S4E11 'Wrapping-up Season Four', with James & Chris 🎁4️⃣


[00:00:00] Chris W: Welcome to the Ecosend podcast. Stories from marketers, founders, and changemakers leading businesses for a better world.

[00:00:27] The first quarter of the year has really whipped past and along with it, our fourth season of the Ecosend podcast. We've had some of my favorite guests of the show so far, ranging from CEOs to marketers, designers, all working really hard to put the environment and their values at the center of their business.

[00:00:46] And despite all the craziness going on in the world, it's been very encouraging to know there are so many people out there doing their best to make a difference. And so I'm delighted to invite James for a special wrap up episode of the Gesend podcast. And a chance to reflect on our guests and lessons learned across the fourth season.

[00:01:05] If you happen to be tuning in for the first time, the Ecosend podcast is a platform where we interview founders, marketers, and leaders in sustainability who are creating more climate and community focused businesses. My name is Chris. I'm the customer success lead here at Ecosend. And today in a hot seat, I'm delighted to welcome back James, our host and CEO at Ecosend to talk us through his learnings, both from running the Ecosend podcast and from running Ecosend itself.

[00:01:33] James, great to have you here. How are you doing today?

[00:01:36] James Gill: Hi, Chris. Pleasure to be here. Uh, yeah, no, amazing. I can't, I can't believe I've already done another series of the podcast. It's flown by. So yeah, excited to talk about it all and share, uh, all of our learnings from this, this season. It's been a great one.

[00:01:52] Yeah. All

[00:01:53] Chris W: right, let's, uh, let's jump straight in. I think one thing that's really inspired me from all our guests this season. And I'm thinking in particular guests like Julian and Cecile and uh, Magali. Is this deliberate refusal to work with companies who don't align with their values and missions? Um that can involve outlining in their mission statement on their website which kinds of companies they will or won't work with Um, or even point blank refusing to work with companies Even if those companies have big budgets and reach out directly Um, I think it was Magalie who refused, uh, LVMH after they sought out her services.

[00:02:31] Um, one particular quote, I think from her was I refuse to work with shit companies. So, um,

[00:02:39] James Gill: but it doesn't be around the bush, but

[00:02:44] Chris W: it does take a lot of bravery and accountability to refuse work like that. And particularly when it does come from big brands with big budgets and yet it's exactly the kind of.

[00:02:55] real world action that we need in order to create necessary change at scale. So, uh, for our first question, what, what do you think can be done so that, uh, the examples like our podcast guests become the norm rather than the outlier?

[00:03:11] James Gill: Yeah, it's a, it's a great question actually, Chris. And, uh, you know, it's, it's something that's very easy for people to say they want to do, you know, you start a business and you talk about how you want to only service certain clients, but.

[00:03:25] I think very few people and businesses actually can successfully hold their ground when there's real money on the table and real, real business to, to be done. And, you know, hearing about the, yeah, Magali sort of turning away one of the biggest brands and businesses and in the world is, um, incredibly set kind of sets the bar for that kind of attitude.

[00:03:50] And, uh, I think, I think it's a very difficult thing in this. In this climate, you know, when you turn on the news or read about how many businesses are struggling, uh, in the wider climate and economy, uh, at least in the UK and around the world, like a lot of businesses are struggling to get. to get customers to earn enough to keep the lights on.

[00:04:15] So to have this kind of approach, um, it's, it's certainly not for every business, I think. And, um, uh, and it's certainly something that, that requires a huge amount of clarity in one's own strength and, uh, in one's own values and purpose. And so I think, I think with something like this, um, It's, it's, I think one thing I would say is not to judge a business that, that doesn't have this approach because it is a, a world that, you know, everyone's got their own, their own needs and their own, um, problems to try and, uh, uh, uh, get, get through and solve.

[00:05:01] But I think it is certainly an aspirational. Thing for for many founders and something that I am excited to see more and more people seemingly being able to achieve this kind of decision or with whether or not to serve certain businesses. And I, I think I think it starts with being very clear on one's own personal values.

[00:05:24] Um, you know, when you start a business, or maybe even before you start a business, having clarity on one's own personal values and priorities is a really. A really easy thing to say but very few people have that that clarity really with themselves and you know I know for me i'm always working on trying to establish like do I have those clear enough for myself?

[00:05:49] um, but then obviously those values tend to Be inherited by the company if you're a founder your Values tend to be inherited by the company and the team you build around you And so I think it's important to start with your own and then the business You values and priorities can often come from that.

[00:06:08] Um, and then I, I also think that, uh, being in demand, like Magalie is LVMH approaching her to do some work, fundamentally, like you don't get that kind of opportunity unless you're doing really, really good work. And so I think for For any business, it's, you know, beyond just talking about climate and values, it's like, do the best work you possibly can.

[00:06:34] That usually involves doing work that you thoroughly enjoy doing. And so if you can find that sweet spot of being clear on your own values, starting a business, doing work that you truly believe in and are passionate about, Um, and, and from that, start doing work that people want to, to buy or, you know, running a business people want to buy from.

[00:06:58] Then you can kind of earn that, that right to decide whether or not certain businesses meet that, those criteria. But I think it's a, it's a very hard position to put oneself in. Um, but what a wonderful place it is. If you can get to that point, um, in the current, very challenging economic climate, a lot of businesses face.

[00:07:21] Um, and I think it's certainly something that a lot of businesses aspire to do. And when you look at things like the B Corp, um, uh, mark that, that businesses, um, Work towards achieving a lot of that is about which kinds of companies you want to do business with and which you don't and You know, it's becoming more and more of a a clear cut thing there are certain businesses that probably you want to try and stay clear of if you want to Truly be a business that upholds those values.

[00:07:53] So yeah, it's not an easy thing But I I think anyone trying to get on that path I'm I have huge huge respect for because it's It sure as heck isn't an easy one.

[00:08:03] Chris W: Yeah. I love that sort of starting from personal values and moving out from there. Um, it's supposing the theme of, uh, economic challenge and how that interplays with sustainability.

[00:08:17] I think another theme I really noticed in this season is a lot of innovation in the face of challenge and a lot of. Sort of outside of the box thinking i'm thinking in particular Like dirk seeing the challenges of fast fashion and as a result creating his t shirts out of seaweed um who would have thought or maybe like Karina who saw the extent of wastage in the event industry And as a result totally redesigned her business to tackle that issue head on Um, but yeah, it still feels like the general cultural focus isn't directed towards innovation, but rather towards business as usual.

[00:08:57] Um, which is the exact opposite of what we need, because if we maintain the status quo, we maintain our current trajectory, which as we know is not all is not headed in a good direction. So what do you think needs to happen for that cultural shift? So the default becomes innovation and addressing the climate challenge rather than having this small minority of dedicated individuals, um, kind of doing it by themselves.

[00:09:25] James Gill: Yeah. I think this is a, such an interesting topic to talk about. Um, because I think there's There's, there's definitely a lot of, a growing, a hugely growing number of businesses that put climate and sustainability and, and other great things above, or at least at a similar level to profit, but then there's also the vast majority of businesses in the world that, that still Don't and the profit is king or revenue is king and um, And everything else is secondary and I I don't know I I'd like to think of myself as a bit of an optimist, but I I think that there's so much opportunity from a business perspective for those founders and entrepreneurs and Individuals that want to go and start or work at businesses that are putting something above profit.

[00:10:21] There's so much uh You innovation to, to come still. And that those, um, some may see them as constraints, but those constraints can breed the creativity that transforms, um, industries. Uh, and I, I think there's a few, a few things around this. I, I think, One, like, certainly just more, the more people are talking about values and especially around sustainability within the business world, that talk is not a bad thing.

[00:10:59] I think sometimes it's like, let's talk more action, but the, the talking is a really important part because if people don't feel like they can talk about stuff or if it's not spoken about at all, then where, where does that change come from? So I think having. More confidence, uh, in speaking up about these things because we're all, if we're trying to build a business, we're trying to build it on planet earth.

[00:11:22] Almost certainly. And, uh, other than a few, maybe, but most of us are definitely trying to build a business on planet earth. So making that starting businesses that at least acknowledge that planet earth is in a bit of trouble right now is probably a good idea. Um, so I think there's a lot of communities all around the world popping it up that our business leaders talking about this stuff, podcasts, all sorts of stuff that care about this stuff.

[00:11:47] So I think that's a, that's a big thing. Um, I think to your earlier, your previous question and point, like seeing more businesses refuse to work with, um, say companies that are still stuck in old ways and, uh, you know, making it clear that I'm not going to do great work for you because I don't want to work with a business like you, kind of starts maybe shifting some of that power balance and maybe does start sending shockwaves.

[00:12:15] Um, I, I also think that like, even if people don't want to build businesses that care about the climate and, uh, about the planet, there's an element of like regulation starting to come in, at least in Europe and in other parts of the world, that is forcing bigger businesses to start, uh, caring about this stuff.

[00:12:34] So there's an element of that as well, which is like pushing, I think, in the right direction. I'm not usually a big fan of bureaucracy and regulation, but regulation that pushes companies to care, especially at a bigger scale, is, I think, generally, you know, that's a good thing. Um, I would also just say as well, for those who are like really, really cynical and skeptical about climate and why, why we should care about that as a business.

[00:13:02] I'm not sure many of those people are necessarily listening to this podcast, but, um, but if they are, or if there are sort of team members that don't care, then it's, it's to try and find those things that people do care about within the business and that the sustainability side can positively influence.

[00:13:20] And I think, Really, today, like, actually, it's not really so much of a trade off, like, we're gonna do something better for the planet, and that's gonna cost us more money, or that's gonna cause us to lose potential revenue and profit. There are so many business opportunities from caring about the planet, whether it's cutting costs within a, a business that owns a fleet of vans, or has to run huge warehouses, like thinking about how renewable energy might save you money over time, and therefore cut costs, thinking about how consumers want to buy things and the messaging that can appeal to consumers, and how many consumers actively want to seek out brands and companies that care about this stuff.

[00:14:05] There are so many business opportunities for profit. revenue growth and cost cutting that, you know, even if someone doesn't care about the planet, there's a very viable financial and economical case often that can be sold. So, you know, if that's what gets someone to do the right thing, then the thing that matters is them doing the right thing, not so much why.

[00:14:26] So I think there's a bunch of aspects there that, uh, Hopefully help us push in the right direction one way or another.

[00:14:33] Chris W: I love that I think I think it was maddie cooper who was talking about Sustainability sustainability has to talk the language of money or has to talk the language corporations, which is the language of money and Yeah, that's the way to get in the door and to for a lot of for a lot of companies where sustainability Maybe isn't the number one thing they think of it's the bottom line, but you're presenting.

[00:14:56] Yeah The business case for sustainability. Um, yeah, I love that. Um, and then I guess a similar theme of of bringing sustainability and values into the company. I know one of the major transitions we've been going through ourselves at EcoSend is. Um, our application towards becoming a B Corp, uh, B corporation.

[00:15:15] Uh, for everyone who's not familiar to become B Corp certified, companies have to reach a minimum score, uh, of 80, I believe from an assessment of various social environmental, uh, performance, uh, criteria. So, uh, from. This process we're going through at EcoSend, what lessons, main lessons have you taken from that so far?

[00:15:37] James Gill: Yeah, I, I, it's, it's, it's interesting bringing up the B Corp process, because, you know, I think we've been running the wider business of Ghost Grad for many, many years, and We haven't always loved the idea of filling in forms, um, but, uh, you know, when anyone starts a business, you don't necessarily get up and excited for filling in forms, but I think, I certainly look at B Corp as something very different to a bunch of form filling, um, when you look at the businesses who are B Corp today, and that is a rapidly growing number, like B Corp has been going from this sort of niche thing that very few people kind of knew about to seemingly appearing on many of the products and packaging, even office windows that I, um, see every day.

[00:16:23] Um, I look at those brands and I, I immediately I see that logo and I, I get a much more warm and fuzzy feeling about that brand because I know what they've been through to achieve it. And, um, And I think there's a lot of respect about B Corp as a, an initiative because it's kind of, um, hopefully it can retain this very trusted status, which is a shortcut for consumers to make better choices in the products and services they, they buy.

[00:16:57] Um, for, for us, uh, I think we would be totally doing ourselves a disservice if we sort of saw this as a box ticking exercise that we just need to get through to get that logo. Like, that is, that is, you know, absolutely not the spirit of doing this. And I think, you know, I'm sure many, I'm sure many companies may start on that journey to think about it and hope that that's the way they can do it.

[00:17:22] But I think they very quickly realize it's a lot harder than that and might lose that status if that's their mentality. So I think for, for us, um, It's certainly helped, for me, solidify a lot of values we already sort of have as a company and given a lot more of a concrete kind of framework to assess where we maybe already do the right things and just kind of clarify that a bit, but also to draw attention to areas where we probably didn't have so much, um, clarity of what, what would good look like.

[00:18:01] Um, and you know, it gets really deep on some things like, you know, pushing us to have conversations with various stakeholders in the business we wouldn't normally talk to about these matters, um, pushing us to set in stone, certain fundamental paperwork we have in the business that, um, kind of the business is built on.

[00:18:21] And so I think it's been, um, A really good opportunity to clarify a lot of things there, um, and shed some light on areas we overlooked perhaps. Um, and I think, you know, longer term for B Corp, um, well I'm, I'm very much hopeful that we can, we can achieve our B Corp status this year. Um, but that, I really hope that we get to a point over time where.

[00:18:50] Being a B Corp is kind of the norm. And, and you know, if you're not a B Corp, then what's, what's going on there? Like, why, why are you not a B Corp? Especially at a certain scale, like, shouldn't all businesses care about the people that they, they employ the planet that they operate on the way they are governed, like, shouldn't they care about a broader set of things?

[00:19:15] So I think it's a fantastic framework and movement. I think the more companies joining and being part of it, that truly change to or improve and use it as a framework for how to do business. I'm excited for that becoming more and more the norm and Yeah, I can't wait for us to be part of that that movement ourselves.

[00:19:37] That's amazing Yeah, I love

[00:19:39] Chris W: how I think it's every three years you have to re reassess or recomplete the b corp certification. I believe so.

[00:19:45] James Gill: Yeah

[00:19:45] Chris W: Yeah, not something that companies can Make a big push for one year sweep some things under the carpet and get the get the badge and kind of move on It's something that's an ongoing Ongoing assessment essentially to make sure they hold true to those values over a prolonged period of time

[00:20:01] James Gill: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:20:02] I think it's um, I don't know, if Ecosend was a restaurant we would probably be aiming to uh, get a Michelin star at some point and I think it's a bit like that. You gotta, you don't just win your Michelin star, you gotta keep your, keep your standards high and then you might, you might earn the right to keep that Michelin star and I think it's just like that with B Corp.

[00:20:24] Um, and, and you know, I, I think it's uh, uh, critical that, that. B Corp logo that B in a circle is trusted by consumers because if that trust erodes then I think it would set back not just the B Corp movement, but the movement of like consumer trust in brands doing a good thing, um, in a big way. So yeah, I, I think, you know, that's why we want to, well, we, we take it very, very seriously as I, as I know the vast majority of businesses do as well.

[00:20:57] So, um, yeah, we're excited to. To get, get through and um, hopefully earn, earn our place in the, the hall of B Corp fame, uh, soon.

[00:21:06] Chris W: Let's

[00:21:07] James Gill: do the

[00:21:07] Chris W: kitchen analogy, just Trying to think who's gordon ramsey within the company Don't look at me chris

[00:21:19] So I guess we're one year we're one sorry one quarter into the year There's still plenty to kind of play for for the rest of 2024 And imagine we'll have a wrap up episode Somewhere towards the end of the year. What would you like to happen between now and the end of 22 and the end of 2024? to consider this year a success?

[00:21:43] James Gill: Yeah, I think, um, you know, I, sometimes I'm a bit rubbish on estimating timeframes, but I, I think a lot of what we were just talking about with B Corp, um, would, I would really like to see playing out within the, within the industry. And, uh, I would really like to see, I think there's still, especially for software companies and tech companies, very few.

[00:22:07] that even acknowledge any existence of this concept of digital sustainability. Like, it's extremely few and far between the number of companies in the tech world that actually care about climate and sustainability. To the point where you could be forgiven for thinking there's no, there's no, there's no such thing as having a carbon footprint as a digital business.

[00:22:31] And that just simply isn't true. And so I, I really. I think we will have done a good job this year if we can encourage more tech businesses, uh, digital businesses to be aware of this and have some sort of viewpoint on this. I'm not saying everyone needs to be perfect by the end of the year, but I think growing the awareness of that, uh, is something we have a real opportunity to make a dent in.

[00:22:59] Um, and, and to be honest, going back to some of those earlier points we were talking about, um, Every business operates, again, almost every business operates on planet Earth. And we really, really should all have some sort of comment or viewpoint on what we're doing about that and whether we're okay with how the state of the planet is.

[00:23:25] I would really like to see more businesses sharing their views on that and making that part of their their kind of ethos. Um, and I, I, I think, uh, I think that's part of the whole discussion and, and vocalizing things and, and talking about, uh, climate that is so important because the more people talking about it, uh, voicing it, especially in the world of business, uh, the less of a, uh, weird or odd thing it is to, to be discussing.

[00:23:55] So I think that's, that's a big thing. And from that stems More and more knowledge and education because when you start talking about things You start making mistakes and you start learning and you start gradually Educating yourself your team on these matters and that's the journey We've been on like when we started EcoSend we knew an absolute fraction of what we know today And we still absolutely do not know at all.

[00:24:25] No one knows at all. Um, but we're still, you know, on a huge journey here for our own education and learning. And, um, it's overcoming that fear of talking about climate and saying the wrong thing, which is a big, a big deal. Um, I also think for us, we have a huge opportunity. Because of, uh, the number of customers we work with who are, well, they're using Ecosend, they're usually marketing professionals.

[00:24:53] I think marketers have this very unique, um, position, perhaps opportunity, perhaps responsibility for, uh, how they communicate, communicate about climate. Um, there is this sort of, I would say almost like a balance of like, uh, one end you've got greenwashing and, you know, saying you're. Eco friendly because you make your plastic bottles with a green label and recycle, like, 20 percent of the plastic label that's on that label and hey, we're doing a great job.

[00:25:26] And on the other side, you've got companies that truly want to do the right thing and are doing the right thing but are so afraid to say anything that they're kind of the green hushing, which is a topic we've heard on the podcast quite a few times. Um, and I think for marketers, there's this, there's this huge pressure in a, in a lot of companies to, to figure out the balance on that line.

[00:25:49] And on one side, they've got people demanding, um, you know, maybe a boss that's demanding, sell more, sell more, sell more, and other parts of the company demanding that they have a climate message. Other parts of business that are very financially driven, um, consumers wanting something else and responding to certain messaging.

[00:26:09] And threading a very difficult. thread of, of how to communicate about climate, uh, matters and sustainability and, um, I think we have an opportunity to bring more of those people together to have more conversations to share more of what we're learning and learn from great community of people about how to do this well and how to handle some of those difficult conversations that often happen internally.

[00:26:41] Um, because I truly believe most people want to do the right thing, but, um, sometimes the incentives and needs within a business are changing rapidly are conflicting within a company. And, um, when a brand gets called out for something, um, that can make that, that can be a really big, that, that can be a really big problem.

[00:27:09] Um, but also there's some great brands doing some great work that are truly doing brilliant things that need to be held up high as great aspirational brands that we could all look to for inspiration. So. I think, um, I would love to see the level of knowledge about climate. Within the marketing world, just continue to grow and grow and grow because I think as a whole population we will benefit from that and marketing does not have to be this evil force that is forcing people to buy more stuff, buy more stuff that they don't need, it can help people make better decisions, it can B it can be helping to drive the change.

[00:27:51] We need to see

[00:27:52] Chris W: yeah, I love that I think it's saying something one of our previous podcast guests claudia From conscious marketing movement. We're talking about a lot of how marketing doesn't have to be this um Manipulation of and fear based tactics of making people feel insecure and selling them products as a result marketing can really be a force of Good in the sustainability space with kind of spreading awareness and yeah sort of more conscious, uh marketing Absolutely.

[00:28:23] Yeah james wrapping up as always I think was uh, my favorite question If you if you had to pick out one lesson from one guest in particular that really stood out for you this season Uh, what would it be?

[00:28:37] James Gill: They're, I mean, it's always incredibly difficult. We've had, what is it, 10 episodes and 10 fantastic guests. Uh, I can't believe, like, this series where we had Dirk talking about seaweed t shirts, like, that was an eye opener. Um, we had Karina opening my eyes to the world of Events and how much like when you go to a conference, how much stuff is just bought for that conference and chucked away after, um, we had Maddy making some serious changes in the wider business world, which is often much more slow moving and seeing something like someone like Maddy championing change, uh, was incredibly inspiring.

[00:29:19] Um, I think my. If I had to pick someone, I, I would say one of my, one of the ones I enjoyed the most, one of the episodes I enjoyed the most because I, I think I almost sp my tea out with laughter was, uh, was Julian, um, who really brought such a fun energy to, to the topic of sustainability. And I think the, the single best thing I took from his episode was just that you can't bore people into making change and you can't.

[00:29:48] Make people, like, telling people off is not really a great way to inspire change in the world. And I think Julian gave the example of, like, Thrift Shop. The song being, uh, a great Yeah, yeah, a little bit of a re edition, which I'm not going to attempt. Uh, but, uh, but, you know, it That, that song being, like, One of the best adverts for buying used clothing, like, being enjoyable, being fun, being entertaining, making it cool.

[00:30:21] Like, that, that is what we need to get to, like, changing the world by telling people off and punishing them or making them feel bad. is not going to get us very far. Making inspiring consumers, giving them something to get excited about by making different choices, I think is, is a very optimistic and positive way forward.

[00:30:46] And I would love to, to, I keep thinking about Julian's advice in that episode because I think, well, it makes me happy. And I hope we, we can all do a bit more of that over, over the coming weeks. I think it was definitely my

[00:30:59] Chris W: favorite episode as well. And what was he saying about, uh, You can't convince people to, um, to buy more sustainable clothes by telling them in order to be more sustainable, you have to buy less clothes and look like shit.

[00:31:17] Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. James, been a pleasure. Thank you so much as always for coming on the podcast for our wrap up episode. Where can people find you to keep in touch with what you're up to?

[00:31:33] James Gill: Thank you, Chris. Always a pleasure. I always love being a guest on the show. It's, it's, it's great. We should do this more.

[00:31:38] We should do this more. Um, uh, honestly, if you want to follow the journey, just head to the Ecosend website. Um, There's a lot of me on there if you're interested, but there's a lot of all of us and what we're doing from our CSR days to the podcast, um, to what we're working on, on the EcoSend platform as well.

[00:31:59] So that's probably one of the best places, but tap in James Gill on LinkedIn if you want to follow me on there. Um, and all the other channels, uh, yeah, you can find me around the web, but, uh, yeah, check us out on EcoSend. And, uh, we'd love to have you as part of our team. our wonderful community that's growing and uh, hopefully making the world a little bit better.

[00:32:18] Thanks James

[00:32:19] Chris W: and thank you to everyone for tuning in to this special edition episode. We all look forward to being back with season five of the ecosystem podcast. We've got a lot of fantastic guests already lined up to share their wisdom and their stories about building better businesses and making the world a better place.

[00:32:35] So we'll look forward to seeing you there. Thanks again, James. Cheers, Chris. See you soon.

Creators and Guests

Chris W
Chris W
Customer Success Lead at GoSquared/EcoSend
S4E11 'Wrapping-up Season Four', with James & Chris 🎁4️⃣
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