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The Course

Conscientious Capitalism Course

The course, Conscientious Capitalism, was designed to prepare students for the lifelong journey of personal leadership as well as leadership within organizations as they advance through their lives and careers. Students will develop a perspective, framework, and foundation so they can lead from a place of purpose, virtues, priorities, and accountability.


The Course: Conscientious Capitalism
An initial cohort of 21 seniors have been accepted into the course and will engage in 10 weeks of inspiring guest lectures, provocative case studies and intensive personal leadership development.

Course Description

Personal virtues have always driven leadership in business as in all walks of life. We decide, act and lead from our core beliefs, deepest values and priorities. How effectively we act and lead then depends on our skills, experiences and attributes as we advance through our lives and careers. Conscientious Capitalism is the application of personal virtue, purpose and accountability to individual leadership of business organizations and to the critical decisions that inspire employees and companies to drive innovation, market leadership and profits through the serving of employees, customers, stakeholders and community.

Illustration of person juggling balls while riding a unicycle over a tightrope


This course is designed to inspire and teach students to lead themselves and others in a business and social environment undergoing dramatic and increasingly rapid change. We will accomplish this first through an understanding of the principles and outcomes of democratic capitalism as presented in case studies of important events. Students will develop their own perspectives on democratic capitalism by exploring the decisions and the underlying values that drove innovation and advancements that benefited stakeholders and society. Further, students will evaluate outcomes within Democratic Capitalism where decisions and different values took advantage of our “free” system for personal gains at the expense of stakeholders and society.

Additionally, students will gain insights from the personal stories, successes and challenges of successful and conscientious leaders in today’s business world along with the virtues and leadership frameworks each leader used in their journey. Finally, students will bring these learnings and perspectives into small “Leadership Development Teams”, led by an experienced mentor, where each student will use tools and a framework to explore lessons from their own life stories, as well as discern their own unique values, purpose and priorities.

This course only begins the journey. The goal of the course is to inspire students to commit to a lifelong journey of discernment, action and more powerful leadership of themselves and others.

This course will count as five credits and is open to seniors in a business related major or minor.



Technological advances, an integrated global marketplace and a seismic unleashing of entrepreneurial creativity have created enormous advances in how the world works, lives, and plays.  

But these forces have put extraordinary pressures on companies to perform exceptionally, innovate rapidly, and produce more immediate results. Under these market pressures, many leaders and companies have lost their ability to invest for the longer term, in turn yielding devastating effects to their company culture, and ability to sustain their competitive position against new and nimbler competitors.


At no time in history has the pressure on each of us to perform at our highest level and at any cost been greater. Deciding, acting and leading ourselves and others have never been more difficult. Given modern social infrastructures and other information technologies, business is a 24-hour a day game and to win the game, we must out-think, out-create, and out-hustle our competition in timeframes that were unimaginable only one generation ago. There are few rules in this competitive world, no playbook on corporate and personal boundaries and few 'norms' of personal behavior that guide the hours we spend in relationships versus in our own tasks, our expectations of the results of others, and, chiefly, our expectations for how we live our lives.  This relentless focus on producing results affects C-suite, managers, and shop floor alike and leaves little time to unplug and think, DISCERN what are our real PRIORITIES, and discover what is our PURPOSE.

Within this rapidly changing environment, new ways of working, communicating, innovating and leading are developing; many are healthy, some are not. But from earliest history, throughout periods of disruptive change, are also some principles, ideas and virtues that do not change but help us adapt while preserving our ability to connect with ourselves and with others.


Students investment in the Leadership Development Team (LDT) process is THE critical focal point of the Conscientious Capitalism Course. It is work within the LDT’s where each student learns two critical life skills required for Conscientious leadership:


  1. Discovering, sharing, developing and living their authentic Virtues, Purpose and Priorities.
  2. Sharing and supporting the Virtues, Purpose and Priorities of others.

Ten Steps define the LDT Process:

Knowing Myself

  1. Discerning My Life Story: Creating the mural of People, Events, Experiences that shaped my life.
  2. My Autobiography-Listening to My Life: Discerning not only events, but the lessons learned from my life story.
  3. Who Am I Today? Identifying Virtues, Attributes and Disordered Attachments that are uniquely mine.

Developing Myself

  1. My Priorities: Identifying the most important extrinsic and intrinsic priorities that drive my life.
  2. Intentionality: Identifying the critical actions that will allow me to achieve my priorities.
  3. Accountability: Creating a clear, honest self-assessment to inform me and those supporting me on my progress.

Applying Myself

  1. Building My Support Team: Recognizing, using and honoring the power of others in my life.
  2. Why Me? Using my unique and authentic attributes and virtues in real life situations.
  3. My Purpose: Uncovering the deepest desire in my heart that instinctively drives my actions each day.
  4. Leading Myself: Committing to lifelong discernment, sharing and growth.

The goal of the case studies is for students to learn from the most critical business and policy decisions of our times by encountering real life situations, both individually and as a group, that confront their core beliefs and educate them to the real-world challenges they face in applying their virtues and priorities in leading others.


Examples of Harvard Business School Cases used in the course:

“Howard Shultz: Building Starbucks Community” by Bill George and Andrew N. McLean

“Coach K: A Matter of Heart” by Scott A. Snook, Leslie A. Perlow, and Brian J. Delacey

“Coach Knight: The Will to Win” by Scott A. Snook, Leslie A. Perlow, and Brian J. Delacey

“Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs” by Stephen Bates

“The Fall of Enron” by Paul M. Healy and Krishna G. Palepu

“PepsiCo, Profits, and Food: The Belt Tightens” by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. and Matthew Preble


Several the country’s foremost leaders in their field share their personal stories-describing what shaped them personally and professionally as well as how they responded to critical decisions in their lives. The intimacy, honesty and humility of each leader will inspire students to unlock their own stories, discover their own unique gifts and find the courage to be their authentic selves regardless of pressures in their lives.

Examples of Guest Speakers for the Course

John Donahoe, CEO of ServiceNow, former CEO of Ebay

Howard Behar, Former President of Starbucks

Admiral Eric Olson, Former Commander Navy SEALs and USSOCOM

Eff Martin, Former Partner-High Technology at Goldman Sachs

Nanci Caldwell, Former Senior Executive at HP

Scott Kriens, Former CEO/Current Chairman of Juniper Network

Mike Lee, Founder/CEO of MyFitnessPal

Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye

Payal Kadakia, Founder/Executive Chairman of ClassPass

David Krane, CEO of Google Ventures

Dick Boyce, Former Partner at TPG Capital, Former CEO of JCrew