Carol Sanford


Game-Changing Entrepreneurs: Beyond “Doing the Right Thing and Doing Good”

November 26th, 2012 · No Comments

All entrepreneurs spark a better future—their own and sometimes all of ours. The ideas they start with offer opportunities to develop new potential and to do it in their own ways. But not all entrepreneurial intentions or paths are the same; nor do they bring about the same degree of meaningful change.

There are at least two different paths that are intended to serve more than just an individual founder or leader. Some entrepreneurs see their businesses as the means to create higher orders of possibility for the work of business, itself.  The path they take most often is that of the role-model entrepreneur, providing exemplars for new ways to do business that break from the traditional model.

For example, a business led by a role-model entrepreneur may demonstrate a radically new way to treat a workforce or it may show how it’s possible to better account for Earth resources in terms or impact or ways for communities where facilities and operations exist to take their impacts into consideration. New products or services are the likeliest, successful results of this kind of entrepreneurship.

Such endeavors are created from the heartfelt belief that they are the right way to do things. Some leaders are willing to stand up for the new way, speaking and writing about it, but leaving it to others to consider what they will do with the example offered. For this reason, the role-model approach may be too slow and too late to create the kinds of change that are urgently needed now. More must be done.

The second path is the way of the game-changer entrepreneur, whose intention is to go beyond becoming a role model and building a business with integrity simply because this is the better way. Although this is indeed a worthy effort, for those entrepreneurs who see even further into the future, becoming role models and trusting others to follow is not enough to bring about the changes we need to foster now.

The game changer’s path is to build and grow a business with the intention to make fundamental changes beyond the business, itself, and the values embedded in its way of operating. The game-changer understands that business can be a way to intervene or become a catalyst for fundamental changes in the patterns and practices of government, industry (its own and sometimes others), societal norms, cultural agreements, and many other aspects of the ways in which nations operate for the wellbeing of all.

The game changer is a new, big-promise entrepreneur, The Responsible Entrepreneur, a new breed who make promises, often in very public forums, to make things work better for all. In two recent articles, I introduced four archetypes or approaches to take entrepreneurs’ good intentions and develop from them the game-changer path. The first of these is published at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The second—“How Big is Your Promise?”—is at CSRwire. The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes, my latest book, will be out in 2013.

To spread the word about game changing as an essential component of the entrepreneurial role, I have founded The Responsible Entrepreneur Institute. The institute will offer workshops online, as teleseminars, and in person. It will publish a unique blog for entrepreneurs who aspire to elevate their promises to the level of game changing. The first set of workshops will combine both virtual and in person sessions in Seattle, beginning early in the year.

Free Responsible Entrepreneur Teleseminar

To provide more information about the institute and the Responsible Entrepreneur Workshops coming in 2013, I am offering a teleseminar on Dec. 5, 2012, at 4 pm Pacific Time. If you sign up here, you can listen to the recording even if you cannot attend. This teleseminar and the 2013 workshops are appropriate for both entrepreneurs who own their own businesses and intrapreneurs who are seeking to change the game using business platforms that others have created.

Managing People Responsibly for Innovation

September 25th, 2012 · 1 Comment

Women in Innovation 2012 just took place in Seattle. I loved it. I loved speaking and leading a panel. I loved all but one thing: One person on one panel had such an outdated view of business leadership that I couldn’t figure out how she got there or which teachers had advised her.

Her sin? She kept referring to “her people” and admonishing us to “get rid of the bad seeds as quickly as possible.” This was her advice to an auditorium filled with young women—very young in some cases—who wanted to know how to innovate. From the standpoint of managing people, she failed on the innovation front.

It is time I write about responsible management and innovation. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. It seems difficult to explain but also terribly important because some business leaders in their thirties are thinking like the old leaders of the previous era. My worst fear? I saw some of the young entrepreneurs in the audience taking notes.

Last year Inc. magazine asked me for my advice to small businesses and entrepreneurs. My answer was “do not copy the outdated—if they were ever relevant—or popular practices of old line business.” The previous and present eras I speak of are actually two worldviews. I call them Fixed Performance and Dynamic Developmental. They need to be a concern for parents, teachers, leaders in business and government, and anyone who works with any living thing. [Read more →]

Hierarchies vs. Personal Health and Social Productivity

August 27th, 2012 · No Comments

Open Culture website recently republished some interesting research on stress and its effect on people’s lives. The major point of the piece is that the higher you are in the hierarchy at work or the social strata, the better your health will be. The study shows that this is not because you have greater access to better health care. Personal agency and control of one’s life were the greatest predictor. You are much less likely to have high blood pressure and risk of diabetes and stroke if you are the top boss or wealthy.

You can get the details from the video, an imbedded copy of the 2008 National Geographic documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer. The study included baboons and humans and focused down to the cellular level.

The idea of social status dictating stress risks is so far outside the consideration of my doctor—and I’ll bet yours also—as to mean that they are likely treating the wrong things. My friend, the brilliant intrepreneur Annalie Killlian, who is with AMP, called my attention to the piece. In the last minute of the film, there are a few very short references to making work places more conducive to each person’s feeling a bit of control. A “business person,” speaking to the implications for employers, suggests that bosses make work less stressful by promoting involvement, and even give people better rewards for their work. In addition to thoughts about my own risks and steps I should take to reduce them, I had several reactions to this set of ideas for businesses.

It was outrageous that the man making the suggestions never saw the conflict in his two suggestions— involvement with a little control and reward for work. A bit of involvement may produce some small sense of personal agency, but the promise of rewards puts a person at the mercy of someone else’s approval—or not—a contrarian approach to producing personal agency. Based on the findings of the study, it would actually increase stress based. If a business is serious about fostering personal agency, they need to put a stop to rewards from “others.”

CONTEST: Send me you favorite quotes from The Responsible Business in exchange for one hour of coaching on any subject— Five names will be selected in a random drawing. [Read more →]

The Responsible Resource: The Ethics and Practice of Helping

August 6th, 2012 · 1 Comment

We all need help sometimes. We need ideas and help clarifying them. We need help straightening out ideas about ourselves and the world and help living up to our potential as full human beings. So do organizations.

Many of us  do more than our job at work, seeking to improve the ability and outcomes of all that surrounds us. Some of us decide to take on life roles that are specifically focused on supporting others in change and growth. About four decades ago, I learned from a great “helper” in my life that the help we give is not neutral and that in fact it can have outcomes that work against independent humanness and responsibility in work life. [Read more →]

The Responsible Coach, Trainer, Consultant

July 16th, 2012 · 4 Comments

Every coach, trainer, and consultant believes they can and do help build The Responsible Business. But do they really? Do they foster responsible behavior as part of their expertise and code of practice? Are they promoting practices that develop responsibility at all levels of business and society? What yardsticks do they use to assess their effects? These three professions make up a multi-billion dollar industry with a huge reach and significant impact. They affect strategic and operating choices and in almost all businesses, governments, and not-for-profits. What if coaches, trainers, and consultants are one of the obstacles to building responsible businesses and a better world?

I have been very critical of these three professions and feel justified in being so because I sometimes call myself a consultant, even though the title is not exactly correct in my case. I am more an educator and I call myself a Resource. This is not just a matter of semantics, and regardless, I am part of the industry. I have shunned talking about its practices in this blog, for the most part because it’s hard to know where to start. But I have decided that now is the time to begin. Today’s post, along with my upcoming teleseminar and series of workshops, is offered to elevate thinking about The Responsible Coach, The Responsible Trainer, and The Responsible Consultant. Those of you who fill one of these roles, with or without a certificate, may find this useful and, if I present it well, possibly a bit disturbing.

The Dark Side of the Business Helping Professions

From my point of view, there are many limiting and even some toxic or irresponsible coaching and consulting practices, which I call Class One Errors, a term borrowed from an ecosystems-tending system called Permaculture. For this post I have selected three of the most significant and, quite honestly, the easiest ones to describe without being face-to-face with you for a few hours, weeks or even years. They are the “False Client Error,” “Managing Rats Error,” and “Beat Your Wife Less Error.” [Read more →]

Microsoft: The Perfect Example of an Irresponsible Business

July 9th, 2012 · No Comments

Vanity Fair’s exposé of Microsoft, published today, leaves me not knowing where to start. There are so many things wrong. If I owned stock in Microsoft (and I do not) I would sell it now. They have pretty much done everything it takes to stop innovation and growth in a company. Let’s see if I can say how they’ve done it and why they should stop—anything that is not already obvious.

For my book, The Responsible Business, I interviewed current and ex-Microsoft employees, many at executive levels. I also interviewed suppliers and corporate customers. They painted a stark picture of a dysfunctional company, but that was not the story I wanted to tell. I used those interviews as a contrast with Apple and Gore, of Gore-tex fame, to describe ways to manage, lead and strategize responsibly. The state of Microsoft came as no surprise to me, but it was discouraging. Not that I care so much for Microsoft, but I am deeply committed to American innovation and business leadership.

Here are the eighteenth-century work practices reported by Kurt Eichenwald, author of the Vanity Fair piece, that led to a decade of lost potential. Microsoft makes sure that, in every round of reviews, some people fail, and that those at the top are not necessarily the best, but only the most clever manipulators of their own image and visibility. Managers negate creative expression, punish those who dare to be imaginative, and ignore the insightful ideation of their young, social, media savvy workforce. And, oh yes, they do not really care what customers need. As a result, Apple makes more on the iPhone than Microsoft does from all of their products combined.

But why should we care, if we are not shareholders or really big customers?  And even more, why do I say that Microsoft’s failure is irresponsible? [Read more →]

The Responsible Entrepreneur and The Social Entrepreneur – Part Two

July 8th, 2012 · 1 Comment

I posted an entry to my blog last week about the difference between The Responsible Entrepreneur and The Social Entrepreneur, in which I looked at six entrepreneurial characteristics and the necessity for a responsible CHANG(E) system in order to be both successful and responsible in business. Today I am going to build on that start and add another couple of differences between the two kinds of entrepreneur. These are differences that are critical to the responsibility side of the equation and necessary to make change happen faster. Speed matters these days because we may be running out of time on some social and ecological issues.

First, some reminders: A Social Entrepreneur sees a social need or gap and figures out how to make a business out of it so they can make a living while making the problem go away. The Responsible Entrepreneur sees that any business can be carried out responsibly and that, in fact, good businesses always run responsibly. How they do business makes the world better and in all of their work they consciously foster a better natural and social world. [Read more →]

Entrepreneurs. Grow Your Business, Responsibly

July 4th, 2012 · 3 Comments

The Responsible Entrepreneur versus The Social Entrepreneur

The Fourth of July parade I just watched in my new hometown, abutting north Seattle, reminded me of something really important about America. We are
entrepreneurial to our core. The rugged individual is in our DNA. The rebel, take-no-prisoners archetype is how we brag and demonstrate our mettle—men and women. We were brought up questioning authority. At least most of us were. So it’s not surprising that we take on even social issues in an entrepreneurial way—as social entrepreneurs. But this may not be the best way. [Read more →]

Do It Yourself Era

June 20th, 2012 · No Comments

I love 800CEOREAD’s blog. 800CEOREAD sells books published by, well, publishers. Not DIY.  In spite of that this week they offer a fun and useful piece about DIY in the process of reviewing a book. It opens this way:

“We live in a do-it-yourself age. … Not only is the world more competitive than twenty years ago, there’s also our expanding life span, growing levels of education, a more open society in which people can seek individual fulfillment, and the trend towards second careers later in life. Not to forget the impact of the digital revolution—just look at how blogs and social media are changing journalism.

It’s worthwhile that amateurs are learning from professionals. It makes society more fluid and varied, and individuals more fulfilled, even in difficult economic times. As Jack Hitt writes in A Bunch of Amateurs, “the cult of the amateur is the soul of America. It’s really in our DNA that you can walk away from everything and start again in your metaphorical garage. Just think of Steve Jobs as one of the most iconic amateurs turned superstars.”


I have a published book, with a publisher, and another on the way. But I just reached into the DIY publishing world by setting up a list of ebooks for sale on Kindle. Very interesting experience. Check out three up so far. I don’t expect to become the Steve Jobs of self-epublishing but it is really fun and a way to get shorter ideas out into the world that are useful.

I also have about three seats left for the Change the World Without Changing Jobs tele seminar on this Thursday at 1 pm PT. If you are at all curious about being involved in one of four crowd-sourcing ways (from more effort, down to little demand on time and learning), then join us by signing up here. It is also recorded for later listening. Tell you friends as well.


CHANG(E)™ the World Without Changing Jobs

June 11th, 2012 · No Comments

Two questions I’m asked repeatedly are, “Where might I go to get a job consistent with my values?” “How can I, as an individual contributorl, apply the ideas in your book, The Responsible Business?”

The answers to both questions are similar. “CHANG(E)™ principles are universal. They do not depend on a particular job or title. When you understand how change happens, you can lead significant change from any position in any situation.” My next book, The Responsible Human: Changing the World Without Changing Jobs™, and the courses that will follow from it will focus on building that understanding and capability.

I plan to “crowd source” parts of the new book with a select group of people who will work closely with me to learn how deep and lasting change happens and how it can be initiated and led by an individual contributor—executive or not—within any organizational role. On June 21 at 1:00pm Pacific Time, I will offer a free teleseminar introducing the ideas in the book and providing information on how to participate in the crowd sourcing. The teleseminar will also introduce the core ideas related to CHANG(E)™ and ways to lead major changes like those described in The Responsible Business.

Everyone is welcome to this free tele seminar. When you register for it, you also will get access on demand to the recorded call.

For many people the teleseminar will be the start they need to change their impacts in their current jobs. Those who want to understand more about change and leadership or to become one of the “crowd” in the book development process will learn how to go further.

The teleseminar is free but you must register. You may also listen at a later time if 1:oo on June 21 doesn’t work for you. If you are able to join us on the 21st, you will be able to ask questions, participate in the launching of a grand new book approach and learn a profound and proven way to engage organizations in change.

Register here. [