Tim Hughes: Practicing Conscious Capitalism

Tim Hughes
Tim Hughes

If unfamiliar with the influential practice, “conscious capitalism” is a business model with a mission to inspire, educate, and engage with all stakeholders, and not only support the communities you serve, but enrich lives. I was introduced to conscious capitalism a long time ago, but it has taken many years to see the full-circle impact it has had—on my business in particular. What started off as a desire to give back to the community has grown into a holistic relationship between Falcon Realty and the communities we serve.

Some people may believe that the real estate industry does not always appreciate the impact developing land may have on the environment or community, and a business (regardless of the industry) can’t possibly have both a positive impact on the world and also be profit-driven. Although it is a lofty goal, I believe by incorporating conscious business practices, an intersection can be accomplished and, more important, that there are actually plenty of us in the industry that are striving to do so.

When first introduced to conscious capitalism, one quickly comes to realize that it is much more than a purpose statement or merely writing a check to a charity. Although Falcon’s purpose statement (“Enhancing the quality of life in the communities we serve”) does embody the philosophy of conscious capitalism, it is imperative to build these principles into all aspects of our business model—from our internal culture (team members, partners) to our external stakeholders (clients, environment, consumers)—to truly enhance the communities we serve.

Two companies that have mastered the art of practicing conscious capitalism are Whole Foods Market and Trademark Property Co. Partnering together, the companies impressively have gone as far to create the first ground-up “conscious place” known as Waterside, a development in Fort Worth. Waterside will provide dozens of unique initiatives and amenities to serve the communities and enrich lives, including micro-restaurant sites, a community pavilion, and interactive art that can be used as playground toys for kids to bocce courts for parents.

An article by John Montesi, son of Trademark Property Founder Terry Montesi, exceptionally details Waterside and his father’s legacy of how he has brought conscious capitalism specifically to real estate development. To be successful in practicing conscious capitalism, Terry advises that one should adopt an “inclusive listening process,” which I have found to be extremely helpful when working and building relationships with all of our stakeholders.

For example, a challenge my company faces when working on a client’s site selection is finding the ideal fit in the community that is best suited for all stakeholders, versus simply finding available real estate. Instating “inclusive listening” to Falcon’s model has helped us truly understand our stakeholders’ needs—for instance, not focusing the majority of our time on store growth or expansion, and in turn, losing sight on concept development. Recently, more and more consideration is being given to the physical space of a store and the customer experience, versus just a prime location on “Main and Main.” Investing in new and creative ways to build an environment where the consumer wants to spend time is the key to a successful “conscious culture.” A conscious culture is defined as “the ethos—the values, principles, practices—underlying the social fabric of a business, which permeates the atmosphere of a business and connects the stakeholders to each other and to the purpose, people and processes that comprise the company.”  In other words, healthy and happy stakeholders lead to a healthy and happy business system!

Practicing conscious capitalism may look different for you or your respective company or industry. For my company, practicing conscious capitalism includes not centering our purpose on the amount of deals we are working on, but on supporting and elevating the brands we represent and the communities we serve. My goal has been to not only turn Falcon into a conscious company internally, but build and maintain relationships with companies that also practice these principles, including brands like Modern Market, PetCo, iPic Cinemas, and Whole Foods and its new 365 concept. As each new brand or company works toward conscious capitalism, it continues to lead and inspire me—and hopefully you—to practice being conscious.

Tim Hughes is CEO and president of Falcon Realty Advisors.