• April 2013

Crews Control on Conscious Capitalism

By Andrea Keating

The idea of “Conscious Capitalism” has been buzzing around the news and business circles since Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey and marketing professor Rajendra Sisodia published their book on “Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business” earlier this year.

The basic premise is that “Conscious Capitalism” companies—such as Whole Foods Market, Southwest Airlines, Costco, Google, Patagonia, The Container Store, UPS, and dozens of others—are successful because they embrace four basic tenets to build strong businesses and help advance capitalism toward realizing its highest potential.

These tenets include having a higher purpose, understanding stakeholder integration, insisting on conscious leadership, and developing a conscious culture among employees that includes thoughtful, engaging management practices.

As most entrepreneurs know, these four tenants are the only way a small business can operate. After all, if our customers and our employees aren’t happy and their needs aren’t met—our businesses fail. Period.

So below is a description about how the team at Crews Control embraces each of the four tenants. Feel free to take a page from our playbook. After all, as Mackey writes in the book, “Conscious capitalism is a way of thinking about business that is more conscious of its higher purpose, its impacts on the world, and the relationships it has with its various constituents and stakeholders.”

Here’s to being conscious, and doing business well.

Tenet 1: Higher Purpose

According to John Mackey: “Business has a much broader positive impact on the world when it is based on a higher purpose that goes beyond only generating profits and creating shareholder value. Purpose is the reason a company exists. A compelling sense of higher purpose creates an extraordinary degree of engagement among all stakeholders and catalyzes creativity, innovation, and organizational commitment.”

The Crews Control way: Our higher purpose is to create a company that connects talented video crews with corporate producers at the Fortune 500 firms. It’s a win-win-win situation, because the corporate teams have access to the most skilled videographers around the world. The videographers win because they get booked on interesting jobs they might never have had the opportunity to work on, so we’re bringing them a whole new client base. And, it reduces the carbon footprint for corporations because rather than flying their own videographers to shoots around the country, or around the world, they use a crew that is located locally.

Tenet 2: Stakeholder Integration

According to John Mackey: “Stakeholders are all the entities that impact or are impacted by business. Conscious businesses recognize that each of their stakeholders is important and all are connected and interdependent, and that the business must seek to optimize value creation for all of them. All the stakeholders are motivated by a shared sense of purpose and core values. When conflicts and potential trade-offs arise between major stakeholders, conscious businesses engage the limitless power of human creativity to create win-win-win-win-win-win situations that transcend those conflicts and create a harmony of interests among the interdependent stakeholders.”

The Crews Control way: I look at my crews and clients as all being stakeholders in Crews Control. We optimize the value for corporations, who save up to 50 percent on travel costs by working with local crews on shoot sites rather than flying in their own crews. Our approach is so effective that for 25 years, our clients have repeatedly come back to us to book crews for their national and international shoots. In fact, my first client, Dave Leonard, who was Gannett and is now at the World Bank, is still a client.

Tenet 3: Conscious Leadership

According to John Mackey: “Conscious business requires conscious leadership. Conscious leaders are motivated primarily by service to the firm’s higher purpose and creating value for all stakeholders. They reject a zero-sum, trade-off-oriented view of business and look for creative, synergistic win-win-win approaches that deliver multiple kinds of value simultaneously.”

The Crews Control way: The best leadership lesson that I know of is to hire good people, and get out of their way. I focus on building a good company versus always feeding the bottom line. By doing that, we have built a successful company that is relevant and effective 25 years after we opened our doors.

Tenet 4: Conscious Culture and Management

According to John Mackey: “The culture of a conscious business is a source of great strength and stability for the firm, ensuring that its purpose and core values endure over time and through leadership transitions. Conscious cultures naturally evolve from the enterprise’s commitments to higher purpose, stakeholder interdependence, and conscious leadership. They usually share many traits, such as trust, accountability, transparency, integrity, loyalty, egalitarianism, fairness, personal growth, and love and care.”

The Crews Control way: As I mentioned, I believe in empowering and trusting the people I hire. Indeed, some of the first crews we booked when we started in 1988 are still working with us. We regularly get notes from crews who tell us that when the economy took a dip, the work we sent them helped them keep their business going. That’s a good feeling, and it’s especially important for businesses like ours since we’re not manufacturers—we’re a service company.

We have focused on building and sustaining strong, lasting, and healthy relationships. And that has always been our goal—to build relationships that last. It’s the key to our success.

About Andrea Keating and Crews Control

Andrea Keating founded the nation’s first film-and-video-crew staffing agency, Crews Control, in 1988. Since then, the company has become a multimillion-dollar international firm that provides video production crews and related services to the corporate media market.

With 250 of the global Fortune 500 companies as clients, and more than 2,000 video crews on its roster, Keating’s focus today is the same one that she launched the business with nearly 25 years ago: To match each client with the best local crew for each specific shoot.

A serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping new companies grow and develop, she has helped launch several businesses including the media staffing and production management firm, TeamPeople, and Scenios, where she sits on the board of directors.

She also sits on the board of advisors for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship in the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, which is her alma mater.