Every Transaction Is Sacred

In talking with my friend, John Rooks, a B Corporation “Authentic Marketing Super Hero,” ( founder SOAPBlog, and his Book ) I had a depth insight into my own company.  I remember discussing how to really tell the Inspire Commerce story.  I wanted a tagline that “nailed it,” and being a huge fan of working with brilliant outside marketing minds (I have a firm belief that practicing marketing is like practicing medicine, and you shouldn’t treat your own family) I reached out to John.  He knew enough about Inspire Commerce that he didn’t need to do a long branding session with me.  It just came out of him:

Every Transaction Is Sacred.

I sat with this for a very long time….  “Every Transaction Is Sacred,”  #ETIS (twitter search filter just born in this post so start using it people to post sacred transactions).  I thought about it for days, and we batted it around the office for a couple weeks.

We thought, “is this something we can just put on the website?”  Is that like branding oneself, “The Company With Integrity?”  In marketing worlds, we don’t always say everything that we are, because by doing so, the only place for people to go is let down.  It also smacks of taking ourselves a little too seriously.  It’s a very strong statement (but powerful as I’ve been thinking about it for a year now and it moves me every day).

Perhaps it’s my definition of “sacred” verses the definition of sacred held by most of the world.  I remember reading Mircea Eliad’s book in College, “The Sacred and The Profane.”  Great read, and he posited that all life was made up of Sacred space and profane space.  After diving into spirituality enough to call myself a freshman, I would say that there are two basic ontological fields of thought which are core backbones of any world view, dualism, and non-dualism.  In non-dualism, EVERY transaction, event, be it visible or invisible, is existing inside the infinite divine.  But for 100% of the people on this planet, we live in the world of contradiction.  Some “enlightened teachers” might live in non-dualism, but still walk this planet of contradictions with every breath/step.  It’s a paradox.  Black, white, sacred, profane, and then we try our best to deal with the grey through our own world views and filters.

Socrates talked about allowing the contradictions to be, to resolve, contradict, connect, and float up to singularity.  From their they float down in such a way that we can’t really interpret them, but nonetheless this is his definition of the dialectic process…. what he calles true philosophy.

That doesn’t much help us live a triple bottom line business mentality, does it?  How easy if we just let contradictions float to the whole and back.

How do we make every transaction sacred without being religious zealots, or public hypocrites (hypocrites due to the inherent perceived contradiction of our world view with that of others)?  SBNR community, what are your thoughts?

In business, I have to ask, can every transaction be sacred?  Is it possible to run a company and only walk forward in every step, creating a better world for ALL stake holders and share holders?  Talk about a depth question worthy of a book / movie / lecture series.

As a business owner, who has lived the triple bottom line mentality since college (we’ll call it 1995), believing that social entrepreneurial business is the most powerful tool we have to transform the world, I can’t help but sit with the fact that most people view business as “the profane.”  They say, “It’s just business,” to justify acting in a non-humane way.  Does it have to be profane?  Can we make business a sacred act with integrity?

How do we navigate profitability and hard business decisions while doing our best to be “for benefit,” to share holders and stake holders?  You can’t just “give” away products to consumers in need, in benefit of the stake holders, and you can’t run a business 100% for the share holders or bad things happen to employee rights, human rights, our environment, etc.  How do we make EVERY transaction sacred in our lives?

I would say we do it by doing it… doing some things right, making mistakes and correcting those mistakes, and walking hand in hand with the highest possible outcome  in every interaction.  It takes dedication and clarity of vision.  It takes compassion and humility mixed with a profound knowing of self.  Finally, it takes not taking oneself to seriously while gently blending in a commitment to truth (not one’s own, but the collective).  What’s your take?

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Hi dear son!

I enjoyed reading your article - a little belatedly! The thing that comes to mind for me are two quotes from Aristotle -

Achievements: First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.

Action: For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.

I especially like the quote about Action. You are doing what we need to learn to do! I use this quote with students and they seem puzzled at first, but then they start to get it when we "learn by doing".

Love, Mom


This is a great piece Mark.I'm excited to see you asking these questions and bring attention to this conversation.We should have a long chat about this some time. I'm investigating similar idea. I think some of the most clear headed thinking on this topic is coming from Matthew Taylor at The RSA. His talk on 21st century enlightenment looks at both the aspirations and realizations of enlightened business.Personally I think the issue is that we need to create a system of "wellbeing units" that enables us to compare and contrast positive outcomes in the same way we can compare and contrast financial outcomes. It is one thing to have the intention to have each transaction be sacred, but in the end, we need metrics for measuring sacredness that externalize the meaning of interpersonal transactions.What a delightful exploration you have started!


This should be made widely available to businesses everywhere!