The People First Economy – Day 9

Mary-Frances Winters

John Mackey speaks on conscious capitalism, Mary-Francis Winters let’s us know we have a ways to go to become adapted to inclusivity, and Michael Gelb describes how to become a healing leader of healing organizations.

By Scott Steward

People-First Economy Online Summit ( A progressive economy menu for the reader to reflect on and choose from.  The speakers are mostly concerned with intentional inclusive economy that turns away from waste stream fossil fuel dependence. Here are the 3 speakers from Day 9.

Q&A with John Mackey. John is the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market which went public in 1992, employs over 100,000 people, has $15 billion in revenues and was purchased by Amazon in 2017.  John is a strong believer in free-market principles and co-author of Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

Those of us who have grown-up with the distortions of 1,000-to-1 executive-to-employee pay ratios and Citizens United recoil at “Mackeyesk” all-in pro capitalist mantras.  But this would be giving in to a monochromatic view that Mackey, who is not aligned with a neo-capitalistic winner-take all world view.  We find that Mackey is simplistic, but not a greed- guru as he talks with Raj Sisodia about Conscious Capitalism.

Conscious Captilalism relies on a higher-purpose to move innovators to build businesses that are better for everyone. “Businesses could do a better job if they become more conscious of their higher purpose.” “When they (business owners) really understand the interdependency of stakeholders, how we’re all in this together, they would be creating value for all the stakeholders.”

Mackey starts the talk off in a defensive posture as he knows much of the People-First audience is inclined to dismantle the current corporate structure (Day 8 speakers, Marjorie Kelly and John A Powell -for example).  Mackey feels it is necessary to explains that academics hate business and work to distort the truth about business’ society lifting achievements.  For John, the truth is that life on planet earth has never been better for most people and the statistic, that most people in the US don’t have enough in the bank to cover $500 in expenses, is false.

Don’t let Mackey’s utopian capitalist tendency, of his otherwise mostly benevolent intent, get to you.   The good that Mackey has done is notable with: Whole Planet Foundation (micro loans), Whole Kids Foundation (salad bars and gardens for kids) and  Global Animal Partnership (“better-than” ratings of organic livestock practices). For John, there nothing that capitalism can’t do.  His privileged bliss is not intended to be a counterpoint to People-First social justice advocates, and it’s not.

Mary-Frances Winters: “Bold, Inclusive Conversations: Combating Polarization with Authentic Dialogue.” Mary Frances is the CEO of The Winters Group, Inc., a 35-year-old global organization-development, diversity and inclusion consulting firm.

Mary-Francis Winters hopes that “each one of us will commit to live inclusively because our survival depends on it.”  In our well educated areas, it would seem we are inoculated into inclusivity. That would be incorrect. Most of us have stopped short of movement toward adoption (seeking out decision processes that actively include differences.) We are, in the majority, minimizers of difference.  Minimizing differences is progress; however, it puts the emphasis on what we have in common and fails to notice the steam roller effect of “one-size-fits-all” solutions that imply that lived experience don’t matter.

Winters’ presentation complements three previous speakers at the People First Online Economic Summit whose professions address the need for intentional conversation about diversity.  Winters too is making the point that “how we are received has everything to do with how we feel about the safety of our ideas and our willingness to bring our best selves to work.” Can we have this conversation?

Haven’t we covered this ground?  The answer depends on who you are asking.  More importantly even if we have diversity curriculum presented to us at school or work, is it happening in the home?  Adaption means, in diversity parlance, being active.  Who among us has made a commitment to “live inclusively” a commitment that Mary-Frances Winters defines as intentional exposure to differences.  Have you visited with ranchers or renters in urban neighborhoods?  Does this kind of intentional exposure sound daunting?  It does to me too and that’s a problem that tool makers and bridge builders like Winters address.

Mary-Francis’ bonus: Guide for Bold, Inclusive Conversations®

Michael J. Gelb: “How the Art of Connection Can Help You Become a Healing Leader.” Michael’s new book, co-authored with Professor Sisodia is “The Healing Organization: Awakening the Conscience of Business to Help Save the World,” was released on September 17, 2019

In 1982 Michael Gelb moved to Washington DC to teach creativity and innovation to government leaders and educators.  Neither would pay him any mind and what filled his open forums were entrepreneurs and business owners.  That is the audience that Gelb and Professor Sisodia have each culminated in their own way these past 40 years.

Much of Michael and Raj’s discussion revolved around the inspiration for their book “The Healing Organization.” Raj Sisodia: “There’s never been a better time to be born a human being. There’s never been a more perilous time for humanity than the one we face today.” Michael Gelb: “We’re born here (in the US with great advantages), but we need to be reborn now because we’re at an inflection point.” The Healing Organization describes the power of meaning that makes businesses “more resilient, more courageous, more transformative and more heroic than businesses that are just purely motivated by short-term financial returns.”

Michael starts off the talk with the seven relationship building skills: including: embracing humility, being a glowworm, unconditional positive regard, transcend fixation (practice where you are least inclined), balancing energy exchange (look for givers, matchers and avoid takers), being a rare listener and turning friction into momentum. If it looks trite, it is, and Michael embraces the characterization by quoting the French author and authenticity devotee, Andre Gide, “Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”

The world has caught up with Michael Gelb and the 360 degree point of view of business purpose. There will be many more whole systems business thought leaders to come as we square our shoulders and transform businesses into a regenerative systems allies.

Michael’s bonus: The 7 aspects of a healing leadership

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