Wednesday, May 10, 2023

How can cities encourage entrepreneurship and innovation?

As big companies shrink their workforces, cities have to work harder to support and promote economic growth and good jobs. Luring companies away from other cities is a zero-sum game. That's why cities have to get serious about leveraging the talent and imagination of all their own residents. Entrepreneurs develop new business ideas, create jobs, help each other, and inspire creative and economic resurgence.  

There are many ways to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation. Here's ChatGPT's menu of 10 ways your city can foster a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem:

1.       Establish Supportive Infrastructure: Cities can invest in creating a robust infrastructure to support entrepreneurs and innovators. This includes providing access to affordable office spaces, co-working spaces, research and development facilities, and technology incubators/accelerators. These spaces can facilitate collaboration, idea exchange, and access to necessary resources.

2.       Foster Collaboration and Networking: Encourage networking events, workshops, and conferences that bring together entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, and industry experts. Creating platforms for collaboration enables entrepreneurs to share knowledge, form partnerships, and seek guidance from experienced individuals.

3.       Provide Financial Support: Establish funds and programs to provide financial support to entrepreneurs. This can include grants, loans, and tax incentives for startups, especially in sectors aligned with the city's economic development goals. Facilitating access to capital helps entrepreneurs overcome financial barriers and pursue their ventures.

4.         Develop Entrepreneurial Education: Collaborate with educational institutions to develop entrepreneurial education programs and courses. These initiatives can equip aspiring entrepreneurs with essential skills and knowledge, covering areas such as business planning, marketing, finance, and technology. Workshops and mentorship programs can also help entrepreneurs build their capabilities.

5.       Streamline Regulatory Processes: Simplify bureaucratic procedures and regulations related to starting and operating a business. Reducing barriers and complexities in licensing, permits, and registration processes can encourage more entrepreneurs to establish ventures. Establishing a dedicated agency or office to support entrepreneurs and guide them through the regulatory landscape can be beneficial.

6.       Promote Public-Private Partnerships: Foster collaborations between the public and private sectors to drive entrepreneurship and innovation. Engage with local businesses, corporations, and investors to provide mentorship, funding, and market access to entrepreneurs. Public-private partnerships can leverage each other's strengths and resources to create a conducive environment for startups.

7.       Encourage Diversity and Inclusion: Promote diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship by supporting underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Create programs that provide training, mentorship, and funding specifically targeted at these groups. Encouraging a diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem leads to a broader range of perspectives, ideas, and innovations.

8.       Support Research and Development: Collaborate with universities, research institutions, and industries to foster innovation. Encourage the commercialization of research outcomes and provide support for technology transfer and intellectual property protection. Promote collaborations between academia and industry, facilitating knowledge exchange and the development of innovative solutions.

9.       Market the City as an Entrepreneurial Hub: Implement marketing campaigns and branding initiatives to showcase the city as a vibrant entrepreneurial hub. Highlight success stories, local startups, and the overall ecosystem to attract talent, investors, and resources from outside the city. Developing a positive image of the city's entrepreneurial ecosystem can create a magnet effect for innovation-driven individuals and organizations.

10.    Embrace Digitalization: Embrace digital technologies and platforms to facilitate entrepreneurship and innovation. Support the development of digital infrastructure, high-speed internet access, and platforms for online collaboration. Encourage the use of digital tools, such as e-commerce platforms and online marketing, to help entrepreneurs reach broader markets.

By implementing these strategies, cities can create an environment that nurtures entrepreneurship, encourages innovation, and attracts talent, ultimately driving economic growth and development.

Why not send this list to your local city council/mayor/economic development office. Ask how many of these things  they are doing. Then ask how many of them they are doing well!

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The climate revolution is already here

As regular readers may know, I do a lot of writing on sustainability and climate change for a unique Canadian magazine called Corporate Knights. I am proud to be associated with the world’s flagship magazine of “Clean Capitalism.”

This is an exciting time to be writing about business and sustainability. Right now, we are at the tipping point for renewable energy the clean energy transition. As I wrote in a story earlier this month:

 “A new report from climate statisticians at BloombergNEF (BNEF) says global investment in the low-carbon energy transition totalled a record $1.11 trillion (all figures in U.S. dollars) in 2022 – up 31% in a year. For the first time, global investment in green energy technologies – such as renewable energy, electrified transport and energy storage – has reached parity with the total capital deployed to produce new fossil fuels.

 “Report author Albert Cheung raved about the results, saying, “Our findings put to bed any debate about how the energy crisis will impact clean energy deployment. Investment in clean energy technologies is on the brink of overtaking fossil fuel investments, and won’t look back.”

The best part is, the clean energy transition will not just cut carbon emissions that are choking our planet. It will result in cleaner, greener cities, better health, and lower energy costs.

All we have to do is slap down the oil companies, who are determined to stymie and delay the energy transition until they have sold every ounce of their oil and gas reserves – a prospect that would cook our planet to life-threatening levels.

This week, I had three key stories on the Corporate Knights home page chronicling key aspects of this business/lifestyle revolution.

Companies that invest the most in green growth earn triple the returns

This story chronicled new research that indicates the best stock market returns come from companies actively embracing the clean-energy transition. Corporate Knights’s Sustainable Economy Intelligence database tracks more than 2800 public companies, based on the percentage of revenues and spending they derive from the green economy. In the most recent three-year period, the companies in the SEI’s top 20% outperformed the most prominent index of global companies, the MSCI All-World Index, by a factor of three to one.

Canadian pension funds are starting to embrace the green transition

A new report finds that pension funds’ support for the green transition is growing, but still nowhere near the pace required to meet Canada’s global net-zero- targets. The second annual Canadian Pensions Dashboard for Responsible Investing identifies the latest progress inside the sector, whose investment clout must fuel this transition

Insurance industry failing to warn clients of climate risks

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says that due to the increase in extreme weather events driven by climate change, Canada is increasingly becoming “a riskier place to live, work and insure.” Translation: Prepare to pay more for property insurance. But I wrote that insurers aren’t doing much to warn Canadians about these impending risks. “We have to do a much better job of elevating this issue,” says IBC VP Craig Stewart.

Sunday, February 05, 2023

“7 reasons why AI will never write as well as you do”

Yep, here's another lazy blogpost generated by the ChatGPT artificial intelligence tool. So many organizations and businesses are using AI to write create content now that I was curious how the system would assess its own potential. 

So I asked it: "Write an essay with 7 reasons why artificial intelligence will never write prose as well as a human being."

As you will see, its answers are lifeless and repetitive. If I had asked for 15 reasons, I suspect it would not have covered any new ground.

Still, if the rise of AI results in a new respect for human creativity, imagination, insight and humour, I think it's a worthwhile exercise. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made remarkable advancements in recent years, but it still falls short when it comes to writing prose that matches the quality and creativity of a human being. Here are seven reasons why AI will never write prose as well as a human being

1.  Lack of Emotions: Prose writing is an emotional and creative process, and AI lacks the ability to understand and convey emotions in writing. A human writer has the ability to tap into their own emotions and experiences and use them to add depth and meaning to their writing.

2.   Inability to think abstractly: Human beings have the ability to think abstractly, to consider philosophical and ethical questions, and to imagine new worlds and characters. AI, on the other hand, lacks the ability to think beyond what it has been programmed to do and can only produce writing that is limited by its data set.

3.   No Cultural Understanding: Human beings bring their own cultural experiences and perspectives to their writing, which adds depth and meaning to their prose. AI, on the other hand, does not have the ability to understand culture, and its writing is limited to the data it has been trained on.

4.   No Originality: AI can generate writing that is based on patterns and data it has been trained on, but it lacks the ability to create something truly original. Human beings, on the other hand, have the ability to be creative and imaginative, producing writing that is unique and original.

5.   Lack of Ambiguity: Prose writing often contains elements of ambiguity, and human writers are able to use this to add depth and complexity to their writing. AI, on the other hand, is limited by its programming and can only produce writing that is straightforward and lacks the subtleties of human writing.

6.   Inability to Evoke Empathy: A key aspect of prose writing is the ability to evoke empathy in the reader. Human writers are able to do this by tapping into their own emotions and experiences and using them to create characters and situations that the reader can relate to. AI lacks the ability to understand and convey empathy in its writing.

7.  No Personal Connection: Human writers often bring a personal connection to their writing, whether it be their own experiences, beliefs, or values. This personal connection makes their writing unique and adds depth and meaning to their prose. AI, on the other hand, does not have the ability to form a personal connection to its writing, and its prose will always be limited by its programming and data set.

 In conclusion, while AI has made remarkable advancements in recent years, it will never be able to write prose as well as a human being. The emotional, creative, and cultural elements that make human writing unique are simply beyond the reach of AI.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Five Top Reasons for Business Failure

So I asked ChatGPT today, "What are the five most common reasons for the failure of small businesses?"

Here they are.

The AI platform strikes me as being much like a lot of consulting firms I know: It knows what all the problems are, but has no idea how to fix them.

Also, it spelled "differentiation" wrong.

Five Top Reasons for Business Failure

1. Lack of capital: Many small businesses fail because they do not have enough money to cover their expenses, especially during the early stages of the business. This can be due to a lack of investors, loans, or savings.

2. Poor management: Small business owners often lack the experience or knowledge needed to effectively manage their operations, which can lead to poor decision-making, lack of organization, and financial mismanagement.

3. Insufficient market research: Starting a business without conducting proper market research can lead to a lack of understanding of the target audience and competition, resulting in poor sales and ultimately, failure.

4. Poor cash flow management: Small businesses often struggle to keep track of their cash flow, resulting in unexpected expenses, such as unpaid bills, that can lead to financial collapse.

5. Lack of differentiation: Many small businesses fail because they are not able to differentiate themselves from their competitors, resulting in a lack of customers and revenue. This could be due to a lack of unique products or services, or poor branding and marketing.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

7 communication habits every business leader should be working on

1.    Active listening: This means giving your full attention to the person speaking, asking clarifying questions, and providing feedback to ensure that you fully understand their message. Active listening helps to build trust and respect, as it shows that you value the other person's perspective.

2. Clarity and conciseness: Being able to articulate your ideas and thoughts clearly and concisely. This means being able to express yourself in a way that is easy for others to understand, and being able to convey your message in a way that is appropriate for the audience.

3. Adaptability: Being able to adapt your communication style to different situations and audiences. This is important as it ensures that your message is received effectively.

4. Nonverbal communication: Being aware of the nonverbal cues that you are sending, including body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. Nonverbal cues can have a significant impact on how your message is received, so it is important to be aware of them and to use them effectively.

5. Conflict management: Being able to manage conflicts and disagreements in a constructive way. This means being able to identify and understand the underlying issues, and to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved.

6. Empathy: Being able to put yourself in the shoes of the person you are communicating with. This helps you to understand their perspective and to tailor your message accordingly.

7. Leadership: Being able to lead a team effectively. This requires the ability to clearly communicate goals and expectations, and to provide feedback and support to team members. Good leaders also need to be able to create a positive work environment, where team members feel valued and respected.

(Note: I did not write this blogpost. I asked ChatGPT the question, "What 7 habits should business leaders develop in order to communicate more effectively?" The AI algorithm did the rest.)

(I find this article written, in a dull, simplistic Grade 4 style. Some people will tell you that's the best way to communicate. but I disagree. Yes, clarity is important, but sharing information effectively and memorably requires more than simple declarative sentences: e.g., vary your sentence structure and rhythm; use more vivid, direct language; and share examples of the issues you are talking about.)

The AI platform fails my first rule of communication: "Never Write a Dull Sentence." 

Still, I'd give the program a grade of B- for this article. What would you give it?

Thursday, January 05, 2023

Entrepreneurship is not a job or a business, but a way of seeing..., the crowdsourced question-and-answer website, asked me to take a crack at answering their question, "What are the signs that indicate that entrepreneurship is the best way of living for us?"

I don't know where that question came from, but I took a crack at it. 

What do you think? What would you add? 

Profile photo for Rick Spence

Entrepreneurship is about living life in service to others, using tools such as hard work, innovation and personal expression. It takes passion to be an entrepreneur - there is no 37-hour workweek, no consistent quitting time. But you get to solve the problems you want - for the people (market) you serve - in whatever way best fits your education, skills and values. In other words, when you do what you love to do, it rarely feels like work!

Not every day will be perfect. You’ll face problems, setbacks and heartaches. People will let you down. But this can happen to anyone, especially those who work for other people or big corporations. Of all the ways there are of making a living, entrepreneurship is the one that most insulates you from having to work with people you don’t like or in conditions you abhor.

As you become successful in one area, you will see other problems to solve and spot new business opportunities. Entrepreneurship is not a job or a business, but a way of seeing… a way of life. Your challenge will be to manage all of your ideas. But when you put your heart into our work, you attract like-minded people, with similar values. And they will help you meet the challenges you have set for yourself - and give you the strength and resources to tackle new ones.

Entrepreneurship is hard work. But it offers choices, rewards creativity, and will take you places you can’t imagine yet.

If you enjoy dreaming up new ideas, finding new solutions, helping other people, working very hard, and being your own boss, you’ll find entrepreneurship provides everything you need for a creative, prosperous and rewarding life. 

Monday, January 02, 2023

New Year, New Words

Happy New Year 2023!

To ensure this year doesn't ski into the mediocrity of the past few years, I have adopted three words to guide my priorities in 2023:




In longer words: 

* Work with passion. Do what matters to you. Change something for the better.

* Think bigger. Take more (smarter) risks.

* Invite more people into your sphere, and ensure that all share the resulting benefits and impact. 

Former Toronto-based entrepreneur Kunal Gupta (Polar Mobile, etc., now living and working in Portugal) has gone me one better. He chooses just one word a year to serve as his North Star and guide the ways he approaches life. Last year, his word was "Open." (You can read here how that worked out for him.) For Kunal, this year's word is "Build."

Kunal has also asked cavassed other entrepreneurs and leaders to identify the words most meaningful to them. If you're looking for a Word of the Year, (or maybe even three), you're bound to find your North Star on this list. 





















































Self Love










Which word is your favourite?

Saturday, August 20, 2022

10 Characteristics of Growth Entrepreneurs (and how to market to them)

A few years ago, I did a deep dive into the personalities and motivations of the entrepreneurs behind Canada's Fastest-Growing Companies. 

The following list should interest anyone who wants to try to emulate the business success of these focused innovators, or wants to market to them. Each paragraph contains a relevant insight about their strategy or tactics, and then a related pointer on how to grab the attention of these growth leaders.  

1) These companies are founded on innovation. They present new solutions to their markets, not business as usual. If you are offering products and solutions that are new and improved, they’d better be genuine, because these firms have written the book on innovation.

2) These firms offer real value in the marketplace: new solutions, better service, lower prices. (How else do you break into today’s crowded markets?) Since these emerging companies create so much value for their clients, they expect value from their suppliers in return. They are most receptive to marketers who also put value and customer benefit first.

3) Most of these companies succeed through productive partnerships with other organizations. These companies understand win-win, and they expect you to, too.

4) Their founders have leveraged personal relationships to get where they are today. They are innovative dealmakers. And they expect no less from you.

5) Being an emerging business doesn’t mean you lack experience; many of these entrepreneurs brought years of industry experience to the table. Expect entrepreneurial clients to combine small-biz focus with sophisticated business knowledge and toughness.

6) Deep personal interest in their products or industry often helps growth entrepreneurs persevere and succeed. They expect you to be as excited about your product as they are about theirs.

7) Growth firms pour cash back into the business. However successful these businesses have become, most of them are cash-poor, because they are always prototyping new products, services or markets. Address their management's concerns about price.

8) Growth firms operate globally. For them, borders are opportunities, not obstacles. They need solutions that will work around the world.

9) These firms are keen to keep growing. That means their needs are always changing. And it means your products and services must be able to serve these customers all along their growth path.

10) These companies are on missions. Many of today’s growth entrepreneurs believe their products and services really can make the world a better place. To connect with these entrepreneurs, your business brand, too, should stand for something that matters.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

How to Win Arguments Without Making Enemies

This is a terrific #lifehack.

Instead of creating negative vibes and lengthening pointless debates, here's a way to get your team onside and make better decisions, together.

This tactic won't just help you win debates. You'll get more robust discussions, and ultimately better outcomes.

Here's the secret, in 17 words: Make the best points you can for your opponent's case, and then undercut it with logical clarity.

A great article from Inc. magazine: 

"How to Win Arguments Without Making Enemies"

"To convince people they're wrong, you must first explain why they're right."

Thursday, May 26, 2022

It’s all about the benefits: Communicating for Results

How does your product or service help your customers win?

I’ve been doing some marketing consulting with a client lately. When I asked them to describe some of their business-oriented products, I was taken aback when they quoted a litany of specs and features.

So I had to tell them they were putting the cart before the horse. This was a marketing opportunity, and they responded with random product details instead of customer benefits. 

The next time they're asked to describe their products, I asked my client to take a Benefits-First approach. Such as: “Customers like you are usually looking to get more done faster. Our product/service will help you get better results 20% faster, at half the cost of the process you're using now.”

And then, instead of droning on, I suggested they ask their prospect the all-important question:  "Would you like to hear more?" or "Can I tell you how it works?"

(I learned this long ago from Tom Stoyan, Canada's Sales Coach. Don't talk too long, and always ask for permission to keep going. Otherwise, how do you know you are answering the questions the prospect has in their head?) 

This process enables you to assess the client's interest level before you head too far in the wrong direction. You’ll get important feedback, whether the prospect says “Yeah, that sounds really interesting,” or, “No, that not what I need.”

Either way, you get to lead with HOW YOUR PRODUCTS and SERVICES CREATE VALUE FOR CUSTOMERS, rather than “here's how our products work.” Because no one cares how a product works until they believe it can help them.

BBF. Benefits before features.  


Why is BBF so important? 

Because business communication is simple, yet also really, really hard. The simplest part is the challenge we start with: managers and executives are smart people, but very busy and time-challenged. That often turns into impatience. If they don't understand a message, they are more likely to ignore it and forget about it than to take the time to do more research or ask questions. 

So it's essential for business communications to speak plainly and establish genuine connection as quickly as possible. Few business decision-makers have the time to offer you a second chance.

The hard part, then, is to find the right words with which to engage business buyers. Your language has to be simple and comfortable, yet put together in a novel, disciplined way that makes them insightful and compelling.  

The pressure is always on business leaders to accomplish more with the same resources (or less). So they are ALWAYS looking for better ways to get results. But experience tells them that most vendors add zero value, so they work hard to screen out every marketing claim they hear.

So our job is to establish credibility, impress people with our talent and potential, and give them a precise estimate of the benefits they can achieve by working with us. To break through those screens, quickly and memorably. 

The most valuable benefits most business leaders seek are usually cost savings, higher sales, performance improvements, or some combination thereof. 

So every client/prospect communication has to be about customer benefit: how much we can save them, or how our products/services can increase their effectiveness or capacity or profitability. You do this with a complex, ever-changing blend of research, rules of thumb, stories and anecdotes, customer testimonials, and so on. 

It takes preparation and discipline. Product knowledge is important, but customer knowledge is crucial. 

Until we’ve engaged prospects with our benefits promise, they're not even listening. Because they are always busy thinking, “Get to the point. What's in this for me?”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Your Future, Your Choice

 I wrote the words below in an email today to a friend in business.

Then I realized it could be a blogpost. Maybe the most important post I've ever written.

It's about the green energy transition. It's about your future, and mine. The  future of business, the future of the planet, and the stark choices ahead of us.

Transformation is always hard. But what people don't realize is that the transition has already begun. You can embrace it now, or watch the tide sweep away the wasteful "old world." 

Here's my email.

I believe the climate issue is about to become BIG.
Because it's not just about fear any more. It's about action. It's going to be more and more about heroes, not villains. Financiers and funds, entrepreneurs, environmentalists, technology geeks, authors, promoters, pioneers, champions. Building new systems and technology, creating jobs, saving the planet. 

THIS is what we've been waiting for. Action on every front. Doing, not undoing. Change rooted in passion and invention, not regulation.
It would be a shame if we're not ready. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Your story is your future

I just finished a major journalistic project that involved writing brief profiles on 50 exciting up-and-coming companies.

My job was to explain what each company does, who its customers are, and what has made the firm successful. 

Our timeline was tight, so we we made hasty arrangements for interviews with some of the CEOs, but we depended wholly on the web for much of our information.

That means not just scouring companies' websites for information, but also reading annual reports, financial statements, press releases, past interviews in print and on YouTube, customer reviews, industry reports, and whatever else we could find.

The disappointing part, and the concerning part, was to see how bad almost all of these companies are at explaining to a general audience what they do.

Sorry, "award-winning world-class solutions at scale" just doesn't cut it.  

Yes, a company that sells sophisticated electrical equipment needs to be able to communicate with sophisticated buyers of that kind of hardware. 

BUT, they also need to be able to communicate what they do to everybody else who might be interested in their story: employees and future hires, journalists, potential partners or investors, their local communities, possible suppliers, and all those potential customers who don't really understand which products they need.

If you can't communicate with a general audience at an engaging, Grade 8 level, you're not communicating at all.

My colleagues on this project were as surprised as I was by how bad most of these companies are at explaining what they do. Trying to understand their products, their strategies, or the needs of the marketplace is really difficult when companies talk only themselves in industry jargon.

How can you tell if your company is guilty of selective communication? 

Look up all the "About Us" information on your website or in your reports and sales materials. This includes company histories, "What We Do," mission and vision statements, and so on. Then round up your friends, your spouse, golf buddies, second cousins, any average group. Ask them to read this material, and then restate, in their words, what your business does. 

Ask them, too, what benefits you provide, how you do it, and who your audience is. 

I predict you'll find that your explanations are nowhere near as clear as you thought.

How do you fix this problem? 
Find someone on staff who can write, and challenge them to tell your story better. Hire a marketing student, or an ex-journalist, or even a PR firm, to tell your story. Let them ask all the questions they like. Start with a blank slate, and you'll be able to see your company clearly for what it does, not what it looks like from the inside.

These are the sorts of questions that your "About Us" company stories need to answer:
  • What does your company do? 
  • Who are your customers? How do your products or services help them achieve their goals faster, more economically, or more powerfully?
  • What's your one-sentence mission statement?
  • Does your company have a purpose higher than merely selling more goods and services?
  • How are your purpose and mission aligned?
  • What's your best customer story?  (A customer story explains how your products and expertise helped a client achieve its goals or exceed expectations. It's powerful because it explains what your company does from the customer's point of view, not yours.)
  • What's your vision for your industry? What are your own company's goals within that context?
  • What are your plans for making your customers experiences and outcomes even better in future? 
When you answer these questions (and better still, engage all your people in discussing the answers), you'll be miles ahead as an organization. You'll have renewed purpose, and incredible alignment around what you do and your common objectives. 

And you'll make customers a part of your journey and your future success. Not just puzzled outsiders, scratching their heads as they try to figure out what your world-class solutions can do for them.

Further reading: 

Me mocking silly vision and mission statements, part 1
The 9 Worst Mission Statements of All Time
17 Best Mission Statement Examples (+ How to Write Your Own)

Thursday, April 07, 2022

The 2030 Challenge: Prosperity or Despair?

Society is reaching a tipping point.

By 2030, we will have decided whether to embrace life on this planet, or death. We will have decided whether we support global growth, peace, equality, freedom, health and education, or a dog-eat-dog world where the "haves" choose to let half the world live in poverty and precarity.

This is a time when leadership will matter in every sphere: business, politics and community. As a leader, you must decide whether you stand with empathy, love and opportunity for all.

2030 is the turning point. 2030 is “The Year” that the United Nations has targeted for achieving its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It's also the year that countries and organizations are expected to achieve tangible progress in their plans to become carbon-neutral by 2050 - to save life on this planet from accelerated global warming and extreme weather events.

2030 is also the year that the last of the baby boomers reach retirement age - giving businesses and other organizations a chance to reset their leadership visions around more contemporary values such as creativity, collaboration, and serving all stakeholder communities, not just dividend-hungry shareholders. 

2030 must be a time when we celebrate the actions we have taken to clean the planet, encourage global growth, and end war, inequality, poverty, hunger and disease.

And as someone reminded me the other day, 2030 is just 400 weeks away.

Now is the time for business leaders to call a fresh start. How can we stop polluting the planet, and make it a better place? How can we evolve from serving customers to enhancing human life?

It’s not just about climate/sustainability, but building a more just planet.

A number of the UN's SDGs aim straight at business: 

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

* Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

* Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

* Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

* Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

From now on, every decision you make should be looked at through the lens of 2030. Are you contributing to a cleaner, freer, more prosperous world? Or are you just acting in your own self-interest? 

Because organizations that serve only themselves will increasingly be shunned. 

A recent “HumanKind Study” study by marketing firm Leo Burnett uncovered profound disconnects. In a poll of 4,633 Canadians, the study found that half of respondents are concerned they are “wasting their life” doing “unfulfilling work.” A full 76% of Canadian consumers said they don’t believe brands understand their problems.

Tahir Ahmad, Burnett Canada’s chief strategy officer, says employers and brands need to address these disconnects. We must find “a way forward that focuses not solely on profit or product, but on people, and how we can lead more fulfilling lives.”

PwC found similar disconnects in its 2021 Global Culture Survey. For instance, 63% of Canadian business leaders say their organizations have developed a distinctive culture that sets them apart from their competitors – but only 41% of employees share their belief.

Compared to American workers, the survey found Canadians have much higher doubts about their employer’s ability to adapt to change, set a positive “tone from the top,” or “act as role models for their organization’s purpose, values and culture. 

Companies that choose not to prioritize ecosystem interests, including the SDGs, will increasingly be seen as problems in a world desperate for solutions. Which side will you be on?   

Now is the time for leadership. Executives must develop clear plans for their organizations, and for their employees, products, and customer relationships. They need to reconnect with their communities (not just “stakeholders”). As PwC reports, Canadians want to see their leaders setting a clear path towards building trust by giving their people a shared sense of purpose, while also making sure they feel valued, connected and visibly supported.”

For business leaders, 2030 is a global target date for achieving more human-centred workplaces, more responsible production and consumption processes, and more sustainable and inclusive growth. That means more innovation (in products, services, and business methods), "decent work," and partnering with other companies, around the world, to create more win-win relationships. 

Consider Tesla, which became the world's most valuable automaker simply because it saw the need for green energy sooner than its more established competitors around the world.    

This is a manifesto for a new way of doing business – and new ways of thinking about business. Redefining relationships with shareholders, employees, customers and communities. Finding cost-effective energy solutions, decoupling growth from environmental degradation, providing productive employment for all, building better cities, and uplifting marginalized communities so all can share in the bounty of this planet. 

The Government of Canada puts its 2030 mission this way:  “Leave no one behind.”

As the boomers' "greed is good" mentality fades from the boardroom, what values will replace it? How will your business get ahead of this transition? How can you find, attract and motivate new leaders who understand these transformative times and your changing customer base? 

2030 is not just a deadline – it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity.

By embracing change now, organizations will be in better shape to lead this transformation, become role models, and take advantage of all the new opportunities, relationships and regulations that will emerge as we move closer to 2030.

2030 is not not just about the SDGs. It's about choosing community over self, long-term thinking over short-term, stakeholder rights rather than shareholders' rights, and prioritizing human need over greed.

And it starts with us all, right now.