Rancho Cappuccino is what we call our farm, 50 acres of tallgrass prairie a few miles outside Lawrence, Kansas. Farming is the reflection of our value system. Rancho Cappuccino is the vessel for our lives.
Over the next few weeks, I will offer here three case studies of how the queries might direct change within three very different organizations – our own Rancho Cappuccino; the business I run, Ogden Publications; and Google, Inc.
Google’s unofficial motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” could be expressed as easily in the positive, “Be Fair.”
Abundance is the most fundamental building block in the Google DNA.
Google can be the most enlightened power-user on the planet. Because it is so successful, and because it uses a lot of electricity, Google has the opportunity to set a new global standard for clean power.
The company’s founders seem to be as proud of the company’s culture as they are of its financial success. Can the Google culture persist when the company’s economic power declines?
The decade between the turn of the millennium and 2010 might justifiably be called the Google Decade. The company may have built more influence in less time than any other human endeavor in history.
At work, as at home, the queries have helped us add a number of constructive items to our agenda.
Google’s mission is making information available. That includes all the beauty in the world (along with everything else, of course).
Conscientiousness is woven into the company culture, quite intentionally. The more prosperous and powerful the company becomes, the more strident the criticism. Any institution as powerful as Google has great potential for evil, and for good.
Most of the things we do to conserve resources and protect the environment are subtle. We remain acutely conscious that all this, combined, still doesn’t make us a truly sustainable business. We have a long way to go. But we’re trying to get there.
After a recent talk I gave in San Francisco, a man raised his hand and asked me how I could distinguish between “human slavery and animal slavery.” Now there’s a provocative question.
Fairness is not so much a standard to be achieved as it is a criterion to be interpreted and applied. We strive for fairness, even though it can’t be clearly defined, much less perfected. In the striving, I think we create a better world.
On every continent in the world there are large regions where a family can, through ingenuity and hard work, provide a lot of its own food in active partnership with the natural environment. And people get excited about that.
We’ll be actively engaged in this inquiry for the rest of our lives. It’s a great project, improving the fairness of how we live. It has captured our imaginations.
When my wife and I consider whether Rancho Cappuccino helps create abundance, we need to look at all three underlying questions: Does it enhance natural resources, improving supply? Does it help reduce demand? And, does it help us embrace simplicity?
We’re creating beauty more fundamentally, internally, by learning about the place, loving it and treating it with care. Year by year, its beauty is more compelling to us as we know it better. Beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder.
Our writers sometimes criticize the system, but everyone understands that the system makes our existence possible. And the more successful our company is within the system, the more influential our work becomes. That's fair, I think.
We try to help people create abundance by both possible methods: by conserving existing resources and by propagating new resources. In other words, the two basic tools at our disposal are conservation and innovation.
One of the best-proven characteristics of our system of business is its contagiousness. The system has proven itself repeatable and contagious across both time and space, across centuries of time and every continent.
Beyond salary and benefits are the more abstract but equally important elements that make an employee feel valued.
We have our work cut out for us for many years to come. And for that, we’re grateful.
If a society decides its human populations can be held within the capacities of local farms to feed them, then our small farms can be replicated into the future, until further notice. I think that’s a very contagious idea.
Yes, we aspire to beauty. And we create some beautiful things, judging with our own eyes and the eyes of our audiences. But of course it’s only through the ongoing daily aspiration to beauty that beauty is achieved. So, we keep it up.
My colleagues and I hoped the small, unconventional company would provide a platform for something bigger – something that could grow.