Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Café Gratitude

I recently discovered two amazing business leaders - Matthew and Terces Englehart – the creators of  San Francisco’s beloved Café Gratitude  and authors of Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening.  This dynamic partnership demonstrates perfectly how a business prospers by being grateful and generous. 

During a panel discussion on social enterprise at the Leaders Causing Leaders Conference in Long Beach, the Engleharts candidly discussed how they are able to stay profitable while embracing the needs of their 200-plus employees and keeping their customers happy.  In their daily business practices the company employs the concept of “Oneness.”  Meaning that any decisions made are based on what would be the most beneficial for the entire community. 

For example, when San Francisco changed their laws to require employers to provide health care insurance to all employees, the Engleharts had a choice to only provide health care to the employees within that local jurisdiction, leaving some employees who don’t work within San Francisco without insurance, or insure all employees.  The decision, based on oneness, was obvious:  insure all employees.  

Another “oneness” business decision that the Engleharts made in 2009 was to create the “I am Grateful” Bowl Program in response to the economic challenges in their community  - a pay by donation bowl of delicious organic food.  Essentially, customers are able to receive healthy and sustainable food based on what they can pay - even if it’s only 5 cents - while other customers who feel abundant can donate funds to support the program.  The program is not charity; it is community taking care of community – and instills a cycle of gratitude and generosity. 

In today’s economy, businesses are feeling the pressure to keep their overheard low and cut costs.  However, Café Gratitude operates on a much different model – they ask the question how can we give more – how can we support the community?  The shift in perspective is powerful and is the kind of thinking that has kept the company growing and more popular than ever.

As we move into the holiday season  - re-discover your capacity for gratitude and generosity.  Use Café Gratitude as a model to think about how your organization can transition from thinking about cutting costs – to  how it can give more to the people and community that make it profitable in the first place.  

Matthew and Terces Engelhart

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