Aaron Perry


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  • Episode 35 – Dr. Ralph (Bud) Sorenson, An (Impact) Entrepreneurial Journey
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Stewardship & Sustainability Series
Episode 35 - Dr. Ralph (Bud) Sorenson, An (Impact) Entrepreneurial Journey

Dr. Ralph (Bud) Sorenson, educator, executive, mentor, and author shares decades of wisdom and insights in his memoir, “An Entrepreneurial Journey Through Life: Learning, Loving, and Laughing.”

One of the world’s leading thinkers on the topic of “Conscious Capitalism,” Dr. Sorenson discusses the essential importance of companies prioritizing service leadership, and equitable capital returns to all stakeholders: customers, employees, supply chain partners, communities, and the shared environment – all in appropriate balance with returns to investor shareholders.

As a former Director of Whole Foods, Houghton Mifflin, the Colorado Nature Conservancy, and a current Director of the Toyota Mobility Foundation, Bud has a rarified perspective on the evolution of our economy over the past half century – especially in terms of stewardship, sustainability, and/or the lack thereof.

An educator who “took to teaching like a bear to honey,” Dr. Sorenson led Babson College’s ascent to the premier position of #1 business school for entrepreneurship as its President, and has also taught at Harvard Business School and served as Dean at the University of Colorado – Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. His insights regarding the disruption of higher education, and the future of education (at all levels) is particularly intriguing and nascent in the context of mobilizing stewardship, sustainability, and impact entrepreneurship in the 21st Century! Especially important is his sage recommendation that we remain “life-long learners,” and devote at least one month per year to our own ongoing education.


(Automatically generated transcript for search engine optimization and reference purposes – grammatical and spelling errors may exist.)

Welcome to the YonEarth community’s Stewardship and Sustainability Podcast Series.

Today we have with us Bud Sorenson, also known as Bud.

Hi Bud.

Hello Aaron.

Great to see you today.

Well, it’s nice to be here.

Thank you.

So Bud, Mr. Sorenson has served as President of Babson College, as the Chairman President

and CEO of Berrywright Corporation, as the Dean of the School of Business at the University

of Colorado Boulder, Professor at Harvard Business School, co-founder of the Asian Institute

of Management, and has served on many public and private boards, including Whole Foods,

Alleroid, Hutton, Missbling, among many others.

And Bud, we’ve been friends for a number of years and certainly your resume or CV is remarkable.

I know you as a friend and have lived a couple blocks away and I’m so delighted that we

have the opportunity to share with our audience today that you’ve written a book called

An Entrepreneurial Journey Through Life.

And let me just begin by asking, but what prompted you to write this book?

Well, first of all, thank you for that kind introduction.

It’s quite clear I have a great future behind me now, but I just got to a stage in my

life where in the last chapter of this book is called The Pleasures of Longivity.

And what one does, I suppose, when one gets into 180, is kind of think about what your

life has been all about and it just was fun for me to write this book, fun for me to

relive really of the good parts to suffer again through the mad parts and try to skip

over the boring parts.

Well, I am struck that the subtitle of the book, Learning, Loving and Laughing, really

for me resonates with knowing you as a friend and I know that you are passionate about learning.

I absolutely delight in how much you share in the book about love and your love for

your family, your wife in particular, your romance with her and of course laughing.

And it seems to me you’re a great practitioner of all three of these.

Well, thank you for that.

I’ve been blessed to, for the most part, have lived a wonderful life and it’s not all

been sweet and polite, but it’s been wonderful to live at this time, how I have lived and

where I’ve been.

I’ve been a lucky man.

But I’m struck that you’ve also been a mentor and advisor to so many folks in business,

so many folks doing work for environmental conservation and we’ll be diving into some

of the topics that you speak to in the different chapters of the book, but one of the great

passions that you focused on through much of your career is in the realm of education.

And I’m curious, but share with our audience if you would what is education and why does education

even matter?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to that whole concept of education and I’ve struck

by the fact that we have in the United States and really in the world at large, we’ve had

this idea that education is formal education, something that starts in preschool or kindergarten

and ends with a degree, could be a high school degree, it could be a college degree or some

sorry, even an advanced degree, and then that ends our formal education.

And I think we are living at a time when we’ve got to change that concept of education.

We have to become lifelong learners.

If one thinks about it, the world we’re living in today is changing more rapidly than has

ever been the case in the past, particularly with the advent of the whole STEM or STEAM

area, science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

And it’s just, knowledge is exploding exponentially.

Every two years we’re generating an amount of information equivalent to all of the information

generated since the beginning of recorded information.

And it’s more as law applies to education and how do we as humans keep up with all of that.

And so I have a chapter in this book about the future of higher education in particular

which I think is going perhaps to be the next major target of disruptive technology.

And I’d be happy to talk a little bit more about that if you’d be interested.

I think it’s so important.

And you know, many of us probably have differing views on education and perhaps even different

experiences with our own education, the formal and the informal end.

But in the chapter of the future of higher education, you are laying out a very informed

view on where education may be going even in the next number of years.

And I think it hits on some key themes, some important themes that are transforming our

society in general, not just in the realm of formal education, things like artificial

intelligence, for example.

And so yes, if you would maybe walk us through some of those themes that you’re speaking

to, I think it’s a really important set of topics.

Well, one of those things is that developed initially by Clayton Christians and a professor

of the Harvard Business School who talks about the concept of disruptive technology or disruptive


And in this book, I argue that higher education is probably going to be the next major target

of disruptive technology.

Professor Christiansen talks about the reason for that of being the explosion of that STEM

area that I talked about in artificial intelligence.

And I think that which has led to the development of what are called books massively online, open

classrooms, which is online learning.

And Professor Christiansen postulates that in the 2020s, that half of all colleges and

universities will either go out of business or be merged or be acquired.

I think that is possible that that could take place.

But I think that there are other reasons beyond just technology that higher education is

writing for a fall.

I remember you mentioning in the chapter, the cost alone is presenting structural and

systemic challenges.

And I know many of my friends and peers are absolutely burdened by an incredible student

loan debt as a result of their higher education pursuits, we’re seeing this emerging throughout

the system.

Well, that certainly has been the case.

And for years and years, the cost of higher education has been exploding at an exponential

way, far beyond what’s happened in the world of inflation.

So there’s that factor and that has led to students either not going to college or


By the way, it’s interesting that between 2012 and 2017, the number of students enrolled

in colleges and universities has dropped from about 19 million, a little over 19 million

down to a little over 17 million.

So that trend is already taking place.

And part of that is the financing of an incredible debt, which is caused some young people not

to go to college at all.

Some people to end up taking five or six years and not even perhaps finishing university

or if they do, ending up with a bucket of debt that is very hard for them to pay on.

So that’s one factor.

Second factor is the fact that colleges and universities are probably make the most inefficient

use of their physical facilities of any industry and it is an industry in existence.

So if you think about most colleges and universities have a summer recess and then they have breaks

during the course of the year and their classrooms typically are used only six or seven hours

a day for nine months a year and that goes ditto for housing facilities and dining facilities.

Administrative costs at colleges and universities are growing much faster than faculty costs.

As a matter of fact, our public institution is growing quite as fast as the academic cost and at private institutions

in half times.

And then third is the rigidity built into the higher education system by the concept of tenure.

Ten year was a concept that was developed in 1915 when Harvard and Columbia and the University of Chicago

also adopted tenure.

The original idea was to make sure that professors had freedom of speech that they could teach controversial ideas

without fear of being fired.

It also led to Senacure because once you have tenure as a professor you cannot be fired.

And those two things have had unintended consequences.

First today we have other protections of legal protections of freedom of speech and really that originally

caused the original reason for tenure is no longer so valid.

And then the other thing with the idea of not being able to be fired has led to many professors

sending up teaching beyond their use state and to some rigidities.

So that’s another factor which means that much of the teaching today is done by teaching assistants

or instructors or adjunct professors, many of whom have gifted but not all of them.

Ph.D. programs typically focus for tenure track professors on helping teachers learn

how to do research, first they do research and their first seven years tenure track professors

are devoted to publisher parish, published in academically refereed journals and when it comes

time to they have their teach they have their research opportunities and they have their teaching

burden and as a result their focus is on research oriented orientation and when it comes time to

being granted itself to granted tenure the tenure committees typically are putting their major

emphasis on whether there are gifted researchers as opposed to gifted teachers.

So that’s another reason. The third reason is that we have this concept of what professors do

they’re called the sage on the stage or else if we’re talking head phenomena, yeah.

God the professor who stands in the front of the room and gives a lecture and in parts information

very often they have life of which is very short to a group of students who are heads down taking notes

and the half-life of that information in today’s world tends to be very short and it ignores the fact

that in my view learning learning is very active not a passive activity and that it’s much more

learning by doing which I think we have to get into that mode much more going forward. So all

of these are reasons why I think higher education is endangered and the bottom line for me is that

as I start out to begin with learning has to be a lifelong process. I argue in this book that

all of us as human beings in the future generations should devote at least a month of their year

every year to formally or informally learning to try to keep up with this so rapidly evolving world

in which we live. Yeah yeah and for our friends and family who are working full time it doesn’t

necessarily mean taking a month off right this is the kind of thing where in the evening throughout

the course of the year one could pursue one’s life-long learning interests and in the course of the

year eventually get to what is a month’s worth of focused education. Absolutely and the learning

process should not only be in the STEM areas but also in the whole world of liberal arts,

humanities, history and that sort of thing because those concepts and ideas are ever evolving as well.

It strikes me you know this of course being the stewardship and sustainability podcast series

primary focus is around issues related to those incredibly important imperatives of our time

stewardship and sustainability and one of the things I am struck by is so many of our friends and

peers are technical experts in various domains within STEM science technology engineering math and

clearly there’s so much that we aren’t developing in those arenas to help deal with stewardship

and sustainability issues however there’s so much more that is dealt with in the humanities and

literature and philosophy and in our understanding of history that I believe gives us the compass

we need in determining how we utilize technology etc and so I’m just curious but if

when thinking about stewardship and sustainability in the context of education what do you believe

are among the most important things institutions whether formal or not might impart with folks?

Well let me begin first I’m saying here and I’ve so admired what you’ve been doing with your

the YonEarth constantly this is exactly the sort of thing that we’re doing right here this

afternoon that I’m talking about hopefully if anybody out there in the audience is listening in

or watching that this is part of the learning process and I saw I saw admire what you’re doing

I think that in terms of colleges and universities that are being threatened by the traditional

concept that they’re pursuing that there are also great opportunities for those institutions to

do the non-degree kinds of programs that are so important for life on learning and I think that

in addition obviously to do colleges and universities and formal educational institutions

just as well the advent of of these things right and of laptops and so forth and television

they’re all they’re all sources of potential learning but I think it’s important for us to keep

an open mind and I’m a little bit concerned about the fact how in today’s world we’re getting so

politically oriented toward left or toward right and that we’re lacking civil dialogue

going forward which we so desperately need and particularly at this time in which we’re living

that’s so important that’s so important but well yeah you know perhaps our podcast is a move

a massively open online course and it is right it is it is I think it’s interesting at a place

like the Harvard Business School today in terms of revenue sources their executive education

non-degree programs generate more income than their MBA program generates and so it seems to me

we have all this talent on these on these campuses around with college and university that so many of

them can can make that useful in non-degree programs advanced manufacturing kinds of programs and

I would hope to see that would happen having said that I think that there’ll be more partnerships

for going into the future with either corporations partnering with educational not

for profit education institutions but there also sorts of variations on that theme but the important

thing is that we as humans recognize that the old concept of formal education is yesterday

year we have to think of lifelong learners love that love that but lifelong learners indeed well

we’ve talked some about the the learning and the education piece of the book I want to talk a

little about the love part and I was so struck by when I began looking through the book to find

these lovely photographs from over the years and decades many with your wonderful wife Charlotte

and early in the book you’re you’re sharing rather intimately some of your romantic

adventure with with Charlotte in chapter eight a life changing encounter

basically recounts visiting wealthy campus you describe it being in bloom beautiful language choices

there and you meet one Charlotte Ripley and it changes your life yeah that was a memorable

way April 9th 1958 and it was true I was in my Sunday afternoon I was in my

government room and at the Harvard Business School and a couple of my pals came up and said

we’re going out to Wilson College I want you to come on with us and I saw a gosh I’m studying

and I’ve got a lot to do and they say come on don’t be a martyr that you’ve got to come up for air

so I’m a martyr and so I went with three of my classmates out to well say what they didn’t tell me

is they all have girlfriends and they hopped out in the car and went scattering in different

directions to visit their girlfriends leaving me to wander around the campus so I walked

on into a quad wrangle which was had dormitories on all four sides and it was beautiful spring day

and I noticed that there was a girl sitting in an open window in the first floor of one of these

dorms and so I walked over and kind of wandered through the garden and struck up a conversation

whether it turned out she was the daughter of the Dutch ambassador to the US and we were chatting

away when another girl came up with a tennis racket dressed in tennis clothes and she asked

the girl sitting in the window if she’d be kind enough to open up the door next to her room

so she could get in because it was locked and you know 45 seconds I looked at this new girl

something went wild kaboom and I had some brilliant I know do you play tennis I mean there she was

with her tennis racket and she said yes to you and I said yes and she said you want to play

and I said yes and so the first girl opened up the door and Charlotte went up and got the tennis

racket and we went off and played tennis that afternoon and for 60 years we’ve been playing

ever since and it so happened then that she was in her freshman year that in her sophomore year

at Wellesley and the next year I finished at the Harvard Business School took a job over in

Switzerland at a school that our business school had helped us set up called Imaday and

Charlotte who was an art history major after her sophomore year she went to Italy to study

art history in Italy and we were on the same boat going over there and one thing led to another

we had dated in her junior year and then basically she returned to Wellesley I was that next year

in Switzerland and we had this exchange of letters which looking back on it was truly extraordinary

and I just say one thing for your audience the art of letter writing seems to have disappeared

in the world of this we also we send text messages but we don’t really write letters and I don’t

know whether this is what would be of interesting interest to you please yes let’s hear it again

everyone this is wonderful but okay here’s one that I wrote Charlotte now is back at Wellesley College

I’m in Los Angeles and this was written on November 2nd 1959 my dear Charlotte I have a million

things to tell you the most important of which comes first take all the time you want my darling and

don’t say yes to marriage until and unless you feel completely red as you say is so very very

hard to communicate all of one’s feelings in the letters however my darling I think I know what

you have been trying to tell me each time you write I sense you feel a certain unreadyness

for marriage I sense too that you may be trying too hard to force yourself into feeling a mature

kind of love that will permit you to accept freely and willingly the responsibilities of being

a wife Charlotte you know perhaps better than I love is not the kind of thing that one can force

rather than something which simply bubbles spontaneously through a person so dear Zah please do not

even try to set a date as to when you will no longer fuel a hesitancy toward marriage not next

spring not summer not even next year instead let’s just say that perhaps someday you will suddenly

be able to say oh but yes yes yes now I’m ready to be your wife on that day Charlotte and only on

that day I shall be ready to be your husband then we will be able to give ourselves to one another

completely and honestly and joyfully and yet for some reason that date never comes Char I guess

it will just be God’s will something that we would just have to accept and be thankful that we

don’t make a mistake just one more thing Charlotte in case you may be wondering I feel for you right

right at this moment the deepest love that a man could ever feel for a woman a deeper love than

a bear felt before and for this reason I have an overwhelming faith that the future will one day

see us together as husband and wife and a truly in it truly meaningful marriage and night my darling, me, so.

Well, but yeah, 60 years later, this is so beautiful.

By the way, her nickname was Zaz, EA.

Yeah, that’s why I say.

Oh, thank you for sharing that with us,

but your relationship and love for one another

is such an inspiration for those of us who know you.

And I’m sure for your children and grandchildren

to be able to have these letters in the book, what a gift.

What an amazing gift.

Well, it’s interesting because you’re

asking me what part of the right to book.

And I say, at the beginning, introduction, my dear wife,

Charlotte keeps asking, for what audience are you

writing these right collections?

My reply is, I’m writing for you and for our kids,

and grandkids, and their kids, and grandkids.

So the future generations in the family

will have a better understanding of their heritage.

But perhaps a more honest answer would be

that I’m writing them for myself,

finding it fulfilling to have a second go

of reliving my life, enjoying the good parts,

suffering once again through the bad parts,

skimming quickly over the boring parts,

trying my best to avoid obsessing about my personal shortcomings.

So, you know, I’ve been lucky.

I’ve been learning, loving, laughing, and lucky.

Well, that’s beautiful.

It’s really beautiful, but, and I’ll

interject that there’s so much in your experience,

the way you’re sharing your experience in this book,

that is full of knowledge and wisdom,

that I hope many of our audience will experience for themselves.

And I want to turn a little bit to some of those key messages

and points that you’re sharing here before doing so.

I’m going to just make a couple of quick mentions.

This is the Why Under Communities Stewardship

and Sustainability Podcast Series.

Today I’m having the great privilege and fun of speaking

with Ralph Sorenson, also known as Buddy.

And I want to let you know that this podcast series

is made possible through the generous support

of many sponsors.

These include the Association of Walgur Schools of North America,

Earth Coast Productions, Equal Exchange,

International Society of Sustainability Professionals,

the Lich Family Foundation, Patagonia, Purium, and Walei Waters.

These organizations are also sponsoring an upcoming three-day

immersion called Massively Mobilizing Sustainability,

Deep Leadership for the 21st Century,

which the Why Under Community is hosting

at a private retreat center right outside of Boulder, Colorado,

this May 17th through 19th.

Encourage you to go to yonearth.org

to check all of that out on the homepage.

You’ll see information about the summit.

Please use the code community to get a special insider discount

when you register.

The summit is specifically geared for educators, executives,

and entrepreneurs.

And we’re bringing together a host of authors, thought leaders,

and others who are helping us identify and implement

the keys to becoming stronger and more insightful leaders

in our own right.

So it’s going to be an incredible experience.

Hope to see you there.

And Bud, who knows, perhaps we’ll even be able to get a couple

copies of your book there.

We’ll see.

But I want to ask, but when folks are interested in getting

their own copy of your book,

what’s the best way for them to do that?

Well, it’s easy.

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com.

And you can just enter the name of the book,

an entrepreneurial journey through life.

And it should pop up and you can get it

and have it delivered in two or three days.


Maybe some of you have heard of this new company called Amazon.

So I want to ask, but you know, in the back here.

And by the way, there’s so much.

I’ve got dog ears and notes and marks throughout the book.

I want to go straight to this final chapter

called The Pleasures of Longevity.

In part, because there are a number, there’s a list of,

I would call these wise advice for life.

We’ll get to a few of those.

But I was hoping before we get to the list,

if you would maybe read from some of the passage

of The Pleasures of Longevity.

Well, sure.

This chapter called The Pleasures of Longevity

begins with this, it hardly seems possible.

I’ve already lived more than four score years.

In my mind, it feels more like I’m still in middle age.

What’s surprising to me is how much I’ve

enjoyed the most recent 20 plus years of my life.

It says though a great weight was lifted off me at age 60.

About that time, I think I began subconsciously to say

to myself, I’ve actually been there and done that.

I’ve nothing to prove to the world or myself anymore.

So now I can turn my curiosity and zest for life

in new directions while continuing to pursue various

professional activities of my own choosing.

I can also begin to explore some of the more existential lives

issues that confront us all in light.

I can read more.

I can spend more time with Charlotte and my kids and grandkids.

We can travel freely.

I can develop a deeper appreciation for nature

and the out of doors.

I can put more miles on my bike.

I can try to distill wisdom from what I’ve learned

and experienced.

I can become better acquainted with myself.

I can begin to concentrate on living each moment

of each day more fully.

Finally, I can pursue my ongoing personal spiritual journey.

In this regard, I continue to be filled with awe

at the beauty and wonder of our world.

I choose to believe that a positive force

was behind the big bang that fashioned our earth

and the cosmos.

I see the influence of this life force everywhere I look.

However, though I subscribe to the tenants

of the golden rule and humanism,

I’m disillusioned with most human-invented organized


It’s my belief that since the advent of humankind,

there has been more blood to shed in the name of my religion

is better than your religion than for any other reason.

If I had to attach a label to myself,

it would probably be agnostic pantheists.

I’m still like the four-year-old boy I once was

when told by my dear father that God created the heavens

and the earth, I inquired who gave him the idea.

I’m continuing to search for an answer to that question,

even though I can never know what it is.

In the meantime, I found that it’s much more satisfying

and enjoyable than my enjoyable to live my life

as an optimist than as a pessimist.

And so I have passed these last 20 plus years

with all of the four going as my focus.

In the process, I’ve continued to learn from many others

and to develop new insights into my own.

The following is a list.

The following list is a distillation

of some of those thoughts and concepts

that have guided me in my daily life.

Even though I don’t come close to living up

to these guidelines I found the list to be helpful to me.

There’s a personal set of aspirations

that allows a list of 30, some of those things

that I am learning.

Who’s wonderful, but I want to play a little game.

I picked out a handful of these from the list.

The list is 30.

And I want to, I’ll read the piece that I’ve picked out

and would you expand on it.

Briefly, we’ll do a few of these.

Number three, we are all part of each other

and of all other living things.

It’s taken me a long time to evolve

to really believe that, but I do believe that.

I mean, I think as human beings, we really,

we share something in common

and life is just so much more real and meaningful

if we stick to that concept of being part of each other

and all living things.

I think particularly in this day and age,

the all living things is pretty important

because we’re all too often paying too little attention

to what’s happening in this wonderful earth

that we live on.

And I think that we need to have our growing respect

for nature and for this marvelous earth

that we live on.


How about number 12?

Use your creativity and talents to make a difference.

Well, that’s pretty obvious.

I think all of us are gifted one way or another

and I suppose I should put in there

to make a positive difference

that at each of us in our own way,

we have a gift that we can give

and that if we can combine it with an inspiring mind

and with a sense of creativity,

it’s gonna make a difference in the world.

Here’s one of my favorites, but it really,

to me, exemplifies one of the things I most admire

and respect about you.

Now, you’ve already shared with our audience

you are in your 80s and I know from personal experience

that you are as hardworking, if not harder,

as focused as devoted to excellence.

As anyone I’ve come across in his or her 30s or 40s or 50s

and so this one’s perfect, it’s number 15

and it says, the mind like steel is kept bright through use.

Well, I want to say thank you to my father for that

because I had that instilled in me at a very early age.

I am incredibly wonderful father.

I always wondered why he wasn’t president of the United States

but he, at the very beginning of this book,

I talked about the, says,

my clique grew from Midwestern soil

and was bent by loving parents with Midwestern values.

These values for the most part have stood me in good stead

and here’s that, let’s get to go to education, work hard

and you’ll get ahead, think about it.

It’s whatever you do to the best of your ability,

make something beautiful about it.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

And then here, the mind like steel is kept bright through use.

That was my father.

Be frugal, rub every nickel price before you spend it.

I was born in 1933, the year in the last century

when fewer children were born and then any other year.

And it was the depth of the depression.

So be frugal, rub every nickel price before you spend it on.

I still have a bit of that habit.

Each your Brussels sprouts, vegetables are good for you.

Drink lots of milk, take your ABDG vitamins every day,

clean your plate, there are children starving in India,

keep your room tidy, sticks and stones

can break your bones, but words can never help you.

Ruse about with his new deal is ruining the country

and don’t think dirty thoughts.

And so that one, the mind like steel is kept bright

through use, has been with me all my life.

Yeah, it’s apparent, I love it.

How about this one?

Number 22, it’s a variation on when we’ve already covered.

It’s be awestruck by the extraordinary beauty

and diversity of nature and do your bit

to preserve the planet.

Well, that’s self explanatory.

And I did, I spent some years on the board

of the Colorado Nature Conservancy.

I was also a Colorado representative

to the National Trustee Council of the Nature Conservancy.

And I’ve just thought that as human beings,

if we have no other responsibility,

it’s to do our bit to preserve the planet.

And that’s especially important in this day and age

when this concept of global warming is real.

And as human beings, every single one of us,

we really need to do our bit to preserve

the beauty and diversity of nature

and to preserve the planet.


There are three more I want to share.

So this one is number 26.

Have many friends and especially many young friends?

Well, that’s so important.

We live in this concept where you get to a certain age

and you go to a retirement community

that you’re surrounded by only your contemporaries.

And I just found that it’s so important to reach beyond that,

to reach into the ranks of younger friends

because they have so much to contribute.

And there are probably things that we have to contribute to them.

It’s just a lot more fun.

So Charlotte and I have tried very, very hard

to have a lot of young friends.

And we’re fortunate enough to have three children,

two girls and a boy and six, actually eight grandchildren,

two step grandchildren and six grandchildren

and they’re half and half boys, half girl.

And we’re fortunate to have these young people with us.

But I encourage every of all of you

who may be listening and be contemporaries

and are contemporaries of mine

to continue to reach out to have younger friends.

And vice versa, it’s actually a theme

that I discussed in yonearth

this, the other importance of intergenerational knowledge

and wisdom transfer, especially right now in these times.

So thanks for that one.

But now how about this one, number 27,

forgiving others is the key to healing oneself.

Taking me a while to really understand that.

But it seems to me that we should all learn

or place I speak for myself that just let it go

to forgive others.

I mean, we’re all feel that we’re wronged

one way or another from time to time.

But if we can all just learn to kind of let that go

and yes, by so doing, you’re healing yourself

by not harboring these revenge thoughts

against people who may feel they’re wronged you.

But it’s a lot better to live like that way.

Perhaps that allows for more laughter.


Now the final, and it’s interesting how these final few

really track the arc of the final few chapters

of why on earth I am struck by this.

But this number 29, love is the very essence of life.

Just just so self-explanatory.

I mean, I just have come to understand

that without love life is hardly worth living with love.

It’s very much worth living.

And the 30th one is dying is no big deal

if you’ve lived your human life fully.

And I don’t know you in the audience

what your concept of death is.

Mine is sort of 10 about going to sleep, having a dream

and then maybe it keeps going, maybe it doesn’t.

But if you’ve lived your human life fully,

I don’t think one has much to fear with death.

Mm, beautiful, beautiful.

But I’m struck that, and I want to ask you in a minute,

about this wonderful phrase, agnostic pantheists.

But let’s hold that thought.

I’m struck by one of the things you mentioned here

in the pros leading up to the list

about the bloodshed in the name of religion.

And I’m struck that many of my friends and colleagues

are ours, our friends and colleagues

will see capitalism or a version of capitalism

that is about the rampant self-interest

often to the detriment of the community or the environment.

And many folks would say that is actually a form of religion.

So let’s say it’s perhaps the fastest growing religion

on the planet.

And I’m so struck by that your leadership

as an educator, as a director, as an executive,

as a friend and colleague, has been instrumental

in bringing forth an idea that is conscious capitalism.

And to me, there’s such a rich opportunity

and important of vital necessity and understanding

this particular approach to business,

to participating in the market.

And I’m hoping you can share with us

what is conscious capitalism?

Why is it important right now?

Well, I’m glad you asked that question

because I think deeply about that.

Let me at the outset state that I’m a huge believer

in the positive potential of capitalism.

I think it’s been an incredibly positive force

in the last couple of hundred years,

certainly here in the United States

and bringing out the creativity of people.

But I think we’re at a time when some things have gotten

out of kilter a bit.

I spent 23 years on the board of directors

of Whole Foods Market.

And John Mackey, the founder and still CEO of Whole Foods,

and someone named Raj Cecilia, who happens

to be the Whole Foods endowed professor at Babson College,

where I previously was president,

developed this concept of conscious capitalism.

And it can be explained very simply.

There are three tenants.

In the United States, in the past,

the legal concept of a publicly owned corporation

has been that the greatest response

for the ordinary response, really, legally of the management

and boards of those country companies

has been to maximize shareholder profit.

And this is led to some unfortunate practices

in the field of capitalism.

Conscious capitalism, by contrast,

posits that the only responsibility of management

is to be driven by their purpose and their mission.

In the case of Whole Foods Market,

that purpose of mission was to sell the highest quality

natural organic, delicious, healthy foods possible

and help change the way people eat for the better

and help change the way agriculture is practiced for the better.

So pillar number one is to be driven,

a company should be driven primarily by their purpose

and the mission, not by profit,

not necessarily by profit, maximization.

I’ll say a word about profits later.

Secondly, pillar is that these organizations should be

led by what I call servant leaders,

whose job it is to create a culture

that’s going to bring out the best in everybody

associated with the enterprise,

not the command and control on the smartest guy

in the world do it my way type of leadership.

The third and most important thing is that

companies should be focused on optimizing

the returns to all their stakeholders,

not just one stakeholder their investors.

And by when I talk about their stakeholders,

at in the case of Whole Foods,

number one was the customer as a stakeholder.

Number two, the team member are employees as stakeholders.

Number three partners in the supply chain,

in the case of Whole Foods,

that meant the farmers and the middlemen in the process

of producing the food that they sold.

Number four, investors, yes, they’re important,

but it’s the whole idea is to optimize the return.

Number five, as a stakeholder,

are the communities in which these companies operate

and with a thoughtful consideration

of making sure they’re positive returns

to those communities.

The number six is the environment

that corporations should follow environmentally

responsible approaches and do their best in that regard.

In the case of Whole Foods,

they have three they had three not-for-profit endeavors.

The first one is the Whole People Foundation,

where Whole Foods is now doing lending

in some 65 countries, mainly 90% to women.

Initially, it was in partnership with Mohammed Yunus,

who developed the concept of this kind of way.

And they have a whole city foundation

where they’re developing,

they’ve been developing stores in areas like Detroit,

New Orleans, and Newark, and Chicago,

in parts of town that they can be very helpful to develop.

And then they have the Whole Kids Foundation

where they’re sponsoring gardens and so forth

in schools across the nation.

In any case, that’s the concept of conscious capitalism.

You could call it by many other names,

but conscious capitalism is the one that was developed

by John Mackey and Ross Cecilia.

And you could certainly learn more about that

as a conscious capitalism foundation right now.

Thank you, but that’s so important and we’ll make sure

to include some of that information in the show notes

for everybody.

Okay, I wanted to come back to agnostic pantheist.

What does that mean?

Well, it’s that I tried to explain,

I think there’s a positive force out there,

but I think the humans have, and for me personally,

my journey, I had one grandfather

who was a methodist minister in Wisconsin and Minnesota,

and he’d been born in Germany, Germany,

and he gave sermons in both German and English

every Sunday, and I was cataclyzed as a methodist

at an early age, and then when I got into middle school,

the Presbyterians had a better basketball team

for the kids, so I became Presbyterian for a while,

and I was married in the Piscopal Church

and was, you know, introduced to organized religion,

but as time has gone on, I’ve just been so concerned

about the fact that throughout the world

that there have been all these religious wars,

really more religious wars than anything else,

and once you try to organize religion

and say that’s the only true thing that people can believe,

and if you don’t believe the way we believe them,

we’re gonna kill you, that’s the world we’re living in right now.

And so I’ve sort of set a box on all organized religion,

yet as I said earlier, I believe in a very strong,

positive force that is driving all of life,

and I see this positive force every place,

particularly when I look in nature,

and so that’s the pantheist inside of it,

but I’m agnostic about whether there is God,

I’d like to think there’s a positive life force

at work, but I just, for the moment in my life,

I think that term agnostic, I don’t know what the answer is,

but I choose to see beauty and love everywhere I look

around me as I go through life,

and I don’t feel I need to have the organized religions

with all of their dogma, and that exists.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think many religions do very good things,

and the spirit that they follow,

which is really based on the golden rule,

if they really follow that,

then I totally applaud what they’re doing.

I don’t mean personally, I’ve tried to explain what my beliefs are.

Thank you for sharing that with us,

but in that term agnostic, not knowing pantheism,

finding the deity or divine in all things,

it reminds me of the deism of Thomas Jefferson

and others of the founding fathers of this nation,

and I’m struck that you pulled from another great mind

in the introductory quote of the entire book,

one of my most favorite authors, Herman Hesse,

many of my friends know I’m a bit of a student of Hesse’s work,

and golly, you picked this fabulous quote from his novel Damien,

and but I was hoping you might read it for us.


It’s from Damien, Herman Hesse.

Every man is more than just himself.

He also represents a unique,

the very special, and always significant,

and remarkable point at which the world’s phenomena intersect,

only once in this way, and never again.

That is why every man’s story is important, eternal, sacred.

That is why every man, as long as he lives

and fulfills the will of nature is wondrous

and worthy of every consideration.

I would say add to that in this era

in which we live every woman as long as she lives,

and fulfills the will of nature is wondrous

and worthy of every consideration.

Beautiful, but thank you,

and a final question for you.

What do you think this means to fulfill the will of nature

for us as individuals?

That’s just, that’s provocative.

Well, I hope that in the course of this conversation,

I’ve probably explained what I believe in that,

in that regard, and I think we all do the extent

that we can, we should live a joyful kind of life,

a giving kind of a life, a generous kind of a life,

and a loving kind of a life.

Thank you so much, bud.

Well, it is such a pleasure to have this opportunity

to speak with you today and to share our conversation

with our audience and before signing off.

I just wanna invite you, is there anything else you’d like

to say or mention before we conclude our discussion?

Well, I think the only thing I’d like to do

is to thank you, Aaron, for getting this yonearth,

move them nice clothes or concept for developing it

and trying to spread it, because I think that they can have

a lot of, do a lot of positive good for the world

and for a lot of people.

So I applaud that, I just want to thank you,

and thank you for inviting me today

to have this conversation.

Well, thank you, bud.

Thank you for joining me and us,

and thanks for being such a wonderful friend.

Okay, go, thanks.

Feeling is mutual.

I bet, bye.

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