Purpose – The financial crisis demands that we in the business academy raise our game: we either caused it by training the generation of “greed is good” MBAs who designed those financial instruments of mass destruction, or failed to prevent it by not equipping them with appropriate caution and ethical standards. In short, we are either complicit or irrelevant. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how Michael Thomas anticipated both the causes and the lessons of the financial crisis, and made a robust call for change long before this became a mainstream concern. Design/methodology/approach – The paper discusses the work and ideas of Michael Thomas in the context of the current financial crisis. Findings – The paper concludes that we can respond to Michael Thomas' vision with a combination of muscular game keeping and intelligent poaching. Practical implications – Michael Thomas's thinking has profound implications not just for marketing but the whole business sector. The newly established Stirling Institute for Socio-Management (SISM) is responding to his call to look critically at current business models and completely reengineer our processes and procedures. SISM also argues that lessons learnt about influencing consumer behaviour can be applied to other parts of life such as social and health behaviours. Originality/value – The paper highlights Michael Thomas's notions of a new, “social capitalism” founded on trust and transparency.