Could You Be a Conscious Company and What Does That Mean?

You may have heard the term “conscious company,” but you’re not sure what that means, or even if you should care. Yet, you feel you are a person who is aware of global and local issues and deeply led by a purpose.

This is a synopsis from an episode of the Thrive!cast series of panel discussions hosted by Conscious Branding. Each episode focuses on a new topic and brings in experts to discuss, explore, answer questions and inspire action. For more information, go to

The Thrive!cast episode, “Could You Be a Conscious Company and What Does That Mean?,” was moderated by Alan Wallner, President and Visionary, Conscious Branding. Panelists were Chelsey Paulson, COO, Keystone Group International, and David Craig Utts, Executive Coach and Advisor.

Alan Wallner

Alan Wallner

Chelsey Paulson

David Craig Utts

How a Conscious Company Impacts and Inspires Leaders

“There’s something that resonates for you,” said David Craig Utts. “There are two ways in which that resonance can happen. You can have been part of an organization that was conscious. And once you are, you’re ruined for the rest of your life because you want to maintain that flavor of that experience of being part of a company that wants to be a force for good in the world, that creates a culture. You walk in every day with leaders who actually serve you versus the other way around.

“And I brought that to heart into my sales career and saw that if I didn’t worry about my commission check, but I oriented in a certain way to my customers, and I really built a relationship with them and served that relationship, I would open my commission check every week and be very, very happy with what happened.”

“There’s definitely a feeling of fulfillment,” said Alan Wallner. “You seem to be more energized with what you were doing and part of something bigger than yourself and really added a lot of extra fuel to your fire.”

“I’ve really been living this out for decades now,” said Chelsey Paulson. “At the University of Minnesota, they had a newer minor, a leadership minor. I went through that and came across servant leadership and was drawn to it. It was a great concept. The company that I went into straight out of college operated on a servant leadership culture. It was also an employee-owned company. Prior to coming to Keystone, I had 15 years of HR leadership experience. My philosophy for 15 years was around being employee centric. What is in the best interests of our employees, what is in the best interest of our customers serving each other?

“That’s always been the philosophy. I came across that this actually had a name as this broader perspective, this broader vision, called conscious company. It was mind blowing to me and made so much sense.”

“It is intangible, this ambiguous thing out there, conscious company,” said Alan. “What does all that mean? But the interesting thing is, a lot of people are already doing this in their business. They’re just not realizing that they’re doing it or what it is. This is a way of drawing attention to it and actually creating a business model around it so that you can leverage it for your business to be healthier, to have that greater impact beyond what you thought possible. For me, I had been one of those individuals who was always doing this with my business or the way I was living my life, but I didn’t really realize it until I went through a pretty dark time in my life and my career.

“And that’s when you started seeing that like attracts like, and when you’re vibrating at a not such great level, you start attracting all that crazy stuff. Maybe not the best clients, and you’re not in the best relationships. But when you hit that bottom, you start seeing the world a little differently, then all of a sudden, this is pretty bad. I can change this if I want to. And once you start becoming more conscious, more aware, more present as you’re living your life and doing your job, you start creating a new world. You start attracting the right people, you start finding different opportunities that seem to be more aligned with your purpose and in who you are and where you want to go with your life.

“Once I figured out what was going on and started reading up more on conscious company, conscious capitalism, then I really dove in, jumped in with both feet and fired up and amped up. And funny thing was, I didn’t realize that there was conscious capitalism, conscious company, or any of that until after we decided to call our company Conscious Branding; then we started doing research on what other conscious companies were out there.”

Shift Your Career and Personal Life to Be More Conscious

“There needs to be an understanding, what does this actually look like in companies?” said Chelsey. “And for me, we need to start with the employee first. Coming from HR, that’s just natural for me to say, but the longer I was in HR, the more and more necessary I saw that. If you’re wondering, where do I start? How do I impact my company? How do I change myself? It really starts first with yourself, self-awareness. Understanding where you’re at as a person, what your thoughts are, asking yourself the tough questions of am I trustworthy? Am I empathetic? Do I have a high emotional intelligence? Am I trusting my people? And if the answers are no, why am I not trusting?

“Once you understand yourself better, then you’re better prepared to help build this out around you. And then the next level is your employees. How do you build that really conscious leadership around your employees, to really be focused on them as a servant leadership mentality of serving your employees so that they can succeed so that your company can succeed? So then you can impact the world around you, and your partners and your vendors and your clients, and everyone that you’re working with, really become interactive within that process. But again, it has to start with yourself and that introspective thought process and realizing that you’re never at the top.

“You never can stop learning. That is a detriment that so many leaders get into is, I’m the VP of this now, or I’m the CEO of this now. So I’ve got it all figured out, or I have to look like I have it all figured out and can’t show that I’m not competent in some of these areas. And so as leaders, we also need to be more open about it’s okay not to have the answers. You can ask better questions and try to solve for the issues together, rather than always acting like you have all the answers.”

“I’m going to go back to the word we’ve used a lot, which was really building self-awareness,” said David. “And when I work with my clients, I define that in a particular way. I say self-awareness is about becoming aware of the one who is aware, in you. That’s really what self-awareness is at the highest level. And then the outcome of that is you began to notice things you didn’t notice before. And a lot of times that happens because you hit a wall and begin to recognize the value of doing that. Self-awareness is so important; we point to neuroscience research that’s coming out that says 95 plus percent of the time human beings are walking around on autopilot.. . . And what I begin to notice is that the way I’m looking at the world has broadened, and I’m seeing things I never saw before. I’m recognizing opportunities that are happening.”

Being a Conscious Company Impacts all of Your Business Relationships

“The founders of the conscious capitalism in the Twin Cities talk a lot about trust,” said David, “and, fundamentally to me, figuring out how to trust somebody, where we have assessments or opinions that we’re looking to build that trust. Number one, if I’m speaking to somebody, there’s some assessment, are they authentic? Can I trust what’s coming out of their mouth? And is it consistent with what they do….

“Number two is, are they competent to deliver in the scope? They say they want to deliver to me. And how do I assess that competence? Because that’s critical for hiring a vendor or working with somebody, you want to know they’re competent. Do they follow through? That’s pretty critical to the reliability and the other thing that a lot of times we don’t speak about, but could be picked up is, do they really care to be in this relationship with me, but it’s also demonstrated in how they communicate with you. So if there is this sense that I’m not really listening when we’re in a conversation and that’s going to dig on an unconscious level of trust.”

“I like how you bring in the community and the trust, the competence that falls through and do they care?” said Alan. “When you start putting all of those together, you start seeing a model around relationship building and the types of relationships you’d like to foster.”

“So the question of does it impact, if you’re a conscious company, does it impact your partners, your vendors, your employees?” said Chelsey. “Yes, of course it does. If you truly are a conscious company, a conscious person, a conscious leader, you can’t just turn that off. You either are, or you’re not. And so if you are, you’re implementing this in every area of your life, it’s just who you are as a person. If you have that mentality, that mindset is always on. It’s going to impact everyone, not just within your work life, but within your personal life as well. And then there’s a lot of personal benefits you can get from this mindset as well…. So it’s something that keeps on going. And when you have that mentality, it’s going to positively impact everyone around you in any way that you interact with them.”

It’s a Bold New World!

All Thrive!cast episodes focus on leading business owners to discover ways to create success for them and their businesses in this bold new world.

To hear more from the panelists on this and other Thrive!cast episodes, click below.