An integral part of Conscious Capitalism since its inception, Jeff Klein passed away in his sleep on the night of the 26th of June 2014, due to an apparent heart attack. He was only 57 years old.
His beautiful heart may have stopped beating but his love and legacy lives on. His sudden passing is a reminder to all of us to enjoy every precious moment and an urgent call to keep working for good and make love visible throughout the world, and honour his memory by deepening and broadening Conscious Capitalism as much as we can, at every opportunity we still have.
My own heart reaches out to his daughter Meryl Fe and his family, to the Conscious Capitalism team and founders, and to everyone who loved him and connected with him.
I discovered Jeff through his TEDx Talk How the power of attention changes everything.
His message was that paying attention is the key to connection, connection with ourselves, connection to others and connection to the possibility of transforming our relationship with the world.
He quoted holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl saying that “between stimulus and response, there is a space, in this space, lies our freedom and power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and freedom”. He saw attention as a powerful force allowing us to recognise what’s going on and what we do with it.
He said that we can recognise that everything is connected to everything else, we can recognise the full effect of our actions, and we can discover effective ways for doing things differently, which includes the way we work together.
He described business as people coming together to do something together to create value for themselves, for others and for each others.
He saw conscious capitalism companies such as The Container Store or SouthWest Airlines as leaders at transforming the way we think about business, as they treat people with trust and care, respect and restore ecosystems, and recognise the interconnectedness of everything.
Jeff described himself as an activator (as one of the founders of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.) an author (of the award-winning book Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living and the newly released It’s Just Good Business: The Emergence of Conscious Capitalism & the Practice of Working for Good), a producer (of Conscious Capitalism events, including an annual Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit, and a process facilitator(designing Conscious Culture development programs and Stakeholder Engagement Marketing™ campaigns).
Jeff has left a big space to fill, and one way to start doing something about it is to decide where do we put our attention now that he has disappeared, how do we want to carry on the work he has started, how do we spread his message, so it touches wider and wider audiences beyond what he would have loved to do himself?
If you’d like to support Jeff’s teenage daughter MerylFe Klein, you can make donations out to “The Meryl Fe Klein Beneficiary Trust” and mailed to:
The Meryl Fe Klein Beneficiary Trust
c/o Keller Kline
731 W Turner Street
Allentown, PA 18102
“I hope corporations will dedicate a percentage of their top innovators’ time to issues that could help people left out of the global economy. This kind of contribution is even more powerful than giving cash or offering employees’ time off to volunteer. It is a focused use of what your company does best. It is a great form of creative capitalism, because it takes the brainpower and makes life better for the richest, and dedicates some of it to improving the lives of everyone else.” – Bill Gates
There is a growing community of business people and companies in Australia that are dedicated to changing the state of capitalism so that it truly elevates humanity and contributes to a better world. Their activities may differ but all of them apply the Conscious Capitalism principles of Higher Purpose, Stakeholder Orientation, Conscious Leadership and Conscious Culture.
Below is a snapshot of the companies leading the way:
1- Whole kids
Whole Kids is Australia’s leading brand of organic, healthy kids snacks. Founded by James and Monica Meldrum, the company is committed to nourishing healthy kids.
They created their business based on Conscious Capitalism principles and are committed to live and breathe their social and environmental purpose every day through:
- Healthy products – by making the most natural, wholesome and environmentally sustainable food for children and families.
- Healthy people – by nurturing the health and wellbeing of their customers and people in a way that is respectful and responsible.
- Healthy planet – by working to provide a sustainable environment for current and future generations, and to restore planet’s health.
Our purpose is underpinned by our commitment to operating our business on the fundamental philosophy that business needs to exist for a deeper purpose beyond profit. We believe that businesses must contribute positively to a more sustainable, more equitable and more respectful relationship with their local communities, stakeholders, environment and wider society.
Swisse culture starts with the belief that if the focus is on people, passion and principles, profits will naturally follow.
They have shortened the order of their priorities as – ‘people, principles and passion before profit’ – referred to as ‘The 4 Ps’.
The Four Ps
People : Swisse staff are given an extra ‘Health and Happiness’ day of leave each month to spend time with their families or friends, a fortnightly massage and free personal training and yoga classes. A healthy, fresh lunch is provided daily for all staff at their foundation Australian offices in Melbourne and Sydney. They also include customers and partners under ‘people’. Making sure to over-deliver on promises and build long-standing relationships is an important goal at Swisse.
Principles are all based around what will make the world and their workplace a healthier and happier place. They have a couple of catchy sayings that help guide their choices such as: ‘Morals before money’ and ‘Customer care before profit share’.
Passion They want their people to love their work, because they believe there is no engine to drive a business like a group of passionate people pointed in the same direction.
Profit They consider that results would not be what they are if they didn’t have the three other Ps right.
At the core of Swisse philosophy is a belief that the conventional approach to health can be improved upon. They believe that people should focus on maintaining and sustaining their wellness, rather than only seeking help when their health is suffering. They also believe that wellness is linked to how we spend our time, what we put into our bodies, and how we approach life. Positive thinking, positive relationships, healthy food and healthy activities are all part of living a healthy, happy life.
Conscious Capitalism is a term that was first coined by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus. In an interview , he was quoted saying: “I’m encouraging young people to become social business entrepreneurs and contribute to the world, rather than just making money. Making money is no fun. Contributing to and changing the world is a lot more fun.”
Kip Tindell (CEO of the Container Store) and John Mackey (co-CEO of Whole Foods Market) co-founded Conscious Capitalism Alliance in 2007. The term “Conscious Capitalism” is now a trademark of Conscious Capitalism Inc, the organization behind Conscious Capitalism Alliance.