Green Job Opportunities

A New Champion at the Weather Channel Answers All You Want to Know About the Weather, But Were Afraid to Ask

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 by

No, Sam Champion is not just another handsome talking head. To prove it, he has taken the bold step of leaving perhaps the number one weatherperson position in the world at ABC's Good Morning America to become Managing Editor at The Weather Channel. His new show is called AMHQ, for America's Morning Headquarters. It is an amalgam of news, sports, lifestyle and, of course, weather forecasting and reporting, running each weekday from 7-10 a.m. ET.

From a journalistic integrity standpoint, I should say upfront that I am a Sam Champion fan. I appeared on his "Just One Thing" environmental segment on GMA several times in previous years. A new executive producer did away not only with that segment, but essentially all reporting on environmental subjects. While he won't comment on that, I suspect this is one of a number of reasons that Sam elected to move on from GMA.


Sam Champion at the 40th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards.

Champion is an Emmy and Peabody award winner who is a serious weatherman and proud of it.

I'm going to be a hypocrite here. I want to wake up every morning with my feet on the sand, 20 steps from the ocean. If I am not by the beach, I am not a whole person. But I realize it's not a safe place to build or locate a community. We have allowed people to make incredible amounts of money off of our desire to live on the beach. Unfortunately, we've not thought about how (beaches) are the natural protectors for everything behind them.

This is Sam Champion, admitting his own preferences but trying to educate us on the power of weather patterns and how they can endanger our lives. In this case, he refers to rebuilding on the same spot after natural disasters, be it Hurricane Sandy or the Asian tsunami.

Here's what Champion has to say about the Southern California/Southwestern U.S. drought, and its ramifications, such as last week's San Diego wildfires:

We have to stop being surprised. I am so [redacted] tired of people being surprised. We should not be surprised when areas that have seen drought before experience it again. We should not be surprised that towns previously leveled by hurricanes will be leveled again. I'm so tired of us being surprised. While I understand that (the beach is) one of the most desirable places for people to feel connected to the world and at peace, we should not allow people to rebuild after a disaster. I understand why we are torn on this, but we have to think ahead for others. We have to make sure people are safe...


Destroyed homes line the coast in Lavallette, New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Indeed, Sam Champion is passionate about climate change and its ramifications. He is very concerned about water shortages in coming decades. He has the courage to say what we are just now beginning to understand about where we should be vs. where we are on alternate water sources.

We are horribly prepared (for drought in the Southwest). If we were, we would have several options available to get people water. We are still relying on watersheds, snow melts, and rain. If you live in a coastal area and have not made desalination options available to your community because of money, energy requirements or other factors...if you don't have a "B" choice for water, that is just wrong. That is not politics, either, that is reality.

I explained to Sam that I recently visited Israel, where they have perfected the art of providing desalinized drinking water for all at a fair price point. His comment: "California, and many other parts of the world, could learn a lot from the Israelis when it comes to preparing for perpetual drought conditions."

The 52-year-old Kentucky native faces the reality that the Southwest could be in for an ongoing drought unlike anything we are used to.

We are just now beginning to understand global weather patterns. We used to think of weather locally, but it is truly anything but -- it's a global thing. We are still trying to figure out El Nino and La Ninas. If an El Nino occurs, it can mean X for this region and Y for that one. You are not looking just at warming water temperatures. To say California will be in a period of ongoing drought, I don't know that anyone can say for certain. But I don't see a lot of help coming to change this situation. If we have not figured out a way to handle the drought over the past 25 years, we have a problem.

About Sam's new show. How was it going from GMA to AMHQ?

We created a show that is hyper informative because I saw there was a different audience. The new audience is 24-hour informed. They are following stories, news, websites, they have alerts on their smartphones. The Weather Channel is built to work on a 24-hour news cycle. We are adjusting to the new pace of information. Facebook, Twitter, we are dealing with a news cycle being right now, this minute. AMHQ is sequenced to this pace. We have the most live shots of tornadoes. We were in Pensacola, Florida for the floods, California for the fires, Minnesota for cold air and snow, and those are just the live shots.


We now witness tornados year round, signaling a change in climate patterns.

Champion, who married his partner, Rubem Robierb, in 2012, does not see it as his responsibility to convince the climate change deniers of their shortsightedness.

It's not my job to change minds. Growing up as a journalist and being in the news business for 30 years, it's only my job to talk about the facts as they are presented. When scientists present facts, we report them. When disasters happen, we deal in statistics and stories about the people who are affected, and follow it all the way through recovery. I don't need to be political and don't want to push anyone's agenda. There are people who want to mitigate climate change and others who want to make money on the topic. I am here to do neither. My goal is to help people understand their environment, and get to a safe place as needed. If you move to the tornado belt, you need to know the risks. If you live in California, you need to know about the drought and the potential dangers because of it. I try to help people understand this so they can take necessary steps to protect themselves from weather-related disasters. Many people assume that if you encounter a tornado and you are in a car, you should jump out and lay down in a ditch.

According to Champion, this is really an old wive's tale. He says being inside your car is far safer than lying in a ditch.

Not surprisingly, Champion likes the focus on weather as opposed to all types of news.

It was a pleasant surprise to have people approach me to say this is a show they are proud to have their children watch while getting ready for school. It's a smart show. The kids are learning about weather and other important news but not murders and beatings. That stuff is eye candy designed to keep you glued to your TV, but it is not necessarily information you truly need to know. I certainly did not design a kids show, but it's nice to have moms tell us they feel great about having our show on with the kids in the room.

Champion enjoys scuba diving as a hobby, and not surprisingly, relates what he sees back to weather and climate change. "When you dive for the first time and see coral reefs, come back again three years later and they are gone or bleached due to ocean acidification, you become concerned and want to share that with people. I'm tired of the pushback because I'm not a part of the conspiracy. I'm just sharing with you what I observe." (Some of you may recall my earlier column entitled "Diving With The Dream Team" in which I report the exact same phenomenon.) 


As a result of climate change, ocean acidification is causing coral bleaching across the globe.

Sam's recommendation for what we do going forward to combat the adverse effects of climate change and their impact upon our weather personifies his practical, no-nonsense approach to climate change and how the weather is reported. "Here are things we can do together to deal with issues that are very real. You can debate the cause, but let's come together for the solution."

Read more from Jennifer Schwab on her Inner Green.

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.
* 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’.

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.

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,, Bryan Kest's Power Yoga.


Sustainable Business Profile: Burgerville

Friday, April 26, 2013 by

burgervilleInterested in reading a great case study on a triple bottom-line company? Read my company's blog on Burgerville, where we profile a company that is doing it right.  Their focus on people,  profit and planet has led to the creation of a full-time Chief Cultural Officer.  

Here's the article we posted recently on my website.

I've never been a fan of the fast food restaurant, but after abandoning being a vegetarian in my mid-20's, I just couldn't resist my childhood favorite: an old fashioned hamburger. Today, I find myself regularly buying those gourmet hamburgers from Whole Foods and throwing them on the BBQ for a fast dinner.  But instead of putting them on a bun, I tend to serve them on a bed of wild greens, mache or arugula lettuce. Yum.

On my company's website blog this week, we covered a profile about another restaurant that you've probably never hear of called Burgerville.  It certainly doesn’t have the name recognition or ubiquity of McDonald’s, Burger King, or any other well known fast food joint. But it has something that all the recognition and ubiquity in the world can’t give it: sustainability.

Burgerville got its start  in 1961 in Vancouver, Washington and has since spread to  39 restaurants in the Washington and Oregon area. Their objective isn’t just to expand –  they want to make the world a better place by selling burgers.

They use a number of green practices to do this:

1)      Source food locally. Nearly all of their ingredients are grown nearby and have that local flavor—like Walla Walla onions and Yukon Gold potatoes.

2)      Use seasonal offerings. Depending on the time of year,Burgerville mixes up their menu with seasonal offerings like strawberry milkshakes (from local strawberries) or hazelnut ice cream (from locally grown hazelnuts).

3)      Use alternative energy. In what can only be called a coup against conventional energy thinking, all Burgerville restaurants and their headquarters are completely powered by wind energy. They even let bicyclists use their drive-thru windows.

4)      Support sustainable farming. In 2004 Burgerville made the choice to only use range-fed beef raised without antibiotics.

5)      Support sustainable waste practices. In 2007 Burgerville made another green choice by implementing a composting program at all of their restaurants.

6)      Embrace green menu options. Burgerville makes great hamburgers, but they also have a lot of food offerings that focus on more earth-friendly options. Chicken burgers, fresh fish offerings,  veggie burgers, salads, and even sweet potato and asparagus are all menu items that offer alternative to the traditional beef-heavy fast food menus.

As a result of their conscientious practices, Burgerville continues to grow and expand, and is an asset to every community that has a restaurant.

Henry Ford said, “A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.” Burgerville isn’t just making money: they are making jobs, strengthening local economies, creating new business models, and keeping the future intact. With a simple company policy of “fresh, local, sustainable” they are making the world a better place, one burger at a time.

For more info on the business case for having a sustainable business read this page of their website:




Get Grounded on Earth Day.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 by

While most of us are celebrating Earth Day and Earth Week in offices, I invite you to join me in stepping outside.

Plant your feet. Get grounded. Scatter new seeds of intention. And action.

While Earth Day is celebrated just once a year—it is in fact a 365-day holiday.

In 1990, I became one of the first marketers in the U.S. to specialize in green branding and advertising. Then my clients included recycling companies, green lawn care services, green retail stores, organic food companies, non-toxic cleaning products—even musician and icon John Denver, who was a passionate environmentalist.

Today, it seems that not much has changed. And yet everything has. Much that has become mainstream; recycling, buying recycled, organic food, plant-based cleaning supplies and more were once new ideas. This I experienced first-hand, since as a green marketer, my job has been to educate consumers about their power to effect change.

Today will be marked by tree plantings, parades, speeches, news reports and actions big and small. Much will be said about how much more is needed.  I am celebrating Earth Day by looking back. And looking forward.

Looking back, I see that as consumers we have created the demand for hybrid cars, new wind farms, double-digit growth in organic food and energy-saving light bulbs of all kinds—where once these products didn't exist.  And looking forward, I see a galvanizing force of open-hearted, committed people who are passionate about doing all they can to walk lightly on our Earth.

So as you take off your shoes and plant your feet on sand, soil, concrete or snow, remember that today we stand together. It is our collective actions that will continue to create the change we seek. And it is our willingness to pick up our feet, and move one step at a time forward, that is forging a new path for our planet and for generations to come.


Lisa Proctor is the president and creative director of firefly180 marketinga Minneapolis-based branding and advertising agency that specializes in LOHAS marketing, wellness marketing, green marketing and renewable energy marketing.


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 and at 813-968-1292.

Green Jobs: Resources for Careers in Natural, Organic and Sustainable Products

Monday, April 22, 2013 by

Here at Compass Natural Marketing, a lot of folks ask us about resources for finding jobs and career opportunities in the $300 billion LOHAS market, i.e., the “Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability” market for natural, organic, eco-friendly, and socially and environmentally responsible products and services.

There are a lot of great companies and NGOs in the LOHAS market, from organic food to renewable energy and from yoga to green building. In fact, with significant growth in demand for natural, organic and sustainable products, according to the Organic Trade Association, the organic food industry is creating jobs at a much higher rate than the conventional food industry.

Here are some good resources below for finding jobs in the natural and organic foods and sustainable products industry, and for social and environmental mission based organizations.

Of course, if you identify companies you’d like to work for, check their websites. Often, the larger companies, such as Whole Foods Market, UNFI, Pacific Natural Foods, Earthbound Farm, and other brand leaders will have job postings on their own websites. Do some research of your favorite brands.

We welcome your comments and suggestions to add to the list.

Green Job Resources

Green Dream Jobs. You can search by level and region. Awesome resource presented by our friends at

Here’s a great resource for sales, marketing, management and executive level jobs in the Denver/Boulder region, created by our friend and colleague Luke Vernon.

Also, GreenBiz has a great sustainable jobs board.

TreeHugger has green job listings.

Sustainable Industries posts green jobs across the country.

Just Means job listings have a social mission and NGO focus.

Natural and Organic Industry Resources. A good compendium of industry resources.

Naturally Boulder is another resource for job listings in the Boulder/Denver region.

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Wanting a Peace Corps-like volunteer experience, but on an organic farm somewhere around the world where you can learn about organic agriculture? Feeling young and adventurous? Check out WWOOF.

Green Career Guide job thread.

California Certified Organic Farmers, an excellent organization for organic producers, posts job listings.

ReWork:  Founded in 2011 by alumni of the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder, ReWork helps people find careers in values-based, socially responsible and sustainable businesses.

Hope this helps get you started. Happy green job hunting!


Steven Hoffman is Managing Director of Compass Natural LLC, a full service marketing communications, public relations and business development agency serving natural, organic and sustainable business. Hoffman is Co-founder of the LOHAS Forum annual market trends conference, former Editorial Director of New Hope Natural Media’s natural and organic products trade publication division, and former Program Director of Natural Products Expo East and West. A former Peace Corps volunteer and agricultural extension agent, Hoffman holds a M.S. in Agriculture from Penn State University. Contact

LOHAS Internship Opportunities

Thursday, February 28, 2013 by

LOHAS internshipThe LOHAS internship is a part-time, or full-time school year remote or in Louisville, CO based LOHAS office position for a student or recent graduate seeking experience in a sustainable business environment.

Hours per week: 10-25 (will escalate as LOHAS conference gets closer)

Employment Start Date: Immediately


Job Description:

Event project intern will report to and work directly with Executive Director, Production team, sales manager organizing the annual LOHAS conference, web content and LOHAS e-weekly newsletter. Intern will gain skills in event project management, sponsor management, speaker management, online event marketing and sustainable business content; managing multiple projects with deadlines and various online platforms – Drupal, Compendium, Get Response, Eventbrite and Regonline.

Candidates must have strong verbal and written communications, be a self starter able to take on projects and responsibilities confidently and have strong writing and editing skills. Other essential skills for a successful internship include familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google +. HTML background a plus.

Intern responsibilities

  • Manage the delivery of LOHAS e-weekly newsletter
  • Update relationship contacts and outreach lists
  • Assist with marketing outreach via social media and online promotions
  • Assist with sponsor relations and materials needed
  • Upload sponsor logos and information on to website
  • Upload speaker details on website
  • Update online program
  • Pass sponsor deliverable details to event coordinators
  • Load sponsor details into LOHAS HUB
  • Be on call meetings regarding event logistics
  • Coordinate with volunteers
  • Assist with publishing blog posts and comments


  • Assist with event set up and registration
  • Assist with attendee QA, onsite logistics
  • Assist with event tear down


  • Must be motivated and determined to succeed
  • Must be able to work cooperatively with all departments
  • Must be able to meet deadlines on time in a diligent and professional manner
  • Must be familiar with MS Office (excel, word) and comfortable learning new online platforms
  • Must be a student of an accredited intern program

If interested please contact us.


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, 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

The Trademarks of Conscious Capitalism

Sunday, February 24, 2013 by

Conscious CapitalismWhether you are a LOHAS company or a LOHAS shopper, you need to understand the megatrend of Conscious Capitalism—because it represents the larger economic context in which the critical trend of sustainability continues to unfold. If you are a values-driven consumer, you should learn how to identify a Conscious Capitalist company. Why? These are the firms you’ll most likely choose to patronize since they tend to espouse the same values that you do. As a company, you may want to measure your own standards against those of Conscious Capitalism. In this article, I describe what I call the three “Trademarks” of Conscious Capitalism.

The Stakeholder Model Conscious Capitalists embrace a philosophy of free enterprise that honors all the parties who contribute to the success of the enterprise. So, when leaders formulate corporate policies, they consider the interests of all “stakeholders”—employees, customers, suppliers, investors, communities, and ultimately the environment and the planet at large. By contrast, shareholder (or traditional) capitalists typically place the interests of investors over and above those of other stakeholders.

This is a critical distinction. But how does it play in business? Suppose a company’s sales and profits fall. That will probably displease investors. To make investors happy again, the company may decide to cut costs (aiming to increase profits) by laying off employees. Thus, the interests of investors supersede those of employees. That’s the Shareholder Model of capitalism.

Companies that champion the Stakeholder Model might well make another choice. For example, during the Great Recession, The Container Store (TCS) faced dwindling sales, like many other retailers. Yet the company, a prominent Conscious Capitalist, took a different path from that of traditional capitalism. Specifically, TCS adopted a “no lay-off” policy. But how, you might ask, was the company financially able to endure the continued cost of employee salaries at a time when sales and profits were slumping? The answer is balance. The Container Store found a new way to cut costs: it temporarily suspended matching contributions to employee 401K accounts. This policy proved far more acceptable to TCS staff than losing their jobs. And once sales again picked up, 401K matching benefits were back on.

As this example illustrates, the Stakeholder Model of Conscious Capitalism is neither vague, nor ideological. It holds clear operational implications for how a corporation is managed, how people are treated, and how a corporation can choose to generate economic value.

One might be tempted to assume that the Shareholder Model, i.e. putting investors first, delivers greater financial value to investors. In fact, traditional capitalists frequently make that very argument. But as you’ll see from the research cited in this article’s conclusion, Conscious Capitalists often outperform their traditional counterparts—in strictly financial terms.

A Purpose Higher Than Profit Despite their commitment to humanistic principles, Conscious Capitalists very much aim to earn solid profits. But unlike traditional capitalists, they do not consider profit to be the reason for their existence, or purpose. Instead, they choose a purpose that beyond the necessity of earning money, a “higher” purpose such as to “make a difference,” or “contribute to society” or to “sell products that foster good health and sustain the earth’s resources.” So, this Higher Purpose is the second trademark of Conscious Capitalism.

In fact, business always has a purpose beyond making money, specifically to fulfill some sort of unmet need. The heart of any commercial transaction is therefore to generate an exchange that is mutually beneficial. While capitalism celebrates the capacity to earn profit, it is purpose that infuses that profit with the profound mutuality and satisfaction.

A Commitment to Human Values In a world where people and companies alike are tossed about by a variety of intense and conflicting forces, we all need an inner compass to help us make the right choices, those that take us from where we are now to where we want to be in the future. In business as well as personal life, strong values supply the most reliable guidance and direction. The third trademark of Conscious Capitalism is a Commitment to Human Values.

Walk into any shop or store. Almost instantly you can get a very good read on the values practiced there. When values are lacking, you will almost certainly find a poor work environment, one that breeds boredom, gossip, and inattention to customers. On the other hand, when positive values are honored, it’s palpable. You feel and see it in the positive behavior of the staff.

The internet sales giant eBay, for example, is built entirely upon the value of trust. Early on, founder Pierre Omidyar posted this statement on the website: “We believe people are basically good.” Trust became the core of eBay’s policies and eBay technology reinforced that trust, so that considerably less than one percent of eBay transactions result in fraud.

What’s the Bottom Line?

            To the surprise of many, the Trademarks of Conscious Capitalism generate superior financial performance. Raj Sisodia, marketing professor at Bentley College and a co-author of Firms of Endearment with David Wolfe and Jagdish Sheth, studied 28 companies, including Google, Whole Foods, and Honda, whose managements fostered positive relationships with employees, customers, and investors. Over a ten-year period, the stock of these Conscious Capitalists soared 1,025 percent—versus 122 percent for the S&P 500. A second, decade-long study showed that public firms that are “great places to work” outperformed the S&P 500 by a very wide margin.

These studies show that when business possess the values, wisdom, and consciousness to appreciate that employees, customers, suppliers, and not just investors, contribute to the overall success of the enterprise, companies can achieve profound and sustainable success.


Patricia Aburdene is one of the world’s leading social forecasters and an internationally-renown speaker. She co-authored the number one New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000. Her book Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism (EMBED Link for Megatrends 2010: ), launched a business revolution. Patricia’s new book, Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for A Sustainable New Prosperity, published in 2012, is a finalist is the Green category for the “Books for a Better Life Award.” Read Chapter one of Conscious Money at Patricia was named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Behavior” and serves as an Ambassador of the Conscious Capitalist Institute. Patricia’s journalism career began at Forbes magazine and she was a public policy follow at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, MA. Her website is



8 Ways To Keep Your Stress Levels Down At Work

Friday, January 25, 2013 by

work stressMany people underestimate the effects of work related stress but it can cause many detrimental issues. Stress can affect your job performance. This may even become a vicious cycle of more stress if you receive poor evaluations from your supervisor and/or you are passed over for promotions. Stress can also seriously impact your health. It is well known that stress weakens the immune system making you more susceptible to catching the flu and other diseases. It also puts you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. Work related stress can bleed over into other areas of your life too such as negatively affecting the relationship you have with your family and friends.

Reduce Stress Before You Go To Work

If you are already stressed out when you get to work, things that would normally not bother you at work may stress you out. Therefore, it is important to develop strategies for reducing your stress level before you get to work. 5-10 minutes of exercise can work wonders. Listening to your favorite music as you travel to work can also help a lot. You may want to learn some basic deep breathing yoga techniques and practice these a few minutes before you step into the workplace.

Define Your Job's Expectations More Clearly

Studies have shown that a significant source of stress in the workplace is due to uncertain job expectations. This type of uncertainty can prevent you from knowing if you have performed well on your job even when you are trying very hard to do so. The best way to eliminate this source of stress if to talk candidly with your supervisor and make sure that you clearly agree on what's expected from you.

Avoid Workplace Conflict

Interpersonal conflicts between co-workers is another significant source of job related stress. You can take steps to minimize these conflicts by being careful about how you interact with your co-workers. For example, you can avoid controversial topics of conversation such as political or religious issues. Also, while it is perfectly acceptable to joke around with your co-workers, be sure not to take the jokes too far as this could cause misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Be Nice To Your Co-Workers

Building on the old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey," making a special effort to be nice to your co-workers can create a more amicable work environment with less stress. This does not mean that you have to fake it. Just make an effort to treat your co-workers with kindness and respect. Genuine compliments are remembered for a long time. Kind gestures such as bringing in fresh vegetables from your garden to share or perhaps providing fresh cut flowers for the break room or your co-workers' desks can also help create a pleasant stress free work environment.

Keep Your Workspace Well Organized

If your personal workspace is cluttered and disorganized, this will be a source of stress. The good news is you have control over this source of stress and you can remedy it yourself. If you use a computer at work, making sure your desktop and your file structure is organized will also help reduce stress.

Find Ways To Reduce Physical Pain

Physical pain in the workplace is quite common and can create mental stress without you even realizing it. If have a desk job, your chair may cause back pain, neck pain, and discomfort in other areas of your body`. You can reduce this pain by replacing your desk chair with one that is more ergonomic or perhaps just adjusting the one you have. Sometimes, changing the height or angle of your computer monitor can be very helpful. If you stand a lot on the job, make sure you have an ergonomic mat under your feet to reduce the pressure on your feet, knees, and hips. If your job entails repetitive motions, make sure you take enough breaks and/or determine if you can perform the same task with a slightly different motion. Eye strain is also common in the workplace. Occasionally re-focusing your eyes on a distant object can help minimize this problem.

Make the Most Of Your Breaks

This importance of this point cannot be over emphasized. Even if you only have a 15-minute break or a half hour for lunch, there are things you can do during that time that will greatly lower your stress at work. If your job is sedentary, try doing something physical on your breaks. If nothing else, take a brisk walk. If you can find the space, you can do some simple exercises. Find ways to de-stress and get totally away from your work environment, even if this just means going out to your car, closing your eyes, and listening to your favorite music. You may also want to find a simple respite a short distance away from the workplace such as feeding the birds or just walking a block and  filling your lungs with fresh air.

Take a Professional Stress Management Course

Taking a professional stress management course can help you in a number of ways. Many people do not recognize the early signs of stress. A professional stress management course can help you learn to recognize the early signs of stress and deal with them effectively so they don't fester and grow into bigger problems. A professional stress management course can also help develop a custom plan to deal with your specific source(s) of work related stress.

4 Ways To Surf The Waves of Change

Thursday, December 6, 2012 by

waves of changeWe are a country divided, as the past election showed us, driven by conflicting viewpoints and approaches to problems. Essentials of life, such as finances and healthcare, have very different meanings to different people. And with a split government, such differences tend to end in gridlock. All of which implies that, as a whole, we are looking at drawn out economic problems, endless healthcare arguments, and an abiding sense of uncertainty in our lives. We hesitate to contemplate what the future may bring.

Such uncertainty, added to with opposing views on climate change and constant global tension, can create fear, turmoil and even panic. So how do we live with this? How do we live with the unknowing and insecurity? In fact, when everything seems hopeless is the very time we have the chance to grow into something better. Remember, what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, we call a butterfly! But, like a butterfly, the journey to such growth can be difficult, including having to possibly transform ourselves as completely as a caterpillar does.

Perhaps the best way to adjust is by recognizing that if constant change is inevitable, as it is fundamentally the essence of all life, then that doesn’t mean it has to be negative, for there is equally the potential for positive change in every moment. Here are 4 ways of surfing the waves of change that work for us:

1. Recognize that nothing is permanent

Nothing lasts, whether money, jobs, thoughts, feelings, or loved ones; everything is constantly changing, life never stands still. As Yoga Master Swami Satchidananda said, “Life is all about coming and going.” Everything that is happening now will change into something else, every structure will one day collapse, and new forms will be created, just as the cells within our bodies are constantly dying and recreating. Without change in ourselves we become stifled and stagnant; without change in the world we will not survive. Such impermanence means that every difficulty, challenge, joy, or success will, at some point, be different: this too shall pass.

2. Be With What Is

Even when times are tough, resistance is the quickest route to further discomfort and unhappiness. When we resist we put up walls or try to push the anxiety away, but this inevitably leads to unfulfilled desires and further discontent. Acceptance enables us to be with what is, to create spaciousness and room to breathe. Then we can make friends with our circumstances, instead of longing for things to be other than what they are. Being with what is means we release any need to know what the outcome of a situation might be.

3. Know that each day is a new beginning

Just as palm trees transform muddy water into sweet coconut milk, so we always have the opportunity to transform fear into courage, selfishness into kindness, and loss into a new beginning. We are capable to creating a new life for ourselves with every breath, word and action. We just need to put one foot in front of the other.

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. -- Maria Robinson

4. Stay grounded and calm

As every wave has both a crest and a dip, the clue to surfing is being able to paddle in the dip so we are ready to ride the next crest. Two of the best ways that we have found to help ourselves cope with the dips are yoga and meditation. Yoga releases physical and mental stress and relaxes the body, while meditation develops a peaceful and joyful mind. They enable us be present with what is, as well as to accept and live with change.

Here’s a meditation to help you stay calm and present. It is based on the flow of breath, which is like an anchor that gives us stability and steadiness. And just as the breath comes in and goes out, so it is like the coming and going of all aspects of life. Practice for a few minutes or as long as you like.

Sit upright and relax. Breathe in and out gently, simply watching the natural rhythm of your breathing. Follow the flow of your breath and let your mind relax into the rhythm. With each in breath silently repeat, “May I be well, may I be peaceful, may I flow with the changes.” With each out breath let your heart smile gently.


See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:

Making Sense of the FTC Revised Green Guidelines

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 by

It only took them 20 years (The first Guides were issued in 1992), but then again, as the saying goes, every overnight sensation is twenty years in the making. Maybe the FTC Green Guide staff put in their 10,000 hours, but, at last, they nailed it. The revisions to the Green Guides, published on October 1, 2012, shows that the FTC is finally putting their foot down (both of them) about the term 'green', along with such related generalized environmental claims as 'eco-friendly' and 'Earth smart'.

While they are at it, they're advising against the use of any label, logo, seal or product name or image -- what I like to call 'daisies, babies or planets' --  that can imply any hint of environmental (or health) superiority without adequate scientific support. Because chances are such claims are nearly impossible to support, the risk-adverse will stay far away from suggesting same.

And just in time, too. Interest in green claims continues to swell despite tough economic times. As global population climbs to an unimaginable 9 billion by 2050, we'll no doubt find many more ways  for consumers to 'go green', with accompanying eco-language to boot (Will "Mars friendly" be next?) But for now, we're all still here. So hopefully there's still time to clean up the green marketing business so we can one day harvest the potential to lighten consumers' size-18 planetary footprint.

The lawyers at the FTC did what 'greening' requires everyone to do — to think holistically, acknowledging the need to back up environmental marketing claims with life cycle assessments. They obviously consulted with some smart ecologists and biologists because the revised Green Guides demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of sound science. The Guides don't explicitly state the science, but for us laymen, here's a quick crib sheet that can help you understand why they're saying what they're saying:

There's no such thing as a green product. Every product uses resources and energy and creates waste.
One attribute does not a green product make.  An Energy Star certified compact fluorescent light bulb has a tinge of mercury (and as such require a hazardous waste permit to landfill in quantities of five or more.) Organic strawberries grown in California and eaten in New York are responsible for creating so many greenhouse gases on the trip cross country we might as well eat berries conventionally grown in New Jersey. Paper made from sustainably-certified wood still needs to be bleached and / or otherwise processed with dangerous chemicals and shipped to Staples.

Should CFLs not be Energy Star qualified? Should strawberries destined to hit the road not be labeled organic? Should paper that's on its way to be bleached not be described as 'sustainable'? Definitely not! Let's simply be more specific, as FTC recommends, and not suggest they are totally 'green'. (More on this below.)

100% recycled content can be less 'green' than 10% recycled content.  Depending upon the nature of the recycled content and how far it must be shipped to a recycling center, environmental costs of shipping and other impacts can actually make a recycled product less 'green' than a virgin counterpart.
Natural is not necessarily green or more healthful. Arsenic is naturally occurring.

Sustainable is a moving target. Corn may be in plentiful supply today and able to be regrown year after year, but when water supplies wane, it may not be so 'sustainable' to continue to grow it, no matter how fast or how economically it can be converted into bio-plastics and biofuel.

So, green is a relative, rather than absolute, measure. The best way to determine relative greenness is a bona fide life cycle assessment covering all facets of a product's environmental impacts, from raw materials procurement straight through to disposal. This is duly acknowledged in the latest installment of the FTC Green Guides.

We are the next endangered species on the planet. The planet is not at risk, we are. (Yet another reason not to include images of planets in one's advertising or to make grandiose claims about saving it.) This is not a political issue, but an issue of our future, and particularly those of our kids' and their kids.

So it's incumbent upon every marketer, manufacturer, retailer, producer, and everyone else in the supply chain and their stakeholders to understand not just these Guidelines and ideally their scientific underpinnings, but to do what we can to make all green marketing work as it's supposed to.
We in industry -- and concerned consumers, too -- should get on the case of questionable green claims. In their infinite wisdom and thoroughness, the FTC provides lots of helpful information for marketers and to the public to make the process of reporting such claims easy. (The National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau can help too.)

Green marketing is just good marketing. As I've been saying for a while now -- and it is admittedly counter-intuitive, the best green marketing doesn't lead with a product's 'greenness'. The good news about many green(er) products these days is that, thanks to advances in design, materials and technology, they offer superior delivery on the primary benefits that consumers buy products for. So why not focus on those things instead of altruism and planets that don't need to be saved?

At a minimum, consider that environmental marketing, reflecting the planet itself, encompasses so many potential product-related attributes, organic, VOC, recycled, biodegradable, among them, as to render the term 'green' meaningless. Rather than confuse, even deceive, consumers intentionally or unintentionally with messages about 'eco-friendliness' and 'natural' (which in their infinite wisdom, the FTC refused to define) why not hone in on those green-oriented terms that a now mass market seeks via all its segmentary splendor: 'energy efficient', 'organically grown', 'water efficient', 'recyclable', among them, and render your marketing both relevant, targeted, and credible? (FTC would love you for being specific.)
Moreover, let's link those same 'green' attributes to the benefits they deliver to consumers. For instance, let's tout all things 'water efficient' as 'cost effective', and 'fuel efficient' as 'convenient (fewer fill-ups and the ability to drive in the HOV lane).

Does this mean we should not talk about 'the environment' at all?  Not in the least!  Consumers still want specific, well-documented and genuinely helpful environment-related information -- so let's include them in our marketing messages in its secondary or tertiary place in line with its importance on our customer's shopping list.

All of us environmental types like to talk about how, 'if we do our jobs right we'll put ourselves out of business'. Well, before we get run out of town for more greenwash and hogwash by a now enlightened FTC (and the Enforcement Division that stands ready to pounce) let's agree to put ourselves out of the 'save the planet' business and into the business of saving our customers some money, time, etc. in an environmentally sound way -- and make our marketing more legitimately green for our bottom lines, rather than our faces red with shame.

Jacquelyn Ottman is principal and founder of the New York City-based J. Ottman Consulting, expert advisers on green marketing to Fortune 500 sustainability leaders as well as several U.S. government labeling programs. The author of four books on the subject, her latest is The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler, February 2011).


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, 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


The Power of No

Sunday, October 14, 2012 by

We have all had times when we say yes to someone but really want to say no. It's often difficult to say no because of the desire to be loved: we want to be helpful, we want to show we care, but we may have little to give, are tired, over worked, or need alone time. Do you feel that if you aren’t there for someone they may reject you? Or, that you're somehow obliged to help as it makes you a 'good' person, parent or friend? Do you ever feel validated by being needed?

It's easy to believe that any time you take to relax or meditate is time that could be used elsewhere. But taking time out doesn't mean it is selfish or even wasted time. Think about what happens when your day is spent constantly caring for others. Do you get resentful, irritated, or even angry? Do you find stress building up? Does the quality of care that you offer become affected by that inner tension? Or are you so used to being this way that it seems impossible to imagine being any other way? You may even think you're not the relaxing type, or that if you do relax you won't be able to cope with all the things you have to do.

However, by taking time for yourself, by lowering your blood pressure and releasing stress, you are immediately creating a more harmonious environment that can only benefit all those around you. When you take time out to be quiet it means you don't get so angry, resentful, or frustrated; instead you connect with who you really are. Then what you share with others is coming from that peaceful space. When you are energized and feeling good you will be able to do far more than if you are dragging yourself through your day with little energy or in a bad mood.

So, rather than being selfish, such activity is actually the least selfish thing you could do! This is when saying no to others means you are affirming yourself. The power of saying no is that you are empowered!

Our yoga master, Sri Swami Satchidananda, said, "Never compromise your peace, whether it be to your children, parents, husband, wife or friends." Unless you are at peace, what you give to others is your stress or anxiety. Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has a telephone meditation where he teaches that, when the telephone rings, just wait, breathe in and out and slowly walk to the phone, so you are at ease when you answer. Then the person at the other end will feel your peace.

No one can make time. No one can change our habits or routine. For meditation to have any effect in our lives, we need to make an agreement to honor ourselves by doing it. This is actually a commitment to our own sanity and freedom. It is not to anyone else—not to a teacher or even to our family—but to living. That choice has to be made by each one of us. We can change the way we look, where we live, even who we live with, but unless we connect with who we are inside then none of those external changes will make much difference. Remember, happiness is an inside job!                    

Entering into the Quiet

Taking time to meditate is not the same as going for a walk or quietly listening to music. These are wonderfully relaxing activities, but they do not have the same effect as simply being still. Even just ten minutes a day will help you and all those around you. Others will find it easier to communicate with you, will enjoy being with you, and will even be motivated to help themselves more. As peace is contagious, let's start an epidemic!

There is a great beauty and joy that is our birthright, and we find this when we let go of resistance and stress and reconnect with that quiet space within; when we discover our essence rather than focusing on the content. A stressed mind sees life as a burden or constraint, while a relaxed mind meets life with dignity and fearlessness.

Sitting Quietly

Sit comfortably with your back straight. Take a deep breath and let it go. Eyes are closed; breathe normally. Begin to silently count at the end of each out breath: Inhale... exhale... count one; inhale... exhale... two; inhale... exhale... three. Count to five, then start at one again. Just five breaths, and back to one. Simply following each breath in and silently counting. So simple.


Your Body Speaks Your Mind

A 4-week webinar (on-line course) with Ed and Deb Shapiro, to learn how repressed, denied, or ignored thoughts and feelings are linked to specific body parts and illness. Starts October 25 but you can join in and download classes anytime

Meditation – The Best Friend You Will Ever Have

A 4-week webinar (on-line course) with Ed and Deb Shapiro, on discovering the greatest friend you could have: meditation. Starts November 5, but you can join in and download classes anytime.

See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:

Where To Find Supreme Happiness

Saturday, October 6, 2012 by


happinessHappiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. Helen Kelle

It would seem that regardless of emotional and physical hardships there is a place inside each of us that is essentially happy and free—but we have a tendency to ignore this place, or to think that being happy is dependent on circumstances or fortune.

Some years ago we were in Pondicherry, India, walking through the city as night fell, stepping carefully to avoid rats and dog pooh, when we saw two boys preparing for bed, which was on the hard concrete of the sidewalk. What really struck us was, in spite of their clear hardships, they were laughing loudly and happily.

Then, the other morning we were going to the gym, when we passed a little girl holding hands with her father. The girl was happily skipping along. Obviously, this was because skipping and jumping are expressions of happiness. But it made us think about how we express our happiness once we get to be adults.

For Deb, the little girl skipping "made me remember that when I was little I used to sing to myself. No particular tune or song, but I would often find myself humming or singing without even realizing I was doing it. Ed says I still do that. The interesting thing is that, even though I didn’t have the happiest of childhoods—mother divorced father for cruelty, I was in boarding school from age eight, and so on—there was a happiness inside me that was all mine, untouched by drama, trauma, or circumstance."

 While for Ed, "I used to dance on stage with my sister and brother; we had a whole dance routine the three of us would do together. I come from a one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx with a stepmother who made life difficult, but I was always able to find a place to dance. When I danced I was at my happiest, it took me out of my daily reality and was the way I could really express myself. I was even a dancing teenager on television and won the NYC dance championships!"

In the West we correlate happiness with economic prosperity: the more we have the happier we are meant to be. As Danny DeVito jokingly said in a movie: "You wanna know what life's about? I'll tell you. You accumulate as much as you can and whoever has the most at the end wins."

But in Bhutan, a small but beautiful country in the Himalayas squeezed between northern India and China, they determine their country’s wealth by the quantity of Gross National Happiness (or GNH): people's level of happiness serves as a monitor for the economic and development plans of the country.

Bhutan is not a materially rich country and life for most people is hard—there were no roads before 1960, they farm the high mountain fields with oxen, and certainly most don't have central heating or air conditioning. But their happiness is that deep sense of appreciation and inner contentment. This is seen in their sense of community and caring for one another, and their radiant smiles.

Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy—because we will always want to have something else or something more. Brother David Steindl-Rast

Given the current economic difficulties many people are facing, perhaps this is the perfect time to reassess what gives you happiness and how you express it—to reconnect with the inner joy that made you either skip or run when you were younger—for it is easy to forget to be happy. Do remember, unconditional happiness is an inside job. Supreme happiness is within you.


Meditation – The Best Friend You Will Ever Have

A 4-week webinar (on-line course) with Ed and Deb Shapiro, on discovering the greatest friend you could have: meditation. Starts October 25 but you can join in and download classes anytime.

Your Body Speaks Your Mind

A 4-week webinar (on-line course) with Ed and Deb Shapiro, to learn how repressed, denied, or ignored thoughts and feelings are linked to specific body parts and illness. Starts October 24 but you can join in and download classes anytime

See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at:

LOHAS Impact Investing Collaboratory - Bringing Money and Ideas Together

Tuesday, June 5, 2012 by

The time is nearing for our long-anticipated LOHAS Impact Investing Collaboratory on June 12th 9:30-5:30, cohosted with HUB Boulder! This is a special event seperate from the LOHAS Forum and focuses on the subject investment for entrepreneurs and investors relevant to LOHAS.  

If you haven’t yet registered, please do so as soon as possible so we can reserve your spot.  There is a great line-up of speakers and events taking place, so this is not to be missed!  For what to expect and more information, view the original post.

You can register on the LOHAS Conference Registration Page. The Investing Collaboratory is $225, which includes the day, plus lunch, and the opening evening of the LOHAS Forum.  HUB Boulder Members and LOHAS Forum attendees pay $150 (HUB Members contact Emily Higgins — emily [[at]] hubboulder [[dot]] com to get your discount code, or find it in your Members Newsletter).

To get you excited about the event, here is the agenda!

LOHAS Impact Investing Collaboratory
Working together to increase impact enterprise funding.

Theme : What’s the deal?  People with real-world experience talk about making and raising investments that balance financial returns with positive impact, on the regional economy, on the environment, and on social equity.

9:30 – 10:00 amNETWORKING and COFFEE

10:00 – 11:00 amOPENING
Introductions, welcome and frame-up.
Interview:  Kimbal Musk is one of the more successful entrepreneurs in Boulder.  The interview provides attendees with a rare insight into his world view, and perspective on impact, entrepreneurship and investing.

  • Kimbal Musk, Board Director, The Kitchen, Tesla, SpaceX
  • Bill Shutkin, President, Presidio School of Graduate Management (Moderator)

11 – 12:30 pm - CONCURRENT DISCUSSIONS – Thematic Issues
A. THE EXIT: What does it mean to cash-out of an impact deal?   Investors expect to make a financial return, and entrepreneurs seek to create the most impact possible, presumably over the long term.  How do we provide both outcomes, and leave all parties satisfied?  What does this mean for structuring the investments from the beginning?

  • Greg Berry, Managing Director, HUB Boulder (Moderator)
  • Rich Hoops, Board Member, HUB Boulder, SVP Boulder County, Center for Education in Social Responsibility, Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado
  • Zenia Tata, Owner, Zenia Tata, Inc.
  • Lopa Brunjes, Managing Director, The Biochar Company

B. THE LONG RUN: What does it take to last in the impact field? Where are the jobs?  What values make people successful? Why have some people stood the test of time, while others have washed out?

  • Steve Schueth, President, First Affirmative Network (Moderator)
  • Kathy Leonard, Vice President, Investments, UBS
  • Al Doerksen, CEO, iDE

12:30 – 2:00 pmLUNCH & NETWORKING

  • By discussion topics at multiple local restaurants.  Topics to include:
  • Impact Investing In The Public Markets (Kathy Leonard)
  • Move Your Money: Localize Your Banking
  • State of Crowdfunding Today
  • Foundations & Investing: PRI & MRI (Caryn Capriccioso)
  • The 25% Food Shift: Local Food System Infrastructure Investing
  • HUB Ventures — Program Overview (Evan Steiner)
  • Impact Investing Fund on The Front Range (Elizabeth Kraus)

2:00 – 3:30 pm - CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS – Practical Balance of Impact and Return
A. DUE DILIGENCE Workshop (accredited investors only)
Over the past year, the Toniic investor network has gathered, cataloged, and synthesized best practices in due diligence in impact investing from their members, who include some of the most sophisticated impact investors in the world.  George will present some of the findings in that process, and will lead an interactive discussion to help improve the quality of due diligence in our community.

  • George Deriso, Director, Toniic Network (Moderator)
  • Robert Fenwick-Smith, Managing Director, Aravaipa

We will conduct a review of multiple pitches which have each been used successfully in raising money in the past year.  The session will include a round of critical feedback from people who have seen hundreds of pitches, and an open round of questions from the:

  • Ian Fisk, Executive Director, William James Foundation (Moderator)
  • Elizabeth Kraus, local investor (Panelist)
  • Gregg Bagni, Managing Director, White Road Investments (Panelist)
  • Evan Steiner, Director, HUB Ventures (Panelist)
  • Zubaida Bai, CEO, Ayzh (Presenter)
  • Ali Cherry, CEO, Snack Packers (Presenter)

3:30 — 4:15 pm - CLOSING CIRCLE: Building An Impact EcoSystem
Attendees shares the one action they are going to take forward to help build the impact entrepreneurship economy in their home – whether it’s Boulder, Denver, Tokyo or Des Moines.

Get people connecting with new contacts, and create opportunities for prospective deals to break out and have private discussions.
One on One Networking
Speed Dating?

Your ticket to the collaboratory also includes:

5:30 — 7:00 pmLOHAS RECEPTION, Boulderado
Maybe the best night of networking in Boulder all year.  400 company CEOs, 50 thought leaders, beautiful people, kindred spirits.

The Redeming Power of Capitalism

In an age of increasing cynicism, more people are recognizing that we can’t change outcomes unless we change the rules of the game.  How do consumers, investors, and workers find companies they want to support? Learn how a growing community of leading LOHAS businesses and investors is passing legislation across the country to create a new kind of corporation that meets the needs of the LOHAS community. We welcome you to share your own thoughts and experiences during this interactive audience roundtable.
Jay Coen-Gilbert – Co Founder, B Lab
Bryan Welch – Publisher, Ogden Publications
Kim Coupanas – CEO, GoLite
Blake Jones – President, Namaste Solar

9:00 pmLOHAS AFTER HOURS – Spotlight on Boulder


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, 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

The Future Looks Bright - Depending on who You Ask

Thursday, March 22, 2012 by

One of my most favorite talks from last year's LOHAS Forum was from futurist John Petersen. I had met John in Shanghai at a Chinese LOHAS Forum and was quite impressed with what he has to say. I asked him what exactly makes up a futurist and he told me his job is to look at all kinds of things - galactic movements, cultural shifts, sublte energies, economics - pretty much everything, and see if there are patterns and relationships. Past patterns are also indications of what is to be expected in the future and to be a successful futurist one cannot rule out anything that the general public may dismiss. Sounds like an interesting job description. I asked him how he uses his skills for employment and he told me that a variety of governments use his findings for a variety of things such as defense planning or disaster preparation. Singapore hired him to develop a 'Suprise Anticpation' project for thier country so they would be prepared for everything ranging from an invasion to upprising to even aliens landing. Because of his broad scope and perspective we thought it would be great to have him present at LOHAS. Here is a clip on part of his talk.

He brings into the climate change conversation a much larger perspective that cosmic rays which bombard the planet are the main reason for the shifts in climate and that we should expect more as sun spots are on the rise. He also states that the cosmic rays are causing mutations through subtle radiation. This can raise alarms or it can also explain the lift in consciousness throughout global society. Are we to become superheros or toxic avengers? Only time will tell.


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, 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

USDA Certification Raises Bar for Biobased

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by

With carbon footprint and energy independence on everyone’s minds, many marketers are looking to capitalize upon their product’s biobased content. But not all biobased claims are alike. The scientific rigor of an ASTM standard combined with the credibility of the USDA raises the bar for the industry and makes the USDA Certified Biobased label a new source of competitive advantage within the consumer and government procurement markets for brand owners who make the effort to get their biobased products certified.

What is “Biobased”?

There is no Webster’s definition of biobased. So, marketers have tended to define it loosely or link it to perceptions of biobased as anything biological, living, natural, renewable or even biodegradable. Some do not reveal the amount of, or basis for, claiming biobased content, making comparisons difficult. This can even represent greenwash when biobased content levels are insignificant. Many questionable biobased claims have emerged, including several official-looking logos with no third party backing. With over 25,000 biobased products on the market, clearly there’s a need to clear up the confusion.

The USDA Certified Biobased label introduced one year ago this month now helps to level the market for biobased claims by providing a clear definition and an internationally recognized test standard backed up by the credibility of the USDA. Over 500 products have already been approved to use the label, and applications in the pipeline for at least 400 more. (See our previous post for more detail.)

Not just any biologically derived product or package can qualify for the label. Certified products must meet three key criteria:  they meet the definition of biobased as written into the 2008 Farm Bill, they contain minimum levels of biobased content set forth by the USDA and verified by the ASTM D6866 test standard (minimums are determined on a category by category basis and are pegged to performance and other criteria), and they represent alternatives to petroleum-based materials introduced after 1972. So, products that were on the market before 1972 made from natural fibers or forestry resources such as cotton tee shirts, office paper, or a 2 x 4 made of pine would not qualify. And neither would products whose biobased content did not meet minimum levels. (See for more details.) 

Translating Biobased Content Into Marketing Benefits

The label, with its sun, sea and crops motif was designed to help communicate that biobased products can be derived from the sea or forests — not just grown from plants. For transparency, it requires that the exact percentage of biobased content be listed on the label for the product and/or package. Thus, marketers are provided with a level playing field and consumers have an easy way to identify legitimate biobased products, as well as to compare and trust in their stated content levels.

Marketers can use the label to support a range of benefits including energy independence, alternatives to petroleum, carbon cycle management, enhanced farm and rural economies, and green jobs. Related and specific product environmental benefits as applicable, including renewable, biodegradable, natural, or compostable, must be supported and substantiated with scientific evidence.

Credibility is key. Proprietary formulas safeguarded. The price is right.

The USDA Biobased certification process is administered by Iowa State University, an independent third party. Only accredited independent laboratories conduct testing. Since the certification only measures carbon content, no proprietary formulas have to be disclosed. Unlike most other certifications, there is no upfront fee, licensing or royalties, so even the smallest businesses can take advantage of the program. Only a $500 lab test is required — a small price to pay for a potentially big competitive advantage.

Seventh Generation leads the pack.

Seventh Generation has already certified over 35 of their household and personal care products; their motivations: to promote transparency, to avoid greenwash, to allow consumers to make side by side comparisons, and to change the way the industry talks about “natural”. In the words of Julia Walker, Associate Scientist of Seventh Generation, “Our consumers want to know where their products originate without being “greenwashed.” The USDA Certified Biobased label enables us to disclose the percent renewable carbon in our products, telling consumers how much carbon comes from plants versus petroleum. The credibility of the method will give consumers the confidence they deserve to make conscious choices about their purchases and the products they bring into their homes.”


Jacquelyn Ottman and Mark Eisen are colleagues at New York City-based J. Ottman Consulting, Inc. They advised USDA BioPreferred on the launch of the USDA Certified Biobased label during 2011 and are now working with labelers on capturing the value of their participation in the program. Ms. Ottman is the author of The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding (Berrett-Koehler, 2011), named a Top 40 Sustainability book by Cambridge University.

Mr. Eisen is the former environmental marketing director at The Home Depot.  They are co-authors of “The Rise of the Biobased Economy — Why Brand Owners Need a Strategy in 2012.”

Copyright © 2012 J. Ottman Consulting, Inc.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012 by
SUMBA, INDONESIA—When I bid on an “Eco Resort Experience” last March at the : Christie’s Green Auction, I thought we were probably headed to a typically exotic deluxe vacation spot on the other side of the world.  It turns out that I was in store for one of the most memorable experiences of my life, reminiscent of Marty McFLy traveling in his “Back To The Future” DeLorean car.  A visit to Nihiwatu in Sumba, Indonesia is truly a trip back in time.

Private Pool from Nihiwatu Deluxe VillaNihiwatu is an exclusive resort but not in the traditional sense.  It is built into the raw, previously uninhabited beach of West Sumba.  This ain’t Bali, folks, far from it.  Bali is New York City compared to Sumba, which is located about 400 miles east of Bali.  The area in Indonesia is truly a time warp, one of the last animist societies remaining in the world.  It was discovered by one of Magellan’s companions,  in the 16th century on a spice gathering voyage.  Overall, not much has changed on this island of 600,000 natives since those days, with the exception of the Nihiwatu compound brought to you by visionaries Claude and Petra Graves. Intimate and personal, the resort holds about 32 guests maximum in a series of tastefully outfitted villas and bungalows.
In case you’re wondering, yes, the Sumbanese still hunt heads.  While this is illegal according to the Indonesian government, there were four beheadings in the past few months.  It’s not dangerous for tourists, however, as this type of island justice is strictly reserved for tribal disputes.  Apparently, centuries of headhunting is a hard habit to break.  Each village used to feature a “skull tree” at its gate, with examples of recent battle victories for all to see.
When I arrived, there was really nothing here,” recalled Claude Graves, a New Jersey native who with his elegant German wife, Petra, founded and began building out Nihiwatu in 1989.  “As a surfer, we looked out at perfect 20 foot waves on an absolutely pristine beach, and after a lengthy search, we knew we’d found our piece of paradise.”  As Petra described it, “We didn’t even say a word, we just started setting up camp”.

Rocky Beach Morning RunFrom an environmental standpoint, the Graves were committed to remaining true to the three-pronged agenda of  economy, environment, and social equity.  This made things even more difficult, as the environment is raw, breathtakingly beautiful, but equally harsh and unforgiving.  Winds, torrential rains, blazing sun, dangerous ocean currents, lack of any infrastructure or built environment, much less availability of building materials on the island, all conspired to make the construction of Nihiwatu a multi-year project filled with challenges and disappointments.
Despite these obstacles, locally sourced sustainable woods were used throughout the facility.  Locals sell coconuts to the resort, which has an on-site processing capability to turn the coconut oil into which powers all vehicles, generators, air conditioners, boats, jet skis, and the kitchen.  A large  pile absorbs all food waste (and miraculously, does not give off any foul fumes, unlike my  home composter.
Most of the
is locally sourced, organically grown, harvested and  prepared Fruits are predicably exotic and wonderful, as in mangosteens, dragonfruit, lycee, mangoes and coconuts, all right off the stem.   Coffees  and teas give Starbucks a run for their money, which is good since Sumba is one of few places on earth that will never qualify for Starbucks-ization.  Best are the Sumbanese, Sumatran and Balinese beans which made my morning Joe especially memorable.  It’s probably best to bring your own wines, as Nihiwatu’s cellar is not geared for the connoisseur.  It’s a little tricky getting your own bottles through customs in Bali, so, be prepared for a “discussion” with the agents as a bit of “negotiation” may be required.

Nihiwatu  could double as a training ground for the Survivor or The Great Race television series – its athletic offerings will especially be appreciated by amateur adventure athletes.  To that end,  Nihiwatu  offers the best athletic equipment we have used at any resort.  Dive gear is first rate (bring your own mask, that’s all you need), the mountain bikes are pricey and well maintained, surfboards are properly waxed, the list goes on.

Rough Waters at Nihiwatu BeachThe mountain biking offers plenty of climbs and downhills, overall the terrain is rugged but scenic;  the hiking is literally bushwhacking, crossing narrow, muddy trails and creaky bamboo bridges in driving rains to reach thundering 100+-foot waterfalls (how I wish I had thought to put my camera in a Ziplock bag…); the surfing and standup paddle boarding are great but not for the inexperienced as strong currents and riptides are found all along the beach;  horseback riding is best reserved for accomplished cowboys and cowgirls as the small, super-cute but untamed Sumbanese Sandalwood horses are exciting to ride but tend to be unruly.  Scuba diving is decent but don’t expect the crystal clear waters and visual delights of Grand Cayman or Belize.  The coral in particular is varied and vibrant, but currents even at 60-100 feet can be strong.  The jet-ski is Yamaha’s newest high horsepower model, don’t twist the throttle unless you are ready for instant-on acceleration from this heavyweight, blazing fast craft.  Even the three+ mile out and back run along one of the world’s most scenic beaches, while not to be missed, isn’t just a casual jog.  The sand, wind and high humidity made this inspiring route feel longer and more difficult than expected.  I encountered not one human, only water buffalo that had grazed down from the foothills.  In the morning, the sand is less soft and running barefoot was especially satisfying.

Mosquitoes can be a problem at  Nihiwatu $nbsp; You’re in a true jungle, and malaria is a common ailment.  We bathed in Off spray twice a day, which was an effective deterrant for the most part.  We also took anti-malaria medicine, which is recommended.  One pill a day for 12 days and you’re good to go.

Sumba Foundation, which has provided schools, water wells, medical and anti-malaria clinics and other critical services to over 20,000 villagers in West Sumba.  The Graves have made this their life’s work, sacrificing profits from Nihiwatu to fund these projects for the impoverished natives.  The Graves were in Bali in the 70s, and could have devoted their resources to building hotels and restaurants there and enjoyed the benefits that would have undoubtedly followed.  So why would a young, attractive, successful couple give up such opportunity, all to go to a primitive island and help people living as they did 1,000 years ago?

Visit to Typical Sumbanese VillageWe employ these people, we have taught them English, how to hold a job, how to fish and cook with modern equipment, how to take better care of their families, and showed them why they need running water and cleaner conditions.  Many of them still don’t really get it, but some of them do, and that has been very rewarding to us,” Claude Graves explained.  “The mortality rate of their children has decreased nearly 50 percent since we brought the malaria and medical clinics on stream.  And our better local employees have gone on to purchase land, build improved houses and take care of their entire extended families through what they have learned at Nihiwatu.  This is the work of the Sumba Foundation, and we have a lot more to do.
One thing I didn’t get to see was the Pasola, a traditional contest among tribes that features warriors atop the miniature sandalwood horses, armed with spears (the Indonesian government has required the spear tips to be dulled).  It is basically organized chaos, very colorful and exciting, and inevitably, there are deaths.  In fact, the Pasola is not considered successful unless there is bloodshed, the more the better as blood on the earth symbolizes a bountiful harvest in the coming year.

Welcome DancePerhaps the most fascinating thing about Sumba is seeing the Graves work with the natives.  They have mastered the art of transitioning people out of poverty, without infringing on their cultural values.  Governments could learn a lot from studying the Sumba Foundation.  Be sure to view the Sumba Foundation video and tour one of the Sumbanese villages, it’s a trip back in time that is not to be missed.  Be prepared, however, for the primitive conditions, which can be a little disarming – Gilligan’s Island it ain’t.  People, dogs, cats, swine, horses, monkeys and other family “possessions” share the same living quarters.
You will also meet some interesting people as  Nihiwatu  attracts the cultural and physical elite.  Film producers and directors, philanthropists, designers, CEOs – most of whom appear to be in great athletic shape – populate the place on a regular basis. Oh, one more thing.  Not much nightlife on Sumba, but Sumba tends to attract eco-conscious movers and shakers from all over the world as its guests.  Thus we managed to make our own New Year’s Eve party, and as the saying goes, what happens in  Nihiwatu, stays in  Nihiwatu

Typical Sunset at Nihiwatu Beach
Typical Sunset at Nihiwatu Beach

 Fly out of LAX or JFK to Denpasar, Bali, usually via Taipei or Singapore.  Overnight in Denpasar, then catch a surprisingly large jet for the 50 minute flight to Sumba.  SUVs from  Nihiwatu will be waiting to take you on the 90 minute drive across the island to reach the resort, located at the extreme edge of West Sumba.

COST AND AVAILABILITY:  Variable according to season.  Most packages include room, three meals per day, welcome massage, all non-alcoholic beverages and other extras end up at between $730 and $3500 per night, depending upon accommodation.  Surfers should pay special attention to timing, as during prime surfing season management only allows 10 surfing guests.  You won’t have to compete for the best waves here. Read more by Jennifer Schwab on her  Inner Green

John Rooks CEO of the SOAP Group Presentation at LOHAS 2011

Monday, January 30, 2012 by

John Rooks did an amazing job presenting a compelling argument on a civic approach to branding that drives behavior change. It was one of the most favorite sessions of last year's LOHAS Forum for me. Check out all the old commercials and movie clips playing behind him. Not many people new it but he had a VJ behind the screen  following his talk and splicing the clips together in real time. Very edgy and very cool! I can't wait to see what John has up his sleeve for the 2012 LOHAS Forum.

John Rooks: Sustainable Economy- LOHAS 2011 from The SOAP Group on Vimeo.


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, 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