Corey Hajim: Is It Time To Rethink What Our Economy Should Value? As the pandemic reveals the weaknesses of our economy, businesses and consumers are rethinking what they value. This hour, TED's Corey Hajim shares ideas on shifting the role of business in society.
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Corey Hajim: Is It Time To Rethink What Our Economy Should Value?

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(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MANOUSH ZOMORODI, HOST:

It's the TED RADIO HOUR from NPR. I'm Manoush Zomorodi. And on the show today, ideas about the future of business and our economy - because we're facing a global economic downturn that is going to affect all of us.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)

NOEL KING: More catastrophic numbers from the Labor Department.

JIM ZARROLI: We have had 26 million people filing for unemployment insurance over just...

KING: More than four million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week.

ZARROLI: Theaters, restaurants closing. Factories have been shutting down.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO: Revenue is down or gone. Restaurant workers aren't working.

ZARROLI: A wholesale collapse in the labor market that kind we've never seen before. People will be telling their grandchildren about this.

ZOMORODI: And so in the midst of this crisis, a lot of us are starting to rethink what we value in our lives and in business.

COREY HAJIM: And that really is where a lot of exciting new ideas can come from. But, you know, we just got to keep moving forward. We got to keep trying.

ZOMORODI: This is Corey Hajim. She is TED's business curator. And Corey has picked a selection of TED talks with ideas about rethinking the role of business in society because as the pandemic has magnified the weaknesses of our current systems, some think we'll want to do things really differently as we rebuild.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

HAMDI ULUKAYA: It's time to admit that the playbook that guided businesses and CEOs for the last 40 years is broken.

KATE RAWORTH: We need economies that are regenerative and distributive by design.

LORNA DAVIS: True collaboration is possible, but it's subtle and it's complex.

NICOLA STURGEON: The objective of economic policy should be collective well-being.

AI-JEN POO: It's about making these jobs good jobs that you can take pride in and support your family on.

ZOMORODI: Corey, thank you so much for being with me, but where are you exactly? Where are you recording this conversation from?

HAJIM: I'm in my bedroom. My children are safely sequestered downstairs...

ZOMORODI: (Laughter)

HAJIM: ...Watching "Tom And Jerry" with my husband...

ZOMORODI: Nice.

HAJIM: ...Making sure that they're not too expressive when exciting things happen.

(LAUGHTER)

ZOMORODI: I love it. So cute. All right. So we're all doing things differently? And, Corey, in business traditionally, what has been valued is quarterly returns. But, you know, here we are second month of the pandemic in what is turning out to be a massive economic downturn. And for those of us who are privileged enough to sort of pause and stop and think, there have been a lot of conversations about the bigger picture - what we value in life as consumers, as members of society, and what we want the future to look like when we come out of this. And I guess I'm wondering what that sounds like in the business community from what you've been hearing.

HAJIM: I mean, first of all, you're absolutely right. I mean, it is a privilege to be able to sit back and, you know, be grateful for the things we have and re-evaluate the things that we have. I think for business it's a similar thought process, and I do think a lot of people are recognizing the changes they want and a lot of people are trying to commit to those changes, you know, in terms of - climate impact, stakeholder capitalism as opposed to shareholder capitalism, you know, living wage, taking care of your employees from a financial standpoint - like, what does that really mean, and what does that really look like?

It's not as easy as it sounds. And, you know, it's affecting everybody in every corner of the globe in every walk of life. It's affecting people differently and some people much much more harshly than others, but we all feel it. And so I do think that, you know, we will make some changes after this.

ZOMORODI: And that was one of the reasons why we wanted to do this episode with you to look towards the future, think constructively, about how we move forward with some of those changes. And so let's start with the first talk that you chose. This is a talk by Ai-jen Poo. And her talk is really about all the employees and workers whom she describes as invisible, and she means domestic workers. Can you tell us more about her and what Ai-jen does?

HAJIM: This is just an amazing, powerful talk. Ai-jen runs the Domestic Workers Alliance, and she's been fighting for the rights of domestic workers - home care professional, home cleaners, nannies, babysitters, elder care workers. And she's been fighting for them to have the kinds of rights that more traditionally employed people have like health care and time off and safety nets. And she argues that the way we treat this group of people is really our moral compass.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

POO: They know how your toddler likes to be held as they take their bottle before a nap. They know how your mother likes her tea, how to make her smile and tell stories despite her dementia. They are so proximate to our humanity. You see, the cultural devaluing of domestic work is a reflection of a hierarchy of human value that defines everything in our world - a hierarchy that values the lives and contributions of some groups of people over others.

Domestic workers live in poor neighborhoods and then they go to work in very wealthy ones. They cross cultures and generations and borders and boundaries, and their job no matter what is to show up and care, to nurture, to feed, to clothe, to bathe, to listen, to encourage, to care no matter what.

ZOMORODI: It is the most personal work there is. And so, Corey, as Ai-jen says, domestic workers are such a crucial and intrinsic part of our lives. So what are some of the changes that she's been pushing for that might get more traction as we do start to come out of the pandemic?

HAJIM: I think her ultimate goal is that this group of workers is treated with the same rights and benefits that, you know, someone employed at a more traditional company would be required to have. And, you know, one thing she brings up in the talk is that we don't even talk about these jobs as jobs or as at work - as work. We see them as help. We don't consider them employees in the same ways. So another really important part of this is to just look at people differently and to realize these are...

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HAJIM: ...Amazingly valuable, talented people.

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POO: It's the work that makes all other work possible, and it's mostly done by women - more than 90% women, disproportionately women of color. And the work itself is associated with work that women have historically done, work that's been made incredibly invisible and taken for granted in our culture. But it's so fundamental to everything else in our world. It makes it possible for all of us to go out and do what we do in the world every single day knowing that the most precious aspects of our lives are in good hands.

HAJIM: So what I would hope is that people, of course, see all the challenges but also just see our interconnectedness - how we can't live without each other and while we get caught up in this competition and, you know, business especially, you know, it's at the personal level and at the company level of, you know, trying to win - win the game. You know, maybe that shouldn't be the goal. And we can't do it without each other. We can't do it without the people that help take care of our kids or stock a grocery shelf and, you know, certainly not nurses and doctors and teachers as we all have found out. We all have things to contribute and they're all important.

ZOMORODI: OK. So we need to value people more. And that brings us to economist Kate Raworth, who's actually been on the show before. And Kate argues that the only way to put those values into action for businesses and to look out for people is to stop focusing entirely on growth, right?

HAJIM: Yeah, I mean, growth is exciting. It's easy to measure. It's easy to admire. And we've been sold this idea that growth is the path to prosperity by politicians, by economists, by companies. And it's not that it's bad necessarily, but there's a point at which, you know, we can grow and grow and grow and still have a lot of people left behind and also cause a lot of damage.

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RAWORTH: So where did this obsession with growth come from? Well, GDP - gross domestic product - it's just the total cost of goods and services sold in an economy in a year. It was invented in the 1930s, but it very soon became the overriding goal of policymaking, so much so that even today in the richest of countries, governments think that the solution to their economic problems lies in more growth.

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RAWORTH: So here we are flying into the sunset of mass consumerism over half a century on with economies that have come to expect, demand and depend upon unending growth because we are financially, politically and socially addicted to it.

ZOMORODI: I mean, Corey, just listening that, it makes me think of Uber as kind of the perfect example of this as venture capital money made it possible for them to use software that connected people who needed rides with people who could give them rides. But the company took very little responsibility for those drivers. They certainly didn't get benefits. And consumers - we loved it because those rides were super cheap, and so we all got really used to getting Uber rides whenever we wanted them for very little money. And now here are. And with people being under lockdown, that means that those people have absolutely no income because we're all not going anywhere, and there's no protection for them other than what the government is now paying. And of course, that comes from our tax dollars money. I think what Kate's saying is it's just not - growth is not sustainable, correct?

HAJIM: Yeah. I mean, again, like, growth is good at some stages and important to a certain extent, but it's not everything.

ZOMORODI: Uh-huh.

HAJIM: I think that's, you know, the thing that we need to remember, that it's not - it's not going to solve all the problems, right? It's like we've tried to create this system of perfect supply and demand matching. Like, we have the supply when the demand is there, and when the demand is not there, we can cut the supply so we don't have the cost all the time. Well, as you said, we're paying the costs for that now because we're going to have to bail everybody out. But it's just - I have to believe that there's a different way to structure companies and societies...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAJIM: ...So that when crisis hits, it's not just a total breakdown.

ZOMORODI: So how can we restructure things moving forward? Coming up, Corey tells us about Kate Raworth's model for a circular economy, plus more ideas from TED speakers on upending how business is done. I'm Manoush Zomorodi, and you're listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ZOMORODI: It's the TED Radio Hour from NPR. I'm Manoush Zomorodi. And on the show today - what we value. Our guide to rethinking the role of business in society is TED's business curator Cory Hajim. And before the break, we heard from her about economist Kate Raworth's ideas for a circular economy because Kate says our focus on constant growth in business - it's just not sustainable. And so she proposes a new model that looks like, of all things, a doughnut.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

RAWORTH: I know. I'm sorry. But let me introduce you to the one doughnut that might actually turn out to be good for us. So imagine humanity's resource use radiating out from the middle. That hole in the middle is a place where people are falling short on life's essentials. They don't have the food, health care, education, political voice, housing that every person needs for life of dignity and opportunity. We want to get everybody out of the hole, over the social foundation and into that green doughnut itself.

HAJIM: So the circular economy, the doughnut, basically illustrates that there are people who are falling into the middle of the doughnut. The doughnut hole is not where you want to be, and that's where we're falling short on providing education, food, water, equality to people. The outside of the doughnut is where we push past the resources of our planet. So the ring of the doughnut is really the sustainable economy. So we have to find a way to provide for everybody without overusing the resources that we have. So Kate's goal is that we design the economy to be regenerative and distributed and so that it isn't - she talks about this system that we have now which kind of goes back to the consumerism which is take, make, use, lose.

ZOMORODI: That's what we've been doing?

HAJIM: That's what we've been doing. We've been - we buy things, we use it, we throw it away, we buy something new. That is the consumerism. That's the retail therapy. And what we need to do is, again, focus on a circle - so things that we can bring back into the system and use again. And you see companies that are doing this. You know, there are companies like Patagonia that take their clothes back after they've been used, try to use recycled materials, think about upstream and downstream in terms of their supply chain. This is possible. It's just happening on a small scale at this point.

ZOMORODI: So the way she puts it is the challenge is protecting the environment while also protecting people while also surviving as a company. And let's just play that clip where she describes this challenge.

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RAWORTH: So this double-sided challenge to meet the needs of all within the means of the planet that invites a new shape of progress, no longer this ever rising line of growth...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

RAWORTH: ...But a sweet spot for humanity thriving in dynamic balance between the foundation and the ceiling. And I was really struck once I'd drawn this picture to realize that the symbol of well-being in many ancient cultures reflects this very same sense of dynamic balance, from the Maori Takarangi to the Taoist yin yang, the Buddhist endless knot, the Celtic double spiral.

ZOMORODI: I mean, I love that. It's a beautiful image that she's talking about, but for this dynamic balance or replenishing sort of to happen - I'm guessing for that, that requires that there are some people who have to give something up. We can't have as many billionaires as we currently have for the dynamic balance to be there.

HAJIM: I mean, I think that's right, and it's interesting. There's a guy named Ruchir Sharma at Morgan Stanley who's written for a number of years about billionaires in countries, in different societies and how there is a right number. You do want people who are these incredible breakout success stories, and it does sort of depend on where they came from and what kind of industries they're successful in, but there's a good percentage to have. There's a right number. And when it's there, people are inspired and motivated and think, it can happen to me. When there's too many and when there's too much imbalance, then it throws things off, and people get frustrated and unhappy. And we see that growing wealth gap, and it's causing a lot of problems. We see the incredible impact now in this pandemic that some people, you know - it's an inconvenience.

ZOMORODI: Yep.

HAJIM: And for some people, it's a total destruction of their life.

ZOMORODI: Yeah. So can I just ask one last question in this - in the Kate sort of field? If not GDP, then what? How do we measure success? Do we need another - she says the metric can't be money but then what does it look like? Is it - some people I know have suggested a happiness index for each country. Like, what are some of the ideas that you hear?

HAJIM: I mean, I think it's funny that we think one number - you know, that we should be able to summarize how well we're doing in one number. I mean, this is - you don't do that with your personal life. I mean, you have...

ZOMORODI: No.

HAJIM: You know, your job and your kids - how are they doing? You know, your partner? You know, are your clothes all over the floor? Have you gained weight? Like, there's so many different ways that we judge how we're doing. Why would we think that one number could capture the health of a country?

ZOMORODI: Hm.

HAJIM: I guess we think all these other inputs kind of move towards this one goal. But, you know, I think happiness is a tough one to measure. But how many people don't have a home?

ZOMORODI: Right. Yeah.

HAJIM: How many schools are falling short? How many people don't have enough to eat at night? They're not hard to measure. We know the numbers.

ZOMORODI: Hm.

HAJIM: But why does that not go into our calculation of success as a society? And if we can get behind those, wouldn't we feel just as good about that as we would about GDP or a rising stock market?

ZOMORODI: So in order for sort of a regenerative or circular economy to take hold, this is going to require leadership - right? - people who are running the companies to have a different kind of mindset. And so I want to take this moment to turn to a CEO who I think has been kind of dabbling with some of these ideas. Can you tell us about the CEO and founder of Chobani yogurt?

HAJIM: So Hamdi Ulukaya was, you know - has this sort of great origin story for his company. You know, he saw an ad for a yogurt plant in upstate New York. And, you know, I think it was on a flyer. And he kind of threw it away. And then, he dug it out of the garbage again. And he kept looking at it, and he couldn't get it out of his mind. And so he went up - he drove up to see it.

And, you know, there was just a lot of naysayers. People said, why would you take this yogurt plant that, you know, one of the biggest, you know, consumer goods companies in the world - they decided, you know, it wasn't going to work. And there was no way to make money out of this yogurt plant. So who are you to think you can turn it around? You're just going to throw your money away. And so we all - you know, we know the end of this story. But it's just incredible to think about what a long shot it seemed like in the beginning.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

ULUKAYA: Plant was 85 years old. And it was closing, so I decided to go see it. I was met with a guy named Rich - production manager. He offered to take me around - show me around. He didn't say much, but around every corner, he would point out some stories. Rich worked there for 20 years. His father made yogurt before him. And his grandfather made cream cheese before that. You could tell that Rich felt guilty that this factory was closing on his watch. What hit me the hardest at that time - that this wasn't just an old factory, this was a time machine.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ULUKAYA: This is where people built lives. They left for wars. They'd brag about home runs and report cards. But now, it was closing. And the company wasn't just giving up on yogurt - it was giving up on them, as if they were not good enough. And I was shocked how these people were behaving. There was no anger. There was no tears - just silence. With grace, they were closing this factory. I was so angry that the CEO, far away in a tower or somewhere, looking at the spreadsheets and closing the factory. Spreadsheets are lazy. They don't tell you about people. They don't tell you about communities. But unfortunately, this is how too many business decisions are made today.

ZOMORODI: So by the end of 2005 - correct me if I'm wrong - Hamdi has bought the factory. It becomes Chobani. He makes a plan to hire back the 55 employees who were laid off when the factory first closed. Then he hires 100 more, then 100 more, and so on and so on. And he is an advocate - becomes an advocate for what he kind of calls the anti-CEO playbook. What is that?

HAJIM: So it starts with what he mentions in the clip about, you know, decisions being made by CEOs someplace else and, you know, on a spreadsheet and looking at shareholder return. So it's everything. It's putting employees first. And that makes so much intuitive sense. These are the people who are going to build your company and make the product that you're going to sell. There's nothing else without those people. So, you know, he says take care of employees before the shareholders. Focus on the community instead of, you know, shopping around and saying who's going to give me the biggest tax break, you know, go and find a place and say what can I do for the people here?

ZOMORODI: So the thing with Hamdi - right? - like, his model, it does upend the way that businesses typically approach employment. Like, we always think you've got to hire - you've got to have the competitive advantage, right? How do you hire the best people - the right people - to make the company thrive? But is he upending that, Corey? Like, he's saying just invest in the people there and you can be the best. Or, am I getting that wrong?

HAJIM: No, I think that's right. I mean, he - I think he really felt like, you know, this company had given up on the people that ran this factory. And they had basically said, you know, this production facility isn't making the margin that we want and that they were capable of so much more if given the right tools and the right energy and just believing in them. And so I think it's - you know, it's kind of like when you have kids, right? Like, you kind of stuck with what you got.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

HAJIM: So you make the best of it...

ZOMORODI: (Laughter).

HAJIM: ...And you try to look at them and figure out how they can thrive. And so instead of sitting down and looking at a pile of resumes and saying, like, who went to the best school, and, you know, who got the best grades, and, you know, yada yada yada, it's like, you know, the person in front of me, the person who's here, the person who's connected with this place, you know, what can they do? What can we do together?

ZOMORODI: So you mentioned this idea of building community with its employees. In April 2016, it was announced that Chobani would give its 2,000 employees each a share of the company if it does, indeed, go public or is sold because that's a possibility. But the other thing that Hamdi really talks about is this idea of reporting to the consumer.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

ULUKAYA: Today's playbook says the CEO reports to the boards - corporate boards. In my opinion, CEO reports to consumer. In the first few years of Chobani, the 1-800 number was in the cup was my personal number.

(LAUGHTER)

ULUKAYA: When somebody called and wrote, I responded personally. Sometimes I made changes based on what I heard because consumer is in power. That's the reason that business exists. It's you. Every single one of you is in the power to make changes today. If you don't like the brand and the companies - what they are doing with their business - you can throw them into the garbage can. And if you see the ones that are doing it right, you can reward them. In the end, this is all in our responsibility.

ZOMORODI: Wow. You know, that clip, I take issue with it, in part, Corey, because, as you know, I've been a tech journalist for a long time. And one of the things - one of the biggest issues when it comes to the tech sector is this whether or not companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, et cetera - that they have created a monopoly market and, actually, the consumer doesn't get to choose, because if you're not on LinkedIn, then you don't exist to employers. And I guess yogurt, clearly, is a different business.

But tell me more about what you think when you hear that clip about the consumer coming first. Because I feel like it's actually, you know, that's what - the customer is always right. Like, we don't hear that anymore. Customers these days get rated just like the people driving them around do, right?

HAJIM: Oh, yeah, that is true. We are being rated and watched and data mined and all of that. And look, you're right. Like, there are situations where we don't necessarily have choice, especially if you're tighter on money. But I do think we've taken a little bit of a leaned-back position as a consumer. And we have millions of choices, and some of - you know, a lot of times, they're all owned by the same company. But I do think we have more power than we realize. And, you know, Amazon is a good example where we just feel sometimes completely trapped. Like, it's just so convenient, right? But I think that, in some ways, is the thing that we've gotten so used to that we're having trouble breaking with. Like, there are alternatives to Amazon, but they may not be as convenient.

ZOMORODI: Yeah.

HAJIM: And, you know, right now we're not allowed to leave the house. But there's a lot of - there's stores everywhere. You know, there are other online sellers.

ZOMORODI: Yep.

HAJIM: I do think, as consumers, we should kind of take control again.

ZOMORODI: I will say, like, one of the reasons why 1-Click is often so enticing is because we're so busy.

HAJIM: Mmm hmm.

ZOMORODI: And now that things have kind of slowed down, I think it is in a moment where people can experiment with different shopping habits. And...

HAJIM: Right.

ZOMORODI: I would hope that some of that lingers as we go back to lives that maybe we've decided are not as busy that we are willing to sacrifice the planet's well-being and our own well-being.

HAJIM: Right, right, right.

ZOMORODI: At the same time, we want to support companies where they are treating, you know - that we want to give our money to companies that do do right by their workers. And, you know, as Hamdi says, the people who are left out and left behind by our current business models, they just want someone to give them a chance again.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ZOMORODI: And as the American workforce - or the global workforce - gets put back to work, can we do it? Can we do it in a different way? He actually says it's a difference between profit and what he calls true wealth - this idea of community and kindness and humanity.

HAJIM: Right. Like, is it just a one-off or can it happen at a big scale, right?

ZOMORODI: Yes, exactly.

HAJIM: But, I mean, I guess my answer is why not? Like, why can't it happen? Yogurt's not really a niche business, and his business is not small. I mean, it's a significant business. It's, you know - it requires manufacturing, it requires dairy, it requires distribution. He - and he - it's not like he hasn't been successful, you know? He's made a lot of money. And he's doing it in a way that is admirable. You know, I don't know if he's perfect. And no business is perfect.

ZOMORODI: Right...

HAJIM: No person...

ZOMORODI: We're not saying, like...

HAJIM: Yeah.

ZOMORODI: You must eat this yogurt because it comes from, like, the best kind of business. No business - I mean, everyone has to make choices.

HAJIM: I mean, look, every person is not - you know, no person is perfect, no business is perfect. But the point is he's trying to do it differently. He's been successful doing it differently. Like why shouldn't everyone who can, try?

ZOMORODI: In just a minute - more ideas on new ways of doing business as we look toward the future. Stay with us. I'm Manoush Zomorodi, and you're listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ZOMORODI: It's the TED Radio Hour from NPR. I'm Manoush Zomorodi. And today on the show, TED's business curator Corey Hajim brings us talks on rethinking what we value, especially as the future of our economy becomes more uncertain. And one value we may need to shift away from - hero culture in business. Here's former CEO Lorna Davis on the TED stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

DAVIS: I wanted so much to be a good leader. I wanted to be followed by a devoted team. I wanted to be right. In short, I wanted to be a hero. Now, you may think that this is the classic hero speech, where I'm going to tell you that I overcame that obstacle and triumphed. Actually, I'm going to tell you that in a world as complex and interconnected as the one we live in, the idea that one person has the answer is ludicrous. It's not only ineffective, it's dangerous because it leads us to believe that it's been solved by that hero, and we have no role. We don't need heroes. We need radical interdependence, which is just another way of saying we need each other.

ZOMORODI: So Lorna spent her career running big companies like Danone. And she thinks that business leaders need to stop trying to be the hero and instead be OK with saying things like, I have a crazy goal, and honestly, I don't have the answers on how to reach that goal. She says that that is interdependence. I need you, you need me, right?

HAJIM: Right, right. I mean, so the hero culture that we've been cultivating - and I think everyone can see it in themselves. You want to set a goal that you think you can achieve. And what she's saying is the world is much more complicated than that. Our problems are hard. And so what you want to do is set a goal that you can't solve by yourself. And when you set that goal, you announce to everybody that you don't have all the answers. And then what that does is brings everybody into the process. So you're saying to your employees, I need your help, I need your ideas. And you may even be saying that to your competitors. It's like those - that kind of creative thinking requires that openness that she's talking about.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

DAVIS: Why does hero culture persist, and why don't we work together more? Well, I don't know why everyone else does it, but I can tell why I did it. Interdependence is a lot harder than being a hero. It requires us to be open and transparent and vulnerable, and that's not what traditional leaders have been trained to do. I thought being a hero would keep me safe. This is an illusion. The joy and success that comes from interdependence and vulnerability is worth the effort and the risk. And if we're going to solve the challenges that the world is facing today, we have no alternative, so we had better start getting good at it.

ZOMORODI: Gosh, that brings up so many things for me. One is I'm - I can just - the hero culture, I just think of Steve Jobs on the stage being like, we wondered if we could create something that would change the world, and we did, right? I mean, boom, there's the iPhone.

HAJIM: (Laughter) Right.

ZOMORODI: And I think that kicked off a whole culture and generation of people who wanted to, like, have there a moment like that. Of course, they do. But I also wonder if we are - has the - COVID-19 has made it far more clear or obvious that we are interconnected, that, you know, one company only functions because consumers have the money to spend and buy their products. And if they don't have jobs, then they don't have that money. And it just - you know, there's an interfunctionality (ph) that if it goes away, everything falls down. I mean, is that what she's referring to, do you think? Or is she also just talking about the way that businesses compete against one another?

HAJIM: No, I mean, I think she's talking about all of that. And it is incredibly - just like growth, it's sort of ingrained in our systems. I mean, she told me - she sent in her talk script - this is a little behind the scenes - her first draft and I sent her some feedback. And she told me her first reaction was she was going to tell me to buzz off but not quite in such nice language.

ZOMORODI: (Laughter).

HAJIM: And then she realized, like, this was a collaboration - right? - that she and I were collaborating on getting this idea together and out to everybody. So it's something that's, you know, not easy to break. As you said, it's sort of part of the culture. But I do think this moment reminds us of how much we need each other. And I hope that we can, you know, take it forward as people, as businesses and organizations. And that really is where a lot of exciting new ideas can come from.

ZOMORODI: Yeah. Another thing that Lorna talks about is the B Corp model, which is a certification that businesses can get for being a force for good in the world. And she talks about how this model allows companies to think more critically about how their actions affect not just consumers but the environment, the system at large.

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DAVIS: I want to give you an example from the clothing industry, which produces 92 million tons of waste a year. Patagonia and Eileen Fisher are clothing manufacturers - both of them B Corps, both of them deeply committed to reducing waste. They don't see that their responsibility ends when a customer buys their clothes. Patagonia encourages you not to buy new clothes from them and will repair your old clothes for free. Eileen Fisher will pay you when you bring back your clothes and either sell them on or turn them into other clothes. While these two companies are competitive in some ways, they work together and with others in the industry to solve shared problems.

ZOMORODI: So there is that mention in Patagonia again. And I think what Lorna - you know, I'm hearing echoes also of the talk we previously discussed in Kate Raworth and the circular economy. So when you listen to this, how could this sort of interconnected mindsets of the B Corp offer a path forward as we begin to rebuild the economy once the pandemic subsides?

HAJIM: I mean, you can think about it on a personal level and you can think about it on a business level. We know we need each other, so why wouldn't we consider our impact on one another and, you know, the environment around us? So she's talking about - you know, you look at your business and then you look at, you know, where those inputs come from and where the outputs go to - so how your product is used and disposed of and its impact after it leaves, you know, your hands and, you know, how - what you need to do to make that product. So it's just sort of expanding our purview of what we think of as part of the business.

ZOMORODI: I mean, I think it's also important to note that, like, a B Corp certification is, like, no joke. I believe that Etsy, the online marketplace, was B Corp and then lost that certification as its business model changed. But I think - wouldn't it be nice if, like - you know, we were talking about the role the consumers play - if we started to look for that certification? Because I don't think people do, right? They're not like, oh, it's a B Corp, so that's where I'm going to buy my waterproof jacket for, you know, my hike or whatever.

HAJIM: But we have it. As consumers, we have latched on to the - you know, we will look for organic or we look for fair trade or - you know, we can be trained to focus on these things. And I think there's something like 3,000 B Corp companies around the world. It's still a very small portion of the overall, but, yeah, we can do that. We can look for that certification.

ZOMORODI: So I want to turn now to our final speaker, who is, I think, a great example of someone in government who is trying to lead the way when it comes to thinking about what we value in our economy, and that is Nicola Sturgeon. She is Scotland's first minister. Can you tell us about her?

HAJIM: So she has worked to really shift the focus away from GDP to other factors that, you know, we've talked about sort of throughout this discussion. It's not just about gross domestic product. It's really, how are your people doing? And so she's part of an alliance with Iceland and New Zealand to figure this out, which I think just is the Lorna model, right? Like, she's - this isn't, you know, one country trying to beat out another. It's let's learn together how to create these new measurement tools. Because it isn't obvious. It's not something we've done before. So let's work together to figure it out. And I just found her so inspirational to listen to and hear about her goals.

ZOMORODI: Yeah. I had no idea that she had helped establish this new network called the Wellbeing Economy Governments Group. So let's play a clip where she describes what exactly they're doing.

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STURGEON: The purpose of this group is to challenge that focus on the narrow measurement of GDP, to say that, yes, economic growth matters. It is important, but it is not all that it is important. In policy terms, this journey for Scotland started back in 2007, when we published what we call our National Performance Framework, looking at the range of indicators that we measure ourselves against. And those indicators are as varied as income inequality, the happiness of children, access to green spaces, access to housing. None of these are captured in GDP statistics, but they are all fundamental to a healthy and a happy society.

(APPLAUSE)

STURGEON: And that broader approach is at the heart of our economic strategy, where we give equal importance to tackling inequality as we do to economic competitiveness. It drives our commitment to fair work, making sure that work is fulfilling and well-paid. It's behind our decision to establish a Just Transition Commission to guide our path to our carbon zero economy. We know from economic transformations of the past that if we're not careful, there are more losers than winners. And as we face up to the challenges of climate change and automation, we must not make those mistakes again.

ZOMORODI: Corey, she is so interesting. So Nicola mentions some of the examples of the efforts that the other countries who are in this Wellbeing Economy Group. Iceland and New Zealand, as you said, they are going to focus on GDP, but some of the things they're focusing on, for example, in Iceland are equal pay, child care and paternity rights. And New Zealand just had its first well-being budget, is that right?

HAJIM: Yeah. I mean, I - you know, Nicola's talk is like the crescendo of all the other talks we've discussed, right?

ZOMORODI: (Laughter).

HAJIM: It's all leading up to this moment where she's going to bring us home because she's talking about how we don't value things like domestic work, work that happens in the home, like Ai-jen Poo was discussing. She's really, like, putting Kate Raworth's ideas into action. She's saying, we need to measure all these different things inside and outside the doughnut.

ZOMORODI: Yep.

HAJIM: She's creating the metrics that Hamdi was really focused on but on a country-wide scale. And she's also using the leadership tools of Lorna, which is to work together with people who, you know, may, on the surface, seem like a competitor in some ways. And instead of being, you know, competitive and winning, you know, on this sort of global scale, she's collaborating with them.

(SOUNDBITE OF TED TALK)

STURGEON: The work we're doing here in Scotland is, I think, significant, but we have much, much to learn from other countries. I mentioned, a moment ago, our partner nations in the Wellbeing network - Iceland and New Zealand. It's worth noting - and I will leave it to you to decide whether this is relevant or not - that all three of these countries are currently led by women.

(APPLAUSE)

STURGEON: They, too, are doing great work. New Zealand, in 2019, publishing its first well-being budget with mental health at its heart; Iceland leading the way on equal pay, child care and paternity rights - not policies that we immediately think of when we talk about creating a wealthy economy but policies that are fundamental to a healthy economy and a happy society.

ZOMORODI: Yeah. And I think, you know, those things like equal pay, child care and paternity rights, they get mentioned a lot in countries, like here in the United States, but they don't - we think of them as, like, something that would be bad for the economy, but we want to do it.

HAJIM: Right.

ZOMORODI: But she's saying like, no, this is - these are - these policies are fundamental to a healthy economy and to a society that, you know, never mind is just happy, but it functions at this point. I have to say, though, I - there's a little part of me that's, like, OK, well, you know, Scotland, Iceland, New Zealand - tiny countries, tiny economies, very homogenous populations. But I guess we've got to start somewhere?

HAJIM: Yeah. I mean, I think to - I think that's true. I think that, you know, if you look at the United States, it seems like a much more complicated kind of base to work off of, right? It's bigger. It's more diverse. It has some, you know, historical challenges. But the point is we can see where it's happening in other places. And so, yeah, maybe those are the prototypes, the test cases. You know, we know how to scale things, so why can't we look at that and say, OK - first of all, we should ask them, you know, like, how are you doing it? Take the metrics that they've come up with and try to put them in place. Like, it's not going to be perfect in the beginning. But why not just get it going? Like, why not?

ZOMORODI: Do you think that this is a flash in the pan, this moment of questioning what we value in our communities, as countries, as economies? Or is there - is this going to be a profound shift? Look, like, you know, there's no way of prophesizing this clearly.

HAJIM: (Laughter).

ZOMORODI: But I do recognize that you do talk to a lot of business leaders, and I think a lot of them are being truly shaken to the core. And I guess I wonder if we're going to see that down the road.

HAJIM: Right. I mean, I think there is a reckoning here. I think it will somewhat depend on how long it lasts. It depends on what people decide matters. I think a lot of it's coming to the surface. But I also do believe that a lot of these trends were in play, were happening. Shifts were being made. Demands were being made by employees and consumers and investors to make changes. And I think we had momentum, and I actually believe this will give us more momentum. I mean, like, this is a moment of truth. And we should stare at it, and we should look at it and we should decide how we want to come back to it.

ZOMORODI: That's Corey Hajim, TED's business curator. Corey, thank you so much.

HAJIM: Thank you, Manoush. This was great.

ZOMORODI: And thank you for tuning in today for ideas about what we value. You can see all of the talks that Corey mentioned at ted.npr.org. And to see hundreds more TED Talks, check out ted.com or the TED app.

Our production staff at NPR includes Jeff Rogers, Sanaz Meshkinpour, Rachel Faulkner, Diba Mohtasham, James Delahoussaye, J.C. Howard, Katie Monteleone, Maria Paz Gutierrez, Christina Khala, Kiara Brown and Matthew Cloutier, with help from Daniel Shukin. Our theme music was written by Ramtin Arablouei. Our partners at TED are Chris Anderson, Colin Helms, Anna Phelan and Michelle Quint. I'm Manoush Zomorodi. And you've been listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR.

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