Context in a Time of Panic

The Economist recently reported that from the early 1980′s to the peak last year, the financial services industry’s share of total American corporate profits rose from 10% to 40%. In other words, 40 cents out of every dollar earned by every company in the entire country came from banks, brokers, venture capitalists, and private equity investors. If...

My Tribe

A few nights ago, I reunited with a tribe that has shaped much of my life over the past 25 years. A tribe committed to making the world a better place through community and commitment, joy and love, passion and possibility, business and politics. At the center of the tribe is its chief, its foreman, its court jester, and its visionary leader—Josh Mailman. We...

PepsiCo’s Pepsi Challenge

In a February article in Fortune, reporter Betsy Morris sang the praises of Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo’s sophomore CEO. The piece described PepsiCo’s new motto under Nooyi, “Performance with Purpose,” which strives to balance “the profit motive with making healthier snacks, striving for a net-zero impact on the environment, and taking...

Strange Bedfellows?

Why Seventh Generation is Doing Business with Walmart’s Marketside Stores I’ve sometimes said that hell would freeze over before Seventh Generation would ever do business with Walmart. In fact, at times I’ve made even more strongly worded statements. Now I’ve got to concede that I was wrong. For the first time ever, the Seventh Generation logo is...

World Economic Forum

It’s a two-hour drive from Beijing to Tianjin, which is hosting the World Economic Forum. Otherwise known as the “Summer Davos,” the Forum’s stated purpose is to improve the state of the world. I’m here to find out what that means, how it’s supposed to happen, and whether I can help. The event takes place at the Binhai International Convention &...

The Other Georgia

Last week, it was reported that the Bush administration will send $1 billion to aid Georgia, the Eastern European nation that revolted against Russia. I couldn’t help but think of the other Georgia, the southeastern state and one of the original Thirteen Colonies that revolted against Great Britain. What are the tradeoffs when we rush to aid Georgia, which...

Why Education Belongs Back on the Agenda

The bleak economy has increasingly dominated the headlines. It’s easy to see why, given the yo-yoing stock market and through-the-roof energy prices. But the economy’s difficulties have overshadowed an equally troubling trend: since the late 1960s, U.S. high-school graduation rates have steadily declined. Riane Eisler, in her wonderful book,...

Is There a Bridge at the Edge of the World?

James Gustave Speth, co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Yale University dean, and a former White House advisor, has written a great book that everyone concerned with the fate of the world must read. Speth takes all of us to task — business, government, NGOs, individuals, and the capitalist system itself — in an urgent appeal to...

Greenwashing is Bad. Really.

Is Joel Makower right? No, he’s wrong. Greenwashing is bad and it’s getting worse. First, let me provide some context. In a column for GreenBiz.com, Joel, a frequent commentator on green business issues, asks, “What, exactly, is a ‘socially and environmentally destructive’ corporation? Is that nomenclature reserved for the worst of the...

Can We Sustain Globalization?

In February of 2008, on a trip to London for the Natural & Organic Products Exhibition, I stopped by to visit John Elkington, the founder of SustainAbility and an old friend. John has worked in the environmental and sustainable development fields since 1972. In 2004, BusinessWeek called him, “a dean of the corporate responsibility movement for three...