Category Archives: leadership

The Best Running Shoes Come From The Ocean

Adidas Parley UltraBoost

It could get busy around here.

The polarising struggle to argue out the sustainable consumption oxymoron often misses the point. Consuming more sustainably than we have done before has to be part of the real world incremental improvement process whilst we scramble for the step-change improvements that are really needed. Yes, that may very well not be quick enough to avoid catastrophic environmental change for many of ‘us’, but we are where we are, this is what we have, pragmatism has its uses and credit to those who are trying. Many aren’t.

Last week we saw Apple throwing its marketing nous behind Earth Day, this week we see Adidas (there is no alphabetical component here) upping its sustainability commitments and profile including ‘one million pairs of shoes made from up-cycled marine plastic in 2017.’

One million. Many people have little to no idea or the vaguest concept of the scale of industrial production, but such big numbers should make you sit up. One million pairs of running shoes made from up-cycled plastic has to be progress. Say it with a Dr Evil pinky finger to your mouth, I dare you.

Every second breath we take is generated by the Oceans,” commented Cyrill Gutsch, Founder of Parley for the Oceans.

We are now into the territory beyond climate denial but not quite mainstream consumerism (i.e. purchasing dictated by sustainability criteria). Yet. Apple, adidas and many other leadership companies are exploring key themes such as the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals and momentum is building week after week. Expect to see many more innovative products and processes conveyor belted out as the market is tested for acceptance.

Companies like Interface and their work in a similar vein to Adidas’ partnership with Parley with Net-Works are also even possibly more worthy of praise as they were way ahead of the pack, but alas, carpet tiles have yet to become a dominant brand category in your face 24/7 in the way the usual suspect consumer brands have.

For disclosure. I adore my adidas UltraBOOST running shoes. For many, many years I had always shown a strong brand affinity for Nike (whom I even worked as a football freestyler and tester of prototype football boots in my non-linear career story) or Asics for great running shoes and avoided Adidas after a bad experience before the New York marathon. I explored a pair when setting out to train for my first ironman distance triathlon 18 months ago (and survived in surprisingly good shape), and instantly fell in love with the astonishing levels of comfort for a performance running shoe.

Worth noting is how the bigger consumer facing brands are increasingly pushing out high profile product and communications. We are past tipping points now and heading into consistent mass market positioning rather than the niche deep green audiences of not so long ago. I hate to admit it, but this could get boring as sustainability innovation today becomes the norm of tomorrow.

For the brand lovers and runners out there check out the shoes and vote with your wallets for a great product now combined with great provenance. You could also check out www.adidas.com/runfortheoceans as week of support around World Oceans Day, June 5 -11.

For the sustainability people, and activists wanting to look beyond the communications frontage, adidas also shared their latest Sustainability Report.

*Oh, and if anybody at Adidas or any of their close friends should read this, and need a UltraBOOST size 9 product tester, I’m your man!

 

 

 

Apple’s Greatest Video?

Credit where credit is due.

I’ve roasted Apple (should that be baked?) many times, especially during the Steve Jobs era, but I had a feeling that Tim Cook would take a very different approach to sustainability. His supply chain background almost dictated it.

So, without further ado, here is Apple’s latest effort to use its brand for good, and that matters. It really matters. Watch the videos and then read why it meant so much to me.

 

Not your usual Apple slick, minimalistic, polished marketing advert!

Apple were the epitome of laggards, hiding away from disclosure or action whilst they focused on selling as many of their beautiful innovative tech toys as possible. Nothing new about that. Countless business still take that approach. Probably most businesses in all honesty.

But, Apple were and are one of the biggest mainstream brands in the world, with the accompanying leadership position that should elevate any authentically responsible business to push sustainability not only through their own operation and products, but also their widest sphere of influence including their customers and fans.

Five years ago I wrote a blog hoping, and predicting Tim Cook’s appointment would be a catalyst for change. Such a change was always going to take time. One tweak here, a new appointment there, a commitment to solar, a video celebrating diversity and now this. (notice I omitted Liam the recycling robot – Apple’s Howard the Duck moment)

The video above feels like a milestone moment because it shows Apple is now comfortable enough to be creative and step away from brand norms – which is very out of character – and bold. We desperately need more bold. The work has been done internally and my new hope is that this video is the start of a confident new leadership brand in the sustainability space, or should that be iSustainability?

The biggest challenge of our time is convincing the non-usual suspects to look at the issues people like me call sustainability in a way possibly only Apple could do, to change behaviour at scale.

Congratulations Tim Cook, Lisa Jackson et al, your mark has been made, but how high can you go?

 

 

Reasons To Be Happy

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Happy International Day of Happiness!

*Spoiler: Smurfs will be mentioned*

Companies are bad, everybody knows that. With the exception of a few of the usual suspects such as Patagonia and Unilever, the mainstream reputation of the private sector pretty much stinks wholesale. With trust in business, governments and even charitable organisations at an all time low, occasional pillars of resistance and hope break through the overwhelming greyness. But is that all justified?

I’m lucky, and happy. Beyond the rituals and pains of actually having to get paid for a living I’m fortunate to work in space that generates wellbeing in many ways. My day to day bounces between global and hyper local like a manic game of table tennis. I see many bright shards of hope, optimism and positive impact that seldom reach the ‘fake news’ mainstream media circus. One day I will unleash this goodness formally through ideas that have been gently simmering for many years. I promise.

My favourite current game of ping pong in my world is being played by the global (and local) IMPACT 2030 and a new very local (currently national – somewhere in Scotland I believe) kid on the block, well I say kid, but Stuart at Charging Around Britain is a touch more seasoned than that.

E_2016_SDG_Poster_all_sizes_without_UN_emblem_LetterIMPACT 2030 makes we happy because it pushes the private sector to realise what it really should be, connected groups of people, not homogenous shark-like legal structures hell-bent on profit maximisation. Through facilitating the evolution of corporate volunteering to a more human capital investment ethos IMPACT 2030 reminds us all of the essential humanity of business and the power of impassioned employees. Into the second year of the Sustainable Development Goals during 2017 with accelerating reach, progress and new initiatives IMPACT 2030 will be very much stepping up a gear.

As for Stuart McBain, well, he is one of those entrepreneurs that just did it. Anybody that walks the walk makes me happy. Too many ‘experts’ pontificate and achieve little. After building a successful accountancy firm in Liverpool, Stuart’s next step was to jump in a car and shout out the world to become more sustainable. In the usual very entrepreneurial JFDI method of operation he set off in his new Tesla Model S to be the first to tour the UK coast in an electric car. He left on Friday and will take 23 days to travel these isles whilst visiting any sustainability hotspots on his Charging Around Britain – #Adventure1.

 

Stuart openly admits he has much to learn across the sustainability and renewables space, but just watching his enthusiasm as hopefully an indicator of sea change awareness providing hope for our very uncertain futures.

Profit isn’t a bad word, and there many, many great businesses and business people. Make sure you celebrate the good wherever and whenever you see it.

Enjoy and share your happiness.

Oh, and more Smurfs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Few Good Women

SDG 5 Gender EqualityFor International Women’s Day I wanted to share a handful of true leaders constantly on my professional radar through their bold, innovative, considered, and wise inspiration.

There’s no science to this list, just stand-out impact creators from across a range of CSR and sustainability related organisations that I see constantly challenging, shaping and changing the world of male dominated business and political leaders.

Change is hard. Change is not equal. Change is eternal. Change is essential.

Today I salute you all, and also the many, many other unsung women leaders fighting inequality in all its forms not hightlighted below.

I can’t possibly provide justice to this group’s achievements, passions or skills in a couple of sentences, so there are plenty of links to their LinkedIn profiles, Twitter accounts and main websites to find out more.

Who else would you pay tribute to ?

 

SueSue Stephenson

As a leader within Ritz Carlton Hotels Sue was responsible for the incredibly successful Community Footprints programme before stepping toward a new challenge as Vice Chair of IMPACT 2030, connecting the private sector to the Sustainable Development Goals through human capital investment.

@SueOStephenson

 

ElaineElaine Cohen

Elaine is the undisputed go-to-person of CSR / sustainability reporting. If that wasn’t enough her pragmatic and outspoken personality combined with a love for ice-cream should be reasons enough to keep her blog especially on your watch list.

@elainecohen

 

CindyCindy Gallop

There aren’t many people more to the point than Cindy. “I like to blow shit up. I am the Michael Bay of business.” she  delicately suggests on her LinkedIn profile. The world needs more of this bluntness. Founder & CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld, Cindy uncompromisingly blends purpose, brand and impact – and wonderfully regular profanity.

@cindygallop

 

SusanSusan McPherson

Susan has been a constant powerful voice across the responsible business spectrum. Now as Founder of McPherson Strategies, and previously with roles at Fenton and PR Newswire Susan invests, connects and amplifies a whole community including her famous #CSRchats on Twitter.

@susanmcp1

 

AnnaAnna Hill

A truly inspirational force of nature as an award-winning designer, artist, entrepreneur and innovator across the space and sustainability industries. As Co-Founder of the Thames Deckway concept Anna recently won praise as an Innovate UK Women in Innovation.

@Thames_Deckway

 

LiseLise Kingo

After over a generation at pharmaceutical giants of innovative responsibility Novo Nordisk, Lise then grabbed the reins as leader of the UN Global Compact with an audience of over 13,000 private sector signatories and partners. Also a very new arrival on a fun platform called Twitter.

@Lise_Kingo

 

ellenEllen McArthur

After a maybe not so obvious career switch from sailing to pushing circular economy thought leadership through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation she has dramatically driven awareness and understanding of one of the most crucial elements of all future business models.

@ellenmacarthur

 

lucyLucy Marcus

A true font of knowledge on all things corporate governance, ethics and leadership. Lucy is the Founder and CEO of Marcus Venture Consulting whilst also regular contributing to numerous media outlets including Reuters and the BBC. If you want a better Executive Board, and therefore a better business, ask Lucy.

@lucymarcus

 

NadineNadine Hack

As a long-time supporter of some of history’s true leaders Nadine is a global expert in engagement leadership, mentoring and executive coaching, working at the highest levels of state, multinational business and academia. As CEO of beCause Global Consulting she also convenes a powerful community of collaborative expertise.

@NadineHack

 

AndreaAndrea Learned

Andrea is one of my favourite sources of best practice for leaders using social media to amplify and deepen their engagement and reach. An exceptional influencer specialist through her consultancy Learned On.

@AndreaLearned

 

KoAnnKoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz

KoAnn is Founder and Chief Executive of Sustainable Life Media, the company behind the Sustainable Brands calendar of international conferences and community. Each event is a continual source of innovative concepts and practical best practice across the responsible business spectrum.

@Koann

 

#InternationalWomensDay

#IWD2017