#SWAAYthenarrative
6 Min Read
Business

When we think about being "conscious" anything, it's easy to fall into the subject of new age spirituality or just focus on leading a conscious lifestyle through regular yoga sessions, composting, and keeping chickens in the backyard. All of these things are great (when aligned with our personal values), and these actions can enhance our day-to-day lives and inspire others to do the same

But when it comes to the world of business, can the word "conscious" not only play a role, but also help professionals and entrepreneurs alike thrive?

Conscious capitalism is thinking bigger than the bottom line. This approach to business means that money isn't the only goal for the company (gasp!). Yes, money enables a company to keep the lights on, but conscious capitalism is about making ethical decisions that positively impacts the entire ecosystem surrounding the company.The ecosystem is made up of employees, vendors, customers, investors, and the environment. This means investing in the growth of employees and vendors, delivering an outstanding customer experience all the while taking into consideration the company's impact on the environment. Conscious capitalism is becoming committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

A business's true purpose is to add value and when we combine that with leading through strong ethics the positive impact we can have outweighs a linear focus of solely making money.

The people in and around our companies matter. The goal of conscious capitalism is to create win-win-win scenarios as John Mackey the former Co-CEO of Whole Foods and Raj Sisodia, a business professor outline in their book, "Conscious Capitalism, Liberating The Heroic Spirit of Business." They speak to research showing that when a company takes this expanded conscious perspective it makes more money than profit-focused companies. This might seem counterintuitive to take the focus solely off the bottom line, but when we can pull our heads up and look at the 10,000 foot view, we can actually have a much greater impact for the betterment of everyone. Without this self-awareness, many businesses may be negatively creating impact without even realizing it.

My company, for example, is a Certified Benefit Company for Good. Think of this as a "mini B-Corp." This structure allows me to build a company based on values that serves people, the planet and, the bottom line. This has not only helped me better frame my vision for the company but it enables me to inspire others to take part in building something that is bigger than just me.

Not only do I live by the idea of conscious capitalism for my business, but I encourage all the clients through my one-on-one work or when teaching through my course to do the same. You don't have to be a certified B-Corp to embody a conscious capitalist framework within your company. When a company is rooted in its core values and purpose, the path forward becomes clear.

Just as we can choose to lead value-driven lifestyles, we can choose to build a values-led company. With a clear mission and vision, a company can become less focused on the transactions and instead focus on delivering value both internally and externally, for the benefit of the whole ecosystem, which then enables the business to thrive.

Why should this matter to you?

By holding the professional space accountable to become more intentional, mindful, and committed to taking care of the people impacted by our businesses, along with the environment, we all can feel more supported in our roles and our businesses make more money. It really is a win-win scenario.

So how can we start to build this framework? It starts by getting clear on your company's purpose and core values. When you have clarity on how you add value to customers and employees alike, you will make stronger decisions that are aligned with your bigger vision and spend less time getting distracted by shiny objects.

Conscious capitalism is thinking bigger than the bottom line.

When you have your core values defined, they act like GPS directions helping to guide you to your next step. For example, when you come to a fork in the road and are presented with two options it will become more clear which way to go. If one of your core values is to "deliver outstanding results," but you are hurrying to push a new free download on your website that doesn't really deliver outstanding results for the consumer, then you are going to know to take the path that allows you to build a free download that does deliver results or perhaps you decide not to do it at all. Again, having clear core brand values will help you choose the most aligned route each time.

From an internal human capital perspective, having clear values empowers you to hire employee candidates and vendors who share the same values which enhances the standard of business and drives the overall impact. From a consumer perspective, understanding that a purchase of a product or service not only improves their lives, but those who work for the company and the environment builds a sense of community around the brand and strengthens these relationships with integrity.

Why The World is Moving this way:

The pandemic has shown us how fragile our current capitalist system really is. Even in the last few months, mother earth has shown how she needed a rest. "The Great Pause" has seen dolphins swimming in the Venice canals and reduced pollution.

A business's true purpose is to add value and when we combine that with leading through strong ethics the positive impact we can have outweighs a linear focus of solely making money.

Mobilizing your brand to build conscious capitalism into the fabric of the company requires aligning everyone towards the same vision anchored in values that live and breath throughout the organization. It also requires constantly reiterating this goal and shared desired impact. The best way to continue to inspire the team is to tell stories by painting a clear picture for what it will look like, feel like, taste like, and the tangible changes required to keep taking strides forward.

Just as we can choose to lead value-driven lifestyles, we can choose to build a values-led company.

Being a conscious business leader means leading with your purpose and being focused on adding value first and trusting that the money will follow. It's about leading with empathy and clarity to build a sustainable community around the brand that can support the company through both the good times and the tougher times.

The world is moving towards a more sustainable future as we've seen the pandemic and civil rights movement highlight the need for real fundamental change. Not only from a supply chain perspective such as having less dependence on other countries for manufacturing but also from an environmental and human equality perspective.

So, what's the answer to my earlier question... But when it comes to the world of business, can the word "conscious" not only play a role, but also help professionals and entrepreneurs alike thrive? The answer is a resound, "YES!" A conscious-driven business can not only thrive but this larger and more intentional way of conducting business is the only to enhance the lives for everyone.

Can you imagine a world we live in where businesses think more holistically and consciously? I think it's time, and I'll continue to do my part to make this future our reality from my own corner of the world.

5 min read
Self

Lessons Learned and the Power of Turning 50

Except for 16, I have celebrated all of my milestone birthdays in New York City.

I turned 16 in Arnold, Missouri. Arnold is a small town (though not small anymore) 20 miles south of St. Louis. St. Louis is known for the Gateway Arch, a beautiful arch of shiny stainless steel, built by the National Parks Service in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's vision of a transcontinental U.S. St. Louis is also known for its custard, a frozen dessert that is so thick, they hand it to you upside down with a spoon inside. Something else about St. Louis you should know is that there is a courthouse just steps from the base of the Gateway Arch where one of the most important cases in history was tried: Dred Scott v. Sanford.

I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive.

Mr. Scott was born into enslavement around 1799 and, in 1830, was sold to a military surgeon who traveled back and forth between his military posts in Illinois and Wisconsin, where slavery was prohibited under the Missouri Compromise of 1820. In 1842 the doctor and Mr. Scott both married, and they, all four, returned to St. Louis. Still enslaved, Dred Scott filed a lawsuit against the doctor's wife for his and his wife Harriet's freedom. We don't know exactly why he chose this moment in time to file a lawsuit, however, he did. At the time of filing his, now, famous lawsuit, he was 50 years old. Ultimately, The Scott family did not gain their freedom, but their profound courage in filling this case helped ignite the Civil War and what we would come to know (or think we know) as freedom from enslavement for all human beings. Powerful then and even more powerful now.

My next milestone was turning 21, and I did it in the Big Apple. Having only moved to "the city that never sleeps" a few months prior, I knew nobody except my new friends, the bus-boys from the restaurant I was working at, Patzo's on the Upper West Side. And, yes, pazzo is actually the correct spelling of the Italian word, which translates to "crazy." Trust me we all had several laughs about the misspelling and the definition going hand in hand. I worked a full shift, closing out at around 11 PM, when, my kitchen team came out from the line with a cake singing, "Cumpleaños Feliz." It was fantastic. And the kindness of these almost-strangers was a powerful reminder of connection then as it still is today almost 29 years later.

I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy.

When I turned 30, I had just finished a European tour with Lucinda Childs dance company. The company had been on tour for months together and were inseparable. We traveled through Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, and Rome. We ate together, we rode on a bus together, we had drinks after shows together, and we even took turns giving company class to get warmed up before a show. It was deeply meaningful and dreamy. We ended the tour back in New York City at BAM, The Brooklyn Academy of Music. It was an incredible way to end the tour, by being on our home court, not to mention I was having an important birthday at the culmination of this already incredible experience.

So, when I invited everyone to join me at Chelsea Pier's Sky Rink to ice skate in late August, I was schooled really quickly that "tour" does not mean you are friends in real life, it means you are tour friends. When the tour ends, so does the relationship. I skated a few laps and then went home. This was a beautiful lesson learned about who your real friends are; it was powerful then as it is today.

Turning 40 was a completely different experience. I was in a serious relationship with my now-husband, Joe. I had just come off of a successful one-woman dance show that I produced, choreographed, and danced in, I had just choreographed a feature film, John Turturro's Romance and Cigarettes, with A-list actors, including Kate Winslet and James Gandolfini, who became a dear friend and had even been on the red carpet with Susan Sarandon at the Venice Film Festival for the movie a year earlier.

And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age.

This was a very special birthday, and I had, in those 10 years between 30 and 40, come to cultivate very real friendships with some wonderful colleagues. We all celebrated at a local Italian restaurant, Etcetera Etcetera (who is delivering for those of you in NYC — we order weekly to support them during COVID), a staple in the theater district. Joe and I were (and are) regulars and, of course, wanted to celebrate my 40th with our restaurant family and friends. We were upstairs in the private room, and it was really lovely. Many of those in attendance are no longer with us, including Joe's Dad, Bob Ricci, and my dear friend Jim Gandolfini having transitioned to the other side. Currently, that restaurant is holding on by a thread of loving neighbors and regulars like us. Life is precious. Powerful then and today even more so.

I write this article because I'm turning 50, still in New York City. However, I'm turning 50 during what I define as a miraculous time to be alive. And I could not be more filled with hope, love, possibility, and power. This year has included an impeachment hearing, a global pandemic, and global protests that are finally giving a larger platform to the Black Lives Matter movement. Being able to fully embody who I am as a woman, a 50-year-old woman who is living fully in purpose, takes the cake, the rink, and the party.

I'm making movies about conversations around race. I've been happily married for 11 years to the love of my life, Joe Ricci. I'm amplifying and elevating the voices of those who have not previously had a platform for speaking out. I choose who to spend time with and how long! I design the life I desire and the Universe creates it for me every day. I show up, keep the story moving, and work hard because I am relentlessly devoted to making the world a better place and this is how I choose to leave my legacy. Being 50 is one of the most amazing things I ever thought I could experience. And I encourage all women to identify their power and choose to be fully in your power at any age. I'm 50 and powerful. Dred Scott was 50 and powerful. This powerful lesson is for today and tomorrow. We have the power. No matter what age you are, I invite you to use your powerful voice to join me in making the world a better place.