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The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders, and Impact Investors

ISBN: 978-1-118-91075-7
224 pages
July 2014, Jossey-Bass
The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders, and Impact Investors  (1118910753) cover image


"Individuals, acting on deeply held beliefs and passion, are boldly imagining and bringing into existence a different world... Whether you're a business entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur, an investment entrepreneur, or an academic, artistic, or civil servant entrepreneur, devour this important and wise book."—From the Foreword by John Fullerton

Responsible entrepreneurs are a special breed, seeking to transform industries and even society itself. They challenge and refine cultural assumptions, laws, regulations, and even the processes of governance. This requires them to do and think far beyond what is usually required of business leaders.

The Responsible Entrepreneur offers a blueprint for this new kind of business leadership, describing the means by which any entrepreneur can pursue a higher order of work. In it, Carol Sanford, one of the most trusted names in responsible business development, brings her vast expertise in helping executives and corporations to the entrepreneur looking to launch and scale a venture. She maps this journey through four archetypes:

  • The Realizing Entrepreneur: Industry Game-Changer
  • The Reconnection Entrepreneur: Society Game-Changer
  • The Reciprocity Entrepreneur: Culture Game-Changer
  • The Regenerative Entrepreneur: Governance Game-Changer

By understanding the archetype most aligned with their goals, entrepreneurs will learn how to grow their business into a powerful platform that can leverage change, and even change the foundations that create our most pressing problems and issues. To illustrate these principles in action, The Responsible Entrepreneur features case studies based on long-term work and in-depth interviews with Google Innovation Labs, Indigenous Designs (the primary supplier for Eileen Fisher), FishPeople (who supply Costco and Google with gourmet seafood entrees), and many more.

For entrepreneurs seeking to pursue world-changing results, or impact investors looking to align their capital with their values, The Responsible Entrepreneur provides the frameworks to build a business and to evaluate and direct investments to create the greatest benefit for all stakeholders.

For anyone who wants to make a difference in the way businesses affect the world, The Responsible Entrepreneur lays out ways to make that aspiration focused and doable.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by John Fullerton xiii

Introduction: One World Is Calling for a New Kind of Entrepreneur 1

Part One Changing the World Requires Game-Changing Roles 11

1 Modern Archetypes Are Altering the Future 13

2 Four Game-Changing Entrepreneurial Roles 21

Part Two The Secret Structure Behind the Approach of Four Iconic Entrepreneurs 33

3 Steve Jobs and the Role of the Realization Entrepreneur 35

4 Richard Branson and the Role of the Reconnection Entrepreneur 43

5 Oprah Winfrey and the Role of the Reciprocity Entrepreneur 51

6 Larry Page and the Role of the Regenerative Entrepreneur 59

Part Three Being the Change Requires a Transformative Framework 67

7 Disrupting Industries: Four Pillars of the Realization Entrepreneur 69

8 Realization Entrepreneurs: Sarah Slaughter and Indigenous Designs 77

9 Upending Social Systems: Four Pillars of the Reconnection Entrepreneur 91

10 Reconnection Entrepreneurs: Cheryl Contee and Kipp Baratoff 103

11 Shifting Paradigms and Beliefs: Four Pillars of the Reciprocity Entrepreneur 115

12 Reciprocity Entrepreneurs: Michiel Bakker and Annalie Killian 131

13 Revitalizing Founding Agreements: Four Pillars of the Regenerative Entrepreneur 143

14 Regenerative Entrepreneurs: Jay Coen Gilbert and Shainoor Khoja 155

Part Four The Game of Changing the Game: Using Domains, Archetypes, and Communities of Practice to Foster Change 167

15 The System of Archetypes at Work: Pamela Mang and Regenesis as an Instrument of Change 169

16 Time to Walk Your Talk: See the Void. Answer the Call. Join the Movement. 177

Notes 185

Acknowledgments 189

About the Author 191

Index 193

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Author Information

Carol Sanford is founder and CEO of the Responsible Entrepreneur Institute and Essence Alignment Co., a global consultancy. She has worked with clients such as DuPont, P&G, Intel, Agilent, and Seventh Generation, and has taught at universities including MIT, University of Michigan, and University of Toronto. She blogs for The Economist, CNBC, CSRWire, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and other outlets. She is also the author of the award-winning book The Responsible Business (Jossey-Bass, 2011). She lives in Seattle. For more information, please visit www.carolsanford.com

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Winner, Business: Entrepreneurship & Small Business, 2014 International Book Awards

“When I founded Joie De Vivre, I wanted to change an industry. You do that by connecting to the lives of people who buy from you. As Carol Sanford says, responsibility also starts with something big enough to change an industry that transforms people’s lives. The stories and guidance in The Responsible Entrepreneur make responsibility come alive.”
—Chip Conley, author, Emotional Equations and Peak; head of global hospitality, Airbnb; and founder, Joie de Vivre Hospitality

“If our society is not only to survive but also to flourish we will need a generation of entrepreneurs who are fully aware of the fragility, complexity, and interconnectedness of the world and committed to building outstandingly successful businesses. In this passionate and inspiring book, Carol Sanford presents the stories of a wide range of entrepreneurs who are mastering this tension, and presents an actionable road map for everyone who is determined to follow in their footsteps.”
—Rebecca Henderson, John & Natty McArthur University Professor and cochair, Business & Environment Initiative, Harvard Business School

“Through Seventh Generation’s work with Carol Sanford, we learned the value of systems thinking, and her frameworks made us a more effective business and helped me become a better values-based leader. The approach in The Responsible Entrepreneur makes it possible for people in our company to be more conscious and work from a commitment to a higher set of values.”
—Jeffrey Hollender, founder, Sustain; cofounder, Seventh Generation; and coauthor, The Responsibility Revolution

“Graduate students aspire to make big changes in the world and strongly prefer to create their own path forward. Carol Sanford speaks directly to the current generation. She gives lessons and inspiration on finding the uniqueness in themselves to play a large role in the world. The Responsible Entrepreneur contains powerful stories, half from female entrepreneurs who have contributed to a better world, as well as stories of women of color. It is perfectly suited to the new generation of entrepreneurs and the people who coach and teach them.”
—Kellie A. McElhaney, Whitehead Faculty Fellow, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and author, Just Good Business

“Carol Sanford says this book is about being responsible, and it is—but The Responsible Entrepreneur is also about being courageous. I dare you to read it and implement the bold,useful advice.”
—Chris Guillebeau, author, The $100 Startup

The Responsible Entrepreneur is for people who create enterprises that create good work in the world. Carol Sanford, an extremely experienced member of that movement, has written a book that puts its leading figures in context, and helps you realize that you’re in it with them.”
—Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief, strategy+business, and author, The Age of Heretics

The Responsible Entrepreneur is an inspiring book that tells us how to be the kind of entrepreneur that the world needs today. Carol Sanford tells vivid, compelling stories of what it means to be a successful businessperson and at the same time fundamentally change the world for the better. If every entrepreneur, aspiring entrepreneur, and entrepreneurship educator read this book, the world couldn’t help but be a better place!”
— Pamela Hinds, associate professor, Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University

“Several decades ago, Peter Drucker declared that we were entering the Entrepreneurial Society. Carol Sanford’s book The Responsible Entrepreneur spells out in concrete terms what it will take to make that a life-enhancing reality with responsible entrepreneurs who, instead of working within the system or even despite the system, transform industries and society itself.”
— Stephen Denning, author, The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management, and contributor, Forbes

“Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking about opportunities. Carol Sanford offers frameworks to improve this thinking process based on different situations, making it possible for you, the entrepreneur, to be more creative and focused and do what you know in your gut to be right. The Responsible Entrepreneur makes clear that you’re in charge of the vision for your venture.”
— Connie Bourassa-Shaw, director, Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, Michael G. Foster Business School, University of Washington

“Businesses are arising all over the world that are designed as solutions to the biggest problems we face as human beings. The Responsible Entrepreneur looks deeply at these game-changing entrepreneurs and finds a pattern. Carol Sanford provides a systemic approach to intervention based on the concept of regeneration. It is worth spending time with The Responsible Entrepreneur and reflecting on it again and again.”
—Kevin Jones, cofounder, SoCap

“Being an entrepreneur is a challenge in any field. Trying to change the world through your business is an even more demanding one. Carol Sanford has given us an instruction manual that is clear and documented with case studies of people who have taken on the impossible and succeeded. You will be inspired to action and raise the level of contribution you see possible for you and your business.”
— Elliot Hoffman, founder and CEO, Just Desserts, and founder and CEO, True Market Solutions

The Responsible Entrepreneur is one of those books that shifts the conversation. Carol Sanford provides entrepreneurs with a clearly articulated, eminently applicable framework for thought and action that will help them create businesses that—in the words of Steve Jobs—‘put a dent in the universe.’ If you want to build a business that will make the world a better place, The Responsible Entrepreneur should be your guidebook.”
— Erika Anderson, founder and partner, Proteus, and author, Leading So People Will Follow

“Entrepreneurs seeking meaningful impact need tools to be successful in their quest. The Responsible Entrepreneur is a necessary handbook for changemakers on the journey to use their businesses to shape a future that is healthier and more satisfying for everyone.”
—KoAnn Skrzyniarz, founder and CEO, Sustainable Brands

“By viewing leaders through archetypal lenses, Carol provides helpful tools for categorization without limiting the unique strengths of any individual entrepreneur. The Responsible Entrepreneur is not for the well intentioned but for those who believe the problems we face demand better, more thoughtful, more scalable, and ultimately more human companies that create remarkable value for every stakeholder.”
— Brian Howe, founder and CEO, Impact Hub Seattle; founder, Vox Legal; and entrepreneur-in-residence, University of Washington

“While each of us aspires to make a dent, most of us work where dreams and innovations are crushed. With The Responsible Entrepreneur, you can change all that and not just build a better widget or a better company, but a better world.”
— Nilofer Merchant, author, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era

 “Carol Sanford introduced us to regenerative business design three decades ago—building a business based on living systems thinking that gives us systemic health. Now she tells entrepreneurs how to be big gamechangers in the world of responsible entrepreneurship with disruptive transformation of industries that all businesses can achieve—making the world a better place in the process.”
— Hunter Lovins, president, Natural Capitalism Solutions, and professor, sustainable management, Bainbridge Graduate Institute

“Responsible entrepreneurs are a rare but growing breed. The difficult challenge is staying true to our values and having the tenacity to stick with it. Thank you, Carol Sanford! Your book provides me with a great roadmap to continue moving forward with others who share our passion and vision.”
— Barbara Kimmel, executive director, Trust Across America, Trust Around the World

“Carol Sanford’s totally original, powerful framework will push entrepreneurs to ask questions that matter—and in turn, inspire them to unleash their full potential.”
—P. J. Simmons, cofounder and chair, Corporate Eco Forum

“Carol Sanford has produced a profound but simple framework for understanding and unleashing entrepreneurial talent. Offering unique insight into four types of entrepreneurship and the domains in which they provide the most leverage, The Responsible Entrepreneur will feed the entrepreneurial spirit and catalyze it toward more meaningful impact in the world.”
— Lara Lee, SVP, customer experience design, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and former VP, Harley-Davidson

“In this era of growing disparity between the very rich and the rest of us, Carol Sanford provides a visionary yet practical path for how four iconic kinds of responsible entrepreneurs can be the creators of opportunity and a rising tide to lift more boats. Her explicit call for a transformation framework inspires me to play a role in this needed change. You, too, will be moved to participate and make your life’s work more meaningful.”
— Kare Anderson, columnist, Forbes, and author, Moving From Me to We

“Carol Sanford is as much a systems changer as the entrepreneurs she illustrates. The Responsible Entrepreneur offers a rational and highly accessible framework to cultivate self-awareness, entrepreneurial spirit, and the agency needed to bring about a systemic shift. By grounding her theories in story and practical application, this book is not only valuable but enjoyable.”
—Matthew Abrams, vision keeper, Mycelium

“Carol Sanford understands the importance and the urgency of embedding a social compass into your business from the first napkin sketch. More important, she shows you how to do it. If you want to look back at your business five to ten years from now and say ‘we did this the right way,’ The Responsible Entrepreneur is your bible.”
—John Bradberry, author, 6 Secrets to Startup Success

The Responsible Entrepreneur is packed with insight. Like Jane Jacobs, Carol Sanford offers observations from real life about how successful businesses and organizations actually work, without gloss, hype, or baloney. She brings a much bigger picture to enterprise.”
—Spencer B. Beebe, chairman, Ecotrust

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Press Release

July 10, 2014
Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors

The idea of wanting to build a really great business while making the world a better place has exploded over the past decade. These “social entrepreneurs” apply the tools of traditional entrepreneurialism to specific issues they feel driven to address, via products and services that will “do good.”

This is important work. However, Carol Sanford – one of the most trusted names in business development – argues that doing good simply isn’t good enough. To truly succeed with the great challenges our society and planet face, we need a new breed of entrepreneur who will think bigger than specific issue-based products and services, and seek to overhaul the very systems that created the problems in the first place. In her new book, THE RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEUR: Four Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors (Jossey-Bass; hardcover; July 28, 2014), Sanford draws on four decades of work with companies like Google, Seventh Generation, DuPont and Intel to present a new model of entrepreneurship – one which will teach those who want to run a great business and make a difference as well to rethink their approach and change the game entirely.

Responsible Entrepreneurs, individuals who want to use business itself as an instrument for significant change, seek the bold, sweeping moves that can benefit society nations, ecosystems and the planet as a whole. They think systemically about their value-adding processes, make their work increasingly beneficial to society beyond philanthropy, and do this as a direct result of their business activities. 

In THE RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEUR, Sanford first compels these individuals to explore the roots of their ambitions, outlining four archetypes to use as a roadmap:

  • The Realizing Entrepreneur: Industry Game-Changer; driven by the vision of an improved reality.
  • The Reconnection Entrepreneur: Society Game-Changer; awakens conscience to the impact of existing social systems.
  • The Reciprocity Entrepreneur: Culture Game-Changer; concerned with the potential of  business to change pre-existing cultural beliefs that prevent inclusion of all members of a society
  • The Regenerative Entrepreneur: Governance Game-Changer; uses foundational agreements (like the Constitution) that society already operates within to deliver change.

By understanding the archetype most aligned with their goals, individuals will learn how to grow their business into a powerful platform that can leverage change, and even change the systems at the root of our most pressing problems and issues. To illustrate these principles in action, the bookfeatures case studies based on long-term work and  in-depth interviews with organizations like Google Innovation Labs, Indigenous Designs (the primary supplier for Eileen Fisher), Fishpeople (who supply Costco and Google with gourmet seafood entrees), and many more.

For entrepreneurs who want to change world, or impact investors looking to align their capital with their values, THE RESPONSIBLE ENTREPRENEURprovides a framework for building a business that will create the greatest benefit for all stakeholders.

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