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Mindful Capitalism



When I was studying for my MBA, one of my professors told us something that has always stuck with me as I navigated the business world.  I paraphrase, but he said if you have to downsize your  company you’re not businessman, because if the only way you know how to increase your profits is by reducing labor, well then what can I say except a monkey can do that.  To truly run a business is to come up with products that consumers will want to buy, to come up with new revenue streams in cost effective ways, that is what business is about. 

This is what Steve Jobs brought us, innovative new products and the true way to run a successful company that I greatly believe was because Steve Jobs was also a Zen Buddhist.

 “A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, and maybe that was the right thing for them. We chose a different path. Our belief was that if we kept putting great products in front of customers, they would continue to open their wallets.”  Steve Jobs

Zen Buddhism one of the styles of meditation I practice greatly and I feel also gives me the greatest insight into myself and the world around me.  This is what I think made him a true innovator and not just another CEO that defines his success by the amount of wealth he can accumulate, but by truly creating products that changed the way the world works.  He said “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

I have seen how my mind has changed dramatically from the time I began to practice Zen Buddhism.  I used to work in corporate America for an ad agency to now starting my own business, something I always talked about but now I am doing.  (Accessuri.com, like it on facebook, sorry for the plug but it just fit so well here).  My company, like all companies has its roots in capitalism, but it’s not just about making profits its about trying to be mindful about the world around us.  Its about contributing to the world to create profits that would go back to growing society versus raping the world to accumulate wealth for a few individuals.  I honestly wasn’t going to plug my company, but it was just flowed well in this piece.  

So keep in mind that Occupy Wall St means something different for each one of us, but for me it’s not about capitalism, it’s about the mindless way that CEO’s run businesses for the sheer accumulation of wealth for themselves and their company.  So thank you Steve Jobs and your practice for showing us that capitalism doesn’t have to just be about greed.    

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

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Thanks for this article but

Thanks for this article but with all respect I want to point out that Apple was indeed involved in serious worker exploitation. At their factory in China, there are numerous reports of violations of worker/human rights, and there was even a series of suicides because of this. This is widely documented.

Apple chose to make their products here BECAUSE the labor was cheaper, and the execs of Apple could therefore profit more from their sales. Does this make Steve Jobs a "bad guy?", no, but I think it's fair to give an accurate picture of what the logic of capitalism almost invariably always leads to- the exploitation of people. From a Buddhist perspective one could say that such an economic system (as it is now) perpetuates unnecessary suffering. Unnecessary because the execs who cash in on this exploitation just dont NEED so much money.

Thank you

I did know that and I totally agree with you. The exploitation of people for ridiculous wealth for a few that usually doesn't even make them happy anyway is just a sad thing. I wish things were different. I did think about this when I wrote this piece, but somehow I also wanted to start a dialogue about how businesses are run now a days. Yes Steve Jobs did this, but he at least came up with new inventions. The only way most CEO's know how to make a profit is just by reducing costs and moving labor overseas, at least he had a little more insight on how a business should work. Burberry is a perfect example of this. They, in 2007 moved their much branded london style to be produced in china. The actual price of the product didn't decrease for the consumer, but the amount of dividends and profits the company made in the middle of a global economic meltdown actually increased. Thank you very much for your comment.

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