The Curious Capitalist – Conscious Business Collaborative

On this episode of The Curious Capitalist podcast, we are talking about the name change from Conscious Capitalism Connecticut to the Conscious Business Collaborative (CBC) and speak about the forthcoming Conscious Leader Network.

I am joined by CBC Chair and Author, Gavin Watson, Executive Director and Founder of Red Rock Branding, Glen McDermott, Associate Executive Director Elinor Slomba, and our special guest is Karin Patriquin from Patriquin Architects based in New Haven, Connecticut.

Visit the Conscious Business Collaborative Website

Visit Karin Patriquin’s Company website – Patriquin Architects

Gavin Watson’s LinkedIn page

Buy Gavin’s Book “Altruistic Business” here

Glen McDermott’s LinkedIn page

Elinor Slomba’s LinkedIn page

Red Rock Branding


Welcome to the latest installment of The Curious Capitalist, brought to you by the Conscious Business Collaborative Board in Connecticut. The Curious Capitalist is a series of podcasts where we take the opportunity to speak with a wide range of guests, including board members, business owners, and startups.

Our purpose is to engage, educate, and inspire business leaders at all stages in their careers. To think and work more collaboratively and sustainably. Please subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts from. Welcome along to the latest episode of The Curious Capitalist. Now we've had some exciting developments in the last few months, including a name change, a new website, and of course lots of planning as we prepare for our next Conscious Leaders Network.

Now on today's episode, I'm very excited to have the lovely Gavin Watson back, the Conscious Business Collaborative, which we will now call CBC, chair. We've also got Glenn McDermott, who is the executive director of CBC and also the CEO and founder of Red Rock Branding. Eleanor Slombra also joins us. She is the CBC Associate Executive Director and our very special guest today is Karen Patriquin.

Karen is the President of Patriquin Architects, so welcome along. It's a full house today, so let's get started. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Curious Capitalist. Okie dokie, let's fire some questions and let's find out what's been going on. Glenn, you're the Executive Director. Tell me about this name change.


Claire. Great to be in the room with so many talented people and it was a really just a change to reflect and better describe who we are and what we do. And we really wanted to get the collaborative piece in there because we thought that was essential to put those signals out very clearly to Community leaders, CEOs, this is something we all do together.

And that was the most active additional word into the name change. And it's been very well received by the long standing supporters and leaders within the group. And it was very much a collaborative process actually doing it. So we're excited to, to be here in 2024 with this new signals to the community.

Awesome. And when did the name change take effect and who was involved? Eleanor, Gavin, I can kind of see you there chomping at the bit.

January 1st is when the name change officially took root and the reflection of our values is really to hold our autonomy up very highly as financial stewards and as thought leaders.

Conscious Capitalism continues to be an international movement and we hold fast to its tenets. But the conscious Business collaborative is just a little bit bigger tent and a few different sandboxes to play in and partnerships with institutions like Southern Connecticut State University, who have very quickly and nimbly adapted to the new language.

And they actually teach these tenants as part of their curriculum. So it's all starting to make sense.

Awesome. I know you and Gavin had an event not so long ago at the university. Tell me a little bit about that and how has the change been received and what exciting things have they got going on there?

Well, I'd say that the university is really taking the conscious business idea and going full speed with that. And a lot of business schools are still teaching business and working business in a very traditional way that it's been done for, say, the last century or so. The idea that to do well in business, you, you really have to focus on the bottom line.

You have to focus on your shareholders and, and all of that. And so this other idea is really that, that, that is important and it is essential, but it's not what business is really all about. It's just what, you know, keeps the business going. And Southern Connecticut has, has really jumped in with both feet and is taking this to heart and is revamping what they're doing in their business school and how they're approaching not only the, in their school, but also in their community and, and they're walking the talk and doing it themselves.

It's really cool to see. It's awesome to see that and to have such an impact and locally as well.

And I have to say they're one of the colleges and universities that have taken an interest in our organization. The Conscious Business Collaborative, CBC, is going to be going, taking our show on the road, going to NYU on March 28th with stories of folks who have held.

On to their values and their purpose through a number of career changes. So speaking to younger folks in the, who are just starting out about how do you look at the whole span of your career and stay values driven throughout the changes that are inevitably going to occur. We also have a partnership with UConn.

Are going to be holding a virtual event on April 16th surrounding success in university business partnerships. What that looks like with a case study where one of our Conscious Leaders Network members hired. 40 graduate students to do a big, big data project for his augmented reality in retail companies.

So that's going to be virtual on April 16th and anyone can attend.

So many great events on the horizon already after a January 1st launch. Tell me a little bit about the board. Glenn, if you tell me a little bit about the board, have there been any changes? Who have you got behind the scenes if you like at CBC who are actively involved at a board level?

We've got a small board and they're dedicated to their individual industries which is quite diverse with a focus on manufacturing I guess and education so it's no surprise that the the college is lining up to have some more of the the kind of ideas that we've been cultivating and I'm thrilled to say that they have because this has been a long Project of mine and the boards to engage with various universities.

So we're thrilled that we can, in a meaningful way, get involved with their future employee selection. We see ourselves as a, as a broker of some sorts where we can, you know, lead them forward as to. having more conscious lives in their workplace. So it's really good to have the support of this group going forward.

And, and I think that's really essentially where the conscious leadership came from as a, as a collective idea, because in 2020, as we were leading our way out of the murkiness of COVID, we. We realized that we were getting questions from CEO saying, yeah, this all sounds great guys, but how do you do it?

How do you, how do you put it into action? So we challenged the board to come up with a program that could answer those questions. And some of the board members were, were, were highly skilled. somewhat time affluent. So it was definitely a unique timing opportunity and that we had. So we, we created the first cohort in 2021, and now we're in our third year and we're thrilled here to be talking to that and about that.

And particularly interested in having, hearing Karen Patriquin's experience as a recent cohort member. So we'd love to hear Karen, how it, how it's worked for you and how it it's been an influence in, in your career path.

Sure. Thank you, Glenn. And thank you everyone for having me today. I'm very excited to be here.

Yes, participating in the leadership cohort was jumping right in because I came to one networking meeting where people were just sort of getting to know each other. And the course was starting the next month. And so I decided, well, what better way than to really. And what was really, I think, thought provoking was that, yes, we're learning about the tenants.

Conscious capitalism and we're reading, you know, one of the main books, but also other articles. But the, really the, the, the most engaging parts were speaking amongst ourselves because everyone had, or we're bringing their own paths to the table, their own professions, their own businesses and their own, yeah, their own passions into, into this, the conversation and also the guest speakers coming in.

So it was very much. We're learning what it is, how to bring it into our own businesses and learning from each other. It was a very, very exciting period of time. Eleanor,

tell us a little bit about the Conscious Leaders Network and how it came about. You've been so actively involved in kind of shaping what it looks like and what you're delivering, I guess, for, for participants.

Tell me a little bit about it.

Sure. A number of board members wanted to extend the impact, give a path for people to really dig into operationalizing some of the concepts. I think one of the drawbacks or gaps that people spotted was, yeah, a lot of this sounds great, but how do you. Actually do it. And so we've got concrete exercises in the field guide, which was coauthored by Raj Sisodia, who we've had in town several times to speak to our members.

And then of course, Gavin's book, 'Altruistic Business' about why this makes sense and what principles can really be relied on in very practical and concrete ways. And so we bring a cohort together that does the exercises. Around in synchronized ways and small group discussions, reinforcing each other's journey, if you will, being sounding boards for each other.

And then throughout the year, we see some evolution in their understandings and how it shows up in their business. So it's been exciting to see each cohort has a little different character. The first one was heavily manufacturing oriented, I'd say. say there were a number of family business case studies where maybe one member of the family is a little more conscious than some others.

And they were working that out. And then last time, as luck would have it, and as the Connecticut business community reflects with its innovation, we had two companies that. Used augmented reality, one in healthcare and one in retail. And so they learn from each other, but not exclusively the cross sector fertilization is of course, an exciting part of the puzzle as well.

So what we're going to be doing differently this time is hosting. Most of the sessions will be virtual. So, whereas this has been primarily a Connecticut group, it's opened up to anyone we've got. Executive level slots and now C suite people and heads of companies can also bring in a manager for no additional price.

So kind of a twofer, if you will, with the idea being that teams of people are going to make even more impact and have those shared understandings. So CEOs. Vice presidents, managers from any, any company anywhere really can sign up and go through the starting point is intro to conscious capitalism. Gavin leads that and he'll, I guess, tease it out.

And as we go forward through this session, we get into higher purpose, community, thinking of stakeholder orientation with the planet as really the biggest stakeholder that you can possibly imagine and how does a business attend to. That relationship, what does conscious culture look like in companies and how to cultivate it?

Can I just say that the people that came to the table in our group were just such an incredible variety that is really exciting to, to see how we can bring these values to. All sorts of different things. So we had a, you know, a nonprofit who provides Mediterranean cooking. We had a music producer, we have architects, we have an innkeeper, we have green dry cleaning.

I mean, it's, we just learn so much from each other because we all have very, very different businesses. And it's very exciting.

That's incredible. What a wonderful selection. Gavin, tell us a little bit about your experience so far of the Conscious Leaders Network and the delivering that you've been doing on the course.

It's been fabulous as Karen was saying that the key part, the most important part is the getting together with other people who are interested in these things and sharing your stuff. The, the general business narrative is, is really that this sort of thing doesn't work. It's, it's foolishness. And so, you know, people who believe strongly in this, that, that it works.

are really in need of finding other people who also believe that this works and getting together with that, that other group and hearing not only that it works, but you know, exactly why it works. Other people have implemented these things, how they've done it, you know, what the results have been, all of that is really the, you know, the magic of this thing.

So it's that. Being finding your tribe is, is one of the ways it gets, it gets shared lots of times. People go like, Oh, this, this is my tribe. This is the group I've been looking for. So yeah, if you feel like you've been out there as I did, and I'm the only one doing these things that I know of that's doing this stuff and.

Trying these things out. You feel it's pretty lonely feeling, especially when you're getting pushback from people going like, Oh, you can't do this. You know, that's not, not the way it works. You know,

I think, you know, in my experience, when I've been to industry conferences and so on, it's all interesting to meet your peers and competition in some way, and to be learning about industry updates.

But what I found that the synergy in the room with the cohort was very different in that there is a, there's a sense of shared value and you're right, Karen, about the diversity of the group. There was, there was an incredible. Uh, incredible range of industry and in characters in the group. And I think it was the random interaction that we had with each other that really added value in a sort of an unpredictable unplanned way.

And I think that is the sort of value proposition in many ways of, of why you would come to this group because you're all looking for it. I don't know, jump in.

Well, we call it engineered serendipity, right? Because we can't necessarily plan how all of these connections are going to bounce off of each other, but we know that they will at a higher than random rate, simply because of the container that we've created.

Can I say that there was, yes, the very planned monthly or every two months. meetings, but then there were smaller meetings, which then allowed people to talk more deeply about each other's businesses. And as you get to know people, we also, you know, created coffees or whatever it's other, other ways to get together.

And you did engineer some of those Elinor, I know it's the after work or whatever, those kinds of things, like a really a variety of ways that people can communicate was a really good way to create an exciting.

Well, there's another change we're doing this year, which is a natural evolution of our partnership with Southern Connecticut State University.

And that's the opportunity to offer micro credentials for participation in the Conscious Leaders Network. Now we're kind of building this bridge as we go. Southern has just got their micro credentialing, uh, unit. At the ready, but we're going to be enabling people to document what they've learned through the Conscious Leaders Network.

And then that can show up on their professional transcript as they go forward in their career. So we're very excited about that. What that may mean, what we're planning on is for participants this time to put together a final presentation, kind of a Peecha Koocha style talk in slide form of what they've learned and their journey.

And be records that we can reflect back on and, and share widely in the virtual format and have people share it as well in their local

communities. Yeah. Karen, I have a question for you. I follow your work and you know, I love what you do in the community and I'm just curious as to if there was any examples as to how you.

Applied your informal learnings at the leaders network to your the community and the work that you do love to hear something on that.

Yeah, thank you. I think one of the main things that it creates a language, a kind of common language. So and a way of thinking. So if you're thinking. Of purpose. We actually talk about purpose.

We talk about purpose. We talk about passion. We talk about meeting and just sort of bringing up those conversations just by themselves. I think that was early on in the course really creates some amazing energy within a group and helps align. Strategies helps align all sorts of different things in an office.

So that's one sort of one aspect that I really found really helpful sort of language part of it. Then thinking about, I think one was about stakeholders and who your stakeholders are. Stakeholders being your clients and having a really trusting client relationship. Establishing that, how to do that. And also same with your, with everyone in your.

Office in your in your firm. It's also creating transparency. So I think there's so many different examples, but I think those are some of the bigger ones and also just be more purposeful about some of the efforts that you do. Maybe naturally, but that you now have a structure to kind of think about them and discuss them.

That's awesome. That's so nice to hear that feedback. You know, CBC worked really hard to put this together and it must be Yeah. rewarding for you, particularly Eleanor and Gavin to get the feedback at the end of that, about such an impact it's had on not just Karen, but her company, people who, you know, she does business with, it kind of is that ripple effect, isn't it?

Of the, the doing good ripple effect, which I do love. I do love. Well,

absolutely. And also seeing these folks in the news. I mean, Karen's judged the women in architecture competition this past year and was an award winner of it. Before she was involved with us back in 2020, but in last year, 2023, she was a judge and the green buildings arena is something that she keeps coming up in the news with that.

You've had a webinar recently at slate middle school. Was it you want to talk about that project? It's so fascinating. Thank

you. Yes, we are in construction for a, an upper school, which is a high school, an independent school. And we have recently. partnered with GreenBuild Connecticut to have a two part presentation about it.

So it's really bringing green technologies and under, and helping people understand what that is in this very, very concrete context of this school. So it's a two part where we have, we had a seminar, and then we have a construction site tour next week. Even creating the slide deck for that, I was sort of thinking of the the tenets of conscious capitalism and how we can help organize our, our thoughts.

So fabulous to hear. Congratulations. That is

awesome. Awesome. Yeah. Congratulations.

One question going forward, Karen, you know, um, maybe I'm a frustrated architect. I'm not really sure, but I've always been passionate about the built environment and particularly in how it can influence human behavior. And we often just think, well, it's a house, it's a building, it's an office block, but there's, there's so much more that a good building should do in terms of not only its environmental impact, but the effect that it has on, on its occupants.

I don't know if you want to. Say more about that in within a conscious environment. I think it'd be interesting.

Yeah, sure Well another part project that was that really spearheaded our passive house Which is in building technology is that the renovation of our own office and you can look at that through many lenses One is just creating a very energy efficient building.

So how do you do that? That's very physical You know It's an envelope that you create that's very tight and then highly insulated and then there's fresh air that you bring in, right? So the concept of that is quite Simple, but there's so many different aspects that you can think about that later. So it's like beyond that, what is it that you're doing?

Um, operation create other parts of sort of goodness in the world. So low waste, low water, water usage, composting. We have a photovoltaics, a solar array on our roof. We monitor that. We discuss that, you know, buying our products, buying even our computers and thinking about the energy that it uses, it really kind of.

Brings a whole other layer of things beyond our initial projects. Like, how do we continue living and being a really good steward of this building in this particular area? And one other one that was sort of more outward facing was, you know, the first floor was always a closed building, a closed floor.

And we were approached by a cafe owner who wants to do farm, farm fresh cooking. And we thought, you know what, that is actually the right thing to do. In this community, it's always been closed. It's got beautiful storefront, but people had shutters or so. Yes. Let's let's think about what this means to the community and let's open it up for this cafe.

So it's a really nice synergy. Now that we have with that as well.

The collaborative effect, it's alive and well. Good to hear it. Thanks, Karen.

It truly is. That is incredible. So the next cohort for the Conscious Leaders Network, tell us a little bit about it, Eleanor. When does it kick off? What do people need to do if they want

to find out more?

Consciousbusinesscollaborative. org has a get involved tab and the conscious leaders network is under there. There's an application. And then one of our board members will contact that person and go into a little bit more of what they're looking for to make sure that it's a good fit. The tuition is 1500, which a lot of people apply to their company for professional development subsidy.

SCSU sends. It's folks from their school of business for the past two years running. And it it's, you know, there's various ways to get that funded, but what's going to be the case this year is again, as I said, somebody can bring in a second person from their company for this, the same tuition. And we. Are going to have our first session on March 14th, it's Tuesdays going through the year.

And then each month there'll be a couple new sessions available for folks to watch online on their own time and then. Join us for the in person discussions. I mean, live discussions in sync on zoom. And in between we have a Slack channel where people can post the results of their different exercises that they're working on or ask each other any questions.

We encourage and fully share contact information so people can connect with each other professionally outside of the group. And it really begins this very rich journey. Which will conclude in November with the final presentations.

Amazing. It sounds absolutely awesome guys. Before I wrap this up, is there anything more you want to add to the conversation before I do like a little.

Thank you very

much. We do take a break in the summer, I think August we give people the, the month off.

We should say that, yeah, it's, it starts in March and it runs to November, but you do get a break.

I also want to say that life after this session is a lot of fun to continue the conversation. And I think it's a really big part of this organization is, is what happens after

these cohorts.

Awesome. Absolutely fabulous. Guys, thank you so much for being a part of the conversation today. Thank you. for helping us understand why Conscious Capitalism Connecticut chapter is now CBC. It's a little bit easier for me to say on these podcasts. Thank you very much for that. If you want to find out more, of course, there is the website consciousbusinesscollaborative.

org. That's the consciousbusinesscollaborative. org. And if you're interested in, in Karen's work, it's patraquinarchitects. com. All the links to all of those websites. And LinkedIn profiles will be in the show notes of this show. That just leads me to thank you for being a huge part of the Curious Capitalist.

Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen, bring on the next cohort. Thank you. Thanks. Thank you for taking the time to listen to this episode of the Curious Capitalist. If you'd like to find out more about the CBC, the Conscious Leaders Network, or even join us. Visit the website, conscious business

That's Conscious business If you have enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share this podcast today. This podcast was created and produced by Red Rock Branding. Red Rock

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