Michael's blog

Restore life to "sustainability"

When I recently interviewed Carol Sanford, author of “The Responsible Business” and “The Responsible Entrepreneur,” I was a little taken aback when she stated flatly that “I want the word ’sustainability’ to go away.”

Her contention is that “it limits what people think they can take on,” which I’m not sure I agree with.

I do have sympathy with those who deride it as a buzzword, but I’m heading the opposite way. Instead of hoping the word will go away, I’m trying to restore its full meaning, before it became a stand-in for green technology or corporate PR obligation.

Joel Makower: "The people part is undervalued, at least in the sustainability movement."

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 has been a well-respected voice on business, sustainability, and innovation for more than 25 years, whom the Associated Press has called ‘The guru of green business practices.” He’s done a lot to get there, but a notable achievement is he is the founder of Greenbiz.com. 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.

Joel Makower, cofounder of GreenBiz.com

Name Joel Makower
Born when, where  Oakland, Calif., Feb. 19, 1952
Resides now  Oakland
Family circumstance "Married to Randy Rosenberg for 26-plus years, and we have two lovely dogs."
Formative event 
“Growing up in the Vietnam War."
A strong influence outside your family 
"I was coming of age professionally in journalism school during the time of Watergate, so Woodward, Bernstein, all of the others were of influence to me in terms of journalism as a way to speak truth to power. I was also, at the same time, influenced by Ralph Nader. The consumer advocate, not the election-spoiler, who was about taking on corporations on behalf of consumers."
A historical figure you hold dear 
"I admired Martin Luther King well before he was assassinated and became the hero-martyr that he became. At 13, I made him the subject of my bar mitzvah speech, in 1965, so I guess that says something."
What came first for you, green or biz? 
"Probably biz. I started off my career as a consumer reporter, and I quickly realized that in order to understand consumer issues you had to understand business."

You make a difference, and don't forget it

I’m just digging into Aon Hewitt’s report, 2014 Trends in Global Employee Engagement, and an early heading inspired this post. It is a reference to the “Emerging Talent Imperative.”

In the fullness of the report, I’ll learn just what they mean by that, and I’m sure it’s informed, incisive, and salient. But the phrasing reminds me a) of the movie “The Player,” and b) the resurgent value of design, reestablished by Apple, BMW, and others.

I'm grateful for your visit here

No writer writes without wanting to be read, so if you're reading this, you're helping me meet my aspiration. The only fair assumption is that you're here for your interests, not mine, but regardless, thanks for coming! I appreciate your attention, and will continue trying to earn it.

Best wishes!


Grateful for gratitude, theirs and mine

There’s a maxim among people I know that says something like, “Just for today, I’ll help another person, and if it is found out, it won’t count.” Well not that, but the point being, “The glow of helping others is tarnished by bragging about it.”

My wife, the estimable Georgina, says the act of helping is what matters most, regardless, but I’m stuck in the middle. Yes, helping is helping, but I am not unfamiliar with helping as showing off.

Which is why I hesitate to relate the following, which I received four days ago:

Dr. Pamela Peeke: "You have to be a mentor and a model. There can be no hypocrisy."

   Welcome to another episode of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people, and ask for brief answers in return. Usually, I can describe the guests in a phrase or two, but with Pamela Peeke, today’s guest, I barely know where to begin:
   She’s a doctor, and I start there only because she did. But she’s also an assistant clinical professor in medicine at the University of Maryland, was a Pew Foundation scholar in nutrition and metabolism during a post-doc fellowship, and the first physician to be a senior research fellow at the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine.
   That oughta be enough, but she’s also WebMD’s lifestyle expert, and chief medical correspondent for Discovery Health TV, and a New York Times best-selling author whose latest book is "The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction.”
   Dr. Peeke is also senior science advisor to Elements Behavioral Health, the nation's largest residential addiction treatment network, where she has developed their first residential program to treat food and addiction. Her work was recently seen on the "Today Show" profiling her work with the Promises Malibu Vista center.
   I should also mention, although It’s barely a hill among all these mountains, that Dr. Peeke has blogged about me and my book, “Fat Boy Thin Man," a couple of times, and we had dinner together with other friends after the recent food-addiction conference sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Dr. Pamela Peeke, author of "The Hunger Fix"After that long list of credentials, I have to ask: Don’t you ever get tired? " They say that if you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s me.”
Born when and where "The when will never be disclosed, but I’m a Senior Olympian triathlete, so I have to be over 50. And I was born in San Francisco, California."
Resides now Bethesda, Maryland
Family circumstance "Married, Mark is my handsome hubby. He comes from the land of law enforcement. He was SWAT, executive protection, and crimes systems analyst like the guys on CSI. We’re known as cop and doc.
What did you want to be when you grew up? "It already happened. Is that 10 words or less?"
A news event from childhood that left an impression "JFK’s assassination. I remember exactly where I was, singing in the choir at St. Brendan’s. As young as I was, I cried too, because JFK was a very important icon in our family.
"Your first paying job "That would be with my parents. They owned their own companies, and I actually got a little something for working for them. I helped keep the books. ‘Zero Equals Zero’ was my middle name."
Wisdom you retain from that job "The value of work. I was never given anything. I never felt entitled. I felt it was important to be able to show effort and be rewarded for that effort.
Someone outside your family who was a strong influence "Dr. Henrik Blum at the University of California at Berkeley. He was one of the great names in the school of public health. I met him early on, and became kind of his quasi daughter. He helped guide me as an undergraduate. When I became a graduate student with him, where I got my master’s in public health, he was an incredibly important mentor and I suppose a father figure as well."


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