As we enter 2023, the drive for purposeful leadership, business, investments, and innovation is ... [+] accelerating grounded on sustainability for the world's 8 plus billion, and nearly $500 Trillion in global wealth. In alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, leaders are demonstrating a commitment to improving the world around them and benefiting humanity and Earth's ecosystems. This inspiration is driving businesses to become more socially and environmentally conscious, invest in sustainable practices and technologies, and support innovative startups that are working towards making a positive difference.Credit: Depositphotos ID: 118276610 Author: kentoh
As we enter 2023, the drive for purposeful leadership, business, investments, and innovation is accelerating grounded on sustainability for the world's 8 plus billion, and nearly $500 Trillion in global wealth. In alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles, leaders are demonstrating a commitment to improving the world around them and benefiting humanity and Earth's ecosystems. This inspiration is driving businesses to become more socially and environmentally conscious, invest in sustainable practices and technologies, and support innovative startups that are working towards making a positive difference. At the forefront of this movement are Carol Hansen, Stephen Hecht, Florian Kemmerich, and Santiago Rocha, who are using their platforms and experiences to contribute powerful narratives of global impact. Their stories serve as inspiration for us all to take action and be part of the solution. In the unscripted video interviews shared below, these four outstanding individuals share their thoughts on leadership for good, business for good, investments and capital for good, and innovation for good, and offer valuable insights on how we can all contribute and collaborate to building a better sustainable future. This article is driven by my global insights from working daily pro bono with more than one million CEOs, investors, scientists, and experts across 100+ projects. The interviews are with the non-profit IEEE TEMS (see interview series - Stephen Ibaraki - 'Transformational Leadership and Innovation...'). Extensively edited for clarity. The themes, 'partial' extracts and summaries, are pulled from AI generated transcripts (about 80% accuracy). To learn from the entire deep sharing and gain full precision and the considerable nuances from their engaging stories, it's 'highly' recommended going to the full video interviews. Carol, Stephen, Florian, and Santiago are affiliated with the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).
Founded in 1950, YPO membership consists of more than 30,000 notable chief executives (exceeding entry criteria), combined annual revenue of more than US 9 Trillion (ranking 3rd in GDP when compared to countries), employing 22 million across 142 countries. Affiliated with YPO, there are the YPO Next Generation (YNG), 18-30 years old, children of YPO members. Carol, Stephen, Florian are YPO members with leadership roles within YPO. Santiago is a member of YNG with leadership roles within YNG. Carol Hansen: Entrepreneur; Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of Tatonka Capital Corporation; established Tatonka Education Services (TES) - a Public Benefit Corporation; Chair of the YPO Sustainable Business Network; Co-chair YPO Global Impact Summit (GIS) Carol Hansen is a notable leader who is impacting significantly in various communities both nationally and globally. In our conversation, Carol discusses her journey to become the leader she is today, including key inflection points that shaped her path. One such inflection point was hosting the YPO Denver Global Leadership Conference in 2011, where Carol implemented the theme of "leave no trace" in an effort to minimize trash and promote sustainability. Another inflection point was realizing that institutional change was necessary to create real impact and sustainability, stemming from her experiences including attending a conference in Singapore the following year where attendees were given single-use plastic bottles. She eventually joined YPO (Young Presidents' Organization), a global network of over 30,000 executives that empowers members to enhance their leadership skills and make a positive impact in their communities. Carol discusses the challenges she faced in becoming a member of YPO, including the rigorous vetting process and the need to meet certain criteria, such as owning or leading a company with a certain level of revenue. Carol shares added YPO benefits of enriching personal and professional development, access to a network of peers, and access to unique global events and resources. She adds that YPO fosters lifelong learning, idea exchange, and support for its members and now a member for over two decades.
Our conversation turns to Carol Hansen as a successful businesswoman who has identified and filled niches in large markets, such as public finance. She started her business by capitalizing on the inefficiency of traditional banks and their lack of understanding of the risks and termination clauses associated with government contracts. She provided capital to vendors who were supplying goods and services to government entities and for transaction sizes ignored by banks. However, as the market matured, the large institutions began to recognize and understand the minimal risk involved and commoditized the market, leading Carol to move on to other areas. Carol attributes her success to her ability to identify inefficient niches in large markets.
Carol discusses the pivot her company has made from a mature market to the education sector. Hansen's company has shifted to providing district level services to public charter schools in the country. Hansen also attributes her ability to identify these changes and pivot the business to her skills in reading reports and identifying trends. She also notes that education is a more challenging industry than finance. Tatonka Education Services (TES), is a public benefit corporation that focuses on providing high-quality education to students. (Carol established TES in 2015 with a mission to disrupt charter school management. Charter schools served 3.4 million students in the FY21 school year. TES approached this niche in an effort to bring down cost, maximize efficiencies and put more money to use at the school sites, while still maintaining a triple bottom line.)
Overall, TES was founded with the aim of creating a positive impact on a wide range of stakeholders, including teachers and employees. Hansen believes that there is room to pay teachers more for their contribution to society and is working towards raising the profile of the teaching profession. Hansen believes in the power of education to transform communities. Hansen also credits her successful pivot into the education sector to her ability to leverage her skills and knowledge from her previous career, as well as her passion for making a positive impact on the world.
Carol delves deeper into her journey with YPO. She joined the organization through an introduction from a vendor who saw her potential as a member due to her entrepreneurial spirit and energy. The process to become a member of YPO involves a lengthy interview process and the need for third-party certification. Once accepted, members are part of a local chapter and participate in various events and meetings throughout the year, following an academic calendar.
In addition to the local chapter experience, YPO also has various global events and networks that members can participate in. These networks are organized by industry, personal interests, or the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hansen is involved in the YPO Sustainable Business Network as Chair, which focuses on business as a force for good, as well as the YPO Impact Networks Council, which is centered on sustainable business, people, planet, and peace.
One of the key benefits of being a member of YPO is the opportunity to connect with other business leaders from around the world and share ideas and experiences. This allows members to learn from one another and grow both personally and professionally. Hansen has found the global aspect of YPO to be particularly valuable, as it has allowed her to make connections and build relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds and industries.
In addition to the networking opportunities, YPO also offers its members access to various educational resources and events. These resources are designed to help members improve their leadership skills and stay up to date on the latest business trends. Hansen has found these resources to be incredibly valuable, as they have allowed her to continually grow and evolve as a business leader.
Carol shares her experiences with the Women's Business Network (WBN), a group within YPO. The WBN has impacted YPO as a whole, helping to raise awareness about the contributions of women in business and leading to a shift in the way that women are perceived within the organization. Carol describes her experience with the YPO and WBN as a "priceless" one, and talks about the importance of building a strong leadership team within the network. She also touches on the issue of bias, noting that she has faced some age bias in her career and that the global experience of female leaders can be challenging.
I bring up Carol's accomplishments within YPO, including being the recipient of the YPO Best of the Best Network Worldwide award in 2012 for her work as the WBN chair. Carol describes the journey to becoming the WBN chair and the focus on expanding the network's global reach and building a strong bench of leaders. She also mentions the importance of networking and building relationships within YPO and the impact it has had on her personal and professional life. Overall, the our conversation highlights the value of networking and leadership development within professional organizations such as YPO and the WBN.
Carol then turns her discussion to the YPO Global Impact Summit (YPO GIS), a first-of-its-kind event being co-chaired by Carol. The summit will bring together leaders from around the world to address some of the most pressing issues facing society. GIS will spark meaningful conversations and inspiring action on these issues, with the goal of creating a more sustainable and equitable world.
We've already seen some change (in YPO). I think the systemic change that we want to see is just continuing to have people be more comfortable with attributing their business focuses to a sustainable focus. I think that there's a lot of hang up around language. You know, if I literally just say the word or color green, different people are going to have physical reactions to the word or color green. I'm hoping that we can get past that. I think there's a lot of people like me out there. I'm a stakeholder capitalist, I would not have used that terminology, ten years ago. I would have told you that I'm a win win business leader, but really a win win stakeholder capitalism. It's all the same thing. I don't need a loser to be a winner. That my business never had that approach. I think most entrepreneurial companies are focused in that manner. I think what has happened in the advent of politicizing some of these words, has caused people to step away from things; that they're already doing it. They already have a sustainable practice in their business. They already care about their suppliers and their customers and their employees. But we've taken language, and it's gotten a little bit twisted. So I think the systemic change coming out of the GIS will be the enthusiasm. (GIS is sold out) ... that's going to create a buzz and itself. Scarcity, can be a good thing at times, but we're already seeing it permeate the rest of the organization. There's not a (YPO) network I can think of that hasn't had a program around the subject matter on their calendar, so it's out there.
In the latter part of our conversation, Carol Hansen discuss the importance of language in discussions about sustainable businesses. Carol emphasizes the importance of finding ways to bridge divides and bring people together around the shared goal of sustainability. She acknowledges that these conversations can be challenging and that language can sometimes be a barrier, but she encourages listeners to try to find common ground and to use language that is difficult to disagree with as a way of fostering more productive and meaningful dialogue.
Carol shares an anecdote about a conversation she had with a friend in which language barriers initially impeded their ability to have a productive discussion about sustainability. 'I had a conversation with a dear friend and I was talking about changing YPO systemically and he rolled his eyes at me. And I said, But all I want to do is have less trash. And he said, Oh, well, I can get on board for that; less trash is good. And that was this aha, about how language is getting in the way of us getting on a similar path. And so that's what I would share with your audience is if you find yourself in a conversation that you know feels a little barrier deadlocked; look to change the language and try to get down to a common language like no trash. It's hard to be against less trash.'
Stephen Hecht: Cofounder, Million Peacemakers; Chair of the YPO Peace Action Network; Vice Chair of the YPO Impact Networks Council representing Peace, Planet, People and Sustainable Business Networks; co-author the #1 Best Seller - "Nonflict: The Art of Everyday Peacemaking"
In our conversation we mine Stephen Hecht's work with Million Peacemakers, a global nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering youth to learn and use the "nonflict way" of peacemaking in their communities. Hecht mentions that Million Peacemakers has trained around 240,000 peacemakers and impacted nearly 8 million people. He also talks about the youth initiative of the organization, which is led by Theadora Sauvé, a law student and valedictorian from McGill University, and Gianluca Piran Fuselli, a multilingual youth leader from Argentina. Both are co-chairs, Million Peacemakers Youth Board, which is about encouraging peacemaking through the Nonflict way and by empowering youth worldwide to co-create a culture of peace by providing youth-led organizations and educational institutions with key resources to promote the constructive resolution of conflicts. The initiative aims to merge the committees of Million Peacemakers with those of the youth leaders, in order to work together towards a more peaceful future. Hecht also mentions that Million Peacemakers participated in One Young World, a global youth leadership event (annual One Young World Summit for shap