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Conscious Capitalism with Steve Shifman

Fellow Cincinnatian Steve Shifman is the president of Michelman, Inc., and has been a dear friend of Centennial for many years. As a believer in conscious capitalism, Steve believes that by leading with community-based values, companies can build up their capacity to change the lives of not only their employees but the lives of generations of families to come.

  • As the head of a long-running successful business, Steve’s approach to setting the tone at Michelman is all about challenging the primacy of profit. In his experience, many of today’s business problems like CEO overpay, corporate ratings and employment cuts are byproducts of a flawed philosophy.
  • For Steve, making money for shareholders and supporting employees across the world are not mutually exclusive. Steve discusses Michelman’s efforts to operate as a balanced, responsible and community-oriented company and their recent growth.
  • Has Michelman always operated under the philosophy of conscious capitalism? Steve’s predecessors were very community-minded but over the years, he has made an effort to articulate and distill these values even further, making sure to spread them across the company’s global arms.
  • For such a large and spread out organization, how does Michelman retain this kind of community energy across the world? Steve talks about how their purpose, vision and values – and their mission to innovate a sustainable future – knit the many threads of the company together, inspiring their approach to hiring, rewards, and investing.
  • When it comes to creating a sustainable future, it all comes down to implementing good values and purpose. Steve spends most of his time traveling, visiting Michelman facilities and offices around the globe but wherever he and his team go, they communicate what’s happening within and without the company. Steve writes monthly newsletters, conducts both in person and video town halls, webinars and leadership summits.
  • You can’t make a good product without great raw materials. At Michelman, leaders start the day with purpose and values but for someone who comes from a different business culture, making the adjustment isn’t always intuitive. Steve talks about infusing the hiring process with these same values to ensure that new talent fits in well with the organization.
  • In America today, many people dread Mondays like the plague. For Steve, providing a sense of fulfillment for employees isn’t just about cutting that dread for performance metrics but about helping people be their best selves at home, in their communities and in the world at large.
  • Conscious capitalism, in no uncertain terms, is a mission to change the world. As both Mike and Steve have seen throughout their careers, the negative effects of unhealthy leadership and workplace culture can be dangerous for generations of families. Conversely, the benefits of a compassionate and intentionally community-oriented approach to business can uplift not only generations of employees but also serve as an example for other organizations.
  • The aim of Michelman’s Leadership Accelerator is to “Michelmanize” leaders across the company worldwide, ensure that the fundamental building block of quality leadership is present in each individual. Steve talks about the in’s and out’s of the program and how it fits into the purpose, values, and vision of the company on a broader scale.
  • Steve’s wife Julie Shifman is the Executive Leader of the Adopt A Class Foundation and Steve has been very involved in setting up the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. Mike asks Steve about why working with children, mentoring and education is so important to him; Steve gives us some insight into his early days in Cincinnati and his entry into community work which has become a lifelong pursuit and business priority.

Steve Shifman


Michelman, Inc.

Cincinnati Preschool Promise

Julie Shifman


Adopt A Class Foundation