Brian Mohr Appointed To The Board of Conscious Capitalism, Inc.

Brian Mohr, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Y Scouts, has been appointed to the Board of Directors for Conscious Capitalism, Inc. The Board of Directors of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. announced the appointment of three new officers to the Board. Joining Brian as new appointments are James D. White, Chairman, President and CEO, Jamba Juice and Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder and CEO, THINX.

“We are thrilled to have James, Miki and Brian join us on the Board as Conscious Capitalism, Inc. continues to build its capacity in response to the growing demand of the marketplace,” noted Doug Rauch, CEO of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. “An increasing number of companies are recognizing the fiscal and social benefits of operating more consciously, and Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is ready to support this burgeoning revolution. James, Miki and Brian’s deep experience in successful entrepreneurship and conscious leadership, as well as their individual commitments to community building, make them a perfect match for our already strong leadership team.”

Mohr has been in the human capital space for more than 16 years. He is the co-founder of Y Scouts, a purpose-driven leadership search firm focused on transforming how people and companies connect to work that matters. Mohr recognizes that “the power of values, the power of culture, and the power of unwavering purpose – when done right, is the ultimate competitive advantage,” a strategy on point with the principles of Conscious Capitalism.

White is a visionary leader with extensive experience in brand building, innovation and driving transformative growth. His background includes his having served in senior level positions with global brands including Coca-Cola, Ralston Purina, Gillette and Safeway Stores. After joining Jamba in December 2008, White led a transformation and turnaround that positions Jamba Juice as a top healthy living brand. The company, which owns and franchises nearly 900 Jamba Juice restaurants, has accelerated growth plans both domestically and internationally. White also serves as a board member of the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial Center.

Agrawal’s passion for breaking free of the mold has made her a serial social entrepreneur. She was a recipient of the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival’s “Disruptive Innovation Award” and named 2013’s Forbes’ “Top 20 Millennials On a Mission,” 2015 Ad Age’s “Creativity 50” and “2015 Social Entrepreneur of the Year” at the World Technology Awards. Her entrepreneurial and lifestyle design book, “Do Cool Sh*t”, hit #1 on Amazon Bestsellers list. Agrawal’s newest entrepreneurial undertaking is THINX, a high-tech underwear solution for women named one of TIME magazine’s “25 Best New Inventions of 2015”. THINX has partnered with AFRIpads in Uganda to fund a pack of washable cloth pads for every pair of THINX underwear sold with the goal of getting millions of girls back in school. To date, the project has helped over 200,000 girls in Uganda and two clubs have launched in India.

White, Agrawal and Mohr join a 14-member board that oversees Conscious Capitalism, Inc.’s strategic development, governance policies and outreach initiatives.

For more information about Conscious Capitalism, Inc visit the Conscious Capitalism website. View the full list of the Board of Directors of Conscious Capitalism Inc. here.

About Conscious Capitalism

Conscious Capitalism is a movement dedicated to elevating humanity through business.

Conscious Capitalism, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to cultivating the theory and practice of Conscious Capitalism. Built on the foundations of Capitalism – voluntary exchange, entrepreneurship, competition, freedom to trade and the rule of law – Conscious Capitalism pursues its mission by applying the additional guiding tenets of Leadership, Culture, Purpose and Stakeholder Orientation to business practices.

We promote the ideals of our organization through events, presentations, publications and social media. We also support an emerging network of Conscious Capitalism Chapters, which serve as communities of inquiry for business leaders, entrepreneurs, coaches and consultants and others.

Interview With Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative

Aaron Hurst Interview

A globally recognized entrepreneur Aaron Hurst is the CEO of Imperative, a technology platform that enables people to discover, connect and act on what gives them purpose in their work. Aaron is a close advisor to many global brands and frequent speaker and writer on the development of the Purpose Economy.

He is the founder and an active advisor to the Taproot Foundation where he was the catalyst and lead architect of the $15 billion pro bono service market. He was the creative force behind the conception of the national Billion + Change campaign. Previously he worked in Silicon Valley developing the precursors to social media.

Widely known for his thought-leadership and a regular blogger for the Huffington Post, Stanford Social Innovation Review and LinkedIn, Aaron is a member of the Nonprofit Times’ Power & Influence Top 50, and has been recognized as a top social entrepreneur by Fast Company,Ashoka, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Manhattan Institute and theCommonWealth Club. In 2009, he received the highest honor bestowed on an alumnus of the University of Michigan.

Let’s start with your work at Taproot. What prompted you in your mid twenties to do something so different?

I started my career in the nonprofit sector. What I saw was that nonprofits were putting in amazing work and they had amazing visions. Often they just lacked the resources that companies take for granted. The marketing, the technology, the HR they needed.

So I went to work in Silicon Valley for about five years to try and understand how those businesses work and what really matters. In that process I really came to understand that there was an opportunity to create a parallel philanthropic sector that wasn’t about cash, but about getting one’s professional talents.

It started with some friends doing some projects and it quickly grew to building out a marketplace to share this business idea that work is something that should be of purpose, and that we should be giving of our skills to help others who can’t afford them.

It appears that being purpose-driven and having profound connectivity to work is kind of new. Yet, you discovered it long before most. What was it that you picked up on that you think people today are still struggling to recognize?

I don’t know if it’s new or not. I think in some ways it’s really old and we lost it in the industrial information economy where work has sort of become detached from humanity. Even back in a village 500 years ago, I don’t think people lacked a purpose for their work. I think they were deeply connected and saw the impact on their work and had relationships with the people in their towns that they worked with.

Work has become so abstract. There’s a framework of work being about the giving of your time and soul in exchange for cash. That’s not really what work is about. It got perverted.

I think that’s why we came to believe that purpose and meaningful work is something that you do in the nonprofit sector or working for government. It’s a big misunderstanding.

In fact, in our research we found that less of half of the people in education, healthcare or the nonprofit sector are even purpose oriented. They’re there for the wrong reasons.

For me, I don’t think it’s a question of a changing or an awakening. I have always been wired based on the way that I was raised to see not where there was an economic transaction, but truth.

Work is a form of service and it’s a form of self expression. I would never want to stop working.

So the idea of retirement is a bit of a fallacy for you.

I think purpose-driven people always want to be working. There may be different stages of your life where you want to do different kinds of work. As you get older you look at doing different types of work and having more autonomy over the work you want to do.

But studies have shown that once people stop working, they tend to die. When you don’t have purpose and you don’t have meaning, it actually sucks something vital out of you. Going and playing golf to me is not a desirable outcome.

I think it Freud was said that love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness, and yet somehow those two things have largely been separated in the workplace. How does that sit with you? What’s the current workplace in most desperate need of?

I think it’s a separation of the base instincts of who we are. We developed this idea of a “professional.” A professional is something who can do the same things over and over again with the same result. It’s really based off an industrial economy’s idea that the ideal worker is one who is completely uniform and controlled. I think we’re realizing that’s not the desirable outcome for an employer or for the employee.

If a robot is not the ideal, then maybe the actual ideal is to be human, and that you’re able to show your full self and to have real relationships at work. To be able to form attachment and express yourself may be what’s needed to be creative and innovative to make work more enjoyable for everybody involved.

Imperative Team
The Imperative Team (Photo Credit: Facebook)

You talk a lot of the industrial revolution and some of the practical models that are still in place today. If we think about the military and the way companies organize around a command in control type of leadership, with strategy and tactics and front lines and capturing market share…do you think the business world today is still clinging to that mental model?

It’s an easy model. It’s very attractive. The reality is that work is now asymmetrical. You can have all the strategies that you want but what happens when you hit the ground is unpredictable. It’s not a question of giant groups of a thousand men marching across a field and shooting each other anymore. Nor is it about just bombing places. Even in the context of the military it’s not an acceptable model anymore. We’ve had to change how we think about that.

The same thing is certainly true for work. The more accurate description of where we need to be is along the lines of community organizing. Community organizing is about helping people maintain purpose even when facing uncertainty. It’s that ability to have that north star helps people navigate the chaos and thrive.

There’s competing philosophies around what an individual’s purpose is, and more specifically, that there’s the philosophy that each of us was put here for our one true calling. A debating argument is that your purpose throughout your life can change based on the stage you’re in and surrounding circumstances. Do you align with a particular philosophy on purpose?

I think they’re both kind of hogwash. Our research and what we’ve done really shows that people have a purpose pattern. It’s not about a specific calling or an issue or about a profession. It has to do with how you want to see impact of your work and what types of problems you want to solve.

I think there’s a fallacy around finding a calling or a cause that’s incredibly detrimental because it’s not the way the world works. In studying tens of thousands of professionals in our work, we saw that people can get passionate on just about any cause. It’s not about the cause. I can get passionate about a lot of different professions. Often it’s about the first one they stumble on to and they make the most of it and they commit themselves to it.

I equate it to love. There’s also the myth of finding that one true love. Out of the 8 billion people on this planet, you have one person you’re meant to be with? And they happen to be a person in your same town? It’s absolutely ridiculous. The reality is that there are probably millions of people that you could have a long, wonderful relationship with on this planet. The idea that there is this one person is equally ridiculous to the idea that there is one calling. It’s more about looking into the relationship and who it’s with.

The same thing with work. It’s more about what you bring to it, not about the subject matter.

Let’s talk for a moment about HR. What do you think is right about HR today, and what do you think is broken?

I don’t know if it’s broken, I think it just hasn’t evolved. There’s a couple key issues in HR. There’s three different functions in HR that are radically different. You’ve got your administration of HR, which is all about compliance and liability. You’ve got the strategic, which is all about thinking about the future, how to develop your people and how your people align to your products and services. And then, you have recruiting which is basically a professional dating service. It’s all about wooing people and being able to attract the best people.

Those are three really different personalities and mashing all of them up together is really hard. I think that’s the first obvious thing with HR.

The other thing is that the measures in HR are around fixing people. The research we’re seeing is that it’s not the right approach. The right approach is how do you hire the right people.

There’s a wonderful head of HR that we work with. She basically shifted all staffing within her team and said, “Look. I’m tired of babysitting employees we never should have hired. I’m going to get rid of almost all of our programs and put all the staffing into recruiting up front so we hire the right people who are mature, purpose-driven and don’t need to constantly be putting out fires.”

I think that’s another piece of what’s wrong with HR. There’s an assumption that you need to create all these programs and fix all these people. We talked earlier about love and relationships. You don’t try to fix your spouse. Trying to fix employees is just a weird mindset to be in.

Those are two of the big ones. Not measuring the right things. Even the advent of engagement surveys is sort of missing the point. That’s still a paternalistic model and the idea that “I want to be engaged by a company,” which implies that the work isn’t engaging itself. It doesn’t focus on the individual. Moving towards the model that we’re measuring fulfillment and empowerment would go a long way to changing the mindset of HR.

I think HR deals with a lot of challenging issues. When you’re working with unions it creates a lot of complexity. When you’re dealing with a mobile workforce it can be challenging. So I have a lot of empathy for folks working in HR, and I do think some radical changes are needed.

Purpose Workforce Index
Photo Credit: Imperative Purpose Workforce Index)

You talk about engagement. You are pursuing the next evolution of what we should be measuring. In my opinion, engagement has become a bit stale and isn’t measuring the right things. It feels like the WPI is the next evolution of what we should be measuring. I’m curious about what the response has been to the research and the data that you’ve been able to generate so far.

Engagement is a good step forward. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Phil: “How’s that working for you?”

I was just talking to someone who did an engagement survey. You just get weighted down with data and you don’t really know the needs of the people you actually want. The results are mixed in with the people you don’t want as well.

Our hope is that we’re creating a new measure with fulfillment. We’ve developed a simple way to measure fulfillment. But we’re also adding into it the ability to hire the right people in the first place. You’re not going to change your engagement scores or your fulfillment scores if you’re not hiring purpose-oriented people.

You can create every program you want, but some people aren’t ready and aren’t wired to see work that way.

Do you think purpose-orientation is a natural evolution of human consciousness? Is it simply, “we are where we’re supposed to be and traveling along the path laid out in front of us, whether we knew it or not?”

I generally disagree with that. If you go to a small village in a developing country, they will generally have more purpose than a board room of a big company.

I think we tend to think a lot of it’s returning back to who we originally were. It’s more that we’ve been distracted for a long time from who we actually are by religion, by organizations, by government. It’s really coming back to realizing where we are as organisms and conscious beings. It’s less of an evolution and more of a return from the distraction.

It’s interesting. Look at the whole exercise movement that started in the 80’s. Gyms are popping up everywhere. But the rise in gyms correlated with the rise in obesity. It turns out that the biggest organizations promoting exercise were the candy companies and the people that were adding to obesity. They were making the case that there’s nothing wrong with eating a Snickers bar as long as you’re exercising. Research shows that’s not true. So despite gyms popping up and people exercising, obesity is on the rise.

To me it’s interesting because today, look at all of the consciousness and mindfulness work. The biggest organizations promoting that are the ones that are in the technology space creating smartphones and other gadgets that are preventing us from being conscious. We lose our sense of mindfulness because we’re absorbed in these screens.

They’re pushing mindfulness, they’re pushing yoga, they’re pushing all of these things because it’s their devices that are actually causing the problem. You’re not going to solve it by doing yoga. If we’re spending all of working hours playing with our phones and not working with each other, that’s not going to work.

Very interesting. I’m curious. Between Taproot and Imperative, did one emerge into the other? Did one create the path? Did Taproot create the path for Imperative?

With Taproot I started realizing that people were getting a lot of meaning from their pro bono work. I realized that wasn’t good enough. We can’t just have supplements. We can’t be disengaged, not empowered at work and taking volunteering as a supplement. We had to fix the core.

I became increasingly frustrated because it felt like we weren’t really moving the needle in terms of helping people find meaning in their lives. That caused me to step back, which led to the reflections that had me start Imperative.

I had to get out of the supplement business and get into the entree business.

I’m curious what your stance is on some of these newer operating systems that businesses are adopting to combat or evolve into this new Purpose Economy.

There’s some awesome experiments going on. I don’t think there’s one answer. Organizations of different scales in different industries see a lot of these experiments with Holacracy or very autonomously structured businesses.

Some of them are really promising for certain scales, certain industries and certain roles. Overall, I think community organizing is the best model I see for the future in terms of organizational structure. There needs to be less of a line between employees and customers and freelancers and volunteers.

Look at a company like Google’s YouTube. That could be the largest volunteer organization in the world in terms of all the people who create products for them. I think we create a lot of false lines and that we need a new model that’s more porous and blended.

With private equity and venture capital being a key part of the economy, there seems to be a bit of a last frontier for investors to evolve to put their money where our mouths are as members of the Purpose Economy.

Yeah, I lived in Silicon Valley and I see it a little bit differently. I like the optimistic spin on it. Being an entrepreneur is really fricking hard. Every day you struggle. There’s ups, there’s downs. Whatever your original idea was is where I think you actually end up being successful, if you ever are. A lot of days you have no idea how you’re going to be successful. You’re constantly trying to get other people to be excited about the idea and stick around when things aren’t looking good.

Being an entrepreneur and a CEO is incredibly challenging. If you don’t fundamentally have a vision and you don’t fundamentally believe that there’s no other option but success, and if you only think of it as an economic opportunity, you’re very unlikely to whether that storm. It is just way too challenging.

When I talk to the great venture capitalists like my mentor Bill Draper, they look at if that person has resilience. Are they deeply committed to seeing that change, or are they going to pivot when faced with the hard days.

I think good investors have always known to invest in people with that kind of alignment. Otherwise, they’re going to run away when times get tough.

I do also think that if you’re going to get the best talent, you need someone who really gives a damn.

Aaron Hurst
Photo Credit: Aaron Hurst’s Journey To Measure What Matters In Work

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. This interview is part of our Conscious Leadership Interview Series, where we ask CEO’s a series of questions about their leadership philosophies and practices. Contact us if you’d like to recommend a CEO to interview.

Unlock Two Secret Hiring Strategies That Will Generate Growth

Secret Hiring Strategies

For more than a century, the business world’s definition of the ‘right’ employee was the one who had the skills to successfully perform the duties listed in the job description. The impact of selecting people using this traditional hiring approach has led to massive employee disengagement, sub-optimal organizational productivity, increased operating costs, and decreases in employee well-being and customer satisfaction. The time has come for hiring leaders to re-examine their definition of what the ‘right’ employee actually looks like in today’s business world.

This session is for entrepreneurs, CEOs and leaders from startup and emerging growth ventures to established businesses who struggle with getting hiring right. You know that recruiting top talent is your number one job, but it’s hard to get it right every time. Creating a culture for big impact and growth that achieves your mission is the single greatest ingredient to success in today’s fast-moving and competitive environment. Successfully navigating the hiring process means getting the right people on the bus.

Snell & Wilmer invites you to the next program in the Emerging Business Seminar Series, where partner Brian J. Burt, and his guest, Brian Mohr of Y Scouts, will discuss how to unlock two secret hiring strategies that will lead to lasting growth and impact.

Topics for this complimentary seminar will include:

  • Why the traditional way of hiring is costing you more than you realize, and two steps to change it
  • Actionable strategies to prepare you for your next hiring experience
  • How to eliminate the costs of a wrong hire
  • How to guarantee it’s the right hire before you make an offer
  • Creating confidence that your hiring process and decision-making will lead to bigger impact in your business
  • Why scaling with people and purpose is your secret weapon to 10x growth

December 2, 2015

8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Registration and continental breakfast will begin at 
7:30 a.m.

Synergy I [map]
1365 North Scottsdale Road 
Suite 135
Scottsdale, Arizona 85257

Free parking is available in the north parking lot in anyuncovered space.

RSVP by Friday, November 27to or by calling 1.855.SWEvent (1.855.793.8368).

The Emerging Business seminars are held the first Wednesday of each month from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

Brian J. Burt

Brian Mohr
& Managing Partner
Y Scouts

How To Build Culture In A Temporary Workspace

R&R Partners Ping Pong Table

Building company culture isn’t about brand colors, company logos, plush couches or a gimmicky punching bag.

But for companies in a temporary workspace within another company’s headquarters, it can hard to build a unique culture without such cultural symbols.

How can a company within a temporary workspace build culture without the tangible, traditional culture symbols? By focusing on the intangibles of culture: values and people.

Here are a few ways to build culture in a temporary workspace:

Define and visually reinforce the organization’s values.
Has your organization defined core values? If so, reminding your team of these core values is a great way to reinforce the cultural qualities that you want to see at your organization.

There are several ways the remind your team of these core values. You can print out your values and pin up a copy in each team member’s workspace. Or, if a core value is more tangible, you can provide each member of your team with something tangible that represents that core value.

By making your core values visible, it’s easier for you to lose sight of your temporary surroundings with a reminder of who you really are.

Integrate Core Values into your meetings
Closed door meetings can serve as a temporary refuge for you and your team. Instead of having a conversation in a workplace with lots of open space – where as a byproduct, people who aren’t on your team can overhear your conversations – being in a meeting room behind a closed door with your team gives you a chance to speak freely. Use this time to integrate your core values into your meetings.

If a core value in your company is “Play Poker Like Kenny” (ie – know when to hold ’em, know when to fold them), make sure each employee receives feedback on how they are doing in regards to that value, with specific examples of their work to support the feedback.

What gets measured gets done. If you’re measuring the impact of your core values in meetings, your employees will be more likely to practice those core values.

Bring the team together with Slack
Space is important, but it may not be in the top 10 things that are required for building a great company culture. The type of people you’re working with can help push the space needs down the priority list or it could potentially pull the need for space upwards.

When a company shares space with another company, conversations can be overheard. Using an internal communication app like Slack allows the whole team to have inside conversations they would normally have within their own workspace – especially if space constraints have separated the team into separate workstations.

Appoint a Community Manager (or make friends with the internal community manager)

Every office has someone who is in charge of making announcements that impact the whole office (ie – a food truck will be here on Thursday!). If the company you’re sharing space with has one of these community managers, make sure that your team is copied on email communication impacting the office. Not only will this help your team feel more involved in the office (and not like strangers), but these announcements can also alert your team to some of the fun things happening around the office.

If a community manager doesn’t exist at your office, speak with the founders of the companies and see if you can appoint one.

Be Transparent and Honest
Be transparent about your office situation with your team, and at the same time, have a plan for what you’ll be doing next. Communicate a timeline and what needs to happen as a company for your office situation to change. Honesty can be a big motivator, and having a candid conversation with your team can help motivate and answer questions your team members may have.

While a temporary office situation is sometimes not as ideal as having your own space, there’s still ways to make the most of it. Start with the definition and integration of your core values and bring the team together with open and honest communication. If you do those two things right, then you should be able to maintain and build upon your organizational culture.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

Conscious Capitalism in Arizona

You may be familiar with our passion and involvement in the Conscious Capitalism movement. The Arizona Chapter of Conscious Capitalism is pioneering an initiative to introduce the principles of Conscious Capitalism into Arizona’s educational system. The “Education Initiative’ has been in the works for many months, and we’re excited to invite you to attend a series of events taking place on November 17th.

Raj Sisodia, the Co-Founder of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. and the co-author of 3 books supporting the movement, “Conscious Capitalism”, “Firms of Endearment”, and “Everybody Matters”, will be leading a series of discussions/roundtables on November 17th in the Phoenix area. Our goal is to bring together leaders of our business community, educators, and students to discuss the future of capitalism. We hope you will decide to attend at least one of the events.

Event #1 – Re-imagining Capitalism at Arizona State University

When: November 17th from 9:00 to 10:00 AM

Where: W.P. Carey School of Business, Oasis Room, 4th Floor McCord Hall, ASU Tempe Campus (near Apache Garage for parking)

Registration: Please click this link to learn more and register for the event

Event #2 – Conscious Capitalism in Business

When: November 17th from 1:45pm to 3:15pm

Where: DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center located at 2100 South Priest Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282

Registration: Please click this link to learn more and register for the event

Event #3 – Invest Southwest – Improving Investment Workshop

When: November 17th from 3:30pm to 7:00pm

Where: DoubleTree Hotel & Conference Center located at 2100 South Priest Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282

Registration: Please click this link to learn more and register for the event (there is a $50 fee for this event)

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

Interview With Seth Goldman, Tea­EO Emeritus of Honest Tea

Seth Goldman Honest Tea

Seth Goldman is co-founder and Tea­EO Emeritus of Honest Tea, the company he launched out of his home in 1998. Today, Honest Tea is the nation’s top selling organic bottled tea, specializing in beverages that are organic, fair trade and Just A Tad Sweet®. In March 2011, Honest Tea was acquired by The Coca-Cola Company and is now carried in over 100,000 outlets.

Goldman is a leading voice among mission-driven entrepreneurs.  He is the recipient of the REAL Food Innovator Award by the U.S. Healthful Food Council and sits on the boards of: Bethesda Green, Beyond Meat, and the American Beverage Association. 

Goldman is the co-author of the business book in comic book form, Mission in a Bottle – The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently – and Succeeding, a New York Times Bestseller published by the Crown Business division of Random House.

Goldman is a graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Management.

Editors note: This is interview was conducted a day before Seth announced that he intends to reduce his role at Honest Tea, leaving the role of TeaEO and shifting to a more stewardship-oriented role as TeaEO Emeritus while he takes on added responsibilities as Executive Chairman at Beyond Meat, a plant-based protein startup.

Why do you believe that having a higher purpose actually matters in business today?

When I was in college I majored in Government. I had thought the political route was the way to make change happen and address issues I care about. I can say now having been in the work world for 25 years, and running a company near Washington D.C., I appreciate even more how impactful business is in making change in contrast to the political arena. Obviously some change does happen, but a lot of people spend a lot of time running around in circles yelling at each other.

I guess I answered the question differently than by saying why businesses should care. It’s almost as if you care, then how do you address issues through business?

I’m curious how you and your team have been able to find the right talent that align with what you care about in a world where recruiting is largely transactional. How has Honest Tea been able to maneuver that?

I would say we wear our mission on our sleeve pretty brazenly. I don’t think anyone comes into our company mistakenly thinking this is a place that they’re going to be able to just chase money and not think about the impact of what they’re doing. We’re already screening out a lot of people just by the products we sell and the way we market them and the way we behave. And at the same time, I’d like to think that we screen in a lot of people.

I think our mission and the way we behave helps attract and puts off some folks who we wouldn’t necessarily be attracted to.

What’s interesting is that when we look at some of the beverage expertise, how do we attract people? What we see is that there are people who could be working in what I’ll call ‘values neutral work.’ They’ve worked in food science and production operations before and are good at what they do but they haven’t had the chance to work with a company or brand where they feel that the impact is deeper or something they care about.

One of the experiences that has repeated itself over and over in the CEO’s that we’ve worked with is that those who proudly wear the impact often wear it so proudly that candidates can then use that to their advantage during interviews. A candidate may pair it back to a CEO or members of the hiring team to what they think they want to hear because you are so proud in telling the world. The authenticity meter can be a bit hard to fair it out. I’m curious to hear about if you’ve had any bad hiring experiences where they said they truly cared about the impact Honest Tea wants to make, but at the end of the day, that really wasn’t the case?

Like any honest company, we’ve made bad hires. I wouldn’t say that we’ve hired people who claimed to be one thing around mission, and then aren’t. That’s usually not where the error is.

I will say that resumes are pretty clear. I can usually see when someone is genuinely interested in our mission by looking at the work they’ve done. Is this something they been living based on the choices they’ve made over their careers? What’s their nonprofit volunteer work activity look like?

What’s funny is that I’ve had interviews with people who seem like they get the mission, but there’s nothing in their resume that suggests they’ve had that. One of the first MBA summer hires that we made was this woman who was so passionate about the mission. But, she worked for a merchant bank before going to school.

I told her, ‘I can tell you care about what we’re doing. I haven’t seen anything in your work experience that speaks to it. Tell me why you care.’

Then she started talking about how her mother had died of cancer and how she had worked over the years to change her mother’s diet and how organics was such a key pillar in the change in diet.

So then, I told her that I hadn’t seen anything that would suggest that she understands this industry. And she talked about how she paid her way through college by working in food service. We’re always trying to get people who have worked in restaurants! I asked her why she didn’t put that in her resume.

She said it would have seemed not professional. But we’re a beverage company! It’s just interesting to see what people choose to highlight and not all of it will come out on a resume.

Honest Tea Mission

One of the areas in business that has seemed to come under tremendous fire is the traditional HR function. I’m curious to know if it’s something you think about a lot. What do you think is really right about what HR is doing and what do you think is broken?

I can tell you that I feel really good about our HR team. They’re very focused on culture. Part of it is personnel selection, but even more is how do we give our people the tools to live the best life they can for themselves?

A positive supporting work environment is a key element of it. But it’s not always the core of what someone is thinking about. Are they able to be present for family members who are going through challenges? Are they able to continue to develop their own skills? Even if the skills that they’re developing aren’t used at Honest Tea. Maybe they develop their skills here and use them elsewhere. Obviously we try not to make that happen all the time. But if we do it the right way, it’s a great way to retain people because they know we’re trying to continue to develop them.

So a focus of really developing people and intentionally strengthening the culture is what your HR team is really focused on.

Yeah it’s funny. We just finished with Halloween last week and I was out of the office a lot of the day. But it’s just so fun seeing some of the Halloween pictures and seeing people having fun with it. It’s nice people are in an environment where they feel comfortable being a little goofy and have fun doing that.

Honest Tea Office

If I switch the course of this interview a little bit, as you’ve grown the organization you received a big investment from Coca Cola. Could you share about any contemplation on your part about taking a sizable investment from the Coca Cola Company. What were you most afraid of, and what were you most excited about?

The excitement part was easy. It was the distribution aspect. We were seeing all this growth and interest from large retailers who wanted the brand and we didn’t have the distribution to get it there. There’s nothing more frustrating to an entrepreneur than to see growth and not being able to connect the dots and make it happen. No matter how high potential your product is, if you can’t get it to people, you really don’t have a business.

We were growing quickly but we also saw on the horizon that we were going to limited in terms of what the brand could do. So distribution was easily the most exciting aspect of the deal. Nationally was the first point, but looking at internationally at some point as well.

The fear, the downside that so many mission driven businesses face is do you lose what’s special? Is there a risk of having your mission diluted? We’ve worked so hard for ten years to create this intentional brand with a specific mission and have worked to incorporate and brew the mission into the product.

What is often said is that a brand’s best days, from it’s marketing to it’s mission impact, are the days before it sells. And then after that it’s a slow decline where the product’s ingredients are cheapened. The compromises are made around sourcing. And then there’s some personnel cuts. All of a sudden, it’s not necessarily death, but it’s certainly a dilution through dozens and dozens of little steps.

So that was the fear. What has been so gratifying and exciting for us is that’s it’s been the opposite for us. It’s been a strengthening through dozens and dozens of little tweaks. Every tweak we’ve made over the years. SKU by SKU. Converting another bottle over to fair trade tea. That was a process that started in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2011 after Coke’s buyout of the brand that we completed our conversion to fair trade tea.

Then you can look at our kids line, where we started Honest Kids with organic sugar and some fruit juice. Then we found enough organic fruit juice concentrate available to take all of the sugar out of the product and only sweetened it with fruit juice.

This is a result of scale and also a result of the buying power we get by being a part of Coca Cola. That means we are able to buy a bottle at a lower price and use some of the savings to pay for more expensive sugar.

Those types of steps are rare. We can think of some companies that have done a good job at protecting their mission as they grow. I don’t know of many who have deepened their impact.

Note: You can view Honest Tea’s 2015 Mission Report here.

Honest Tea Mission Report

Do you feel that the impact Honest Tea has been making in the world had some influence on the Coca Cola Company in a small or large way?

I think it’s a large way. Number one, we are part of the Coca Cola Company and can look at their portfolio. We can look at what’s on the trucks and in the warehouses. Years ago that weren’t any organic brands or fair trade brands. There certainly weren’t as many low to zero calorie drinks that are present now. Going beyond that we can look at how some of their other products have evolved and some of their innovations. I’m absolutely confident that our presence has helped heightened their awareness of the marketplace appeal for different formulations.

Beyond that there’s this broader piece of transparency as a brand. And authenticity as a brand. I think our presence has been meaningful. And then of course the conversations that we have as part of the Coca Cola Company that weren’t being had. The questions we’re asking. Even though I ask questions that are uncomfortable. It’s helpful to have someone inside the company who is willing to ask tough questions.

Final questions of the interview. From a personal standpoint, what’s your morning ritual look like? is there something you do every day to make sure you’re operating at your apex?

There’s a few things. Number one, my wife and I make the bed every morning. That means we come home at night to a place that feels calm and relaxed. Number two, I always get up and exercise. It is the best way to clear my head, get the blood flowing and process whatever has happened the day before. By the time I get to the office I’m in a good place.

My house is about a mile from the office. The other thing that I do is that about 85% of the time I’m riding a bike to work.

When I’m biking I get to be out in nature and get climatized to the day. Versus if I’m driving I’m stuck in traffic and worried about parking. If I bike, I park at the bike rack right in front of the office. It is something I’m always appreciative of doing.

Sometimes if I have a meeting out of the office where I’ll need a car, I’ll still bike to the office and then bike home and then get in the car just so I have that chance be outside.

Looking back, if you could have a conversation with your 20 year old self, what would you share with 20-year old self knowing what you know today?

I never imagined business as a path to impact. I totally discounted it. I would have said that if you want to make an impact, that’s not the way you go. Obviously I ended up being open to it, but I would have counseled myself on being more open to that as a path to impact.

I do say that to people now because there are so many people who are about to enter the workforce and they just don’t think about business as a way to make a difference in the world.

Honest Tea Bottles

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. This interview is part of our Conscious Leadership Interview Series, where we ask CEO’s a series of questions about their leadership philosophies and practices. Contact us if you’d like to recommend a CEO to interview.

Nonprofit Succession Planning: Developing Leaders

nonprofit succession planning

Recently the Stanford Social Innovation Review produced an article about the Nonprofit Leadership Development Deficit, and how succession planning is the No. 1 organizational concern of US nonprofits, but they are failing to develop their most promising pool of talent: homegrown leaders.

We wanted to find the antithesis of this SSIR article and hear from nonprofits who were succeeding in developing homegrown leaders at their organization. How are they addressing succession planning, and how are they measuring the results?

Perhaps one of the more interesting takes on succession planning that we received came from Mike Williams, who runs one of the longest running Boy Scout Troops (approaching 70 years):

Each annual task of the organization is defined and split off to the responsibility of a different leader, often a pair of leaders. For example, we do an annual fundraiser (Christmas Wreath Sales) Sales/distribution of the wreaths is done by one pair of leaders. The awards for sellers are handled by a different pair. The high adventure trip that the fundraiser pays for is yet another pair. Pairs are used for continuity – succession of the pair usually happens in stagger; the more experienced one leaves and a new member takes his spot, leaving one experienced leader in the same role for the next year. Of course this isn’t always possible but works well as a guideline.

No one gets burnt out; no one has an insurmountable task, and in most cases a new volunteer works with another experienced one who shares the task’s load.

And it makes recruiting someone to take the big jobs – Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Chairman, much easier. They don’t have to shoulder the entire load.

The other informal rule is: You have to find your own replacement. If you want to stay in a role of course that’s welcome, but if you want to move on, find your replacement and convince him to take your spot. Again this would be very challenging if these weren’t such bite-sized tasks, or if the new recruit felt he had to go-it-alone.

There’s some good stuff there about succession planning.

  • Use pairs for continuity and to stagger succession
  • Share the burden of the task to avoid burnout
  • Find your own replacement

But how do you measure the effectiveness of succession planning? For the answer to this question we turned to Ben Williams, who advises nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and multi-sector collaboratives on strategy development and governance.

Ben says that succession planning has been a high priority in almost all the organizations he advises. As you can see in the article by SSIR, the demographics of leaders in the social sector are top heavy, and the implications are now starting to be seen.

Here’s what Ben had to add about nonprofit succession planning:

High performing organizations develop succession plans as part of a larger leader development strategy. It begins by setting standards for job responsibilities and development plans for all positions to grow into greater responsibility. With a pathway for advancement in place, the organization can assess and prioritize its pipeline based on current staff for future roles. A succession plan without a larger leadership development effort will find that it has many gaps (if not at the highest executive level, at the middle manager level).

Results can be measured through evaluation of staff capacity: engagement (greater engagement = likelihood to advance), goal achievement (# or % of goal achievement), and hiring ratios (% internal vs. external = higher % internal hires indicates stronger pipeline).

Bottom line is that nonprofit succession planning is difficult, but not impossible. Looking to get started? We’d highly recommend that you read the piece by SSIR.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

Quotes About Abraham Lincoln: A Lesson In Leadership

Quotes about Abraham Lincoln

Blogs, tweets, vines, snaps, texts – the noise for a leader is amplified these days. One wrong move can set off a string of critical remarks.

It’s easy for a leader to be considered “weak” or “ineffective” with all the quick to judge media content being shared today. That’s why the string of quotes about Abraham Lincoln are so powerful. All the quotes were made before or during the first year of Abraham Lincoln taking office – and all of the quotes are from the North:

Quotes about Abraham Lincoln:

“he is no more capable of becoming a statesman, nay, even a moderate one, than the braying ass can become a noble lion” — The Springfield (Mass.) Republican

quotes about abraham lincoln

“His weak, wishy-washy, namby-pamby efforts, imbecile in matter, disgusting in manner, have made us the laughing stock of the whole world” – The Salem (Illinois) Advocate.

He “indulges in simple twaddle which would disgrace a well bred school boy.” — Vanity Fair Magazine (New York)

a ‘simple Susan.’ — The Springfield (Mass.) Republican

“He is evidently a person of very inferior cast of character” — Senator Edward Everett (Mass.)

His speeches have fallen like a wet blanket here. They put to flight all notions of greatness” — Rep. Charles Francis Adams (Mass.)

“a weak and imbecile man; the weakest man that I ever knew in a high place; for I have seen him and conversed with him, and I say here, in my place in the Senate of the United States, that I never did see or converse with so weak and imbecile a man ” – Senator Saulsbury (Delaware)

“an idiot” – Gen George McLellan (New Jersey)

“timid, vacillating, and inefficient” – Senator Chandler (Michigan)

“weak as water” – Rep Fessenden (Maine)

It goes to show that a leader may be considered weak, but in the end they’ve actually achieved so much that they are now considered great and powerful leaders in the history. I guess history has shown that the ones who made these comments were describing themselves far more than Abe.

What does that say about today’s commentary about leaders?

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

Why the “Y”

Why The Y

One of the most common questions we hear at Y Scouts is, “What does the “Y” in Y Scouts mean?”

Back in 2012 when we were thinking up names for our company, the letter “Y” symbolized everything we wanted to represent.

In it’s most simple form, the letter “Y” is the place where all roads come together.

One interpretation of the “Y” is that it’s the intersection between the road of a candidate, the road of an employer, and our road as a leadership search firm – the connector of these two roads.

The “Y” perfectly symbolizes the fork in the road we face in career decisions. Most of us cruise along until we reach a point in our careers where we must make a major career decision. Do we continue to climb the corporate ladder / stay in the same industry / do the same thing and take the path of received wisdom, or do we take the road less-traveled and decide to do something different / something that matters with our lives and careers?

“Y” is perfectly symmetrical, showing our belief of placing an equal importance on clients and candidates (an extension of one of our core beliefs, Platinum is Better Than Gold).

As a whole, finding your “Y” is important on a personal and professional level. It’s about finding what motivates each of us to be better. For some, your why might be working hard to make a meaningful difference in the lives of family / friends / customers. Great businesses also have a “Y”. It’s what drives their teams and inspires their clients to do business with them. Great companies aren’t looking for somebody to fill a seat on the bus. They look for driven people that are dedicated to a personal and professional vision.

So, there were a lot of strong reasons we aligned our beliefs with the letter “Y”.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

5 Reasons Why Platinum Is Better Than Gold

Platinum is better than gold

One of our core values is, “Platinum Is Better Than Gold.”

Now, we’re a leadership search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. We’re not a numismatic investment company with a financial incentive to sell more platinum (or gold).

The meaning behind our core value is we believe you should treat other people as they want to be treated (aka, the Platinum Rule). We believe this is a better way to treat people than the golden rule, which is to treat people how you want to be treated.

Besides our Platinum Rule, why is platinum better than gold? Here are 5 reasons:

Reason #1: Platinum is worth more than gold
In equal weights, platinum is worth more than gold and gold is worth more than silver.

Reason #2: Platinum has industrial usage
Gold is primarily used for jewelry.

Reason #3: Platinum is even harder to find than gold
Just like it’s rare to find people who treat people as they want to be treated, it’s even more rare to find platinum than it is to find gold.

Reason #4: Platinum is stronger and more durable
Though both gold and platinum are strong and durable precious metals, platinum is the stronger and more durable of the two. For example, the prongs holding the center stone of a platinum engagement ring are less likely to break then those of a gold engagement ring.

Reason #5: Platinum is Truly White
Platinum will always stay white because it’s naturally white, but white gold needs to be re-polished and re-plated occasionally to avoid a yellow hue.

Y Scouts is an executive search firm that unites exceptional organizations with exceptional leaders. Contact us if you are looking to find an exceptional leader. Or, to be considered for exceptional leadership opportunities with our clients, please take the first step by joining the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

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