Catholics & Business | Virtue in the Workplace

Episode 21 February 13, 2024 00:52:39
Catholics & Business | Virtue in the Workplace
Catholic Theology Show
Catholics & Business | Virtue in the Workplace

Feb 13 2024 | 00:52:39


Show Notes

What does it mean to have good ethics and how should they guide our approach to business?Today, Dr. Michael Dauphinais and Dr. Andrew Abela, professor of marketing and Dean of the Busch School of Business at the Catholic University of America, discuss the necessity of upholding ethics in the business world, explaining how this is only possible through the cultivation and practice of virtue. 


View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: In business, do you need to be courageous? Because the difficult things you have to do now is being courageous in business. Is that just good business, or is it good ethics, or is it both? And so that's the beauty of virtue, is that it, it doesn't allow this false separation, that being good in business means both being good at business and being a good person in business. [00:00:24] Speaker B: You welcome to the Catholic Theology show presented by Ave Maria University. This podcast is sponsored in part by Annunciation Circle, a community that supports the mission of Ave Maria University through their monthly donations of $10 or more. If you'd like to support this podcast and the mission of Ave Maria University, I encourage you to visit join for more information. I'm your host, Michael Doffiney, and today I am joined by Dr. Andrew Abella, professor of marketing and the dean of the Bush School of Business at the Catholic University of America. Welcome to the show. [00:01:08] Speaker A: Pleased to be here. Thank you. [00:01:09] Speaker B: Right. So it's a great honor to have you on the show, and I'm really excited because one of the areas that I think we haven't yet addressed very much on the catholic theology show is the whole area of Catholics and business. Business and ethics, catholic social teachings. These are so important. And you've written a book, co editor of a book called a Catechism for, you know, maybe just to start with. I think, I don't know, almost maybe kind of the gut level popular objection. Right? Which is, know, Peter and his brother Andrew and James and John were fishermen, but then when they met Jesus, they stopped being fishermen. Right. And Matthew was a tax collector, but when he met Jesus, he stopped being a tax collector. So, one, it seems like the christian vocation is a call to leave behind business and take up this more dedicated life to God. And then secondly, I think a lot of know, I think you mentioned when the Bush School of Business was founded that you wanted to put ethics in the mean in some ways, isn't that kind of like almost an oxymoron business to be in the marketplace? Know, it's a rat race, dog eat know, it's just about the profit motive. Right. So what would you say to those kind of both? Maybe the catholic objection. But then the other objection, which is if I'm going to be ethical in the workplace, I won't be able to lose. I'll fall behind. [00:02:50] Speaker A: Well, we could start with that one, whether business ethics is an oxymoron. So I had a professor, my doctoral work was in business ethics. I had a professor, Edward Freeman, who used to say, not only is it not an oxymoron, business ethics is a pleonasm. So the opposite of an oxymoron. You can't have business without ethics, because business requires trust, right? If every business transaction had to be perfectly scripted to cover every eventuality, the transaction costs would be such that the economy would grind to a halt, right? So really, when you think about successful businesses, they're based on the fact when you buy something from someone, it's because you trust that brand name or you trust that person to give you what they say you're going to buy. And if you have to count on the law and lawsuits to enforce, making sure that every tube of toothpaste I get isn't poisonous or every apple I buy is fresh, it just wouldn't go anywhere. So that underlying need for some level of trust in the economy means, I say that it's not an oxymoron. That said, people do cheat, right? People do do bad things. We do see greed. We do see aspects of the market economy that we don't like. But I remember years ago, there was a huge debate within, of all places, the society of archivists. And some of the people in this society wanted to expel corporate archivists. So Coca Cola, for example, maintains a full time archivist because there's all these know ads and so on that they've had over the years. So they keep this, and they say, well, no, we shouldn't really have them because they can't be true professionals. If they're working for a corporation, they're going to be tainted. And so it's kind of like the judgment of Paris. They invited me to come and give a keynote speech at their annual meeting to try to be the arbiter of this big debate about whether corporate archivists belong in this august society. I came down firmly on the side of, well, of course. And I pointed out that business is not the only place where you find ethical infractions. With sports, government, not for profits, whatever sphere of life, you find sin, you find ethical infractions. It's not just a domain of business. No, it's a fallacy. And in fact, the longer term successful businesses are ones that are honorable. [00:05:38] Speaker B: Yeah, that's really well put. That commercial exchanges require an element of trust. And even right within the workplace, it's the reliable person, the person who can be trusted to carry out the work and the duty. The work and the duties that they were asked to do is also that element. I think it was it Jack I can't remember who was the famous business author. Jack Welch, maybe? [00:06:13] Speaker A: He used to run ge. [00:06:14] Speaker B: Yeah, he used to run Ge. And I think he was the one. He had the book some like leadership from the gut or. I can't remember something like that. But he would talk about that idea that leadership simply is character. Right? That leadership requires that you have character because people have to trust you, that you're going to do what you say you're going to do and that you're not going to constantly change or manipulate. And obviously, of course, there may be bad leaders who get in positions of power, but they're seen to be bad leaders because they are not trustworthy. They change, they don't follow through. They say one thing and then they say the next. And therefore, that creates disruption within a corporate environment. So we're not saying that business places always run well. They often don't at all, but so does every other human endeavor. It's often filled with kind of sin and pride and lying and cheating. But the more in a way that it conforms to this ethical standard, the more successful in a way the business is going to be both internally and externally. [00:07:26] Speaker A: Yes. So you asked before about, you mentioned that when we started. So our business school for school of Business is ten years old. So when we started it, we talked about kind of ethics in every aspect of the curriculum. And that was different from other business schools where they would try to do that. But the way they did that is by having, say, a mandatory ethics course or a mandatory class once a semester for every course. So today is Tuesday, the 21st, and we've been talking about finance for several weeks, and today we're going to talk about ethics and finance. So what were we talking about before, is the question. So before we started the business school, we had a small department of business where I was teaching at Catholic. And there's a fascinating incident where I was teaching a class on marketing and the impacts of marketing on society. And we watched a video that was critical about Walmart, about what happens when Walmart comes to town kind of thing. It can be very damaging to small communities in some ways. So watch this video. Had a very rich discussion. Then some of the students from that class went to another class and was a strategy class. And by coincidence, this was not by design. I wish I could say it was, but it wasn't. They had to present, they make a presentation on Walmart strategy. And so they did that. These same students and their professor knew that they were coming from my class. And so during the Q a part of the presentation. She said, I happen to know you're coming from Dr. Bella's class where you were talking about the kind of ethical issues with Mormont. You just gave a presentation on their strategy and you said nothing about those ethical issues. How come? And the students, without batting an eyelid, said, oh, well, that was the ethics class. This is the strategy class, that sort of separation. And so then the question you have to ask is then when they graduate, which class are they going to be in? We have taught them, right? There's the ethics class and then there's the strategy class. And what you're doing now in business is strategy, and therefore it has nothing to do with ethics. And then typically the way the ethics training goes is you have to be aware, you have to be sensitized to identifying when an ethical dilemma is arising, and then you have to try to deal with it. But it's always this separation, as if there's the ethical content and the business content. I mentioned Dr. Freeman already. He was very formative in my own education. He had formulated what he called the separation thesis, the thesis that one can logically or sensibly separate out business content and ethical content in business, and then spent his career trying to demolish that thesis to show that it's false. And I think he's right, that it is false. And I think the surest way to show that it's false is to understand business in the light of virtue. And so that's what we have come to do over our ten years. We speak less and less about ethics and more and more about virtue. Because if you think about a virtue, is simultaneously practical and ethical. Right. So in business, do you need to be courageous? Absolutely. Because the difficult things you have to do now is being courageous in business, is that just good business or is it good ethics, or is it both simultaneously, always inseparably. And so that's the beauty of virtue, is that it doesn't allow this false separation, that being good in business, when you're talking about virtue, means both being good at business, being successful, profitable, and being a good person in business. Right. Being ethical. And there's no way of teasing those apart. It's always both. And I think that's just really, really important. When we understand business that way, the nonsense about business ethics being oxymoron just disappears. Right. [00:11:09] Speaker B: Well, that's really a beautiful image, I think, to articulate how so many people, even in schools or in practice, think of business and ethics as separate, and yet that really leads to a real misunderstanding. Of what business is and a misunderstanding of what ethics is. Right. Ethics is not solving an ethical case. It's actually just being a decent human being in the midst of the world. And business, of course, is involved in connecting human beings, connecting human persons in a way that it's really necessary to provide the services and the goods, material goods and food and all sorts of different things that we need. So I think it's just kind of fascinating. I feel like in some ways, when we talk about, because it has this personal dimension, I think your own background is also kind of interesting. It might be interesting to our listeners and viewers right now. You were at the University of Toronto as an undergraduate. You went to work for procter Gamble as a brand manager. I think you've worked at times as a management consultant for McKinsey and Associates. You continue to be a marketing consultant. So your area is marketing specifically. But then you went on to get a master's in an MBA and also then eventually did a doctorate in, really business ethics, I guess is what they call it at University of Virginia. So could you tell us a little bit about how did you get interested in business, and then how did you get interested in integrating, seeing this ethical dimension to business and then seeing that that ethical dimension is also really a catholic dimension of faith? [00:12:57] Speaker A: So I've been interested in business as long as I can remember, when I was ten. So my dad used to. I grew up on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean, back then, good catholic country. And my dad ran one of the two banks on the island, and he used to bring home these magazines, international banker, international management and so on. I would read them cover to cover. And I love this, 1011 years old. I also would read books in his library. One of my favorite was Parkinson's law. Maybe you've heard of Parkinson's law, is that work expands to fill the time available. And it was several years after reading Parkinson's law that I realized that it was actually a spoof management book, not a real management book. Very funny. But at the time, I just read it as if it were real thing anyway, so always was interested in that. My undergraduate was in computer science, and my plan was to go work for IBM, but I graduated in 1987, which anybody in the audience is old enough to remember was a big recession. And so IBM wasn't hiring that year, neither was procter and gamble. But they, I guess to remain not get rusty or whatever, they came in and interviewed a few people anyway, and where they would hire 20 people every year for their canadian business, because I was at university. They weren't planning to hire any, but they hired me because somehow we hit it off. And so I was the sole hire that year, which is a little OD in terms of onboarding, but very good for your promotion prospects, because there's no one else to compete with. It was a good experience, learned a lot, and then left there, though, to go to business school. And I must be the first or among the few to have a conversion or reversion experience on my first or second day of business school. So I was raised Catholic, fell away from the practice of the faith, and on my. It was literally the first day of my class in business school. I decided to come back to the faith. I'd been on a search to figure out what are my values in life and so on. I think it was the pressure of being in this. I left Canada, went to Switzerland. The school, the Institute for Management Development, is still one of the top schools in the world, business school in the world. And it was the small group of students from all over the world. There were 60 students, 30 different countries, and it felt like a high pressure situation. Two years before, one of the students had committed suicide because there was so much pressure. Anyway, so I went to my first confession in, I think, 15 years, around that first week, and ended up loving the business school experience, still in touch with classmates. Now, 30 years, this is ago, went to work for McKinsey, and the focus of the MBA program was international business. So with McKinsey, I got many assignments. I worked in Russia and South America, Central America, Europe. So it was really fun for a young, single guy, but always this kind of question growing. But, well, as a newly returned to the faith Catholic, how am I supposed to do this? Halfway through my MBA program, this was in 1991, Pope John Paul. St. John Paul second released Chantes Musanus. Right. His landmark encyclical on the hundredth anniversary of Reham Novaram. Encyclical on the economy. And I remember this was before the Internet, right. So my mom sent me a copy of the encyclical. Here, read this good catholic mom. And I read it and kind of scratching my head a little bit, and then over the years, just trying to figure out, what does this look like? What does this mean? I was working for a time for a client based in New York as McKinsey consultants. We were living in the Waldorf Astoria. The client's office was in the Rockefeller center. So I'd walk every day and pass by St. Patrick's Cathedral. So started going to early mass daily mass there at seven, the great Cardinal O'Connor would often say and preach a short homily. And there was Brentano's bookstore, and at one time walked by and saw a mountain of books, a new release by Michael Novak, who used to teach here, right. Also at the bush school called the Spirit of capitalism and the catholic ethic. So I read this book, and I thought, wow, people have actually done work on what it means to be Catholic in business. So I'm continuing to think about it. And then I was given an assignment at McKinsey to go lay off 10,000 middle managers from a major bank. And that was kind of like the wake up call. It's like, okay, well, what's a Catholic to do in this situation? Is this right? It was made even more personal by the fact that my dad, maybe two years before as a middle manager now of a canadian bank, had just been laid off in his late 50s with really no prospects of another banking job in his life. And I was thinking, and I saw what that did to him. That's not a good thing in his case, God bless him, he landed on his feet, eventually ran a couple of not for profits, and now he's been for the last 20 years, retired and painting. He's a very good painter. But anyway, at that point, I had just seen him just get laid off and thinking, okay, so I'm about to do that 10,000 times. I couldn't. So I just quit. I'm leaving. And then what are you going to do? I don't know. I'm going to go study theology. So I moved from Canada to Washington, DC, to the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, because I knew that David Schindler was there, who's since passed away teaching courses on the social doctrine of the church. The encyclicals of John Paul II spent a year there that was completely transformative. So we read all the social encyclicals exposed to this treasure. Why don't more people know about know? While I was there, I met a beautiful young lady and we got married. So that was truly a transformative year in both career and family. So I actually went back to McKinsey after that year. I just did one year of graduate work and came back with a much clearer vision of what I should do. I worked for them another couple more years and then went off to do my doctorate, thinking, okay, probably a career in academia teaching business. And that got to catholic you 20 some years ago. And then ten years later. So they asked me do you want to start a business school that we've focused on this, not as short as I would have liked, but gives you an idea of the trajectory of my career. [00:19:30] Speaker B: No, it's very helpful. And part of that begins to kind of show the integration of both the desire to work, but then the desire to work reflectively and the desire to work then in the discovery of your faith, and then think about wasting. How do I integrate that? Right. And so these different layers. And I think this is something that the faith illumines everything, but it often allows things to be as they were, but to be seen more clearly for what they truly are in a lot of ways. Right? Creation is creation before we know it's creation. So you can already kind of learn a lot about creation, and then when you discover, wait a second, God created this, it becomes even more beautiful. And so that sense of work being something that's noble and interesting. And I think in a lot of ways, there are many people that today are looking for a sense of meaning and purpose in their work. And I think a lot of people really struggle to find it. And I think part of the reason why is that the meaning and purpose is most fully seen when we see it as part of a larger story of our lives, right? That it's part of what we can give to one another. It's part of what we receive from our families and go from our families, and then even receive it from God. Right. In these different ways. So how would you describe people who see a little bit of. Who are on board with their faith, but see a little bit of a tension between work and faith? [00:21:11] Speaker A: It's understandable in a couple of ways. One is, because I think you can say correctly, objectively, that sort of the contemplative life is the highest, a life of service to the poor and so on would be next. And then the sort of mundane buying and selling, making and doing of commerce would be sort of below that, objectively speaking. But subjectively speaking, for each one of us, it depends on our own calling. Not all are called to be contemplatives, thankfully, because who would cook and who would bake? I guess some contemplative orders do that, right? But we are all called to a different vocation. And for those who are called to the vocation, to business, that's your path to sanctification or part of it. So we try to teach that the purpose of business is the service of others. Now, it should be a financially profitable service, because if not, you would be a not for profit but somebody has to make the wealth that will fund the not for profits and the church. There would be no government programs and there would be no not for profits, but for the fact that somebody is making profits and then can charitably or forcibly in terms of taxes, share that wealth. It's important not to fall into the trap of thinking that somehow business is degrading, that it would be better if I, especially somebody kind of graduating from school. It'd be better that I go into a not for profit. No, it's better that you go find the place that's going to be the best fit with your talents. And if that happens to be as an entrepreneur or working for somebody else's company or whatever, then that's what you should do. The question then is, but how do I sanctify that experience? I think first by having a view of what you're doing as service, whether you are serving your clients externally or serving others within the company. Many service departments within a company that just help other people within that company. We have a sales program in the bush school that's been phenomenally successful. And I think it's because the people who graduate from it come with this great mentality of serving others, helping others, and so that tends to work really well. So that service mentality, I think is important. Another is just seeing it as an opportunity for growing in virtue. So we're talking about virtue before as kind of underlying business as a good way, but thinking about how. Okay, so in marketing, for example, how am I growing in the virtue of honesty? How am I working at enticing people to buy my product without in any way being dishonest? But we talked about the virtue of courage, virtue of friendship. ##liness working many business friendships are friendships of utility, but that doesn't make them bad. They're still friendships. So it's still better to be friendly in your relations with others. So there's so many ways to do that. The one thing you want to avoid is if you find that you're in an institution that is irretrievably corrupt. And there are some businesses like that, they always end badly. And we just have to look in the news and see what's happened recently with a couple of the bitcoin and crypto businesses. For example, if you find you're in a situation like that, I think it's wise to leave and go work. You don't have to be looking for an institution that is run by saints, populated exclusively with saints. Firstly, because you won't find one right not even our church can make that claim. But you want to find a place where people are at least trying to be decent to each other and being responsible and being honest. And there are many businesses like that, and then you just work on growing in virtue within that. [00:25:19] Speaker B: That's great. Well, thank you very much for great insights there. And I think that really does help because I think many people do struggle with that sense that maybe they would be holy or they would be closer to God if they weren't in this field. And I think that subjective sense of that, kind of like my own personal response, Saint Jose Maria would sometimes say that basically says you have to let go of this kind of mystical, wishful thinking, that it's like, oh, if only I'd become a priest, I would pray more. No, it just means you'd be a priest who didn't pray if you're not a priest who's not praying. So I think that's a really beautiful image and that call to seeing business as a service. So we're going to take a quick break, and when we'll come back, I want to talk a little bit more about this. I'd love to dive into a little bit more of this question of marketing. And then also in some of the things that you write about, you talk about catholic social teaching and these themes of, like, subsidiarity and solidarity. And I'd love you to unpack those because I think those are really rich ideas that have kind of like, they're no longer in, I think, a lot of people's imagination today, and I think that's a real loss. So we'll come back in a couple of minutes. [00:26:38] Speaker C: You're listening to the catholic theology show presented by Ave Maria University and sponsored in part by Annunciation Circle. Through their generous donations of $10 or more per month, Annunciation circle members directly support the mission of AMU to be a fountainhead of renewal for the church through our faculty, staff, students and alumni. To learn more, visit slash join. Thank you for your continued support. And now let's get back to the show. [00:27:07] Speaker B: Welcome back to the Catholic Theology show. I'm your host, Michael Doffiney, and today I am joined by Dr. Andrew Abella, the dean of the Bush School of Business at the Catholic University of America and also professor of marketing and co editor of a volume called the Catechism for Business. So delighted to have you on the show today. Thank you to be so. Yeah, we're talking a little bit about this idea that some people see a little bit of a tension between a religious life and the business life. And obviously there is a vocation to the religious life, which is a beautiful thing, the monastic, for people to enter monasteries or convents or to live in religious orders. This is a beautiful part of the church. And the church holds know those who take up the evangelical councils of poverty, chastity, obedience. This is what Aquinas calls a sure and higher path to holiness. But nonetheless, all the baptized are called to holiness, right? As always been taught by the church. But Vatican II reemphasized. So if all the baptized are called to holiness and many of the baptized are called to work, then work must become a means of sanctification, right? And this has been recovered a lot in the 20th century that I myself really was inspired by the teachings of St. Jose Maria Scriva, founder of Opus Dei, who really emphasized that and would often speak about the unity of life. You have to be the same human being in whatever you're like. But if you're going to be a plumber and you're a catholic plumber, that means, well, you better make sure that your plumbing works right. There shouldn't be leaks. And if there are, you ought to fix them. These sorts of different things. So you do your work well. That is that. And it even reminds me of C. S. Lewis had an essay called Learning and Wartime, which he wrote. And he actually preached it in 1939 just as England was entering World War II. And he's at Oxford teaching. And so what are we doing teaching? And, well, he says, well, one thing is you need to have something. Why are we fighting this war? We have to be fighting the war for some meaning and purpose that is higher than the war. And we're not going to find that from the war. So you have to find it from something higher. But he also says that even in war you spend half your time, and he fought in World War I. He said, you spend a lot of your time in the trenches just sitting around playing cards or sitting around. Obviously it was awful in many ways. And he writes about that, but you can't make all your life martial in a way, warlike much of life in that thing. He says even, of course, many of the things you do when you become a Christian are very similar to the things you did before you were a Christian, right? You still read, you teach. In his case, you write books. In his case, you make food, you eat food, you do a lot of these same things. And so he says the power of a war is that it takes all of these activities and it orients them all to an earthly end. But he says, the power of the gospel is it takes all of our earthly activities and it orders them to God. And so, like one corinthians 1031 says, so whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God. Lewis even says, in his memorable way, that a mole ought to dig for the glory of God. So whatever you're doing, because I have a friend, one of our Ave students, who is actually joined a monastery in France. He's actually the cook for the monastery. So he cooks for 60 monks every day. And so, like, you know, I mean, I'm not a monk, but I know a little bit about what it means to cook for a lot of people. And it's just kind of interesting. So you realize, whoa, we have to learn to integrate all of these realities that are good, that are noble, and whether or not that's plumbing or finance or teaching or accounting, these different services, that as long as they're honest professions, that they can be offered to God. And so we can do them for the glory of God. And I think when we recover that vision again, it's all sudden like, what were we thinking? What were we thinking? Separating out, obviously, yes. Occasionally, for people who are called to the religious life, it's important to have that distinction. And there's much in the world that is corrupt and overly sensual and overly sentimental or just confused and we need to turn away from. But once we are trying to live in an integrated way, then all the work we do, whether it's dishes. Earlier today I was painting a bedroom. I hope that when I'm painting a bedroom, I'm not stepping outside God's glory, right? I'm not stepping outside God's good creation and his recreation of things. So John Paul II, who talked about Santissimus Annos on 100 years of Ram Novaram in 1891, Luxi really talked about kind of a nobility of business in a way that there's a good that business can do even within an ethical order. And he also wrote laborum exercisens, I believe, is the right way to pronounce that extracens, but basically on the dignity of work. And so could you just maybe talk a little bit more about recovering the sense of this unity, that we don't want to separate business and ethics, but nor do we want to separate faith and work. So how do we kind of integrate our work into our faith? [00:33:02] Speaker A: I think a good place to start is by looking at each kind of business enterprise and saying, what is the good that that entire enterprise is seeking to do. And it's usually one of the transcendentals, right? Truth, beauty, goodness. So if you're a journalism enterprise, for example, then you're seeking truth to convey truth. If you're a manufacturing company, then what kind of goodness are you bringing into the world? Are you making shoes, are you making cars? And always keeping that as the North Star? This is the good that we're doing. We have to do it profitably. There's complex debates now about whether the purpose of a business is to maximize its profits. I think that's a tricky question because with a lot of the sort of woke capitalism issues that have been coming up have confused the issue. I like to think in terms of the purpose of the business is to serve others the way it's done, the form of the business. So if you take it, a different formal good is that of a profit making enterprise. So if you don't serve people well, you won't make profits. If you don't make profits, you won't be around to serve them. So it's not an either or. But if you're always looking to that good, then that brings a certain sort of integrity to the enterprise. At the next level, then we can bring in, you mentioned before the principles of catholic social doctrine that I think are very relevant to running a business. At the Bush school, we tend to highlight four so the notion of human dignity. So everything we do must honor human dignity, the dignity of our customers, dignity of our employees, of our investors, and so on. Then the two principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. So solidarity that we should be caring for others, and subsidiarity that we should allow decisions to be made as close to the point of impact, because that's consistent with human dignity, not just because it's more efficient, and not even primarily because of that, but primarily because to be a human being created in the image and likeness of God is to have your autonomy. And that includes decision making autonomy. So it's more in accord with human dignity to allow employees to make decisions that they are competent to make rather than to have to refer everything to a boss. So you're following those principles. And for the first several years of our business school, we very much focused on making sure that those principles were integrated into everything that we taught. But at a certain point, we start to realize that without virtue, principles are useless, right or next to useless, because it's not enough to know the principles, you have to be in the habit of living them. And the virtues then allow you to live the principles. So here's an interesting, I think, somewhat original insight. The virtue of forgiveness is absolutely essential if the principle of subsidiarity is going to work, because if every time an employee makes an innocent mistake, you come on down on them like a ton of bricks, forget about subsidiarity. They're not going to try anything new anymore. They're just going to keep coming back to you with questions because otherwise they'll get beaten up if they veer slightly off from your vision. So I think the virtue of forgiveness, I think, is important to that, for example. So there's different layers, starting with what's the vision of the good that we're doing, then the principles, then the virtues that kind of allow you to live that. I think if you do all those three things, it's really a very natural way to integrate your faith with your business. Obviously. In addition, you have the sacraments. If you can get to mass every day before the day begins, usually it's hard to get out in the middle of the day. If you're in business, we here in academia, at catholic schools, have the blessing of several masses, in my case, in my own building. But if you're in a commercial enterprise, chances are it's a little bit more difficult. But do you find time to pray the rosary at some point and take a break in the day? Make sure you get into confession on a regular basis, that then all supports your living the faith in business. But virtue allows you to live the faith throughout every moment of the day, not just while I was at mass and while I talk about the integrated life. Right? Because we know that when we live the virtues, we're not just doing it of ourselves. The gifts of the Holy Spirit animate the cardinal virtues. So my courage is not just my own courage, but it's also Christ's courage when I receive the gift of fortitude, for example. So that's a beautiful way, I think, of integrating it all. [00:37:51] Speaker B: Yeah. So let's just take maybe another kind of concern that people have. I think people you're in marketing, and marketing, I think, is one of those areas that, I mean, a lot of students go into it because I think they think they'll get a job and these things are important. But other people will think marketing is contributing to our society's kind of somewhat crisis of overconsumption. And we know we have the capital sins. We struggle with envy, we struggle with avarice, greed, kind of lust. We struggle with all these different things. And seems like the marketing industry is so good at helping me and even on our phones, right? Helping me. Like, I didn't even know I wanted that. And then all of a sudden it pops up, and now all of a sudden, I'm like, oh, well, maybe I should buy a new pair of shoes, or maybe I should buy something for my wife, or maybe we need more stuff, right? So it seems like marketing, in a way, is inflaming. We already have a strong desire for more than we need. So what would you say to that objection? And how do you think we can really maybe recover an authentic vision of marketing that really is integrated with the virtues and integrated with our christian faith? [00:39:23] Speaker A: In some ways, marketing is the discipline, I think, that is hardest to bring to Christ other disciplines within business. So, for example, accounting is very clearly a profession, so it has its professional standards. And those help you understand the good that you're doing and the norms kind of guide that. Interestingly, market research, which is a subdisciplinary marketing, is also very much professionalized. Like accounting, they also have their norms and their ways of doing things. So that's easier, I think, to be noble there. The problem with marketing itself is, as you pointed out, really, you can find examples, I think, playing to all seven of the deadly sins. I say inflaming lust, inflaming greed, envy, and so on. The way back is to understand what is the purpose of marketing. And you can find it in the name, right. Is to make a market, to bring buyers and sellers together. That is the purpose of marketing. It's not to invent needs or wants, right. It's just to facilitate the creation of a market or the establishment of a market. And so that involves telling the story of your products in creative ways to kind of attract people's attention. But it's tough because it's very hard to regulate. And therefore, you are counting on the integrity of the marketer, right. To convey that message, say, buy our stuff because we think it will be good for you, but also to make sure that what they're selling is, in fact good for the, what they're saying is good for the customer. Is, in fact good for the customer. It's a challenge, but I say, but that is the route forward, I think, is to understand the kind of the making of a market. The other way in which it falls apart is this sense of limitless demand. And in fact, Aquinas himself talks about the dangers of trade. So not just marketing, but just trade in general, because compared to a traditional sort of householder homesteading lifestyle, where there are natural limits to your needs. When you have enough food and you have enough stored to get through the winter and enough to increase to take care of your children, then you're good. But as a trader, you can always make more money. But Quinans is very clear about this. It doesn't make trading evil, it just makes it neutral. You have to be aware of those risks and then make sure that your trading activity is ordered to something good. Right. And the good in that case is typically to bring the goods that you're trading in, make them available to people who might not otherwise be available, and to make profits for yourself as a trader. And then you use those for some good purpose, taking care of your family, but also charitable and investing and so on. So all of that to say, the drive of marketing to always want to sell more and more and more, is not even a problem specifically with marketing. It's a problem with the modern economy itself, where we expect the stock market to go up forever and ever, and therefore we expect companies to sell more and more, and therefore consumers have to consume more and more. So the question has to come back to ourselves and say, what do I expect from my investments? What do I expect from my own life? It is a particularly challenging time, this sort of consumerist era that we live in. Challenging time to be a person of faith. And I think it calls on us to be practicing mortification at all times. Mortifying our eyes, because some of the posters you see are really horrific and mortifying our stomachs, our desire to sort of buy things are constantly being inflamed, and we need to just sort of learn temperance. [00:43:32] Speaker B: Yeah. So maybe it's one of those things where the abuse does not take away the use. So the fact that things are over marketed doesn't mean that marketing is evil. [00:43:42] Speaker A: Right? [00:43:42] Speaker B: Marketing is also telling the story of a product, telling the story of a company marketing a podcast. Telling the story of a podcast. Because if we have a service that we believe is helpful to people, then it makes sense also that we want to tell that story. And if we have a car that we think will help or that, well, we have a car factory, so we have to employ people and we want to make a car that's solid and reliable to keep those people employed. We have to help people come to know that this car is for sale. Right. So I think it almost is a necessary part of commerce. And in that sense, it seems to me it is one of those things just in and of itself is a good. And the fact that it can be exaggerated and probably is the majority of the time in our contemporary society doesn't mean that we ought not engage in it. Right. But we have to engage in it with a sense of recognizing that we have a society that is erring on the side of overconsumption. And so what can we do to try to maybe try to think about the ways that we market things that are genuinely helpful, or at least market them in a way that is truly trying to connect to the person as some sense like, hey, here is something that you might be interested in. [00:45:10] Speaker A: Yes. [00:45:12] Speaker B: So maybe just as we're kind of getting to the end of our time, I guess, what are some maybe for people who are working today? I read in a 2010 article that you wrote for Camunio, you talked about, I think it was Pope Benedict's the 16th, Caritas and Veritate, charity in truth and the market economy. You spoke a little about relational anthropology, that we're persons for other persons in communion, and that this principle of subsidiarity and some other themes that we've spoken about. What are some kind of practical things that you think people could use to actually kind of be better businessmen and women and to do their business work better and in that sense, also do it with greater ethical integrity? [00:46:08] Speaker A: Yeah. So think of maybe a trinitarian view of commerce, if you will. So in the Trinity, we have the father and the Son, person of the Father, person of the Son, and then we have the person of the Holy Spirit, who is the relationship right between the father and son personified. At the risk of trivializing. But just so we're talking by analogy. In every business transaction, there's the buyer and the seller, but there's also that relationship between the two of them. And so in every encounter, whether you're working directly with a customer or working with somebody else in your company who is sort of a customer of yours, or you are a buyer of theirs or a customer of theirs, think in terms of not just the transaction. Did I get fair exchange kind of for what I gave, but also the relationship. Did every encounter, did every transaction strengthen the relationship between me and that customer or me and that person I work with? And so be considering the health of all the relationships that you have, particularly with those people you work with frequently, your boss, your subordinate. I think that helps understand kind of what we're really about here, because we can talk about human dignity all day long, but in practice, it means when I'm working with you, is the way I'm working with you building up our relationship, or is it tearing it down. I think that is a helpful guide. [00:47:37] Speaker B: Yeah. And I think even it's not only how do I treat the people with whom I work or the people with whom I interact, but even the transactional element is part of how I treat them. Right. If I say I'm going to paint the house for somebody, and then I paint the house well, then that is just as important as giving the person a handshake. You know what I mean? So even the transactional elements become part of that relational element. If I'm going to give my boss a report, and I take the time to do it well and in a timely way, then that gift is not only relational, but it also has its own integrity. So I can also take a joy, whether or not I'm a construction worker or an academic, writing articles in the work, because it is a gift. So it's not only that we add in this trying to be polite to cashiers, which is a great thing to do, but that also that the actual work that we do, the gifts that we exchange, are also meaningful. We take pride in our work, kind of in that simple way. And I think that really is a neat aspect. And then situating that within that relational development, which you're right, is part of our communionist persons created in the image and likeness of the Trinity. [00:48:57] Speaker A: Yeah, I think it was Dorothy Sayers who said there were no shoddy tables coming out of a certain workshop in know. It's like Joseph and Jesus made beautiful tables, not chairs, apparently, if we believe the passion of the Christ. But whatever they did is part of continuing in creation. So we participate in that. We want to keep that front and. [00:49:22] Speaker B: Great. Well, you know, Professor Andrew Abella, thank you so much for being on the show. Before we close, I want to ask you three quick questions. [00:49:29] Speaker A: What's a book you're reading right now? I am reading boys in the boat about the 1936 gold medal winners. The movie is coming out. It's been on beside my bed for a long time. And the ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the cross, that's my spiritual reading right now. And it's powerful stuff. [00:49:49] Speaker B: Yeah, that's great. And what's a practice you do on a daily basis that helps you find meaning and purpose midst your work? [00:49:59] Speaker A: Wow. Well, I think I'm blessed to have a job where I feel like I'm meaning and purpose, like pretty much whatever's going on. But I have started keeping a gratitude diary, and I find that reflecting at the end of there as part of my evening prayer and actually writing down the things that I am so grateful to our lord for in that day has helped too. [00:50:27] Speaker B: Did you ever have a belief about God that was false and that what was the truth you later discovered? [00:50:39] Speaker A: I think I had probably, like many, a sort of childish belief about God as an angry God waiting to catch me. Gotcha. And he's not like that. Which is, thank God that he's not like that. That God is not like. [00:50:57] Speaker B: Amen. Amen. Well, that's beautiful. Well, again, Professor Andrew Abella, founding dean of the Bush School of Business at the Catholic University of America, a catechism for business, of which he is a co editor, is published also by the Catholic University of America Press. If people want to read more, they might find that of interest. And any listeners of the catholic theology show can get a 20% discount with using the code CT ten or CT 20. I'm not 100% sure at the moment, but one of those two. But thank you so much for really kind of offering an inspiring vision of this call to integrate business and ethics, to integrate and implement catholic social teaching in our lives through subsidiarity and solidarity, and to really discover this unity of life where our work fosters the practice of our virtues and our virtues direct the practice of our work, all of which comes under our relationship with Jesus Christ, really, through faith, hope, and love. [00:52:12] Speaker A: Amen. [00:52:13] Speaker B: So thank you so much for being on the show. [00:52:15] Speaker A: My pleasure. [00:52:17] Speaker C: Thank you so much for joining us for this podcast. If you like this episode, please rate and review it on your favorite podcast app to help others find the show. And if you want to take the next step, please consider joining our Annunciation circle so we can continue to bring you more free content. We'll see you next time on the catholic theology show.

Other Episodes

Episode 13

December 19, 2023 00:54:39
Episode Cover

Perfect Love | Learning to Pray with Saint Bonaventure

What does it mean to perfect our love for God? In this episode, Dr. Dauphinais sits down with Fr. Rick Martignetti, Franciscan priest and...


Episode 17

January 16, 2024 01:02:29
Episode Cover

The Christian Call to Mission | Encountering the Gospel

How can we embrace the Christian call to mission in today’s world? In this episode, Dr. Michael Dauphinais sits down with Catholic priest and...


Episode 41

July 04, 2023 00:57:31
Episode Cover

The Philosophy of Femininity and Masculinity

How can we define femininity and masculinity in an age opposed to objectivity? In this episode, Dr. Dauphinais talks with Dr. Maria Fedoryka, associate...