Summary of What Matters Most

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This is an insider’s stroll through the confusing and ominous woods where the beasts of economic reality meet the lambs of social responsibility. Author and corporate survivor Jeffrey Hollender (who wrote this with scribe Stephen Fenichell) clearly admires the cast of socially responsible companies, such as Ben & Jerry’s and The Body Shop. He covers the informal history of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement and his own troubling experiences as chief of a company that saw itself as socially responsible. His presentation is heartfelt, if short on rigorous logic. He candidly discusses having his ideals challenged and trying to justify his compromises. The book labels some behavior socially responsible and some socially irresponsible, but its yardstick is not clear. For example, it condemns the use of child factory labor in developing countries, yet never expresses awareness of the lack of practical alternatives for those children - perhaps starvation. The book explores both the value of the Corporate Social Responsibility movement and its uncomfortable contradictions. recommends this trip inside the hard work of melding social responsibility with business.

About the Authors

Jeffrey Hollender is President and CEO of the Vermont-based company Seventh Generation, a natural and organic products firm, and author of How To Make the World a Better Place. Stephen Fenichell is the author of Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century and Other People’s Money: The Rise and Fall of OPM Leasing Services. He also contributed to A New Brand World: Eight Principles for Achieving Brand Leadership in the Twenty-First Century.



Infectious GreedCorporate public life today is characterized by horrifying headlines of corporate scandals, abuse of power, abuse of trust, misappropriation of funds, lies, crimes and malfeasance. But are things shifting? What is the world coming to when even Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, seems reluctant to praise greed as effusively as he did in the past? Greenspan’s recent coinage of the term "infectious greed" marked a turning point in the way people think about business, but there have been other turning points as the fates of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and Parmalat have emerged. As the head of Seventh Generation, a natural and organic products firm, author Jeffrey Hollender felt thankful that his company was not like the rogues listed above. Indeed, for 15 years, it worked to be socially responsible, fair, honest, transparent, open and ethical. During the 1990s, when so many other entrepreneurial ventures chased the quick money and seemed indifferent to ethics or morality, Seventh Generation dedicated itself to the cause of building something bigger than wealth for its executives and its company coffers. The firm tried to become a good place to work, to ...

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