

Videos: Art and Medicine

Nasher Sculpture Center talks on Art and Health:

Can You Train Your Brain to Work Better? Verify – WFAA

Be Well Lead Well® Pulse Assessment

After listening to the interview and reading the notes, I wonder what your takeaway is?

Thanks for tuning in!


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The Rhythm of a Great Place to Work: Drew Clancy

The Rhythm of a Great Place to Work: Drew Clancy

The Rhythm of a Great Place to Work:  Drew Clancy, President of PCI

Drew Clancy, President of Publishing Concepts (PCI), is a self-proclaimed ‘cultural enthusiast’.  His commitment to the core elements of culture has resulted in year-over-year growth and consistent recognition as a Best Place to Work.  As a third-generation leader, he has brought this near 100year-old family business solidly into the 21st Century through innovation and servant leadership. 

Season 1   |   Episode 09   |   November 12, 2019

Show Notes


We inspire dreams and transform lives

PCI’s Purpose


A Successful Third-Generation Family Business

Drew Clancy is President of PCI, a midsize, third-generation family business headquartered in Dallas, Texas.  In 2021 they will celebrate 100 years in operation, and like any company that has weathered that much time, they’ve experienced iterations and evolutions. In 1982, Jack Clancy, Drew’s father, breathed new life into the company and gave it a new name: Publishing Concepts, now best known as PCI.  They’re in the business of “helping college, university, and association clients engage their alumni and membership and raise money in order to fulfill their mission of educating our nation’s future leaders”.

Jack Clancy was a ‘dynamo’, as Drew describes in the interview and embodied many first-generation and founder qualities: charisma, high energy, generosity and a preponderance for making all the decisions, and generally keeping tight reigns on the business. These characteristics are needed at start-up but will cripple the business over the long-term.  Note:  PwC has published a very interesting survey on family businesses.  A short video summary can be found here.  

Drew entered the picture in 1995 after his father suffered a heart attack and could no longer bring his formidable energy and presence to the business.  Drew recognized the talent and capacity of the team and brought his own unique approach to leading and managing to PCI.  Essentially, he navigated the company past the ‘founder’s trap’ as described by Dr. Ichak Adizes, creator of the Adizes Corporate Lifecycle, and steered PCI toward sustainability.  And it’s working – PCI continues excellent financial performance, targeting $50M in revenue this year, doubling 2016’s performance. As you hear in the interview, Drew is a self-described “workplace culture enthusiast” and is so passionate about this that he invites anyone to reach out to him for a conversation.

Organizational Culture as a Business Strategy

We spent the bulk of our time discussing Drew’s passion: workplace culture.  He is a strong believer in Servant Leadership and sees creating a thriving workplace as a foundational business strategy.  His orientation is paying off:  PCI has appeared on both Dallas Morning News 100 Best Places to Work and Best Companies to Work for in Texas, nabbing first place in 2015 & 2016.  Even with these accolades, he doesn’t take culture for granted, claiming “you have to work for it every day”.

They have a term for the central elements of their culture, theFIVE:

  • 5 Elements of the core ideology: Purpose, Values, Vision, Goals, Commitment
  • 5 Values: Excellence, Unlock Human Potential, Act with Integrity, Innovate a Culture of Relationships & Fun, Lead with a Servant’s Heart

Structure Will Set You Free:  Rhythms, Rigor and Ritual

A best-place-to-work culture will not happen by wishing for it.  It won’t even happen if you articulate your core ideology (Jim Collins’ term for Purpose, Vision and Values) and hang posters throughout the workspace.  You have to take action.

Drew is keen on the idea that “structure sets you free”. Liberating structures are created to channel individual or group energy toward a specific goal.  James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, guides individuals to make tiny shifts in daily behaviors that will lead to big results.

At the organizational level,  leaders use liberating structures by setting rhythmic meetings with appropriate agendas to guide actions and increase engagement. Drew outlines the meeting rhythm at PCI that has helped create their award-winning cultural.

Drew’s morning ritual:

Like many successful leaders, Drew has a rigorous morning ritual that he’s been practicing for seven or eight years now.  Last year, he led a book discussion at PCI on The Morning Miracle by Hal Elrod, which helped him fine-tune his own routine (this is also an example of his commitment to Unlocking Human Potential as an organizational value). Here’s his practice:

  • Wake at 5:45a or 6:00a
  • Exercise – push-ups or sit-ups
  • Meditate for 10 – 20 minutes
  • Read the Bible & pray
  • Journal – writing about the 10 personal goals he sets each year

PCI’s Organizational Rhythm:

“Try a lot of things and keep what works”.  This is the advice Drew gleaned from Jim Collins’ epic book, Built to Last.  Here’s what is working for PCI now:

  • Annual Planning – Yearly
  • Monthly Extended Leadership Meeting – Trail Blazers meeting for anyone leading a team, project, product, client relationship, etc. This meeting is focused on growth and learning.
  • Weekly – CEO Council.  This is an L-10 meeting (Level 10 from EOS)
  • Daily Huddle – 10 minutes at 8:30a, called the 10@8:30. See PCI’s agenda here

These meetings share critical information such as metrics (transparency is key), updates, and progress and also keep team members focused on ‘theFIVE’

Helpful Articles:  Discipline Sets You Free; The Right Meeting Rhythm Will Set You Free; CEO’s Roadmap to Alignment

Book:  The Power of Liberating Structures

Courage:  The Final Element

Courage is the third element for creating an enduring culture.  There are times in the life of a leader when decisions aren’t just tough, they may even have a short term negative impact – financially or otherwise.  The leader has to choose whether to take the high road and stay true to the stated values of the company or let something slip by.  These are known as leadership moments and they are opportunities to embody the values that have been espoused.  Actions speak much louder than words.  Which reminds me of the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:  Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.

Drew Clancy’s actions SHOUT his commitment to the culture at PCI.

After listening to the interview and reading the notes, I wonder what your takeaway is?

Thanks for tuning in!



Download the Transcript

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Doing Well + Doing Good: Lauren Clarke and Turn Compost

Doing Well + Doing Good: Lauren Clarke and Turn Compost

Doing Well + Doing Good:  Lauren Clarke & Turn Compost

Lauren Clarke is the founder of Turn Compost, a wildly successful social enterprise focused on reducing food waste and improving how we utilize our urban environment.  She shares alarming and exciting statistics about food waste and the blooming food waste industry.  She also gives essential advice to anyone with the vision of starting a social enterprise.

Episode 8   |   October 24, 2019

Show Notes

My passion for gardening may strike some as selfish, or merely an act of resignation in the face of overwhelming problems that beset the world. It is neither. I have found that each garden is just what Voltaire proposed in Candide: a microcosm of a just and beautiful society. 

Andrew Weil

I remember the delight I felt the first time I saw a post about Turn Compost by Bonton Farms on Instagram.  It was a colorful photo of livestock enjoying food scraps.  The vegetable scraps were bountiful and the livestock looked very satisfied.  It was very pastoral.  I had the sense that a cycle was not just being completed – it was being amplified and given new life.

A Social Enterprise Model

Turn Compost is a Social Enterprise, or Social Impact business.  In short, it’s a business that does good by addressing a social or environmental problem AND it does well by being financially self-sustaining.  Social Enterprises and Social Impact businesses may be non- or for-profit.  Turn is a for profit business.  [10:43]

The Business of Food Waste

Food Waste is a big problem in the U.S.  It makes up about 40% of our landfills and if it were a country, would be the third-largest emitter of methane gas behind the U.S.  and China. [02:38]  See these interesting statistics collected by Turn on their website.

Tackling food wastage can be a 2.5 trillion market opportunity for business according to an article by CNBC .

Turn is a private, organic waste pickup subscription service with both doorstep and drop off services. It’s a very innovate model! [05:35]

Organic waste is processed three different ways:  it’s donated to local farms and gardens, turned into small amounts of compost and delivered back to members, and finally they partner with commercial composting facilities for other post-consumer waste. [07:51]

Bonton Farms and Farmers Assisting Returning Military (F.A.R.M.) are examples of two local farms that receive Turn donations.

The City of Dallas does not currently compost (yet!); you can learn more about Dallas’ Comprehensive Environmental Climate Action Plan and give input at their website.  [11.56]

The Vision:  Getting Reconnected With Food

The Atlantic had an article a few years back that explains the quote, “Calories are cheap and people are picky”. The article focuses on why we waste so much food. [13:50]

There’s a cost for us with all the innovations in food delivery:  it’s getting us further disconnected from the source.  We aren’t experiencing the growth cycles, the work that goes into food production and the satisfaction of providing for ourselves.  [15:05]

Horticultural Therapy is a term being used for the therapeutic effects of gardening.  [18:25]  Bonton Farms, mentioned above, sees farming as a way to “redefine a community”.  CNN ran a story about healing with horticultural therapy.

Lauren gives some advice on starting a social impact business:  [20:33]

  • make sure it’s financially sustainable now and has future growth potential
  • assemble an advisory council of experts from various industries who will “get in your face” and tell you the truth
  • be open to listening to the advice

A Deeper Purpose

Lauren’s big WHY –  the ultimate reason she started Turn:

You know I care about my children, but I care about other children and children in all sorts of communities, wealthy and poor, and their connection with food and their understanding of it…it’s very concerning that there are children and families who are struggling to put food on their tables. [25:08]

Lauren Clarke is an exemplary leader and truly someone who is elevating her part of the world.

Download the transcript 

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Doing the Work: Michelle Kinder Leading From the Inside Out

Doing the Work: Michelle Kinder Leading From the Inside Out

Doing Her Work:  Michelle Kinder Leading From the Inside Out

Michelle Kinder is well-known in the domains of social-emotional learning, education and family counseling. She is also an authoritative voice in the discourses of leadership, stress, emotional health, trauma and parenting. Her increasing passion about historical and structural inequities has led her to make an important shift in her career, which we explore in depth in our conversation.  In the midst of her transition, Michelle has taken time to slow down and adjust her focus from striving to one of getting results with a sense of ease and groundedness.  This inside-out approach takes self-awareness, persistence and patience.  She talks honestly about her experience in this episode.

Season 1   |   Episode 7  |   October 1, 2019

Show Notes

If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

– Lilla Watson

Michelle Kinder is well-known in the domains of social-emotional learning, education and family counseling. She is also an authoritative voice in the discourses of leadership, stress, emotional health, trauma and parenting. Her increasing passion for the dynamics of historical and structural inequities has led her to make an important shift in her career, which we explore in-depth in our conversation. Michelle shares how growing up in Guatemala influenced her perspective on social issues and how this developed her capacity to innovate and problem-solve.  We hear her view on the destructive “us” and “them” narratives that often accompany outreach efforts and how cultural forces are counterproductive to our ability to be grounded and sensitive as individuals. We discuss the focus of Momentous Institute, her new partnership with the Stagen Leadership Academy, and her collaboration with Rex Miller, with whom she is co-authoring a book on the challenges of educators.  Michelle advises that, for us to be most effective in bringing about positive change, we need to do the required work of regulating our own nervous systems. She speaks frankly on her view about the responsibilities of the corporate and philanthropic worlds in establishing a more equitable society.


Shaped by her Upbringing

  • Growing up in Guatemala as a “third culture kid” shaped Michelle’s worldview and ability to innovate.
  • With parents who were missionaries and very service-oriented, she developed a deep knowing that “we belong to the community and that we’re here to serve and grow and learn”.
  • The value of exchanging the toxic “us” and “them” narratives for a genuine desire to solve problems with rather than for others.
  • A disappointing job search and a crucial positive experience at Momentous (note to hiring managers!) changed her trajectory.

How were you shaped by your upbringing?

  • There’s no getting out of being shaped by the environment of our childhood:  the where, when, and what are inextricably linked to who we are today.
  • What milestones stand out to you and what imprint was left?
  • Can you trace how your beliefs were formed?  What beliefs have changed?
  • What was normal to you then?  Is that still the case?
  • What links can you make from your upbringing to your life today?  Have you followed the path laid out for you or did you take a sharp turn somewhere?
  • Do you have a sense of what is next for you?  What is it?  What do you wonder about?


A Deeper Layer of Leadership Development

  • “What are the ways we can change our relationship with fear and stress and ego and show up in a more self-regulated/mutually regulated way?”
  • Michelle’s journey of shifting from striving to listening and surrendering, of calming and “clearing the vessel”.
  • There are many forces in our culture that pull us away from our grounded, sensitive selves.
  • We can become addicted, or at least very accustomed to an ‘air-traffic controller’ way of living and working.
  • There is often a need to reset our neurobiology and to build up a tolerance for the lack of activity, or busy-ness.
  • Becoming more conscious, more aware, positively affects the impact we’re able to make.

Practices for “regulating our nervous system”:

  • Mindfulness, meditation
  • Reflective Journaling
  • Guided body scan (try one of the many from Insight Timer). Becoming more familiar with where you hold stress raises your awareness of tightness in those areas.
  • Unplugging completely from: work, email, digital devices, social media.  Schedule periods of time daily. Prolonged periods that include full days or weeks can also be scheduled.
  • Regular exercise or movement
  • Consistent 7 – 9 hours of sleep
  • Time in nature. Read this Time magazine article on the benefits.
  • Eating whole, unprocessed foods
  • Regular checks for alignment with personal values


The Upstream of the Upstream

  • The importance of focusing on a community’s ability to create the spaces in which children can thrive.
  • There are historical structures that benefit certain groups while disabling others.
  • “How is my long straw connected to someone else’s short straw?”
  • The important role of the corporate and policy world in creating social change.
  • Can we honorably grapple with each other as we explore these questions?


Immediately Next for Michelle:

  • Speaking, writing, and workshops: contact her through
  • Designing and leading a 52-week, practice-based program for women leading social change via Stagen Leadership Academy.
  • Co-authoring a book with Rex Miller about “what looks like teacher disengagement is actually trauma and battle fatigue”.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • Michelle shared several important statistics from Momentous Institute’s research on the impact of their work with children of ages 3yrs old – 5th grade and their families. The focus on both academics and social-emotional health has had staggeringly positive results.
  • Watch Faith talk about the importance of breathing.

After listening to the interview and reading the notes, I wonder what your takeaway is?


Thanks for elevating your part of the world!


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