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Uncontainable: Book Review

November 15, 2015

By Kip Tindell, Chairman & CEO of The Container Store

In Uncontainable, Kip Tindell illustrates what it means to thrive as a follower of Conscious Capitalism—a movement advocating that businesses run all (or in reality, most) aspects of their operation for the purpose of improving the world’s human and environmental conditions. Built around the following seven foundational principles that anchor The Container Store’s people-first culture, he uses real-life case studies to demonstrate just how these have played out in his experience:

> 1 Great Person = 3 Good People. Based on this belief, and in order to secure the best talent, the company pays its sales staff 50–100% more than average retail wages.

> Fill the Other Guy’s Basket to the Brim. When vendors are treated as Container Store partners, it’s a win-win. Both parties benefit.

> The Man in the Desert Selling. We need to know clients well enough to propose solutions, while also selling in a way aimed at improving people’s lives.

> Communication Is Leadership. Each employee is thoroughly educated on the business, which serves to reinforce teamwork, loyalty, and a genuine sense of ownership.

> The Best Selection, Service, and Price.

> Intuition Doesn’t Come to an Unprepared Mind. Full-time employees are trained up to 300 hours in their first year in order to drive creativity and innovation.

> Air of Excitement!

“If you’re lucky enough to be somebody’s employer, you have a huge moral obligation to make sure they want to get out of bed and come to work in the morning.” –Kip Tindell in The Container Store's Culture Impact Brief 

Tindell also gives glimpses into why the company was founded in the 1970s (to find solutions that save people both space and time through its storage products and organization services) as well as his own desperate struggle to avoid mass layoffs at the start of the economic recession in 2008. From this we see that his general approach toward business challenges is to soul search until he finds a solution. At the same time, he believes that most if not all company solutions are grounded in people—specifically, fine-tuning their recruiting, retention, and development of talent.