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Please, Tell Me No Again

Folklore has it that Sir Richard Branson wanted to fly a large commercial plane up the London Thames as part of a stunt and everyone around the table kept saying it couldn’t be done. Noise restrictions, flight path restrictions, the fact that any pilot who did it would lose his or her license for life. His response? “Don’t tell me no, show me how.” And indeed his team did: the solution was a close-to-retirement pilot who would accept a healthy fee to do the job. I don’t know if Virgin ever went ahead with the stunt, but the point is they worked out how it could be done.

How empowering is that quote? No matter how wild the scenario, there’s always a way. In Branson’s eyes, naysayers are simply challenges to overcome.

I like to use it when I reflect on how many people told me that ESG wouldn’t work as a premium offering in a limited distribution channel that traditionally expected only commodity pricing. Here are some of the reasons I was told it wouldn’t work:

Keeping it in Balance: Wealth, Relationships and Our Planet

After a business meeting with one of our partners in Singapore at the end of last year, I came away impressed with the high value they place on the importance of balancing the three forms of sustainability: environmental, social and economic.Let’s start with economic sustainability. Here the focus is on ensuring any organisation is ‘built to last’ and is able to function efficiently over a long period of time. Profit is an essential and healthy part of this. After all, if you’re not making a profit, you cannot sustain a healthy business, which in turn means you cannot do the things truly great businesses can do: such as creating social and environmental sustainability. For every profitable business there are people employed, money flowing in and out – a ‘full circle’ transaction that supports economies.

Environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking actions that are in the interests of protecting the natural world, with particular emphasis on preserving the capability of the environment to support human life. What I love about ESG’s Green Washroom System is how we offer business an opportunity to have a positive environmental impact. Every single employee, in every single business across the globe, has need of a washroom every single day. If every business took the simple step to incorporate the ESG Green Washroom approach, they’d embrace energy efficiency in manufacturing, waste reduction, the volume of natural resources consumed – all with a great end result on our environment.

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Think Smart When It Comes To Goals And Resolutions

Ok, so we’re just over a week into the new year. How are those resolutions going?

If you feel you’re not maintaining momentum with your new year’s resolutions, don’t panic. You’re not alone. Four out of five people who make New Year’s resolutions will eventually break them. Most before the end of January.

Reasons include having too many other things to do, or simply not being committed to the resolutions set. But experts say the real problem is that people make the wrong resolutions. The typical resolution often reflects a general desire, rather than a specific goal. Goals such as ‘losing weight, ‘getting fitter’ – or in the case of business ‘getting more customers’ and ‘increasing profits’ simply aren’t specific enough. In fact, they can be overwhelming.

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Where Our Values Come From

In his book ‘Good To Great’, Jim Collins describes great organisations as having one thing in common: values they truly embrace.

According to Collins, “There is a big difference between being an organisation with a vision statement and becoming a truly visionary organisation. The difference lies in creating alignment….. When you have superb alignment, a visitor could drop into your organisation from another planet and infer the vision without having to read it on paper.”

At ESG, I like to think an extraterrestrial visitor would walk into our offices and infer we are working towards making the planet a better place, thanks to our shared values.

We not only developed our values from what our people told us about working here, we also built them from the folklore of the business. From our people, their actions and their stories. What makes ESG? How are our values brought to life? We like to call it our ESG DNA.

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It’s Why We Do What We Do

After I blogged about ESG Asia Pacific being named in the top 25 of the Green 50, it struck me just how lucky I am to work in an organisation with a clear sense of purpose, vision and shared values.

Why is ESG in business? Quite simply, to make the world a better place. It’s what helps gets me up in the mornings and motivates me every day. Everything we do adds to that. What we sell, how we act – it is all to do with our sense of purpose.

I’d encourage anyone to take a look at Simon Sinek’s TED video on the importance of having a purpose in business. I firmly believe that our customers – and in turn their customers  – engage with us because of WHY we are in business, not simply because of what we sell or how we do it.

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Can Business Make A Difference?

It could be my 40th birthday drawing closer, or it could just be watching my kids get older, but I find myself these days thinking more and more about how it might be possible to make a real difference in the world. Too many times these days, I turn on the TV and see more famine and poverty spreading across the globe.

There are certainly many wonderful organisations out there that do make a difference each and every day, but I cannot help but think that it is actually the businesses of the world that need to get off their behinds and start to give back ― if we are ever to sort out some of these global challenges.

During the Christmas break, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Sir Richard Branson’s new book ‘Screw Business as Usual’. This really got me thinking and I have to say that I agree with 99% of what Sir Richard said in his book. Some people might see his words as ‘idealistic garbage’ (as a few have told me after I recommended it to them!) but surely, if the companies of the world have more money, power and influence than most individual countries, then why should not business step up and take some responsibility to fix some of the problems of this world?

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Thoughtful Consumption™ – Worth Thinking About?

About 18 months ago, I had the privilege of spending time listening to a presentation by a USA colleague of mine, who has been in the ‘away from home’ washroom (AFH) paper business for almost 30 years.

In this blog (my first one on our new ESG site), I would like to share with you a concept that was born during his presentation and that has now become one of the most important philosophies in our world today.

I have always been proud of the fact that our organisation has only ever sourced and supplied 100% recycled paper products across the Asia Pacific region, but it is always been a source of frustration to me that that it was quite difficult to explain the benefits of buying recycled products to our customers.

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