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Is it Time to Explore a Strategic Alliance or Merger?

Over the last 12 years, Vista Global has supported nonprofits across the country to examine whether a strategic alliance or merger was a strategy for increased impact.  

When the pandemic began, most nonprofits looked at current reserves to evaluate whether they could weather a 3-6 month downturn in revenue.  We are now passing the 6 month mark and all indicators are suggesting that we will be in this stage for at least another 6 months, if not longer.  

Can your organization continue to weather this economic situation on its own?

In the 2016 study called the Chicago Nonprofit Merger Project, 25 nonprofit mergers were analyzed from 2004-2014 to identify how trends have shifted over the last 20 years. The study identified that strategic partnerships and mergers are seen as a competitive strategy to support organizations in increasing growth and services. The study saw organizations using strategic partnerships and mergers as a response to market and policy trends to improve their competitive advantage. In addition, many of the organizations in the Chicago study had previous merger experience. In 85% of the cases, the board chair or board members emerged as chief merger advocates.

The Chicago study, maps out the key stages and key questions for evaluation for a strategic alliance and through this process, your organization can make a strategic decision as to how an alliance or merger can advance a shared goal, respond to community need, improve program outcomes, reach more clients and maximize financial resources.

From July 2019 to March 2020, Vista Global guided Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Fox Valley Region and Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha, now known as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Wisconsin (BBBS-ECW), as they explored each stage of a strategic alliance. 

When the pandemic took hold, BBBS-ECW was prepared, having already pivoted their organization efficiently and sustainably in several ways. 

Recently, BBBS-ECW CEO, Lindsay Fenlon shared with community partners how the recent merger prepared them to navigate COVID-19:

Through the help of community partners, we invested roughly $250,000 into the merger negotiation and integration process. This financial support enabled us to “do it right,” creating a new organization with the ability to pivot efficiently  and sustainably in the following ways: 

  • Operational Systems: We chose to integrate and transition all critical operational systems to cloud-based options, including financial management (Quickbooks Online and online banking), telecommunications (VoIP phone system with virtual meeting, texting, scanning,  and information sharing and storage (Office 365, Sharepoint and Onedrive file systems), program database (Salesforce platform), donor database (eTapestry) and board communications (Microsoft Teams).  As such, we were able to transition to 100% work remote within 24 hours.
  • Technology: In anticipation of the need to work remotely, all staff laptops and technology devices were replaced with camera and microphone enabled laptops with Bluetooth capability. We were able to stay connected to our cloud-based operational systems with no need to wait for additional supplies or materials to facilitate “business as usual.”
  • Leadership Capacity: The merger required an organization restructure and we elected to maintain all personnel, focusing on adding more management positions to expand the leadership team. While this initially carried a higher salary impact on our operational budget, we gained additional capacity of leadership-thinkers, poised to strategically tackle the diverse crisis that COVID-19 brought while simultaneously achieving the following two weeks after the Safer at Home order was announced:
    • Pivoted 100% of programming to virtual mentoring;
    • Transitioned all program processes to virtual, including new enrollments and make-match meetings. The first virtual match was made 10 days after the Safer at Home order went into effect;
    • Postponed and restructured fundraising events for optimal revenue retention;
    • Designed and implemented a multi-audience communication plan, successfully communicated small wins and big breakthroughs with PR, social media and direct communication to stakeholders
    • Developed financial forecasts that allow for 100% retention of employees
  • Board Cohesion: The negotiation process required that each board of director associated with the original agencies come together to listen, learn and dream big about the future.  Ten days into January, the newly combined board of BBBS met to define a cohesive way of moving the mission forward. Clear board member responsibilities, committees and goals, and communication expectations were defined and refined throughout the first quarter of 2020. When COVID-19 hit, board members were among the first to reach out to BBBS leadership to offer support and empower myself to take drastic action as needed to ensure the organization’s sustainability. As such, I was able to mobilize swiftly to take advantage of federal legislature and operational modifications necessary to best protect the mission of the organization and the safety of the BBBS team.
  • Culture of Adaptability and Resiliency: As part of the merger, our team faced the need to embrace change in order to move forward under the umbrella of one unified agency. Policies, procedures, practices, and organizational structure throughout the entire agency were modified as we got use to the adage that “the only thing consistent in life is change.” When the life-altering changes that came with COVID-19 were first coming to light, our team embraced it as just another situation to adapt to. In the weeks since, the staff and board of directors have acknowledged having full confidence in agency leadership and in each other, identifying that the cultural challenges inherent within any merger actually led us to coming together as a dynamic and diverse group of mission-committed individuals with the tools to keep kids connected during a crisis. 

In Fall 2020, Vista Global in collaboration with BBBS-ECW, will release a white paper that shares the learnings and key success factors contributing to BBBS-ECW’s merger and how that prepared the organization to navigate COVID-19.

Other Vista Global blogs on nonprofit mergers: 

Five Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Partnerships & Mergers

Nonprofits on the Move with Mergers

Tips on Nonprofit Merger Success Through Organizational Cultural Integration

If you are wondering if a strategic alliance or merger might be your organization’s strategy for success, let’s explore the options together.

Three Steps to Managing Your Energy This Season

As the year winds down and the days shorten, I find that my energy level starts to drop. The “Happy Lamp” that I have on my desk throughout the year is turned on more hours and I recognize that I need to be more mindful and intentional about managing the energy in my personal gas tank.

The article written by Tony Schwartz called “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” always comes to mind this time of year. No matter how many hours we work, if we have low levels of energy, our productivity will suffer.  Schwartz states that energy comes from four major wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind and spirit. In each of these areas, we can expand and renew energy, if we establish simple rituals that are intentional, scheduled and ultimately become automatic.

I have found that I have varying levels of recharging to keep my energy tank full. Some rituals are micro-behaviors, some behaviors are moderate and then there are the deep dive recharging rituals. Here are some rituals that work for me:

  1. Disconnect from technology: We live in a connected world and technology is ever present. It is an energy drain so to reduce that drain, I charge my phone in the kitchen overnight and I don’t look at it until after breakfast. It allows me to shut down fully at night and ease into my day.
  2. Walk the dog: This is literal and figurative. I have had a dog for decades of my life and it forces me to get away from the computer and get outside for 20 minutes, a couple of times a day. If you don’t have a dog, you can create a meeting appointment called, “Walk the Dog” to get away from the desk.
  3. Go to your happy place: This is the deep dive.. Annually (this time of year).. I go to Hawaii for renewal to soak up the sunlight and watch the waves, turtles, dolphins, and rainbows. It reconnects me to the gifts of this planet and fills the wellsprings of mind, body and spirit.

As we launch into the next decade, I encourage you to explore new rituals and practice recharging your mind and body.

This blog was originally published on Thrive Global December 26, 2019.

The Decade of Action: Next Steps to Becoming a More Sustainable World

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly created a collection of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each designed to target a specific area of sustainability. These goals are intended to serve as a blueprint for all countries in order to create a sustainable future for all. The UN determined that in order to create a sustainable world, the SDGs must be achieved globally by 2030.

Although 15 years seems like a long period of time, five years into this, the world remains behind schedule on achieving these goals. As small business owners, we are responsible for incorporating the SDGs into our business models. By doing so, we are setting a precedent and example for other businesses to follow our lead. 

Since 2012, Vista Global has been a Certified B Corp, meaning that our business practices meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The B Corp certification was first created by the nonprofit B Lab in 2007, and since its establishment more than 3,000 businesses worldwide have become Certified B Corps. This certification can be rigorous and time consuming. Therefore, to broaden the reach to businesses interested in adopting sustainable practices, B Lab, in partnership with the UN Global Impact, developed a new solution, known as the SDG Action Manager. 

The SDG Action Manager is a free tool that was created in order to bring attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This tool allows businesses worldwide to create goals, monitor progress, and implement change in their business and community. The SDG Action Manager consists of 17 components, beginning with a baseline assessment, followed by an assessment relating to each of the SDGs:

Each category is designed to make businesses think about their impacts, both positive and negative. After completing the different assessments, businesses will be provided with a ranking, indicating how close they are to achieving a certain goal. The purpose of this tool is to provide businesses with a metric for monitoring their impacts and solutions for taking action. 

Vista Global is committed to working towards SDG Goal #5 “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls.” As a woman leader of a certified B Corp, Mary Stelletello, Founder of Vista Global has signed the global WeTheChange declaration. Any woman business owner or ally can sign this declaration. This connects individual action to a global movement.

How does the SDG Action Manager Work?

Find your starting point

To begin, each business will complete an assessment of current business practices. This assessment will identify which SDGs matter most in your company. 

Understand your impact

After completing the assessment, businesses will have a clear understanding of which of their current business practices are creating a positive impact, as well as risk areas that need addressing. 

Set goals and track improvement

After you have a better understanding of your current impacts, it’s time to take action. Stay motivated by creating goals and track your progress on the dashboard. 

With only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, the SDG Action Manager serves as an easy tool to assist businesses in adopting sustainability into their business strategy. We have the power to build a sustainable, inclusive and regenerative global economy. 

Get Started Today!

Three Ways We Can Reshape the Global Economy for Everyone

It’s been three months since the Business Roundtable released a revised statement of purpose signed by 181 of its 193 members, issuing a new commitment to move from shareholder primacy to creating “value for all of our stakeholders.” This declaration was met with the gamut of reactions including skepticism, “about time” sighs, and a challenge from the B Corp community to follow up with action and collaboration through its #LetsGetToWork open letter and campaign

With $7 trillion in revenue annually, these leading U.S. corporations are a powerful voice in the market and beyond. Their action – or failure to act – will have an undeniable impact on the sustainability and equitability of business and community in the coming decade. Three months later, the BRT Twitter account shares positive individual actions taken by its members almost daily but it remains to be seen if and what collective action will come next. 

But We’re Not Waiting to Take Action

As a certified B Corp, my coaching and consulting firm votes every day to prioritize people over profit and to build a regenerative economy. We do this by providing 95% of our services to customers that address social and economic problems. We also encourage our staff to donate more than 5% of their time to volunteer service.

Vista Global is a small business with a small economic engine. As we’ve discovered from many movements in the past few years – #TimesUp, #FridaysforFuture, and #BlackLivesMatter – there is power in numbers. That’s why I’ve been actively looking for ways to connect with and amplify the work that needs to be done. 

A clear way that we can ensure a more purpose-driven bottom line is to propel more women into leadership roles. As Fortune.com noted in the article, “Climate Change Is Everyone’s Problem. Women Are Ready to Solve It”: 

Women are more inclined to take a broader, more long-term view and are more willing to engage with difficult issues that have an everyday impact not only on a company’s bottom line but across our society as a whole.” 

Ironically, corporations who promote women will not only strengthen their commitment to purpose but will also increase their bottom line: 

“Firms with female CEOs and CFOs produce superior stock price performance, compared to the market average, and firms with a high gender diversity on their board of directors are more profitable and larger than firms with low gender diversity, according to a new study from S&P Global Market Intelligence.” — Korn Ferry Institute 

3 Ways to Close the Opportunity Gap

Unfortunately, finding women to fill these leadership roles isn’t as easy as it sounds due to the “broken rung” of opportunity. This phrase was recently introduced in a study from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. It represents the fact that many women aren’t being denied top management positions. Instead, they are missing out on the initial promotion opportunities to step up into management. Without this first step, there is no further opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. 

This year, as a founding signatory to the #WeTheChange declaration, I have committed to actively building a world where women are equally represented for a “radically inclusive and richly regenerative global economy.” Here are 3 ways that businesses – from a solopreneur to a billion-dollar corporation – can contribute to the conversation, close the opportunity gap for women, and be a positive force for change.

Pay Equity

In recent Congressional testimony provided by Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan CEO and Chair of the BRT, it was determined that Mr. Dimon received total compensation of $31.5 million in 2018 which is 1312 times the starting wage of a JP Morgan teller. Congresswoman Katie Porter attempted to create the tightest possible budget for a constituent living in her district and found it impossible to make this salary work with a monthly deficit of $567. This pay equity gap will add up to an average loss of $418,800 over a 40-year career for a 20-year-old woman starting to work full time this year according to the National Women’s Law Center. Closing the wage gap is about both leveling the playing field and a more robust economy with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research calculating that closing the wage gap would add $512.6 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

Sponsorship: Beyond Mentoring

I first experienced sponsorship when I started a new management position and soon realized that I was being paid 50% of one of my counterparts who had less experience. I rewrote my job description and advocated for myself, but it was the sponsorship of a male colleague in an executive management role that sealed the deal for my pay to be increased to equitable standings. 

Mentors provide encouragement and advice, using their own valuable experience to help their mentee discover opportunities, chart their own path, and avoid pitfalls. Sponsors go one step further and take action, helping to build social capital by introducing junior employees to their social network, going to bat for them in interviews, and creating opportunity for these leaders on the rise. Ellevate, another women-owned certified B Corp, is an excellent example of sponsorship in action with a powerful online network, peer group “squads,” and regional in-person events. Women and men in leadership must take on the responsibility for not only providing sage advice but championing the work and potential of women. 

Leadership Development: 70-20-10

Beyond actively seeking out sponsorship opportunities, businesses must invest in leadership development through coaching, ongoing education, and by simply giving women the reins to lead. Based on 30 years of research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, Bridgespan Group has designed the 70-20-10 leadership development model that posits leadership is learned by doing. The model calls for 70 percent of development to consist of on-the-job learning, supported by 20 percent coaching and mentoring and 10 percent classroom training. If women know that their leadership development is valued and will be rewarded, that broken rung will practically repair itself.

What’s Next?

We commend Jamie Dimon and BRT CEOs in recognizing that the U.S. economy needs to work for everyone.. Next up? Let’s walk the walk. Taking action by closing the wage gap, fostering sponsorships, designing 70-20-10 leadership development, and implementing inclusive workplace policies is good for business and will reshape the U.S. economy to create a durable prosperity for everyone. 

This blog was originally published on Thrive Global December 4, 2019.

The Wisdom of the Brain is Expanding

This post originally published on December 4, 2017 has been updated.

In July 2017, Judith Glaser’s seven-month Conversational Intelligence® program culminated with an in-person graduation event in New York City. Vista Global Coaching & Consulting joined over 200 coaches in New York plus hundreds of other participants live-streaming from across the globe.

As a group, participants spent the majority of the day in a brain simulation exercise to help us synthesize all seven modules through experiential learning.

Each table explored five parts of the brain.

    1. Heart brain
    2. Primitive brain
    3. Limbic
    4. Neocortex
    5. Prefrontal Cortex

The simulation provided us a deeper understanding of the nuances and patterns of each part of the brain, how they interact, network and integrate.

The importance of communication beyond mere words is not a recent discovery. In 1967, Albert Mehrabian isolated three elements that play a role in effective communication. In terms of importance, people allocate 55% to nonverbal behavior; 38% to tone of voice and just 7% to words. In another study conducted by Professor Uri Hasson at Princeton University, he found that successful communication was noted when the speaker and listener brains showed the same patterns of activation. Their brains were synchronized.

“Co-creating Conversations have the power to literally rewire our brains.” — Judith Glaser

The Five Brains

HEART BRAIN

The heart brain is the most basic of our wiring. It syncs like Wi-Fi. The heart brain has 89 nodes that blood goes through and it reads chemistry and other components necessary for health. It sends messages all over the body and brain. When the rhythm and timing of the heart is a smooth wave it sends calm messages. When it is erratic, you can’t send messages beyond what is immediately demanding your attention. If you slow down, breathe intentionally in and out, not only through your lungs but your heart, you are able to connect with other hearts neurochemically that are within 10 feet of you.

To connect to the heart brain in a positive way, as soon as you come in contact with someone, prime them for trust by saying hello, shaking their hand, send positive intentions their direction. This opens the brain up to the other person to synch with this positivity.

PRIMITIVE BRAIN

The primitive brain is the oldest brain, it is hardwired to sensor threats and protect us from harm to our body or ego. In .07 seconds our brain determines if someone is a friend or foe and acts accordingly. Whether you go into fight, flight,  freeze or appease mode, the primitive brain is only concerned about protection. You will not have access to any higher functioning thought when the primitive brain is activated.

Using the skill of “double clicking” supports the shift from the primitive brain. Words create worlds and if the primitive brain is activated in a conversation, there was a trigger word or nonverbal message. Use “double clicking” to ask, “what does that mean to you? Or “what was the meaning of that nonverbal expression?” It allows the primitive brain to move from fear and distrust to a place of curiosity, understanding to establish safety.

LIMBIC BRAIN

The limbic brain stores all of your emotional experiences. It is the part of the brain that deciphers, “where do I fit in”. It reads social context and scans for exclusion and inclusion in a community. It provides the emotional continuum for moving toward or away from others.

Using the skill of “listening to connect” is to not judge, confirm or reject but listen with a focus on the other person, not you. It is more than listening to understand, which is often to confirm what you already believe. By connecting to their emotional world, you will foster greater inclusion and exploration of a co-created path.

 © Benchmark Communications, Inc. and The CreatingWE® Institute. All rights reserved. 

NEOCORTEX

The neocortex is hardwired for language, storing information, basic thinking, reasoning and cognitive skills.  It holds our working memory and our stored memory. The brain has the capability for simultaneity, being in steady state and change at the same time.

To activate the neocortex, use the conversational skill of “asking questions for which you have no answers”. When you ask these types of questions, you are in a discovery mindset and the other person feels the curiosity. It puts the person in a more trusting and receptive state of mind. Together you create a conversational space for a completely new reality to emerge.

PREFRONTAL CORTEX

The youngest brain is the prefrontal cortex and often is called the “executive brain.” It is hardwired for the higher-level coordination of the whole brain. It provides us with mastery of more complex functions such as the ability to envision the future, create scenarios, step into someone else’s shoes, experience empathy, think strategically and make decisions.

The skill of “conversational agility” activates the prefrontal cortex.  If a conflict is brewing, the prefrontal cortex recognizes patterns. By using “reframe, refocus and redirect” it enables people to interrupt patterns, accessing new energy, for insight and wisdom to emerge.

In 2018, CreatingWe Institute, identified the sixth brain, the Gut-Brain that verifies the relationship in the intuitive saying of “go with your gut”.

GUT-BRAIN

The gut brain is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and how we think.  Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). It is a bidirectional relationship between your brain and your stomach. Stress is related to the lack of biodiversity in the gut flora. Ninety percent of the body’s serotonin is located in the EC [enterochromaffin] cells of the GI tract, where they regulate intestinal movements. Serotonin plays a key role in cognition, specifically in learning and memory.

Whole Brain Access

How often do you experience or witness your team being stuck in the primitive or limbic brain, not able to access the more expansive, creative and innovative areas of your neocortex and prefrontal cortex?

With just a few minor shifts in using Conversational Intelligence® tools, you can transform the level of trust and quality of your conversations which in turn can move you to the next level of greatness in your organization.

Interested in how C-IQ can help improve your leadership skills or your organization’s team? Contact Mary to set up a  customized workshop session and more.

Stay tuned for more C-IQ tips! This is part of a blog series on Conversational Intelligence® course by Judith E. Glaser. Check out related blogs such as “Asking Questions for Which You Have No Answers” and “Moving from Distrust to Trust.

Belonging is our birthright: Using Conversational Intelligence® to create radical inclusion

Over the last year, I have had an accelerated awakening of how to engage in the dismantling of the inequities in our society. As I write that statement, I feel a great sense of responsibility to move from learning to action.

As I mentioned in a recent blog, “How do we actually ‘Be the Change We want to See?’”, I recently completed certification in Conversational Intelligence®. This certification strengthened my understanding of the impact that words have in building or dismantling trust. One aspect of completion of the certification was a capstone project.

I challenged myself to explore how to use C-IQ tools and skills in the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) context.  Many of the C-IQ skills have built my capacity to act when I experience or witness microaggressions.  The greatest challenge when experiencing or witnessing a microaggression is to regulate our reaction so that we can educate and raise visibility about bias and move toward establishing equity.

Within .07 seconds of being 10 feet of someone(1), our brain is determining if this person is a friend or foe. If there is any indication of how the person looks, acts, speaks that seems unfamiliar, the amygdala in our brain pumps cortisol to protect us and we go to the primitive section of our brain. The primitive brain saved us from the lions when we were in the earliest stages of human development. Cortisol has a shelf-life of 26 hours(2), leaving a lasting impact on our perceptions.  This is how bias begins to form. We have the capacity to deprogram and unlearn our bias and Conversational Intelligence® provides these tools by examining the neuroscience and the impact words have on our experience.

​I recently attended the Racial Justice Summit hosted by the YWCA Madison with more than 800 participants to deepen my learning through workshops and presentations from nationally-known speakers, Climbing PoeTree and Annahid Dashtgard.

Climbing PoeTree was a powerful duo sharing spoken word, rap and poetry “as a tool to expose injustice, channel hope into vision and make a better future visible, immediate and irresistible.”

Annahid Dashtgard, a Toronto-based educator, led a session highlighting the framework of her recently published book, Breaking The Ocean: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion and Reconciliation.  She approaches EDI work from a lens of belonging:

“Belonging is our birthright. It straddles the individual and systemic levels of existence, toggling between the psychological truth that we are all the same and the political truth that we are divided by access to power.”

Dashtgard believes that we have to regain our wholeness internally before we can work toward changing systems externally. When we experience belonging, we are activating oxytocin and the parasympathetic nervous system which allow us to calm ourselves and shift the external environment. When we feel exclusion, we are in a state of vigilance, activating cortisol and our reactive nervous system.

As I processed Dashtgard’s challenge to the conference participants, I could delineate the C-IQ skills that support the process of building bridges of inclusion and belonging:

Making the Invisible Visible:  Bringing attention to the unseen dynamics and patterns in conversations, and engage in dialogue to shift these patterns.

Deconstructing Conversations: Examine what was said, how it was said and the impact it had on the receiver, in relation to the intention of the sender.

Co-regulation: Partnering to down-regulate cortisol and fear, and up-regulate oxytocin and trust. This skill builds a foundation of co-creating a new reality.

How do we begin? We begin from the basis that we are all the same in wanting to belong. Start with self and understanding: When do I feel like I belong? When do I feel excluded? Once you are able to identify the micro-signals of belonging and exclusion, you are building your social-emotional literacy to give words to your experience.  This gives you the ability to use Conversational Intelligence® skills to move from the personal experience to the institutional and systemic levels to reduce the barriers that create inequity.

The journey of transformation of our global society requires that each of us individually take steps to restore our individual wholeness and collectively shift the external environment. Together we can co-create a culture of belonging.

Together we can co-create a culture of belonging.
Let’s connect to chart our path toward this new reality.

(1) “Within .07 seconds of being 10 feet of someone, our brain is determining if this person is a friend or foe. ” — Page 103 of Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser
(2) “Cortisol has a shelf-life of 26 hours, leaving a lasting impact on our perceptions.” — Page 104 of Conversational Intelligence by Judith E. Glaser

2019 Champions Retreat Recap: How do we evolve capitalism?

A week ago, I returned from Los Angeles after three days of deep engagement at the B Corp Champions Retreat with 600 changemakers who are committed to building a globally inclusive and regenerative economy.

The opening plenary set the stage for a new awakening for me. The theme of the 2019 B Corp Champions Retreat was “Building Inclusive & Regenerative Economies”.

Lynn Johnson, emcee and CoFounder/CEO of Spotlight: Girls stated it in plain terms:

“What you do to the people, you do to the land. What you do to the land, you do to the people.”

I am familiar with the concept of “inclusive economies”. As shared in that opening plenary:

An INCLUSIVE Economy is one that creates opportunities for people of all backgrounds and experiences to live with dignity, support themselves and their families, and make a contribution to their local and national communities.

But the concept of “regenerative economies” was not something I really understood. As shared in the opening plenary:

A REGENERATIVE Economy takes sustainability to the next level. It is rooted in metrics and market structures that meet human needs through equitable access, distribution, fully-costed and priced services and goods, and delivers flourishing value for all within nature’s bounds.

Sustainability is no longer good enough. We are in a climate crisis and we are running out of time before the tipping point of no return. The final words of this definition are what were the awakening for me, “flourishing value for all within nature’s bounds.”  What you do to the land, you do to the people.

There were opportunities to learn from each other, share successes and challenge ourselves to examine our individual mindsets and practices.  Throughout the plenary sessions, there was the constant drumbeat from Mermans Mosengo of Playing for Change, connecting us to the pulse of the land like a heartbeat.

I challenged myself to build my understanding of regenerative economies and started with the opportunity to watch the feature film called The Biggest Little Farm, an award-winning documentary about Apricot Lane Farms, a regenerative organic and biodynamic farm just 40 miles from Los Angeles.  This really crystallized the mantra, “what you do to the land, you do to the people.”

In the keynote by Rose Marcario, CEO of Patagonia,  gave the call to action, “Capitalism needs to evolve, if humanity is to survive.”

How do we evolve capitalism?

As I sat in many different sessions, the theme that consumer behavior drives capitalism was a consistent underpinning.  The choices consumers make impact the marketplace. So what can we do individually and collectively?

  1. #VoteEveryDay is a campaign to give you, as the consumer, the power to evolve capitalism with your purchases. You have a voice and power beyond the ballot box. By buying from, working for and doing business with B Corps, you vote for what you believe in.  Every day is election day.
  2. Get informed. Just like I did with respect to regenerative economies. If we are in a state of unconscious incompetence, we don’t know what we don’t know and we can’t change our behavior.The first step is knowledge.
  3. Be a researcher for a day. Examine every daily practice that you have from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Then ask yourself, “what impact does this behavior have on marginalized people?” “What impact does this have on the land?” And then evaluate, “what can I change to reduce that impact?”
    — Here are a few quick examples of my own examination since I returned, “can I ride my bike instead of jumping in the car?” I am also saying no to paper and plastic bags by bringing my own.
  4. Connect to changemakers globally. All change starts at the individual level but the transformation of the global economy requires us to harness our individual action in a collective way.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet through a framework of 17 goals with targets to be achieved by 2030. Starting in January 2020, you can use the SDG Action Manager to take action, track progress and transform the world. What goal do you want to work towards?

I am committed to work towards SDG Goal #5 “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls.” As a woman leader of a certified B Corp, I have signed the global WeTheChange declaration. Any woman business owner or ally can sign this declaration. This is connecting my individual action to a global movement.

We can build an inclusive and regenerative global economy. If you need support getting started, let’s connect.