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Embracing Kindness: Mary Portas' Vision for Creativity and Business




Following Mary Portas' inspiring talk at Clerkenwell Design Week, I've been reflecting on her message about the pivotal role of kindness in fostering creativity in the workplace. Portas, a seasoned authority in culture, fashion, and business, shared some profound insights that I believe are worth considering for anyone looking to cultivate a more enriching and innovative work environment.


Mary Portas, with her rich tapestry of experience, underscored the importance of tuning into the quiet voice of creativity that often gets drowned out in the hustle and bustle of the corporate world. She urged us to follow our instincts and push ideas beyond conventional boundaries. In her view, creativity thrives when we step away from the noise and listen to our inner muse. As she poignantly put it, "If you don’t have the grit, you can’t find the pearl."

no grit, no pearl

A central theme of Portas' talk was the power of storytelling. She believes that at the heart of any successful business lies a compelling narrative. Stories connect us on a human level, transcending mere financial transactions. They remind us of our shared humanity and the broader impact we have on our planet. Portas passionately argued that businesses should aim to connect with these deeper values rather than focusing solely on profit.


Portas also emphasized the importance of "walking the shop floor," a metaphor for truly understanding and feeling your business from the ground up. She lamented how modern processes and the internet have dissolved much of this hands-on approach, leading to finance-driven decisions that often water down the creative instinct.


In her vision of what she calls the "Kindness Economy," integrity, honesty, and kindness are not just buzzwords but core principles that should guide our business practices. Portas firmly believes that when we prioritize these values, success will naturally follow. It's about building a sense of community and interconnectedness through businesses that are both beautiful and impactful. Growth, she argued, doesn’t come from extraction and destruction but from enrichment and creation.


Mary Portas' book, Kindness Economy, delves deeper into these concepts, advocating for building businesses that are kind, sustainable, and creative. She challenges us to move away from the pure finacially cmotivated and power driven or hungry commercialism towards nurturing workplaces that thrive on empathy and generosity of spirit. “Sell and tell is so over!” she declared, signalling a shift towards more authentic and meaningful business practices.


Portas also highlighted the importance of changing the codes of how we run our businesses, a theme central to her previous work, Work Like a Woman. She stressed that change starts with us, drawing on the talent around us and embedding empathy and generosity into our company cultures. By collaborating with like-minded individuals and creating change together, we can drive a shift from data-driven decisions to those based on feeling and integrity.

Her consultancy, We Are Portas, embodies this philosophy, restructuring businesses to make good money with integrity. Portas shared how she engages in honest conversations with clients, encouraging them to feel the discomfort of change and to shift their mentalities from pure profit to purpose-driven success. As she wisely noted, the world will always give you what you want if you are doing the right thing from a place of integrity and honesty.


In conclusion, Mary Portas' vision of a "Kindness Economy" challenges us to reevaluate our approach to work.


It's a call to infuse our business strategies with creativity, empathy, and collaboration. By doing so, we can create a more purposeful and fulfilling work environment for everyone. In a world that often feels disconnected and driven by the bottom line, her message is a refreshing reminder of what truly matters.

So, let's take a page from Portas' book and embrace kindness in our professional lives. Let's create spaces where creativity can flourish, where people feel valued, and where our work contributes to something greater than ourselves. This is the essence of the Kindness Economy, and it's a vision worth striving for.

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