5 Things I Learned at Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum

By Russ Stoddard / Jun 15, 2017



Last week I had the fortune to attend the Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum. Sponsored by Conscious Company Media, this first-ever meeting convened the conscious business movement under the thematic umbrella of BIG—Business Impact for Good. Around 200+ social entrepreneurs from most of the world’s continents attended. Here is just some of what I learned.

Conscious Starts with “C”

The letter “C” headlines the human factor and unifies what I discovered about my fellow attendees: Calibre, Closeness, Continuum, and Community. 

I found an exceptionally high caliber of individual, both in intellect and spirit; an immediate feeling of closeness to them, born of an unspoken and common trust; a continuum of character across the social entrepreneurship category, from conservative and pragmatic to mindfully, blissfully spiritual; and an instant sense of community and camaraderie.

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“Young people come to Patagonia largely because of our commitment to activism.” – Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia (Photo credit: Conscious Company Media)

Fire and Brimstone

The content and programming was superb. My favorite panel was “It’s Time For Business To Take A Stand: How Leading Brands Are Standing Up For The Causes They Care about.” Joey Bergstein of Seventh Generation, Kat Taylor of Beneficial State Bank, and Patagonia’s Rick Ridgeway provided philosophy, real-world examples, along with an inspirational call to action for companies to publicly use their influence, voice, and resources to change the world. They also offered a business rationale for doing so. (If you go to Patagonia’s website, you’ll get a textbook lesson for using a brand, and the web, to create action around environmental causes.)

To Unite or Not to Unite, that is the Question. 

The world of socially conscious business is broad and in many ways quite fragmented (see reference to  “continuum” in C-letter paragraph above). A leadership panel representing the American Sustainable Business CouncilB LabBusiness Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), Conscious Capitalism, and Social Venture Network discussed “Uniting the Tribes: How Can We Work Together To Create Greater Change?” The most thought-provoking question raised was “Should we unite the tribes?” While there was no clear consensus, I’d say the discussion leaned toward the independence of each organization having a distinct role and that the conscious business movement benefits from having these different organizations propelling it forward. (As an aside, I believe the bigger opportunity is to unify the tribe of conscious consumers.)

Business is Disco. Social Enterprise is Punk.

“Business is disco. Social enterprise is punk.” That’s what Robert Egger of L.A. Kitchen sermonized as he revved up the crowd on a panel for how to use your company or position as a tool for good. Me? First time I’ve been associated with punk rock, but hell yeah—I stood up and applauded with the rest of the room.

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1440's campus is located under a canopy of redwoods near Santa Cruz, California.

1440 Multiversity is a Pretty Cool Place

A few weeks before the event, the Conscious Company Global Leaders Forum was moved from a downtown San Francisco location to 1440 Multiversity, a newly opened learning center near Santa Cruz, California. Serendipity for me, as 1440 is a branding client here at Oliver Russell. What I learned as a participant in the conference and as a guest of 1440 is that it’s a special place to immerse yourself in a learning experience—set amid majestic redwoods with fantastic facilities and miles of trails, it’s a pretty cool place with an inspiring educational curriculum that’s definitely worth checking out.

Organizers from Conscious Company Media said the event will definitely see the light of a second year in 2018, and I’d recommend giving it ago.  I know I’ll be back if they’ll have me.

You can email forum@consciouscomag.com with questions about next year’s forum.

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Russ Stoddard

Russ started Oliver Russell in 1991. He’s committed his career (nearly 30 years) to social responsibility, first inside the corporate world and then as an entrepreneur who’s started four companies and five nonprofit causes. Russ is the author of "Rise Up - How to Build a Socially Conscious Business," and his creative work has been honored with local, regional, and national creative awards. These days, Russ focuses on brand strategy for clients, spreading the Certified B Corp love, and connecting kindred spirits to multiply social impact.