Book Reviews: Conscious Capitalism & Change

UPDATED 2-18-13: This review has been updated with links to a recent speech and interview with Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods.

At last Tuesday’s Distinguished Speaker event in Geneen Auditorium here at the Fuqua School, I sat next to a 20-something woman who runs her own vegan soup business in Durham, Short Winter Soups.  She has more customers than she can handle and there is a wait list to become her client.  Prior to her current success, this entrepreneur had tried other ventures.  Her courage is both admirable and inspiring.

Courage was one of the attributes discussed by Tuesday’s invited speaker, Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market.  He encouraged students to discover what is meaningful to them and to follow their passion.  He described business as the greatest change agent in the world and the capitalist system as the best environment to foster prosperity.  He also encouraged students to see beyond profits and to consider stakeholders beyond shareholders, such as employees (team members), when creating strategy and policy.  During his presentation, he referenced several new books:

Conscious capitalism: liberating the heroic spirit of business by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia.
Robb’s CEO partner John Mackey and his co-author Raj Sisoda make similar points about higher purpose and conscious leadership in their new book, Conscious Capitalism. Mackey and Sisoda discuss how business and capitalism can be a force for good, by creating value for the customer and prosperity for humanity. They show how business conducted consciously benefits all stakeholders, not only investors, but also employees, customers, society and the environment. The authors describe how to cultivate a business culture that is more conscious of all stakeholders. Watch a “Real Conversations With Real Leaders interview with Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb.
The Financial crisis and the free market cure: why pure capitalism is the world economy’s only hope by John A. Allison.
John Allison (Fuqua MBA ‘74) was CEO of BB&T in Charlotte for 20 years, 1989-2008. His new book, The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure, provides an insider’s perspective on the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession. Allison explains that government policies created the conditions that made the Great Recession possible and that the government’s policy decisions and banking reforms are preventing the recovery. He outlines his prescriptions for free market capitalism to ensure future economic success, including principled action that considers clients, employees and communities and their effect on shareholder value.
The Omnivore’s dilemma: a natural history of four meals by Michael Pollan.
As Walter Robb noted at the Distinguished Speaker event on Tuesday, Whole Foods Market was criticized in Pollan’s landmark book, the Omnivore’s Dilemma. Robb noted that the company took the charges seriously and changed their policies about providing locally grown foods. Pollan devoted an entire chapter on “big organic,” which tried to reconcile the back-to-nature growers from the 60’s who spawned the organic food movement with today’s industrialization of the organic food industry. Also available as an audiobook.

All three books are recommended.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.


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