Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability

BRIC Was It, Now EMIC Is the Thing

Saturday, July 12, 2014 by

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"Daring for Big Impact" was held at the Greifenstein Castle in Switzerland.

So you've probably heard of the BRIC countries as discussion of the economic growth potential of Brazil, Russia, India and China has been all the rage, especially during the recession. While still critical to world economic growth, those countries are no longer the cutting edge of investment and sustainable opportunity.

Who knows what the EMICS are? How about Ethiopia, Myanmar, Iran and Colombia? I recently was invited to attend a very special conference held at this picturesque Swiss castle nestled among idyllic gardens near the Swiss-Austrian border. "Daring for Big Impact" was a most compelling and unusual confab, featuring a carefully curated group of international experts from industry, finance, government and philanthropy. Organized by Swiss-based global impact investment and strategy firm Impact Economy, the conference looked at several significant but seemingly unrelated topics, all of which are on the cutting edge of business innovation and investing for the 21st century.

"Our challenge going forward is twofold," explained the conference's host, Christian Kruger, who serves as Chairman of Krüger & Co., and owns and maintains Greifenstein Castle in his spare time.

First, to accelerate the pace of progress so we move from pilot to mainstream, and begin achieving demonstrable results on a massive scale. Second, we need to return to holistic thinking and consider what the good life means in the 21st century, and reflect upon what each of us can do individually to ground ourselves and contribute -- so the good life is not just for the privileged few.

 

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The conference, nestled among idyllic gardens near the Swiss-Austrian border, brought together international experts to attend sessions like "The Pursuit of 21st Century Happiness."

While covering topics ranging from how to meet the crushing demand for clothing and apparel throughout the developing world in a safe and sustainable way, to climate change and its ramifications, to the relatively new science of impact investing, the conference attempted to meld these seemingly diverse topics into a central theme: if we can work together productively and strategically, we can overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges threatening our future. Overpopulation, water scarcity, fracking, electronic waste, rising temperatures and oceans, unstable and totalitarian governments... none of these externalities seemed to deter the enthusiasm for utilizing strategic investment not only for profit but to help deal with these threats to our very existence.

This seeming juxtaposition is perhaps best illustrated by Bangladesh: the apparel industry is growing by leaps and bounds there, accounting for 20 percent of its GDP. But this emerging country is also responsible for one of the worst industrial disasters in modern history, the April 2013 collapse of a large garment factory building in Dhaka, which killed over 1,100 workers. And herein lies the problem, and the opportunity which the fourth annual iteration of "Daring for Big Impact" addressed.

"Beyond catalytic countries that can drive wider progress, there are also countries whose success in modernizing could have wider geostrategic implications," said Dr. Maximilian Martin, co-host of the conference as well as founder and CEO of Impact Economy. I had met Dr. Martin at a previous professional gathering and was taken with his keen insight and ability to analyze and translate the world's sustainability problems into business innovations.

Dr. Martin explained why he believes the EMICs to be where the action will be going forward.

Ethiopia has been the fastest growing economy in Africa with a GDP growth rate of 10.7 percent in the past decade, which made it the 12th fastest growing economy worldwide. Myanmar has undergone important industrial reforms to allow more foreign investment to flow into the country. Iran is the largest economy in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia in terms of GDP (although sanctions make it off limit for investments at the moment). And Colombia's vision to become one of the top three most competitive countries in Latin America by 2030 is supported by an expected GDP growth of 4.5 percent in 2014.

Indeed, the seventh World Urban Forum was recently held in Medellin, best known of course as world headquarters of the infamous drug cartels. However, as proof of Dr. Martin's assessment, the murder rate there has dropped by 80 percent since its peak, and was rated the number one innovative city in the world by none other than the Wall Street Journal.

A critical message imparted by Dr. Martin throughout the conference is the need to integrate sustainable practices into key industries to enable their long-term competitiveness, especially fashion, retail and electronics -- none of which, according to him, are on a sustainable track currently. This is an example of an area that business and investment leaders must work with NGOs and philanthropists to correct. The ramifications of the waste generated by these industries without proper forethought to using recyclable materials and getting those materials back into the recycling/remanufacturing supply chain will be disastrous otherwise. But if reused, they become a business opportunity.

This critical issue was looked into more closely by Carlos Criado-Perez, former CEO of British retailer Safeway and before that operations director for Walmart International. Perez's presentation made much of data points coming from Impact Economy and Ellen MacArthur Foundation research, for example that over $700 billion -- yes with a "b" -- could be saved if just half of what is sold annually by the apparel industry could be recycled for future use after its useful life, instead of ending up in landfill. Not to mention, the production of clothing is extremely water-intensive and Impact Economy estimates that up to 50 percent of the zillions of gallons required could be saved by use of sustainable manufacturing practices.

An interesting twist that separated "Daring for Big Impact" from the dozens of other "future-look" conferences was the inclusion of sessions like "The Pursuit of 21st Century Happiness" which featured Swami Nitya, spiritual guide from the UK, and Han Shan, a "guru" from Thailand, which related opportunities in global change to the personal level.

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A violinist set the evening atmosphere at the conference dinner.

One other aspect of the conference that is close to my heart was remarks by David Gelber, formerly producer for Harry Bradley of 60 Minutes fame but more recently, creator of the important documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, which is airing on Showtime (perhaps they think it offsets the soft-core porn one usually finds there?). This production is one of the best ever made at illustrating the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change. We screened an episode and a very lively discussion followed, although not surprisingly, there is not much disagreement among this group about how critical it is to proactively respond immediately if civilization as we know it is to continue.

Suffice it to say that this conference stood out from the crowd. The firm Impact Economy and Dr. Martin in particular are to be commended for having the vision to show how different topics add up to a comprehensive picture and three days of intensive and provocative thought about where we go from here and how to do it in a way that will benefit all, not just investors.

Read more from Jennifer Schwab on her Inner Green.

Water, Water Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink....

Saturday, July 12, 2014 by

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Californians hope to avoid a desolate future with the development of desalination systems across the state. Photo by Bruce Rolff.

SANTA BARBARA, CA -- And so goes the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, the iconic tome by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Of course, it refers to a seaman who is adrift with no supplies. How fitting, then, that we apply this life lesson to the current situation in Santa Barbara, if not the entire Southwestern U.S.

The media has finally awakened to what many of us have been banging the drum about for months - to borrow from the 1972 Albert Hammond pop tune, "It Never Rains In Southern California." In essence, this has caused a drought we have not seen in decades, as detailed in my previous articles, Red, White, and Waterless andSqueezing Water From a Rock. So let's look at Santa Barbara as a microcosm of what could happen in many cities throughout the country if we don't do something about it, and quickly.

From a variety of research and interviews I conducted with experts on weather patterns and climate trends, one central theme emerges: we as a society need to prepare now for the possibility that this drought will continue indefinitely. While not probable, at least we hope not, it is most definitely a possibility. Life must go on, and to sustain it we need clean water for everyone. Regardless of whether it rains.

"I have been here since 1964, and the climate today is very different than it was in those days," explained Tom Mosby, General Manager of the Montecito Water District. "The succession used to be two weeks of fog, then four or five days of warm, sunny conditions. Now, it seems that the inverse is true. No rain is a huge problem for us." Montecito is the tiny, toney town that lies adjacent to Santa Barbara, populated mostly by wealthy retirees and those escaping L.A. in search of solitude and open space. Oprah's famous $50 million estate lies within the Montecito city limits. "Our water conservation plan now includes water rationing which has been very successful. We believe the majority of our customers are checking their water meters daily to track allocation," Mosby said.

Montecito has very limited groundwater, equivalent to less than 7% of its annual water supply which has compounded its water shortage problem. The District's reliance on surface water reservoirs, coupled with below average rainfall led to the declaration of a water shortage emergency on February 11. If it doesn't rain during fall/winter 2014-15, a stage 4 (they are currently in stage 3) state of emergency could be declared which would mean little to no water for outdoor landscaping.

The Santa Barbara area has been a leader in water conservation, as its residents have been very responsible about decreasing water consumption in recent years. So much so, in fact, that in an ironic twist, the local water districts may have to raise their rates again -- this time by 100 percent -- because revenues are down dramatically. A vicious cycle? Perhaps yes, and one that could be repeated in any geographic area that is short on water but successful in persuading homeowners to cut usage. Thus, we face yet another quandary in going green which only frustrates the consumer trying to do the right thing.

The City of Santa Barbara did have the foresight to plan, design and break ground on a desalination plant back in 1991. Fortunately or unfortunately, plans to complete the plant were scrapped as the 1986-91 drought came to a dramatic end. Just recently, the City Council initiated reactivation proceedings to get the plant construction going once again. This will cost just under $30 million, and will provide enough clean water for about half of the Santa Barbara Water District's customers.

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The Carlsbad Desalination Project, seen here, is set to deliver clean drinking water to 300,000 San Diego county residents by 2016.

While the City of Santa Barbara wants to cooperate with Montecito to allow its residents to purchase water produced by the plant, a complicated situation related to approval and permitting process due to the infamous Coastal Commission may well prevent this. "We have to get desal now," declared Darlene Bierig, President of the Montecito Water Board. Recycling wastewater is also an option but realistically, this is more suited for agricultural, landscape, golf course and cemetery water than for drinking. The conventional wisdom seems to be moving toward desal and rapidly. This, in my opinion, is one of the better arrows in our quiver if we no longer enjoy the benefits of consistent, bountiful rainfall.

With the challenges Santa Barbara's original desalination plant faces, setting up a small-scale desalination plant is an alternative possibility in Montecito. I consulted an Israeli expert in water management, Clive Lipchin, to see if it is possible to enable Montecito to provide water for its citizens in a stand alone, self-sufficient manner. As with all new desal development, Lipchin notes, "There are infrastructure questions such as the state of the water grid and the possibility of easily inserting the desalination plant into the grid. Other issues include the best site for such a plant and its proximity to the coast, the location of the brine outfall, the current cost of water and electricity, and environmental regulations." Considering the factors, Lipchin suggests a small-scale desalination plant could be built faster and cheaper than waiting for City of Santa Barbara. "There are options to build a desal plant in a modular configuration with construction costs ranging from $5-10 million. Israel has done this successfully for small communities in Cyprus and Malta."

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The Carlsbad, CA desalination plant will closely resemble Ashkelon, Israel's 3rd generation desalination plant, seen here.

"Water banking" is another idea that Santa Barbara has cooked up to deal with the current shortages, according to Santa Barbara Acting Water Resources Manager, Joshua Haggmark. "Water banking is the practice of foregoing water deliveries during certain periods, and banking either the right to use the unused water in the future, or saving it for someone else to use in exchange for a fee or delivery in-kind," explains Jasper Womach, Agricultural Policy Specialist for the Congressional Research Service. "It is best used where there is significant storage capacity to facilitate such transfers of water."

In my view, that could be helpful but will not solve the water shortage. A massive, ongoing source of clean water to replace Mother Nature's downpours is desperately needed. Just last month, the L.A. Times and USC's Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences conducted a poll of 1,500 registered voters. Results showed that 89 percent of respondents agree that the drought is a major problem or even a crisis. An encouraging 75 percent believe the state should invest in desalination of ocean water for household use. This support was consistent across demographic groups, with 48 percent strongly in favor and 26 percent somewhat in favor.

Let's head about 200 miles south, to the beach town of Carlsbad which is located in North County San Diego. As we speak, SoCal's only large desal plant is being constructed. The plant will create enough fresh water to serve 300,000 area residents. "We are developers and owners of the project," said Peter MacLaggan, Senior VP of Poseidon Water, the contractor who is building the plant which is projected to come online in 2016. "The project has been in development for 12 years, as the approval process began in 2003 and ended in 2009. Six long years. After the permits, we worked with the San Diego County Water Authority to get the contracts in place, and then we raised $734 million through a bond issue, along with $167 million in private equity," explained MacLaggan. This is probably typical of what a large desal plant would require -- about a billion dollars, and about 10 years if not longer.

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The Carlsbad desalination plant will be able to produce 1 gallon of freshwater for every 2 gallons of seawater it intakes.

Key environmental issues associated with desal plants are first and foremost, the intake portion of the process and its effect upon larval fish eggs, and secondly, expulsion of the brine or salt back into the ocean. While larger fish will be able to swim away from the intake ducts, microscopic fish and plankton that are vital to the underwater food chain can be damaged by the desal process. In addition, a tremendous amount of power is required to run the plant, thus use of fossil fuels vs. renewable energy is a critical discussion. Oceana's California Campaign Director, Dr. Geoff Shester, stresses, "Turning seawater into drinking water requires massive amounts of energy and poses risks to an already stressed ocean ecosystem, as the salty brine byproducts fundamentally disrupt the ocean's delicate chemical balance. Relying on desalination as an alternative water source fails to solve the underlying problem that California's inefficient use of water is outstripping our water supply, while creating a wide suite of new risks to our ocean which we don't yet fully comprehend."

Desal plants cannot be built offshore because the efficiency of production becomes significantly lower. Another issue is this: land, extremely valuable coastal land at that, will be needed to build more desal plants. Thus years of lawsuits and ultimately, use of eminent domain by the state may be required to secure key sites for a network of desal plants that can produce enough water to support highly populated Southern California. "The next desalination project will be easier because decisions and precedents are already set," added MacLaggan. Hopefully he is right about this.

As you can probably tell, I am a huge proponent of desalination as part of the answer to our water problems. As I sit here in my hotel room in Tel Aviv, I quaff a tasty glass of desal water. Not to mention, I washed my hair this morning and noticed the sheen and texture is actually better than washing my hair with Nevada or SoCal water. While admittedly there are environmental issues to deal with, this reminds me of the debate about wind power generated by turbines located in the desert. Some of our leading environmental watchdog NGOs are constantly banging the drum about the need for renewable energy, but then they question wind farms because they are visually unattractive and might affect the mating patterns of the snail darter. Similarly, ocean preservation advocates need to get real about the need for desal plants as a partial fix for inadequate rainfall. Fortunately, we're quickly witnessing an advancement of technology to minimize environmental impacts, as showcased in Damian Palin's TED Talk, Mining Minerals From Seawater. Palin proposes an innovative solution using bacteria to extract heavy metals from the toxic brine, thus minimizing pollutants that reenter the seawater and creating what Palin describes as "a new mining industry that is in harmony with nature."

Given the lead time required to plan, approve, design and build these plants, we are already way behind and crisis may occur before enough of them come on stream - not only in Southern California but anywhere with a coastline that is short of fresh water. Let's take a cue from Israel, which has developed a network of desal plants that produce enough water to keep the admittedly tiny desert nation supplied indefinitely with zero rainfall. It is time right now to move past the conversation, debates and wishful thinking. Oceans make up 71 percent of the earth's surface, so we know there IS enough salt water to meet our desal needs. We need to be building desal plants yesterday, throughout the world, to ensure fresh drinking water for all. Please help the cause by explaining this to your family, friends, legislators, and the media.

As always, thanks for reading and considering My Inner Green viewpoint.

Follow Jennifer Schwab on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SCGreen_Home

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.


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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...

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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.

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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.) 

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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.

ASK BIG, SCARY, WORLD-CHANGING QUESTIONS

Wednesday, April 30, 2014 by

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


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

One word your brand must own: Sustainability


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


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


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


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


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


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

The article was first published on Fast Company.

5 tips to get the most out of your Expo West trade show experience

Monday, February 24, 2014 by

EXPO is a tremendous opportunity for manufacturers to introduce their new items and brands to retailers and consumers.  Retailers are always on the lookout for cool new items to drive sustainable sales.  Manufacturers wanting to make a lasting impact should be prepared to do more than the thousands of other brands on the shelf.

Think of EXPO as a large retail store.  Instead of only potential customers shopping for your product you're also trying to attract retailers.  Of all the items in your category, how do you stand out against the competition?  Having a solid EXPO strategy can help you make a lasting impression with retailers, potential customers, and even food bloggers. 

Know your purpose:

Your booth looks great, your sales team is energetic and motivated, and you have plenty of samples to pass out but what is your purpose for being at Expo?  Is it to sell cases or is it to address’s a specific unmet need?  A lot of brands get so caught up in selling that they lose sight of their original purpose.  To me this is what the natural channel is really about.  It's about authenticity, helping consumers, and making a lasting impact.  What selling story do you want retailers to communicate on your behalf?  Your presentation at Expo should clearly communicate and educate retailers. 

Know your competition:

Most manufacturers can list their competitors but how many manufacturers are experts on their competitor’s products?  Knowing your competition helps you sell against them and differentiate your brand.  Retailers are not looking for another “me too” brand.  They want a strong brand to take a leadership role in the category - a brand that appeals to their customers. 

Everyone in your booth needs to be prepared to answer any question about a competitive product.  They should use that as an opportunity to help differentiate your brand against the competition.  For example yes, our competition is gluten-free but did you know that we are also non-GMO certified?

Know your target consumer:

Retailers manage literally hundreds of different categories and thousands of items.  They cannot be experts in everything.  It is up to brands to educate retailers on the category and help them sell more of your products.  This could be the greatest differentiator between you and your competition.  Set yourself apart by helping retailers meet their shopper’s needs.

Be an expert in your category:

A lot of small companies know very little about the categories they compete in.  Being an expert in your category includes more than just listing each of your competitors. It also includes understanding how your category is meeting retailer’s objectives:

•  Is the category up or down?

•  Is there enough holding power in the categories for the top brands?

•  How does the category increase foot traffic for the retailer?

•  How important is the category to other departments in the store?

A good way to become an expert in the category is to be prepared with a complete category review for each of the key retailers you plan to connect with in addition to the regions you sell in. Retailers will be extremely impressed that you've made an effort to understand your category at their store.  This creates a unique opportunity for you to highlight your brand and will help them grow sales.

Have a follow-up strategy:

Have a strategy in place to capture contact information, important conversations, and organize notes for follow-up after the show.  I'm amazed by how many exhibitors run out of business cards and sales literature before the end of the show.  I'm equally amazed by the lack of follow-up on the part of some brands.  After spending all the money, time, and energy to exhibit at EXPO this is a huge missed opportunity.  At the very least, exhibitors should thank people for coming to their booth.  Not only is this courteous but you never know when a contact might be in a position to grow your brand.   

See you there!

 

Organic and CPG Industry Strategic Advisor Daniel Lohman CPSA is an expert in the organic and natural CPG industry. With more than 25+ years experience, he is certified at the highest level of category management proficiency: Certified Professional Strategic Advisor.

Responsible for growing sales and teaching Category Management theory and principals while at Kimberly-Clark and Unilever. His extensive knowledge and expertise extends beyond that of a traditional Category Manager and has earned him recognition and a reputation throughout the industry as a thought leader.

 

Dan is a Natural Products EXPO speaker, is internationally published, writes for LOHAS, New Hope 360, The Natural Food Merchandiser, Supermarket News, and World Alliance for Retail Excellence and Standards.  Dan is the author of Strategic Solutions and Guide to Grow Your Natural Business and the author of the What You Need To Know blog at CMS4CPG.COM.

How Inefficiency Hurts Your Business for Sustainability

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by

In today's technologically driven world, there are many ways a business can become more efficient. This efficiency translates to greater net income as well as promoting a stronger future for humanity. Let's face it, without focusing on the continuation of humankind, there will be no customers in the future. With all of the innovative developments at our disposal, there are still many people that prefer to perform archaic principles in business that are not conducive to growth. In what ways can this inefficiency hurt your business for sustainability?

1. Wasting Time - One of the most valued commodities of any business is time. By not investing in ways to increase efficiency in the workplace, your business is losing money through wasting the one thing that cannot be recuperated. Instead of the pencil and pen ledger, software exists to allow you to reduce the time spent on record keeping exponentially. This means less paper is used, less time is wasted and more money remains in your bank accounts instead of paying staff to do the work that only requires a few clicks of the mouse.

2. Wasting Electricity - By not examining the electronics that are turned on all the time that don't need to be, you are wasting electricity. Not all computers and monitors need to be left on day-in and day-out. The only real appliance that should be left on is the server. That staff member you may have that is only at his or her desk once per week doesn't need the computer left on. This waste of electricity is damaging to your energy bill as well as hurting the rest of the community by taking energy that could be used elsewhere.

3. Wasting Paper - Did you know that nearly every aspect of any given business can be done digitally? Even receipts for purchases can be emailed instead of printed. Since tablets and smartphones can open most office documents, there is no real reason to have hard copies. Digital documents can be stored and backed up far easier than the printed counterparts - and will take up less physical space. The only real forms that may be needed are those that require personal initials or signatures such as real estate documents or contracts. Memos, correspondences and many other forms of printed material are no longer needed if you have the right alternatives. The financial savings alone from ink and paper should be more than enough incentive to look into efficient alternatives. 

4. Wasting Water - Faucets and toilets within the facility may be wasting water, but what about outside the business? Everyone likes to see greenery surrounding the headquarters or business establishment. However, is the water being put into keeping it green used wisely? There are still organizations out there that have sprinkler systems that operate when it's raining outside. There are products available now that can reduce the amount of time you spend watering the grass and flowers by up to 50-percent. This means you are wasting less water on the ambiance of your business while keeping more money in your bank.

As a business owner, you should be setting an example of professionalism. In a world where so many resources are dwindling rapidly, you need to realize that the business establishment greatly contributes to the loss of these resources. Look around your location and develop a strategy to become more sustainable for the environment and your profitability.

Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.

The Next Economy

Monday, February 10, 2014 by

Those who follow my blog might have noticed substantial inactivity. Yes, I stopped posting articles, mainly out of despair. So much to say, what first, and how? Even if I wrote every day, we would not cover all the complexities of the self-destructive system that humans have created out of greed.

As the speed of natural devastation picks up and the response to the natural rampage becomes short,  obsolete, and mostly non-systemic many, who strive to keep this precious Earth alive with all its beauties, become speechless. But as a famous quote whose author I do not recall states "there is no time to be a pessimist", we must now, more than ever, reflect on our actions and their consequences. We must now rethink our way forward.

If the way forward is based on understanding our need for biological sustainability, since without biological sustainability there is no other sustainability, I let you ponder on this way forward for the outbursting population of 7 billion. 

Video by Tompkins Conservation, The Next Economy

Words of a long time environmentalist and conservationist, Doug Tompkins who, together with his wife Kris and a large team of people dedicated to preserving our nature, have embarked on a challenging path. They have been able to succeed, so why can't we all?

 

Described as “a tireless advocate of an ecological lifestyle and an absolute defender of nature”, Hana takes any opportunity to engage in sustainable living as a sustainability strategist, citizen as well as a consumer. Her ambitions go beyond motivating others through Hana's green living blog. Professionally her aim is to look at today’s environmental issues in a holistic way, through a systemic lens and to strive for long-term improvements rather than short-term fixes. She established Earth Matters, a collaborative consultancy to help others advance on issues of sustainability. Tweet @earthmatters2me

 

 

Social Media as Social Currency: Selling Through Social Influencing

Saturday, February 8, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

Passion

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

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

Purpose

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

Give

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

Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan

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

 

* Sources:

Nielsen: Global research study April 10, 2012

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

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

Top photo credit: marketingtango.com

 

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

4 Ways Mindfulness Transforms Your Life (As It Did For the Seahawks!)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 by

There’s an amazing epidemic sweeping America and it’s a healthy, vital and enriching one. In every walk of life people are hearing about the value and importance of mindfulness and meditation. For instance, the Seahawks include yoga and meditation in their training and they just won the Super Bowl!

Ohio congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation, calls mindfulness a “meditative practice that focuses on the present moment instead of worrying about the past or future.” He has helped land a $1 million grant in 2009 for Youngstown and Warren schools to teach mindfulness to elementary students. We interviewed Congressman Ryan in our E-conference and on our radio show, and his commitment to mindfulness and meditation is awe-inspiring.

Mindfulness – which is being present and aware – enables stress to be released, difficulties become workable, and true happiness become possible. Meditation is the training ground for mindfulness, as it teaches us how to focus our attention. But how does mindfulness shift our priorities and enable us to make friends with ourselves?

Here are some of the ways mindfulness and meditation can make your life more meaningful and enjoyable!

1. Stress Out, Relaxation In

It only takes a few minutes to chill out. As soon as we start paying attention, being aware and mindful of what is going on, then our whole physiology responds by calming the stress response and increasing the relaxation response, says our partner at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com, Brian Jones.

Meditation and medication are derived from the Latin word medicus: to care or to cure. Which means both meditation and mindfulness are, therefore, the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked mind.

Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in- and out-breath: Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile. Becoming aware of the breath makes it easy to then be awareness to your body, thoughts, feelings, and your world.

2. Appreciating the Details

Mindfulness brings us into an awareness of all the small things – those that get missed when we are stressed, and which give life real meaning. Take a moment right now to appreciate the chair you are sitting on. Consider how the chair was made: the wood, cotton, wool, or other fibers, the trees and plants that were used, the earth that grew the trees, the sun and rain, the animals that maybe gave their lives, the people who prepared the materials, the place where the chair was made, the designer and carpenter and seamstress, the shop that sold it—all this just so you could be sitting here, now. Then extend that appreciation to everything and everyone, so you take nothing for granted.

3. From Self-centeredness to Other-centeredness

Mindfulness increases awareness of ourselves, which means we become aware of any self-centeredness, selfishness, and neurosis. We don’t often accept negative feelings too easily, we’re more likely to repress or disown them. But when denied they cause shame, depression, anger, and anxiety. Mindfulness invites us to openly meet these places, to see how selfishness, aversion and ignorance create endless dramas and fears.

Mindfulness also connects us to the stillness that is always there between our thoughts, behind the story, beneath the noise. And it enables us to be less focused on ourselves, more aware of others, and more aware of the interconnection between us.

4. Kindness Rocks

In a stressed state, we lose touch with inner peace, compassion and kindness; in a relaxed state, our mind is clear and we can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and altruism. Mindfulness awakens us to caring and kindness: how can we cause harm when we are aware that in the process we are also causing ourselves harm? Simply through the intent to cause less pain you can bring greater dignity to your world so that harm is replaced with kindness.

Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, every time you think of someone you are having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset or irritated, you can bring kindness and compassion. Breathing gently, silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness; May they be well, may they be happy, may they be filled with loving kindness.

**********

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Fire Your Manager. Hire A Leader.

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

Mindfulness Meditation Is The Direct Way To Happiness

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by

We often wonder what our lives would be like without meditation or mindfulness. We were talking with our partner, neuroscientist and yogi Brian Jones, about this recently who said, “With all the mass overstimulation and continuously heightened levels of stress it's easy to see why we’re all going crazy. The modern world demands so much of our attention that we forget who we truly are in our deepest sense.”

We’re sure you know what we mean: the demands and busyness of life can have a toll on anyone. So what to do? How to live in this world with sanity and ease? The wise yogis said that happiness is our birthright but where is this happiness found?

What, out of all the things we can get in this whole world, will give us the most happiness, joy, peace of mind, self-friendship, clarity, insight, presence, is totally free but invariably ignored? Yes, you got it, it’s meditation -- the most invaluable gift you could ever give yourself! We look everywhere for peace and spend a fortune thinking something will give us happiness while it is, and always will be, inside us. Not only that, but whatever we get we can lose, but what’s inside of us we have always! How outrageous!

Actor Ed Begley, Jr., from our award-winning book Be The Change, points out that: If stuff made you happy, there would be nothing but happy people living in Bel Air and unhappy people living in Fiji where they have nothing, but I have been to Fiji and there are plenty of happy people there. I have never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top. We have got to get away from stuff and appreciate what is here.

Meditation is in the news. Any self-respecting business uses meditation and mindfulness to combat stress, major newspapers and magazines carry stories on the benefits of meditation with tips from famous film stars, and cross-legged yogis and Buddhist monks can be seen in adverts for everything from computers and credit cards to insurance.  

Respected Buddhist meditation teacher Mingyur Rinpoche asks: Who makes problems? We humans. And who is the controller of the human? The mind. And how to control the human mind? Through meditation. If you can control the pilot, then the pilot can control the plane.

Mindfulness is being aware of whatever arises in your mind and body, sensations, feelings and thoughts. It’s not about trying to change anything but non-judgmentally and gently accepting it as it is. However, anyone first coming to meditation can be met with a plethora of advice and techniques that may baffle or confuse: Where to go? What to do? Which is best? How to start? How to chose between TM, mantra recitation, kundalini, vipassana, insight, witness, breath awareness, shamata, visualization, MBSR, metta, and more?

The best way is to try them and see what works for you – we’re all different! It’s important to remember that a technique is only a way to something, it’s not the something itself. True meditation is spontaneous, natural, arising from within, while the technique is simply the learnt method that helps us have that experience. All techniques are designed to help calm the mind, bring our attention inward, and focus in just this present moment so that the experience of meditation occurs naturally.

Author and meditation teacher Sylvia Boorstein emphasizes that: The point of meditation is to keep the mind free of confusion. Meditation, past calming our nerves, past being good for our blood pressure, past allowing us to work out our own internal psychological dramas, which it does, past helping us to get along with our kin and our community, is a way of really deeply seeing the truth that the only way to ameliorate our own suffering and the suffering of the world is to keep our minds clear.

The equation, therefore, is simple: The more meditation becomes a part of your life, the more you change and evolve; the more you change and evolve, the more society is transformed and the world moves into a wiser and more loving place to be. And all you have to do for this chain of events to occur is to sit still!

 

Practice:

Start right now, where you are sitting as you read this. Do this for just 3-5 minutes.

Become aware of your body. Scan your body from head to toes, acknowledging how it feels, and where there is tension or ease.

Become aware of your feelings, thoughts, and any sensations.

Become aware of your breathing, and just watch your breath as it enters and leaves for a few moments.

Now take a deep breath and let it go.

 

**********

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.com and EdandDebShapiro.com

Getting the Top One Percent to Chip In

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 by

Greed. What is the purpose of collecting all the money you can if you can't take it with you when you pass away? I can understand wanting to live comfortably without having to stress over bills and debts. When you have so much money in the bank accounts that you could never realistically spend it in your lifetime, doesn't that make you a hoarder? It is said that the top 1-percent of the population now controls 39-percent of the world's wealth. All I can do is wonder, "Why?" Can't these people separate themselves from even a small portion of this money?

The "trickle-down effect" really didn't trickle down at all. Since most of these 1-percent have no interest in spending it, there is nothing to trickle down. Why not implement a few ideas to merely help those who have spent their money raising some of you 1-percent people to where you are? In fact, you might even make more money if you did. Investing in the future of humanity is probably the best investment you'll ever make.

1. Small Businesses - By investing $1.5 million in a small business and sticking the money into a savings account at 0.05-percent, the small business could pay its bills plus a single person making $25,000 per year while sustaining itself for 36.6 years. This is also considering that the small business doesn't make a single dime in revenue. If the small business makes money, then all the better. In fact, adding another person to the business making the same amount as the first would only decrease the business sustainability to 22.7 years. If the business manages to succeed and make money on it is own, then there is more money in your pocket as the investor.

2. Donations - Some don't like to give donations because they don't really know where the money is going and would rather not trust a stranger's word that it will get to those who are in need. If that's the case, then why not donate tangible goods? Aside from the fact that donations are tax-deductible, you can help others survive in order to keep your business running. No matter how you slice it up, it's the other 99-percent of the population that is keeping you rich. If they are unable to sustain themselves, they won't be able to sustain you.

3. Education - If you'd rather invest in something that will be beneficial to those who are in need, why not put it towards education? Although our school-system is sub-par in the United States, you could still put money towards teaching others how to sustain themselves. Grant it, there are many people in the world who are simply looking for a free ride and won't do anything to improve their situation. These people are a drain on society, but that isn't everyone that lives below the poverty line. Many of us are at this level through bad decisions and have been unable to climb out of the hole. Could you put your expertise and knowledge to help these people figure out a way to rise above that level? That is, without charging the $49.99 that you see on "get-rich-quick" websites?

It doesn't take a lot of money to change lives. When you control as much money as the 1-percent does, $25,000 can be nothing more than pocket change. Is it really that difficult to feed some of the money back into the populace? After all, most of these people are probably paying your way through life. It doesn't take much, just compassion for humanity.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker is a regular contributor to www.enannysource.com and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, Babysitting, nanny background check tips etc. You can reach her @ nancy.parker015 @ gmail.com

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

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some questions that will help:

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

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

What do you want to contribute to your business?

What do you want to give to your clients?

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

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

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

Happy New Year!

Sascha Bosio

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

 

LOHAS Asia Forum set to land in Hong Kong

Friday, January 10, 2014 by

With the success of the inaugural LOHAS Asia Forum in 2012, Hong Kong will be hosting this year’s conference on the 14th and 15th of February 2014 at the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Centre, Wan Chai.

The’ two-day LOHAS Asia Forum will bring together world-class health and sustainability speakers, innovative discussions and unparalleled networking opportunities for both businesses and entrepreneurs within the growing sustainable consumer market in Asia.

“We are seeing a huge growth in the number of consumers across Asia who are demanding better products and better behaviour from companies,” said Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA and co-organiser of the event. “These people are actively seeking out brands that share similar values and the Forum will help provide insight for companies wanting to take advantage of this opportunity.”

The Growing LOHAS Movement …

The socially responsible consumer is on the rise in Asia, with more and more people seeking to incorporate LOHAS values (lifestyles of health and sustainability) into their daily lives. As the region continues to urbanise and develop at a rapid pace, consumers are demanding better from the brands they buy – better products, better practices, better materials – as they seek to find balance between a higher standard of living and a lesser level of impact on the planet.

The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014, to be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, will explore this increasingly important consumer demographic and provide insight into how LOHAS businesses can best position themselves to take advantage of this rapidly developing market opportunity.

Important Visionaries …

Featured speakers at the LOHAS Asia Forum this year include:

  • Paul Wouters, Regional Manager for Ecover, one of the world’s pioneering LOHAS brands, who will discuss how companies can expand whilst still retaining their core values.
  • Cissy Bullock, CEO of LOHASIA, helping socially responsible businesses grow and connect, will be discussing the LOHAS movement and where businesses will be heading in the near future.
  • Tara Hirebet, Asia Pacific Head for Trendwatching.com, a leading global trends, insight and innovation firm, will share her insights on the future direction of the responsible consumer movement.
  • Richard Brubaker, founder of Collective Responsibility, will explore how business models are evolving in response to sustainability.

Speakers from across the region will share how the LOHAS opportunity is developing in their market, and panels of successful LOHAS entrepreneurs will share their experiences and insights in operating within this dynamic sector.

Background …

LOHAS Asia is in direct partnership with the USA-based LOHAS.com, which has been successfully organising LOHAS Forums for the past 17 years. The LOHAS Asia Forum 2014 (Hong Kong) will coincide with the 3rd annual Hong Kong LOHAS Expo, the biggest LOHAS industry tradeshow in the region.

The LOHAS Asia Forum website contains more information about the event, including daily programmes, featured speakers, networking opportunities and an easy online registration process: www.lohasasiaforum.com 

Know What Chemicals Are Safe

Saturday, December 28, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharpen Your Focus - Meditation for your Office and Desk

Thursday, December 19, 2013 by
 
Lately, I have been hearing from more and more of my people and clients how difficult it is for them to stay focused, be calm, and make good decisions in the midst of all the  interruptions and information overload they are constantly experiencing.
 
I have been praciticing meditation for over 16 years,  and today I want to share a very simple meditation with you that you can apply in your office, at your desk, or before a meeting. It will quickly help you to regain focus, clear your head, and calm your mind so you can be prepared for any coming task, be it a meeting, an important phone call or a serious decision you need to make.
 
You can do this meditation for 1 minute, 3 minutes or even 5 minutes.
Do it for however long it feels good. You will feel the effect quickly.
 
Now let's get started:
 
Move to the front of your chair.
Sit upright, with a straight back, and keep your chin tucked in a little .
 
Take a deep breath and fill up your lungs. 
Exhale long and deep. Repeat this 3 times. Then, breathe in and out through your nose and allow  your breathe to slow down to a natural state. Let the breathe come and go without forcing or holding anything.
 
Focus your attention and awareness on the air entering and exiting through your nostrils. Simply follow your breath as it comes and goes in and out at the tip of your nose. Let all thoughts come and go without following any particular one.
 
Now imagine a clear light appearing between your eyebrows. 
The light clears fills your head and shines out into the world.
Every confusing or cluttering thought and emotion you have is now disappering and you become very clear and focused.
 
Hold this light for as long as you wish and as long as the experience remains fresh.
 
When you can nolong hold the light any longer return your focus to your breath that comes in and out through your nose and finish the meditation.
 
Enjoy.
Stay strong. Stay focused.
 
Sascha Bosio
 

 

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

 
 
 

Stumped on gift ideas? How about sending a little Zen?

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

Holidays and birthdays are a time of gift giving to those special people in your life. 

When selecting your gift, consider sending a little Zen to that special person in your life with a Yuzen Box. Yuzen offers gift and quarterly subscription boxes of luxurious beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products from companies that have LOHAS values. Treat yourself or someone else!

Women’s Yuzen Gift Box (single box)

This stylish box is a perfect gift for anyone who needs some Zen pampering -- especially the “hard-to-buy-for” woman in your life. It contains a mix of nine full-sized and travel-sized products, a card with detailed information about each product, and discount codes. Click here to see what is inside!

Zen for Men Gift Box (single box)

If you are seeking something for that guy who is hard to shop for, look no further. Yuzen offers a smartly packaged men’s gift box filled with functional natural/organic products that are the perfect addition to any gym bag or suitcase. Click here to see what is inside!

Yuzen Seasonal Gift Subscription (1 box/season for a total of 4 boxes)

The lucky recipients of a gift subscriptions are sent a gorgeous Yuzen box four times over the next year. We send a little Zen every season - winter, spring, summer, and fall - 4 boxes in all. Just like our gift boxes, each season’s collection is carefully curated, beautifully packaged, and filled with luxurious products. Click here to see what is inside!

All box pricing includes free shipping. Gift a box or subscription! In today’s stressed out world who doesn’t need a little Zen in their lives?

 

View this video of the opening of the Yuzen 2013 holiday box:

Conscious Consumerism in the news: Evidence of momentum is piling up

Wednesday, December 4, 2013 by

 

I’ve been blogging about Conscious Consumers for over a year. At first, I had to do a little digging for content. I subscribed to newsletters, read other blogs, followed Conscious Consumer companies on Facebook. Within the month’s span between my posts, I’d usually stumble across something that was timely, relevant and would make a good post. If not, I had plenty of topics scribbled down that I could turn to for ideas.

No more. Topics are now falling into my lap and piling up in the form of starred emails in my inbox. Article links, tidbits, factoids and trend enewsletters causing me to fret about how I’m going to choose from all their juicy nuggets of Conscious Consumer information. The most exciting part? It’s evidence that this area of focus – Conscious Consumerism – is here. It’s real. It’s happening.

I’ve been saying this repeatedly. And with the LOHAS audience, I’m preaching to the choir. But or those who haven’t bought into the hype yet, or even those who haven’t been scanning the media to stay up on trends as much as they wish they had, perhaps this smattering of articles from diverse sources all published in November 2013 will help:

1. “Creating the Committed Consumer, Social Enterprise’s Next Big Mission,” published by Fast Company on November 25 highlights where Conscious Consumers will go next, which they call “committed consumers.” These consumers do not just make conscious decisions, but truly commit to changes and causes through economic pressure (a.k.a. putting your money where your mouth is).

One key quote: “…consumers must begin exerting greater economic pressure if we want to see meaningful change. The more they use their pocketbooks to support socially responsible brands, the more companies will respond.”

2. “’Buy One, Give One’ Spirit Imbues Online Store” in the New York Times on November 4 covers how a top-of-mind Conscious Consumer brand, Toms, has founded a socially responsible marketplace for holiday shopping. Toms is of course known for their “one for one”/buy-one-give-one business practice. Each of the 200 products from 30 companies available in the Toms Marketplace has been vetted by Toms as “[having] a mission of improving people’s lives baked into its business model.”

3. Trendwatching is an enewsletter I’ve been receiving for years. I was so excited when their November briefing featured their newest trend: Guilt-Free Consumption.

Guilt-Free Consumption is explained well by this phrase from the report: “…consumers are now hungry for a new kind of consumption, one that will allow them to continue to enjoy consumption, yet not worry (or at least worry less) about its negative impact.”

The report is full of valuable examples of companies who provide consumers with a guilt-free consumption experience. I highly encourage you to click through to the Clean Slate Brands briefing from last April while you’re reading, too.

There’s a lot here to chew on. It’s so thrilling to see the energy behind Conscious Consumption, and I look forward to even more momentum in 2014.

Molly Hull is Associate Director of Brand Development at Clarity Coverdale Fury in Minneapolis, MN. To follow the agency’s Insights into the Conscious Consumer blog, click here. To download the agency’s THINK report series on Conscious Consumers, covering findings from a 2013 study with Mintel, click here.

Time Out for Peace is a Great Sentiment

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

Can you imagine how advanced we would be as a species if everyone on the planet respected each other? Beliefs, life-styles, skin color, and more are always driving a wedge between neighbors to the point of conflicts. Countries are constantly in conflict because there is a lack of respect on a global scale. Resources are exhausted during these conflicts that could have been spent towards a remedy to the situation prior to violence. But that's not how we do things on this planet. Although a Time Out for Peace has potential, it has an uphill battle for a variety of reasons.

1. Personal Beliefs - The views of a single individual in power will always play a role in the outcome of politics. We see it every day when we turn on the news. The belief one person has doesn't conform to the masses. People will try very hard to force a specific life-style on others for they believe it's in the best interest of the whole. Whether it is from a political standpoint, religious zealots, or health concerns for the common man, there will always be underlying personal opinions that take over the reins of rational thought.

2. Inner Focus - Instead of worrying about what our neighbors are doing, why not focus effort on what we're doing? This isn't a stab at the United States government, but more of a judgment of most so-called super powers in general. Grant it, we don't want to be "nuked" by the other guy. But if everyone conformed to focusing inward for sociological improvement, there would be no need for worry anyway. In the U.S., people are freezing and starving in the streets while we invade countries on the other side of the globe under the pretense that we're "fighting for our freedoms." If freedom includes starving to death on the streets, then the mission has been accomplished. North Korea regularly threatens war on South Korea while the people of this country are turning to cannibalism in order to survive.

3. Corruption of Power - As the saying goes, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Although we should focus more on the internal workings of our own respective countries, there should be a line as to how one attains power in others. Should we sit back and allow countrymen of other areas to eat each other in order to stave off starvation? If a leader is determined to ignore advice from others while mistreating his or her subjects, should we stand back and allow the carnage to continue? Although these questions seem more towards pro-war, it gives you something to think about. Are we humane to allow the citizens of another country to suffer if we can prevent it? If the leader is unwilling to improve the situation within his or her borders, then what else do we do other than let those people suffer? All leaders should be conscientious of those within the borders and do what needs to be done to create a livable situation. Ruling through terror and fear is not earning respect and admiration.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, we should be praising the positives. There is so much hate in the world, it may be next to impossible to benefit from the fruits of peace. All we can really do is change the things we have control over. If we set a positive example, others could follow which could eventually lead to an understanding. Understanding a culture goes a long way to understanding the people. And understanding each other could help us realize that we are humans on this planet and can benefit from the wisdom of each other.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth Reed is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Liveinnanny.org. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.