Meet the Flipsters

Conversations on the Bridge

A Conversation with Terry Mollner
(The complete Flip interview, with only minor edits, not found in the book)

Terry Mollner, Ed.D. (, is one of the earliest pioneers of modern socially responsible investing. Since the 1970s, he has helped the industry grow from nothing to the fastest-growing asset class of the professional investment community, with more than $2 trillion in investment in the U.S., 15 percent of mutual fund assets, and a growing presence in investment communities around the world.

Terry is the founder, chair, and executive director of Trusteeship Institute, Inc., a think tank and consulting firm founded in 1973 that focuses on the development of socially responsible business, employee-owned cooperatives, and spiritually based enterprises. He is also founder and member of the board of trustees of the Calvert Foundation, and Spirit in Business, Inc.

Terry began by sharing the maturity model that he has been developing. “People and societies progress through layers of maturity,” he observed, “building and expanding upon the prior layers. With each layer of maturity we discover a larger whole, of which we were previously unaware. We realize that what we previously thought was the largest whole is actually just a part – a component – of this larger whole. The highest stage of maturity is when we discover that the universe is the one and only whole, of which everything else is just a part. That is ‘the oneness concept.’ But then we have to know the difference between the belief in oneness and the experience of oneness. When we do, we realize that the universe is one indivisible whole, and we’re it. We realize that time and space are mutually agreed-upon illusions which allow the universe to be self-conscious through us. But these illusions do not define reality.

“When we reach this point some really interesting things happen. Thinking realizes that it’s not our leader. That doesn’t mean that we stop thinking; we just give priority to ‘Knowing Mind’ over thinking. ‘Knowing Mind’ is just knowing what to do because we are the universe; therefore, we know what to do just as well as we know what to do as individual bodies in any one moment. That way of knowing becomes a habit. And we then have the final realization – ‘I’ve been doing this all along! And I just wasn’t conscious of it.’ We realize that we can be ourselves and give priority to our Knowing Mind at all times. It doesn’t take any effort. We can talk about it and do it at the same time.”

Where does Terry see our society’s maturity level? “When the United States was founded,” Terry reasons, “it was probably at the teenage level of maturity. American society was drunk on free choice, having just successfully separated from the king of England, so we cherished democracy and free markets. Today our society is in the belief stage. If you watch television or read the newspapers, everything is an argument about belief. It’s no longer enough to have free choice; we want our choices to reflect reality. So we now are coming up with beliefs that we consider ‘right.’

“Unfortunately, no society is yet at the highest level of maturity. Individuals throughout history have reached it. Buddha figured it out many years ago. Jesus figured it out. A lot of people have figured it out; they’ve just been misinterpreted.

“Currently our common societal knowledge is, ‘Everybody should have a right to their own beliefs.’ The next stage, because we need to start acting as a planetary consciousness, is when we agree on fundamental beliefs. That’s going to result in an entirely new, different corporation; a new kind of democracy; a new kind of everything.”

We asked Terry to describe his vision of corporate transformation. “Currently, our multinational corporations give highest priority to the interests of a few – called the shareholders – at the expense of the many. That’s an immoral contract with society. The moral imperative is to give priority to the good of all, and second priority to our own self interest. Thus, we have a legal contract between corporations and governments that is fundamentally immoral. No matter how many restrictions we place on corporations their priority is still the interest of a few at the expense of the many.

“The new corporation that’s coming into existence is a corporation that will freely choose to give priority to the good of all of humanity. Once it figures out how to do this and do this well, such a corporation will have a tremendous ability to outperform all the other corporations because it’ll be able to get tremendous customer loyalty. It will also demonstrate resilience during difficult times because everybody isn’t just thinking about themselves, so people will tend to stick together. And it should, on every other basis, have the smarts to be able to outdo the other corporations.

“I call this new form the relationship corporation. There’s a board of trustees of only three or four people and they have only one job: to make sure the highest priority is the good of all. They delegate all of the responsibility for running the company under this principle to a board of directors – which is much like the current board of directors – responsible for setting policy and running the company. The board of trustees maintains the right to veto any decision made by the board of directors or management, and it has a representative sitting in at all meetings to see what’s going on and to help them out. If there ever is a disagreement about what gives priority to the good of all, in terms of wages or product safety, or whatever, the board of trustees and the board of directors will meet to try to solve the problem.

“Further, the board of trustees commits itself to trying never to exercise the veto power. This will be something unique in our society: an eldering situation wherein the board of trustees reaches an agreement with the board of directors to achieve the highest priority in all circumstances. The board of trustees will hold transparent meetings where the whole public can participate in conversations on how their companies can best serve humanity. Competition will become secondary to cooperation, and well-managed.”

What will happen to profits in this new corporate paradigm? “The relationship corporation sets a ceiling on profits,” says Terry. “Its highest priority is to end up with surplus profits that it doesn’t have to pay to any investors. So it pays investors what it needs to pay them, whatever is necessary to raise capital or maintain capital. Same thing with bonds. It will only pay the interest rate it feels it needs to pay and it will redeem the bonds whenever it thinks its best to redeem them. All the money in profits beyond that will be managed for the good of humanity of one of two ways: either by investing it in relationship investment banking firms, which will be about the business of buying more companies and converting them to be relationship corporations; or by donating it to charitable and education activities around the world.”

We asked Terry how he sees these relationship companies and relationship investment banking firms emerging. “The next societal shift will occur primarily in the private sector, where people are free to make choices and form agreements,” he predicts. “Governments can come along and help. But because every stage of maturity builds on the preceding ones and never qualifies them, progress toward the next stage of maturity must enhance the individual freedom of the teenage stage. Freely chosen, cooperative agreements can place a context around competition that doesn’t confront the competition, but tames it and relegates it to a secondary relationship for the good of humanity.

“For example, let’s say a few CEOs of multinational corporations are enthusiastic about something like setting fair wages across the globe. They organize a voluntary meeting – anyone who wants to express an opinion is welcome to attend. The responsibility of this group is to come up with what they think would be a good agreement for the corporations to make among themselves. The multinationals will be the only ones to vote – everybody else in the room is a consultant – because the multinationals won’t want anyone telling them what to do. But that’s fine, because the social pressure will be so great that it won’t make any difference who’s voting. If they reach agreement on a fair minimum wage, the way to implement that is the same way they’ve implemented ISO 9000 and 14000 – all vendors and suppliers will have to conform if they want to do business with the multinationals. In this way they use their clout to raise the social playing field without changing anything about competitive activity inside the circle.”

Does Terry think that global evolution will encourage the positive transformation of corporations? “I think China will be the pivotal force. Americans tend to think the whole world is going to change to want to be like us, and so they think China is going to implode, as the Soviet Union did. But it’s not going to happen. China is a very different kind of animal; it’s very smart and has figured out a lot of things. A number of nations now realize that they have to get into competition with the multinationals because that’s where the main game is being played. Norway, for instance, has taken action to end up with tremendous control over its private companies. And Russia is reorganizing to be like China. Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, has figured out what’s going on and he’s starting to try to get South America to organize together and emulate China.

“Just think of the country as one corporation where all the people in the country work for the same company and they all happen to live on the campus of the company. In other words, a communist state is nothing but a Western corporation. But China has figured out that they should allow the creation of small enterprises because that encourages competition and a lot of good things will flow from that. The smart companies that succeed and grow will only be able to sell to the government-owned multinationals; they become skunk-works for the state. And China, Inc. is going around the world buying up natural resource companies. But unlike companies in the West, China will never be interested in selling these companies. Its interest is the long-term interest of its shareholders, that is, the Chinese people. If Western corporations are going to compete, they’re going to have to establish the good of the people as their highest priority. So that’s going to allow for the emergence of the relationship corporation. That’s a flip that’s going to happen rapidly.”


The Flip, by Jared Rosen and David Rippe, illuminates a clear path to a vibrant enlightened world where millions of people already live and thrive. It describes in vivid detail and real examples evidence of an upside down world in decay and a Right Side Up world of authentic beings bright with possibility.
The Flip is an owner’s manual for the twenty-first century full of insights, conversations with recognized experts, thought leaders, and visionaries, and actionable exercises and tips you can use to begin your own personal flip.

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