Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fast 50 "Bigger Game" Companies!

Fast 50 Straight from Fast Company Magazine:

"THIS YEAR'S FOCUS: Our sixth annual global readers challenge will spotlight businesses that are helping to save the world. We're looking for profit-driven problem solvers--people and companies out to address the planet's woes and make money at the same time. Tell us about yourself, someone you admire, or someone you work with. But make sure your nominee is using new strategies, new ideas, or new technologies to tackle issues like global warming, pollution, sustainability, access to healthcare, poverty, trade impact, child labor, and other concerns. No charities, please. We believe that business--capitalist business--is a profound force for positive change. Help us prove it."

How cool is this? Fast Company is highlighting "Bigger Game Companies"! They too believe that capitalism can be "conscious" and, and I like to say, a force for positive intentional evolution.

This move toward conscious capitalism, Bigger Game play, corporate social responsibility, and social entrepreneurism is really a growing phenomenon. Something new is happening on the planet. Or actually, it's been happening on a small scale for many years, decades even... but I believe we're reaching a tipping point, and we will only see acceleration from here...

So - get out there now - start your socially responsible investment portfolio (I have an appt next week!). Get in, and get involved! It's time to jump into the pool, the water's fine--refreshing, invigorating and there's plenty of room...

Play bigger, play on...


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Time Is Now!

The Time Is Now! The 50+ generation will leave a legacy by igniting a revolution to reinvent America according to Bill Novelli, current Chief Executive at AARP.

I love this Bigger Game, and the Bigger Game players that are being ignited in their 50's and 60's. My question is this--why wait until you retire? Why not reinvent America wherever you are--here and now? And why stop at re-inventing America, how about we change the world?

For a different take on this one, check out this new social networking community on The Zaadz mission:

"Our Mission. We're gonna change the world. Our math goes like this: you be the change + you follow your bliss + you give your greatest strengths to the world moment to moment to moment + we do everything in our power to help you succeed + you inspire and empower everyone you know to do the same + we team up with millions like us = we just affected billions = we (together) changed the world.

Our Plan. Ours involves
Conscious Capitalism infused with Spirituality and a healthy dose of Enthusiasm, Love, Service, Inspiration, Passion, Humor and Teamwork. People CRAZY enough to think they can change the world, Courageous enough to do something about it, AND Committed enough to stick to it when they feel like giving up.

We’re in the process of building THE most inspired community of people in the world…social networking with a purpose, a community of seekers and conscious entrepreneurs circulating wisdom and inspiration and wealth and all that good stuff. We're passionate about inspiring and empowering people to bring their dreams to life, learning and growing and getting paid to do what they love, using their greatest gifts in the greatest service to the world. (And having fun in the process!)"

And check out this article in US Today - Gen Y Gets Involved. From this article:

"61% of 13- to 25-year-olds feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world, suggests a survey of 1,800 young people to be released today. It says 81% have volunteered in the past year; 69% consider a company's social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are "the most socially conscious consumers to date."

Now let's go younger! Check out - with this mission:

"Mission: YouthNoise’s mission is to inspire and empower young people everywhere to catapult their passion and idealism into movements to sustain the planet.

Vision: One day millions of young people around the globe will work together through the YouthNoise platform and beyond it to make their communities and the world a better place for their generation and generations to come."

Okay, so we've got the younger and older generations covered. So what's happening in the middle....? Hmmmm...... Well, that would be a longer post - and it's what a lot of my blog is all about.

The bottom line? The time IS now. And it is happening, there is actually a movement building - a Bigger Game movement. In all generations, there are seeds sprouting into communities of like-minded people. Because it fills us up. It's needed out there (in the world), and we need it too - to know that we are here for a reason, and we CAN do something important with our unique gifts.

Play on, folks. Play on!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Organic and Big Business The Organic Myth -Pastoral Ideals Getting Trampled As Organic Food Goes Mass Market - or so the sub-heading reads for this article. Yes, the organic food market is growing, and feeling some growing pains. And as this article says:

"As food companies scramble to find enough organically grown ingredients, they are inevitably forsaking the pastoral ethos that has defined the organic lifestyle. For some companies, it means keeping thousands of organic cows on industrial-scale feedlots. For others, the scarcity of organic ingredients means looking as far afield as China, Sierra Leone, and Brazil -- places where standards may be hard to enforce, workers' wages and living conditions are a worry, and, say critics, increased farmland sometimes comes at a cost to the environment."

For a different perspective on this growth, I encourage you to read Organic, Inc.

Here's where I am landing on this organic movement - we aren't going to go back to subsistence farming. Big Business is here to stay, so let's ring in a new era of conscious capitalism that includes the Krafts, General Mills, and Wal-Marts of the world. Ain't it grand?!! There aren't enough organic farmers to fill demand for organic products! In a free market society, prices will go up, and more farmers will make the shift sooner, because they will actually be able to make a living again. And yes, big factory farms will find a way to eliminate pesticides, growth hormones, and other environmentally unsound practices so that they too can help meet this market demand. Yes to that! Fewer pesticides! More environmentally sound farming practices!

Folks - this is good news overall for the planet. And for our bodies. And for our grandchildren. Oh for the day when all farms of all shapes and sizes are 100% organic... - OPINION - Businesses with a Higher Purpose? - OPINION Businesses with a higher purpose?
Corporations today want to win — no matter the cost. But instead of thinking about just the bottom line, what about social capital? Perhaps business schools could change their ways — and maybe the world.
By Alan M. Webber

Click to USA Today to read the full article--it's worth the read if you have been following my posts about "playing bigger games" in your personal life and your work life. I am a firm believer that corporations are the most influential forces for good and evil in the world today. I also believe that corporations, small and medium sized businesses and institutions of all kinds are made up of people like you and me. And that fundamentally, once we get past the first few layers of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we want to make a lasting positive difference in the world. And frankly, too often, we wake up at 35, 40 or even later, realizing that perhaps we're missing this most important point.

So, kudos to USA Today and Alan M. Webber for voicing this opinion. Alan, have you recently attended a Bigger Game workshop? Or that's it - you've been reading my blog? You even used the lingo! I'm impressed. Here's how Alan sums it all up (colors added by me):

What if, instead of seeking to create shareholder value as their definition of success, business men and women sought to establish well-articulated social values — and then applied them to their own careers and organizations? What if, instead of writing books called "Winning," they called their books "Contributing"? And what if, instead of measuring success only by their ability to amass financial capital, they also sought to grow social capital?

Because the real problem with business today isn't the few scoundrels who bring disgrace to so many honest managers. The real problem is that it needs to serve a higher purpose than making a lot of money. The challenge today is to answer a fundamental question: Is capitalism going to be the salvation of the world? Or the cause of its demise?

The big picture

This is hardly an academic question, what with issues of global warming, the growing gap between the haves and have-nots, and the seeds of war and terrorism sown by divergent economic systems. Business leaders need to espouse a bigger game than just winning that connects to a view of the world as an interconnected community, where the future of the wealthiest depends in equal measure on the future of the poorest.

MBA students need to think about this bigger game that asks fundamental questions about the purpose and sustainability of business. And it's a game that will eliminate most cheating — unless, to paraphrase Woody Allen, students who want to serve a higher purpose cheat by looking at the soul of the student next to them.
Alan M. Webber is co-founding editor of Fast Company magazine and former editorial director of the Harvard Business Review.

Here's an interesting link to another very different kind of publication - What is Enlightenment? magazine. They did an entire issue devoted to this issue "Will Big Business Destroy or Save the World?. If this USA Today article is intriquing, read on. You can order the back-issue for $7.50.

Play on...

Chemicals Within Us @ National Geographic Magazine

Read this eye-opening article about chemical exposure from everyday living. While the author has decided to continue his current lifestyle, this re-confirms my commitment to organic, natural products whenever possible. The bottom-line is this - in most cases we don't know the long term effects of toxic chemicals in our body, or in our environment. I prefer to be conservative on this. No one knew DDT was deadly, until people started dying.

As far as flame retardents in furniture, cars, airplanes, carpets.... well, the author of this article, David Ewing Duncan, had 10 times the average level of Americans--see below:

"I hope you are not nervous, but this concentration is very high," Bergman says with a light Swedish accent. My blood level of one particularly toxic PBDE, found primarily in U.S.-made products, is 10 times the average found in a small study of U.S. residents and more than 200 times the average in Sweden. The news about another PBDE variant—also toxic to animals—is nearly as bad. "

His guess about the source of exposure - perhaps the 200,000 miles in an airplane last year. But no one knows for sure. Further on in the article:

In 2001, researchers in Sweden fed young mice a PBDE mixture similar to one used in furniture and found that they did poorly on tests of learning, memory, and behavior. Last year, scientists at Berlin's Charité University Medical School reported that pregnant female rats with PBDE levels no higher than mine gave birth to male pups with impaired reproductive health. Linda Birnbaum, an EPA expert on these flame retardants, says that researchers will have to identify many more people with high PBDE exposures, like the Oakland family and me, before they will be able to detect any human effects. Bergman says that in a pregnant woman my levels would be of concern. "Any level above a hundred parts per billion is a risk to newborns," he guesses. No one knows for sure. "

Any margin of safety may be narrowing. In a review of several studies, Ronald Hites of Indiana University found an exponential rise in people and animals, with the levels doubling every three to five years. Now the CDC is putting a comprehensive study of PBDE levels in the U.S. on a fast track, with results due out late this year. Pirkle, who is running the study, says my seemingly extreme levels may no longer be out of the ordinary. "We'll let you know," he says.

So--here's a challenge to the chemical industry, and it relates back to a previous post on "Green Chemistry"--let's use our incredible human ingenuity and resourcefulness to replace these chemicals with non-toxic alternatives. That's "innovation that matters" to me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry

Scientists Set Sights on 'Green' Chemistry - trying to make the planet cleaner and safer and more profitable - chemistry with a conscious. Dupont is mentioned for changes to the way that Teflon is produced. Proctor and Gamble is working with Poliakoff to hopefully make plastic blafs out of sugar cane in Ethiopia, which are edible by cows.

Green chemistry starts with the first of 12 principals--"it is better to prevent waste than to treat or clean up waste after it has been created".

Ain't that the truth?!

Yale to Train Corporate Directors on Climate Change

Yale to Train Corporate Directors on Climate Change

This news is a bit old, but shows that this climate change stuff is being taken very seriously. Good news for students and adults that want to make a difference. There are many educational programs and institutions to choose from...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Moving Pictures - Jeff Skoll, and Participant Productions is the first film company to be founded on a mission of social impact through storytelling

Moving Pictures tells the story of a "Bigger Game" in the film industry. From this Fast Company article:

Participant Productions is the first film company to be founded on a mission of social impact through storytelling. But it's no charity. It's a pro-social commercial operation, a hybrid emblematic of the social-entrepreneurship movement. "Ultimately, the goal here is to build a brand around social relevance in media," Skoll says. He staked the company $100 million for its first three years; every script is evaluated equally on its creative and commercial potential and its ability to boost awareness of one of six issues: the environment, health, human rights, institutional responsibility, peace and tolerance, and social and economic equity. For each project, Participant execs with nonprofit backgrounds reach out to public-sector partners, from the ACLU to the Sierra Club, for their opinions. If those partners don't think they can build an effective action campaign around the film, it's a no-go. At the same time, "It can't be good-for-you spinach, or it's not going to work," says Participant's president, Ricky Strauss, a former production and advertising exec at Columbia and Sony Pictures Entertainment. "The more mainstream the story, the more opportunity to make an impact."

In the face of challenges ranging from global warming to threats to civil liberties, Skoll aims to inspire hope, then action. "Time and time again, you see this outpouring from people once they're made aware they can do something," he says. "That's the principle that drives this company."

Now, less than three years since it was founded, audienParticipant has gone from an unknown quantity to the force behind some of the most talked-about films of 2005 and 2006. Syriana (which took on the oil industry), Good Night, and Good Luck (McCarthyism and freedom of the press), North Country (sexual harassment), and the documentary Murderball (living with a disability) garnered a combined 11 Oscar nominations, with one win. An Inconvenient Truth, better known as "that Al Gore movie," scored international headlines and sold-out opening audiences.

My comments: Bravo to Jeff Skoll and his vision, which is even grander - to make Participant Productions into a full blown media company - integrating the movies, the web, and TV. I think The Bigger Game Company should team up with Jeff Skoll!