In 2012 Vinny Tafuro published Corporate Empathy, capitalizing on the conversations, debates, and economic shifts being catalyzed by the growing rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of corporations as a result of corporate personhood. His Corporate Empathy brand uses sardonic and pointed commentary and slogans on high quality apparel and merchandise as a challenge to dated economic theories, thereby holding companies to human standards. Tafuro is also the founding president of the Gasparilla Interactive Festival, Tampa Bay’s showcase of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity and the Conscious Capitalism Florida Chapter, whose purpose is to seek out and celebrate the role models of Florida’s conscious business community.
Why does the world need a work revolution? (In other words: the way we’re working isn’t working. Why not?)
As early as 1817 Welsh factory owner Robert Owen envisioned the use of an eight-hour workday and coined the slogan “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest” as a way for workers to have a balanced life. Most people today have anything but a balanced life and many continually compromise personal fulfillment in favor of working more and more hours. The madness has to stop.
How are you or your organization reinventing work in some way (big or small)?
The goal of Corporate Empathy as an apparel and merchandise brand is spread our belief that companies can possess empathy and act with compassion in the same way the people who make up those companies do. In thought leadership we strive to find sustainable solutions to the economic and financial roadblocks that hinder empathetic corporate behavior.
Why do you do what you do?
I’ve always been active in my local community and felt that it is everyone’s responsibility to be part of society’s growth by finding solutions to problems. However in 2011 I was inspired to write Corporate Empathy and once I began that project the idea consumed me and has become my passion and mission.
What kind of art (any kind) do you like and why? Any recommendations we should know about?
Of all the arts I enjoy music most and my tastes are very varied. However for the last few years Bob Dylan, John Lennon, and others from that period really resonate with me. I think the cultural revolution started in 1960s never stopped and the ideals displayed by today’s millennials are not a reluctance to work but rather a determination to make sure they hold their ideals. Too many hippies gave up ideals to “grow up” and get jobs – their children won’t repeat the same mistake.
What is one specific thing your company does that makes your culture unique and/or different?
We’re in the very early stages of launch so we don’t have a company culture per-se. That said, the people we are surrounding ourselves with all possess similar beliefs that should evolve into a great company culture.
What is one discipline/industry totally different from your own that has inspired you? How does it impact your work?
I am extremely interested in quantum mechanics and the related studies of consciousness and mirror neurons that are responsible for empathy in humans. Economists who are not known to be very imaginative have for the last 300 years believed in a magical “invisible hand” that guides the market. I have a pretty strong hunch that quantum mechanics will uncover what really guides many human behaviors and subsequently our markets. Someday we may have the ability to predict market trends the same way a structural engineer “predicts” the effects of gravity on a bridge.
What’s one tangible and concrete technique other organizations should use if they want to create a more human and/or meaningful place to work?
Listening to and not condemning any idea unless you are able to provide alternative ideas.
What do you do for fun?
I really enjoy the physical and mental benefits of exercise and general physical activity. Running, yoga, biking, going to the gym, and most recently swimming are all ways I keep fit in mind and body. Live music, group dinners, and time spent with friends and family are how I keep my social self balanced.
What is “required reading” or “required viewing” for people who want to understand what makes you tick?
- Four Hour Workweek (Tim Ferriss): Among countless ideas and suggestions for improving your skills and behaviors, Ferriss’s rule about eliminating W4W (Work For Work’s Sake) is something I remind myself of often.
- The Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren (John Maynard Keynes): In 1930 Keynes allowed himself to look far into the future and theorize “what we can reasonable expect the level of our economic” lives to be in one hundred years.
- Gospel of Wealth (Andrew Carnegie): Written in 1889 describes that philanthropy by the rich is the best way of dealing with wealth inequality. Carnegie argued that surplus wealth is put to best use (i.e. produces the greatest net benefit to society) when it is administered carefully by the wealthy.
What is a personal or professional challenge that has tested your abilities to accomplish something?
In October and November 2013 while still in the first year of the launch of Conscious Capitalism Florida and the Corporate Empathy book and brand I began to suffer from unexplained fatigue, a sore throat that would not go away, and rapid severe weight loss. By mid November the doctors had diagnosed me with Type 1 Diabetes which requires daily insulin injections and was historically referred to as Juvenile Diabetes. I have no family history and there is no single trigger that can be blamed for the onset.
I spent two days in the hospital getting stabilized. Considering my physical activity levels and typically healthy diet the whole ordeal was complete shock. I pretty much had to write-off the fourth quarter of 2013 but when the New Year was began I was ready to tackle it with confidence. My family and friends really came through for support I needed but I also surprised myself with my own resilience to take what life gave me and just move forward.
Where in the world are you?