Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama

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Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama

Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama is the result of two decades of research and dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other leaders in business, government, science and education. Author Sander Tideman, a lawyer and banker who has maintained a friendship with the Dalai Lama over all these years, presents a practical framework and methodology to develop a new kind of leadership – one fit to repurpose the business world and tackle escalating social, economic and environmental needs.

The Dalai Lama rarely speaks directly on the topics of business, leadership and economics. Yet in the dialogues recounted here, his wisdom – combined with key insights from business and public leaders – creates a unified shift towards a consciousness of interconnectedness, offering profound insights for practitioners and general readers alike.

Tideman unites the scientific worldviews of physics, neuroscience and economics with the positive psychology of human relationships, and ancient spiritual wisdom, to formulate practical business leadership solutions. While recognizing the need for change in external structures and governance, Tideman highlights the importance of opening our minds, and connecting inner and outer spirituality. At the same time, he focuses on concrete practices for winning the hearts and minds of employees, customers, communities, and society at large, while addressing deep-rooted problems such as extreme social inequality and continued financial collapses.

At the heart of this book lies the journey to discover our shared purpose. This ignites new sources of value creation for the organisation, customers and society, which Tideman terms ‘triple value’.  We can achieve triple value by aligning societal and business needs, based on the fundamental reality of interconnection.

Business as an Instrument for Societal Change: In Conversation with the Dalai Lama is a readable and intelligent exploration of how leaders can actually help to shape a sustainable global economy by embracing innate human and humane behaviour. It is also Tideman’s fascinating personal journey, which brought him to question the underlying motivations and goals of business leadership and to seek a new paradigm for a more sustainable approach. Reflecting Tideman’s sharp perceptions and infused with the Dalai Lama’s unmistakable joy, this book has the power to change your way of thinking. 

Sander has captured the deeply human approach of the Dalai Lama in relation to business and its role in society. Through wonderful dialogues and inspiring visions, the book generates a spirit of hope by providing tangible, practical insights. And it is not just for Buddhists – this is a book for everyone who cares for people and the planet!


Peter Blom, CEO & Chairman of the Executive Board, Triodos Bank Group

Finally – a deep, thoughtful and constructive book that connects our characters, values and intentions with our leadership and entrepreneurship practices. Too often, we fool ourselves into believing that we can achieve a just, inclusive and sustainable economy without first practicing justice, inclusion and respect towards all living things.  Sander Tideman’s life-long search, which he generously shares in these pages, is uniquely positioned to be an invaluable guide for all those serious in this quest.

Marcello Palazzi, Founder, Progressio Foundation & B Lab Europe

I rejoice that Sander Tideman has been able to capture our dialogues with the Dalai Lama in this book. This will greatly help us to understand that, in order for us to develop humanity in the secular world, we need to integrate compassion into our economy and business.

Ruud Lubbers, Former Prime Minister, the Netherlands

All business leaders should read this book. Wisdom is the most important leadership quality but it has been, for most of us, a serious missing link in our development. This book is not only a great gift but also highlights our great responsibility because – as it clearly demonstrates – change is possible.

Tex Gunning, CEO TNT Express

Sander Tideman’s life-long commitment to building a more compassionate and socially responsible “values-based” business world shines through in this compendium of dialogues with the HH Dalai Lama. This book is a must read for those who possess a humanistic world vision, strong societal empathy and for those who seek to make the 21st century one that has “social responsibility” at the center of the global business ecosystem. 

Peter Miscovich, Managing Director, Jones Lang Lassalle, New York

Sander Tideman has managed to weave his diverse and broad insights into a framework that enables leaders in economics and business to transform their operations into positive endeavour. The key message is clear: if we truly want to create a more sustainable economy and compassionate society, we should learn to employ new mindsets and concepts. This is, I believe, the path to both personal and business success in the face of today’s multi-level challenges.

Anders Ferguson, President Veris Wealth Advisors

Foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama. 
Foreword by Anders Ferguson. 


Part 1: Compassion or competition. 

1. The Buddha and the banker. 

2. First dialogue: Compassion or Competition (Amsterdam, 1999). 

Part 2: Designing an economy that works for everyone. 

3. On the path of purpose. 

4. Second dialogue: Designing an Economy that Works for Everyone (Irvine, California, 2004). 

Part 3: Leadership for a sustainable world. 

5. Shared purpose in business. 

6. Third dialogue: Leadership for a Sustainable World (The Hague, 2009). 

Part 4: Education of the heart.

7. Living shared purpose: the “how” of change.

8. Fourth dialogue: Education of the Heart (Rotterdam, 2014).

9. Shared purpose: the case for societal leadership in business.

10. Six questions to develop shared purpose. 

Concluding remarks.  

Afterword by David Cooperrider. 

SANDER TIDEMAN is an expert and consultant in leadership development and sustainable business. He is MD of Mind & Life Europe, researcher at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, and co-founder of Flow Impact Fund.

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