LOHAS

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.

 
 
 

Transforming the Financial System: Perspectives and Ideas

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

By Don Shaffer, RSF Social Finance

When you are looking for the new or emergent, you usually have to look off-the-grid. In many ways as RSF Social Finance has grown, we too have had to go off-the-grid to develop our unique approach to finance.

In 1984, a school burned down in New Hampshire. RSF organized a group of investors to rebuild it. Since then, we have made over $275 million in direct loans to social enterprises. Our track record has been excellent, with just 2 percent in cumulative loan losses over 29 years, and a 100 percent repayment rate to investors.

The key: bringing investors and borrowers closer together. We have found that if the individual investors who are providing capital and the social entrepreneurs who are borrowing capital can be more visible to each other – if they can understand each others’ needs and intentions, and sustain a personal connection whenever possible – then risk decreases and fulfillment increases.

Participants in a transaction become participants in a relationship. We believe this is nothing less than the antidote to modern finance, and can be applied on a substantial scale. It is the opposite of high frequency trading.

Specifically, four years ago RSF adopted a new approach to loan pricing for our $100 million flagship senior-debt fund. Each quarter, we convene representatives from our staff, our investors, and our borrowers to decide what annualized return rate investors will receive the following quarter, and what interest rate borrowers will pay – a radical form of transparency.

We call it community-based pricing. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – and our interest rate, referred to as RSF Prime, has been very stable. We are now off-the-grid of the global financial interest rate system and no longer directly affected by the vagaries of Wall Street.

But of course the vast majority of all 401(k) programs, pension funds, and endowments are tethered to Wall Street, so it is naïve to believe we are fully off-the-grid.

This circumstance leads to questions many of us in the social finance field think about:

•  What is it going to take for the number of socially and environmentally-focused investors to grow substantially?

•  Can it happen fast enough for those of us who acknowledge the urgency of climate change and natural resource depletion?

•  Are there enough sound investment opportunities for investors who want to go off-the-grid?

•  How will we address the perennial issues of risk, return, and liquidity when there are so few established intermediaries in which to place funds?

•  What are the long-term implications for those of us who anticipate needing funds for retirement and who want to embrace off-the-grid investing?

A Generational Voice

I believe the very definition of wealth will change in my lifetime (I’m 44), where measures like GDP evolve to measures of well-being. These indicators will put spiritual, community, and ecological health at the center of the human experience and pull us toward an economy and supporting financial system that are direct, transparent, and personal, based on long-term relationships.

This article continues on Green Money Journal.

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:

Unique Investment Options: Parnassus Workplace and Asia Funds

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parnassus Asia Fund

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

Continue reading this article on Green Money Journal.

TEDxCopenhagenSalon Green Natives

Saturday, December 7, 2013 by

 

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

 

TEDxCOPENHAGENSALON CLIMATE AND SUSTAINABILITY GREEN NATIVES

Date           Dec 9, 2013

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

Place          UN City, Copenhagen & livestream

 

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

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

 

GREEN NATIVES

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

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

Some of us have already begun.

Photo: eperales. Used by permission

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

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

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

 

 

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.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by

With so much interest in wellness travel, I'm pleased to share the “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends of 2014”. The forecast is based on year-long research and data collection in which I've consolidated trends across several industries to bring practical knowledge to both individuals and businesses.  

I'd like to encourage consumers and businesses to think of vacation in new ways. Our data shows that consumers view vacations as an important way to improve health, happiness and productivity.  Vacation trips are often a catalyst for transformation and consumers view wellness travel as a personal investment.  Vacations are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity for well-being.

Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014
Mind Matters: 
Consumers have caught on to mindful vacations that offer mental restoration.  Practices learned on a trip such as meditation, yoga, qi going and journaling can be incorporated at home to help manage stress, improve cognitive capacity and maintain emotional equilibrium. 

The Rise of Wellness Travel Agents
With the growing interest in trips to enhance mind, body and spirit, wellness tourism has created a new niche for travel agents to grow or expand their business while offering a personally and professionally rewarding career specialty. 

La Local Vita: 
Consumers have developed a deeper appreciation for locally relevant and authentic experiences with an emphasis on living  “la local vita” (the local life).  Mindsets have shifted away from tourist behavior to a keen interest in community-based exploration where getting to know the locals in a meaningful way sweetens the experience. 

Breaking Bread With Wellness 
Food tourism is a big trend intersecting with wellness travel. In addition to the physical aspect of sustenance; food tours, cooking classes, agriculture and farm-to-table experiences speak to the emotional, social, intellectual and sustainable aspects of well-being. 

Vacation RX: 
“Take 2 weeks and call me in the morning.” Physicians are now prescribing vacations as an antidote from stress.  Doctor’s orders for physical activity in parks are also being written to help combat obesity and diabetes in children. 

Looking for Personal Enrichment
With the understanding that wellness is more than fitness and nutrition, consumers are choosing trips that either focus solely on personal enrichment or as a part of their travel plans.  In search of fulfillment and meaning, many consumers are viewing vacations, weekend getaways and retreats viewed as a catalyst for change. 

Slow Travel: 
Have you ever felt pressured to run through your vacation checking off sites to see and things to do? Slow travel advocates changing the pace in order to sip, savor and revel in the vacation experience. 

Affluent & Altruistic:
Spurned by personal growth and discovery, affluent travelers value experiences connecting them to charitable causes and local communities. Volunteering on vacation has become increasingly popular and research shows altruism can improve well-being. 

Burgeoning Secondary Wellness Market: There is a large segment of travelers who may not opt for wellness retreats or tours but are committed to maintaining their healthy lifestyle on the road. Air transit and hotels are investing resources to attract these guests that are both business and leisure travelers.

Spas on a Mission:
The spa industry is staking a claim on wellness tourism and on wellness in general. Eager to shake the image of pampering for the affluent, spas are repacking and rebranding as wellness providers to attract a larger market.

To request a free download of the Infographic “Top 10 Wellness Travel Trends for 2014” or for more information on wellness travel, please visit www.wellnesstourismworldwide.com.  

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.

Ethical Economist Hazel Henderson Interview

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Spa Industry Looks Well and Good

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by

ispaAfter attending the 2013 International Spa Association (ISPA) annual conference, it certainly was apparent to me that all is well and good in the wellness industry.  From my observations, the $14+ billion U.S. market looks to be growing at a steady and healthy pace. “Things certainly are looking up.” Said Roberto Arjona, General Manager of the legendary Rancho La Puerta Resort and Spa. “We have not seen reservation bookings for our resort like this since before 2008 and we are now over one hundred percent capacity going into next year.”  Rancho La Puerta is not the exception. According to ISPA’s 2013 research, people visiting day spas, hotel and resort spas, and destination spas are all on the rise from 156 million in 2012 to 160 million in 2013 and spending has increased to an average of $87 per visit ; almost a two percent increase over the previous year. ISPA organizers said conference attendance was also back to pre-2008 numbers with packed educations sessions, and a busy expo floor showcasing interesting new products and services. I have been coming to this show for several years and here are some of the major observations I see trending in the wellness space:

Going deeper

It appears that spa product companies are becoming more intelligent and in touch with ingredients that promote healthy-aging rather than anti-aging. In previous years it was sometimes difficult to find truly natural and organic brands that were not greenwashing.  Labeling is a tricky thing and not many brands carry certifications such as USDA organic, Ecocert, or Natrue to verify their claims of being organic. This is because many are small boutique brands and find certification expensive. I did see a lot of companies claiming to be eco-friendly or natural and when questioned further most had intelligent responses and provided a deeper back story on sourcing and manufacturing.  

Evidence and Earth Based

I saw a lot of brands promoting benefits of natural ingredients such as seaweed, oils, stem cells and anti-oxidants. Although these ingredients have been used in spas for years if not decades, it seemed that there are more or perhaps I am just now beginning to recognize them. The science and evidence based elements of research as it relates to natural and organic based skincare regimes is more apparent and bringing about a new products that are very interesting including brands like OSEA, Dr. Hauschka, and Pino. However, with the FTC green guidelines recently released it is important that brands be aware that any eco claims that cannot be backed are subject to fines.

Bathing popularity

Kniepp claimed their sales of salt bath products have doubled in the past year due to the growing awareness of the ability to re-mineralizing the body through salt mineral bathing.  Salt products harvested from salt mines of the Himalayas or from European seas such as Kerstin Florian seemed to be more prevalent. I love salt baths and think they are a great component of a healthy regiment. But hearing that salt demand is on the rise globally is concerning. I hope the purity is maintained while the mining of this is also environmentally conscious.

Oil overflowing

It seemed like every other vendor was promoting essential oils which I think is a good thing.  For years many aromatherapists have claimed the healing benefits of essential oils.  I ran into an old friend Michelle Roark, the founder of Phia Lab, who was a professional skier, engineer, and now perfumer. She is doing energetic measurements of essential oils in kilojoules. She claims she has scientific proof of the calming or energizing qualities of oil frequencies. Here reports should be public soon and will demonstrate scientific proof of health benefits in using essential oils which is quite exciting and I am sure will be welcomed by the aroma therapy community.

Wellness Tourism on the Rise

My favorite session was on the growth and expansion of Wellness tourism presented by Suzie Ellis of SpaFinder. She spoke on “Why You Should Care About Wellness Tourism: Latest Research on the Global Wellness Tourism Market - And How Spas Can Benefit.” She covered the distinctions of medical tourism vs. wellness tourism. Susie said medial tourism focuses on reactive, symptom based medicine that people travel to another state or country to fix and heal. This includes cosmetic surgery, cancer treatments and organ transplants. Wellness tourism promotes a more proactive and less invasive approach that promotes a healthy lifestyle focusing on physical activity, diet and personal development or mind body experiences.  This has become a $439 billion dollar global market with major potential. It encompasses not only spa but alternative medicine, active lifestyles, yoga and mind body fitness which are all overlap the LOHAS market.

I was very impressed at how far the industry has not only grown but also how LOHAS values on wellness have become more integrated.  It appears that spa goers have become more conscious of how they surround themselves in spa settings and what type of ingredients they are putting on their skin and the spa companies are responding.  The recession has made brands and properties smarter in their decisions as it relates to communicating their mission to consumers and property greening as it relates to dollars and cents.  Although work still needs to be done, I look forward to what the industry has in store in the coming years.

 

Green Bonds Have an Impact

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by

Green Mutual FundsHow Mutual Funds is helping change the climate of fixed income - By Madalyn Metzger, Everence Financial and Praxis Mutual Funds

The goal of most investors is to achieve a positive return – with success typically measured in annualized percentages. And while this is an important measure, a growing number of investors are looking for more. Specifically, they’re looking for ways their investments can make a difference, and improve the quality of life in their communities and around the world.

That’s where green bonds come in. First introduced by the World Bank in 2008, green bonds (also known as qualified green building and sustainable design project bonds) are designed to help investors make a positive impact on environmental projects through their investment portfolios.

The market for green bonds has picked up steam over the years. Since their introduction, the World Bank has issued approximately $3.5 billion in green bonds. And while they’re somewhat new to the scene, green bonds make complete sense to Praxis Mutual Funds, a faith- and values-based fund family advised by Everence Capital Management.

Praxis approaches its investment strategy through stewardship investing, a philosophy of financial decision making that balances social and financial considerations and is motivated and informed by the fund family’s faith convictions. This focus is driven by the company’s core values, which include the need to respect the dignity and value of all people, demonstrate a concern for justice in a global society and work toward environmental sustainability.

“At Praxis, we want to do our part to transform our world,” said David C. Gautsche, President of Praxis Mutual Funds. “Our investment philosophy consists of company selection, shareholder advocacy and community development investment. Our core values embrace a wide range of environmental, social and governance concerns, as well as traditional, prudent financial considerations.”

Praxis applies this strategy to all of its five mutual funds – but it is especially notable in the Praxis Intermediate Income portfolio, which includes more than 10 percent of green bonds and other high social impact bonds. In addition, the Praxis Genesis Portfolios (three diversified funds-of-funds celebrating their third anniversary this year) include the Praxis Intermediate Income Fund in their portfolio mix.

Making a High Social Impact Through Bonds

When it comes to stocks, it’s easy for investors to see how they can have a positive social impact by including progressive companies in their portfolios and/or utilizing shareholder advocacy to help goad companies to better social and environmental performance.

Fixed-income investors, on the other hand, can’t make a positive impact in the same way, because they don’t have company ownership. And because many of those same progressive companies are young and small, they likely aren’t borrowing from the public investment grade bond market yet. However, bondholders can help organizations and companies bring down the cost of borrowing at the margin – effectively making an impact in places where a stock portfolio couldn’t. Also, some of these organizations don’t have public stock, and companies borrow for specific energy projects that would not issue equity in the public market.

To continue reading this article visit Green Money Journal

Share In Shaping the LOHAS Community!

Thursday, November 7, 2013 by

community valuesLend your voice to help shape the future of LOHAS!

The results from our recent Values Assessment were incredibly enlightening. They also left us with questions. Please join me and Hannah Lee (Barrett Values Centre) on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - 1 hour for a LOHAS Community Dialogue to give us your perspective on these three important questions:

1. How could LOHAS be more clear and transparent in our communications?
2. What does authenticity mean to you? How does that relate to LOHAS?
3. What types of continuous learning and leadership development programs would you like to see from LOHAS?

During this dialogue, we will break you into small groups with other LOHAS community members to discuss each of the three questions. After each question, we will have an opportunity for each group to share their insights.

We hope you will join us!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - 1 hour

Register here.

 

Six Reasons Why I Love the Green Festival

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 by

Green FestivalWhen the organizers of the Washington, DC Green Festival approached me this past spring about becoming their regional director,  I wondered if an event like this still resonated with consumers. Even though the event is widely recognized as the nation’s premier sustainability event, I asked myself if there was enough demand for an actual event in today’s age of virtual this, "there’s an app for that” and hash tags becoming part of our ever day lexicon.  Especially in a sector where green events have come and gone. Well, I found out that the resounding answer is YES! If my experience in September is any indication, while technology may have taken on a prominent place in our daily lives, there is absolutely a place in consumers’ lives for good, old fashioned face-to-face events.  We crave community and in-person interaction now more than ever. Technology hasn’t lessened the demand for this type of interaction. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It has increased.  People want to talk with others, gather information and look someone in the eye while doing it.  They want to touch and try out products, taste samples and see for themselves what resources are available to them.  Most importantly they want to be part of a like-minded community and participate in that community.

As my colleagues working on the San Francisco Green Festival gear up for the last event of the year November 9 & 10 at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center, it seems like a good time to  reflect on some of my favorite elements of the Green Festival.

1.       At its core the Green Festival message is about celebrating what is working in the community and providing consumers easy-to-use, actionable solutions they can take home with them and implement right away. Whether it be delicious vegetarian recipes from  Washington Post Food Editor Joe Yonan’s new book ‘Eat Your Vegetables’  to DIY ways to repurpose furniture courtesy of Habitat for Humanity, to tips on bike commuting, composting, gardening, energy efficiency and so much more, there truly is something for everyone.  Kids too.

2.       The opportunity to connect with and learn from inspirational businesses, organizations, nonprofits and other like-minded individuals who believe in making a difference, leaving our planet in better shape then we inherited and finding ways to live an eco-friendly life.  The Festival routinely features well-known, national change agents like Ralph Nader or Amy Goodman, as well as locally-based leaders like Bernadine Prince, co-founder and co-executive director of FRESHFARM Markets, yoga teacher Faith Hunter of Embrace DC, who lead free yoga classes all weekend long in the Yoga Pavilion  and Fashion Fights Poverty, which curated a green fashion show .

3.       The event talks the talk and walks the walk.  Organizers actively encourage attendees to bike or take alternative transportation to reach the Green Festival. Anyone who bikes to the Festival receives free admittance.  Over 90% of waste generated by the Festival is diverted from landfills. There is even have a dedicated team of volunteers who sort through the trash making sure nothing is missed.

4.       As consumers are increasingly interested in where their food comes from, who prepared it and how it was made, that evolution has been reflected in the programming at the Festival. Food as a topic was addressed from every angle imaginable from the control of food production by a handful of large companies, to vegan baking tips from ‘Cupcake Wars’ veteran Doron Petersan, to growing gardens and food in small spaces, to leading area farmers markets and nonprofits showcasing how they are making it easier for consumers to have access to fresh, healthy and local foods.  Exhibitors offered healthful options for mom’s and mom’s to be, fair trade chocolates, juicing and smoothies, raw foods, and organic products just to name a few.  There were panels on how food creates opportunities for conversation about the environment and more.  Food is such an integral part in allowing us to live full lives, and there is so much going on behind the scenes that the average consumer has no idea about, so it’s important to provide opportunities to entertain, educate and inspire change all under one roof.

5.       The creativity and diversity of the exhibitors and sponsors.  They ranged from larger companies like Ford Motor Company test driving their fuel efficient vehicles and Equal Exchange Fair Trade Chocolates sampling and selling their tasty chocolates to small mom and pops like Karmlades selling environmental friendly cleaning products that smell wonderful and clean naturally without chemicals. I fell in love with one-of-kind scarves from a local clothing designer that were designed in the DC area and made with bamboo, an eco-friendly and super soft material.  Other exhibitors whose creativity caught my eye included a woman who used old scarves, jackets and other materials to make home goods, including a pillow made out of a World War II Army uniform, as well as the exhibitor who made bags, wallets and iPad covers out of old football and basketballs. Talk about reusing and recycling!

6.       Organizers are committed to reaching out to the community and making the event accessible to everyone. Complimentary tickets to the event are handed out at events throughout the area, can often be found online and through special social media promotions.

I think the most powerful take away for me was that there continues to be a thriving community, whether they be consumers, speakers, businesses or nonprofit organizations, who are devoted and committed to creating change.  To steal an oft quoted phrase from Ghandi, the Green Festival gives me hope that we will be the change we want to see in the world.

Hope to see you at the San Francisco Green Festival!

St Julien Hotel & Spa offers a LOHAS experience and notable sustainable initiatives

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 by

Boulder is definitely a distinctive place with an abundance of green-minded individuals and businesses — the perfect spot for the amazing Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) conference I attended for the first time this year. After shopping at the irresistible eco-conscious stores on Pearl Street, I headed over to St Julien Hotel & Spa to check out the spa. As a spa industry educator, I always feel compelled to do my on-location research — especially after writing a book on Green Spas and Salons: How to Make Your Business Truly Sustainable.

The LOHAS frame of mind is central to the spa and wellness industry as it shifts into a more natural and organic world.  I have tried at least 50 product lines over 25 years through my esthetics practice, teaching, and research.  At the Spa at St Julien I received an excellent customized facial and definitely noticed a difference in my skin with Naturopathica and Luzurn products. 

The most notable part of the spa experience was that the entire spa staff gave exceptional customer service. They were present and mindful of their guests so one did not feel like they were just a “tourist.” Spa at St Julien carries thoughtfully chosen products, including clothing, gifts, and aromatherapy candles. Skin care products include Naturopathica, Luzern, Organic Male, Zents, Farm House Fresh, Body Bliss, and Soleil Organique. The makeup lines are Jane Iredale and La Bella Donna.

Boulder’s natural environment inspires the hand-made spa treatments that incorporate indigenous ingredients of plants, seeds, stones and extracts. Fresh herbs (organic mint and rosemary) for treatments such as the Mountain Mojito Scrub are harvested from the on-site herb garden.

St Julien Hotel & Spa works closely with Boulder-based UHG Consulting to reduce the Hotel's footprint on the community. Impressively, the property has decreased energy use by 17% from 2009-2012; reduced natural gas use by 30%; and water use decreased 11% (all decreases are per occupied room). The facility has also reduced waste by 85% since 2007.

Some specific green practices include carrying local products in the gift shop, switching from paper towels to washable hand towels, composting food waste, using an Ozone laundry system, and using compostable disposable cups. St Julien Hotel & Spa also donates opened amenities, linens, and supports other charities. Sustainable events and education are part of their culture and business practices.

Check out the St Julien Spa next time you are in Boulder. To grow the LOHAS mindset, let businesses know you appreciate their eco-conscious efforts and practices. Find more on spa sustainability from Shelley Lotz at www.greenspasandsalons.com.  

 

Got a LOHAS Business Idea? How about entering the William James Foundation Biz Competition

Saturday, October 19, 2013 by

biz planThe William James Foundation (WJF) is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs who are starting sustainable businesses. In ten years of doing their work, they have found that locally-focused businesses are often leading the way in sustainability innovations including Back to the Roots, Runa Tea and Yellow Leaf Hammocks

Their sustainable business plan competition  supports both those who are at the "just an idea" stage and those who might be a few years down the road, and are ready to take their company to the next level through boot-strapping or professional equity investments. 

The WJF competition will have about $100k worth of services and cash for the best teams, but the real prize is the average of 20 pages of professional level peer review that they offer for the plans that are accepted into our feedback rounds.

WJF is the funnel for the LOHAS business plan competition and finalists present at the LOHAS Conference.

They work with entrepreneurs all over world - any age, any country. You just have to be building a company with a built-in social and/or environmental goal as part of how you make money. Most of the process is managed over email, and finalists are allowed to present by Skype if they can not attend in person. (Two of our recent winners did just that.)

The two page application form is here: https://wjf.wufoo.com/forms/intent-to-compete-2014/.

Proposals are due by November 11th, 2013.

Good luck!

 

See the 2013 LOHAS Biz Comp finalist presentations here hosted by WJF director Ian Fisk.

The Ultimate in Conscious Media

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by

GaiamTV

If you consider yourself a  conscious consumer or LOHAS individual you probably seek alternative forms of information, insights that foster betterment of well-being and education instead of FOX, CNN and the E! Channel. I continually find myself seeking other ways to get inspired and informed but have to sift through a lot of garbage to do this. However my problems have been solved with my new found source – GaiamTV. You may have seen my previous post on The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness that gives a list of fitness focuses streaming media. However GaiamTV not only covers yoga but much more.

I like to consider GaiamTV the Conscious Netflix of today. It is a streaming video subscription service that offers access to the world’s largest collection of transformational media. It is a fantastic resource for those those seeking knowledge, awareness and personal transformation.

I truly feel that we are standing on the precipice of a new, transformative era and believe that everyone holds the potential for true transformation and higher awareness.  Equally important is the need to have access to creative alternative forms of media that foster awareness and growth.

As a subscriber you get unlimited access to the entire GaiamTV library, including inspiring documentaries, cutting-edge interviews, energizing yoga classes, and much more. This can be overwhelming at first glance but GaiamTV is curated into five categories:

Active & Well:  Explore yoga, fitness and natural health videos to help you look and feel your best.

Spiritual Growth: Learn valuable life lessons and gain personal insight from top spiritual leaders.

Seeking Truth: A new frontier of reality with exclusive programming that explores cutting-edge information and ideas.

Nature & Culture: Venture to the far corners of the earth through exciting travel videos, get a first-hand look at cultural narratives from around the world, and discover the latest in green technology.

Original Programs: Exclusive interviews on provocative topics and original shows with visionary hosts that encourage people to see the world through new eyes.

By providing curated content on a variety of groundbreaking subjects, Gaiam TV is paving the road through the wilderness of today’s mainstream media outlets.

I highly recommend trying the 10 day free trial. If you like it the fee is only $9.95 per month and it is available via computer, mobile device, Roku, Apple TV, Blu-ray player and many others. You can also get a free month for every friend you sign up. It is a great way to develop or round out your personal wellness and development program.

Check it out and see what you think!

17 Ecofriendly Ways to Clean With Baking Soda

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by

baking sodaAlthough all of us probably have a bright yellow box of this common baking ingredient in our panty most of us do not know the wide variety of uses baking soda has. From keeping your refrigerator smelling fresh to scrubbing away tough stains this multi-purpose powder is a great addition to your arsenal of eco-friendly cleaning products. Here are some ways you can get your home smelling and looking great with baking soda:

  1. Remove grime from pet toys and bowls! To get off dirt, mud, leftover food or just drool baking soda works great. Make a paste with four tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of water and then scrub away with a small brush or just your fingers. Rinse well for smooth and clean bowls and toys for your pet without any harmful chemical residue.
  2. Deodorize baby bottles safely by filling the bottle with warm water and adding a teaspoon of baking soda. Swish the combo around and let it sit for a minute or too. Then rinse well and it is ready to use.
  3. Cleaner hair is just a step away with the addition of baking soda. Sprinkle a dash or two into your daily shampoo to remove residue build up and keep your hair smelling fresh longer.
  4. Clean stuffed animals without water! Dust a handful of baking soda onto the animals and let it sit for fifteen minutes. Then dust or vacuum it off. The animals will look and smell better!
  5. Short on denture or retainer cleaner? Use backing soda as a natural alternative. Fill a glass with warm water and mix in two teaspoons of baking soda. Let the dentures or retainer sit for a few hours or overnight to get clean.
  6. Stinky shoes? Sprinkle the inside of your shoes with baking soda to remove odor and wetness. Let it sit overnight and then knock out the extra powder for fresh smelling shoes.
  7. Oily hairbrushes and combs? Let them soak overnight in a solution of warm water and baking soda. Fill the sink with warm water and add a teaspoon or two of baking soda. In the morning let them dry and they will be as good as new. Make sure you remove the hair before you let them soak!
  8. All over natural car cleaner. Clean your whole car, inside and out, without a scratch or scum build up. Mix a quarter cup of baking soda with a quart of warm water and wash chrome rims, vinyl seats, floor mats, upholstery, tires, windows and everything else!
  9. Oil or grease stains on cement, such as in the garage or on the drive way, can easily be cleaned up with baking soda. Cover the stain with a thick layer and scrub with a wet brush. The stain should come right up.
  10. Too tired to give your dog a bath? Use baking soda instead. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda and then brush it in. This will help your dog smell great and stay looking freshly washed.
  11. Too late to take a shower? Keep your hair looking great with baking soda too! Sprinkle a bit on the crown of your head and work in as you comb or brush your hair. Helps to keep away the oily look and deodorizes.
  12. Keep outdoor furniture looking great with baking soda. Use a damp brush and sprinkle on some baking soda to remove stains and keep your furniture looking great. Add a bit of vinegar to this scrub before storing for the season and you will have mildew free, new looking furniture when the warm days roll around again.
  13. Remove scum from pool and bath toys with baking soda. A quarter cup of baking soda in a quart of warm water can scrub away slime and gunk and keep your pool toys ready for next year. Use for baby’s bath toys too to keep them naturally squeaky clean.
  14. Cleaning grills is a pain. However a great solution is baking soda. Create a paste of four pats baking soda to one part water and scrub the grill with a wire brush. The gunk should fall off easily. Rinse well before firing it up again.
  15. Keep clothes brighter and softer with baking soda. Add a cup to your wash to keep your clothes looking, smelling and feeling great, no chemicals required!
  16. Remove stains from coffee and tea pots. Soak the pot in a solution of a quarter cup of baking soda in a quart of warm water overnight. The stain should be gone by morning. Also works great for stained coffee mugs!
  17. Want sparkling dishes without added chemicals? Add two tablespoons of baking soda to your dishwashing soap and it will cut through tough grease and food with no problems.

Author Byline:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.

Growth from Culture: Patagonia's Innovation

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Monday, October 14, 2013 by

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Developing a Lexicon for Ocean Preservation

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 by
 
Water covers more than 71 percent of the earth's surface, yet we have no international ocean police. (Photo, Kevin M. Gill, flickr)
 
Water covers more than 71 percent of the earth's surface, yet we have no international ocean police. (Photo, Kevin M. Gill, flickr)
Almost a year ago to the day, I found myself diving in the Cook Islands with Conservation International’s Sylvia Earle, Greg Stone and Peter Seligmann.  Perhaps you recall my article “Diving with the Dream Team”?  This was my first immersion, literally and figuratively, into the recently raised – and critically important – issues surrounding ocean conservation.   A lot has happened in the last year to make this a topline agenda item for NGOs, members of the business elite, and conservation societies alike.   To use an appropriate metaphor, ocean policy and preservation is the next big wave of environmental consideration and concern.
 
Think back to Teddy Roosevelt’s initiatives to promote nature and encourage land conservation in the 1920s – we are at that same point in time with regard to the oceans.  As in, the first inning.  No, make that top of the first inning.  It is an exciting field to study but one that resembles the Wild Wild West.  I hope to shed some light on what important new and existing preservation projects mean to the public, the fish, the coral reefs, and our future.  We are past the point of prevention but rather, we must undo some of the damage we have done – caused mainly by ocean acidification, overfishing, and bottom trawling.  There are many new and vague terms that leave the average swimmer, diver, and/or surfer, palms up.  This will serve as an introduction to the vernacular being used to describe these projects.
 
Let’s start with ocean acidification.  Basically, this refers to the increased carbon dioxide that is now in our atmosphere.  Thus there is more carbon, and less oxygen, directly contacting the oceans at sea level than in the past.  This is negatively affecting the health of coral reefs and other flora and fauna underwater.
 
Now about overfishing.  Think about this in a different way: On terra firma, vehicles are generally limited to paved roads.  And we have a huge infrastructure of local, state and federal police who patrol our roadways.  Now think of the skies, which are carefully supervised by the FAA, designated airspace, and a large network of control towers in major cities throughout the globe.  Both on land and in the air, penalties for not following the rules of the road can be quite punitive.  Simple enough.
 
Currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop overfishing and other detrimental activities. (Photo, wikimedia)
Currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop overfishing and other detrimental activities. (Photo, wikimedia)
 
Now, think about the oceans.  Water covers more than 71% of the earth’s surface.  Yet we have no international ocean police, no “ocean FAA” if you will…only a relatively infinitesimal handful of Coast Guard and related non-military vessels, worldwide, to guard the seas.  So what’s a mother to do about less-than-trustworthy fishing boats – mostly carrying the flags of European and Asian nations – that are overfishing, bottom-trawling, shark-fin-hunting and other extremely damaging activities?
 
Over 100 million sharks are killed every year -- mostly for their fins, as in shark fin soup. Unconscionable. (Photo, fastcompany)
 
For this answer, I sought out a few of the world’s leading experts, including none other than Sir Richard Branson.  He is a member of a group called the OceanElders, which consists of 14 dignitaries who are committed to protecting and preserving the world’s oceans and the wildlife therein.  Other members include Queen Noor, Ted Turner, Neil Young, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jackson Browne, and Dr. Sylvia Earle, among other luminaries.  Anyway, I asked Branson if by using technology, is there any way to successfully monitor the oceans for commercial fishing vessels, polluters and other maritime villains?  His comments:
 
OceanElders, a group of 14 dignitaries who are committed to protecting and preserving the world's oceans and the wildlife therein. (Photo, oneworldocean)
 
“Remote sensing of shipping from satellites is already a reality. Vessels that carry the required transponders can be tracked and identified in real time. The flaws in the present systems are that vessels can turn off the transponders and that they are not mandatory for all vessels. International agreements and treaties can fix that. The UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the best agency to organize and execute an improved ship location program.”
 
Out of the UN’s 193 member states, 170 are currently members of the IMO – including both large and small players alike, such as China, Japan, US, UK, Thailand, Madagascar, and Mozambique.  “This means that once an action is approved by the [IMO], that action has force of domestic law in the member states. So a more vigorous ship tracking program can have teeth,” Branson explained.  But what about enforcement?
 
“One option that is technically feasible today is unmanned vehicles (AUVs) that are constantly on patrol and prepared to call for assistance when needed. Another enforcement idea that really appeals to me is to develop a global directory of fishing vessels which habitually fish in distant waters from their home ports.  As trespassers are identified, they go into the database and are flagged.  A similar scheme is used by many of the major maritime nations to identify problem vessels. Those in the database that have poor safety and/or operating records can be denied entrance to seaports or will not be allowed to depart unless certain remedial steps are taken.”
 
Map of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) in the Galapagos.
 
Branson provides a realistic and honest appraisal here of where we are on this pressing issue.  And clearly, we are indeed in the first inning.  What happens when a less-than-honest fishing vessel enters a protected zone and dredges the area for sharks, killing everything else in the net’s wake and disturbing the coral to boot?  If the ship’s transponder is turned off before committing the crime…nothing.  And currently, without a network of satellite monitoring AND collection of significant fines in place, there is essentially no punitive way to stop this activity.  Which is why 100 million sharks are killed every year – mostly for their fins, as in shark fin soup.  Unconscionable.
 
So are there any parts of the ocean that are being protected?  There are a number of marine protected areas (MPA) throughout the world.  One small but significant example lies in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean, called PIPA for (Phoenix Island Protected Area).   PIPA is located in the Republic of Kiribati (pronounced Kiri-BAS), an ocean nation in the central Pacific approximately midway between Australia and Hawaii. PIPA constitutes 11.34 percent of Kiribati’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and with a size of over 150,000 square miles, it is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean.  (For more info on PIPA, listen to this TED Talk.)
 
Conservation International’s Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist, Gregory Stone, was the driving force in conception and creation of PIPA.  Kiribati has declared that three percent of this EEZ is a “no catch zone” and fishing is strictly prohibited.  Three percent may not sound like much, but this is still a large area – 4,500 square miles – and it is home to high value reefs, bird nesting islands, and tuna fishing grounds.  There is a sensitivity here because poor countries such as Kiribati derive significant income from taxing the fishing vessels. Thus they must be compensated from other sources to make up for the lost revenue in return for their cooperation.
 
Covering over 150,000 square miles, PIPA is one of the largest marine protected areas (MPA) in the Pacific Ocean. (Photo, Conservation International)
 
I had an opportunity to catch up with Dr. Stone on how Conservation International (CI) is trying to craft a way to monitor the PIPA area, among other protected waters. “We are talking to NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) about how we can use satellites to monitor the waters.  Extremely sophisticated aerial cameras are available, and these could be used for ocean surveillance and enforcement.  If we can create a way to document the presence of a vessel and, through licensing and electronic observation, obtain the name and home base of the boat, we would then be able to track and ultimately enforce severe fines and other penalties,” he explained.
 
Indeed, enforcement is easier when there is a government that has rights to the water space in question.  What happens when this is not the case, for example, in the Sargasso Sea?  The Sargasso Sea is the earth’s only sea or ocean without a land boundary. This extraordinary open-ocean ecosystem is bounded by currents circulating around the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre.  The Sargasso Sea provides habitats, spawning areas, migration pathways and feeding grounds to a diverse ecosystem, including a number of endangered yet commercially important species.  Dr. Earle has called it “the golden rainforest of the ocean.”
 
I consulted Sargasso Sea expert David Shaw, a respected business and social entrepreneur who is also a National Park Trustee. Shaw put into proper perspective the challenges the environmental world faces when trying to educate the public on the threats to ocean health. “A big issue is trying to create a consciousness about the world’s largest habitat.  Unlike the terrestrial world, ocean health is often not part of our daily thoughts in the same way that unhealthy air, rivers or land may be. We need to understand that world oceans are not infinitely forgiving…we cannot see all the damage. And we are best served if debate about ocean health and other environmental issues is based on fact-based science versus emotional arguments,” Shaw explained.
 
Shaw is founding chair of an alliance formed to study the ecology of the Sargasso Sea and to create a range of stewardship measures to conserve its health.  The Sargasso Sea Alliance is led by the government of Bermuda, working with other nations as well as NGOs.  So far, among other results, the Alliance has developed a robust “Summary Science and Evidence Case for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea” with over 74 collaborators.  Under executive director Dr David Freestone, the Alliance is planning to bring the governments of the countries around the Sargasso Sea – including the US, Dominican Republic and Portugal – together with the European Union Commission to Bermuda in 2014 to sign an international declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea and to establish a permanent Sargasso Sea Commission, based in Bermuda, to oversee the health of this unique high seas ecosystem.
 
Dr. Sylvia Earle has called the Saragasso Sea "the golden rainforest of the ocean." (Photo, sylviaearlealliance.org)
 
The urgency to protect ocean wildlife is not strictly the fantasy of environmentalists and watermen.  We are talking about a far more serious question: How will we feed the world 20 years from now? Indeed, if we do not stop the systematic destruction of our ocean resources, we could have a serious seafood shortfall; this is on a collision course with simultaneous population growth.  It would seem the key is to create a way to monitor overfishing, and soon.  The concepts that Branson and Stone talk of, using GPS and related technology for this purpose, would seem to be our best chance for monitoring the oceans successfully.  Question is, who will organize the nations of the world in this effort, and how do we effectively police two thirds of the earth’s surface?  If we don’t collectively address and solve this pressing issue, the phrase “plenty of fish in the sea” may turn into a deadly falsehood.
 
Read more by Jennifer Schwab on her Inner Green.