Many years ago, I had the great fortune to work with Kip Tindell, the Chairman and former CEO of The Container Store retail chain. Tindell and I would cross paths three or four times a year for a few days at a time as we were both involved in importing and promoting a line of home organizing products. Tindell was selling the products through The Container Store and I was the sales manager for the western United States.

That was in the late 80’s. Tindell’s company was about 10 years old but it was clear that he and his partners had created something special – not just the products, but also the corporate culture.

The more we spoke, the more I realized that his beliefs were a model for any organization.

I won’t do Tindell’s philosophy justice, but here goes… Tindell believed that if employees were happy and fulfilled, they would be more productive and revenue would grow because the staff believed in what they were doing. The staff knew that they were appreciated and that their work had meaning beyond collecting a paycheck.

For Tindell, this wasn’t some strategic means to an end, the end being making lots of money. Tindell believed that if you first put this philosophy to work, the money would come later.

And it did. The Container Store generated a lot of money and grew to the point where it went public about 10 years ago.

I’m providing you with a link to a brief interview with Tindell from a few years ago. It’s only about 3 1/3 minutes long and he describes “Conscious Capitalism,” which is the basis for his corporate philosophy. As you watch it, substitute all of the business references with references to the Newport-Mesa Unified School District. If you do, you will understand the type of leadership required to restore the district to its once-proud status.

For example, late in the interview, Tindell talks about making sure everyone gets heard and he says, “You’d pitch a really small tent if you didn’t let any sinners in.”

That quote reminded me of the district’s recent letter to N-MFT President Britt Dowdy, who was banned for one week from the campus of Newport Harbor High.

Please watch this:

Steve Smith