Sustainable Enterprises Over 25 Years With Mark Milstein (Episode 108)

sustainable enterprise

Mark Milstein has been thinking and talking about sustainable enterprises for a quarter century.

In this conversation—which continues the Amiel Show’s series on climate change, sustainable business, and clean tech—Mark and I discuss his professional and intellectual journey, how the field of sustainable enterprise has grown, what he’s created at Cornell, why the private sector matters, where sustainability happens inside companies, and who signs up for his classes these days.

Mark and I hadn’t spoken for 15-20 years, so this was also a fun chance to catch up and debate whether or not “Mimbo: The Gentle Art of Japanese Extortion” is relevant for people leading in politically complex environments.

If you like what you hear, please share. Podcast listening is a participatory sport!

Highlights

  • 9:00 Mark is dissatisfied intellectual with his MBA program and adds a second degree
  • 15:00 A professor tells Mark, “I do not like you people.”
  • 20:00 Mark reverses a huge decision at the mailbox
  • 28:00 Are companies the problem and/or the solution?
  • 36:30 Mark creates a curriculum in sustainability at Cornell
  • 52:00 Faculty resistance to talking about sustainable enterprise has broken down
  • 58:00 Different strokes by different folks: CSR, environment management, sustainable enterprise
  • 1:06:00 Unilever, living wages, frontier markets, Base of the Pyramid
  • 1:12:00 What is greenwashing?
  • 1:19:00 Overtourism, ecotourism, and destination managers

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My Journey With Sustainable Business (Episode 107)

This week, we turn the tables.

Chris Chittenden, senior ontological coach and past podcast guest, interviews me about my journey with sustainable business.

I found the experience liberating.

We discuss why I started a series on climate change, clean technology and sustainable business, the people and ideas who have influenced me, how I work with regret, and how I express these commitments in the life I was given.

I hope that this taste of my journey gives you insight and courage on your own journey.

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Climate Change—Walking On A Knife’s Edge With Theo Horesh (Episode 106)

climate change

Thinking about climate change can feel like walking on a knife’s edge.

This week, Theo Horesh brings this perspective and many other fresh insights to my series on sustainable business, climate change, and clean technology.

Theo and I discuss what it is about human brains and human evolution that makes climate change such an elusive topic, how fascism relates to climate change (hey, why stop at one foreboding topic?), why apocalyptic thinking exists and how it looks different on the political left and right, the gifts and limitations of the Go Local movement, and practical tips for expanding our hearts and minds. In the middle of all this, I jump in to explain why today’s progressive is yesterday’s Eisenhower Republican.

Theo is great at explaining complex topics without either squashing their complexity or confusing the listener. And I always end conversations with him feeling wiser and more engaged than when we started.

Highlights

  • 6:00 How do fascist leaders affect climate change?
  • 12:00 How Amiel’s computer programming ineptitude prevented nuclear war
  • 17:00 Different ways to interpret big storms
  • 23:00 How facing climate change became the structure of Theo’s life
  • 27:30 It’s easy to be vague and apocalyptic
  • 35:00 Varieties of conservative apocalyptic thinking
  • 39:00 True But Partial Challenge—the Go Local movement
  • 41:30 You have to get your inspiration from somewhere
  • 50:00 Amiel redefines the political center
  • 57:30 Reading The Economist gives Theo the “wows”

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Climate Change & No-Matter-What Commitment With Terry Patten (Episode 105)

Climate Change

What if we reframed climate change as an invitation to live a full and meaningful life? For business leaders, what if it provided the catalyzing purpose that so many of us seek? For my colleagues in the field of leadership development, why not us, and why not now?

The first question is the theme of Terry Patten’s extraordinary book, A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries.

This week, Terry joins me to discuss the book and its relevance for leaders, coaches, and all of us. It is the third episode in my new series on climate change, sustainable business, and clean technology.

Find a quiet environment. Pull up a seat. Grab a cup of tea. Have a listen.

And if you like it, please share with people who would enjoy it, too.

Highlights

  • 7:00 When we point at a problem, three of our fingers are pointing back at ourselves
  • 22:00 We have more to metabolize than we ever have before
  • 28:30 How insane it is to become unhappy
  • 35:30 Noticing that I’ve always been doing the best I can
  • 40:00 The “consensus trance”
  • 46:00 Terry takes the True But Partial Challenge
  • 56:00 This is all improv
  • 1:02:00 No-matter-what commitment

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Sustainable Business Goes Mainstream With Kevin Wilhelm (Episode 104)

Sustainable Business

This week I launch a new series about climate change, sustainable business, and clean technology. My goal is to explore these big, complex topics from multiple perspectives, with an open heart, and for the purpose of generating positive action. Multiple perspective-taking matters because each way we frame these topics is both useful and limiting—in the terminology of integral thinking, both “true” and “partial.” An open heart matters because what’s at stake is momentous, and without it, all that’s left is a big mushy bowl of anxiety. And positive action—well, heck, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

To launch this series (my interview with Ron Pernick of Clean Edge about clean tech was a prequel), I reached out to Kevin Wilhelm. Kevin is the founding leader of Sustainable Business Consulting, author of several books including Return on Sustainability, and a convincing thought leader.

In this conversation, we discuss how Kevin cut his teeth in a field that didn’t yet exist, the people who told him “that won’t happen,” how his company’s work boosts client employee engagement, his role as organizational translator, the forefathers and foremothers of the field, and how he makes sense of recent alarming reports about climate change.

One more thing. In the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to partner with more organizations in clean tech, energy efficiency and climate change than in the previous decade before that. Growing leaders and teams in these organizations is a total joy. As I tell Kevin, if I spent 98% of my time doing this, that wouldn’t be too much. People like Kevin give me inspiration to continue reaching out and making new offers.

If you like this conversation, please share with friends.

Highlights

  • 7:00 Creating a new market niche
  • 20:00 From “do the right thing” to “investors are demanding this”
  • 25:00 Translating and meeting people where they are at
  • 29:00 Sustainability increases employee engagement, attraction, and retention
  • 33:00 Stock analysts have finally caught on
  • 41:00 What’s missing in the public conversation about climate change
  • 45:00 Amiel’s riff on time horizons, climate change, and adult development
  • 49:00 Why spend $300K watering a lawn in a forest fire region?

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No More Feedback With Carol Sanford (Episode 103)

 

This week, contrarian business thought leader Carol Sanford joins me to discuss her new book, No More Feedback.

If the title strikes you as both surprising and unnerving, welcome to the club. Within organizations giving and receiving feedback are widely considered noble acts. Although we may not be competent at feedback, we know it’s a good thing—key to personal growth and leadership development.

Carol says, “no, not really.”

In her view, any effort to ask another person where I am strong or how I could improve is intrinsically harmful, even toxic. For this reason she offers a harsh critique of annual performance reviews, competency models, and 360 degree interviews. The damage they cause is so profound (e.g. rewarding conformity, shifting attention from big promises, encouraging confirmation bias, and reducing self-reflection) and the foundation upon which they are based is so flawed that it’s foolish to tweak them.

Instead, Carol argues, get rid of feedback entirely.

Three things I learned in talking with Carol:

  1. I share her assessment of most of the activities that she calls “feedback.”
  2. When I use the term “feedback”—for example, as one of four steps in the on-the-job-practice cycle—I’m talking about something that Carol does not consider feedback because the person requesting it is authoring their own learning.
  3. I can stay grounded while listening to someone critique a practice near and dear to my heart, as Carol does with the Enneagram. In fact, it’s kind of fun.

Have a listen, and tell me what you think.

Highlights

  • 10:00 Humans as machines, the first seedbed of feedback
  • 17:00 Three foundational capacities of people to cultivate
  • 24:30 Jerry, a contrarian at Weyerhaeuser pushed out for not conforming
  • 32:00 Feedback raises anxiety
  • 41:00 Opportunities to self-reflect can break attachment to 360 feedback
  • 49:00 Why modifying feedback systems doesn’t work: the premise is flawed
  • 54:00 Carol only has people assess themselves in relation to a big promise they are making in the world
  • 1:02:00 Carol’s work with Seventh Generation when it was in the red
  • 1:12:00 Perils of low fat diet, benefits of intermittent fasting

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