Oh boy, has my editorial team impressed me this month! I’m lucky enough to review their progress as we prepare each issue, and this month’s cover story—“Conscious Capitalism”—opened my eyes to amazing ideas I’d never considered for my own media, automotive or real estate organizations. When enterprises or people do business consciously, they’re choosing a business strategy that benefits humanity and the environment, subscribing to what is known as a triple bottom line—people, planet and profit. I thank my team for bringing this emerging business concept to my attention.
This month’s cover story by Judy Wilson is a must-read for every Bay Area CEO or entrepreneur. Her insight into this growing approach toward conscious capitalism may be just the edge your business needs to distinguish itself by creating a lasting impression on your team, your consumer base and your community. While some companies have been conducting business this way for years, today’s businesses can earn B Corp certification.
Traditional Medicinals, located in Sebastopol, is one company with B Corp status. This company has dedicated itself to building schools, hiring teachers, providing school uniforms, lunch and transportation each day to more than 1,000 boys and girls in the barren desert state of Rajasthan, India. Wilson describes how this globe-trotting company gracefully supports this far flung area from which it sources its primary ingredients. No less impressively, Clover Sonoma has focused its attention directly to the geographic community where both its employees and consumers live. This “Clommunity” as they call it, benefits as recipients of no less than 5 percent of Clover’s annual profits. And real estate newbie Clear Blue Commercial has found a distinctive way to thrive within this pay-it-forward styled concept by, in essence, going into business with Mother Nature herself.
If you live in Sonoma County, chances are you’ve shopped at an Oliver’s Market and seen the employees wearing t-shirts that read: “If we act like we own the place, it’s because we do.” In the feature, “Employee Owned,” writer Jean Saylor Doppenberg finds out why owner Steve Maass sold a portion of his company to employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan last year. I regret I’ve yet to meet Maass to personally thank him for so actively supporting our community’s endless number of organic and bio-dynamic growers and food producers who make the North Bay unique to all the world. He’s forged this effort into a sharp double-edged sword that has engendered a most loyal consumer following and a 1,000-plus employee base that prides itself in knowing more about your favorite cuts of beef, vintages of wines and cultures of cheese than you ever thought possible. He credits his success to the teamwork of the entire staff.
Steve’s purposeful use of an ESOP keeps his team focused on the long-term and his own hope of retiring someday without the worry of watching his company withering away as a mere rounding error within a larger chain of national supermarkets.
And finally, I’d like to reflect a bit on the powerful role of an old-fashioned media technology. As you might remember, thousands of mobile phones failed when 73 cell towers burned during the October firestorm. What’s more, the Internet itself failed us as electric power lines fell and computers couldn’t function. Local television and news outlets portrayed compelling human-interest stories and information, but lacked the on-demand news needed to keep thousands connected as they evacuated their homes and neighborhoods. In our modern-day world, good old-fashioned radio became the North Bay’s guiding voice, and no outlet communicated the immediate and vital information as well as KSRO News/Talk radio.
I’d like to formally congratulate our teammates at KSRO News/Talk for their life-saving, and now prize-winning coverage of the firestorm. Named after the late 19th Century technological wizard and Nobel Prize winning physicist Guglielmo Marconi, The Marconi Award is the industry’s highest honor. More than 15,000 radio stations blanket this nation, but only 18 stations received this honor during this year’s National Association of Broadcaster’s summit in Orlando. More impressively, KSRO took home two of the only 21 awards bestowed—one for “Station of the Year” and the other to Pat Kerrigan, KSRO news director and morning show host, for “Personality of the Year.”
Kerrigan’s award is especially heartening, as it reflects her unselfish efforts to keep thousands of people informed and safe during those early morning hours of great confusion and in the days that followed. Her award is also a reflection of the selfless efforts of dozens of staff members at our radio group. Well done team! I thank you.
I hope you enjoy this month’s issue. I’d like to learn of your own B Corp or ESOP successes (or difficulties). Tell me more about these strategies and how they impact your own enterprises at Lawrence@NorthBaybiz.com.
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