How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives

A CEO’S PRACTICE OF CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM

“The coolest part,” writes The Container Store founder Kip Tindell in his book Uncontainable, “is when you’re doing a performance review and give an employee a much bigger raise than she was expecting. She starts crying, you start crying, and the magic spreads across the company, and out into the world.” This short passage about compensation reflects the heart of Tindell’s philosophy of “conscious capitalism” in which the best way to make money is to do the right thing by employees, customers and the community.

Tindell’s authenticity and generosity are shown through his use of words that are rarely, if ever, found in any business book. Words such as “yummy,” which is used as the core description of the company’s culture and environment. “I know, chief executives don’t often use words like ‘yummy’ when talking about their companies,” Tindell writes. “But it’s a word we use all the time around here. When folks ask, “What do you mean by ‘yummy’?” I say, well, it’s the opposite of yucky.” He goes on to explain that “yummy” is “the deeply pleasurable sensation employees and customers get the moment they walk through the doors into our store.”

How do you translate a concept such as “yumminess” into a business model and real-world business practices? The answer, according to Tindell, is found in The Container Store’s Foundation Principles. What stands out in these principles is the unwavering and unapologetic embrace of being kind, generous and even sentimental, of believing that there is good in everyone and that by building on that good, you create a money-making venture. Uncontainable is a respectful (Tindell believes in not saying anything if you can’t say anything kind) but firm rejection of Jack Welch and Milton Friedman.

The Seven Principles are:

1 Great Person = 3 Good People. The Container Store does everything it can to hire the best people, including compensating them at significantly higher rates than the average in retail. With his company consistently chosen as a Best Place to Work in America and boasting a turnover rate of 10 percent (the retail industry average is 100 percent), Tindell proves that his company is filled with truly great people.

Fill the Other Guy’s Basket to the Brim. Making Money Then Becomes an Easy Proposition. This principle is reflected, for example, in the company’s win-win relationships with suppliers, who are treated as partners. In fact, Tindell writes, good relationships with suppliers are win-win-win relationships because the customer also wins.

Man in the Desert Selling. Don’t just give the man in the desert a glass of water. Tend to all of his needs. Don’t sell a box. Sell solutions to the customer’s living needs.

Communication IS Leadership. The Container Store practices open-book management (with the exception of individual salaries). Open communication, Tindell explains, “is a crucial part of our commitment in valuing one another and making sure we all feel appreciated, included, safe, secure and empowered.”

The Best Selection, Service and Price. Most business will not attempt to achieve all three. “We work to hit the Triple Crown every day,” writes Tindell.

Intuition Does Not Come to an Unprepared Mind. You Need to Train Before It Happens. The average length of training in the retail industry is eight hours. In their first year, employees of The Container Store receive 300 hours of training — and the training continues throughout their career.

Air of Excitement! When greeted by enthusiastic employees genuinely interested in helping customers resolve their organizing needs, those customers become just as enthusiastic, Tindell explains.

Conscious capitalism is not always an easy sell, despite the do-good sentiment expressed in every form of corporate communication that emerges from a company’s PR machine. If there is a core lesson from Uncontainable, it is that truly conscious capitalism exists only if the CEO leads with his or her heart.

Maybe most CEOs will never be comfortable using words such as “yummy” or sharing the tears of pleasure that come with a raise. Not all CEOs can be Kip Tindell — but after reading this book, you’ll almost wish they could.

Next Week – The Latest in Leadership

Next week, for Soundview Live webinars, we are privileged to have join us two teams of leadership experts. On February 3rd we’re hosting Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain, authors of The Hidden Leader, and on February 5th we’re hosting Bob and Gregg Vanourek, authors of Triple Crown Leadership.

Discovering and Developing Greatness
In this Soundview Live webinar, Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain cast a fresh eye on what it means to be a leader, with insights on how to locate and nurture the people who take initiative, act courageously, and get the job done right. These are hidden leaders whose everyday performances deliver the competitive advantage you need.

Triple Crown Leadership
In this Soundview Live webinar, Bob and Gregg Vanourek provide compelling leadership practices for building organizations that are excellent (achieve exceptional performance), ethical (do the right thing), and enduring (stand the test of time).

This is a great opportunity to bring together your leaders, and soon to be leaders, to hear the latest leadership principles. You will be able to ask your questions of the speakers during each session. These two webinars are sure to arouse some great questions about leadership and provide your staff with insight into their own potential.

As always, subscriber attend all Soundview Live webinars free as part of their subscription. But even if you’re not a subscriber, you’re welcome to attend for just $49 per session. For the price of two webinars you could also subscribe and get a full year of weekly webinars free.

Book Review: Becoming Your Best

Becoming_Your_Best

by Steven Shallenberger

With the high demands and pressures in today’s workplace, it seems you have to sacrifice your personal life for your job. However, Steven Shallenberger, states that as a leader you can succeed in business and live a happy life at the same time. In Becoming Your Best, Shallenberger reveals the 12 principles for developing a culture of excellence within your organization. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

In each chapter, Shallenberger explains the 12 principles in detail. Of the 12, the first principle “Be True to Your Character” refers to having a strong character. “It is best to be strong in the initial moment of choice, but if you blow it, you will often have an opportunity to make a correction. We all have moments of weakness and poor judgment, but the ability to self-correct is critical if we want to build a strong character and a life of fulfillment and meaning,” writes Shallenberger. These principles will help you reach your highest potential and drive the kind of innovation that turns good companies into industry leaders, all while living a well-balanced personal life.

The group of 12 principles is the common denominators that all successful leaders possess. Becoming Your Best will give you the knowledge and tools to not only improve your life as a leader, but the lives of your employees as well.

Three New Summaries to Lead Better

Leaders help themselves and their teams to do the right things. However, sometimes leaders need to re-think their vision or processes to improve their organizations. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go as a team or an organization to be successful. Learn how to be a better leader by developing a culture of excellence within your organization, asking the right questions, and becoming a strategic thinker to “win” with these three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries.

Becoming_Your_Best

by Steven Shallenberger

Becoming Your Best by Steven Shallenberger. In Becoming Your Best, Steven Shallenberger, states that as a leader you can succeed in business and live a happy life at the same time. Shallenberger reveals the 12 principles for developing a culture of excellence within your organization. These principles will help you reach your highest potential and drive the kind of innovation that turns good companies into industry leaders, all while living a well-balanced personal life.

 

 

Good_Leaders_Ask_Great_Questions

by John C. Maxwell

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell. To learn and grow into a successful leader, you need to yourself and your teams question, but the key is asking the right questions. John C. Maxwell presents the process of becoming a successful leader by examining how questions can be used to advantage, in Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. Maxwell shares leadership questions he has gathered from others and from his own experience that will inspire both seasoned leaders and new leaders to ask great questions to improve their leadership skills and careers.

 

Game_Changer

by David McAdams

Game-Changer by David McAdams. You can turn defeats into wins, if you have the vision to “change the game”. In Game-Changer, David McAdams uses game theory to out-strategize your rivals. McAdams discloses six basic ways to change games: commitment, regulation, cartelization, retaliation, trust and relationships. By learning to be a deeper strategic thinker, you’ll be able to “change the game” to plot business tactics and gain insights for your advantage.

Four Thoughts to Chart Your Course in 2015

Soundview Author Insight Interviews are great additions to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries. In each interview, authors have the opportunity to reveal new interpretations or insights on their material. Soundview subscribers are often provided with exclusive insights drawn from the author’s direct application of his or her work with global companies.

Here are four great thoughts to consider as you chart your organization’s course for this year:

“If someone says ‘You’ve got to close the deal more efficiently,’ that could mean completely different things. The first task when you’re receiving feedback is to notice how general a lot of the feedback is. If someone says ‘close the deal more efficiently’ or ‘be more assertive,” rather than filling it in on your own, you’ve got to ask. You have to follow up and say, ‘Okay, so, you’re noticing that I’m not being as assertive as you think I could be. Can you go into some more detail? Give me a sense of what you’ve noticed me doing. What could I do that would be better from your point of view?’” – Douglas Stone, co-author (with Sheila Heen) of Thanks for the Feedback.

“What happens is that many successful people fall into the success trap. The trap is they believe success is a permanent condition, as if you’ve arrived and you’ll always be there. The reality is that success happens in the context of many external factors. Today, those factors are changing at a rate like none other in history. What happens is that if we believe that we’ve arrived and we can simply cling to the previous ideas and maintain the status quo and expect to enjoy the same level of success, we’re only kidding ourselves and setting ourselves up for disaster. The best of the best, the companies and the individuals that sustain success over time, are the ones that reinvent early and often.” – Josh Linkner, author of The Road to Reinvention.

“If you think of your organization as a funnel where time and talent and money are poured, they come together through processes and behavior, and the choke point in that funnel is emotion. Certainly, I experienced it when I was running divisions of companies and then later on as an owner of my own business, often because we had not been clear about our purpose. We had not been clear with others about what we expected of them. Because of that lack of clarity, combined with the emotion, that creates a real choke point for organizations.” – Greg Bustin, author of Accountability.

“One of the ways we [break the cycle of constant feature updates] is to get back in touch with the needs or jobs to be done for our customers. Oftentimes, there’s new product line extensions and new bells and whistles added to products which only usually increases the complexity of the product. It doesn’t serve the customer’s true need. The common core of both strategy and innovation is insight. The insight for most businesspeople is what’s going to drive the most value for customers.” – Rich Howarth, author of Elevate.