Conscious Branding and business gurus

An interesting feature I have come across since embarking on my current course binge, is the rise of the digital hippies.  A great number of high achieving, big brand middle managers and branding specialists seem to discover yoga at a formative mid-life-crisis point in their lives, and are now making their living ‘transforming’ business.

Far be it from me to criticize this worthy effort, but I have to say the effects of this B2B marketing are variable.  I do like the manner of some of these uber calm Steve Jobs impersonators, but I am not at all sure that creating a kind of hippy subculture in relation to something as serious as ecological economics is entirely sensible.

Here are a few examples:

Conscious Business Institute – Peter Matties – Peter has a lovely manner, but is very keen to sell courses in leadership and culture transformation, as long as it suits his work-life balance at the time.  You can find more information from his website. Whilst, as a habitual overworker, I can see the value in ensuring that your (often very productive) time off to think is just as important as your time in the saddle, I question the general value of meditation and spiritualism in a business context, unless you can persuade everyone to do it.

Ulab Presencing InstituteOtto Scharmer  MIT has a department devoted to Otto, who has some interesting publications, and 28,000 people, including many from the Scottish Government, have embraced his notion that collective hivemind meditation will lead to a more progressive form of economics for the future.  Sadly, I missed the course, but I have some of the files from the 2010 course.  In the event that he runs another one this year, it might be worth taking a look at, since this seems to be the Scottish Nationalist/civil service equivalent of Common Purpose for the Labourites in the UK.

Robert Bo Lockwood Regenerating America. I am sorry to say that I was unable to complete Bo’s course as he has a bad tendency to stick to a script, to the point of rendering his course unlistenable-to.  He is using hippy imagery to sell a branding and ethical concept to American business.  Good luck to him, but he really needs to sharpen his act to appeal to a wider audience and cut down on superfluous words and uber-patriotism.

Seva business Networking A place for believers in conscious business to oil each other up, in the tradition of business networkers everywhere.  Again, good idea, but we seem to be creating a B2B niche, rather than genuinely making efforts to change business practice.

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I am sorry, Cathi, but Abundance Reality Group rings serious bells of doom.

Conscious Business Network another network for practitioners of conscious business.  If you are in the USA, enjoy yoga, or sell to people who like talking a good game and selling themselves as ethical/sustainable/conscious this is possibly the place for you.

Fred Kofman

Fred Kofman has a book and some of the usual American marketing techniques, but this at least appears to be some attempt at a cultural shift in addition to money generation. The difference is that if a cultural shift were affected, Trump would be sneering about his better-than-the-opposition commitment to renewables, instead of dissing Mexicans.

Conscious Business Network UK the UK version, for serious worthies who want to meet, greet and market to each other.

How Conscious is Conscious Business?

Call me cynical, but I feel a style is developing in which people talk only to each other.  A worthy clique, or set of worthy cliques, is not the same as a cultural shift. I am working on a couple of relevant courses at the moment, and the spirit of perfectly normal marketing is strong.  Nobody is making any clear definitions, and nobody is being encouraged to talk about it rationally.  eg. Sourcing a proportion of organic cotton is not the same as recycling waste.  Hemp is not truly avoiding exploiting land for production.  Discussing the ethics of re-use in terms of lost jobs, is not the same as a genuine commitment to think differently.  Then, of course, you see a backlash:

Beware the digital hippies

Most of the genuine eco-warriors I know, who are carrying out perfectly normal, if technologically advanced, businesses in solar, renewables and alternative technical wizardry, would find this movement rather perplexing.  They have a completely different approach, involving a more scientific vision of the world, and practical methods of approaching change.

I’m with them on this one.  Either you make a policy statement if you are an artist or small business; you market, if you are an alternative health practitioner; or you learn and transform as an individual or academic.  B2B marketing is a different thing, and whilst I applaud the sentiment and the effort, I would caution people in the conscious business movement not to cling too hard to the sandals and dreadlocks. There are plenty of meditative pursuits that do not involve sharing a space with cross legged friends.

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