Matthew Engelhart and his wife/business partner Terces are the owners of a popular organic vegan restaurant chain called ‘Cafe Gratitude’. It has four locations in the San Fransisco Bay Area and has more than two hundred employees.
The cafes all support local farmers as well as sustainable agriculture whilst serving living, organic food made with fresh ingredients.
As one might expect with a business founded upon such strong ethical principles the Engelarts run every aspect of their enterprise in accordance with the same levels of personal and global conscience.
Their commercial ideas and principles are woven together into a concept that they refer to as ‘Sacred Commerce’ after the term coined by their friends Ayman Sawaf and his partner Rowan.
The Engelharts share their ethical approach to their business in their book Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening and their intention behind writing the book is, as they explain in its opening introduction, to offer
…a manual for building a spiritual community at work.
The core feature to their practice of building a successful business is, they believe, the essential prerequisite of creating a sacred space within their trading establishments. This, they believe, results in working space with a unique resonance.
They expand upon this concept further;
We work on every aspect of the design, operation, staff, and the community atmosphere to foster this alchemy.
They admit that tending to this essential space is paramount and explain how it is important for them to care for it as if it were a shrine.
Whilst the customer experience is also vitally important to the Engelharts when creating their sacred space then so too is the sense of comfort that their workers enjoy whilst engaged in their daily tasks.
As part of the employee-customer relationship their managers are taught how to employ a group ritual every morning which they refer to as ‘Clearing’ – a process in which the energy being emitted by their workers is heightened through the removal of extraneous problems and issues that they carry and which might ordinarily stop them from interacting on a more personal level with those who visit their cafes.
The sense of aliveness that the Engelharts bring into their business dealings is a reflection of the concept of universal abundance which they believe to be a sacred birth right to all.
In their book they explain how they define this principle as
the assurance and knowledge of being supplied.
Other sacred or spiritual strategies that the Engelharts employ in their business is includes a series of philosophical parameters which they refer to as ‘Distinctions’, business meetings with managers as sacred circle gatherings, the need to emphasize the role of personal service, accepting the way things are and disposing of the need to be right all of the time.
Once again these form a part of the process of living and being in the flow of spiritual power and it is so evident that this has helped the Engelharts to create the success that they have over the years.
This mixed in with the commitment to operate from a position of honesty and integrity are the hallmarks of a business operating within a business world that is transforming into a more ethically orientated place – thanks mainly to the enterprising work of the a new generation of business managers such as the Engelharts.
Our Review of ‘Sacred Commerce’ by Matthew and Terces Engelhart
The world no longer is prepared to put up with the glutenous excesses of the corporate environment and their self-centered attitudes which have hampered businesses of all sizes for nearly one hundred years.
For any sort of commercial venture to survive today it needs to embrace the sort of ethical principles that the Engelharts describe in their book.
Their openly challenging ideas – many which fly directly in the face of our currently hierarchy-developed enterprises, will be difficult for many to take onboard. I hope this is not the case for majority of the readers of Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening for within these pages are to be found some hard-earned ideas and good advice for workers, managers and bosses alike.
The narrative contained here is both fascinating and honest. The inclusion of occasional questionnaires encourages the reader to consider the information that they have received in light of their own personal and professional circumstances and add an additional dimension to the book.
The key message throughout this book though has to be that business can be non-exploitative in every area; from the production of goods through to the treatment of employees and respect for the customers.
It is no wonder that the Engelharts are successful at what they do!
Sacred Commerce takes a ground-breaking look at many ethical principles that can and should be employed in today’s business environment. It gives us cause to be just that little more optimistic about a compassionate and more ethical society that may yet emerge in the years to come.