San Francisco, Bay Area Chapter

We Choose Love

Authors:  The Board of Conscious Capitalism Bay Area

Many of our hearts are aching, for our friends, our loved ones, and all people who face fear and persecution. Divisive ideology has intensified violence and exploitation around the world. Radical separatist groups and movements, as seen in Charlottesville, are increasingly trying to defend the indefensible – with dehumanizing views of racism, sexism and homophobia.

Those of us who choose to bring consciousness to our work and lives have reached a critical moment. It is a time to have our voices heard, to come together and speak truth to power. It is time to decide who we will be in expressing the true heart of humanity, actualizing the potential of our species and planet. Now, more than ever, we must remember that we are all one family.

We are the board of Conscious Capitalism Bay Area. We wish to make known that we stand to build a world that works for all of us. A world that expresses the very best of who we are, what we are choosing to ​become ​​as a society; creating a world of freedom, harmony, prosperity, and compassion.

Separatism and hate have no place within this journey. We lovingly resist all efforts to drag our world backward. We invite you to ​engage and ​stand wholeheartedly together in peace with us and other conscious organizations as a united, unstoppable force of love, inclusiveness, and social justice.

Please share this email with all those who you feel would be served by this message.

This is our time. Choose love.


Exploring New Possibilities and Solving Complex Problems For Stakeholders Using Design Thinking

Authors:  Cathy Goerz and Leslie Lawton, Co-Chairs, CCBA Marketing and Communications.

Conscious Capitalism Bay Area hosted an interactive session on July 27 at the office of Hanson Bridgett in San Francisco. We gathered to explore how design thinking, a strategy for fostering innovation and creativity in companies, solves complex problems and how it can be woven into Stakeholder Orientation, one of the Four Tenets that guide and inspire the Conscious Capitalism movement.

Stakeholder Orientation serves as a guiding light for conscious organizations. A firm and unwavering commitment to it, throughout a business ecosystem, helps create and optimize value for all stakeholders. Stakeholder Orientation is underscored with the understanding that strong and engaged stakeholders lead to a sustainable and resilient business.

Knowing that consciously interacting with stakeholders reaps countless benefits, are there other ways an organization can create even more value for their stakeholders? What other human-centered actions can we take to unlock creativity, approach complex problems with fresh perspectives and catalyze transformation?

Justin Zacks and Saul Gurdus, the founders of Method Garage, a human-centered innovation company, answered these questions throughout the session and showed us how design thinking works and creates value for stakeholders.

Setting the Stage

Steve Havill, CCBA’s chapter chair, kicked off the evening and set the context for the session by expressing the purpose of the Conscious Capitalism movement. Simply put: “We are evolving humanity through business.” He added that the Four Tenets of Conscious Capitalism are “universal principles of doing good in business.”

Jess Peabody, Community Manager at Conscious Capitalism, Inc. then walked the participants through an exercise that helped participants identify the various stakeholders they interact with through their work. Some examples of stakeholders include employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, team members, community and the environment.

Applying Design Thinking to Working with Stakeholders

The energy in the room began to build as the evening’s main presenters, Justin Zacks and Saul Gurdus, stepped up. They use design thinking to solve what they call “mysterious problems” for companies. Their human-centered methodology puts empathy and imagination front and center. They showed us how to identify an organization’s stakeholders, and get deeply acquainted with what customers care about. The process leads to the development of product designs and customer experiences that come from new ways of thinking.  

Justin and Saul in their San Francisco office.

Beginning with a Story

Saul shared an amazing story about Doug Dietz to frame the evening and show how design thinking can bring meaningful innovation and value to all stakeholders. As a principal designer for GE Healthcare, Doug had just finished designing a cutting edge MRI machine. The design was his pride and joy, until he saw a seven-year-old patient approaching the machine, absolutely terrified and in tears. She was a primary stakeholder he hadn’t considered in the design of the MRI.  Watch Doug’s TEDx talk to hear his story and understand the empathy that inspired Doug and his team to begin a design thinking project that led to a whole new way of thinking about MRI scans for children.   

Building Creative Confidence

After Saul’s story, the time had come for Justin to take us through the design thinking process. The noise level in the room rose dramatically as event participants joined together in pairs to apply the methodology to problems they were trying to solve with their stakeholders. The purpose of the group exercise was to come up with  a creative idea, innovation or invention for your partner, relative to his or her stakeholder orientation. The exercise compressed the design thinking methodology into a very short time span.  

For instance, one team member wanted to have more human connection in his work selling large scale technology. This required speaking truth to his powerful C-level stakeholders. He felt he could bring his fascination with behavior and psychology to his customers (another group of stakeholders), working empathy and intuition into a less structured sales environment.  As his partner continued to ask questions, it looked like a career transformation was the best path for him to consider. Perhaps he could become a highly paid sales consultant to the kind of people he was working for and transform the way the technology sales process takes place.

If we were in a longer and more comprehensive half-day workshop,  on the subject of applying design thinking to stakeholder orientation, participants would have more time to explore and brainstorm solutions to stakeholder problems more thoroughly, potentially leading to a disruptive innovation or invention that would arise from following their hunches. At the very least, the process of working through problems could go deeper, thinking much bigger, and bringing more humanity to the exploration.

Here are the steps that Justin guided us through:

  1. HEAR A GREAT STORY. Listen to real stories from your stakeholder as it relates to the problem space. This is a deep inquiry and requires delving into all aspects of the problem and more importantly, the emotions of your stakeholder.
  2. INFER MEANING. Look for clues. What’s interesting, surprising, revealing, relative to the problem. What could it mean? Follow your hunches. Allow wonder, surprise, and intuition to be expressed. Ask what if? Make a leap of faith.
  3. FRAME A UNIQUE POINT-OF-VIEW.  Using the new found insight (hunch) of your stakeholder, frame a unique point of view on the problem at hand. One particular hunch suggests a certain kind of innovation. Another hunch might ask you to play with the problem quite differently.
  4. GET RADICAL.  Now’s the time for brainstorming. Let all your ideas fly. Go for volume. Don’t make judgments. Suspend disbelief. This is how innovation happens. Something will emerge that solves your stakeholders’ problems. Something brand new.
  5. BRING IT TO LIFE. Create a very low fidelity prototype of your top idea or concept that can be tested with your stakeholder. Use this prototype as a way to learn more about the problem and the potential solution with your stakeholder.

Not to make this sound simple or easy. It isn’t. Design thinking requires time, imagination, and a willingness to hang out when the answer eludes you for awhile. It will come. That’s the beauty of relaxing into collaboration and creativity. There are many aspects to this kind of human-centered problem-solving and innovation, including rapid prototyping and testing. Justin and Saul encouraged the group to approach any problem, or mystery, with an open, creative mindset.

When you apply conscious, human-centered exploration to engaging with your stakeholders, you will discover that you can create value for all of them, which leads to healthy profits and a thriving organization.  


How Higher Purpose Liberates Conscious Innovation in Business

Author: Mauricio Goldstein is a founding partner at Corall consulting in Sāo Paulo  Brazil. . He is an international speaker, specializing in innovative organizational models and a co-founder of the Conscious Capitalism chapter in Brazil.

Today we know that innovation enables companies to grow and be successful in their markets. In fact, it’s also one of the best ways to express your purpose in the world. Innovation is the essence of life. It’s the way to adapt to our environment as we  survive and thrive in changing contexts and conditions.  

In this post, I want to specifically explore how the tenet of  Higher Purpose can generate innovation.

Human beings are naturally innovative. We are motivated by passion and belonging   and, when offered a nourishing context and resources, we express our passion through creativity as a way to serve and improve our community. Creativity and innovation are natural human attributes and expressions of our consciousness.

Realizing this, we are led to the question “How do we create organizations that liberate this natural potential that we all have?”

How a Boldly Creative Purpose Comes to Life

The way we think, relate to others, learn and organize ourselves in a company either enhances or reduces the creative drive. When employees feel that a company has a bold purpose, their ideas are welcome, there is an environment of collaboration and trust. They believe they can experiment (and even make mistakes). Then they are willing to contribute and build something different together. It is as if there is a special energy in the air, a frequency that favors innovation.

The four tenets of Conscious Capitalism (Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Culture, and Conscious Leadership) are fundamental building blocks for promoting and sustaining the frequency of conscious innovation.

Purpose-centered organizations start with a founder and a dream. The dream expresses a cause and purpose  the founder is passionate about. If employees sense that the organization’s purpose is authentic, they will be attracted to the company and gather around the purpose, energized by the idea of bringing it to life. Customers will identify with the purpose as well and seek to experience it through the products and services. The community around the organization will see itself as a key component of the purpose and recognize its mutual benefits.

The organization’s purpose is the reason for its existence and the agent that brings it all together. By consistently communicating and activating its purpose, the organization can reach its goals and achieve success organically.

Growth Can Sometimes Compete With Purpose

As organizations grow, leadership can get too focused on operations or on short-term results and forget their reason for being. When that happens, leaders and employees lose energy. Innovation is stifled, and the organization loses its strength.

When this happens, it’s time to reconnect to the organization’s essence and purpose. This is what touches the minds, hearts and souls of team members and stimulates conscious innovation.

Keeping Purpose at the Heart of Innovation

It’s critical to stay committed to your purpose as the marketplace changes. Here are some practical steps to keep purpose at the heart of innovation in your organization:

1)   Consistently look at your work and make sure your purpose continues to show up and inspire people. If not, bring your stakeholders together to recover the purpose that has meaning and relevance to your area or institution.

2)   Design your organization to be more innovative starting with your purpose as your foundation

3)   Tune in to this creative frequency, and liberate the human potential of your employees.

4)   Be sure to  welcome different points-of-view from people at all levels of your company. New ideas don’t just come from your leadership.

5)   While marketplace volatility is challenging, it keeps you on your toes. Use your purpose as a guide to respond to market forces, and quickly.

While you’re at it, don’t worry, have fun, be happy!


Takeaways from HigherPurpose17: Creating Authentic Connection with Stakeholders

Takeaways from HigherPurpose17: Creating Authentic Connection with Stakeholders

Author Dalya Massachi,  of Writing to Make a Difference, attended HigherPurpose17 and shares the takeaways that she’s applying to her business.

I’ve  been involved with CCBA for several years now, and I wasn’t sure if I would benefit from HigherPurpose17.  The CCBA events I have attended in the past have given me a solid grounding in the principles and practices of Conscious Capitalism, socially responsible business, the triple bottom line (people, planet, profits) and even B Corporations. I wondered: Would there be any new information at HigherPurpose17 for me to learn?

It turns out, I’m so glad I attended the conference!

In addition to great networking opportunities (true of all CCBA events), there were two complementary sessions that really stood out for me. The first was a presentation by Christine Comaford, founder of the neuroscience-based Smart Tribes Institute. The second was a practicum session on one of the Four Tenets of Conscious Capitalism, Stakeholder Orientation, led by Cathy Goerz, Co-Chair of the CCBA Marketing & Communications Committee, and Ryan Baum, Principal of Jump Associates.

What I learned from Christine Comaford: Every person wants, needs and buys only 3 three things.

Christine shared that all humans crave social connection. We all want to cultivate a sense of being able to recognize each other as essentially the same at our core. We are all searching for three basic experiences:

  • Safety – feeling physically and emotionally safe so we can take risks and grow
  • Belonging – a sense of being an equal member of the tribe
  • Mattering – everyone contributes and is appreciated and acknowledged

These three needs vary in prominence at any given moment for each person. Sometimes we seek more of one feeling than another.

When we seek safety, belonging and mattering we are able to enter our “Smart State” – a state of being where we become connected and emotionally engaged and can perform well at work, at home and in life. This allows us to do our best work and create success in our jobs, families and relationships.

Christine Comaford, founder of the neuroscience-based Smart Tribes Institute


How can we satisfy these three basic human needs for the people we work with?

You probably have a client, colleague, co-worker or vendor who hungers for safety, belonging or mattering. As a leader, you can behave in ways and create environments that make them feel that they are safe, that they belong and that they matter.

In any given interaction, Christine suggests you ask yourself these questions:

  • What does this person desire most right now – safety, belonging or mattering?
  • What can I say and do to help them experience what they crave and then feel safe enough to shift into their “Smart State?”
  • How will they know when they have what they crave?

The answers to these questions can help both you and the other person move forward together, performing well and feeling connected.

The other standout session for me was the practicum on Stakeholder Orientation.

Here we’re simply talking about a way of doing business where everyone in the business ecosystem – employees, customers, partners, suppliers and the community –  wins. Businesses with a Stakeholder Orientation understand that fully engaged stakeholders lead to healthy, sustainable and resilient organizations.

I noticed how each stakeholder group has needs that are actually related to the safety, belonging and mattering experiences we all are seeking:

Customers want solutions, valuable experiences, convenience and alignment with a company’s purpose.

Team Members desire harmonious workplace relationships, professional development and values alignment.

Suppliers want reliability, consistency and partnership.

Investors are looking for a return on investment, company integrity and strength.

Communities seek positive relationships, investment by the company and pride.

The Environment requires stewardship and  sustainability.

How do you really understand where your stakeholders are coming from and what they need?

Cathy and Ryan had some suggestions:

  1. Be like Delta Airlines and make sure your executives know first-hand what it’s like to interact with your company’s stakeholders. (Think of the TV show “Undercover Boss.”) Only after a Delta senior executive posed as an employee did the company start to turn the corner and improve its standing in the industry.

Another airline, Southwest, empowers all of its employees to go above and beyond the call of duty to personally empathize with their customers. Both parties value that the company strives to embody its purpose: “To connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”

Well-connected Southwest customer. Photo © Rusty Blazenhoff.


2. Ask your stakeholders directly – and listen beyond the words – by conducting stakeholder surveys and interviews. You will learn a lot about the people themselves, their needs and values and how they interact with your business.  

3. Participate in community gatherings and efforts. Provide opportunities for your organization to volunteer or offer financial support to community initiatives. Not only are you interacting with the people and businesses in your greater community but you are also in a better position to network and empathize with the wider environment you do business in.

4. Try this exercise: Ask yourself if you can guess what kind of gift a particular stakeholder would like to receive. How well do you know this person and can you really empathize with their personal needs and wants? If you can’t think of a gift they would like it’s time to start asking them more questions and listening more deeply.

As I reflect on my experience at HigherPurpose17, I am already thinking about how my small business will benefit from a strong focus on satisfying the safety, belonging, and mattering needs of all its stakeholders. How about your business? What are you doing to inspire connection and trust?


Are Your Insights from HigherPurpose17 Still Uplifting?


Insights & Inquiries from Leslie Lawton, Marketing & Communications Co-Chair of Conscious Capitalism Bay Area.

HigherPurpose17 took place a month ago. Are you taking what you learned to heart?

We’ve been hearing from the people who attended the conference on February 28 and it’s clear that many of you are already experiencing positive changes. We’d love to hear more about that. Feel free to add your stories and experiences in the comments section below.

Frankly, I was blown away throughout the day. Being in the trenches with our team, I knew how much hard work went into creating an experience that so fully served and inspired our attendees. The speakers and panelists shared so much from their depth of experience, and they spoke so truthfully. The practicums just touched on the principles that guide our movement, and yet they were so powerful.

Anna McGrath & Anne Watson leading the Conscious Leadership Practicum.

Anna McGrath led the session on Conscious Leadership. And I’d like to walk out on the ledge and share an experience that has been part of my life every day since. This practicum was the highlight of the day for me. Anna is a co-founder of Conscious Capitalism Bay Area and a principal in WonderWorks Consulting. One of her clients, Anne Watson, is Human Resources Director of Wikia, the world’s largest entertainment fan site.

They talked about Presence, with a capital P.

How to be grounded, fully engaged, non-reactive and responsive in any situation. Now this is something I struggle with, and I know I’m not alone in this. I want to have a sense of ease, flow, and creativity, especially in business situations. And yet this is not my natural state.

Anna and Anne talked about how to really tune in to a conversation, how to understand and remember what’s being communicated. As opposed to listening for your turn to speak. Sound familiar?

Deep listening happens when you’re present.

There’s a higher level of communication that’s possible when you feel fully alive and connected. But how is that even possible? Especially if you’re aiming to be present most of the time. Anna knows a lot about human behavior and gave us a powerful tool to use. It shows you when and why you’re not present and how to get back there.  

So where are you if you’re not present?  On the Drama Triangle. This may be a familiar approach to you. I had run across it before, but I’d forgotten about it.

Here’s how Anna describes the experience, and how it takes us out of being fully present. Something happens. In a meeting, a conversation, an interview, on a call. You get thrown off, either due to your own psychology or someone else’s. You move into one of the points of the triangle: Villain, Victim or Hero.

The Victim. Just think of the times you’ve felt criticized, misunderstood. Or maybe you even go through life feeling helpless and powerless. We all have times when we feel like less than the whole and beautiful people we are.

The Villain (or Persecutor). Somebody does something you don’t like, and you feel tempted to strike out verbally. You’re not going to let them get away with that. You can teach them how to do things right. It’s that guy who cuts you off in traffic, right?  

The Hero (or Rescuer). You leap in to save somebody or a situation that absolutely requires rescuing, even though most people can take care of themselves. This is a very common interaction, one that is often praised in terms of care and selflessness.

We all move around into these different roles, depending on the circumstances. When you find yourself on the Drama Triangle, you’re probably feeling anxious and fearful. You’re not in your body; your breath is shallow; and you’re about as far from present as you can get.

So how do you shift back into presence?

It might take some reflection, depending on the situation, but Anna and Anne discussed some ideas and exercises that are also quite simple. One of them is belly breathing, breathing into your lower abdomen for about a minute. You can make the shift right there, in your meeting, on your call. The situation might also call for deep reflection. Begin with asking yourself what you want most? What is it you want to commit to?