Meetings We Like: Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit

Author: Casey Gale       

Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit

The Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit is designed so that corporate leaders are active participants. (Courtesy Conscious Capitalism Inc.)

As an organization, Conscious Capitalism Inc. aims to build and support a global network of leaders who lean into the better nature of capitalism, as a means to elevate — not exploit — humanity.

“We work at the local, regional, and global level with conscious capitalists that represent a wide variety of industries and even sizes of business,” Amanda Kathryn Roman, the company’s chief innovation officer, told Convene. “We have everyone from small businesses and solopreneurs all the way up through some of the larger publicly traded companies. It’s a rather large and diverse movement.”

The organization accomplishes this with what it calls the “three C’s” — building capacity by helping them expand business practices to help grow and develop their employees and the environments they’re operating in; communicating with clients by sharing stories of fellow conscious capitalists who are presenting new ways to do business; and building community through live events, like the annual Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit.

What the Summit’s All About

The idea for the CEO Summit, which will celebrate its 14th year Oct. 13–15 at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Austin, Texas, began when a small group of business leaders realized that when they made time to connect and build relationships with fellow leaders, they started doing business a bit differently.

“They were putting people at the center of it, as opposed to profit,” Roman said. What launched with around a dozen executives has grown to a gathering of more than 275 — capped at 300 — CEOs, presidents, and founders from around the world.

“To do business in this way and to kind of utilize these types of best practices, if you don’t have the commitment and the passion and the leadership from the person at the top of the organization, there’s only so far that it can go,” Roman said. “The CEO Summit itself is a very intimate gathering where, because you’re sitting in a room with just other CEOs, there’s a certain level of understanding and awareness of what that mental responsibility feels like.”

Why We Like It

The annual, highly interactive gather- ing takes place in a hotel ballroom, transformed into what Roman describes as a “massive living room,” complete with sofas, coffee tables, and plenty of spots to sit together and connect at a personal level. Conscious Capitalism does not refer to CEO Summit-goers as attendees, but participants, any of whom “could also be on stage” given their experience in their respective industries, Roman said. “It’s not an event or a gathering where you can come and listen from the back corner. We really do want people engaging and learning with one another.”

The event’s dynamic yet cozy setting allows participants to think from a human-centered perspective and be more vulnerable with one another. At last year’s event, Roman said, “The Struggle is Real” panel’s discussion was the opposite of what might be expected at a successful business leadership conference.

“Instead of talking about the hero’s journey and reaching that pinnacle point at the end where everything is solved and you reached your goal,” she said, the panelists “were sitting in the middle of a very challenging or difficult time and weren’t sure what the right way to proceed was, and were actually looking for, ‘How do I align my conscious capitalism philosophy and my shared values with this community with the business decisions I have to make?’ And there was a lot of opportunity for other leaders in the room to provide guidance, advice, support, and resources throughout the course of the conference.”

Casey Gale is an associate editor at Convene.