Green Corporate

ASK BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTIONS

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by

This article is written by Thomas Kolster, founder of our new collaborative partner firm, Goodvertising Agency.


Creativity is needed more than ever to bring sustainability to our world. For brands, creating sustainable success begins with a simple premise—ask huge questions.

One word your brand must own: Sustainability


In 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, a 12 year-old girl by the name of Severn Cullis-Suzuki delivered a speech that silenced the room with its apparent frankness, “I’m only a child, yet I know that we’re all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.” Her delivery was devoid of politics and, even without uttering it aloud, asked a simple but scary question: What are you doing to help? There’s much to learn from this girl’s implicit question, especially if you are in the process of transforming your run-of-the-mill brand into a sustainable brand, your run-of-the-mill business to a sustainable business. There’s much to learn from looking at the world from a child’s curious and straightforward perspective. Ask a question—a big one—as children do without fear. Something juicy like: What difference does your company make for people or the planet? What is your relevance in a sustainable world?


NEW WORLD—NEW VALUES
For the last two years, my team and I have compiled hundreds of sustainable communication case studies from all over the world for my book, Goodvertising. One of the things we learned was how few brands have truly embraced sustainability as an entrenched organizational value. Here we are, in the midst of among the biggest business transformations in history, and most businesses are plodding along unawares. Just because consumers today aspire to drive Ferraris, does not mean our children won’t dream of owning a Tesla. Consumers are expecting more responsibility and more sustainability from brands every day. Brands need creativity more than ever to prepare themselves for the new sustainable market?


WHY ARE WE MAKING CARPETS THAT HARM THE PLANET?
A question kickstarted the journey of one of the most recognized sustainable brands: Interface. Its founder, Ray Anderson, wasn’t a born tree-hugger, but in his company a group of employees wanted to make a working group on Corporate Social Responsibility. He knew very little about CSR and decided to read a few books to prepare an inspiring talk for his team. This led him to a simple, game-changing question, “Why are we making carpets that harm the planet?” This vision has since propelled his business forward and into the top tier in its industry.


WHAT DOES YOUR BRAND OWN?
If you want your brand to make a difference, you have to approach change with creativity. Begin by questioning your business, your brand, your product offerings, your target audience and your stakeholders. The entire sustainability agenda is complicated, but ideally your brand promise or communication shouldn’t be. Your brand must have a simple reason for being that’s bigger than itself. Bodyshop owns animal rights and Method owns green cleaning. The brand that owns sustainability in its category will be tomorrow’s winner. Consider the battles which have already begun for the green throne between the powerhouse brands of the world. No longer are we seeing them saying, “Whatever you can do, I can do better.” It’s morphed into, “Whatever you can do, I can do greener.” If you want to stay relevant, you must own sustainability like Heinz owns ketchup.


DEAR BRAND, MEET YOUR BETTER HALF
Some brands have successfully integrated sustainability into the core of their brand like IBM’s Smarter Planet, which cleverly integrated IBM’s well-known ingenuity with sustainability. It should be a natural meeting between your brand and the world-bettering vision of your brand. The same applies to your campaign activities. The beer brand Corona—associated with sun, beach and fun—launched a beach cleaning effort in Spain where the collected garbage was turned into a hotel. Celebrities were then invited to spend the night. This is a simple campaign, which fits the brand and activates an easy-going beach crowd in a fun way.


WHAT’S YOUR BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTION?
Some companies are beginning to raise the bar by asking even bigger questions than that courageous and creative 12 year-old in Rio. Some of the world’s most prominent business leaders are questioning the role of publishing quarterly results, arguing that they shift focus towards short-term profits, drowning out long-term results and superseding the need to think more sustainably. We must realize that a sustainable future is a long game. We must be patient. It is a fundamental structural change. A habit of questioning the status quo and the assumptions you hold is essential to creativity and innovation and, therefore, to your business staying relevant. What is the point in asking yourself questions to which you already know the answer?
Ask big, scary, world-changing questions instead. They are timely and necessary—and fast becoming profitable, too.

The article was first published on Fast Company.

Social Media as Social Currency: Selling Through Social Influencing

Saturday, February 8, 2014 by

A 5 Step Guide to Inside – Out Influencer Social Media Marketing

Social influencing is the ability to influence behavior through your social & digital networks. A strong ability to influence your social network equals high social currency net worth, which doesn’t just translate into a high number of followers and engagements, rather it is of direct financial impact on your company’s bottom line and potential for long term success.  

Purchasing power is in the hands of people, and business is no longer B2B or B2C, rather business is S2S – soul to soul. Success in business is dependent on personal relationships. 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family*.

As the communication gab between brands and consumers have largely disappeared, and consumers can get access to any information about your company, and reviews on how other’s, whom they trust, experience shopping with you, your customers go social to find out about you, before they buy. And, they do not go to your website. They go to the key influencers talking about your business.

Social technologies offer effective & efficient ways to increase & engage your network both locally and globally, and it is of great value to most businesses to find the key to building social currency.  So, how do you crack this code to become a trustworthy social influencer?

Passion

Get beneath what you do & sell, and into the core of why you do what you do. Draw your audience towards you with your contagious passion for why you do what you do. If you are only focused on what you sell, the communication and connection with your audience will be too superficial to build social influencer standing.

If you grow and sell tea, then share all about why you are passionate about tea – perhaps it’s the fine flavor variations in tea from specific regions of the world; perhaps it’s the health benefits of herbal & green teas, or perhaps it’s the beauty of tea ceremony and the tradition of tea & slow living.  

Purpose

People are hungry for meaning & connection with other people, and purpose is a strong motivator in attracting a community of like-minded people, who share your values and can help bring your purpose-driven cause and business to life. Give your audience a way to connect and be part of your purpose. If you talk about a product on your company Facebook page, drive the context back to your purpose. Why is it that sharing this product with your followers is important. If the answer is ‘to sell more product’ you are not digging deep enough. Underneath the desire to sell more lies your true purpose.

Give

When you give from an authentic place - considering what the person in front of you needs or feels inspired about; because without a manipulating & self-serving hidden motive, we connect with people on a deeper level. If you keep this behavior consistent over time, you develop trust and loyalty with your audience & community. And, that’s what you need – people, who are loyal to you, who come back again and again, and, who also act as your ambassadors telling their friends about you. They will start doing this on their own, when you clear your attachment to a particular outcome and give to them from a clean place.

Trust

Trust is build over time, and is based on your consistent trustworthy behavior through all the touch-points between you and the people, who encounters your business – both internally & externally. This includes your website, all your social media profiles, any marketing materials, products, packaging, displays, written words, visual communication, how employees are treated – and most importantly, the behavior of everyone on your team, and how you and your team act in your local community and in the world at large. People buy from people they trust.

Evaluate your business on the below Trust Equation, so you can determine the current standing of your company’s trust building ability. From here you can create actionable efforts to increase the areas of weakness.

Credibility:  Your expertise as shared with your audiences. How knowledgeable are you in your field? Does your audiences see you as a credible expert? Do they listen to you?

Reliability:  Are you being consistent in frequency, tone of voice and visual feel in all touch-points? Do you follow through on delivering what you promise – every time?

Intimacy:  Your ability to make someone feel comfortable in opening up and being themselves with you.

Self-Orientation:  Where is your focus? The more you focus on the other, the more trustworthy you come across. If you are too self-oriented, you come across as low in trustworthiness.*

Plan

Random acts of social media do not work. If your goal is to increase your social influencer status, then you need to create a plan. But, before you plan, work through each of the above stages, and do your work. Observe yourself, your brand, your employees and all your communication touch-points thoroughly. Be honest with yourself. Identify your weaknesses, and create an action plan to improve these areas. Continue to observe, and fine tune behaviors again and over time. I recommend that you see this process of becoming better as a playful process of imperfection. There is no final perfection, but rather, this is a lifelong process of finetunement.

 

* Sources:

Nielsen: Global research study April 10, 2012

Jeff Bullas: The 10 Big Social Media Marketing Trends in 2014. Jan, 2014

Social Media Today: Is Self-Orientation Killing Your Trustworthiness by Charles Green

Top photo credit: marketingtango.com

 

 

Sandja Brügmann is founding partner & chief creative strategist at Refresh Agency, a specialized communications agency driving leadership transformation, international business, public relations and social media focused on the sustainable and social business lifestyle markets in the USA and Europe.

Refresh Agency service businesses on the leading edge of the sustainability and social-good areas globally including ITO EN, Matcha LOVE, Nisolo Shoes, Clementine Art, Sustainia, GoodBelly, Addis Creson (Better Place, Kashi), Chocolove, Neve Designs, Spier and TEDxCopenhagen spanning from Boulder, CO, New York, NY, Tokyo, Japan, Copenhagen, Denmark to Cape Town, South Africa.

Sandja was born and raised in sustainability-minded Denmark. A grounded island girl, who grew up on the beautiful island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. She is a certified yoga instructor, a Danish National Team Archery champion and former Olympic hopeful, a Dean’s Scholar at University of Colorado in Boulder, and she adores her daily lessons as a parent.

 

 

 

 

Fire Your Manager. Hire A Leader.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by
If you want to create a truly modern company, managers can no longer act like 'managers.'  The manager defined the leaden archaic corporate hierarchy of the past. In that construct, there was little room for self-correction and ownership on the individual level. Rather than taking the driver's seat by delivering customer value or improving products, the old corporate model trained one to do a job as a single cog in the machine. 
 
The issue is that technology is creating bean-counters that micromanage jobs at arms'-length.  Taylor introduced ‘scientific management’ back in the late nineteenth century as a way of getting the American worker to do as they were told. It aimed for efficiency by standardizing and routinizing the techniques for completing each task involved with a given job. The effect resulted in deskilling workers and dehumanizing the workplace.
 
The twenty-first century has given rise to 'digital Taylorism.' This involves translating knowledge work into working knowledge through the extraction, codification and digitalization of knowledge into software that can be transmitted and manipulated by others. Digital Taylorism has increased the role and power of a manager by using technology to monitor workers and make sure they are employing tools and techniques at a satisfactory level.
 
With task management software tools to break down every given task into multiple increments, workers get limited to doing exactly as they are told and filling whatever quota of tasks at hand.  Already, 80% of the corporations in America have their employees under regular surveillance and apparently this number is growing.* These practices, which intend to increase efficiency and, at least theoretically, enable more self-accountability, often end up disempowering and over-systematizing jobs to the point where individuals are expected to work with a 'machine mind.'
 
Without allowing employees to understand and participate in the entire business operation, managers are then stuck with the assigning singular jobs and limited responsibilities to others. Over-systematizing jobs through these new technologies often lead to an extreme domination of managers over employees. Without allowing work accountability and self-adjustment, managers must fix the problems of each internal mistake themselves and likely only when seen at the customer or end-product level.  They enjoy having to correct and possibly reprimand employees, or even worse, serve as referee in an escalation point when problems and mistakes are tossed back and forth. Fun, right. My advise?  Fire you managers and rehire a leader.
 
Don’t allow for processes to over-ride common sense!
 
Managers assign tasks, correct employees, and serve as an escalation point for a problem. Leaders don't do this. Leaders improve participation and increase autonomy and accountability in everyone's work. This leads to people doing something not because they are told, but because they want to produce the best possible product or service.
 
Get rid of micromanagement and processes that stifle creative thinking and productivity.
 
Allow the ideas, goals, and accomplishments of the company to become the main focus... as they should be.  This construct leads to the bottom up approach of modern businesses. Rather than management sitting at the top of the corporate model, the client and customer product takes the main seat in the company. Here, what matters is that the work gets done--and done right so it's delivering value to your clients.
 
References
* Parenti, C. (2001). Big brother’s corporate cousin: high-tech workplace surveillance is the hallmark of a new digital Taylorism. The Nation, 273(5), 26-30.
 
Laura Pretsch is a business advisor, innovator, entrepreneur and lifestyle aficionado. Laura has dedicated her life to developing the tools and understanding to help others innovate and create better lives. Laura is the Co-Founder ‘The Brilliant Leadership Company’.
 
 
  
 

Giving not Getting in 2014! A New Approach to your New Years Resolutions.

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

whatcanIgive_pptx With the onset of the New Year we are constantly being bombarded with requests (emails, newsletters, articles, etc.,) to make our New Year’s Resolutions and set our intentions to receive what we wish for in 2014.

New Year’s Resolutions have been part of society since pre-Christian times beginning with the Babylonians who made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Later on this ritual was modified by the Romans who made promises to the god Janus, to be good to others. In the Medieval era, knights took the “Peacock Vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry (Slate Magazines article: ‘Bring back the Peacock Vow”). The idea was a call for self-improvement.

According to a recent study by The University of Scranton, 49% of Americans make New Years Resolutions. Here are the most common ones:

New Years Resolutions:
47% – Self Improvement or education related resolutions
38% – Weight related resolutions
34% – Money related resolutions
31% – Relationship related resolutions

I support new years resolutions, but I would like to challenge the status quo that focuses on personal fulfillment and benefit.

Could we not change the question from: “What do I Want in 2014?” to “What am I able to Give in 2014?”. Why don’t we take a different approach this year, decide what we can give to others and ourselves, and come from a mindset of surplus rather than focusing on deficit. Some might argue that they can’t give what they don’t have. My response would be, “What comes first, the ckicken or the egg?”. By doing that we put ourselves in a more powerful postion of richness. Since most of my readers are in leadership positions this exercise becomes more effective as we share our intentions with our team and others around us.

Make a list of what you can give and contribute to. With giving, I don’t necessarily mean what we can give monetarily or materially. I mean what can we give from ourselves like attention, advice, time, support, and energy.

Here are some questions that will help:

What do you want to give to yourself ? (Yes, don’t forget that giving starts with giving to oneself.)

What do you want to give to your family and friends?

What do you want to contribute to your business?

What do you want to give to your clients?

What do you want to give to your employees or team members?

What do you want to give to the society or greater good?

We can use this opportunity to become better leaders by focusing on how we can benefit and improve the lives of others rather than just fulfilling our own needs. When applied diligently, it will be a recipe for happiness and fulfillment!

Happy New Year!

Sascha Bosio

Sascha Bosio is an expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. http://www.brilliantleadership.net

 

Creativity ≠ Innovation: Building Your System for Reliable Innovation

Friday, January 3, 2014 by

Buyers beware: Creativity alone does not ensure innovation. 

The World Database of Innovation initiative shows that more than half of the world’s 7,000+ innovation consultancies provide a creative process or “Invention Methodology”.  Because of this and some very good PR for processes like Design Thinking, the world has begun to equate the creative process with Innovation Management.  And while the creative process is very important, the initiative has found that it is only one piece of the puzzle; only one part of what it takes for a company to innovate.   

To make innovation or “future top-line growth” repeatable and reliable large companies must build a complete Innovation Management System that supports bringing new things through their organization and to the world. 

Before we get into this, let’s make sure we are on the same page with our preferred definitions:

  • Innovation: a thing that has already changed human behavior on a wide scale.  Usually, an innovation has added to a company’s top line, or has changed a societies belief.  It is distinct from and “Invention”.
  • Innovation Management: a complete system that builds a path through a human organization so that it can repeatedly create innovations and do so more reliably.
  • Why we care about innovation:  Companies care about innovation management for two reasons:  1) Survival – it should allow you to simply keep up with competition 2) The more inspiring goal: it creates an ability to create one’s future and reliably grow.

The World Database of Innovation (the "initiative") began 7 years ago with the mission to uncover an evidence base (statistics) to support or disprove the world’s many innovation practices.  The initiative studied thousands of the highest performing companies and found that they share a handful of processes, structures, people management approaches, belief systems, and cultures.  For companies that are facing growth/innovation problems, or for public organizations that want to more reliably create societal change, below is a overview of five pieces of the Innovation Management puzzle you will need to address to achieve repeatable market successes.  

Structure

The initiative found the highest correlations in this category: companies that had good innovation management structures had some of the highest top line growth.

First, the innovation function reported to the CEO directly and the CEO was found to truly own innovation, not just simply to be on board or bought in. 

Second, the innovation had dedicated (untouchable) funding.  Just as one invests money in funds and typically waits for the investments to mature, a company must invest in longer-term things and wait for maturity or pay the penalty (in several ways).  This is a hard one for public companies who give and rip away budgets sometimes on a quarterly basis.  The vast majority of an average company’s overhead goes into supporting old products, so the most important thing here is to choose what portion of revenue you’re going to invest to create your company’s future.    

Third, the most reliable innovators also treat innovation as a risk management exercise.  These firms tend to build regimented portfolio and pipeline structures than spanned from the birth to the death of market offerings.  The pipeline usually included some sort of stage gate approach with distinct on and off ramps for new and expiring products.  Fourth, we observed that when high performers consider new market opportunities, the first asked whether acquiring or building the solution was the best approach.

Fifth, few firms have a system to at indirect competition but 84% of history’s market upsets came from industry outsiders.  This related closely to arrogance that we talk about below but can be taken care of with a team or service that has a smart way of combing the world for indirect competitors.

Belief Systems

Belief Systems are perhaps the most interesting part of the puzzle and the correlations found were quite strong. 

Amongst fast growing companies, a high percentage shared the believe that the future is not something set in stone; that is something that can be shaped.  Society primarily things the opposite is true.  Companies like General Electric, and Google who actively work on describing the future scenario they want to exist, and then set in place a plan and structure to create it are actually the most successful.      

There is also a surprising commonality amongst growth leaders in their definition of innovation.  Their definitions all shared three things:  1) something about changing human behavior on a wide scale,  2) innovation was defined as transformative,  and 3)  it was stated that innovation does not include incremental improvement.  The study also found that many companies had a higher purpose stated in their innovation definition as well as their mission.

In relation to this last point, there is also strong data to show that companies with a noble mission and those that know themselves very well are the highest performers.  See our piece on Patagonia and look at Medtronic’s performance through the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

And finally, Arrogance: we found loose but very interesting correlations between arrogance of leadership and company failure.  This is hard to identify objectively but there are many many documented cases of publicly displayed arrogance of leadership leading to blindness leading to partial or complete failure of companies.

Process

As we stated at the beginning:  the creative process is an important part of the puzzle.  It is not everything and with out the support structures mentioned throughout, runs the risk of being a pointless investment.  But the things that have been invented have come to be by some surprising common steps and “Invention Methods” as the initiative calls the 152 distinct processes discovered to date.  There are also countless brands of each of these 152 processes that help create market successes more often that unstructured brainstorming. 

Talent and People

There are many aspects of recruiting, managing, resourcing, training, and enabling people that we found at high growth companies but they all seemed to boil down to one thing:  get out of people’s way.  And the opposite side of this same coin: enable people.  Study upon study has shown that people are inherently innovative.  Sometimes we just need a teachable skill, money, time, or the right reward/recognition to express it.

Culture

The initiative found that culture is an important enabler or deterrent for innovation.  But, there was no common culture amongst high growth companies.  This piece of the puzzle is truly a menu ranging from tough cut throat cultures that force innovators towards excellence, to kind, accepting, well resourced innovation teams that cultivate and help inventors throughout the company.   The most interesting commonality is the level of connectedness of employees and division, and knowledge management or we could say “connectedness to the past”.

In conclusion, reliable innovation takes an entire system.  Companies must select and adapt the pieces above to create an Innovation Management System that helps them discover opportunities, invest in a set of potential solutions, test and improve and filter these solutions, socialize the chosen solution, bring it to market, and kill the old solution. 

And to repeatedly control the market you're already in, to invent new markets, and to change human behavior on a wide scale also requires choosing how to tie theses pieces together into an aligned system:  an innovation engine that hums.  

The best of innovation engines do a few things for companies: mitigate risk on of a company’s investments in new things, greatly decrease the cost of innovation, increase the speed, and increase the success rate.  But most importantly for all of the LOHAS brands, they secure and help you shape your future so that you can continue to be there to improve our world.  

Know What Chemicals Are Safe

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

UNACCEPTABLE LEVELS examines the results of the chemical revolution of the 1940s through the eyes of affable filmmaker Ed Brown, a father seeking to understand the world in which he and his wife are raising their children. To create this debut documentary, one man and his camera traveled extensively to find and interview top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law.  Weaving their testimonies into a compelling narrative, Brown presents us with the story of how the chemical revolution brought us to where we are, and of where, if we’re not vigilant, it may take us.

Over 80,000 chemicals flow through our system of commerce, and many are going straight into our bodies. Even our unborn children are affected. Due to this constant exposure, we have approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interacting with our cells every single day. Until recently, modern science really didn’t understand what that could mean for all of us in the long run, but that is changing.

Globally, disease rates are on the rise. Theories about the causes abound, yet the issues are complex and often muddied by the maneuvering of political and corporate interests. To explore different facets of common chemical exposure, Unacceptable Levels, was made in consultation with experts in multiple fields and is guided by a father on a personal journey as he attempts to bring these issues to light for everyone. Its primary goal? To determine whether we can prevent disease before it strikes us.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.  The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly-unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

If you're interested in hosting a screening, please contact Susan Cann.

"Unacceptable Levels" is a no-nonsense documentary that will challenge everything you think you know about health, safety, and environmental protection."  - Beth Buczynski, ecosalon

Unique Investment Options: Parnassus Workplace and Asia Funds

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

A good place to work makes for a good investment – that’s the basic premise of the Parnassus Workplace Fund. In other words, a company that treats its employees well should be successful as a business. Since its inception over eight years ago (on April 29, 2005), the Parnassus Workplace Fund has demonstrated the truth of this premise.

The idea for the Parnassus Workplace Fund was first presented to me by Milton Moskowitz, co-author of the annual Fortune magazine survey of The 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. Russell Associates, the analytics group and creator of the Russell 2000 Index and other benchmarks, had contacted Moskowitz and told him that they had done a study of the publicly-traded companies in the annual Fortune list, and found that the stock-market performance of those companies had been excellent, handily beating the S&P 500 over long periods of time.

Moskowitz called me with the news and urged me to start a mutual fund that invested in companies with good workplaces. I was hesitant at first, because studies are not the same as investing with real money, and the results can be very different. However, the idea struck a chord in me because I’d always felt that a company with a happy workforce made for a good investment, but until then I had no way of proving it. Despite my initial hesitation, I decided to go ahead and start the Parnassus Workplace Fund with Milton Moskowitz as a consultant to the Fund. The Fund has been successful, and as of June 30, 2013, it has over $350 million in assets.

We use two sets of criteria in making investment decisions: financial and workplace. Assessing the financial criteria involves doing fundamental analysis to find companies with high returns, good products and services, sustainable competitive advantages and solid balance sheets. Once we have done the financial analysis, we make an estimate of the value of the company. Usually, we will only buy a stock if it is selling for no more than two-thirds of its intrinsic value. This gives us an important margin of safety.

While the financial analysis is quantitative, the workplace assessment is qualitative. We think it is important to visit companies and talk with management to find out if a company has a good workplace. While almost all companies will say they have a good workplace, the ones that impress us the most are ones that can give specific examples and articulate policies that make them good places to work. Important characteristics include: some meaningful form of profit-sharing or stock-ownership; good health-care and retirement benefits; support for working mothers; an emphasis on training and personal development; job flexibility; and recognition for accomplishments. We like companies that respect their employees, genuinely care about them and don’t just treat them as hired hands.

I think that picking companies with good workplaces is one of the keys to the Fund’s success. Some of the extra return we get is because of our financial analysis and using a value approach to investing, but a lot of our edge comes from choosing companies that are great places to work. If people are happy at work, they will be more productive, and this means better results from the same number of people. It also means that that there will be lower turnover, and this results in less money spent on recruiting and training new people. More importantly, workers at this kind of firm will help to save money for their employer and also find ways to develop more business for the company. It’s impressive what can happen when happy workers are allowed to be creative and come up with ways to build a better business.

The Fund is careful about taking risks, making sure that there is the potential for more upside gain than downside risk. The market has really taken off so far in 2013, so we have to be careful to avoid stocks that may be over-valued. Right now, the economy is improving, so there should be more upside, but there’s no doubt that some valuations have gotten ahead of themselves, so it’s important to look at both potential risk and potential return.

Parnassus Asia Fund

On April 30, 2013, Parnassus started its first new fund in eight years: the Parnassus Asia Fund. This is our first venture into international investing. Asia is a very dynamic and creative place. It contains the world’s fastest-growing middle class, and it is the scene of much technological innovation. Asia is also a region with a lot of entrepreneurship, and it is developing deep financial markets. Given that the region is growing at a fast pace, and we expect that growth to continue, it makes sense to invest in Asia ahead of future positive developments and despite all of the complications in doing so.

Continue reading this article on Green Money Journal.

TEDxCopenhagenSalon Green Natives

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

 

Copenhagen is heralded as being a pioneer in green city planning, and the Capital of Denmark’s goal is to be the world’s first CO2 neutral capital by 2025. Danes are touted as the happiest people on planet earth (Denmark Is Considered The Happiest Country. You'll Never Guess Why, Huffington Post), so is it indeed possible to live climate conscious lives and be happy? I invite you to come and explore this with me...

 

TEDxCOPENHAGENSALON CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABILITY GREEN NATIVES

Date           Dec 9, 2013

Time           2-6pm CET ( Find your Time Zone )

Place          UN City, Copenhagen & livestream

 

LIVESTREAM IN ENGLISH   TedxCopenhagen invites all to get a sneak peek at what the Sustainability and Climate conversation might look like in a TEDxCopenhagen setting this coming Monday.

https://new.livestream.com/tedx/tedxcopenhagensalongreennatives

 

GREEN NATIVES

In the Seventies, they told us to turn off the tap when brushing our teeth, and we began to fear that acid rain would destroynature. In the Eighties we followed the voyages of the original Rainbow Warrior, and learned that spray cans were eating the ozone layer like Pac-Man on speed. In the Nineties we bought pieces of the shrinking Amazon while a metallic forest of windmills arose. And ever since, we have been exposed to corporate shills and quislings, COPs, melting icebergs, rising oceans, and a gathering storm that is casting its shadow ever longer and blacker upon our tomorrow.

We are all Green Natives – people born and raised in a world aware of climate changes and our planet’s limited resources. But will we act on what we know?

Some of us have already begun.

Photo: eperales. Used by permission

TEDxCopenhagen have found an exceptional group of acting Green Natives – starting in their own backyards, these visionaries are creating a better world for all of us, spreading their ideas from their local communities to the global community.

Today, Green Natives are revolutionizing the ways we produce energy and food, and the ways we use natural and urban spaces. We call them green not only because they work for a greener future, but also because they are beginners, pioneers, and pathfinders – they are those who dare to think and act as others have not before them. Each and all of them have strong visions of a better world and a greener future, and a passion to share them with all of us— their fellow Green Natives.

Follow and participate in the dialogue via hashtag #tedxcph on TEDxCopenhagen Conferize profile

 

 

Ethical Economist Hazel Henderson Interview

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 by

I spoke with Dr. Hazel Henderson, a true icon and visionary in the world of corporate responsibility and ethical economies. Dr. Henderson is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, as well as a consultant on sustainable development, and author of 10 books including the award-winning Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy. Also she was one of the co-editors of The UN: Policy and Financing Alternatives. Hazel is the founder and editor-in-chief of Ethical Markets Media (USA and Brazil) and the creator and co-executive producer of its TV series. Her editorials appear in 27 languages and in 200 newspapers around the world, and she has received many honorary doctorates and awards.

Hazel has recently released a publication entitled “Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age: From Economism to Earth Systems Science” from the UK’s Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) and Tomorrow’s Company. It will appear soon in the US from Cosimo Publications, NY.

I am in full agreement with Wisdom Network's Pamela Davis who stated “Hazel Henderson has her finger on the pulse of the economic transformation that can and must happen if we are to move forward together in prosperity in the 21st century. Her down-to-earth solutions are at once brilliant and simple enough for all of us to understand and implement.”

From the first time Hazel and I met many years ago, I have counted her as a friend. She has been a mentor to me and a consistent supporter in the growth of GreenMoney over the last 20 years. I am pleased to share this extensive interview with the still very active Dr. Henderson who recently celebrated her 80th birthday. 

CLIFF:  Will you share some of the highlights from your career with us. How are things in the business world different than you thought they would be by 2013? Are we on the way to creating a responsible economy that is not dependent on exponential growth and that works for more people?

HAZEL:   First of all, Cliff, I want to remind us all that 80 is the new 60! My physician tells me that my biological age is 60 – so I’m going with this! I work out and swim every day, eat mostly raw vegetables and fruits, local and organic from our farmers market here in St. Augustine, where I’m standing (in the accompanying photo) by our Champion Tree donated to our Ethical Markets Library during our Spring retreat in May 2013 by Terry Mock, co-founder of the Champion Tree Project International and the Sustainable Land Development Initiative. 

As to highlights, I would say my most intensive learning experience was serving in Washington, DC as a science policy wonk from 1974 until 1980 on the Technology Assessment Advisory Council for the US Congress Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), on the National Science Foundation’s RANN Committee (Research Applied to National Needs) and on the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee on Public Engineering Policy (COPEP). It was an all-male world, and I recall being asked by my fellow advisors to OTA at the first meeting in Room 100 under the dome of the Capitol if I would please go and get coffee for us! Yet, the intellectual challenge was exhilarating. I remember riding the private train under the Capitol with many members of Congress and Senators who served on Science and Technology committees; testifying before the Joint Economic Committee on the need to set up what became the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Back then, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) would bring the President’s budget over in a truck and dump these documents at Congress, where we had no staff assigned to digest the budget and offer our own review of its priorities! Today, CBO has become almost too powerful an arbiter – scoring all legislative proposals as well as those of the President.

I then wrote my second book, The Politics of the Solar Age, published by Doubleday in 1981, downloading all I had learned about the contesting special interests, lobbying and forces shaping our national policies on energy, transportation, agriculture, trade, taxation, military and foreign policy. I saw the fight begin as the fossil fuel and nuclear power sectors pushed to preserve their subsidies, how US auto companies had also colonized congressional committees with perks, campaign donations and populated scientific panels with their intellectual mercenaries. I realized how hard it would be for the “Solar Age” economy I envisioned to emerge. Indeed, as we now know, renewable energy companies still face an uphill battle with fossil fuels and their annual global subsidies of over $500 billion, the coddling of the inherently unsustainable nuclear industry, protection of favored agribusiness, etc. I remember at one of our OTA meetings in the late 1970s, James Fletcher, who became head of NASA told us that if similar subsidies had been given to solar, wind, energy efficiency, geothermal and other technologies, we in the USA would have already been powered 100% by renewables! This set me on my future path.

A recent highlight was receiving the blessings of Verena Schumacher, widow of my late friend and mentor E. F. Schumacher, to name our over 6000-volume Henderson-Kay-Schumacher Library. This helps keep Schumacher’s flag flying in the USA. He wrote the Foreword to my first book, Creating Alternative Futures (1978), and I still teach occasionally at UK-based Schumacher College.

Click here to continue reading this interview on Green Money Journal.

 

Hazel Henderson on the design revolution from Katie Teague on Vimeo.

Growth from Culture: Patagonia's Innovation

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by

In 2011, on one of America’s most profitable shopping days — Patagonia made an extraordinary move.

This outdoor clothing and gear company partnered with eBay on a new initiative. They kicked it off with a full-page ad in The New York Times showing their best-selling jacket with a banner that read:  Don’t Buy This Jacket.

Yes, you read that correctly: they wanted people to buy less stuff. Although this seems counterintuitive to corporate leaders charged with top line growth, they demonstrated an Innovation Management practice called “Systemic Authenticity.”

This term comes from The World Database of Innovation, an initiative that sprung out of a project with The Mayo Clinic in 2007. It is the world’s first broad look for statistics underlying Innovation Management practices.  The initiative looked at several thousand companies that have repeatedly transformed the world, grown the fastest, and shaped markets.  And in doing so it found that these high performers share 27 practices in common – what could be considered a menu or equation for innovation management.

A study by Dr. Rajendra S. Sisodia, states that "mission-led" businesses outperform the market by an astounding 9:1 ratio.  Even if it is only half right, we believe this fits the definition of innovation as "future top line growth" and/or changing human behavior on a wide scale.  Our own research has now shown three important aspects to this mission-led phenomena or Systemic Authenticity.  And we believe Patagonia’s newest innovation is one of the best examples of this practice.

A few months before its launch, Patagonia's R&D leader Randy Harward presented the Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign (part of the Common Threads Initiative) to a gathering of corporate innovation leaders at 3M. He was met with wide eyes, and strong commentary on how it ran against the basic concept of commercial self-interest. But Patagonia moved ahead anyway because they knew — almost like it was endemic — that this was who they are and one of the best expressions of their mission.

Later, some months after the launch, while at Google’s offices, Randy presented the idea again but met with significantly less resistance from the group of 25 CTOs at the table. Why? Because numbers talk: Patagonia had won more customers and believed that at the same time they reduced overall human consumption.

You might be thinking, “Okay, this was just a savvy PR move.” You might also ask, “How can they claim a success when more of their product was consumed?”

Since Patagonia’s goods last longer, one of their jackets will last as long as three average products meaning people consume less.  Also, their customers were actually opting to buy used items from their partner eBay. Add to this that their materials are far more sustainably produced than average meaning there is a net positive effect when their product is chosen over any average good.

So how does a radical, counterintuitive business model like this make it through any for profit company?  We know that Patagonia takes their mission so seriously that they have often voluntarily lost money on projects, and made immense investments for a small company such as helping to create the organic cotton supply chain, and building one of the most robust Cradle to Grave analyses in the world.

But, these sentiments are backed up by both a culture and systemic efforts aimed at achieving specific goals.

The campaign shows that their mission is incredibly genuine.  It is essential that a company's mission is genuine and we have found this to be the first important aspect of Systemic Authenticity.

Next, we saw that a company's mission cannot just be a consultant's word's sitting on the wall, but must also penetration through all staff, leadership, and beyond.  This is the second aspect.  On Patagonia’s campus you can feel it deeply — staff rattle off their mission in a short, casual breath “Yeah, sure, of course we’re here to build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire…”  But it goes deeper. From the executive team to the warehouse staff, employees actually live the life of their core customers: the “Dirt Bag” as they fondly call them. They will tell you that if they didn’t live the lifestyle, they could not ever design for their core customer. And if they didn’t design for their core customer's extreme needs, they would not be making the stuff that the rest of the world also now wants.  You can even see that their customer is conscious of their mission – this is the deepest level of penetration and an admirable goal for all companies.

The third and final piece of this puzzle: in order to make a mission work for the company, we found real the company must know what it means in the real world.  The company must have a deep sense of what it is and is not, and specifically what it’s Core Competencies are.  For instance in this case, Patagonia knew it had the audience and strategy, and that the new business model would help them take the next step in expressing their mission.  But they also knew that they did not possess the Core Competency of crowd-souring used items and getting them into buyers hands, so they very smartly like there was not even a second thought called on eBay. The well-known article on Core Competencies by Prahalad and Hamel (1991) defined Core Competency and lays out the rigorous process of identifying yours.  

Together these three aspects make up Systemic Authenticity.  But why does it actually work?

While it is impossible to gather data on why, we believe from working with Patagonia and many others that there is a clear theme: know thyself. Yes, this is where spirituality and hard-core business cross paths.

We’ve all experienced the results that occur when we learn something new about ourselves and then make a meaningful move in this direction. Well, we have found that the same is true for a company. If your mission is real, and is felt and known by all of your team, then everyone knows which direction to go, which market opportunities are and are not for the company, and how to tackle these opportunities.  It in essence lessens the need for management, reduces the bottleneck that often exists at the leadership level and allows the company to more quickly innovate, grow the top-line, and to scale more with fewer failures and more quickly.

Leaders, think of how fast your company could move if you didn’t have to be in on every decision but still knew it was naturally heading in the right direction.

Don’t Buy This Jacket campaign is one of the best examples of Systemic Authenticity.  And its success in the marketplace makes it a true innovation. Patagonia believes that this and many other practices are what have led to their incredible top line growth, increased margins, and market share that any executive would be ecstatic to write home about.

And we have seen that any organization — corporate, government, or social — that seeks to grow or change human behavior can create their own Systemic Authenticity by adapting the three aspects described here.  With some basic work, and time spent on articulating and spreading the word on the company’s mission and identity, any company can implement this Innovation Management practice, and grow while doing something that just happens to be great for the world.

 

Want more?  This piece from The World Database of Innovation initiative was adapted for LOHAS from the original in Harvard Business Review, 2011.  This is one of 27 common practices the initiative found to be shared by the world’s innovation leaders.  We are publishing on each of these practices here and elsewhere.  Read more at HBR.org, and InnovationManagement.se

10 Do’s and Don’ts Of Social Media Marketing For Purpose-driven Brands

Monday, October 14, 2013 by

Refresh Agency has been helping young and mid-size companies in the natural products industry for more than 16 years.  We are a values-based, people-centric business, & we care to make a difference and lead people and our clients to take the necessary steps to shine from their true center – living & doing business from this place creates happiness and decisions beyond one’s own good. And, that’s what we are about: Making a difference for people, planet & profits.

We’ve worked with some of the leading entrepreneurial teams & companies dedicated to sustainability and social good – from Boulder, CO; New York, NY, Venice, CA, Copenhagen, Denmark, Delhi, India, Tokyo, Japan to Cape Town, South Africa including Justin’s, Clementine Art, GoodBelly, Crocs, Chocolove, Neve Designs, Ito En, Teas’ Tea, Spier & Sustainia.

Our expertise and focus is to build businesses from all over the world dedicated to sustainability and social good in the USA & Scandinavian markets through strategic and creative communication, PR and Social Media Marketing.

These 10 suggestions are based on my experience on how to build community, buzz and your brand through social media. The suggestions are meant as a guide and a roadmap. I encourage you to try the suggestions that speak to you for yourselves – adjusting your efforts along the way to find your own path to social media communication success.

1.  Do create a plan. Random acts of social media do not work.  A clear aim is the key to reaching our destination – and this goes for all facets of life.  Without a proper identified goal and direction your company would likely propel forward at a much slower pace, if at all. Random acts of kindness is a good thing – but ‘random’ is not a word to include in your social media marketing.

2.  Don’t talk about yourself all the time. It’s boring.  Building your business and brand through your values - what you give and share, what you care about - your values will draw me in if I share the same values. If you have a unique offer just for me, tell me about it and make me feel special, by all means. As a rule of thumb stay below 20% of self-promo talk, or your customer will doubt your authenticity and trustworthiness.  

3.  Do learn from your critics. Instead of seeing criticism as a negative, I suggest seeing the world from a perspective of curiosity, and a willingness to learn and expand.  It might be eye-opening to your business to understand a unhappy customers’ gripes. So, instead of shutting down at the sign of criticism, see it as an opportunity.

4.  Do respond! Engagement is two-way communication. 67% of brands on social media do not respond to posts on their profiles, which is astounding to me. You are sabotaging your own social media efforts, if you do not respond to a customer’s post. Social Media is about generating engagement - that means two-way communication. So, when your customer writes, it means you are on your way to creating engagement. So engage and respond in a timely manner!

5.  Don’t have an intern handle your content. Take your social media brand communication seriously. This is your brand & communication to and with the outside world on a daily basis - treat it as such. There are certain functions an intern can handle, such as promoting the content posts on Facebook, build followers on Twitter, pin images on Pinterest and so forth, but when it comes to your direct communication & customer engagement, I encourage you to make sound and expert decisions for your business & ensure someone with proper credentials and communication skills is responsible for your brand on social media.

6.  Do make an informative and unique profile. The first page on your social media profile is an opportunity to quickly communicate who you are, what you stand for, what you sell - do include your website on the first page, where your customer quickly can get more information about you and purchase your product.  This is where branding and key messaging communication comes in handy. Why do you do what you do? What’s unique about your business? How does your visual identity look? Tie it all together.

7.  Do have the courage to say it out loud – take a stand. It is important to share your unique perspective with the world in order to stand out as unique, and not just a ‘me too’ type of brand. If you are not quite ready to communicate your big idea and viewpoints, perhaps because you are not quite sure how the world will react, then take it in small comfortable steps. However, promise yourself to continue to expand yourself outside your comfort zone, and allow your brand to unfold into its unique and vibrant identity.

8.  Do be proactive and engaging. Prior to attending an event is an excellent opportunity to be proactive. You know that people attending this event have a common set of values up front. Connect with others through #hashtag searches, content and questions to generate appeal and engagement. There is always an interesting way to engage with everyone. Be curious and show that you care in the way you engage.

9.  Do provide excellent customer service. See social media as a cost-saving customer service tool; even for small businesses. It takes a lot less time to answer a customer question on Twitter than to answer a phone call. It saves time, hassle and $ and is much easier for both of you. It does require that you stay alert and track your social media tools, and respond in a timely manner - that means preferably right away, but at least within hours.

10.  Do reflect - If I didn’t work here, would I care about this? An excellent rule of thumb when generating content is to ask yourself ‘If I didn’t work here, would I care about this?’  It’s like the ‘Daughter test’ – would I give my daughter this product to eat, or treat her the way I am treating my employees, or customers. If I would treat my own daughter this way, it’s a go. If not, reconsider, and change it.

 

 

The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness

Friday, July 26, 2013 by

Online yogaUnless you have been living in a cave you already know that yoga has hit the masses. According to a 2012 study by Yoga Journal the U.S. 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from 2008 and is an increase of 29 percent. Fitness clubs, studios and yoga practitioners have increased spending on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media to $10.3 billion a year. This is up from $5.7 billion in 2008.

Will it continue to grow? In my mind there is no doubt. I see 3 main elements contributing to yoga and fitness going online.

1.  Technology - More and more people are connected via mobile phones, tablets, and computers that provide faster and easier communications and accessibility at an accelerated rate.
2.  Proven Business Model - The progression of various new subscription commerce business models is growing rapidly and ranges from razor blade sample services to fitness memberships.
3.  Behavior Adaptation - The growth of self monitored fitness and fitting time around an individual’s personal schedule compared to the individual arranging their schedule to participate in a fitness class.

These three elements have created a growth and innovative ways to engage with individuals relating to fitness never seen before. There are several LOHAS fitness companies that have successfully used these key elements. I have been fortunate to meet a few online yoga companies and their founders and here are some that I think are doing it right:

My Yoga Online logoMyYogaOnline- www.myyogaonline.com
MyYogaOnline is $9.95 per month and claims to be the #1 yoga website in the world. Their site provides a selection of over 1000 yoga, Pilates and fitness videos filmed in studios around the country such as Laughing Lotus in New York City and 8 Limbs in Seattle.

MyYogaOnline started in 2005 and by Jason Jacobson and his wife Michelle Trantia. Prior to starting MyYogaOnline Jason was in fitness and was a boxing coach. He hung up the gloves for business and film school. His wife was a yoga instructor. And they came up with the idea that combined their passions for film, business and fitness.  When it started streaming media was barely available. "The technology wasn’t there.” says Jacobson, “When we started out I thought things would go a lot faster. I thought that in 5 years everyone would be streaming to TV's.”
Although their projected growth was slower than expected, they are still growing at a rapid pace. Today, they have over 20 employees and are expanding their Vancouver offices for more space to include their own yoga studio.

MyYogaOnline has a very engaged yoga community of 300,000 yogis that are quite vocal and wants to share experiences they have.  They interact with their community with online giveaways and newsletters and also have good relations with many yoga festivals such as Wanderlust.  MyYogaOnline establishes relationships with yoga festival management teams to film the events, and share the festival experience with their community online. They also edit highlight promotions for future festivals. Filming at festivals provides them a unique connection with the yoga community.  Their website is nicely organized and intuitive to navigate.

Yoga Vibes logoYogaVibeswww.yogavibes.com
Yogavibes is $20 per month and features videos filmed in real yoga studios and offer a variety of vinyasa-style classes from renowned teachers like Ana Forrest, Dana Flynn, Faith Hunter, and Sadie Nardini, plus a full primary Ashtanga session with Kino MacGregor. By partnering with Exhale yoga studio and the Wanderlust Festival, YogaVibes keeps their content fresh and timely. You can choose classes based on their style, length, difficulty, anatomical focus, or teacher.

Founder Brian Ratte created YogaVibes after experiencing his own life transformation through yoga in overcoming personal trauma and wanted to share this insight and experience with others.  Extensive work-related travel had him doing yoga classes in studios around the world. Although he was away from home and familiarity, Brian became very drawn to the deep sense of unity he experienced in the yoga-sphere. He saw how people really connected in yoga classes and opened up to new things.

Ratte is also an executive at IBM and began to see the growth of consciousness in society and in business.  He began researching all kinds of things ranging from quantum physics to conscious business practices. He wanted to bridge his two world of yoga and technology and felt compelled to do so. In 2005-06’ he started creating business on his personal time between raising family and work. He started filming yoga classes and launched YogaVibes with 20 classes.  

YogaVibes classes have all kinds of types of people in classes representing all types of viewers.  “People like to see people like them in classes and we have many feedback comments to support this.” says Ratte. It  has a model that focuses on meeting people where they are at by not having famous teachers and attractive settings for yoga . It seems to be working as the YogaVibes has doubled its growth rate every 6 months for the last 4 years.

GaiamTV logoGaiamTV.com www.GaiamTV.com
GaiamTV is $9.95 per month and an extension of Gaiam, one of the country¹s largest producers and distributors of yoga and fitness DVDs, has joined the online video market with the launch of its streaming service, GaiamTV.com. This strategic move has positioned Gaiam to become a leading hub of yoga and wellness on demand. One can access almost every DVD produced by Gaiam in the last 15 years from your computer or mobile device.

Gaiam TV offers over 1,000 yoga and fitness titles with the brand¹s mainstays like Rodney Yee, Colleen Saidman and Mari Winsor, along with newer names like Kathryn Budig, Shiva Rea and Seane Corn. In the fitness realm, Jillian Michaels is their marquee name.  Gaiam TV's original digital titles include top talent like Kia Miller, Tommy Rosen, Amy Ippoliti, Chrissy Carter and dozens more covering every yoga style and level.

But what makes Gaiam TV different from other online yoga services is the wealth of additional transformational content offered. Subscribers can learn valuable life lessons from top spiritual leaders like Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and the Dalai Lama; venture to the edges of reality with exclusive programming with hosts like George Noory and David Wilcock; get a first-hand look at cultural narratives from around the world; or discover the latest in green technology. This positions Gaiam TV well, since other online yoga services don¹t venture beyond yoga content.

These are only a few online fitness options currently available and more will show up as well as new concepts as it evolves. If you are into yoga and general fitness I recommend you try one as this may be the new norm for many gym goers or travelers.


 

GMOs in the News: Washington State Labeling Campaign in Full Swing

Sunday, June 16, 2013 by

The debate over genetically engineered foods continues to heat up in the U.S. Here's a summary of recent headlines. For those attending the 2013 LOHAS Business Conference, a seminar on GMOs and Labeling will be held on Thursday, June 20 featuring Ken Cook of Environmental Working Group, Robyn O'Brien of Allergy Kids, T.J. McIntyre of Boulder Brands, Lennon Bronsema of Yes on 522, and Steven Hoffman of Compass Natural Marketing.

Washington State Yes on 522 Launches GMO Labeling Campaign into Full Gear
With a new website, www.yeson522.com, the recent hiring of professional campaign management staff, and $1.1 million in contributions received, the Yes on 522 campaign to label GMO foods in Washington State is swinging into full gear and is appealing to natural and organic products business leaders to help fund what many experts say is the best opportunity to achieve mandatory GMO labeling in 2013. At a recent press conference, Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), co-sponsor of the Boxer-DeFazio federal GMO labeling bill, said it is critically important to support the Washington State initiative to give greater weight to the Washington, DC, federal GMO labeling efforts, given biotech’s strong lobbying presence in the nation’s capitol. In a letter to donors, Yes on 522 finance chair David Bronner of Dr. Bronner’s reported that the campaign has launched an ambitious grassroots outreach program called “Kitchen Conversations,” in which advocates can receive a kit containing information to host informal gatherings among voters, and is rolling out a “Dining Out for 522” chef’s fundraising campaign. The campaign scheduled its first stakeholder meeting for May 31 in Seattle. Presence Marketing/Dynamic Presence is among the leading supporters of the Yes on 522 GMO labeling bill. Steven Hoffman of Compass Natural Marketing is helping lead fundraising efforts and outreach to natural and organic products industry leaders. For information and to contribute, visit www.yeson522.com.

Whole Foods Market Endorses Washington State’s Yes on 522 GMO Labeling Bill
Joining a coalition of leading Washington State-based retailers including PCC Natural Markets and Marlene’s Natural Foods Market and Delis, among others, Whole Foods Market on April 25 announced its support for the Yes on 522 (www.yeson522.com) campaign to label genetically engineered, or GMO, foods. In support of Yes on 522, Whole Foods Market launched a grassroots effort, Will Vote for Food (www.willvoteforfood.com) to engage consumers and build support for the ballot initiative. “This issue is about transparency and the consumer’s right to make informed decisions,” said Joe Rogoff, president of Whole Foods Market’s Pacific Northwest region. “We believe that growers using genetically modified seed, and producers using the products grown from those seeds, have an obligation to share that information with their public. And the price paid by the food industry for relabeling is a pittance compared to the distrust that increasingly results from their concealment. We support Yes on 522. At Whole Foods Market, we will vote for food.”

New Leaf Markets Require GMO Labeling; Terra Organica Labeling GMO Products In-Store
Following in the footsteps of Whole Foods Market, Santa Cruz, CA-based natural retailer New Leaf Community Markets announced it would require labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients in its seven stores by 2018. New Leaf was an early retail member of the Non-GMO Project and a strong supporter of California’s Prop 37 2012 GMO labeling measure, which was defeated by a narrow margin. New Leaf co-owner Scott Roseman commended Whole Foods for taking the lead on the labeling issue and said the five-year deadline gives manufacturers time to update packaging or research alternative ingredients. In related news, Stephen Trinkaus, owner of Terra Organica in Bellingham, WA, asked his customers what they wanted in terms of GMO labeling. The choices were: do nothing, label products that contain GMO ingredients, or get rid of the items altogether. Customers overwhelmingly chose labels, so Trinkaus began labeling products in the store that are likely to contain GMO ingredients. “I thought it would be simpler than it is,” Trinkaus told the Seattle Times. He wants customers to know if a manufacturer is working to replace GMO ingredients with non-GMO alternatives – many are after Whole Foods Market’s announcement to require GMO labeling in 2018, he said – and is revamping labels in his store to display more complex information.

Vermont, Maine Advance GMO Labeling Legislation
On May 14, despite concerns over lawsuit threats from the biotech industry, Maine’s House Agriculture Committee passed a GMO labeling measure on an 8-3 vote. The bill, LD 718, offered by Rep. Lance Harvell (R-Farmington) wouldn’t go into full effect until 2018, and only after four of the nine northeastern states approve similar laws. However, they may be one step closer to realizing that goal: on May 10, the Vermont House passed a mandatory GMO labeling bill by an overwhelming 107-37 vote, again, despite massive lobbying efforts by the GMO biotech industry and threats to sue the state. If approved by the state Senate and signed by the governor, the bill, H 112, could make Vermont the first state in the nation to require labeling of genetically modified foods. But the measure likely wouldn’t go into effect for two years, and it would not affect meat, milk or eggs from animals that were fed or treated with genetically engineered substances, including GMO corn and the rBGH cattle hormone. While GMO labeling is not required in the U.S., according to the Center for Food Safety, 64 countries, including China, Russia and all EU nations currently have GMO labeling laws in place.

Monsanto CEO Blames Social Media for “Elitist” Anti-GMO Sentiments
Citizens who are against genetically modified foods or are calling for mandatory labeling of GMO foods are guilty of “elitism” that is fanned by social media, and they fail to consider the needs of the rest of the world, said Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant in a May 15 interview with Bloomberg Press. “This place is getting busier and more crowded,” Grant said. “As long as you’ve got money in your back pocket and you drive your station wagon to the supermarket on weekends, then it’s out of sight, out of mind, so far.” The advent of social media helps explain why many people in the U.S. have come to oppose genetically engineered crops in recent years, Grant told Bloomberg. Grant feels that GMOs are the answer to feeding the world’s growing population, while opponents point to increased use of toxic synthetic pesticides associated with GMO agriculture, the fact the farmers can no longer save seed if they are practicing GMO farming, the potential contribution of GMO farming to global climate change, and peer-reviewed studies that warn of risks to human, animal and environmental health. In related news, executives from Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical – among the world’s largest producers of GMO crops and pesticides, and owners of a significant majority of the world’s seed companies – told Reuters that they are developing a national promotional campaign aimed at turning the tide on growing public sentiment against GMO crops. With GMO labeling measures before the federal government and more than 20 states, the biotech firms seek to limit the spread of such initiatives, which the companies say would only confuse consumers and upset the food manufacturing industry, according to Reuters. The biotech industry is still working out details of their marketing campaign, but it will likely have a large social media component, the company executives said.

Supreme Court Rules for Monsanto in Seed Case
Rejecting an Indiana farmer’s argument that his planting of seeds he had bought second-hand did not violate Monsanto’s GMO seed patent, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 12 ruled unanimously that farmers must pay Monsanto each time they plant the company’s genetically engineered soybeans. Farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman asserted that because the company’s herbicide-resistant, Roundup Ready soybeans replicate themselves, he was not violating the company’s patent by planting progeny seeds he had purchased elsewhere. However, the justices unanimously rejected that claim, with Justice Elena Kagan writing there is no such “seeds-are-special” exception to the law. But Kagan warned that the Monsanto decision was a limited one and did not address every issue involving a self-replicating product. The court ordered Bowman, a conventional farmer, to pay nearly $85,000 in damages to Monsanto. The Supreme Court’s decision implies that Monsanto has the legal right to stop farmers from saving seeds from patented genetically modified crops one season, and plant them the next season.

More than 2 Million People Rally in 52 Countries to Protest GMO Giant Monsanto
From a single Facebook page started in February, the March Against Monsanto held on May 25 drew more than 2 million people in 52 countries and 436 cities to protest chemical giant Monsanto and the genetically engineered seeds it produces. “If I had gotten 3,000 people to join me, I would have considered that a success,” protest organizer Tami Canal told USA Today. “It was empowering and inspiring to see so many people, from different walks of life, put aside their differences and come together,” she said. The group plans to harness the success of the event to continue its anti-GMO cause. “We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet,” she said. “If we don’t act, who’s going to?” Protests were held in Los Angeles, Portland, OR, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and elsewhere around the globe. “As a single company, Monsanto is the tip of the iceberg representing the threat that unchecked corporate power has in corrupting our democratic institutions, driving family farmers off the land, threatening human health and contaminating our environment,” said Dave Murphy, executive director of Food Democracy Now, in a May 28 commentary in the Huffington Post.

After Being Rejected by Consumers, Will GMO Spuds Make a Comeback?
While the FDA weighs approval of GMO salmon, a dozen years after Monsanto ditched its GMO potato after disappointing sales, an Idaho company, J.R. Simplot, asked FDA in mid-May to approve five varieties of GMO potatoes. The varieties have been genetically engineered to avoid black spots and designed to have less acrylamide, a naturally occurring but potentially toxic chemical. Simplot, according to MSN News, sells potatoes to McDonald’s for its French fries, and McDonald’s rejects potatoes with black spots. The FDA is also reviewing the “Arctic” apple, genetically engineered by Canada-based Okanagan Specialty Fruits to resist turning brown when cut. While Simplot said 20 field trials demonstrate that GMO potatoes are virtually identical to their unmodified cousins, Bill Freese, senior policy analyst with Washington, DC-based Center for Food Safety, said that genetic engineering is a “noisy, unpredictable process,” where the best-intentioned genome tinkering could be accompanied by unforeseen effects on human health and the environment. “The biotech approach is to change the food on a genetic level in quite frankly risky ways with inadequate regulation to adapt a crop to an industrial food system that’s really unhealthy in so many ways,” he said.

Roundup Pesticide, Used in GMO Agriculture, Linked to Increase in Autism, Diabetes, Cancer
In a study published April 10, 2013, in the scientific publication Entropy, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology linked the use of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, the most widely used herbicide in the world and the one most closely associated with genetically engineered agriculture, to increases in the incidence of diabetes, autism, infertility and cancer in humans. Through the inhibition of a crucial enzyme, Cytochrome P450, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body, report the researchers, leading to gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, Entropy 2013, Vol. 15, April 10, 2013. For a complete executive summary of peer-reviewed research demonstrating the human, animal and environmental health risks associated with GMOs in food and agriculture, click here.

 

Hurricanes: Bad for Business. LOHAS Conference: Good for Business!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 by

June 1 was the official start of hurricane season. It’s also the start of the “rainy season” here in Florida. Tropical Storm Andrea has already visited, dumping over 3 inches of rain in a couple of hours. We seem to be off to a fast start.

Causes for Concern 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), 2013 is expected to be an "active or extremely active" hurricane season.

At the same time, the Earth just crossed the threshold to 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. For those of you who don't follow climate issues, that's not good. According to the New York Times, that's the highest level in 3 million years. This level of CO2 warms the planet and provides the fuel for ever stronger hurricanes. It is no coincidence that 8 of the top 10 costliest hurricanes in U.S. history have occurred just since 2004.

For a wide-ranging view of the costs of climate change, read this study from the National Journal. It covers the many ways that climate change costs money right now.

As a Floridian, I have begun the usual preparations for hurricane season: stocking up on drinking water, non-perishable foods, batteries, First Aid kit, etc.

But as a small business person, I know that my green business is at risk from extreme weather. If the electricity goes out, so does my equipment – phones, laptop, printer. My connection to customers is lost, and my work for them is delayed.

That would make me an unreliable service provider – something I promise customers that I’ll never be.  My customers (bless them!) don’t care that the U.S. electric grid is fragile. They just want their stuff.

If the pond behind my house floods, then my home office may become a large puddle. It hasn’t happened in the 12 years we’ve been here – but it could. If I lose both power and my work location, a whole new set of costs and problems ensues. And I will lose time and money as I scramble to recover.

If the worst happens, e.g. Tampa gets hit squarely by a big hurricane, then there’s the possibility that my home and business get blown away. Which U.S. city is considered most overdue for a hurricane this year? According to NOAA, it’s Tampa. And yes, I do take that seriously.

Extreme weather means business disruption

Property damage, work delays, even death. We just saw a text book case of this with Hurricane Sandy last year. No business is immune. From the farmers who watch their drought-stricken crops wither in the field to the property insurers who have to pay out claim after claim (and sometimes don’t), no one benefits from extreme weather.

So why don’t businesses step forward and say – loudly and clearly - to their representatives, their customers and their suppliers: “Climate change is a big deal. We know it threatens our livelihoods as business people, and we know it’s a threat to you, our customers. Here’s what we plan to do about it, and here’s what you, our customers, can do to help.”

On the one hand, it’s a naïve question. On the other, it’s a simple, straight-forward one. Either way, it requires an answer.

I wonder at the continued folly of many big corporations around climate change. According to Ernest Moniz, formerly of MIT and newly-confirmed Secretary of the Energy Department: "We will need not only technology innovation and policy innovation to achieve a low-carbon future — but also business model innovation."

That’s a diplomatic way of saying, “The old “grow-at-all-costs, put-profits-first” model will be the death of us. We need a different approach.” The chances of that happening voluntarily – especially in the hide-bound energy sector - are slim.

And the energy industry is not alone. Professor Michael Toffel of Harvard Business School writes, "Corporate Sustainability is Not Sustainable." In short, he describes how the actions of even the best intentioned corporations to date are not up to the scale of the problem.

So, what to do?

One postitive step - go to the LOHAS conference next week!

And also:

  • Get educated about climate change and share what you know. You don't have to be a scientist to understand the basics of what is happening. One source of information I rely on is Climate Progress.
  • Lower your carbon foot print. LOHAS is a great source of information, but so are sites like Practically Green and Green America.
  • Vote with your dollars. Switch to greener products and services. Check out Vine.com - Amazon's market place for greener and more sustainable items. And explore the LOHAS Hub. Truly green businesses that transact with other green businesses move the economy in the direction it needs to go.

Is this a shameless plug for the LOHAS conference? Yes. (And no, Ted Ning didn’t put me up to this.) But attend, connect, and find at least one new way to support a more sustainable economy. That’s the value of the LOHAS conference: learn, do, and – oh yes! – enjoy!

 

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal oGreat Green Editing. She provides writing and editing services to green businesses and social enterprises that value high-quality content. She is a graduate of Harvard College and received her MBA from MIT. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in April 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012. 

An Expert's Advice on Buying and Supporting Local Business

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 by

 

Believe it or not, there are as many answers to the question - what is a local business? - as there are “buy local” advocacy groups in the country. In my state of Colorado alone there are at least four definitions - depending on who you ask.

So to try and get a better understanding of how ONE Colorado small business advocate defines local business and what it meant to support local business – I had a Q&A session with Richard Fleming, Board President of the Boulder Independent Business Alliace (BIBA).

Q. What is Biba's definition of a local business?

A: Well, first, BIBA's definition of a local business was created to standardize how to treat businesses that apply to be members. Our [Biba’s] guidelines can be found on our website, and include the following four criteria:

  1. Private ownership
  2. Owned in majority by area (within 60-mile radius) resident(s)
  3. Full decision-making function for the business lies with its owner(s)
  4. No more than 6 outlets; bases of operation lie within a single state

There are specific reasons for some of these standards, like receiving marketing assets or aid from a corporate office. I think we can agree that a small business isn’t on equal footing with a large business when that large business can reach out to a corporate office for regional support.  For example, Boulder County Supplies isn't going to be able to compete with a company like Office Depot or Staples. The same goes for McGuckin and Home Depot or Lowe's - they simply don't have the infrastructure to out-market companies that large.

Limiting to 6 outlets was primarily a way to better define our value proposition, and let businesses know when they've grown too large to benefit from our services.  We can make select exceptions, following Board approval, but the guideline helps to quickly deduce eligibility for most prospective members.


Q. What does it mean to support local businesses?

A: Support them. I mean support in a financial way.  Spend money.  People may not realize it, but spending money is one of the absolute best things you can do for a hurting economy.  Further, I'd ask that people talk about, involve themselves with, and recommend small businesses to their friends and family.  Engagement marketing, where you involve your social networks, is hugely beneficial to small businesses.  And it costs nothing, but saves independent businesses tons.


Q. What if you traveled outside Boulder County, to Ft. Collins, for example, should you buy a Boulder product you know is from Boulder, or a similar product made in Ft. Collins?

A: There are two main components to this question: 1) distribution and 2) manufacturing. Given the scope of the question, I'll only refer to distribution for now. The idea is to buy from where you live.  If you're travelling, please visit a local business instead of a chain store.  The majority of the time, your experience will actually be more pleasant, and they have a stronger, more direct focus on enhancing their own community through charity and the multiplier effect.  The multiplier effect is when money gets recirculated in a community because it isn't being transferred to a corporate office.  So, if you spend a dollar at Starbucks, all but about 14 cents goes to their corporate office to be spent on things that benefit their state (more likely their shareholders), not our community.  Those 14 cents are usually just payroll for their Colorado employees.  If you spend that same dollar at a local shop, like Caffè Sole, about 68 cents remains here.  That means there are more instances of sales tax being generated, which directly go to the things we love about our town - like parks and city services.


Manufacturing is actually a much more complex issue.  We are working on that. It's already started with food.  Boulder has a lot of farm-to-plate efforts because people recognize the benefit of eating locally sourced produce.  The best way to stimulate an economy is through manufacturing.  Boulder isn't really primed for that, but that's largely because we haven't completely solved the infrastructure issues.  We're trying to approach manufacturing from a progressive standpoint, but are still conforming to the old ways of doing things.  As the presence of B-corporations increase, we will see more instances of innovative, low-profile manufacturing that has much less of an impact on the environment.


Q. What if someone from Ft. Collins came to Boulder - would you want them to buy a local Boulder product, or a similar product they know was made in Ft. Collins?

A: This kind of bleeds into the manufacturing bit, so I'll just offer that I think you should support any local business.  It isn't about splitting the hairs between geography that close.  It's about the difference in community investment strategies. There's a mountain of difference between businesses that answer to stakeholders and those that answer to the self-interest of the community within which they reside.

 

If nothing else, I hope Richard's explanation of how BIBA works helps clarify the basic concept and importance of supporting and buying local. For a little more insight check out the YouTube video and share with us your feedback: How do you define a local businesses? Do you support your local businesses, and how? If don’t or can’t,  why not?

 

LOHAS Food Trends

Sunday, May 5, 2013 by

I am fortunate to be able to connect with various experts in a variety of LOHAS related categories as well as research various articles predicting what to expect as new opportunities and market trends in the growing LOHAS market. Based on my discussions and findings, here are a few things that I think stand out in the organic and natural food vertical of LOHAS:

1.       A growing awareness of ingredients and sourcing – organic, GMO, fair trade

Those who are opposed to genetically-modified organisms in their food — everything from grains to fish — are getting louder and their concerns heard as demonstrated when, anti-GMO activists hijacked Cheerio’s Facebook page. But following the defeat of California’s Proposition 37, which would have been the first legislation to require GMO labeling, the community is bound to get noisier than ever.

2.       Closing the Price Gap on Organic

Consumers will be able to find certified organic products in all sections of the supermarket and pharmacy.  Expect an evolution of other industry sectors, such as organic personal care, pet food (more like pet treats) dietary supplements. What manufacturers create or retailers carry all depends on the target customer. Capturing discriminating LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) customers goes well beyond one person: it spreads to their families and pets.

3.       Accessible Organic

Larger organic production, from farm acreage expansion to processing facilities, will translate into organic landing where it is most needed: schools, hospitals, food banks, convenience stores and in mainstream America’s home. Some communities are better served by organic than others, but organic will continue to pop up as distribution channels increase beyond grocery stores. New markets will open to organic food growers, makers and sellers as consumers look for cleaner food beyond grocery stores.

4.       Gluten free integrated into all food options and will be a common part of menu options

The gluten-free market, by comparison is expected to have reached US$1.3 billion in sales by 2011. However, the gluten-free market, which is still in its early growth, is expected to achieve higher growth rates (31%) from 2011 to 2014. Sales in the category have doubled in the last 5 years and are expected to double again in the next 3 years to $5.5 billion by 2015. The new ‘gluten-free’ is already here. With food allergies rising worldwide — at least seven per cent of Canadians have a food allergy — more companies will build facilities dedicated to manufacturing foods free of allergens like dairy, peanuts, egg, soy and shellfish.

5.       Healthy Fast Food - Other Chipotle type chains on the rise.

According to Baum & Whiteman, other chains are following suit, but need to make sure they capitalize on more than just comfy décor and made-to-order food: Companies  will needs to wear its heart on its sleeve … incorporating not just value, but values. Expect more fast food chains to promote sustainable food choices and friendly casual atmospheres. Giants like McDonald’s are embracing this with their new calorie information menus

6.       Food waste awareness on the rise

Americans throw out nearly half of their food, tossing up to 40 percent in the garbage each year, according to a new study. That adds up to an estimated $165 billion according to Natural Resources Defense Council. As more people seek to squeeze money out of their budgets this will be scrutinized as more become aware not to mention restaurants that may waste more .

7.       Chia seed and fermented beverages rule

The nutty tasting Chia seed has more protein, energy and fiber than any other whole grain. The seed is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Three ounces of Chia contains the same amount of Omega-3 fatty acid as 28 ounces of salmon, as much calcium as 3 cups of milk, as much iron as 5 cups of raw spinach, and as much vitamin C as seven oranges!   Chia drinks & oils have seen over a 1000% growth in 2012 according to SPINS. No, we’re not talking about the kind you grow in a pot, but 2013 is all about adding the chia seed to your diet.

8.        Chill out power drinks

In a rebound from power shots such as 5 hour energy and Red Bull there are now drinks that promote relaxation using supplements and herbs. The drinks, which evolved in Japan as far back as 2005, contain no alcohol but some have melatonin, a hormone that can cause drowsiness for those suffering from insomnia and high stress.

9.       Sustainable seafood continues to grow  

According to the National Restaurant Association’s chef survey, sustainable seafood is a top trend among chefs. And sustainability initiatives, such as the well-known Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, report an increase in the number of chefs and operators following their guidelines.

10.   Organic soil promoted as carbon reduction

According to the Organic Center Analyzing  international experts headed by scientists from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Switzerland have concluded that organic agriculture provides environmental benefits through carbon sequestration in soils. Not only are their health benefits but global environmental benefits.

11.   Increased Demand on Transparency

Consumers demand transparency they will come to know what organic means across categories such as personal care, household cleaners and dietary supplements. Natural retailers are already at the forefront by using shelf talkers that tell the story behind the products. Manufacturers only have so much room on labels but can provide more detailed information on their website, Facebook and Twitter. Social platforms will allow consumers to become educated on organica. Companies such as Stoneyfield Farms and Nature’s Path are leaders in this.

 

Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace.  The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets.  For more information on Ted visit  www.tedning.com

Strategies to elicit higher creativity and sustainable innovation within your team.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013 by

In my leadership work with business owners and executives, I often hear the question: "How can I motivate and inspire my people to perform on a higher level, solve problems more independently, and receive a regular flow of unsolicited ideas to increase my company's level of innovation?"

Here's my response. I have outlined a simple 3-step strategy that you can apply in every situation where you provide feedback or guidance to an employee that will encourage and motivate them to share their new ideas. One thing I want you to know before you start: this strategy only works if you make it a fundamental part of your mindset and continuously apply it. It truly must become a habit and natural response in your repertoire of leadership skills. It simply will not work if it's artificially applied. You must honestly mean it and feel it!

Step 1: See people on the highest level.
This is the basis of the strategy. Put your focus on all the great skills and qualities you can find in the person. Don't stop on a superficial level and think: "… he's doing his job pretty well, he’s a good guy." Go deep. You must be one hundred percent present and specific when you focus on his best talents and highest qualities. Say to yourself, for example, "The way he's speaking and articulating himself is incredible. With his level of clarity and energy he is representing our company in the best possible way." Here, it is important to check your own ego and increase your level of self-awareness. It is often hard to give someone, particularly a team member or employee, a lot of credit and acknowledgement. A brilliant leader steps up to the plate and rejoices in fulling seeing the person’s quality as a big asset for his firm or team.

Apply this view whenever you engage in a feedback conversation with your employee and constantly seek out ways to find and integrate more of his better qualities and skills into his work. I know you might think now that this is a bunch of BS, that this person is not good at this specific thing and he needs to improve it and by me just not focusing on it he will not get better. I totally understand this thought. Not everyone is excellent at everything, but remember one thing - whatever your focus on will expand (positive or negative) - so the more you elicit qualities and skills in people and elevate them, the better the people will become. And here's another big thing, the more you elevate your employees the quicker they will improve on skills they weren't good at before and they better they will perform. And why? It’s because the more you constantly connect them with their inherent resources and talents in what they naturally excel in, the better they will feel, the more confident the will be, and the more inspiration and enthusiasm they will express. The secret of this philosophy is that you will see yourself surrounded by more and more brilliant people who will contribute to your company's success. You will be in GOOD COMPANY ;-)

Step 2: Discover their bright spots and success stories.
Find examples in their work that were exceedingly good. Find situations when they performed on the highest level, did something unexpected that turned into success, contributed with innovative ideas, and solved problems without much advice and guidance from your side. Get curious and find out what they exactly did in these situations. Ask them: "How did you convince this new prospect to partner with us? What exactly did you do, what steps did you follow?" Learn the strategy they followed and the steps they took and give them credit for that. Praise works wonders if you connect it to a specific situation or incident. It will become the resource for your employee to do more of it and to share it so that others can also learn and benefit from his talent and knowledge. Your job as a leader is to discover these bright spots and provide very specific feedback and acknowledgement that will elevate that person.

Step 3: Turn successes into repeatable strategies.
Now you can ask yourself: “How can I support this person to repeat these success stories more often in his work.” Also ask your employee directly and work with him to develop the ideal conditions and circumstances that will enable him to perform on the highest level. Once you understand what he needs you will be much better at creating and providing the resources for success. He will thank you with providing a high level of commitment, outstanding performance, and a flood of new ideas that can contribute to your companies level of innovation.

 

Sascha BosioAbout Sascha Bosio

Sascha Bosio is an international expert for innovation and leadership, Sascha is also an entrepreneur and meditation/awareness trainer. As Founder of The Brilliant Leadership Company a firm for strategic innovation for the lifestyle industry in San Francisco, Sascha has made it his vision to help business owners to create a flow of sustainable innovation and business growth. Sascha has worked with many lifestyle companies and leaders such as adidas, Montblanc, frontlineshop.com, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga.
 

 

LOHAS Health Trends

Sunday, April 28, 2013 by

wellness trendsI am in a unique position to view various market verticals and get some ideas on what are trends for various elements of LOHAS. Here are a few I think to be on the lookout for in the health and wellness space.

Happiness and Health

More of us will see happiness as key to achieving good health and vice versa. We will increasingly understand that happiness and health go hand in hand. There have been several studies indicating the connection between these two vital factors.

Mindful Living

Just think about the last time you ate your meal in peace. Mindful eating involves savouring every bite without distraction from electronics, whether phones or TVs. But this type of mindful living will also follow us through our everyday errands — mindful shopping, for example, means not overspending and buying only what’s needed to feel fulfilled at that moment.  Mindful Stress Reduction research has shown to be highly effective in teaching responsible in the health management, vitality and healing.

Nature As An Antidote

More people are looking at nature as an escape from noise, pollution and traffic and overall brain fatigue from the numerous stimuli we face daily that lead to stress. A recent study from Scotland claims that you can ease brain fatigue simply by strolling through a leafy park. The premise is that “grounding” the body to the earth’s surface stabilizes natural electrical rhythms and reduces disease-causing inflammation. Footwear companies such as Juil are using this concept for thier products and providing copper pressure points on your feet and ground you to the electromagnetic field of the earth. Its all about remembering to connect with the relaxing and energizing qualities Mother Nature has always provided.

Detoxing the home

For most, a new year means cleansing our bodies and getting rid of junk from our diets and kitchen cupboards. But detoxing in 2013 will also be about detoxing our homes and the environment around us. Consumers and brands are both turning to chemical-free and toxin-free products to use everyday. This means opportunities for green cleaning companies such as Method, Ecover and Seventh Generation.

Fitness Self-monitoring

In the past data was commonly equated with tech nerds. Today data is king and will go mainstream thanks to an increasing number of smartphone apps that help you easily store data on your own behavior via collection of wearable devices, from Nike Fuel to LarkLife, that do all the work for you.

Your Favorite Class Will Go Mobile

Mobile, portable classes are the wave of the future — thanks to the rise of beloved celebrity teachers who can’t be everywhere at once. Set up your iPad for a yoga class with the simulated feeling of individualized attention. Open up your laptop and decide what kind of class you’ll do that day — on your own time.  Providers include MyYogaOnline, GaiamTV and YogaVibes, Hotels, for example, are designing guest rooms to accommodate people doing yoga or cardio, or providing workout videos, while some airports, like San Francisco International Airport, even offer yoga rooms.

Healthy Hotels

In 2013 and beyond, what constitutes a true “vacation” will be redefined and “hospitality” will be rewritten. We’ll see an explosion of new “wellness everywhere” hotel chains and environments becoming more mainstream. In the past, gyms and spas have been positioned as mere amenities, but now these walls are being conceptually (and literally) broken down. Established hotel chains are re-branding around wellness and it’s not just about fitness. Customized food and beverage offerings (gluten-free and vegan menus) are becoming standard fare, and hotels are jumping into the juice-themed vacation frenzy.

Adult Playgrounds

Cities worldwide are trying to tackle obesity and overall inactivity by designing playgrounds for adults. These workout spaces are meant to eliminate cost and accessibility limitations and help adults get more active. In 2012, New York City opened its first adult playground and plans to create two dozen more.

Yoga Continues to Grow

Yoga booming – The latest “Yoga in America” study, released by Yoga Journal shows that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study*, an increase of 29 percent. In addition, practitioners spend $10.3 billion a year on yoga classes and products, including equipment, clothing, vacations, and media. The previous estimate from the 2008 study was $5.7 billion.

Standing Desks

If research has shown us anything in 2012, it’s that sitting at our desks with poor posture is slowly killing us. As we head into the new year, experts at JWT predict more upright desk features for offices across the country. Companies like Ergotron have already created standing workstations with cart-like features.

 

Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace.  The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets.  For more information on Ted visit  www.tedning.com

4 signs that your target market should include Conscious Consumers

Thursday, April 25, 2013 by

Conscious Consumer

Image from BBMG

Conscious Consumers are an active and growing purchasing segment in the U.S. and worldwide. All you have to do is look at why LOHAS exists to see the potential economic impact of this group (and that doesn't even take into account the social impact). The term “conscious” is three-fold, applying to consumers who consider more than price and convenience when making a purchase decision – they also consider impact on their health, the environment and the greater good.

If you are one of the 73% of companies who has “sustainability” listed as a strategic priority and you are not already thinking about the 70 million Conscious Consumers in the U.S. as a market segment, here are four signs that you should be:

  1. Your product or service is more environmentally friendly than your competitors’. Conscious Consumers are sensitive to being green. They do not always make the most green choice available, but they at least consider environmental impact. Whether your product or service is green because it has less packaging, uses less energy or is made more locally than alternatives, they care.
  2. You offer a product that makes a healthy difference. With obesity storming on the scene as a public health concern, millions of Americans seek ways to incorporate physical activity and healthy eating into their busy days. Foods are being fortified in new ways (protein in your water, anyone?), treadmill desks are on employee wish lists and even apartment window boxes no longer function as ashtrays, but sprout mini urban gardens. If you make it easy for people to live healthier, Conscious Consumers need you.
  3. You aim to “do well by doing good.” Corporate social responsibility programs are now part of most large companies’ strategic plans. Your program may engage all your customers like Target’s multi-pronged “here for good” campaign, or as a smaller company, perhaps you strive for 100 percent participation in an annual United Way campaign or spend a day building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Whatever your effort may be, if Conscious Consumers know about it, they’ll be more likely to spend a few more cents on your product or recommend it to others.
  4. You want to reach influencers. At one point, environmentalism and health advocacy were fringe issues for hippies and extremists. The mainstreaming of these ideas has all but eliminated political differentiation – Republicans and Democrats alike turn off the water while they brush their teeth and take reusable bags to the grocery store. Conscious Consumers come from all different backgrounds, but are consistently early adopters who make conscientious purchasing decisions that they share with friends, family and co-workers. If you want people who are likely to increase your word-of-mouth marketing, you want Conscious Consumers.

Conscious Consumers certainly aren’t going anywhere. They’re going to keep making decisions based on what really matters. Are you in a position to help them make a difference?

LOHAS: You Had Me at Hello

Monday, April 22, 2013 by

This is my first blog post for LOHAS and I’m happy to be here. I’ve been reading LOHAS newsletters for over a year now. I nodded in agreement so often that I jumped at the chance to join the conversation.

A focus on green business

While LOHAS covers many topics, my posts will focus mostly on green business. I am an MBA and spent many years in corporate America before leaving to start my own green business in 2011.

I believe that business can and should play a key role in the transition to a greener economy. Traditional big businesses have enormous financial and people resources at their disposal.  When they decide to move in a particular direction, they can do so with an impact that a small business can’t match.

Unfortunately, in my experience, big business's singular focus on quarterly profits conflicts with the vision, courage and patience necessary to reinvent themselves as truly sustainable enterprises.

So while I celebrate all businesses that move in a greener direction, I see smaller (and privately owned) businesses as leading the way for now. They have a nimbleness and a willingness to embrace change that larger businesses often lack. I suspect that until government mandates the changes necessary to move sustainable practices from optional to mandatory, certain business players will remain in the old, unsustainable model. In the meantime the rest of us need to charge ahead.

The sustainable business view from here

I also want to share the view from my current home in Tampa, Florida. Despite its moniker as the “Sunshine State,” Florida lags on policies ranging from renewable power standards to mass transit. One reason I read LOHAS is to keep up with developments in places like California and Colorado that are – ahem – ahead of Florida in this regard.

We have astonishingly beautiful natural resources in Florida. (That's a roseate spoonbill in the picture above.) From the Everglades to the Gulf beaches, there is “natural capital” here that needs to be protected. Not just because it’s pretty – although you’d think a state whose largest industry is tourism would understand its value. But because when the natural environment is healthy, so are the people – physically and economically.

Here are 3 challenges I’ve encountered as a green business owner. Which ones resonate with you?

Lack of awareness – when I say “green”, many people think I am referring to the color, or that I am describing myself as a newbie. (I’m not.) The topic of greener business is generally not on people’s radar here.

The schools educate kids about sustainability issues better than the mainstream media does for adults. Case in point: I asked a local publisher several years ago why his Florida business-focused magazine did not have a regular feature on green business. He replied that his readers (of whom I am one) weren’t interested in that. I find that stories about green business, green jobs and green learning programs are generally under-reported.

Fragmentation of effort – there is tremendous fragmentation and lack of coordination across green businesses, nonprofits and government agencies when it comes to efforts to go green. When I go to EcoFests, green business networking events and climate change conferences,  I am struck at how many well-intentioned people are struggling to do basically the same things. Imagine if all this effort and resource were consolidated and coordinated in an organized fashion. The whole impact could be greater than the sum of the parts.

Under-funding – too many businesses still see sustainable business practices as optional or a PR move. It’s long past time to invest in something more than recycling bins. To me, green business is a money-making venture for everyone.  Did you know that green jobs are the fastest growing sector in the economy?

The Good News

There is a lot going on under the radar. Last week I attended the 5th Annual Sustainable Business Awards at the University of Tampa. 13 winners collected awards and applause for their “triple bottom line” approach to business. Their businesses ranged from LED lighting to community-supported agricultural farms to recycled air filters. With one or two exceptions, you probably wouldn’t recognize any of their names. But these are the business that will shape the future.

Opportunities in green business are limitless. As a business person, I see the need to reinvent our economy in a more sustainable fashion not just as a daunting challenge, but as a huge opportunity.  To make a good living while helping to save the planet  - what’s not to love?

What do YOU want to hear about?

So that’s LOHAS blog post #1 for me. Let me know your thoughts and tell me what you’d like to hear about in future posts.

About the Author

Alison Lueders is the Founder and Principal oGreat Green Editing. She provides writing and editing services to green businesses and social enterprises that value high-quality content. She ensures that their content and communications – their business face to the world – are correct, clear and compelling. She is a graduate of Harvard College and received her MBA from MIT. She earned her Bronze seal from Green America in April 2013 and Platinum-level recognition from the Green Business Bureau in 2012.

She can be reached at info@greatgreenediting.com and at 813-968-1292.