By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent magazine
“Working for Good exists to foster human flourishing by leveraging the power of business for the greater good,” says Jeff Klein, CEO of the conscious marketing-and-business-development company based just over the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, CA.
He is also the author of “Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living,” and its companion book, “It’s Just Good Business: The Emergence of Conscious Capitalism and the Practice of Working for Good.”
These two tomes describe the work he does as a trustee and member of the executive team of Conscious Capitalism, Inc., and the producer of the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit, which annually brings together about 150 leaders from around the world.
On April 5-6, 2013, Klein was the producer and master of ceremonies at the giant Conscious Capitalism Conference which was packed with more than 750 business leaders on Friday, April 5; and another 500 on Saturday, April 6, during the conference’s second day of intimate workshops.
Before he took center stage at the big event, Klein sat down with Be Inkandescent magazine to talk about his books, the conference, and the Conscious Capitalism movement.
- To download our Q&A as a podcast, click here.
- Scroll down to read our interview, and find some of our favorite bits of Klein’s latest book, It’s Just Good Business.
Be Inkandescent: Let’s start off by having you define Conscious Capitalism and how it applies to Working for Good.
Jeff Klein: First, Conscious Capitalism is an idea. We call it a philosophy and an approach to business. It is also an emerging global movement; you can say a paradigm, a community, and also an organization as you have referred to it. Conscious Capitalism is all of those things.
With respect to how to apply Conscious Capitalism in business, Conscious Capitalism co-founder Raj Sisodia defined its four tenets: higher purpose, a stakeholder orientation, conscious leadership, and conscious culture. They work when you recognize that every business has a purpose beyond the financial. If you recognize what that purpose is and align to it, it creates a more vibrant, engaging business. If you really think about it, the foundation of business is human.
Business is people coming together to do something together, for themselves, for each other, and for others. All businesses have a purpose beyond making money; they have a purpose of serving the human beings involved and the human beings they serve in some way. It is just a form of human social organization.
Be Inkandescent: Building from that, the second principle is stakeholder orientation. Can you explain that tenet?
Jeff Klein: If you recognize that a business exists for more than just making money, then you realize it has relationships to various stakeholders or constituencies, not just to owners or shareholders. For instance, small businesses really know this because if they don’t take care of the customers, there is no business.
Secondly, if the employees or team members, the people who are creating the product or delivering the service, are not engaged—no employees, no business. Similar to vendors, if you have suppliers or people who are providing you with raw materials or the goods that you sell or transform into something else, but you don’t treat them well by payment or engaging with them—they will go to people who do treat them better. Then you’re in trouble. If you have investors and communities in which you do business, if you antagonize the communities—get out of here.
Business is like an ecosystem in that the whole system needs to be healthy or the system is weak. If you create value while engaging with all of the stakeholders, then you will have a healthier and more vibrant system, which is more resilient and sustainable over time.
Be Inkandescent: And to do that, you need a certain type of leadership, right?
Jeff Klein: Yes. It is leaders who recognize that it is not, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” but it is all. I am here as a visionary and a person who is taking this pack and pointing the way and making sure that we are staying true to each other. Also, recognizing that we are here to serve each other, our stakeholders, and ourselves. Leaders create the model for the rest of their team, and really, the conscious culture where everybody inside the business and ideal throughout the whole ecosystem share the sense of purpose.
Be Inkandescent: Talk a little bit about how “Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living” relates to Conscious Capitalism.
Jeff Klein: The idea in “Making a Difference While Making a Living” is that the process is the product. What I mean by that is coming back to this interconnectedness of the ecosystem. Ultimately, we are human beings doing things with and for each other and ourselves. How we treat each other and ourselves in the context of our work and business is essential.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re going to burn out; you are then irritable and short with others. Care for yourself and then you can care for others. If you care for others, they care back for and about you. If you do that throughout your whole ecosystem, then you’ve got a web of relationships built on love, care, respect, and trust. Those relationships are the ones that endure over time. Really, Working for Good is the orientation toward how we are showing up in our work and businesses while cultivating the skills to be able to show up and be more open, more connected, and more conscious.
Be Inkandescent: Now let’s talk about “It’s Just Good Business.” In it, you quote Lucille Ball, who said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Talk about caring for yourself and the importance of it.
Jeff Klein: This is a big one for me. I am a full-time single father, have been for six and a half years. My daughter is now 14 and a half. I am involved in the Conscious Capitalism movement and produce all of the events as well as marketing and business development for Conscious Capitalism. I also run a project called Being Human, which is another large event, and I have my books as well. I have a full plate.
Taking care of myself is as important as anything else. I do something called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu four hours a week, I surf as much as I can, which fortunately in the last week has been eight out of the nine days. I have a dog, I take the dog for a walk in the morning, and I take naps. I don’t sleep super long, but I’ll take a five minute nap or longer, four or five times a week. It is just taking the pause or hitting the reset button. I also eat really well. I am not a fanatic, but I have a very clean diet.
Be Inkandescent: What inspires you to do this?
Jeff Klein: Well, I do this for many reasons. One, I feel better and I know I can show up with a high quality presence. Also more sustainable, I rarely get sick. When you can care for yourself and show up and be present with what ever is, you can show up and care for other people more than if you’re not taking care of yourself. Especially if you’re in a leadership position, if you are modeling the behavior of taking care of yourself, then it passes on to others.
Again if you take care of yourself, it is easier to take care of others, as Lucille Ball says. And when you take care of others, they then feel what it feels like. They care for you and feel better for you. They also have more of a capacity to care for others around them.
I was a “pusher” for decade; I pushed myself, I pushed anything I was doing. I learned that taking space, pausing, keeping perspective is the speeding up by slowing down. Taking the space and time to care for yourself and reflect lets everything get clearer and gives you more energy. Appropriate pacing and appropriate effort for the tasks done doesn’t get done faster if you just keep going because there is so much to do. Actually taking a pause and assessing is so much more effective than blindly keeping going because you have to keep going.
Be Inkandescent: It sounds like you are the change you want to see in the world. Isn’t that really a part of the Conscious Capitalism movement?
Jeff Klein: I think that is a part of the conscious human movement. Conscious Capitalism at its foundation is human beings. Ed Freeman, one of the intellectual authors of the theory and practice of Conscious Capitalism, said that, “Capitalism is the greatest form of human social cooperation ever created.”
Capitalism is a system that has evolved over a millennium. You can say it is the first seed saver. The first people who said, “Huh, if we save these seeds and then plant them when spring comes” or whatever language they said that in, “then we will know where the food is. We won’t have to run around and look for the food, we will know it is right where we planted the seeds.”
They did that and it worked. They saved more seeds and out of that then you have more fields and so on. If you think about it—that whole process of creating wealth, seeds, money, knowledge, relationships—there are lots of kinds of wealth that are created through capitalism and exchange.
Be Inkandescent: That process has been going on for thousands of years.
Jeff Klein: It has, and it just evolved as our technology, thinking, and science has become more complex. Now we have this system that is global. There are nearly seven billion people who are all connected in some way through global capitalism. The best part is that no one is in control. It is happening almost magically. The point is that there is an incredible system of interconnectedness and within that we all play our part. We find the little thing that we do that turns us on and that others find value in and will exchange value for in return.
Be Inkandescent: Lets talk more about the Conscious Capitalism conference.
Jeff Klein: This was the first time that we have presented the whole story in one place and in an integrative way and with these characters. We designed and staged it like a theatrical presentation where it is a story coming to life over the course of the day. It was meant to be entertaining, inspiring, stimulating, and there will be audience interaction. It is a simple concept, yet it is complex and deep and it’s not a fantasy, but very real and alive in thousands of businesses all over the world. Ultimately, we intend to support people to deepen their practical understanding of Conscious Capitalism and to learn tools and skills that they can apply literally Monday morning and for the rest of their lives.
Be Inkandescent: What is your goal with all of this work that you are doing, and what is next for you and what do you hope to accomplish with your career?
Jeff Klein: About 30-something years ago, I heard a call that said that my job, should I choose to accept it, was “to leverage the power of business for the greater good. In the process, your work will be a path of learning growth and development for you.” I didn’t exactly know what that meant at the time, but it sounded as good as anything else. I didn’t know where it would lead, but this is my purpose and my passion. It takes various forms: Conscious Capitalism, being human, “Working for Good,” and “It’s Just Good Business.”
I will be doing more of the same only higher and deeper so to speak. We’ve got the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit in the fall, and I am expecting we will do Conscious Capitalism 2014 something like this year’s but different. I am always open to what reveals itself because this is an emerging process just as our lives are emerging. Tomorrow is different from today, and this one is definitely blossoming. I am just lucky that I get to keep gardening and eating the fruit.
Be Inkandescent: Thank you, Jeff. We wish you all the best. And we’ll close with information for our readers on your book—which is a great primer for anyone who wants to learn about the Conscious Capitalism movement.
Underlying beliefs of Jeff Klein’s, “It’s Just Good Business: The Emergence of Conscious Capitalism & The Practice of Working for Good
- Life wants to live. Human beings, like all life forms, are driven to survive, propagate, and perpetuate.
- Movement for improvement. We prefer well-being and flourishing over illness, pain, and misery. We are naturally driven to improve our circumstances.
- We’re part of nature, and it’s all one. Life is an ecosystem of interconnected, interrelated, and interdependent elements … and that includes us.
- All for one and one for all. Human beings are social organisms and depend on others to survive, propagate, and flourish.
- Use everything we’ve got. Our capacities for sensing, feeling, thinking, and reflecting are all essential to our survival and well-being.
- Living organisms and natural systems adapt to changing circumstances. As we recognize the life threatening implications for our actions, we learn and develop new approaches and capacities to facilitate our ongoing survival and advancement.
To learn more, visit www.workingforgood.com.