Martin Radvan, Global President of Mars Wrigley, said some shocking things at the Executives’ Club of Chicago recently, starting with the five principles of Mars. He started normally enough by listing the Mars Five Principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency, and Freedom. As Radvan pointed out, quality, responsibility, and efficiency are fundamental principles of any successful business. Freedom refers to the fact that, as a private company, Mars Wrigley is free to focus on a longer timeline than publicly-traded companies can.

When he got to mutuality though, that’s when he started to sound less like the leader of a global confectionery company and more like the founder of a small green energy company.

Radvan’s message was that mutuality means “benefits must be shared” with all the company’s stakeholders. But once again, he pushed past the familiar language of big business. For Mars Wrigley, “stakeholders” are not only employees, investors, and customers. Stakeholders also include competitors, the community, and the planet.

It all sounds suspiciously touchy-feely for a senior executive in a leading global business. But Radvan balanced his remarks with a firm emphasis on the traditional business metrics of profit and growth. His key point was that “mutuality” is the how whereby Mars Wrigley has succeeded and continues to succeed in the global market. He quoted the saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together with others.”

Radvan posed his other shocking idea in the form of a question: “How much profit is enough?” Surely the answer is it’s never enough! Keep finding ways to make more money! But Radvan argued that if a company is destroying relationships with its shareholders in a ruthless quest for greater profits, that’s no recipe for long-term success.

In an era where business leaders often glorify the lone “cowboy” who supposedly succeeds all by himself by brutally destroying his competitors, it was refreshing to hear a different and thoughtful approach. Clearly the Mars five principles are working, as the company remains a global leader while aiming to make the world better for everyone.

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