Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ted Rollins, with his ugly history, has become an adherent of the nutty "conscious capitalist" movement

Ted Rollins
What is Ted Rollins up to, now that he has been ousted as CEO of Campus Crest Communities? Well, he seems to have a new company to play with. But perhaps of more interest, he is part of a business movement that seems to have a serious problem with the English language--to the point that the movement's name makes no sense and is downright comical.

Believe it or not, Ted Rollins now espouses something called "conscious capitalism." Its adherents apparently seek to operate above the greed-driven, dollar-centric norms that mark regular capitalism. Conscious capitalists, in theory, make decisions with the needs and desires of "stakeholders" and the broader community in mind. In a sense, they are to treat business as a sort of higher calling (must . . . not . . . guffaw).

That should be quite a challenge for Rollins, given that public records and laws from at least three states (Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina) indicate he is a child abuser, convicted criminal, deadbeat dad, perjurer, fugitive from justice, and abusive litigant. Now that the Campus Crest board of directors has dumped him, you can add "failed CEO" to his list of achievements.

As for Rollins' new company, it's called the Balance Group and is based in Greenville, South Carolina. Where Campus Crest built housing for young people, students near college campuses, Balance Group focuses on housing for old folks--senior living, you might call it.

Campus Crest always seemed an odd fit for Rollins, given his conviction in Franklin County, North Carolina, for assaulting his teen-aged stepson. Perhaps Rollins will be less likely to beat up the seniors who inhabit his Balance Group properties.

As for Rollins' devotion to "conscious capitalism," evidence for that can be found at the Web site for TXG Capital, an investment firm he's had for quite some time--in fact, it apparently predates Campus Crest Communities. At the About page for TXG Capital, we learn the following:

Conscious capitalism is an important part of the business strategy at TXG Capital. It builds on the foundation of capitalism (voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, rule of law, and freedom to trade), and expands it with four pillars: higher purpose, conscious culture, conscious leadership, and stakeholder orientation, the combination of which yields conscious capitalism.

Our vision is thriving businesses that succeed because of their focus on purpose, customer experience, and corporate responsibility. Headed by Ted Rollins, our team of conscious capitalists will create positive customer experiences while outperforming in the areas of economics, environmental preservation, and social stewardship.

Ted Rollins is going to adhere to the "rule of law"? That's interesting, considering that his divorce from Birmingham resident Sherry Rollins, which spanned two states, was conducted so far outside the law--and in such an abusive fashion--that it left his ex wife and two daughters to rely on food stamps for survival.

Conscious capitalism, by the way, is not something Ted Rollins created. It's the latest business buzz phrase, growing from a 2013 book co-written by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey. The concept even has a Web page, touting its annual CEO summit, this year in Austin, Texas. If you do a Google search on "conscious capitalism," you will receive page after page of articles about CC's potential to transform American business.

That's odd because the very name of conscious capitalism makes absolutely no sense. According to Merriam-Webster, the word conscious means "to be awake and able to understand what is happening around you." In other words, being conscious essentially means that you aren't unconscious, or maybe even comatose.

Does that mean that Ted Rollins, by virtue of being awake, is supposed to be a more effective businessman than someone who is, say, asleep--or maybe in a vegetative state?

My guess is that the movement really should be called "conscientious capitalism." After all, the word conscientious means "to do what is right, to stick by one's principles, to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly." Someone who is conscientious also exhibits empathy, a concern for the rights and feelings of other people.

Maybe John Mackey passed on "conscientious capitalism" as a buzz phrase because he knew many corporate types could not live up to it. That raises the specter of CEOs who do not have a functioning conscience, meaning they are sociopaths. According to the book Snakes in Suits, the workplace is filled with them, especially in management.

No wonder Ted Rollins is aflutter about "conscious capitalism." It's a cool sounding phrase that requires absolutely nothing from him, other than to be awake. "Conscientious capitalism," on the other hand, would require a lot from its adherents, and it might actually empower everyday folks and change the world for the better. It seems doubtful that Ted Rollins could handle that.


Anonymous said...

Oh, goody, I've been hoping you would do another Ted Rollins post soon. Love 'em.

Selma said...

Have these people ever heard of a dictionary?

Anonymous said...

Looks like you no long will be welcome to enjoy the tasty treats at Whole Foods, Mr. Schnauzer.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the total quality management craze from a few years back. At least that made some sense.

Chuckles said...

Some of our most accomplished criminals are conscious. They tend to be awake and hyper alert about their surroundings. If they aren't, they might wind up back in the slammer! Does the same apply to "conscious" CEOs?

Anonymous said...

I want to be an unconscious capitalist. That doesn't sound too demanding.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how long it will take for the old people in Ted Rollins' new venture to start complaining about the crappy facilities he builds. Students have been complaining long and loud about Campus Crest.