Welcome to another episode of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and ask brief answers in return. Today’s guest is vice president for business and social purpose at the PR behemoth Edelman, but has written for GreenBiz, Forbes, and the Wall Street Journal on CSR and sustainability issues for years. Remember, “10 Words” is an ethic, not a limit, so to those of you at home, please, no counting. If you think it’s so easy, let’s see you do it on the fly.
Name Aman Singh
Born when, where New Delhi, India, Sept. 15.
The year? "Earlier in the decade of the gas leak in Bhopal."
Anything notable about the circumstances? "At that time, parents did not find out the sex of their child. My parents wanted a boy, had a boy’s name picked out, but they had a girl and stuck with the name."
How's that working for you? "I think it empowered me. My name in Punjabi, which is my native language, means peace. I’m quite the contrarian, but they had the right thought in mind."
Where do you live? "New Jersey."
Family circumstance "I’m happily married to a car geek, also from my hometown Delhi, and we have a 14-month-old son."
When did you move to the US? "2003."
An early influence outside your immediate family "A TV journalist in india, Barkha Dutt. She was one of the first women journalists to really emerge on the broadcast scene and report on hard issues like war."
First paying job "A small website in New Delhi focused on investigative journalism. I was just out of high school, waiting to hear back from my college choices, and I knew I wanted to do journalism but wasn’t really sure what that would involve. I was their first beat reporter, covering one the many political parties in New Delhi."
Wisdom you retain from that job "Boldness to ask the question regardless of how silly you might think that is."
How do you define sustainability? "It’s the whole story of a business, or an individual, from how you make your money to how you spend it, and everything in between."
A way you make the world more sustainable "Before I joined Edelman, my part was reporting on these topics. Now I use the same skills to be more strategic, leveraging the access a place like Edelman has to change firms from within."
A way you make your life more sustainable "Having a 14-month-old son has definitely brought hardcore lessons of sustainability home like nothing ever before. I realized that essentially, everything they tell you not to eat or do when you’re pregnant, you should be doing every day, because that’s the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life."
Something you’re skeptical about "Business and business leaders’ willingness to change."
Three tips for social engagement "Be interested in engaging, and not talking to someone. Think of it as relationship building and not a loudspeaker. Be clear of what you want on social media."
An underrated social network "Twitter."
How can such a widespread network be underrated? "Because not a lot of the communicators and marketing folks and business leaders are using social media for everything it offers — for benchmarking, for keeping a pulse on their audience, for building relationships that were just not possible even five years ago."
The social network you’ve over already "I don’t care much yet for Pinterest. I agree visuals are the way to tell a story easily and much more effectively, but I just don’t know if pinning things on a board is really worth our time."
Someone who deserves more attention "I think some of the reporters who are doing the heavy lifting on the CSR and sustainability sectors, because they’re a minority."
Can you give me a name? "Nick Aster and gang at Triple Pundit. They definitely deserve credit for doing it as long as they have been. Also the team behind Solutions Journalism has the right idea. They’ll need support."
Can one be a great voice for sustainability and CSR if her or his company isn’t making healthful products? "If, at the heart of the company, you’re producing something that’s not sustainable, then everything else falls flat."
What don’t people understand? "“What CSR and sustainability means, enough to equate it to every single decision they make, whether it’s personal or professional."
A non-obvious Tweeter or two worth following "Carol Sanford. She has been a friend and mentor in many ways. She’s not a frequent user, but when she uses it, she uses it very well. Also, my colleague at Edelman, Henk Campher, whom I knew before I came here, really uses social media well, not only to talk about what he does, but also to talk about the entire practice of sustainability."
Is there a question I didn’t ask you that I should have? "What is my personal wish list in CSR and sustainability?"
Great. Please answer that question! "To be able to create a platform, not another website per se, but an actual working workshop-type template to train our mainstream media about how CSR and sustainability touch every part of our lives. It doesn’t have to be the environmental beat, or the climate beat, or the cause-branding beat. It’s embedded in everything they report on."