Brad Slaker, founder of DesignWise, didn’t set out to create a non-profit, he told a crowd at Business4Better. It just turned out to be the best business model. A “volunteer-based business model” meant they could design products for a fraction of the usual cost, so it became feasible to focus on what is usually an under-funded field – pediatrics. “I worked in the medical device industry for 20 years; I never even heard of a pediatric project being initiated,” he reported. Now he works on them all the time.
Of course, a volunteer-based business would just be about free labor if the only goal were capital. But Slaker’s real goal is to create products to help kids that otherwise would suffer. He just wants the effort to be self-sustaining.
He thinks about DesignWise as a business. It’s just a business that is valued on more than financial growth. Continue reading
Zappos has a transformative vision of business metrics.
At Business4Better, Zappos’s Jamie Naughton presented on the company’s famous customer service culture.We heard the normal stuff: 365-day return policies and surprise shipping upgrades. Zappos even offers new, just-trained employees cold, hard cash — up to $4,000 — to quit if they think the culture isn’t a fit for them. Better to get rid of them fast before they ruin a good thing.
What blew me away, though, was how they measure success in their call center. A company based on service, Naughton explained, can’t measure performance based on call time, time to resolution, or even sales revenue per employee. What matters, the whole point of the phone conversation, is for the employee to connect with the customer. It’s about building relationships. Relationships sell shoes. So Zappos needs to measure that. Continue reading
Tim Frick, president of Mightybytes, a Chicago-based web development firm, got fed up. After weeks of watching footage of oil-soaked pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP spill, he had to do something. He rode his bike.
Tim Frick in the redwoods during Climate Ride
“When you are angry, take it out on your legs,” he told his audience at Business4Better.
Frick joined ClimateRide on a multi-day ride from Ventura, Calif. to San Francisco. A lucky case of bronchitis slowed him down, and he ended up getting a behind the scenes look at the organization from the “sag wagon.” A love affair was born. Continue reading
Future business success depends on taking personal responsibility for sustainability, argues Mark Coleman in his new book, The Sustainability Generation: The Politics of Change and Why Personal Accountability is Essential NOW!
“You will be in a world where natural resources are constrained and recruitment and retention are difficult,” Coleman warned in an interview. What’s required, then, are businesses and products built around engaged employees and social responsibility.
Coleman points to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as an example. The company invests in the communities that grow its beans, he observed, not out of some abstract sense of obligation or philanthropy, but because keeping that environment healthy is a basic requirement for getting high-quality, low-cost beans. Sustainability is core to the business strategy. Continue reading
Is there really anyone who thought that Lance Armstrong could win the Tour de France 7 times and not be doping?
America’s appalled shock at his confession feels like hypocrisy to me. Of course professional cyclists dope. But that doesn’t mean they can’t also do good. Just like the rest of us.
Lance Armstrong at the 2005 Tour de France. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Businesses who align themselves with not-for-profit efforts with celebrity founders or spokespersons sometimes feel they take a risk. What if there is scandal? Is this person really all good?
There very well might be a scandal, and no one is all good, I think. But that shouldn’t stop anyone.
This past weekend, the Obama administration held a National Day of Service on Saturday and the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Monday. Volunteers were repairing homes, distributing coats, and putting together care packages. On the National Mall, they could sign up to help about 100 non-profits that awaited them in tents.
National Day of Service Foursquare Badge
There’s a Four Square badge, a Twitter feed and national coverage.
FirstBank is serious about business. The bank has over $12 billion in assets and over 115 locations in Colorado, Arizona, and California. But it also is serious about its responsibility to the communities it serves.
In December, the bank partnered, again, with The Community First Foundation for Colorado Gives Day. Colorado Gives Day aims to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. Not-for-profits work together to promote the event, and businesses and individuals throughout the state to raise cash, all in one 24-hour period. Continue reading