Wednesday, November 4th, 2009 | Uncategorized

i just returned from a truly interesting visit to brazil. two real highlights of that trip: a visit with some waste pickers (catadores) that taught me about their amazing efforts to self-organize in sao paulo. the other one was a visit to NATURA, a really innovative cosmetics company that blends sustainability, social responsibility, and spiritual awareness in ways that i have not seen before. greatly inspiring people in a greatly inspiring place. 90% of their products are replaced every year. 70% or their revenues in done with products younger than 24 months. they are the market leader in their industry. yet, you will not find their products on any shelf. because their commitment is to sell all their products through a group of one million “consultants” that go directly from house to house. it strikes me that most people i happen to know—particularly people from today’s student generation–would LOVE to work for a company like natura. but in reality its hard to find an organization like this. yet, i believe that the amazing success of NATURA signifies the rise of a new class of business organizations that blend the business purpose with an extended social-ecological, and spiritual mission. i was also surprised to learn that they work with Theory U in both leadership development and in innovation for sustainability…

6 Comments to natura

Elizabeth Amrien
November 16, 2009

Hi Otto,

I visited Brazil a few years ago as part of a social entrepreneurship seminar and was equally impressed by my visit to Natura (not only the company’s commitment to sustainable development, but its response to uniquely Brazilian challenges by creating a market for ingredients extracted from the Amazon). I did not make the explicit connection to Theory U in any of the presentations I heard, but I know the company’s leadership is engaged in “deep listening” (a guiding principle of the Berkana Institute) as they wrestle with such questions as whether and how to introduce Natura products to the millions of Brazilians at the so-called “bottom of the pyramid.”

It’s interesting to see how the founder of Natura’s spirituality influences the company’s mission and business strategies – very different, I think, from how such a religious commitment by a business leader would play out here. I think that is because in Brazil, the locus of spirituality is the relational sphere – religion in Brazil informs relationships, less so mental attitudes (which, I’m sure you saw, are more flexible south of the equator). Religion in Brazil is really about love, not rules. There’s more awareness of the intersubjectivity of human life. Funny the different directions moral insight can lead …

According to our own Richard Rorty, “moral insight is not, like mathematics, a product of rational reflection. It is instead a matter of imagining a better future, and observing the results of attempts to bring that future into existence”

The poverty in Brazil is deeply disturbing, but strangely, there’s less anxiety, and a greater capacity to dream. (Dreaming is one of the four pillars of the work of the Elos Institute, another stop on my tour of Brazil. They believe “to dream is an essential step in the process of transforming our reality.”)

November 17, 2009

Business model sounds like Amway?

Elizabeth Amrien
November 19, 2009

Hi Clark, I don’t know exactly how Amway is structured, but I do believe the Natura business model is very similar. However, I think the potential for success with direct sales in Brazil is much greater than in the US, because of the stronger relational contexts and a greater acceptance of direct marketing by middle class Brazilians. In the US, with Amway, Avon, etc., there are very different perceptions of the products, and of the people selling them (ironic, because there is more “classism” and less class mobility in Brazil). I do think if Natura were to enter the US market, it would have to adapt its approach (if the product were to have the same “cachet” here).

Tamara van Halm
November 21, 2009

Hi Otto, Elizabeth and Clark.
Alessandro Carlucci, Natura’s CEO was the first person I heard speaking at the Global Conference on Sustainability and Transparency In Amsterdam about the movement of Oneness that is going on in the world. When you meet this man, you can feel the transparency of his spirit, that beautifully radiates through him. For anything we want to achieve in this world our state of Being is key to that. And whatever we want to create or manifest is related to the deeper understanding of the workings of this world, or being aware of our personal creational power. As within, so without, Natura’s founder is a great example of someone operating from the heart and working in alignment with what is.

poul pava
November 26, 2009

Money doesn’t make you happy they say

my money broadens my horizons and expands my knowledge

so I get to be cleverer, and happier too

Money is a means I don’t understand

that’s why only the few prosper I guess

poor is actually the one who won’t share

not the one who lost everything and all

Money doesn’t make you happy they say

my money broadens my horizons and expands my knowledge

so I get to be cleverer, and happier too

The capital’s colossal blunder engineered by men high-up in thin air

you with your feet on the ground cant’t grasp the findings up their

malicious damage done to the next generation performed by suits

done to those who look up to the one with the million dollar boots

Money doesn’t make you happy they say

my money broadens my horizons and expands my knowledge

so I get to be cleverer, and happier too

If your money doesn’t make you happy

donate them somewhere to someone who hasn’t got any

and behold them behold their fortune’s great architect

discover the pleasure derived from giving to people who don’t really feel alive

money as such doesn’t bring happiness to the guy in the gutter

they say

but it’s worthless quibble when you have to eat your roll without the butter

I say

rich folk’s sayings designed to silence the rest of the world

don’t believe in them, fight back, I say, if you dare

quote pp

poul pava
November 26, 2009


As far as I know God has created quite a bit

A variety of materials on planet earth

Stone gravel silver iron machinery scissors paper salmon Mercedes windmills water Madeira cake the sky and the sea and a God damn hell of a lot more.

Let me simplify what I mean:

Karl owns five cows and he would like to see them out to grass in the green fields

Johannes who lives a hundred yards down the road has got the grass-green pasture

Karl phones Johannes in order to rent his field

but Johannes declines ’cause Karl hasn’t got the cash to pay for it

and Johannes does not believe in credit

Johannes wants to buy some milk and meat from Karl

and phones Karl to ask about the meat and the milk

Karl in turn says no ’cause Johannes can’t pay in cash either

Neither Karl nor Johannes believe in credit

Karl’s cows starve to death and Johannes’ green grass

rots in the field until it is no longer of any value to anyone, man or beast

Something in this simple story just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense


We cannot eat gold or diamonds or bone dry dollars

If there are enough hands and crushing of material to work with, why we have a financial crisis then? We could build a new Mercedes for all Chinese people, if we would – patches throughout Africa, with windmills ect.

They say the culture is rich but it is far from – it is avid – it is just as poor as all the people who do not have part of all the world’s goods.

Are we talking about a real crisis – it must be here, and only cultures can change this fact if we want.

Quote pp.

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