Doing the right things? – Sustainability week

If the previous week was about BIG money with BIG financial companies and consulting firms and the week before about DARING creative techy entrepreneurs, well, this week was about COOOOOOL. It was not about making big money, or hugely scalable growth running for IPO within 2 years, but was about some people choosing to care, to be less greedy and to give back more.  

My favourite example of sustainable business was the Brooklyn Grange Rooftop farm, which was supercool.  It wasn’t simply growing vegetables on rooftops, that I found impressive, but Ben’s solid business thinking and well-grounded numbers. He was running this farm professionally understanding for example fully how portfolio mix of selecting between different vegetables with their differing margin content can impact bottom-line. He was not an idealist living in the clouds, but had a strong hold of the market, that his company is playing in and a holistic approach, business model and marketing strategy to involve the community (programs for schools, CSA, company events etc.).  It was also clear, that Brooklyn Grange, while I would put a big LIKE on their page, will not be the next Facebook and the dream of VCs. It is a business that can support only some employees. It is lifestyle choice.

Greenmaps were also very nice and their efforts admirable. Here I wasn’t so sure of how their numbers work out to make their business sustainable. I imagine it is a constant struggle, nevertheless I wish them all the best.

All these efforts of doing the right thing for humanity has led me to comment on Mounty Graham’s talk, which was while impressive, also alarming. I seriously wasn’t aware, that there are states and statesmen in the U.S., who deny the very existence of the effects of global warming. Why does this remind me of ostriches?

Last, but not least, considering how difficult it is to change existing business practices to consider and adjust to be more sustainable and environment friendly we had two very influential lectures. Andrew Pek’s talk was incredibly useful in terms of emphasizing how the trinity in design thinking – empathy, creativity and rationality – could be employed to establish sustainable business. B. Laszlo Karafiath’s lecture on memetic marketing on the other hand introduced some tools on how to influence public behavior and thinking to acknowledge the importance of sustainability and environmentally friendly business and give pressure to organizations.

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