This post is about the new doc from Pedram Shojai, the Prosperity film detailing conscious capitalism. But before we get into that, it feels prudent to discuss something. News flash:
You Are Powerful. Your Decisions Matter. When You Speak, The World Listens.
So, how are you choosing to speak? What are you choosing to say? How are flexing your power and your values?
These days, we live in a world in which the volume on everything is cranked up to 10 at all times. Opinions are loud. Politics are loud. Culture is loud. And the news… well the news is nothing if not loud. With all this constant noise and head-pounding volume it can feel as if the world is constantly engulfed in pandemonium.
There is a feeling of immediacy and all-importance to seemingly everything that happens – from this world event, to this political moment, to this album release, to this season finale. Anything.
When the size, scope, and urgency of everything seems so huge and overwhelming, it can seem like we, and by ‘we’ I mean individuals like you and me, are small and silent in comparison. Like we can’t make a real difference in the world. Like we can’t even make a difference for ourselves.
That is a terrible feeling, isn’t it? That nasty little sentiment, that insidious idea, can really poison your outlook on the world and your belief in yourself. I think if we are being honest with ourselves, we have all been caught in that mindset before.
If you are a long-time reader of Well Wallet, then you already know that we do not subscribe to this idea. In fact, we dismiss it altogether. Actually, dismiss isn’t a strong enough word. We deny it. We rebuke it. We want to do everything we can to banish this type of toxic thinking from the world.
One of our guiding philosophies at Well Wallet is that anyone can make a mark on the world, all while celebrating their values and profiting personally. Of course, we apply this philosophy through conscious investing.
A powerful misconception has existed for a long time in our society. The idea that consciousness is akin to weakness. That people and companies cannot profit from upholding positive values. Why has this misconception lasted for so long? Well, because on its surface, it is an idea that makes sense.
If two companies in the same industry are on entirely equal footing, then simple competence should dictate which company profits more and comes out on top. However, if one company sacrifices its values to gain an edge–whether that be through cutting wages to their staff, cutting corners, sacrificing quality, or using environmentally unsafe practices–then it makes sense that they would profit more than the company that stood by or even invested in its values.
Because this idea makes so much sense on a surface level, it was accepted as fact for a very long time. For decades, even.
However, with the rise of conscious capitalism, it turns out that this misconception could not be further from the truth.
As a reader of this site, you are most likely more than familiar with the idea of conscious capitalism. However, I am sure we have some new readers out there, or a few people who could use a refresher, so let’s do a brief intro into conscious capitalism.
What Is Conscious Capitalism?
The guiding principles of Conscious Capitalism have been around for a very long time; however, the movement itself is something that truly took off in the early 2010s. At its core, Conscious Capitalism is an alignment between values, purpose, business, and profits. It is the idea that business, and capitalism itself, should be forces for good in the world.
The term consciousness refers to the state of being awake or aware of one’s surroundings. In this context, it calls on businesses to be aware of their complex role in society and the impact they have on the world.
One of the principle pieces of literature in the Conscious Capitalism movement is the 2013 book Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by Whole Foods Market Cofounder John Mackey and professor Raj Sisodia. The book illustrates the four primary tenants of Conscious Capitalism: stakeholder orientation, higher purpose, conscious leadership, and conscious culture. It is through these tenants that business can help build a better world while growing and generating profit.
What started with just an idea and a book has now become a powerful movement. Consciouscapitalism.org is a great place to visit if you want to learn more. It has grown into an information hub for anyone who wants to be more involved in Conscious Capitalism. The powerful Conscious Capitalist Credo reads as follows:
“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to even more.”
These days, some of the most successful businesses in the world have adopted the tenants of Conscious Capitalism. Whole Foods Market followed these principles and grew into a commercial juggernaut. Recently, the company was purchased by Amazon for $13.7 BILLION. Clearly, Conscious Capitalism pays!
We will dive even deeper into Conscious Capitalism soon, once we introduce the primary subject of our blog here today, the film Prosperity by Pedram Shojai.
Now, to regular readers this all probably sounds like familiar material. After all, Conscious Capitalism is closely aligned with conscious investing, which is the cornerstone of what we do at Well Wallet. Let’s take a moment to review what conscious investing is all about!
For us, conscious investing is about 3 things – values, empowerment, and profit. These three elements combine to help conscious investors feel in control, as actors in the world, as the guiding force in their own lives.
Conscious Investing, which is sometimes referred to as Socially Responsible Investing, is a movement away from monolithic banks and towards smaller lenders who invest in socially conscious and environmentally sustainable companies.
A decade ago, these smaller conscientious institutions were almost non-existent. However, these institutions are now starting to pop up all over the place in order to meet the rising demand for socially conscious investing.
Whether you realize it or not, the money that you place in a bank or an investment is actively doing things. It’s doing things when you are working or playing with your kids. It’s doing things while you are eating, showering, and sleeping. It’s very busy!!
When we say that your money is doing work, what we mean is that it is being sent somewhere, it is being invested in some market, with some company. Larger banking institutions follow one bottom line: to use your money to make more money. It doesn’t matter who they invest your money with or what they invest it in.
Now ask yourself one question. Do you think the values of these large banking institutions align with YOUR values?
We can tell you right now, they almost certainly do not.
Socially responsible investing with socially conscious institutions allows you to align your investing with your values. And, it puts your money to work making the world a better place. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
You know what is even better? By investing in the right institution, your investment will make the world a better place while growing. That’s right. All while you make more money. That is the power behind Conscious Investing.
Now, it’s time to talk about a place where Conscious Investing and Conscious Capitalism intersect to give us a roadmap for a truly brighter future. It’s time talk about Prosperity, the film by Pedram Shojai.
Recently, the team here at Well Wallet had the opportunity to attend an early screening of Prosperity, which is scheduled to have an exclusive worldwide premier in late September before it becomes globally available online on October 5, 2017.
We were astounded and moved. Prosperity touches on many of the ideas we cover here on the website, but it arranges and places them together, side-by-side, in a way that clearly shows us what the bigger picture looks like. What, then, is this bigger picture?
The bigger picture shows us that pursuing profit at any cost will cost the world everything. Throughout history, businesses have chased profit at any cost following an edict called shareholder primacy. Shareholder primacy is the idea that everything the business does should be in service of the shareholders. That is, the primary goal should be to make the shareholders money. As part of this, businesses would do everything they could to remove as many expenses as possible from their balance sheets. Coal mining companies had tunnel-vision for making money, so they didn’t care about the environmental impact of their business. Companies recklessly deforested rainforests for profits, without caring that their actions decimated entire ecosystems. These actions, in turn, affect the entire world.
In Prosperity, Pedram is on a mission to find companies who are doing things differently. He takes us all over the globe, from New York to Panama, bringing us inside businesses who embody the ideals of Conscious Capitalism. These businesses include Whole Foods, The Container Store, Thrive Market, Grow Where You Are, Guayaki, and Terracycle.
Prosperity also touches on a subject very close to our own hearts, conscious banking and investing. Over the last decade or so, interest in sustainable and environmentally conscious investing has increased. There has also been a rise in conscious online banks which give the consumer more options. Many of these banks offer higher interest rates and lower fees. Banking with them allows consumers to exercise their values in a way that was previously unheard of.
In Prosperity, Pedram visits this kind of institution called New Resource Bank in San Francisco. They are committed to impacting the world by investing their customer’s deposits in social enterprise. They consider themselves an organic bank, which means that their money is funneled into the community instead of being sent back into the financial world. In other words, the money is used to support real people. People who run environmentally and socially conscious business.
There is an electrifying current of empowerment which flows through Prosperity.
You Are Powerful. Your Decisions Matter. When You Speak, The World Listens.
You can almost hear these words echoing beneath every line. You are powerful. Your decisions matter. Business will always have to serve the market and you are the market. Vote with your dollars. Invest with your values. Invest in sustainability and social responsibility. Bank with ethically minded institutions.
These are the lessons found in Prosperity. We couldn’t recommend the film more. Click HERE to watch the film and discover these lessons for yourself.
Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links.
We keep you, the planet and its humans in mind when choosing affiliate partners.
Here's our process for choosing partners, and how we pay our writers, developers, and artists.