“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
I spent the weekend in a hot room with a bunch of hot women stepping out on their own heroine’s journey in pursuit of that version of success. Is it possible to live with a sense of alignment between your values and your daily work, save the world, and make good money too? Can you like what you do and like HOW you do it?
Many of us are trying to find that. If nothing else, trying to manage the crazy of the entertainment industry with some modicum of inner peace, focusing on the why when the how gets too overwhelming, surrounding ourselves with like-minded friends who remind us to bring levity to the game and breathe more and downward dog more and love more. And maybe some of us are even attempting to apply the same mindset to an entrepreneurial endeavor these days. After all, a bunch of us are realizing, we’re artists but we can be business people too, dammit. Just the nice kind… who care and stuff.
But this is bigger than us. There’s a whole movement underway that’s changing business as we know it on a national and even global scale… ‘cuz as it turns out, we’re not alone in wanting balance, and wondering if love and business can possibly go hand in hand, and if we can like ourselves at the end of the day.
Non-artists want that too.
Back in 2009 – oh, remember ’09? When we were still reeling from the recession and hating banks and not yet occupying Wall Street and wondering if we were ever going to work again? I had just moved to Los Angeles seeking refuge from the disgruntled-ification of the strapped New York theater scene and hoping that following the old adage, “go west!” would bring about my date with Tinseltown destiny (it did and it didn’t – as with those early frontiersmen and -women I’ve found some true eurekas and some fools’ gold, aaaaand I’ll leave the metaphor there).
That same year the CEO and founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, hit the scene with a newfangled term – Conscious Capitalism – that he told Fast Company at the time was “a fairly new idea, but it’s going to have a huge impact. I do believe it will become the dominant paradigm of business in the 21st century.” The idea at its simplest is one you’ve probably been smelling whiffs of all over the place: companies that care about their purpose and not just their profit end up making a bigger profit after all. We Millennials (although we’re not alone in this) like feeling that we’re buying from good companies rather than feeling that our dollars are supporting evil enterprises. Funny that.
And it seems we’re making a difference.
The headline of that Fast Company article on Conscious Capitalism back in 2009 asked cynically, “Isn’t it too late to believe in magic?” But today, the magazine known for covering innovation in business is singing a different tune: an article about the Conscious Capitalism trend from earlier this summer stated that companies that aren’t updating their business practices are simply less likely to thrive – and announced that “this holistic approach to business may be the most significant movement of our time.”
What does this mean for us? For women in Hollywood? Conscious Capitalism gives us permission. If we have passion and emotions and a desire to screw the “work-life balance” and call the whole thing LIFE, then there’s hope. And if we want to make money at the end of the day and not feel gross about it, then there’s hope there too. We’re not unrealistic romantics; we’re what ‘business as usual’ needs to become if humans are going to survive as a species.
Which brings me back to that steamy room. I had gotten a notice in my inbox for something called the TOGETHER! Conference, and signed up on impulse. This turned out to be the latest in a series of gatherings over the last year or so in LA, led by a woman named Tatjana Luethi, a Swiss-born UX/design/branding expert who’s found her calling in helping women figure out what they want to do, and do it in a way they like. As the literature says, “ this conference series caters to women who are passionate about merging their personal and professional background & experience into a meaningful, purpose-driven and financially prosperous career or business as a vehicle for personal fulfillment and to make a difference and contribution to our society and culture.”
And guys, it was stunning. It’s like Tatjana wrenched the Conscious Capitalism movement out of the realm of big business and into the hands of female entrepreneurs hungry to make something that matters. The conference was messy and organic and chock full of inspiring ideas and practical tools. Here’s a visual that real-time artist Greg Whicker made of the first day:
Tatjana pulled together a top-notch lineup of conscious business aficionados bursting with wisdom: there were exercises to go deeper with our brands, our purpose, and our customers. There were speakers who inspired new approaches to building a business model that truly reflects our values. There were examples of companies whose employees were actually filtering every single decision through the company ethos. There were panels (the good kind, where everyone on it really makes it about the audience and really listens) of men and women who’ve started something good– who left their soul-sucking job to launch a risky venture that they loved, and did so in a way they’re proud of and that’s sustainable for their bank accounts and for the planet. There was yummy sponsored food throughout from Whole Foods and snacks from other companies known for their conscious business practices.
And then there were the other ladies in attendance.
People who gravitate toward this movement are often people who meditate. Or do yoga. Or surf. Or have some sort of practice that gets them in touch with the gentle voice within. Gather them in a room together and you’ve got a lot of authentic, glowy people, genuinely throwing ego to the wind without having to throw ambition out along with it. Over the two day conference a real community formed – a tribe. Painter Emily Toriello told me, “I love being in a group of amazing women, and inspiring women. Before I came here I was actually really scared to start a business and now after being in this group of women I feel so ready and empowered and just … excited.” And marketing/business development gal Janet Rodriguez said as the conference was winding down,“interaction after interaction, activity after activity, everything’s falling into this divine perfect synchronicity, building on the previous discovered things. First defining a brand – I didn’t even know I had a brand – and then I’m defining it, and not just that, it’s helping me answer my bigger life questions about what I want to do.”
The brilliant keynote speaker, Pilar Stella, a heroine of the Silicon Beach world, reminded us of the famous Steve Jobs quote – that in this context suddenly had even deeper meaning.
“Here’s to the crazy ones — the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
If you’re interested in reading more about the Conscious Capitalism movement, check out this and this. If you’re curious about the next conference Tatjana’s running, go here and maybe you’ll happen across your own tribe. As she and others reminded us, even as a “solopreneur” (or an actress, or a feature film writer, or a producer going it alone) we aren’t alone. Delegate, barter, seek mentorship or business coaching, start a support group or join one for women regardless of industry and see how many similarities you have.
I get no kickbacks for this. Well, unless we’re talkin’ karmically.