Be Good, Be Profitable. Be Socially Conscious.

Be Good, Be Profitable. Be Socially Conscious.

Socially conscious, social entrepreneurship, and corporate sustainability. We hear these words together a lot, and with good reason. Social entrepreneurship requires businesses to be socially conscious—and, if deemed so appropriately, these business will likely have corporate sustainability, or long-term value through a “green” strategy supporting the natural environment and considering every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment.

Socially conscious business models have garnered a lot of attention lately. This is evident just by walking through the doors of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship in New York City, an entire coworking space, community, and launch pad built specifically for entrepreneurs starting socially conscious businesses. However, this shift toward social entrepreneurship isn’t limited to startups and small brands. Even large, well-established companies like Patagonia—which was founded on a three-pronged mission “to build the best products, do no unnecessary harm and to use business to inspire solutions to the environmental crisis”—have made socially conscious business practices the platform of their organizations.

Even companies that have long been considered “traditional,” (translate, stuck in their ways) have been taking broad strokes to become more socially conscious. Daily Finance cites Walmart, Waste Management, and Unilever as three of five surprising companies that have gone green—the final focused entirely on “altering its business model with a focus on sustainability.” The takeaway? Socially conscious business practices are no longer just a “perk” or selling point for PR purposes. In my mind, both from a business and profitability standpoint, and from a moral standpoint, being socially conscious should be a requirement.

And while progress is being made on this front, it seems like we’ve been talking about this for a long time, with very little progress toward consistent change. This is evident in what I see day-to-day—the small oversight of people failing to recycle during their lunch hours—so I can’t imagine the kinds of socially conscious infractions I’d see if I took a peek behind closed-doors of large companies. Perhaps the scare tactics aren’t being used effectively enough. I can think of one in particular that’s worked well on me: We are at a tipping point today, because by 2050 we will be beyond our resources as a plant. This is scary. I could live to see this day if I don’t start making changes right now; if we don’t all start making changes right now.

According to World Wildlife Federation’s Jason Clay in his TED Talk How Big Brands Can Help Save Biodiversity, it’s even simpler than that: Inspiring 100 key companies to go sustainable will be enough to convince global markets to shift and make significant changes to protect the planet that our consumption has already outgrown. Clay’s roundtables are already getting big brands to agree on green practices before their products even hit store shelves. The point is, as business owners we all need to make a commitment to making socially conscious practices a part of our business, in the same way we make accounting, marketing, or human resources a part of our businesses. Whether its using solar and wind power to run manufacturing; sourcing our products from vendors who respect the earth, people and animals; or providing our employees with the benefits they need to live well at and away from work, we need to commit to making these changes and be completely transparent in doing so.

For those business owners who aren’t easily scared, or don’t think they have the infrastructure to support such a shift, perhaps it’s more impactful to talk about the benefits of social responsibility to the business itself. In addition to just being the right thing to do, socially conscious practices are also profitable. Earlier I mentioned the correlation between social entrepreneurship and corporate sustainability. Sustainability—closely linked to profitability—is one of the tenants of social entrepreneurship. Our minds are focused on “not running out” because that is exactly what we are so close to doing. It’s just plain, good business sense to use methods that will conserve our resources (be they people or products) and save us money in the long run. And there are plenty of companies that started out small and have accomplished just that. Look where they are now, in most cases beating out those who are slow to change: Patagonia, mention above, has seen double digit growth annually over the past five years; and Al Gore and David Blood’s Investment Firm, Generation demonstrates the success of a deliberative investment model committed to reducing environmental and social damage, by showing greater returns and less volatility than the standard investment house approach by a significant percentage.

The real kicker for me, though, is the recently discovered, and rarely discussed link between the environmental destruction of our planet and human trafficking, which is outlined in abolitionist Kevin Bale’s book: Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret to Saving the World.  Many of us are unknowingly supporting the perpetuation of modern day slavery through our daily consumer habits, just by purchasing from companies who haven’t fully vetted the practices of their supply chains. So much so, that the interactive website Made in a Free World was founded to allow anyone to compile information about their consumer habits and estimate the correlation of those habits to the promotion of slavery. This organization is currently building a revolutionary tool for companies to directly address slavery in their supply chains, along with a movement to partner with companies who are actively building “a free world,” by practicing socially conscious business.

As far as appearances are concerned, from corporate to cultural measures and everything in between, we live in a world that cares about social entrepreneurship and corporate sustainability. It’s time we start consistently acting on that feeling.

Originally published on Huffington Post

5 Things Your CEO Won’t Tell You — But Should

5 Things Your CEO Won’t Tell You — But Should

Why haven’t you gotten that promotion or raise? Why does your boss give you extra attention, but not in the way you’d like? There are modes of behavior that are not in the employee handbook which can radically affect the way you are perceived by your CEO at work. Though these traits are not in themselves fireable offenses, they won’t make you a popular person to your CEO (or your fellow coworkers) either. Luckily, once you become aware that you may be guilty of these actions, it’s easy enough to curb these bad behaviors if you can be honest with yourself.

Mind Your Bad Attitude

An employee’s work product is a huge part of what sets them apart from their coworkers. Company culture is a huge part of what creates a successful or unsuccessful environment for a business, and a person’s attitude can create a positive or negative atmosphere. We all have days that aren’t ideal: lose a client, an account, or don’t hit revenue targets. It happens. The difference between an employee who gets negative or positive attention from the CEO is how the employee handles bad news, and stressors.

Honesty vs Oversharing

Let’s face it, no one wants to see fifty pictures of your cat. At work, there should be a certain level of friendliness but please, keep it professional, especially if you work in an industry that requires discretion. If your loose lips run amok at the watercooler, you may sink your own ship come promotion time. A person who can’t tell the difference between what should or shouldn’t be shared at work (or company functions), comes off as untrustworthy. Who wants to share information with a person who shares all information?

Share an appropriate number of pictures. There is no need to go all or nothing, but know your audience. Your CEO could be a dog person.

Are You Being Micromanaged? There Is Probably A Good Reason

To be fair, some micromanagers are born and their helicoptering can’t be helped regardless of how perfect your work is. For the purposes of this article, let’s concentrate on you. Ask yourself honestly: have I been dropping the ball, missing deadlines, turning in sloppy work, or coming to meetings ill-prepared? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, you may need a micromanager. Nobody wants to admit he or she is failing in their roles, but many targets of micromanagement fail to ask the aforementioned questions. If your CEO is hovering and using you as a helipad but no one else, it may be time for you to be honest with yourself about your performance at work.

Emotions Can Affect Your Credibility

Life happens, so we are not suggesting that having emotions from situational incidents or struggles in your personal life isn’t ok. What we’re talking about is whining, pouting, rage, storming out of meetings, or overreacting to x. There is one surefire thing that no CEO (or anyone) enjoys in an employee: a moody, constant complainer. If your moods change with your current situation, if you get slighted easily, or if you bring every single complaint about the weather, your significant other, etc to every conversation with your CEO, you’ll start looking like the boy or girl who cried wolf. They will automatically discount your complaints as your modus operandi.

Your Boss Isn’t Your Friend

Some bosses and employees are friends, but that isn’t always the case. Don’t overshare, ingratiate yourself, or expect for the end of your tenure at the company to mean that you’ll be taking trips to Hawaii with your CEO. First and foremost, they are your boss — responsible for your paycheck, and your upward mobility. Your actions outside of work are just as important as how you act at work. A CEO will not groom you to be their next manager if you cannot show decorum, restraint, and grace in every circumstance and situation.

Often, CEOs won’t bring these issues up in your one-on-ones. Maybe they think you are a lost cause. Ask yourself honestly if you are guilty of some or all the above, and if you aren’t sure, the answer is most likely a yes.

Originally published on Huffington Post

The Amazon Echo Actually Makes for a Happy Home

The Amazon Echo Actually Makes for a Happy Home

Technology made specifically for your home has found a nice niche over the past two years. Many products have hit the market that automate functions and monitor your home while you’re away. Several voice activated products have caught public interest but the Amazon Echo in particular has solidified its future.

The Amazon Echo is the first new product of its kind to get a dedicated commercial – let alone during the Super Bowl.

Amazon dubbed the commercial as the “#BaldwinBowl” and after a week the YouTube version has amounted over 18.7 million views. The product had already been on the market well before the commercial but the promotion really helped the public see the value in the “smart speaker.”

The product works simply out of the box: take the Amazon Echo out of the box and plug it in. Then you’ll hear the awakening of your personal assistant, Alexa. She’ll prompt you to begin the setup process of connecting the speaker’s Wi-Fi network on your phone or tablet, as well as your home network in the Alexa app. Within minutes your smart speaker will be ready to go. The setup is simple but the possibilities are endless; this is an Amazon product that really brings convenience to your life at home.

The speaker will light up whenever it hears its name called and it’s a good listener – seven noise-cancelling microphones are hidden within. The Echo’s dual downward-firing speakers create an “immersive sound,” and current consumers say that they don’t usually raise the volume above about 60 percent. The speaker has been reviewed to fill a room well with sound.

The most interesting part about the Amazon Echo is that it’s always evolving. The capabilities it has now weren’t the core functions in the product’s earlier days.

When the Echo launched, the speaker could naturally read off weather reports, set timers and alarms, and managing your to-do list and shopping list. Obviously, the company added a very accessible pathway to shop on Amazon. Alexa can also read curated news from popular sources like NPR, BBC News, CNN and others. The ability to choose which categories and sources that interest you can be done from the Alexa app.

The Amazon Echo now has over 135 skills and climbing. There are so many commands that Alexa can comprehend and carry out, but its home services create an all-in-one controller for any homeowner.

Apps like WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Wink, Insteon, and other smart home devices are all compatible. Use your Echo to turn on the lights before getting up in the morning or setting your coffee pot the night before. Alexa will even order Domino’s and Uber for you if you asked.

The Amazon Echo isn’t a stagnant product; instead, Alexa is continually adding skills and capabilities. This smart speaker is a product that can truly make your life easier at home without lifting a finger.

 

How Richard Maize Started Richeeze Melts!

How Richard Maize Started Richeeze Melts!

          Richard Maize is a man of many interests and talents. He has been successful in real estate, and investment banking, in addition to his many philanthropic endeavors. But his latest business achievement is a little more light hearted. Richard Maize started a food truck. But not just ANY food truck, Richard started the one and only Richeeze Melts. Richeeze has only been on the road for just under a year, but already they are the talk of the Los Angeles area. They won the award for best bacon sandwich at the last Big Bite Bacon Fest in Long Beach, CA and they have racked up rave reviews on both Facebook and Yelp.

         The idea all started when Richard Maize combined his passion for business with his passion for good food, more specifically, grilled cheese. Being one of his all time favorite foods, when Richard was presented the idea to invest in a grilled cheese food truck, he knew he had a winner on his hands- as long as everything was done right. It’s simple, it’s delicious, and the combinations are endless. When they started planning the execution of the business he had to have the best; The best team, an eye catching logo, and most importantly the best ingredients. Grilled cheese may be simple, but the trick to making the best melty sandwiches in town comes down to the details. Richeeze uses homemade bread made by a local family owned bakery in Culver City, the highest quality cheeses, thick applewood smoked bacon, and REAL lobster chunks. When you order a sandwich from Richeeze you can be sure that you are getting the real deal, every time. Not to mention that Richeeze is still affordable, a feat that is unheard of when using such high end ingredients.

Starting a successful food truck is no easy task, finding the right truck alone can be a challenge and many don’t turn a profit until after the first year but with Richard’s extensive knowledge of running a business, Richeeze started to turn a profit within the first 3 months, and shows no sign of slowing down in the year to come. There has even been talk of opening a second truck just to keep up with the demand!

For menu and location information please check out www.richeeze.net & don’t forget to Smile and Say Richeeze!!

3 Apps That Help You Monitor Your Home When You’re Away

Technology for your home is growing to a state where it can care for your home even while you’re away. Led by some of the more name brand products in this industry like Nest, in-home technology is continuing to advance quickly.

Still, some products and apps aren’t so convenient for the homeowner. Others are saviors in the sense that they can make your everyday life much easier. From security to energy saving systems, there are tons of options to control normal housing functions. Here are my favorite apps that can help you build a smarter home.

SmartThings

SmartThings, an iOS app, is on a mission to turn your smartphone into a remote control for your home.

SmartThings connects sensors and devices to create a network right in your hand. The kit simply asks you to connect the sensors to your devices and instantly it’s compatible with any other home automation apps. It could be your refrigerator or even your garage door, all controlled from the SmartThings platform.

The experience is very user friendly. You can add any compatible device to your home’s system and pair it with the any app. Once your system is in place, SmartThings can even help you remotely address issues in the home. If you left your oven open, SmartThings will notify you and do the deed remotely. Most importantly, this app thinks for itself and creates a level of communication between devices. When there’s a door left open, your AC can adjust so pointless dollars aren’t spent. SmartThings thinks about your home when you forget to.

WeMo

WeMo, a Belkin product, is a smart device that connects to your smartphone. WeMo specifically helps you control your devices when you’re away. You can turn your appliances on or off with the touch of a button or put them on a schedule and they’ll operate on their own. Put your lights or coffee on a schedule and take one more task off your hands.

The biggest luxury with WeMo is that you can automate everything or nothing, it’s up to your discretion. Try your hand at WeMo’s automation. A set including one switch and one motion sensor is on the shelves for only $80.

Nest

Nest is a smart thermostat and one of the first devices to help you save time and energy. The company was started by former Apple engineers but soon acquired by Google.

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The thermostat sports an easy-to-use interface that control a myriad of features. Simply turn on the heat on your way home so that you’re comfortable when you arrive or setting your AC for a certain time each day is all possible through Nest. If you’re a busy person, home automation can be a burden at first but products like Nest allow you to control your home’s temperature, efficiently, with ease.

Each of these three devices offer a different service to control your home from afar. Which apps help make your life easier and calm your worries while you’re away?