Force for Good: $100k Raised + $100k in Matching Funds

The Force for Good Accelerator / Fund reached two exciting milestones last week:

  • $100k+ Successfully Raised: We raised over $100k (currently $109,611 raised from 41 investors) less than three weeks into our campaign, and

  • $100k in Matching Funds: Merlin Clarke (CEO of Dogeared) committed an additional $25k on top of the existing $25k commitment from Derek Hydon (MaCher) and $50k commitment from Kat Taylor (Beneficial State Bank).

This means that anyone that invests in the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund between now and Friday, October 21 will be matched 2:1.

Will you share this opportunity via social media and with your friends and colleagues? Here are two sample tweets you could use:

  • Check out the Force for Good Fund, the first accelerator for #BCorp: wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding

  • Want to invest in #BCorps? Check out the "Force for Good Accelerator / Fund": wefunder.com/forceforgood #socent #impinv #crowdfunding #BCorp

Thank you for your help! Please reach out to ryan@lifteconomy.com with any questions or comments.

Small Investors Wanted: Help Crowdfund the First Accelerator for “Best for the World” B Corps

Have you ever wanted to be an investor? We just launched the Force for Good Accelerator / Fund, and we would love your help.

The Force for Good Accelerator / Fund is specifically designed to nurture, grow, and launch women- and people of color-owned, climate change solving, “Best for the World” B Corporations (i.e., companies that score in the top 10% of B Corps worldwide).

100/$1000 by the B Corp Champions Retreat

We are launching a campaign to get 100 B Corp supporters and stakeholders (e.g., customers, workers, suppliers, community members, executives, and others) to invest $1k each before the B Corp Champions Retreat in Philadelphia on October 17, 2016.

Will you join us by investing as little as $1k? We’ve already got our first investors, like Kat Taylor from Beneficial State Bank, Zach Berke from Exygy, and Stu Landesberg from Grove Collaborative.

To learn more about the goals/objectives, the terms of the investment, the expected ROI, and answers to frequently asked questions, please click here. You can also reach out to me directly at ryan@lifteconomy.com.

New Secrets of B Corp Consulting (Live + Self-Study) Courses Announced

People often ask "how do I become a B Corp consultant?"

Over the past 18 months, Ryan Honeyman (Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook) and Matt Mayer (Sustainability Consultant at Conscious Brands) have taught a series of courses for folks interested in becoming B Corp consultants. The goal of these courses is to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices we have learned about B Corp consulting. 

We are excited to announce that there are now two course options: a pre-recorded, self-study course, and an ongoing live course. Click here to learn more.

New Dates! Secrets of B Corp Consulting (4 Part Webinar Series)

Overview:

People often ask "how do I become a B Corp consultant?" Ryan Honeyman (LIFT Economy) and Matt Mayer (Conscious Brands) have teamed up on this four part webinar series to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices ideas we have learned about B Corp consulting. Some of the benefits of participating in this series include:

  • World-Class Expertise: Learn from two of the world’s top experts on B Corporations
  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call.
  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.
  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals
  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).
  • Ongoing Access: After the course is finished, participants will also have ongoing access to the private discussion forum to ask questions and seek advice

Press:

Interested in reading about our course? Julie Fahnstock, Founder at B Storytelling and graduate of our second cohort, wrote the following articles about her experiences as a participant in The Secrets of B Corp Consulting:

Logistics:

This course consists of four 90 minute webinars plus a private 60 minute coaching call with either Matt or Ryan. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Week 1: Tuesday, March 29 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 3: Tuesday, April 5 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 4: Tuesday, April 12 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)
  • Week 5: Tuesday, April 19 from 12pm-1:30pm (Pacific)

Skills You Will Learn:

After the course is over, you will be able to:

  • Inspire prospects by communicating the value of joining a global movement to redefine success in business
  • Confidently respond to both high-level and detailed questions about the B Impact Assessment
  • Pitch, propose, and deliver a B Corp consulting contract worth thousands of dollars
  • Build your thought leadership by publishing and speaking about B Corps
  • Network and engage with the existing B Corp community
  • Use the B Impact Assessment as a lens to identify other client needs (e.g., helping motivate and engage employees, helping clients create their mission, vision, and core values)

Instructors:

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner / Worker Owner at LIFT Economy, 2014 B Corp MVP, and author of "The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good" (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Ryan’s clients include B Corps like Ben & Jerry’s, King Arthur Flour, Method, Plum Organics, Klean Kanteen, and Nutiva.

Matt Mayer is Sustainability Sherpa at Conscious Brands. Matt is a strong believer that business can be a force for good only if success can be redefined to include measurable returns for all stakeholders, rather than simply enriching shareholders. Matt has helped many prominent B Corps in Canada both achieve certification and strategically use their certification to grow their business while becoming a better company. Matt has spoken on B Corp on many occasions including at conferences, MBA classrooms, facilitating B Corp bootcamps, leading BCorp networking groups and more. Matt has a Masters of Science degree in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability and his Bachelor of Commerce degree in General Management.

Testimonials:

"Ryan has been a valuable and effective consultant for Ben & Jerry's in helping us to benchmark key aspects of our supply chain. Ryan is great to work with; he is personable, professional, and responsive. We look forward to continuing our work with Ryan in the future--not only because he provides value in the space of "measuring what matters," but because Ryan's work supports the growing movement of businesses that are aspiring to be better for the world." - Cheryl Pinto, Ben & Jerry's

"Ryan’s guidance through B Corp certification was incredibly worthwhile and valuable. Going through the B Corp certification process helped us identify gaps in items like our employee handbook, our local community engagement efforts, and how we communicate our environmental programs to our stakeholders. We are now the first B Corp-certified olive oil company in the United States, and the first B Corp-certified wine business in California. I highly recommend using his services." - Samantha Dorsey, McEvoy Ranch

"Conscious Brands assisted with Genuine Health’s B Corp certification, making it a pleasurable and quick process. From their excellent kick-off meeting and planning tools to the weekly check-in calls, Conscious Brands was clear, helpful, supportive and great to work with. Their quick turnaround, willingness to go the extra mile, enthusiasm and expertise was very much appreciated and made the hard work a lot of fun. In fact Conscious Brands was so helpful that Genuine Health was one of the fastest B Corp certifications to date! Thank you Conscious Brands for being truly conscious of what matters most, both in the universe and in business.” - Tara Stubensey, Genuine Health

"In working with Conscious Brands on our B Corp certification we were not only provided with attentive and genuine service, but truly felt as if we had a partner through the entire process. They are outstanding communicators that worked diligently with us to ensure we understood every step of the process. Their energy, organization and sincere commitment to sustainable business practices helped motivate and guide us along as we worked together to achieve our goal. So impressed by that to this day we continue to work together on various initiatives - these guys really are the very best at what they do.” - Shaun Daniels, Nature's Fare Markets

Only a few spots left for this course--sign up today! 

Questions? Email ryan@lifteconomy.com

Women Raising the Right Money from the Right Investors (Ongoing)

Overview:

Women Raising the Right Money from the Right Investors is a 6-month online group program designed to leap frog your capital raising efforts so you can get the resources you need to run and grow your business on your own terms. This is an ongoing program--you can join at any time.

Instructor:

Jenny Kassan, attorney and capital raising coach, has helped her mission-driven clients in diverse industries and geographies to raise several hundred thousand to multiple millions using creative and less well-known tools and strategies that allow them to stay true to their goals and mission. LIFT Economy coaches provide a Get Ready to Raise Kickstart Program.

Testimonials:

“Jenny is deeply knowledgeable about a topic most of us are not! Jenny walks you through the steps necessary for finding investors so that when you approach an investor, you feel that you’re on solid ground.” - Ann Kramer, Good4U, Inc.

“Jenny brings a wealth of experience and a fantastic, healthy perspective to fundraising that turns it from a chore into empowerment!” - Colleen Kavanaugh, Zego Snacks

“Jenny gave me the tools I needed to offer an investment opportunity to supportive investors.  My team and I are well on our way to achieving our goal of raising $500,000.  We’re offering equity but we are not giving up any control.  We’ve had a remarkable response and we couldn’t have done it without Jenny’s teaching and support.” - Kristen Barker, Our Harvest

“Jenny’s program has allowed me to grow personally and to get really clear about what we want to do. I’m much stronger in communicating who we are. That is just as valuable if not more than having the dollars in our bank account.” - Lynn Johnson, Go Girls! Camp

Reinventing Organizations: How to Implement "Teal" Management Practices for Consultants (4 Part Webinar Series)

Overview:

This training is for consultants (either aspiring consultants or those who have an existing practice) who would like to help their clients upgrade their internal management practices to become more “Teal” or “next stage.”

The concept of “going Teal” was popularized by Frederic Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations. For those unfamiliar, Laloux spent several years researching the structures, practices, processes, and cultures of 12 companies (including Patagonia, Morning Star, Sounds True, Buurtzorg, and Sun Hydraulics) that he identified as operating at the next stage of human consciousness. Each has made three major breakthroughs:

  • Self Management: These companies are like living organisms that operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships, without the need for either hierarchy or consensus. For example, Morning Star—a 2,400-person company that produces more than 40 percent of the tomato paste and diced tomatoes consumed in the United States—operates entirely on self-management principles.

  • Wholeness: These organizations invite their employees to bring their whole selves to work every day (instead of a narrow “professional” self). Many Teal organizations, for example, devote regular time to addressing conflicts; avoid the use of job titles and descriptions (to allow the individual to shape their own role); and enumerate core values with explicit behaviors, habits, and norms.

  • Evolutionary Purpose: Teal organizations have their own life and sense of direction. Instead of trying to predict and control the future, they invite members to sense and respond to the shape and larger purpose of the organization. A New Year’s ritual for the company Sounds True includes employees sitting in silence and opening their mind to what the organization wants from them for the coming year. Anyone can share with the group what they have heard.

These interlocking sets of practices, Laloux suggests, constitute an emerging, coherent organizational model—the blueprint of the future of organizations.

 

Benefits:

Some of the benefits of participating in this course include:

  • Proven Expertise: Learn from two experts who have helped implement Teal business practices at a wide variety of organizations. For example, please see Ryan Honeyman’s article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review for more information about the application of Teal ideas to the real world.

  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call.

  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.

  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals

  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).

 

Logistics:

This course consists of four 90 minute webinars plus a private 60 minute coaching call with either Shawn or Ryan. The webinars are scheduled for the following dates:

  • Week 1: Tuesday, June 21 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 2: Tuesday, June 28 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 3: Tuesday, July 5 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

  • Week 4: Tuesday, July 12 from 10am-11:30am (Pacific)

 

Skills You Will Learn:

After the course is over, you will be able to:

  • Use Teal as a lens to identify other client needs (e.g., helping motivate and engage employees, helping clients create their mission, vision, and core values)

  • Inspire prospects by communicating the value of joining a global movement to redefine success in business

  • Increase confidence in responding to both high-level and detailed questions about implementing Teal business practices

  • How to design and propose a Teal consulting contract

  • Build your thought leadership by publishing and speaking about next stage organizations

  • Network and engage with the existing Teal business community

 

Instructors:

Ryan Honeyman is a Partner / Worker Owner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). Ryan helps companies adopt next stage management practices, such as creating self-organizing teams, increasing financial transparency, creating a thriving employee culture, and helping construct a long-term vision tied to specific social and environmental outcomes. Ryan has written articles for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and Utne Reader. His clients include Ben & Jerry’s, King Arthur Flour, Method, Plum Organics, Klean Kanteen, and Nutiva.

Shawn Berry is an organizational strategist inspired to harness the power of business to create resilient local economies as patterns to be documented, open sourced, scaled globally and adapted regionally. Shawn left an early career path in nuclear physics research to found the Woodshanti Cooperative (1997-2011), a custom cabinet and furniture shop in San Francisco that set the standard for ethical craftsmanship in the green building movement. This hands on experience as an entrepreneur combined with community organizing and systems theory to craft the vision for LIFT Economy to model an economy that works for all life. 


Testimonials:

“LIFT has given us many helpful and objective insights into the intangible aspects of our company that we hold dear—culture, values, people, and transparency. LIFT’s work will help us continue to make Plum a great place to work.” — Neil Grimmer, CEO at Plum Organics

“LIFT has been a tremendous ally in helping us to maximize our future impact. Their thought leadership and guidance has been invaluable.” — Aseem Das, Founder & CEO at World Centric

“At CoLab we believe great results are born from collaborations between value-aligned partners. Our coaching work with LIFT has helped CoLab to both dramatically elevate our bottom line numbers as well as to ignite our passion to serve the world through our technology work. Thank you LIFT!” — Rylan Peery, Co-Founder at CoLab Cooperative

“Hiring LIFT was a fantastic business decision. We have increased our social and environmental performance, identified exciting new projects to pursue, and I have more time to spend with my family.” — Zach Berke, Founder & CEO, Exygy

“Running a small business is hard enough, and for us with our ethics of earth care and people care the bar is even higher. Not sure how we would do it without the trusted, values aligned guidance from LIFT to give us the high level perspective we need to plan for our future growth.” — Erik Ohlsen, Founder & Owner at Permaculture Artisans

 

Questions about the course? Please email ryan@lifteconomy.com.

How to Become a Next Economy Consultant

Have you ever thought about consulting for companies that are mission-driven, socially and environmentally responsible, and working to grow the “Next Economy”? It’s suddenly possible for consultants to make money and a difference--primarily because there is a rapidly expanding movement of companies who are dedicated to using the power of business as a force for good.

In this article, I’ll describe what the “Next Economy” is, why it is important, and how you can get more involved in this global movement.

 

What is the “Next Economy”?

Loosely defined, the Next Economy is a collection of organizations and individuals whose goal is to 1) provide essential goods and services that meet the needs of society and 2) benefit all life.

For example,  here is a subjective set of criteria that we use to find examples of “Next Economy” enterprises:

  1. Need-oriented - goods/services that meet human needs first (i.e., food and shelter before jewelry and entertainment)

  2. Accessible  - affordable, or available to as many as possible

  3. Transparent - clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting)

  4. Equitable/democratic culture/workplace - could be coops; employees involved in some practice of self-determination

  5. Surplus reinvestment - profits are shared or redistributed

  6. Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain)

  7. Zero waste

  8. Ecosystem integration  - whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for owls, etc.)

  9. Whole system finances (how they bank, where they received growth capital if any, do they support alternative currencies)

  10. Living wage, Culture (balance, benefits)

  11. Open Source / Growth by Replication

  12. Education embedded into product service  - put yourself out of business

The good news is that the Next Economy is not future science fiction. We interact with these types of companies on a regular basis. This movement is alive and well and is growing at a rapid pace.

 

What’s the existing / addressable market?

B Corps, Social Enterprises, LOHAS, Non-profits, and also larger traditional companies like Unilever realize there is a better way to do business that creates mutual benefit for all stakeholders. We have found that these companies need the support of vision and values aligned skilled professionals.

Furthermore, as an independent consultant, you can see the patterns of challenge and success across various companies, markets and industries and provide highly valuable insight to empower their growth and development. There is an opportunity now to position yourself as a leader and steward of this movement as we transition from the innovator phase to the early adopter and early majority phases that will be coming soon.

 

Why work as a Next Economy consultant?

This is the future of business. As we mentioned before, there is a wave of dedicated entrepreneurs whose goal is to simultaneously reinvent commerce, provide goods and services, and benefit society and the environment.

These entrepreneurs, while full of passion and urgency, do not often have experience operating or growing a business and often work too many hours, tend to burn out and limit their efficacy through their ignorance of capital, financing, business systems, organizational best practices, self-care practices and effective communication skills.

This is why we need skilled professionals who are proficient in one or more areas of entrepreneurship to help guide the development of these organizations.

 

How does this differ from a “regular economy” consultant? (e.g., McKinsey?)

While Next Economy consultants use some of the basic business skills of more traditional consulting agencies (e.g., strategic planning, budgeting, assigning clear roles & responsibilities, etc.), they do so in a context of alignment with the vision and values of the Next Economy.

These consultants use the tasks of organizing and growing the business to also cultivate individual and collective growth and development. We cultivate wholeness. Our companies love what they do and who they do it with and that creates a virtuous cycle that uplifts everyone in contact.

 

What are the knowledge and skills that a Next Economy consultant should learn?

We have carefully analyzed our experience over the past 5 years (working with 100+ companies in this sector) to find the trends, patterns, and needs of these companies. We have identified four key areas that are most critical to the future growth and development of any organization, regardless of the product, service, industry or market. We call this our business design methodology:

  • Vision: Without a clearly defined and articulated vision, it is very difficult to make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. Having a shared vision (and shared core values) allows decentralized decision making--a critical component of Next Economy organizations.

  • Culture: The culture of the organization is shaped by an accumulated set of beliefs, habits, and behaviors of employees as they work towards the vision. It is the quality of interaction and will make or break the success of the organization. Like the vision, it needs to be clearly articulated and carefully stewarded.

  • Strategy: Once the vision and culture have been determined, it is important to then start iterating on the best strategies to help a company achieve that vision. This area comprises strategic marketing, sales and partnerships. It also includes governance and planning.

  • Operations: It is important to operationalize the strategies defined by the organization so that they can be continually repeated and refined (especially for the organization to be able to scale). The focus in this area is on the structure, rhythms and systems design of the organization. This includes projections, tracking and reporting, and policy and procedures.

 

How do Next Economy consultants make money?

As a consultant your basic business model is charging a fee for services rendered. This will require skill and experience in assessing needs and creating value for your client companies. Also, maybe more importantly, it will require advanced skills in relationship and rapport building, communication and emotional maturity.

In terms of how to bill for your services, we recommend billing according to value created, not hours worked. One unique approach we use at LIFT is inviting our clients to adjust our invoices (down or up) to reflect the value they feel they have received.

This accomplishes several important things. As a consultant committed to growing the Next Economy, it would be antithetical to withdraw resources from values aligned companies without providing commensurate value. This will also prevent you from proposing to work on projects you are not genuinely enthusiastic about. It puts the relationship as the primary objective and makes sales conversations much easier and low-risk (as the risk of providing value is up to the consultant every month). We have billed this way exclusively for the last four years. We have seen that this practice results in long term engagements with high degrees of trust and mutual benefit.

 

What resources are available for this?

We have created a training series for values-aligned consultants (or aspiring consultants) who wish to learn more about Next Economy consulting. See more information on this event page: http://liftimpactconsulting.eventbrite.com

 

 

Carbon Farming For Your Business

Part 1: Carbon Farming Strategies for Mission-Driven Companies: Tuesday, April 12th 12pm-1:30pm (online)

Learn why carbon farming is relevant to your business. You'll learn the carbon cycle, the various kinds of carbon farming & what yields or products can come from carbon farming practices. We'll discuss the potential role for business & enterprise & perhaps most importantly, what is actually happening on the ground today.

With that understanding, you can begin to envision what role your company might play, be it offsetting your emissions by investing in bio-sequestration projects, or re-examining your supply chain and ways you can purchase from climate-friendly producers.

The first 90-minute webinar will feature the following leaders & projects:

  • John Roulac, CEO, Nutiva - Nutiva's Role to Play in The Carbon Farming Solution.

  • Rebecca Burgess, Founder, Fibershed - Inspiring the largest textile company in the world to invest in Carbon Farming practices for Climate-Beneficial goods

  • Kevin Bayuk, Senior Financial Analyst, Project Drawdown - How Carbon Literacy is Transforming Next Economy Companies


Part 2: Creating Your Company's Carbon Farming Strategy: Tuesday, April 26th 12pm-1:30pm (online)

Next, you'll activate your intentions to become more Climate-Beneficial. Learn the difference between a Climate Neutral Certified and Climate-Beneficial Company. Understand the importance of metrics and tracking. Create a plan identifying next steps for your business & carbon farming. Next steps could include partnering with other companies to explore supply chain investments or measuring your baseline emissions. Whatever it may be, you'll walk away with clear next actions towards your contribution to a healthier climate.

  • Nikki Silvestri, CEO of Silvestri Strategies - Caring for land, caring for people through Carbon Farming

  • Gowan Batiste, Sustainability Manager at North Coast Brewing Company - Fueled by Compost: A Vision for a Climate-Beneficial Craft Brewery

  • Ryan Zinn, Organic & Fair Trade Coordinator at Dr. Bronners - Stories from the Field: Carbon Farming & Climate Resilience in one Company's Supply Chain 

  • Erin Axelrod, Partner, LIFT Economy - Creating Your Climate-Beneficial Action Plan


"Fantastic tour of Carbon Farming projects north of San Francisco. Thank you Erin Axelrod for organizing. This is such a powerful solution to reverse climate change and redefine agriculture practices, we are 100% on board to support the development of these efforts going forward. This type of project and the amazing and visionary people behind it give me HOPE. and that's a lot these days.... Onwards and Upwards!"
 - Mathieu Senard, Founder & CEO Alter Eco, attendee at Spring, 2015 Carbon Farming Tour

It's Back: New Dates for "Secrets of #BCorp Consulting" Announced

People often ask "how do I become a B Corp consultant?"

Ryan Honeyman (Author of "The B Corp Handbook") and Matt Mayer (Sustainability Consultant at Conscious Brands) have teamed up on this four part webinar series to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices ideas we have learned about B Corp consulting. Some of the benefits of participating in this series include:

  • World-Class Expertise: Learn from two of the world’s top experts on B Corporations
  • Individual Assistance: In addition to four 90 minute group sessions, each participant will receive a 60 minute coaching call. 
  • Exclusivity: A maximum of 8 participants will be allowed to attend this course in order to keep the group small, nimble, and targeted.
  • Shared Accountability: Learn as a cohort, with shared accountability and goals
  • Evergreen Content: Participants will get a recording of all four 90 minute webinars in case you need to miss a session (or want to watch a session again).
  • Ongoing Access: After the course is finished, participants will also have ongoing access to the private discussion forum to ask questions and seek advice.

Click here to learn more and/or register.

2016 Webinar Series: Secrets of B Corp Consulting

People often ask "how do I become a B Corp consultant?"

Ryan Honeyman (LIFT Economy) and Matt Mayer (Conscious Brands) have teamed up on this four part webinar series to provide a succinct, step-by-step overview of the tools, resources, and best practices ideas we have learned about B Corp consulting.

This course starts in late January, 2016. Please click here to register and/or learn more.

LIFT Your Economy - Keep California Full of Sheep!

The Economic Development and Financing Corporation (EDFC) of Mendocino has launched the Mendocino Wool Mill Campaign that has raised more than $160K from small, main street investors in their first 2 months.

Considering giving garments this Christmas season? Consider supporting your local Fibershed by buying one (instead of 10) handcrafted things from local artisans at the Fibershed Marketplace. Or, purchase california-grown fabric and a pattern to make your own.

Then, there’s also the idea of investing your dollars to support Fibershed-friendly infrastructure. With CA producing more than 3 million pounds of wool annually, we do not lack the raw materials. What we are missing is adequate processing infrastructure to efficiently turn that raw material into fine thread, and then fabric.

The Economic Development and Financing Corporation (EDFC) of Mendocino has launched the Mendocino Wool Mill Campaign that has raised more than $160K from small, main street investors in their first 2 months! If it gets funded, it will be California’s first wool mill capable of creating fine wool thread (or top) that can be made into fabric that everyone can afford.

Jenny Kassan, who has just joined the LIFT Economy team, has been working for almost a decade building awareness (and a movement) around Direct Public Offering (DPO) campaigns. DPO’s are financing mechanisms where a company can solicit investments from wealthy & non-wealthy investors alike (they don’t have to be accredited). This allows entrepreneurs to galvanize community buy-in and support to raise funds for an unconventional idea that might never fly otherwise.

What is so important about a DPO? Three things:

  1. Accessibility. It allows even non accredited investors to rally their funds together to make large-scale impact, in the words of 350.org, putting people power first.

  2. Quality over quantity. DPOs tend to attract investors concerned with the quality of impact. Because the investment opportunity is open to everybody, the company has more bargaining power to stay true to their mission & ideals.

  3. Infrastructure for the people, by the people. Contrast this to the national trend towards privatization of public infrastructure which Naomi Klein so eloquently describes in her new book, This Changes Everything.

My two favorite pieces of a just and ecological transition: Fibershed + Community-funded infrastructure!

What is so special about this particular DPO campaign? What are the on-the-ground implications of having a local wool mill for our community? The ripple effects are VAST. In addition to helping locally-grown garments make it to market at a price that is affordable to all, the wool mill would provide sustained revenue streams for our farmers and land stewards who will be able to sell their raw wool for a premium price, weaving their high-quality fibers into production processes of the conventional garment industry.

Additional revenue is meaningful to folks who are struggling to eek out a living on California land whose pricetag is quickly increasing, outpacing land stewards’ ability to extract enough wealth to keep up. But we don’t want them to extract more, wool is the ultimate regenerative product, so by processing their wool (which much of it is currently being landfilled) they can regenerate more revenue while making a bit more money to sustain their work. This means, you guessed it, a California full of Sheep not Shopping Malls!

This is true economic development according to LIFT Economy principles. We see, on a daily basis, that market demand is only increasing for an economy that values the handmade, the land-based, products, especially those that the process of growing/making them produces a regenerative effect on the land we inhabit. We know that demand for these land-connected goods and services can only grow. This is an elegant solution bringing both community-owned and supported infrastructure while expanding revenue opportunities for Northern California’s land-based stewards.

I can’t wait to buy my first CA-grown high-performance base-layer wool top milled in Mendocino, perhaps knit in Oakland by Myrrhia Fine Knitwear on her industrial knitting machine! And my next mattress will undoubtedly be CA-grown wool from Canvas Ranch wool (where I grow my Indigo) felted at the Valley Ford Wool Mill. How will you be a part of this just transition toward regenerative wearables?

Links to more information:

Mendocino Wool Mill Direct Public Offering

What is a DPO?

Conscious Company Interview with Jenny Kassan on DPOs

10 Reasons to do a DPO

5 Reasons Why I Joined LIFT

I’m excited to announce that I have officially joined LIFT Economy! LIFT is an impact consulting firm that is helping to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.

So why did I make this decision? Here are five reasons I am joining the LIFT team:

1. LIFT's Mission / Vision

LIFT’s broader mission is “to create, model and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life--one that meets the needs for all people everywhere while enhancing and regenerating the ecosystems that surround us and within which we abide.”

This larger mission is incredibly inspiring and aligned with my intention to benefit all life. However, what differentiated LIFT from other companies with an inspiring mission/vision is how LIFT plans to bring about the change they wish to see in the world. For example, LIFT has a timeline with several specific “Phases of Development” to help guide their operations. For example:

  • LIFT 1.0 (2010 - now):  Help existing high-impact businesses grow and scale to become models of impact for other organizations.

  • LIFT 1.5 (2014 - now): Focus on impact investors and connecting social enterprises to growth capital.

  • LIFT 2.0 (next one to five years): Create an “impact accelerator” and incubate 6-10 regionally replicable, next economy organizations.

  • LIFT 2.5 (next five to twenty-five years): Self-funded Incubator. Create a self renewing revolving loan fund for capitalization.

  • LIFT 3.0 (next fifteen to thirty years): Emphasis on transactions between regional social enterprises. Broker relationships to stimulate a robust, replicable regional economy.  Local stock exchange could be feature. Work on replicating in other regions.

2. Community / Accountability

Being a solo practitioner had a lot of freedom and autonomy. It also had a lot of downsides. For example, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, ask for a second opinion, or hold me accountable to achieving my goals. It was difficult to develop expertise outside of my core service offerings. I found that networking at events was less effective (as opposed to having several teammates present).

I realized that I needed partners to help increase our collective social and environmental impact.  LIFT provides me with a group of friends who are like minded, mission-aligned, and want to change the world through business. In addition, we hold each other accountable for moving our respective projects forward. This is an invaluable benefit of being part of a larger team.

3. Permaculture Influence

All three existing LIFT partners--Kevin, Shawn, and Erin--have a deep understanding of permaculture. For those of you who don’t know, permaculture is a framework for using locally available resources, observation, prototyping, and adaptation to help natural systems thrive in a particular location.

While permaculture has traditionally been applied to gardens or farms, LIFT’s partners have used the principles behind permaculture to help entrepreneurs design their businesses for the “Next Economy.” For example, here is a subjective set of criteria that LIFT uses to find examples of Next Economy enterprises:

  1. Need-oriented - goods/services that meet human needs first (i.e., food and shelter before jewelry and entertainment)

  2. Accessible  - affordable, or available to as many as possible

  3. Transparent - clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting)

  4. Equitable/democratic culture/workplace - could be coops; employees involved in some practice of self-determination

  5. Surplus reinvestment - profits are shared or redistributed

  6. Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain)

  7. Zero waste

  8. Ecosystem integration  - whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for birds, etc.)

  9. Whole system finances (how they bank, where they received growth capital if any, do they support alternative currencies)

  10. Living wage, Culture (balance, benefits)

  11. Open Source / Growth by Replication

  12. Education embedded into product service  - put yourself out of business

These Next Economy criteria are incredibly fascinating. Kevin even teaches permaculture on an ongoing basis. I am excited to take his class in 2016.

4. Self-Managing, Teal Organization

My decision to close down my independent consulting practice did not come easily. I had planned on being a solo consultant for the rest of my life. As I mentioned earlier, there were so many benefits to being on my own: complete freedom of the types of projects I chose, no accountability to a boss, no communication requirements with a team, and the ability to play any role in the company (e.g., marketer, decision-maker, networker, project implementer, etc.).

However, what if you could have all the benefits of being solo--speed, freedom, variety--but also have the collaboration, shared accountability, and collective potential of a team in one organizational structure?

That’s what I found in the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. Laloux describes how a radical shift in organizational consciousness is currently changing the way that businesses operate.

For instance, Laloux describes how some organizations have started to operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships (rather than top-down hierarchies). These companies set up structures and practices in which people have high autonomy in their domain, and are accountable for coordinating with others. Power and control are deeply embedded throughout the organizations, no longer tied to the specific positions of a few top leaders.

The LIFT partnership is designed to allow each partner to pursue any opportunity they see fit (as long as it aligns with the larger LIFT mission and vision). This meant that my fears about losing my independence and autonomy were not applicable within LIFTs flexible mode of operating. Joining LIFT had allowed me to retain my freedom while enhancing the value I could provide to clients.

5. A+ Players I Can Trust

Steve Jobs famously said that you should only work with “A players,” (or people that are better than you in some important way). I would refine Jobs’s aphorism to say that you should only work with A players you can trust. This is why I feel comfortable with my decision. All of the LIFT partners are deeply trustworthy high-performers that bring an incredible amount of knowledge, skills, and experiences to the table.

For example, Kevin started and helped grow several technology companies, raised millions in venture capital, and currently teaches permaculture. Shawn studied nuclear physics, ran a worker-owned cooperative for 13 years, and has a deep understanding of documenting systems and processes to help organizations scale. Erin worked for years as a coordinator for Daily Acts, regularly speaks at conferences, and worked with the Fibershed Project as a contributing author for an economic feasibility study for implementing a bioregional-scale regenerative textile mill in California.

Conclusion

In sum, I’m extremely excited to have joined the LIFT team. If you would like to learn more about our work, please email me at ryan@lifteconomy.com or visit www.lifteconomy.com. You can also click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter and get a free copy of LIFT’s 60 Point Business Design Checklist.

 

RELATED POSTS:

Can B Corps Operate Like Living Organisms?

Published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review:

The B Corp movement is one of the most effective frameworks for using the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. The success of many B Corps (including Etsy’s recent IPO and multi-billion-dollar valuation) has shown that its management philosophy—considering the interests of all stakeholders when making decisions, cultivating a values-driven culture, and empowering employees—can create highly effective and highly profitable business models.

After reading the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux, however, it occurred to me that B Corporations now have an opportunity to upgrade their internal management practices to create an even greater, longer-term positive impact on people and planet.

For those unfamiliar, Laloux argues that every major shift in human history (the industrial revolution, for example) has produced a distinct management philosophy and organizational model. He examines past and current models with the goal of describing what businesses that are designed around the next shift in human consciousness will look and feel like. He uses a color system (originally created by philosopher Ken Wilber) to explain the management philosophies and organizational types that arose during each major stage in human development. A quick overview:

Red (Impulsive)

  • First appeared between 100,000 and 10,000 years ago
  • Leaders use fear, threats, and/or violence to keep the organization together
  • Examples: mafia, street gangs, wolf packs

Amber (Conformist)

  • First appeared 1,000 years ago
  • Strict top-down command and control; narrowly defined, formal roles within a hierarchical pyramid
  • Examples: military, most government agencies

Orange (Achiever)

  • First appeared 200 years ago
  • Goal is to beat the competition, maximize profits, and achieve growth
  • Examples: multinational companies

Green (Pluralistic)

  • First appeared 50 years ago
  • Strong focus on culture, employee empowerment, and stakeholders (within the classic pyramid structure)
  • Examples: B Corps, Conscious Capitalism, other social enterprises

Teal (Evolutionary)

  • First appeared 25 years ago
  • Self-management replaces hierarchical pyramid
  • Organization is seen as a living entity, with its own creative potential and evolutionary purpose

What makes Reinventing Organizations appealing and relevant to me is that Laloux is not describing a theoretical, utopian future. He spent several years researching the structures, practices, processes, and cultures of 12 companies (including Patagonia, Morning Star, Sounds True, Buurtzorg, and Sun Hydraulics) that he identified as operating as “Teal” organizations. Each has made three major breakthroughs:

  • Self Management: These companies are like living organizations that operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships, without the need for either hierarchy or consensus. For example, Morning Star—a 2,400-person company that produces more than 40 percent of the tomato paste and diced tomatoes consumed in the United States—operates entirely on self-management principles.
  • Wholeness: These organizations invite their employees to bring their whole selves to work every day (instead of a narrow “professional” self). Many Teal organizations, for example, devote regular time to addressing conflicts; avoid the use of job titles and descriptions (to allow the individual to shape their own role); and enumerate core values with explicit behaviors, habits, and norms.
  • Evolutionary Purpose: Teal organizations have their own life and sense of direction. Instead of trying to predict and control the future, they invite members to sense and respond to the shape and larger purpose of the organization. A New Year’s ritual for the company Sounds True includes employees sitting in silence and opening their mind to what the organization wants from them for the coming year. Anyone can share with the group what they have heard.

These interlocking sets of practices, Laloux suggests, constitute an emerging, coherent organizational model—the blueprint of the future of organizations.

High-impact, “Teal” B Corps?

The organizations Laloux chose to research had the most advanced practices from a management point of view—not necessarily from an external social and environmental point of view. It left me wondering: Aren't the two meant to go together? Laloux told me in an interview that he agrees they are. The 12 organizations he researched had advanced internal management practices, but some of them were no more advanced from a social or environmental perspective than your average company.

Without adopting Teal practices, I believe the B Corp movement will eventually reach a ceiling in the amount of positive impact it can create (regardless of a strong focus on culture and values). I believe B Corps have an opportunity create unprecedented impact if they let go of their hierarchical pyramid structure in favor of self-management, and learn to view themselves as a living entity, with their own creative potential and evolutionary purpose.

This is already starting to happen. Several B Corps—such as Mightybytes, CauseLabs, WorldCentric, LIFT Economy, and the Ian Martin Group—have been inspired by Reinventing Organizations to make the leap to Teal. Fitzii, a line of business within the Ian Martin Group, for instance, has made some major changes in the last six months: sharing compensation structures in full transparency, instituting a number of practices supporting “wholeness,” and making plans for instituting peer-based performance evaluations.

These are early days for this new management paradigm. But one thing seems clear: High-impact, Teal B Corps could be an incredible force for good. It’s time to open a conversation within the B Corp community, and within the circles of social entrepreneurship more broadly, about next-stage management practices as a way to accelerate the positive impact we can create in the world.

Why the Future of the B Corp Movement is Self-Managing

Like many B Corps, I am fascinated with the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederick Laloux. This is one the best books I have read since Good to Great. 

Laoux identifies three characteristics of companies that are operating at the highest levels of organizational consciousness:

  1. Self-management
  2. Wholeness
  3. Evolutionary Purpose

For more info on these three principles, check out this useful summary.

There are already several B Corps who are already trying to implement "self-managing"practices (i.e., no formal hierarchy or bosses) in their organizations. If you have questions about self-management, I recommend checking out this article Laloux wrote last year.

Have you read Reinventing Organizations? If so, what was your reaction?

What You Should Know About "Carbon Farming"

For those B Corps who are concerned about climate change, "carbon farming" could be the answer to many of our problems. 

Carbon farming means increasing the ability of our soil to draw (and store) harmful emissions from the atmosphere. 

For example, while energy efficiency, solar power, and raising vehicle emissions standards will help with future carbon reduction, we still have the problem of the "legacy carbon" that is already in our atmosphere.

Carbon farming is a simple, compelling, and exciting method of addressing these legacy emissions.

For more information, check out this article written by John Roulac, CEO of Nutiva (a fellow Certified B Corp). There is also a day-long tour being organized by Nutiva, the Carbon Cycle Institute, Fibershed, and the Marin Carbon Project.

Very exciting stuff!

Etsy's IPO Tests Pledge to Balance Social Mission and Profit

In case you missed it, the NYT wrote a great piece about Etsy's recent IPO (and $3 billion valuation). Etsy is the second Certified B Corporation to go public:

The online craft bazaar Etsy made its debut on the Nasdaq stock market Thursday, signaling the birth of an unusual public corporation — and not just because its employees carry around compost on bicycles, or because its regulatory filings are peppered with phrases like, “We keep it real, always.”

Etsy is one of a growing number of companies, called B Corps, that pledge to adhere to social and environmental accountability guidelines set by a nonprofit organization called B Lab. And Etsy on Thursday became only the second for-profit company to go public out of more than 1,000 companies that have that certification.

Read the full article at the NYT here.

To learn more about B Corporations, sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get tips, advice, and resources on how to become a Certified B Corp and maximize the value of your B Corp certification.

Recruitment a Big Benefit for B Corps

The San Francisco Chronicle just published a great article on B Corps and recruiting. It is increasingly clear that one of the top benefits of becoming a Certified B Corp is attracting and retaining top talent:

Change.org is a B Corporation — a for-profit company committed to social or environmental goals in addition to its financial obligations. Because the San Francisco firm tries to benefit no just its shareholders, but also society, Change.org is an especially appealing place to work for civic-minded job-seekers, said David Hanrahan, head of global human resources.

“As a B Corp, you have a leg up on other companies because you’re focused on something that is exactly what this generation want to be doing,” said Hanrahan.

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle.

To learn more about B Corporations, sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get tips, advice, and resources on how to become a Certified B Corp and maximize the value of your B Corp certification.