Jack Covert Selects


October 29, 2014


Being a conscious capitalist is hard work. But it pays off in the end, and those values show through ...


Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives by Kip Tindell, Grand Central Publishing, 272 pages, $28.00, Hardcover, October 2014, ISBN 9781455526857

At a time when the largest online retailer in the world—the one that strives to be The Everything Store—is perpetually in the news for strong-arming suppliers and is facing a supreme court case resulting from, as Salon’s Elias Isquith recently put it, “the company’s longstanding habit of finding creative new ways to exploit and insult its workers,” it is refreshing to read a book written by a successful leader who holds true to principles that run fully contrary to such harsh business practices.

The Chairman and CEO of The Container Store Kip Tindell’s new book, Uncontainable, is in the tradition of Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing, Blake Mycoskie’s Start Something That Matters, and Muhammad Yunus’s Building Social Business. These are all leaders who believe that treating people with respect is the path to true success and have spread that message in really good books.

In Uncontainable, Tindell lays out The Container Store’s seven core principles of conscious capitalism. From hiring great (not necessarily experienced) people, to treating vendors as partners not adversaries, the seven principles distill down into the most basic, human rule—the golden one. Take, for instance, Principle #4: Communication IS Leadership.

Simply put, we want every single employee in our company to know absolutely everything … we’re fully transparent. Melissa [Reiff, The Container Store’s president and chief operating officer] is particularly passionate about this principle and created our definition of it: daily execution of practicing consistent, reliable, predictable, effective, thoughtful, compassionate, and yes, even courteous communication.

The book’s following paragraph might be why many leaders choose a different, more expedient path.

Doing this hard work takes time, but this has been critical to our success … We know that some information we share could fall into competitors’ hands—revenue figures, upcoming sales, real estate plans, long-term strategic initiatives—but we’re willing to take that risk because we consider open communication such a crucial part of our commitment in valuing one another and making sure we all feel appreciated, included, safe, secure, and empowered.

Being a conscious capitalist is hard work. It takes time, partly because it takes an incredible amount of training (see Principle #6: Intuition Does Not Come to An Unprepared Mind. You Need to Train Before it Happens). But that training pays off in the end, and those values show through in continuous, courteous service that gives the company a genuine, human touch.

In Uncontainable, Tindell clearly lays out The Container Store’s path to streamlining that hard work, and he does it with writing as passionate and purposeful as you will find in any business book you’ll read this year, or next year, or the year after that, or...

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