The People-First Economy, Day 5 – Purpose and Belonging


by Scott Steward

People-First Economy Online Summit ( A menu of speakers for the reader to reflect on and choose from. The online seminar is now only accessible through subscription.  The speakers are mostly concerned with intentional inclusive economy that turns away from waste stream fossil fuel dependence.

Camille Canon + Derek Razo “Rethinking Ownership for Long-Term Mission-Alignment and Independence:” Camille Canon is an entrepreneur who has founded and led startups in tech and real estate development and community building. Derek Razo is an entrepreneur and technologist with a passion for social change. Derek and Camille are co-founders at Purpose Network.

Derek starts by restating a theme of this seminar, that business as usual has exceeded our planetary boundaries. He explains that profit maximization will lead, even the best intended companies, toward mission drift.  Capital infusion can mean loss of control of purpose. Mission driven entrepreneurs have been presented with a dilemma when it comes to getting more capital and developing their exit options. Purpose Network provides corporate structure planning that addresses these flaws.  The solution lies in changing how businesses are owned, controlled and capitalized.

Purpose Network helps set up the legal structure for mission-driven stakeholders and leads companies to innovative financing and purposed ownership.  “We have found that steward-owned companies are better for business, employees and the environment.”  Steward-owned companies are self-governed by the people actively engaged in the business. Steward-owned companies profits are reinvested, distributed to stakeholders or donated. Bosch GmbH is a good example.

I found Derek and Camille’s content challenging and, more important, valuable.  Steward-ownership is an accessible and substantial way to re-purpose an otherwise demonstratively destructive invention – the corporation.  The process of changing a corporate structure is not a process of instant gratification. However, those looking for a real game changer can anticipate a good deal of demand for Purpose Network type corporate structural guidance. “Eighty percent of small businesses are owned by baby boomers, so we are in the middle of the biggest … capital ownership transfer, in the history of our species.” Many small family businesses don’t have heirs and will be acquired and dismantled by private equity and asset manager if their founders do not seek a better alternative

Steward-ownership company partners have emerged within regional economic development agencies, evergreen – long-term asset holdings, and tax management strategy firms.  The steward corporate structure has many variations and it will become an even more substantial part of a successful people first economy. Derek and Camille’s bonus: “Steward-Ownership: Rethinking Ownership in the 21st Century

Charles Vogl: “Creating Belonging Culture in Your Organization” Charles Vogl supports leaders in technology, finance, and government to grow more effective in creating change. Charles is a divinity trained professional and recipient of Amnesty International’s prestigious “Movies That Matter” award.  We find Charles in SF/Silicon Valley and ask ourselves how has he made sense of the region’s executive rationalizations of mass marketing and wealth concentration?  This question does not sort itself out in his talk.

Before we hear about belonging we go to the opposite as Charles, with unflinching compassion, takes us through the facts about the growing isolation and the growing epidemic of loneliness in the Unites States. Knowing all employees are part of this trend, employers are working to create belonging organizations. Keeping talent is tied to being able to create authentic community: where people know one another, care about each other and know each other’s goals.  Belonging takes time and it takes intentional effort, effort that can be undermined by commercial intent. Successful community building depends on the unassuming creation of safe space, a place where it is possible for people to share something in common about themselves.

Charles knows safe places are scarce and so does his interviewer, Dr. Tiffany Jana. The two pause to recognize that safe spaces are not easily found these days. The extent to which we have a shortage of public safe places, and other real world experiences, compels Charles to declare we are not in a situation where he expect to see the solutions, to the largest problems anytime soon. Not having easy access to safety and belonging is such a problem.  Charles and Tiffany agree to find comradery and solace in the struggle regardless.

Safe spaces are needed to build community. Do we not have an obligation to build community in every part of humanity, including with gaming executives?  We do. And perhaps this is where Charles inserts himself into the contradiction between creating belonging and (some would call) sociopathic behaviors, of 150 million unique Twitch kill-or-be-killed online avatar viewers. (Gaming is not the only medium where content has gone off the rails.) There are extremes within any community, but this was the first I had heard of the SWAT prank and the fatal results between Twitch participants of falsely accusing a real person of holding hostage a kidnap victim at that person’s home. The very real SWAT team does not guess and you would not have a clue to keep your hands up – it could happen and it has happened.

Harley Davidson, Airbnb, Twitch and other mass marketers are going to be here for a while longer, maybe a long while.  Maybe they want to dive into creating healthy community. They certainly want community for their margins and for their very survival. They know that belonging builds community and building a community can be manufactured by following a well understood course of actions, some as old as 3,000 years.  In all of that time it has been how and for what purpose we use community building that has made all the difference.  Charles’ bonus “The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging excerpt”

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