Season Three Wrap-up Episode
[00:00:53] Chris: Hi everyone. It's been a few months since we wrapped up Season Two of the EcoSend Podcast back at the end of summer, and here we are now a few months down the line, ready to wrap up Season Three as we apparently steamroll our way towards Christmas, at least according to all the mince pies I keep seeing in Sainsbury's. So welcome to another wrap up episode of the EcoSend podcast. My name is Chris. I'm the customer success lead here at EcoSend. 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. Today in the hot seat. I'm delighted to welcome back our host, James Gill, CEO, at EcoSend, to talk us through his learnings from both running the EcoSend podcast and from running EcoSend itself. James, it's great to have you. How are you doing this morning?
[00:01:46] Track 1: Hi, Chris. It is a pleasure to be here. I I very much enjoy being on, on this side of the the conversation. So thank you for putting this show together and looking forward to having a good chat today. Can't believe it's already been another series of the show, so yeah, looking forward to diving in and talking about lots today.
[00:02:04] chris: Amazing. So I think to, just to kick things off, looking back on the season past, we've been been really blessed with some great guests this season and a common theme, at least I found among them was this sense of deliberate alignment in their sense of purpose with their work. You know, we've had some examples like, Loïc Vandermeeren leaving pharmacy after 16 years to set up his business and this mission to eliminate single use delivery boxes. We had Russ, Russ Avery breaking into sustainability despite having no previous experience or qualification. But this concept of aligning purpose and career still feels like a, a breaking out of the general mold and somewhat of a moving away from the standard career path. I think we, we celebrate each time it happens as we should, but there's a sense this remains somewhat of a rare and challenging thing to actually go and do. So what do you think needs to change in order for purpose-driven work to become the standard rather than the outlier?
[00:03:07] Track 1: Yeah, it's, it's really good you pulled that out as a, a bit of a theme, Chris. I, I think that's actually really, really interesting to, to look at across, across the show and not just this series, but, but the whole show all, all three series so far, and I know, when we, when we talk about ourselves at EcoSend, increasingly we, we look at businesses being purpose-driven, and I think at the end of the day, those businesses are made up of people.
[00:03:34] And the, the purpose of the business, hopefully in, in many scenarios does align with the, the purpose of the, the individual and the, the founder. I think you know, in terms of what, what maybe needs to happen to do more of that? I think it is an interesting one because I guess it requires people to spend a bit of time thinking about purpose.
[00:03:53] And I, I think for a lot of, a lot of individuals, myself included for a long time, didn't really spend much time thinking about that. You know, there's too much stuff to do in the day, to think about that. Which, which sounds, you know, pretty, pretty crazy when you, when you look at that from the outside.
[00:04:10] But, I think a lot of people listening might think like, yeah, actually, if I really think about it, really ask myself, have I spent much time establishing if or if I have a purpose right now, or what, what, wherever I'm clear with myself with that, that that purpose. And, you know, it's fine if you, if you haven't, but I, I guess that's one starting point of like more people sort of thinking about that.
[00:04:35] And, and I think that's an increasing, it's increasingly well- known that like, that, that can, can really help you on a, in a lot of areas of your life. And and I, I think that's, that's certainly one, one piece. So I think I would start there and just say like, it's, it's not a given that, that everyone sort of has a clear purpose themselves and has necessarily given themselves much time to think about that.
[00:04:57] So trying to spend more time with yourself and thinking about these things and understanding yourself better, I think is a great place to start. It's certainly something I've tried to work on a lot and and clearly from a lot of the conversations with guests, like we've, a lot of, a lot of our guests have, have clearly gotten a, a lot of clarity for themselves over, over many years.
[00:05:15] And then, and then in terms of the business side, I guess there's this sort of a, a theme that keeps cropping up as well around being purpose-driven, doing something good, doing something for the planet, doing something for community. And this notion that or maybe hopefully an increasingly rear view mirror notion that that is at the expense of making profit and at the expense of growth and, and in reality not looking at sort of aligning your business with your personal purpose, being a, a detractor, but actually being an incredible competitive advantage.
[00:05:56] And and I think for, for you know, people who are clear about their own purpose in life and are looking at, at building a business to, to really not look at it as a detractor to just to, to look at it as a, as something that they can use really to help them win business, to help them grow. And I, I think we feel that ourselves, and I think we, we see that in a lot of the conversations in this, in this series.
[00:06:23] It's, it's that being purpose driven is the reason why some of these businesses that we've been speaking to have customers, the reason that customers choose them over businesses that are less clear on their values and their purpose. And, and I think increasingly we live in a world where people want to buy from passionate purpose-driven businesses that wear their, wear, their values on their sleeves. And want to shout out from the rooftops and, and almost putting in places sort of a movement in, in a lot of ways, businesses that are doing that and, and making the world a bit better are are far more attractive to, to buy from and be a customer of than a business that is less clear on that and maybe doesn't have such, such clarity and no purpose. So that would be, I think that would be my, my quick take on that, Chris, from all the conversations we've had so far on the show,
[00:07:16] chris: Yeah, amazing. My sense from that is that we need sort of a, a downstream and an upstream effect to make that switch for purpose driven work to become more prevalent. Where downstream you've got consumers demanding companies adhere to better sustainability standards and put climate, community at the top of, at the top of their agenda. And then upstream, a more perhaps individual, shift to look for, you know, what is my purpose? What do I want my, do I I want my career to be aligned with my purpose? How do I make that happen? And then with those two forces coming together in the middle, it will make that kind of cultural shift for purpose-driven work to become more prevalent.
[00:07:56] Track 1: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I, I think, I think it's gonna be a, a really, really exciting world as this, this happens more and more, and I know we, we, we've talked about it a lot where, you sort of have, well, we talked about this a lot really from the early days of when we started EcoSend, but like the charity sector doing the good stuff and business, doing the profit stuff, and, and that, that middle ground where businesses can both be turning a profit and building great products and, and growing, but also doing a huge amount of good in the world.
[00:08:32] And often there's a real beauty where those, those paths cross over. And, I feel like with the conversations we've had this series, the ever increasing growth of movements like the B Corp and the Better Business Network, the Good Business Charter, all of these things all coming together that are, are showing that businesses can do a lot to be, to be more than just profit making.
[00:08:58] At least the... maybe, maybe we're in the middle of it a lot, but if anything, it just seems to be more and more than the norm. And hopefully we get to a point where the default is to be a purpose-driven business that cares about a lot of things other than profit. And, and that just caring about profit and revenue is, is the dinosaur approach to running a business.
[00:09:20] chris: Amazing. I think speaking of, I guess general public awareness around all things climate and sustainability, I think this season we've welcomed a lot of new players in the sustainability space. We've had Robert and Anje from Dazzle platform, but we've also been really lucky to welcome a number of real veterans of the sustainability world.
[00:09:38] We've had some of the powerhouses, you know, Tim Frick, who's been, in the game as it were since 1998. Tom at Wholegrain Digital has been building sustainability websites for 15 years. Guests who literally write books on digital sustainability. But I feel that despite all that, our culture at large is still maybe quite naive about the carbon footprint of our online activity.
[00:10:01] We know that when we boil a kettle, there's an energy cost involved, but when it comes to the energy that's required to upload and store a TikTok video or you know, how much water gets consumed by all these giant data centers, I don't think generally people quite make the same connection. And, every day we have these billions of Google searches and emails and YouTube videos we watch, which all translates into billions of gallons of water just needed for cooling these data centers. And that in itself is just a corner of the footprint of our online activity, but these are things which most people seem generally quite unaware of. So why do you think it's taking so long to raise awareness in this space, and what do you think can be done about it?
[00:10:44] Track 1: Yeah. I'm really glad you, you raised this point, Chris, because, well, I mean, first and foremost, one of the things we care about a lot at EcoSend is this topic of digital sustainability. And I think this series in particular of the podcast has had digital sustainability running through it, as you mentioned.
[00:11:01] Yeah. You know, literally Tim, Tim from MightyBytes wrote the book on digital sustainability. And yeah, as you said, Tom and Marketa at Wholegrain a whole digital agency around more sustainable website design. We had François as a product manager, how, how we can be building more sustainable digital products. There's been been so many conversations we've been having around digital sustainability and, and that's been really, really quite reassuring in my eyes because when we started on the EcoSend journey, we knew very little about this and, and we were sort of thinking, is this actually a thing?
[00:11:41] Why, why are there not more people talking about this? When, if we look at the, the research that's been done about data about how energy consumption around the cloud and, and the online services we use, if this is real, then why are more people not talking about it? And it seems like there are more people talking about it.
[00:11:58] There are more than zero people talking about it. And there are some very, very serious and and dedicated people talking about it. And I think the number of people talking about it is in, is increasing and is growing since a year ago or so when we were starting out on this journey. But it still feels like the majority of conversations we have with people they're new to the idea. They, they, they have no idea that they don't even think about the, the, the climate consequences of our digital activities. And I think, I don't wanna be too harsh on anyone there, because I think we were in the same boat. It's so detached from... as you, as you said there, when you boil a kettle, you, you can see the steam, you can feel the heat, you can see that it has turned cold water into hot water, and there's a real chemical reaction kind of physical thing going on in front of your eyes, which must need energy, right?
[00:12:50] Whereas when you're using a computer, yeah, you know about the plug you put into the wall and you see that on your electricity bill. But, when you're interacting with a site, you're not seeing that electricity bill for TikTok or for YouTube. And you're not seeing that, that data center that is being built in a huge, unbelievably large field that is otherwise could be used for other things.
[00:13:15] And you're not seeing the water flowing through to cool the thing, and, and because it is so far removed. I think that is why it doesn't even come up in your conscious when you are, when you are, you are doing these activities. So I, I think, I think there's a lot of things we can be doing to change that.
[00:13:34] I think overall the web and our digital services provide, an unspeakably large amount of value to humankind. So I don't think the solution is shut the internet down. But I, I think we as with anything, being conscious about these things, having more awareness of these things, I think is, is only a good thing for, for humankind.
[00:13:55] And I, I think there is an education piece. There's a, an understanding piece which is really critical, both for people responsible for running a web service of some sort. But hopefully that that can have tremendous impact in itself. Because the decisions we make as people building online products and online services can influence millions, hundreds of millions, billions of people and their energy consumption and the consequences of what they're doing online.
[00:14:25] And then there's also an aspect of can we educate the end user? Can, can more consumers understand this piece too, and make different decisions about the services they use and choose to use the services that care more about this than others? And as we kind of go back to an earlier point, like that doesn't have to mean a sacrifice in terms of functionality or, or usage necessarily, but it, it can actually mean using services that often are more optimized and better.
[00:14:56] And so when we think about that from a, an email perspective, or when Tom and Marketa are designing websites. Or, or Tim Frick as well; helping people with their, their web design, François, helping people with their product management. A lot of these, these traits of building something to be more climate conscious from an online perspective, often translate also into better for conversion, faster to load easier to maintain and have all, all of these advantages all over the place.
[00:15:28] And so I think, again, it's, it's one of these things where doing something right for the planet is not, doesn't have to be a sacrifice. It doesn't have to be a okay, we've gotta do something good here, so we've gotta trade off all these other things. There probably will be a trade off maybe in terms of implementation, time, cost, or care.
[00:15:48] But I think as anyone building, building things for other people in the world putting a bit more care in is probably a good idea anyway. And, and the benefits that come with that are way, way outsized compared to that extra effort that's going in.
[00:16:06] chris: Yeah, it's a great point about Shifting that awareness that actually building a business centered around sustainability can make your business more profitable, more resilient, right? You think, again, using Tim Frick as the example, MightyBytes has existed for so many years and been through so many crises, right?
[00:16:23] The dot.com bubble, financial crash, covid, et cetera, and yet still be going strong, I think is testament to that. So what I find, I think maybe you're quite similar, that It's, it's tricky that you, you find yourself quite caught between a sense of real optimism when you see people out in the world doing these great things like the guests we have on the podcast.
[00:16:42] And yet, when you also see everything going on in the world day to day, you know, whether it's climate, whether it's conflict, it can also feel like the deck is really stacked against us. What do you do... or is there anything you have learned from our guests for staying motivated during, particularly during those challenging periods or challenging moments?
[00:17:05] Track 1: Yeah, it's, it's a really, a really interesting topic, which I think maybe spans beyond climate as well, Chris. And you know, trying to, to think about how you . , keep your chin up when running a, a business , I think anyone who's been in that position or, or really anyone who's worked in a business for a long time has faced that challenge.
[00:17:27] I, I think a lot, I I turn to other i aspects of life where I have similar sort of, I, I correlate similar things and I, I think a thing I, I have done a bit of over my time, well, more recently, in recent years, I, I've done more long distance running and I think a lot of running a business can be very much like that. Where if you set out to run the fastest one kilometer, you may be very pleased with that.
[00:17:57] But if you are running a 40 kilometer race, then that's not really gonna set you up very well. And if you get down after , if you get exhausted after the first two kilometers and can't do the third, then you're not really gonna make it to the 40th. And and I, I think there's a an all too overused analogy of marathon, not a sprint, but I, I think there are always gonna be peaks and troughs in, in the journey of building a business and, and doing anything worthwhile and meaningful.
[00:18:27] ' Because usually that's why you're doing it and you have, and it hasn't necessarily been done before. And I think you just have to, to keep telling yourself that the, you know, the, the peaks are maybe not always as high as they seem at the time and when you look back, but also the troughs and the low points are not as low as they seem at the time.
[00:18:46] And when you zoom out and look on a, a bit of a longer time horizon, you, you start to, to see things move out a bit and, and hopefully see a positive trend towards something truly, truly meaningful and impactful. And and I I also think there's a lot of stuff . It's a lot of stuff in the world that really sucks and it is really, really tough and really hard to to swallow.
[00:19:13] But I think a really quick route to burning out and getting exhausted is to try and fix everything. And to be quite clear about it kind of goes back to your earlier points around purpose to really be clearer about what you, yourself want to invest your, your energy and time solving and improving in the world.
[00:19:36] And, and have a bit of faith that there are other people that are gonna be putting their energy into solving some of those bits that maybe are beyond your control or, or outside of your, your remit. And I think there's, there's a lot of bad stuff in the world that is also as we've been finding increasingly on this show.
[00:19:53] An incredibly large number of really, really great people doing really, really wonderful, inspiring, motivating things. And we see that on the podcast. We see that with, you know, with Chris, you've been a big driver for us helping out in communities and, and volunteering and, and there's a lot of people out there that are doing a lot of good things and expecting nothing back for it.
[00:20:17] And I, I think that is an incredibly heartwarming thing to, to know and to keep reminding yourself when you're having tough times.
[00:20:26] chris: Yeah, absolutely. I think every time we've come away from one of those CSR days, whether it's, a food bank or a conservation... for anyone who doesn't, doesn't know CSR is 'corporate social responsibility' day. But yeah, seeing people who just give their time away to help, it's, yeah, it's really heartwarming each time.
[00:20:46] I think it's, that really helps. But as we as we hurdle towards the end of 2023 how are you feeling about 2024? Any particular hopes, concerns, goals as a whole year? I. Which will be soon upon us.
[00:21:01] Track 1: I, I, I am still trying to wrap my head around almost being at the end of 2023, Chris, because it has it has absolutely flown by. I feel very proud of what we've been doing in 2023. I think I still need to take a bit of time to, to reflect on, on the year and, and and appreciate the highs and the lows of the year and, and what's, what's been, what, what we've been up to as a team and all of the, all of the work we've been doing this year.
[00:21:32] But I think, I think going into the new year, 2024, I think there's definitely a few themes that have come out from, from the... if there's one theme from the podcast, this series that has really stood out to me, and it, it came up a little bit in the previous episodes too, it's around the concept of sustainability versus regenerative business. And we talk a lot about sustainability and I think a lot of the world has gotten onto the idea of sustainability finally. And building, building businesses that can last and building products that are more sustainable and doing things that are more sustainable. But the wider climate situation is not waiting around.
[00:22:25] We have as a species over the last sort of a hundred plus years, we've gotten ourselves in a bit of trouble here and we've got a lot of work to do to undo a lot of the bad stuff that's, that's happened climate wise. And every week, every month it seems like there's, there's news coming out that it is, it is a bad situation.
[00:22:50] I think 2023. Looking beyond, looking out the window and just seeing how things are changing around us and, and the pace at which weather events, climate is very different to how we think it should be. Normally, it, shows that the things are changing and, and not in a good way. And I think the quicker we collectively can start.
[00:23:21] that as a, altogether as a species rather than what are we doing as one company and one country quicker we're gonna be able to put things right. And I think, I think though a lot of it has to start with individuals and businesses doing the right things. Because I don't think we can wait around for, unfortunately, I don't think we can rate around for governments and, and politicians and certain bigger businesses to necessarily do the right things with their own back. And so I think this concept of regenerative business is something very much on my mind going into the new year, not can we sustain what we are doing, but can we do more than that?
[00:24:04] Can we be net in terms of our impact, far, far more impactful and, and doing far more good than what we are taking from the world. Can we put back more than we are taking? And can we do that at a faster and faster rate? Because we've got to undo and we've got to then get back onto a, an even keel.
[00:24:26] And and we got, we got a hundred plus years of undoing to do. So I, I am definitely thinking about that a lot. And I think it, it means there's no ceiling to the amount of good a company can do. There's no too much good we, we can do. And so I, I really, I really thinking about that a lot. And I think that's, that's what comes to my mind at the moment.
[00:24:46] And maybe more thoughts will come as we dive deeper and reflect even more deeply on, on the, the year we've just had.
[00:24:54] chris: Yeah, I think that idea of regenerative business is really exciting and the more momentum that picks up as a movement, I think is something to really look forward to in 2024. And as you say, so much of that comes down to individuals and individual responsibility and the choices you make in terms of the products you buy or the companies you choose to work with.
[00:25:17] So the more groundswell we have on that, I think yeah, it's, it gives us hope and it's something really actually quite exciting for, for the year to come.
[00:25:25] Track 1: Absolutely. Chris
[00:25:26] chris: Start rounding things off, James, time's been flying past. If if you had to pick out one lesson from a guest you've, you've had the season that really, really stood out for you, what would it be or who would it be?
[00:25:39] Track 1: Yeah, it's, it's a, it is a very good question, Chris. It's a real , it's a real difficult one to answer because . I think if I look at every single episode we've done, I, you know, we started back with Raoul from Tyve about payroll giving. had Tom and Marketa at Wholegrain, who I've wanted to talk to for a long time.
[00:25:58] We, we had Tom from Manifesto who was over in India when we, I think we were, when we were speaking to him. We, we just had so many people like, you know, we've already mentioned Tim Frick. We had Richard Dixon, Anje, and Robert. We had Russ Avery more recently but I think re Rebecca's episode, it was one of the later ones.
[00:26:21] But it was so practical in terms of what we talked about. Now, anyone who hasn't seen, seen or, or heard that episode, Rebecca runs a business called Tentshare. It's all about trying to encourage people to, to not buy a buy a new tent when they go to a festival or go camping, to actually go to Tentshare and see if they can borrow someone else's tent.
[00:26:45] And to have a little bit more of a marketplace where people rent out and, and lease lease tents from each other. And instead of making new tents, you're reusing and they can be repaired, mended and cleaned and, and reused many, many, many times. And it was . , Rebecca's approach both to that business and to her own way of living was just so, it was so refreshing.
[00:27:11] And, and I think one of the things she mentioned in there was nature has a Marketing budget of zero which was a, an incredibly hard hitting , obvious fact . But, you know, we are bombarded every hour of our lives with some sort of push or marketing push or ad to try and get us to buy something, usually a physical product of some sort that we almost certainly don't need in our lives.
[00:27:39] And I, I think re what Rebecca taught me was that there is, there is immense joy you can find in reusing things and re getting more use out of you already own or have already been owned by someone else. And. . I think often society looks down upon buying secondhand items or items in charity stores or buying, you know, hand me downs.
[00:28:09] Like these are all like negative connotations. But I think Rebecca taught me that there's, there's immense joy you can find from, from putting new life into a, a product that's previously been owned and, and used and, and often can add tremendous value and, and beauty to a product when, you know it's had a previous life.
[00:28:29] And and I I, I think that's, you know, that's a small but very, very impactful thought and I think, you know, more of us thinking like that would be a tremendously wonderful thing.
[00:28:42] chris: I love that. Lovely way to round off the episode, James. Thank you. It's, it's been a pleasure. Thank you again for, for coming on the podcast. Just a quick reminder, where, where can people find you these days? Where are you hanging out online?
[00:28:53] Track 1: Yeah. Thank you, Chris. No, well thank you for, for putting this episode together. It's wonderful to, to be on the other side. And I, I think your questions here have, have been really, really great to wrap up just a a fantastic series. Again, it's always an honor to be speaking with the guests we have on the show and for those who don't know as well, Chris is behind the scenes every episode, editing everything together. So Chris, I'm always thrilled and you can get in front of the camera as well. And but yeah, in terms of finding, finding more and, and hearing more from us I. Obviously the EcoSend site is a great place to, to see what we're, we're, we're doing and thinking about.
[00:29:28] We always share a lot of the, Chris mentioned the, the CSR activities. We share those on there and, and all, all sorts. And we we're also very active on YouTube with the EcoSend YouTube account. And for me, I, I, I guess I've been increasingly using LinkedIn. And and threads, if you wanna follow me there James Gill on Threads.
[00:29:49] But yeah, honestly, just, just if you do one thing, follow, follow us on, on YouTube and check out the site. And we look forward to bringing you many more wonderful stories in the new year!
[00:30:00] chris: Thank you James, and thanks everyone as always for tuning in especially to this special edition episode. This is not the end. We will be back with season four of the EcoSend podcast with we've got many more fantastic guests already lined up to, to share their wisdom, you know, their stories about building better businesses and making the world a better place.
[00:30:19] So we'll look forward to seeing you there. Thank you again for your time, James.
[00:30:23] Track 1: Cheers, Chris. Pleasure.