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CEOs Share Highlights from the Annual Conscious Capitalism Conference - by Thea Polancic

June 21, 2017 8:36 AM | Deleted user

CC2017, the annual Conscious Capitalism conference, is behind us now, leaving a wake of inspiration and meaningful connections behind it. This year, 400 leaders converged in Philadelphia for two very full days of keynotes and breakout sessions. In conjunction with the conference, 45 chapter leaders from all over the world spent an additional full day sharing ideas, building skills and learning from each other.

The movement is certainly alive and well, and expanding rapidly across the globe.

Two members of our Chicago community presented practicums at CC2017:  Katlin Smith, CEO of Simple Mills, and Dan Golden, CEO of BeFoundOnline. Katlin’s session was titled: “The Art of Un-Compromise: Growing without Diluting Your Principles.”   Dan’s session focused on “The Ownership Culture: How to Build a Culture of Employee Engagement and Empowerment.” They both graciously agreed to spend an evening and share an encore of their Philly sessions with our Chicago community. Here’s a sense of the wisdom they shared with us:

Based on her experience with Simple Mills, Katlin gave us some insight into how to enable a company to grow without compromising its purpose and values:

Be clear about your purpose and stay in touch with it as you grow. Know what your “lines in the sand” are – what absolutely won’t you do as you grow?

Align your employees and other stakeholders’ interests around what the product stands for and product quality, and the metrics you use to measure success.

Have a battle plan for “grey decisions” – the calls you have to make in situations that aren’t cut and dried, may have conflicting demands, and require time to think and different perspectives from team members.


Dan, with his trademark candor, humor and humility, shared how BeFoundOnline created an ownership culture using appreciative inquiry and open book management. The BeFoundOnline team navigated difficult times by engaging all the employees in brainstorming, voting and aligning together on how to handle the challenge of losing

a significant chunk of revenue when a major client departed.

Through the transparency and empowerment of open book management, even the newest, youngest employee was able to contribute to a solution that helped the whole company meet its annual plan and enable the whole team to receive their bonuses.

“You’ve completely changed how I’m going to handle my staff meeting tomorrow!”

Our Chicago group responded enthusiastically to Katlin and Dan’s insights. As we wrapped up and shared takeaways, one leader shared, “You’ve completely changed how I’m going to handle my staff meeting tomorrow. I was going to focus on a list of customer service issues that are frustrating me, and instead I’m going to focus first on the much longer list of what we’re doing right, and how we can learn from them. I’ve never started a meeting with what’s going right before!”

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