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4 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 LEADERSHIP By Mark Rapier We all have it within us to be visionaries. There are patterns in all of the activities surrounding us, the articles and books we read, and our conversations. All we have to do is look for them. When we notice patterns, our interpretation of their meaning and direction is uniquely our own. Often the vision is hidden behind our initial assumptions. The initial view is, more often than not, the prevailing view. We have to strip away the prevailing opinion to find the hidden meaning. Henry Ford did not build the first car. He was not the first to use an assembly line. He looked beyond the ways things were done and made the assembly line move. To unlock our inner visionary, we must question everything. We must separate the signal from the noise that surrounds it. We can see hidden patterns with a simple process. While easy to describe, the process is challenging to execute. Here are two short examples of visionary leadership: Thomas Edison embodied the idea of being a persistent visionary. He never abandoned his view of a technological future. Once he developed a hypothesis and decided to pursue it, he was relentless. When designing the light bulb, his team conducted about 1,200 experiments before they achieved success. This same process allowed him to invent the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and alkaline batteries. He once said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” For a short time, Nikola Tesla worked for Thomas Edison at the Edison Machine Works. Tesla is recognized today for his pioneering work with alternating current to deliver electricity where it was needed. Westinghouse licensed his ideas and patents. Thomas Edison believed that direct current was the best alternative, and he pursued it relentlessly. Working with J.P. Morgan, Edison “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” —William Plomer “What got you here won’t get you there.” —Marshall Goldsmith Visionary leadership is the fusion of these two ideas. Visionaries have a clear, distinct, and specific vision of the future. Business visionaries can take this image, anticipate the opportunities it will create, create plans to take advantage of the prospects, and inspire people to follow the path. How to be a Visionary Leader successfully suppressed the adoption of AC technology for many years. Tesla was right, but he never benefited from his vision and died in debt. Not all visionaries invent new things; they change the existing world. Ignez Semmelweis is one of these people. Dr. Semmelweis worked at a Vienna obstetric clinic in the mid-1800s. During that time, child bed infections resulted in mortality rates of 30% throughout Europe. He proposed handwashing as a solution to the problem and the
SPRING 2023 / REAL-LEADERS.COM 5 LEADERSHIP To be successful on the new adventure, leaders need to ask and answer the following questions. What is different about this situation? Human nature causes us to look for repeating patterns, make quick decisions based on the assumption that the patterns are the same. Leaders must look at things they believe are true and question them. The beliefs you are about to rely on that worked before may be disastrous today. What do you need to learn that is new? As Mary Pickford once said, “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Choosing to become a leader is an act of courage and an act of faith. It takes strength to assume the responsibilities of leadership. Leaders are responsible for creating an environment where everyone can achieve success. mortality rate in his clinic dropped to nearly zero. His ideas met with skepticism and were not adopted until years after his death. In 1995 Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in his garage. He had a vision. He believed he could leverage the capabilities of the still very new internet to sell books. His idea was based on the belief that the internet would fundamentally change retail commerce. Bezos never wavered from his vision. He successfully told and retold his story to investors to maintain their support. Amazon’s first profitable year was in 2003, eight years after its founding. Amazon is now worth over $3 trillion. In the process, the idea of eCommerce has entered into our everyday vocabulary. Visionary leadership is about much more than a great idea. For an idea to have value, it must become tangible and accepted. Trailblazers build teams and the first joiners come together to refine the idea and turn it into a design. As the design matures, the first builders join the team. At the same time, the leaders secure the funding to continue to develop the future product or service. The leaders hold these early teams together. Visionaries convince early adopters to embrace the new despite their fear of the unknown Choosing to be a visionary is not easy. There is no guarantee that your vision is viable. Even if you are right, there is no promise of success. If you have a vision that you believe in, follow it. When you see a spark, turn it into an ember, add fuel to make fire! This is an excerpt from Mark Rapier’s book, The Leader With a Thousand Faces: A Personal Study of Leadership. Assume the first pattern you see is wrong. Based on this point of view, what other patterns emerge. Repeat this until you have several alternative views of the future. Evaluate each pattern to determine what the effect would be if it proves true. For positive patterns, develop a thesis on what is required to take full advantage. For negative patterns, develop risk mitigation approaches. Build a one-page business case to capture what benefits result from pursuing the opportunity. Develop a one-page mitigation plan for each mitigation situation and determine the ramifications of a failure to take preventative measures. For the top risks and opportunities, do some scenario planning. Conduct experiments and honestly evaluate the results. Do not let your ego cause you to run down blind alleys. Embrace your vision. Generally, radical change is difficult to sell. You must tell a good story and tell it consistently. When obstacles arise, be willing to change your direction. Do not change the decision to pursue your vision. Your Visionary LeadershipGame Plan
C M Y CM MY CY CMY K 6 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 COLLABORATIVE VOICE Like many CEOs and business leaders, I’ve thought about income inequality and the shrinking middle class. While this far-reaching societal issue is complex and can’t be solved overnight, leaders can make a real difference in their employees’ lives through more equitable compensation and benefits. While generous compensation can make a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of our teams, salaries alone aren’t enough to build actual savings and wealth. In our economy, the costs of living are very high relative to the average person’s pay, especially considering the current inflationary issues we face. Many people are living paycheck to paycheck, a risky and fragile situation. We used to think that going to college was the best path to a better, more wealthy life, but skyrocketing tuition and crushing debt make it inaccessible for many. Now, even higher degrees do not guarantee a higher salary. Employee ownership is a broad term; it infers that a company’s employees own stock in the company. There are many forms of employee ownership ranging from stock grants to more complex plans like an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which is what we are at StoneAge. Founders or business leaders have many reasons why they believe employee ownership is a viable model for their companies. For example, employee ownership can assist with founder succession, increase the company’s performance, build a robust retirement plan, and create a strong culture where employees have a voice and share in its success. An ESOP is essentially an ownership model that is best accessed at retirement — similar to a 401(k) plan — but instead of investing in the stock market, the ESOP trust buys company stock and holds its assets in a trust for employees. An ESOP can own just a tiny percentage of the company or up to 100% of it. ESOP participants, the company’s employees, accrue shares in the plan over time and are paid out by repurchasing their shares, typically after leaving the company. They can take the payout as cash if they are of retirement age. They can roll it into a private IRA if they are not of Why the Employee Ownership Model Works for my Company By Kerry Siggins “RATHER THAN KEEP PEOPLE IN THE DARK, I AM INCREDIBLY TRANSPARENT AND COMMUNICATE REGULARLY ABOUT OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM'S DECISIONS — EXPLAINING WHY WE ARE MAKING THEM.” — KERRY SIGGINS retirement age. I am often asked, “How do you get anything done if everyone is an owner and you have to vote on all decisions?” That’s not how employee ownership works. Management is responsible for running the company. Only a few decisions are voted on by employee shareholders, such as dissolving the company or selling to an acquiring company. As CEO of an ESOP company, I am ultimately responsible for ensuring that we grow profitability responsibly. But I also lead differently. Unlike many CEOs who share limited financial information in fear of howmy employees might use it, we are an open book company and share real-time financial performance with all employees. Rather than keep people in the dark, I am incredibly transparent and communicate regularly about our leadership team's decisions and explaining why we are making them. Instead of making top-down decisions, we ask for input and ideas, seek feedback from all levels of the organization, and try to give everyone ample authority and autonomy. I believe that if you treat people like adults, they will act like adults. Is it always pretty? No. Is it easy? Rarely. Do we make mistakes in how and when we communicate? Absolutely. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our culture is made up of the collective. StoneAgeTools.com Kerry Siggins is CEO of StoneAge Tools.
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8 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 LEADERSHIP 5 Best Practices for Supporting Businesses in a War Zone Robertson’s most recent venture, Nature Green — a state-ofthe-art shitake mushroom facility — is located in the city of Uzhhorod in Ukraine, which hugs the Hungarian, Slovakian and Polish borders, all of which are being affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Yet the company continues to thrive, producing 30 tons of mushrooms a month, which are then carefully packaged and shipped to customers across Europe and the United Kingdom. In a candid conversation, Robertson explains why he believes Nature Green has endured, despite the less-thanideal circumstances. YPOmember and CEO of AMS Global Andrew Robertson (above) is no stranger to doing business in conflict zones. From Afghanistan to Kazakhstan, Iraq to Nigeria, he has kept industries thriving amidst political upheaval. Take PreemptiveMeasures “Our business plan is our contingency plan,” Robertson says. “You never know where the curveball is going to come from, so you always need to be prepared.” In the case of Ukraine, that meant mobilizing even when there were mere whispers of war. “We took preemptive measures to safeguard the facility and purchased a power generator in case the power lines went down,” says Robertson. “If we lost power for more than two hours, the entire production — somewhere between half a million and a million dollars’ worth of mushrooms — would be destroyed.” 1 By Deborah Stoll
SPRING 2023 / REAL-LEADERS.COM 9 LEADERSHIP Combine Best Practices and Cultural Integration Another essential piece of the puzzle is ensuring respect between stakeholders — international and local partners as well as the community at large. “Every time we go into a new region to do business, we operate at 50% best practice and 50% cultural integration,” he says. “We listen to the local people’s needs, we learn about their culture and we embrace them while offering tools to upscale their work.” This synergetic amalgam of culture and knowledge has created an exceptionally strong sense of pride across the mountain region and embedded a sense of optimism about the future. “Most Ukrainians have to go overseas if they want to provide for their families,” says Robertson. “Now they can actually be employed in their own towns and villages and know that their children will be able to remain. It has given people a real sense of pride in their work. And tapping into people’s pride is a powerful thing.” Leverage Local Talent In the early stages of building the facility, all of the equipment and consultants were brought in from the outside. But once operations were up and running, it became evident that there was more than enough local talent to mine. “There are a lot of very capable engineers and steel workers in Ukraine,” says Robertson. “Items that would normally be made in Asia or China, we started to manufacture locally using local companies.” This not only added more jobs to the region and broadened opportunities for further investment in the area, it created a more sustainable ecosystem which fostered an even greater sense of purpose within the community. 2 3 Above: Destruction of buildings in Izium, Ukraine, in September 2022. Russian occupation since April 1st caused major destruction and death to the small city.
10 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 In the end, Robertson believes that every move you make, conflict or not, should be done with passion and purpose, and with the goal of exchanging the best ideas and strengths each side has to offer. “I believe that by importing the best minds in business, industry, and manufacturing and fusing that with the Ukrainian peoples’ passion and know-how, we can build successful companies,” Robertson says. “You find the right partner, secure the best support, and bridge the cultural nuances by implementing best practices and creating prosperity and jobs indefinitely. "My passion and determination to help post-conflict and developing countries build their private sector economies and create jobs remains unwavering, and I am always happy to support fellow YPO members to do the same.” n Contribute to Charity Anything Nature Green does not export gets donated to the community — local hospitals, orphanages and monasteries. “Because of that, I would say we are one of the stars of the local area,” says Robertson. “We are engaged in the community, we employ local people and we are giving back.” 4 Get Embassy Support For international investors concerned about the challenges of doing business as a foreign national, Robertson says it’s actually a benefit. “I want international investors to know that support is available,” says Robertson. “As an international investor, we have embassies and consulates that we can go to, and the local ministries and Ukrainian government entities know and welcome us. I can go to the international trade desk if I have any problems. In many ways, my voice is probably heard a little bit louder because Ukraine welcomes and supports international investors who come to Ukraine, transfer knowledge, create jobs, and help make the country a success.” 5 Deborah Stoll’s first book, Unvarnished, was published by Harper Collins, June 2020. Her second book, Drop In, is forthcoming in Spring 2023. She works as a journalist and musician, and her songs have been featured on American Idol, Glee, CSI Miami, and in Ralph Lauren campaigns. LEADERSHIP "EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE, CONFLICT OR NOT, SHOULD BE DONE WITH PASSION AND PURPOSE AND WITH THE GOAL OF EXCHANGING THE BEST IDEAS AND STRENGTHS EACH SIDE HAS TO OFFER."
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12 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 COLLABORATION When the perceived risk of a great idea has been lessened by commercial trials and boosted by government endorsements, it can become unstoppable. around the world who need vision correction but have no access to it, leading to drastic health costs and lost productivity that cost an estimated $3 trillion every year. Deemed an insurmountable challenge by the institutional world of professionals, industry, and policymakers, tackling the global vision crisis meant confronting risks and unknowns. But finding and catalyzing a solution would have dramatic repercussions for a country’s productivity and could revolutionize people’s lives and well-being. By betting on a pioneering vision-screening protocol that trialled new affordable glasses and loosened regulations on who could provide sight tests, Rwanda has become the first developing country to implement universal primary eye healthcare, with vast benefits for all its citizens. Matching the success of the exhaustive efforts in a tiny country with a global effort to drive change carries Of the top economic powers in the world, 69 are corporations, and only 31 are countries. Businesses now set the pace for technological change and social innovation. Where business leads, society follows. Any business investor knows that the strength of good investing lies in calculating risk and reward; low risk is often a sign of low reward. Could we apply this to the world’s most pressing social issues too? Finding solutions to the world’s greatest problems requires an appetite for risk-taking, for supporting solutions with large upfront capital without evidence of success. While the returns regarding social progress, productivity, and well-being could be huge, the potential for failure and loss is enough to put offmany but the most adventurous private philanthropists. I have dedicated over a decade of my career to tackling the issue of poor vision. There are over 2.5 billion people This Cheap, 700-Year-Old Solution Could Change Billions of Lives By James Chen
COLLABORATION 13 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 greater challenges. Democratic governments struggle to take the necessary risks or to provide the long-term stability needed to create change and see projects to their end. Businesses, on the other hand, are ambitious and impactorientated. Already in 2019, in a report published at Davos, the Young Presidents’ Organization’s Global Leadership Survey found that business leaders believe the private sector is the best sphere in which to yield social impact, with 51% considering government regulation an obstacle, rather than an aid, to doing good. Businesses that want to do good should note that tackling poor vision by providing vision correction to their workforce is lowhanging fruit. Around 90% of cases of poor vision worldwide could be solved by a simple pair of glasses that cost as little as $1.50 – a solution that has been around for over 700 years and is so often taken for granted in the developed world. Several firms, including American consumer retail giant Williams Sonoma, have started implementing eye tests and providing low-wage workers with vision-correcting glasses. The rewards are enormous. Workers’ well-being is dramatically increased, helping them see better and preventing fatal injuries from heavy machinery or road traffic accidents. Amodest investment makes enormous business sense by reaping the rewards for employers through improved worker productivity and employee retention. This is a clear win/win. Research published in The Lancet Global Health shows that the simple provision of glasses to tea pickers in Assam, India, improved productivity by an average of 22%. This is the equivalent of one whole working day a week, a productivity increase unmatched by other primary health interventions. More than nine in 10 participants in the study would recommend glasses to other workers — fundamentally, those involved embrace these programs if the required investments are successful and sustainable. Even more strikingly, for those over 50, the increase in productivity was close to 32%. The implications of primary eye healthcare and glasses in helping older workers stay at work are huge — not to mention reducing poverty, helping younger family members stay in school, and improving health and well-being among elderly members of the community. This is startling and indisputable evidence of the power of glasses. More importantly, for business leaders, it is a sign that real, affordable, and existing solutions have been trialled and de-risked. The World Health Organization and Commonwealth Heads of Government are joining the effort, and there is now a dedicated working group within the UN, The Friends of Vision, devoted to putting forward multilateral resolutions that will transform this into global action. We need to find more ways to build strategies for the business sector to drive change. This is undoubtedly the best way forward, not only for poor vision but for issues of education, gender equality, pollution, and other pillars of the sustainable development goals. n James Chen is the chair of the Chen Yet-Sen Family Foundation in Hong Kong. "BUSINESSES THAT WANT TO DO GOOD SHOULD NOTE THAT TACKLING POOR VISION BY PROVIDING VISION CORRECTION TO THEIR WORKFORCE IS LOW-HANGING FRUIT. AROUND 90% OF CASES OF POOR VISION WORLDWIDE COULD BE SOLVED BY A SIMPLE PAIR OF GLASSES THAT COST AS LITTLE AS $1.50." — JAMES CHEN
14 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 Julia Jackson’s journey into sustainability began in college when a friend studying food systems and the environment gave her a book called Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. The revelations about howmeat is produced and America’s addiction to factory farming shocked her, and she became vegetarian overnight. “We shouldn't be polluting the planet to satisfy our appetites,” she explains. Now aware of the carcinogens in mass-produced and processed food, she came face-to-face with the reality of this hidden danger when her father died of cancer when she was 22. “It was a huge wake-up call for me,” recalls Jackson. “When you experience profound loss from something that seems unnaturally premature, you ask what the root cause of a disease might be.” For the next fewmonths, Jackson went down the rabbit hole — consuming every research paper and book she could lay her hands on, obsessed with a growing awareness that a link existed between environmental degradation and human health. Yet, despite the alarming facts she uncovered about the increase in disease and our reliance on chemicals in farming and food production, she still felt a lack of urgency around the climate crises; she hadn’t yet linked the next piece of the puzzle — that the world’s sensitive ecosystems on which all life depends can become “sick” too. “Reading about the biosphere, the nine planetary boundaries, and understanding why carbon sinks are important, or the existence of bio-regions, gave me the big-picture thinking I needed to see — we all share the same atmosphere, the same oceans, the very air we breathe,” says Jackson. FEATURE JULIA JACKSON’S PLAN TO SAVE THE WORLD Death and destruction will paralyze most people into inaction or blaming things beyond their control. Julia Jackson looked at the smoldering remains of her house from a massive wildfire and decided to act — by finding solutions that she could scale on a global level. Her significant investment and inspiration in starting this journey? A book. JENNA ALCALA
WINTER 2022 / REAL-LEADERS.COM 15 “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT BUSINESS YOU’RE IN; YOU’RE STILL ULTIMATELY OPERATING ON PLANET EARTH. YOU SHOULDN’T ASK YOURSELF HOW YOU CAN DO LESS BAD IN LIFE, BUT RATHER, HOW YOU CAN ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE IN BRINGING LIFE BACK INTO THE WORLD.”
16 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 FEATURE Now a committed environmental advocate, Jackson founded Grounded.org, a foundation that develops advocacy campaigns and invests in environmental non-profits to accelerate global climate action. Since 2018, the organization has distributed strategic grants to support Indigenous-led organizing, landmark climate research, and youth climate activism. They focus on three strategic imperatives: reducing emissions, drawing down atmospheric carbon through nature-based solutions, and protecting the rights of nature in domestic policy and international law. Her pragmatic approach, based on an insatiable desire to learn as much as she can about the climate challenges we face as a species, has resulted in a three-stage business plan: (1) Stop new emissions; (2) within five years, drawdown existing emissions; and (3) amend the US Constitution to prevent it from happening again. Ambitious? Yes. But then, big audacious ideas are the catalyst of change throughout history. “Scientists have noted nine planetary boundaries beyond which we can’t push Earth's systems without putting our societies at risk,” says Jackson. “These are climate change, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol pollution, freshwater use, biogeochemical flows of nitrogen and phosphorus, land-system change, and release of novel chemicals. If business leaders want to make a real difference at scale, they should study the interconnected nature of these critical factors for life on Earth. “Political borders are an artificial construct when it comes to climate action,” continues Jackson. “The industrial emissions of one country can affect the citizens of another halfway across the globe. Nature doesn’t respect our political borders nor animals — who will roamwhere they please based on bio-regions.” Collaboration Is Key Jackson's obsession with asking questions on human and environmental health led her to seek bigger answers — fromworld leaders with big-picture thinking that went beyond what she had already discovered. Global conventions such as the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol seemed to offer solutions or at least stimulate broader thinking in the search for them. “There’s a mindset among certain people and countries that we’re on a race to get to net zero,” she says. “But there shouldn’t be any competition, just collaboration, because we all live on the same planet and all suffer the effects of dirty air, plastic in our food systems, and a degraded environment,” she says. A defining moment happened in 2017 when the Tubbs wildfire in Northern California forced Jackson to evacuate her home. It destroyed more than 5,643 structures, half of which were homes in Jackson’s hometown of Santa Rosa. The economic loss from the fire was estimated at $1.2 billion, with 5% of the city’s housing destroyed. The fire also incurred an additional $100 million in fire suppression costs. The human and financial costs were staggering, and it changed Jackson forever. “It hit home that we’re all living in a 5 Books that Inspired Jackson’s Journey of Awakening Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer Part memoir and part investigative report, Eating Animals is the groundbreaking moral examination of vegetarianism, farming, and the food we eat every day. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson First published in 1962, Silent Spring alerted a large audience to the environmental and human dangers of indiscriminate use of pesticides, spurring revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. Drawdown: 100 Solutions to Reverse Climate Change by Paul Hawken There’s been no real way for ordinary people to understand what they can do and what impact it can have, at least until now. This book feeds the public hunger for practical wisdom around the climate crisis. We Are the ARK: Returning Our Gardens to Their True Nature Through Acts of Restorative Kindness by Mary Reynolds Tending a home garden, whether in a house or apartment, can add to the thousands of small wildlife-friendly gardens that provide habitat for embattled wildlife around the world and give you practical insights into how your small actions can make a big difference. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough We are immersed in a manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90% of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world?
climate crisis,” she explains. “Natural disasters can no longer be dismissed as events in far-flung, impoverished parts of the world that have traditionally been prone to these things. Look at the destruction to multi-million-dollar homes in Florida last year fromHurricane Ian.” As she looked at the wreckage in her community, one big question in Jackson’s mind was, “OK, what are the solutions to all of this?” “It was like waking into a nightmare,” she recalls. “Where do you start when facing an issue of this magnitude?” For inspiration, Jackson turned to a book that had helped her see that the climate crisis doesn’t have to lead to despair. “Someone gifted me a copy of Drawdown: 100 Solutions to Reverse Climate Change by Paul Hawken, and I read it cover to cover," she recalls. "At last, here was someone offering solutions and not just scaremongering with dramatic facts about the destruction we witness around us. I looked up where the author was speaking and booked a ticket. I just had to meet him.” The meeting blossomed into friendship and a board nomination for Jackson to Hawken’s foundation, Regeneration. “It showed me that there are people out there working on solutions to social and environmental problems; we just have to seek them out.” Many people might feel intimidated by approaching a biologist, professor, or scientist for help, but Jackson hit on a FEATURE SPRING 2023 / REAL-LEADERS.COM 17 “SHAKING PEOPLE TO WAKE THEM UP IS RARELY THE CORRECT APPROACH. I HAVE FOUND THAT WHEN I’M MORE GROUNDED AND LEADING FROM MY HEART, I’M ABLE TO CHANGE THE HEARTS OF OTHERS MORE EASILY.” secret hidden in plain sight. An author can sometimes be more knowledgeable, approachable, and a better collaborator than most academics. “You shouldn’t ask yourself how you can do less bad in life, but rather how you can actively participate in bringing life back into the world. Installing solar and retrofitting your house to be more eco-friendly is great, but what are you doing to develop an actual relationship with the Earth?” Recognizing Your Blindspots As a business leader, Jackson knows that her journey and the lessons she’s learned along the way will not necessarily resonate with others. “It’s one of my biggest blindspots, she says. “How do you meet people where they are and make them aware of the urgency of adopting sustainable business practices? My urgency is usually not someone else’s urgency.” Often, a leader will ride on their charismatic charm and sense of righteousness to influence others without probing too deeply into the worldviews of others. “Shaking people to wake them up is rarely the correct approach,” says Jackson. “I have found that when I’mmore grounded and leading frommy heart, I’m able to change the hearts of others more easily. When you wake up the heart, the sky’s the limit when trying to inspire others to act. You need to humanize the issue.” It’s no coincidence that some of the biggest influencers in the world who move billions to action are musicians, artists, and poets — all people who speak to the heart. The power of words delivered with emotion is not lost on Jackson. “I recently had someone come up to me after one of my talks and confess that I had changed the way they now see the world. Another guy approached me after a speech and said he was inspired to invest $8 million in climate-related projects.” Confronting the Challenges of Being an Impact Leader Jackson says the climate crisis is approaching faster than scientists had warned, and she sometimes struggles with the implications of what this means for her
18 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 commitment as a social impact leader. “It means that my goals and action plans have become more urgent too,” she explains. “There’s a growing disconnect between the social and environmental issues in the world and the rate that impact leaders can keep up with potential solutions.” One of the solutions that Jackson has adopted is to immerse herself among experts in the field. She’s on the board of a group of Arctic ice scientists, and while this seems like a strange association when trying to solve business issues, it helps feed Jackson’s sense of urgency and keeps her focused on impact solutions. “One day, I’ll be standing on a melting glacier, and the next, I’ll be walking down a street in New York with people doing after-work drinks, sharing stories, and laughing about issues of little importance in the bigger scheme of things. “Ignorance is bliss, and I used to be a part of that world,” says Jackson. “It would be great just to be a normal 34-year-old surrounded by the distractions of Western culture, but once you’ve seen the facts around the environmental crisis, there’s no turning back.” Her advice to CEOs? “Get out more. Seeing is believing.” The Tide Is Turning “Look at what Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard did last year,” says Jackson. “The company, valued at about $3 billion, will transfer the ownership to a specially designed trust and nonprofit organization, created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.” Only six countries are on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal of cutting carbon emissions by roughly 50% by 2030, but companies can move faster. “Patagonia has shown that huge resources, usually mobilized by countries, can be used by private enterprises to promote change. If you don’t have these resources, look more closely at the money you control. Is your bank involved in drilling the Arctic? Is your pension fund involved in the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure? Is there something in your supply chain that’s damaging the environment?’ Closer to home, how did you dispose of your old refrigerator that’s potentially full of harmful gases? Ultimately, your business and your life will depend on getting ahead of the climate crisis. Get behind solutions now, no matter how small they may seem.” Look to Nature for Solutions Examining the intelligence of nature can spark new ideas and help find solutions. Nature is, by default, collaborative and supportive. “If you look at the mycelium root connectivity between plants and trees in nature that even communicate with each other, it shows FEATURE that trees and forests work together as a community. Healthy trees will swap nutrients with a tree nearby struggling with a disease,” says Jackson. American mycologist and entrepreneur Paul Stamets has called this real-life mycelial network "Earth's natural internet." “Trees know how to function together as a community for the common good,” says Jackson, “and the more we can learn about the survival techniques of nature, the better we’ll survive as humans. Nature has shown that we cannot do it alone; we must do it together. Reach out to like-minded people for help and advice, even if they’re not in your sector or profession. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in; you’re still ultimately operating on Planet Earth. Turn off the doom and gloom of your news channels for a week and seek out someone with whom you can create something new, positive, and exciting.” n “YVON CHOUINAR, FOUNDER OF PATAGONIA, HAS SHOWN THAT HUGE RESOURCES, USUALLY MOBILIZED BY COUNTRIES, CAN BE USED BY PRIVATE ENTERPRISES TO PROMOTE CHANGE. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THESE RESOURCES, LOOK MORE CLOSELY AT THE MONEY YOU DO CONTROL.”
You’ve got the big idea. We’ll help youmove it forward. The world is changing. And the stakes have never been higher. You need your message to resonate. You need your strategy to work. You need your team in sync. And you need a trusted, valuesaligned partner who can help you tackle the big questions to move your mission forward. That’s where we come in. Mission Partners is a social impact communications firm and Certified B Corporation™. We use the power of communications to power missions forward. Move from big idea to breakthrough impact. Learn more at mission.partners. strategic planning + visioning | partnerships + coalition building | training + facilitation | message + brand development Tune in to Mission Forward, the podcast for social impact leaders, and discover the power of communications for yourself. Listen at missionforward.us
20 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 PEACE Raised in one of the most troubled African countries, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rose to become the world’s first Black woman president of Liberia at age 67. Personal struggles helped shape Sirleaf 's attitude toward war and violence, which she used to rebuild a country torn apart by civil war. Understanding history and gender discrimination has taught her that womenmust not be held back and insists they should be part of any conflict resolution process. Born into poverty in Africa, married at 17 to an abusive husband, imprisoned and forced into exile, and separated fromher children — these things would test the will of the most authoritarian leader. And despite insurmountable odds, she is the world’s first elected Black female president and Africa’s first elected female head of state. Elected in 2006, Sirleaf brought stability to Liberia, a volatile country with two civil wars over 14 years. In addition, she also added a Nobel Peace Prize to her long list of accolades in 2011. WORLD’S FIRST BLACK WOMAN PRESIDENT: 'IT'S TIME FOR WOMEN TO BUILD PEACE' Sirleaf was born with Americo-Liberian roots and German ancestry, and she has qualifications and work experience from American institutions, theWorld Bank, Citibank, and the UNDevelopment Programme. Her diverse cultural identity, exposure to global economic infrastructure, and big-picture thinking resulted in a leader who understands that diversity can keep things together rather than tear things apart. The 1989-1996 Liberian civil war, one of Africa's bloodiest, claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and further displaced a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries. Entire villages were emptied as people fled. The war claimed the lives of one out of every 17 people in the country. And now, decades later, it took a single woman to help heal the wounds. Sirleaf refused to accept the limitations of her nation or her gender and refused to give up her beliefs, despite being jailed and threatened by brutal dictators. She ruffled the feathers of every president she worked for in Liberia over nearly 40 years until she became president. Many people are unaware that Alfred Nobel, after whom the Peace Prize is named, was the inventor of dynamite. He was inspired to leave his vast fortune to the prize that bears his name after a newspaper incorrectly reported his death with the headline: “Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.” It was actually Nobel’s brother that had died, but from that moment, he decided his legacy would be about peace and human advancement. Sirleaf accepted her Nobel Peace Prize by recounting this story adding, “Alfred Nobel’s dynamite did not kill people. People kill people, whether it’s with a knife, machete, handgun, rifle, machine gun, or explosive device packed with dynamite. Our shared values are more important than our individual interests,” she said, explaining how the bigger picture should always be kept in mind before pulling a trigger. n “THE SIZE OF YOUR DREAMS MUST ALWAYS EXCEED YOUR CURRENT CAPACITY TO ACHIEVE THEM. IF YOUR DREAMS DO NOT SCARE YOU, THEY ARE NOT BIG ENOUGH.” — ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
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REAL LEADERS IMPACT AWARDS 2023 WAVES OF
REAL LEADERS IMPACT AWARDS 2023 CHANGE For our fifth annual ranking of top impact companies, Real Leaders recognizes the rise in purpose-driven businesses by expanding our Real Leaders Impact Awards list to our biggest yet with 300 winners. On the following pages, you will find a diverse group of companies from around the world that prove that businesses can thrive and help build a better world. We encourage you to support these companies by buying their products and services, investing in their growth, or sharing this list with your network.
24 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 From companies that have reimagined old business models to place a greater focus on all stakeholders to those who built impact into their business from day one, we are getting to the point, thankfully, where purpose-driven businesses are becoming the norm. This is something to celebrate! It’s fantastic for employees who want to work for companies that align with their values, and it’s a boon for customers who would prefer to purchase products and services they feel good about. It’s crucial for the wellbeing of society and the health of our planet that businesses commit to a definition of success that incorporates social and environmental impact alongside profits. Do You Want to See Your Company Recognized? Be one of the first to enter our 2024 awards by scanning the QR code above to reserve your entry for next year’s awards. 1. CVS Health 2. Tesla 3. Natura 4. BHP 5. Fortescue 6. Schneider Electric 7. Danone 8. Athleta 9. Powur* 10. Vestas Wind Systems 11. Aspiration* 12. Orsted 13. Tetra pak 14. Lego Group 15. Oatly 16. Arçelik 17. Beko 18. Generate Capital 19. Bombas 20. Brookfield Renewable Partners 21. Xylem 22. Stitch Fix 23. Enphase Energy 24. Freedom Mortgage Corporation 25. REI 26. Patagonia 27. Crocs 28. Pentair 29. American Water 30. One Tree Planted 31. Aptive Environmental 32. DLP Capital 33. Lemonade 34. First Solar 35. Arowana* 36. Ben & Jerry's 37. Sunrun 38. Bitwise Industries 39. NedBank Group 40. The AZEK Company 41. Laureate 42. Warby Parker 43. SunPower 44. L'Occitane 45. Smile Brands4 46. Grove Collaborative 47. Interface 48. Lush Cosmetics 49. Ormat Technologies 50. MCE 51. Toms 52. Advance Global Capital 53. Polestar 54. College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving 55. Scale Microgrid Solutions 56. Amy's Kitchen* 57. Coursera 58. Vita Coco 59. Torani* 60. Cotopaxi* 61. Hydroflask 62. Classy* 63. Beyond Meat 64. Goodroot4 65. Weleda 66. Sprout Social 67. Seventh Generation 68. Hannon Armstrong 69. ClimeCo 70. NEI 71. Burt's Bees 72. Clear Touch 73. LGCY Power 74. MagicLinks* 75. Sweetgreen 76. Advantage Capital4 77. Cooks Venture 78. PRIDE Industries 79. SVN International4 80. CentralReach* 81. Beneficial State Bank* 82. King Arthur Baking 83. Donatos 84. TISSINI4 85. Traditional Medicinals* 86. Avocado Green Mattress 87. World Centric* 88. Formula E 89. Revision Skincare & Goodier Cosmetics 90. Graduation Alliance* 91. Green Chef 92. Pathstone 93. PATH 94. 4G Capital* 95. TerraCycle 96. Findhelp* 97. AbleLight 98. Climate First Bank 99. Sunrise Banks* 100. Anthesis Group* 101. Gravy Analytics 102. Warriors Heart 103. Pela Case 104. Rivian 105. EcoVadis* 106. LesserEvil 107. DYPER* 108. Shift Capital* 109. Allbirds 110. The BOMA Project 111. STS Capital Partners 112. Sellars Absorbent Materials 113. Nisolo* 114. Pangaia 115. Houwzer* 116. Florence Healthcare 117. Clearinghouse CDFI* 118. Shared-X4 119. Rescue Agency*4 120. Flow Water 121. Bookshop.org* Top 300 Impact Company Ranking 2023 Real Leaders celebrates its fellow B Corps All companies marked with this symbol ( * ) are certified B Corporations. B Corps are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Real Leaders is proud to be a B Corp since 2010 and B Certified since 2016. Real Leaders celebrates its Impact Collaborative members All companies marked with this symbol ( 4) are members of the Real Leaders Impact Collaborative — where farsighted leaders are uniting to transform our shortsighted world through purpose-driven business. 4
SPRING 2023 / REAL-LEADERS.COM 25 122. Sensiba San Filippo*4 123. Finisterre UK* 124. HUNGRY 125. FuelCell Energy 126. Urb-It 127. Gaia Herbs* 128. TCG* 129. Boston Common Asset Management* 130. Genius Group 131. StoneAge Tools4 132. Solberg MFG* 133. Abacus Wealth Partners* 134. Chickapea* 135. Good Clean Love* 136. TriLinc Global* 137. RRD GO Creative 138. Sama* 139. SecondMuse* 140. Freshlocal Solutions 141. Mission Wealth 142. Soapbox* 143. Participate Learning*4 144. MineSense Technologies 145. NOVICA*4 146. The Poirier Group 147. Greenvines* 148. Tru Earth 149. Helpsy4 150. Behavioral Framework* 151. Adrift Hospitality* 152. Facilities Management Service* 153. VivoPower International* 154. Miles4Migrants 155. All Good Products* 156. Goalcast4 157. Firespring* 158. Wicked Joe Organic Coffee* 159. Casebook* 160. Acumen 161. REN Beauty 162. Caldera Medical 163. Omaze 164. Jitasa* 165. DGW Branded* 166. Pearl Consulting* 167. Metropolitan Group* 168. ORAGIN Foods 169. Veris Wealth Partners* 170. W.S. Badger Company* 171. The House of LR&C* 172. Tobasa Bioindustrial de Babaçu S/A* 173. BSW Wealth Partners*4 174. Outsource Access 175. ResolutionCare* 176. Genus Capital Management* 177. Yardstick Management 178. Media Cause 179. Cicero Group 180. Righteous Gelato*4 181. Arnerich Massena* 182. P.L.A.Y. Pet Lifestyle and You*4 183. Pact Clothing 184. Mytonomy 185. Glorium Technologies 186. The Builders Fund*4 187. The FruitGuys* 188. Align Impact* 189. Kraft Group* 190. Divine Chocolate* 191. Zeus Jones* 192. Milk & Honey PR* 193. Doktuz* 194. European Leadership University4 195. Impact Investment Exchange 196. Green Canopy NODE 197. MPOWERD*4 198. Green Circle Salons* 199. Creative Alignments 200. Sunwealth* 201. Husk Power Systems* 202. EarthKind 203. Trusaic 204. Bamboo Capital Partners 205. Parliament Capital Management 206. SureCall* 207. Matter Unlimited* 208. RPCK Rastegar Panchal 209. Medicalincs 210. Exygy* 211. Gestion Immobiele Quo Vadis* 212. Vera Solutions*4 213. Cause Strategy Partners* 214. Crave Fishbar* 215. Prima* 216. Novex Delivery Solutions* 217. ECOFashion Corp* 218. BlueWave*4 219. Sonen Capital* 220. MiaDonna* 221. Elevar Equity 222. Intrigue* 223. McPherson Strategies* 224. Noto Group*4 225. Tatonka Education Services* 226. IVY* 227. BetterWorld Technology* 228. Champ Titles4 229. FutureThink 230. New Society Publishers* 231. Omega Azul Seafood 232. Plastic Credit Exchange 233. MACKEY*4 234. We First*4 235. DialogueDirect* 236. Animated Insights* 237. EcoLogic Solutions* 238. Cuento de Luz 239. Constructive 240. ImpactInstitute 241. Earth Equity Advisors* 242. Transform VC 243. Ocean Power Technologies 244. Mission Partners*4 245. Matterlab 246. CanopyLAB 247. Verdical Group* 248. BVH Services 249. EcoAdvisors* 250. Bullhorn Creative*4 251. Montcalm*4 252. EnGen* 253. Green Retirement* 254. Pledge 255. Made with Local* 256. o3 smart cities* 257. Generation HOPE / Friends of HOPE* 258. Emerald Built Environments* 259. Rally Assets* 260. New Leaders Council 261. Catalytic Impact Foundation 262. Plum Alley 263. Save Energy Systems 264. Laridae* 265. Paul Gregory Media* 266. Rivanna Natural Designs* 267. Spring Activator* 268. CauseLabs* 269. Gro Guru 270. THE PLANT cafe organic 271. Tree-Mendous Aerial Adventures 272. Clear Blue Commercial*4 273. Transcend, The Fearless Company*4 274. Clean Fund*4 275. Beusail 276. GrowthX Farms 277. GK Ventures 278. Evrnu* 279. Skating Panda 280. MB Pension & Benefits Group* 281. AWL Strategies 282. Aether Diamonds* 283. Real 284. Net Purpose 285. Thinkshift Communications* 286. CTRS Market Intelligence* 287. Switch Engineering* 288. Quartz Water Source 289. Geek Girl Tech*4 290. The Plant Based Seafood Co. 291. Ecodeo*4 292. Boox* 293. Preciate* 294. Parkes Philanthropy 295. Beyond Capital Ventures 296. EARTH 51 297. Siponey* 298. TUEX International Education* 299. Knit Marketing 300. Justo's Plant-Based Dips* Steeped Coffee Modern Meadow Smith Assembly* The Bakari Foundation Shiki Wrap Relocalize4 eLeapPower RainIons WhatIF Foods EmsanaRx Ones toWatch REAL LEADERS IMPACT AWARDS 2023 4
26 REAL-LEADERS.COM / SPRING 2023 REAL LEADERS IMPACT AWARDS 2023 Award Winners: % Growth by Sector B2B 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Mobile Data Growth 25% 34% 41% 25% 57% B2C 1.12 m 2.36 m 3.81 m 5.21 m 6.47 m M2M Data File Sharing Video CONSTRUCTION, ENERGY & FACILITIES FASHION/APPAREL FINANCIAL SERVICES FOOD & BEVERAGE HEALTHCARE HOME & LIFESTYLE IMPACT INVESTING MANUFACTURING/INDUSTRIAL MARKETING & MEDIA PERSONAL CARE & WELLNESS PROFESSIONAL/ADVISORY SERVICES REAL ESTATE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE & EDUCATION SOCIAL ENTERPRISE & EDUCATION ernet a c 000 perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusanoloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo ore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. enim ipsam voluptatem. oogle 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Yandex Facebook Pinterest X 100.000 Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem. Google 0 5 10 15 20 25 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 Yandex Facebook Pinterest PROFESSIONAL/ADVISORY SERVICES 1. ClimeCo 2. Anthesis Group 3. STS Capital Partners 4. Urb-It 5. SecondMuse 6. The Poirier Group 7. Adrift Hospitality 8. Pearl Consulting 9. Outsource Access 10. Yardstick Management 11. Cicero Group 12. Green Circle Salons 13. Creative Alignments 14. Bamboo Capital Partners 15. RPCK Rastegar Panchal 16. Cause Strategy Partners 17. Novex Delivery Solutions 18. Noto Group 19. ImpactInstitute 20. Verdical Group 21. EcoAdvisors 22. Laridae 23. Spring Activator 24. Transcend, The Fearless Company 25. AWL Strategies 26. CTRS Market Intelligence 27. EARTH 51 “Individuals seek to be recognized and appreciated in the workplace with a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s not complicated, but does require intentional, consistent leadership to execute. We strive to create this fulfilling experience by investing in our employees, the community and environment based on their preferences and desires.” — Brad Stevens, CEO, Outsource Access 9. OUTSOURCE ACCESS Outsource Access is flipping the script on the culture of outsourcing. It helps businesses scale by providing highly skilled yet cost-effective offshore virtual staff in sales, marketing, HR, customer service, operations, bookkeeping, and admin tasks. Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, it provides nurturing careers and economic stability for a growing virtual staff in the Philippines, and for their families and communities. Its Virtual Assistants Give Back initiatives collectively contribute to preserving and protecting the environment, promoting quality education, and alleviating hunger and poverty in communities. OutsourceAccess.com R EDE F I N I NG HOW YOU SCA L E