I was honored to attend the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit in Austin last week.  I joined about 110 other CEOs and thought leaders to share in discussions about how to unleash the stakeholder model to really maximize the value of a business.  The Summit was a wonderful time of reflection and forward thinking conversations with brilliant folks who inspire me to continue to look at our business and find ways to create an even better experience for all of our stakeholders.

John Mackey started us off with a presentation about the history of capitalism and all it has done for progress around the world.  As John said at our recent Staff Meeting and at this Summit, the word “capitalism” sure does have a “branding problem” and the recent protests of Wall Street are more proof of that.  But in reality, capitalism has done more for forward progress than anything else.  Through capitalism, we have gone from 85% of people around the world living on less than a $1 a day 200 years ago, to about 17% today.  And many feel that our youngest generation we’ll see the end of hunger as a result of capitalism.

We heard from many companies that profit provides possibilities.  We must have a healthy bottom line to properly take care of our employees, to grow like we want to and take on new opportunities, to better serve our customers, to bring in more products, to give back to the community.  We need the scale to make the impact we want to and know we can make on the lives of all our stakeholders.  But it’s about how we generate that profit — in a conscious way making an everyday commitment to our Foundation Principles — that matters most.

Jon Sokoloff from Leonard Green, our majority equity partner, and I had a wonderful opportunity to be in front of the group for a conversation about how “capital” can indeed mix and fold into a conscious business.  We talked about our company’s transaction and the relationship we have with Leonard Green — how they truly want us to run our business in the conscious way we have for the last 30+ years.  We talked about how the value of our business is driven by the culture and how that was attractive and intriguing to him and his partners.

We heard from Fred Kofman, a former academic and author of Conscious Business.  Amongst many other things, he asked us to finish this thought, “I go to work to….”  I’d charge each of you with thinking about how you’d finish that as well.  We all, I sure know I do, want to know and feel there is greater meaning and purpose in what we do.

And we enjoyed a panel conversation with Walter Robb, Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, Colleen Barrett, President Emerita of Southwest Airlines, Blake Nordstrom, President of Nordstrom, and Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks.  Talk about a powerhouse of conscious businesses with many lessons learned to share.  I loved this comment from Howard.

People never give you what you expect — it’s either more or less.”  I feel so strongly that it’s up to all of us to support and care for each other, to do all we can to make everyone around us the best we can be, the most productive we can be.  We want to go to work, do great things and come home proud of what we’ve accomplished.  And we sure can accomplish a heck of a lot more with the support of each other than we can on our own.

The last evening, over dinner, Howard also shared his “Six Ps of life” – purpose, passion, persistence, patience, performance and people.  Like our Foundation Principles do for our business, these are what he developed for himself to lead his actions and decisions in both his professional career and his personal life.  I loved how he ended by saying, “Starbucks is not a coffee business served by people, but a people business serving coffee.  It’s not the name on the door, it’s the people who are there that bring it to life!”  Pretty cool, huh?

I’m so thankful for all of our people who bring The Container Store to life every day!

– Kip Tindell, Chairman and CEO

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