Tending to a House on Fire: The Role of Business in Climate Action

March 27, 2019 / no comments

“I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to act as if the house was on fire. Because it is,” said 16-year-old climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greta Thunberg at the 2019 World Economic Forum.

The warning to mankind is clear: we have about a decade – maybe a little more, maybe a little less – before the damage we are doing to Mother Earth becomes permanently irreversible. And children across the world are now the ones delivering the warning.

We – the global, collective “we” – haven’t sufficiently listened to scientists. To engineers. To environmentalists. To citizens of coastal towns and cities like Beira, Mozambique. In short, we are neither heeding the words of those professionally qualified to issue such a catastrophic warning, nor the experiences of those on the front lines of devastating tangible climate disasters.

Despite clearly abnormal and frightening weather patterns, rising temps and melting glaciers, we still stand here today receiving a ‘last chance’ plea from our kids, their voices full of mistrust as they beg for their elders to act now.

But the innovators – at least, those in attendance at the second anniversary of the Climate Collaborative’s launch at Expo West – are acting. The imperative for action was the talk of the expo, and Climate Day was truly a celebration of collaboration for change.

Lara Dickinson, Founder of OSC2, and Erin Callahan, Director of the Climate Collaborative, have brilliantly assembled community and inspired real change in business. The group has seen 360 companies make more than 1,300 commitments to act on climate in just two years—an average of one company committing every two days.

Next: to turn that commitment into action, and that action into consumer awareness and advocacy. That is where Guru helps.

During Climate Day, Guru’s Founder, CEO and Executive Creative Director Gagan (Jared Levy) led a power-packed panel of industry experts from Thrive Market, REBBL, Ben & Jerry’s and more, discussing how to engage consumers around climate action in the natural products industry.

“I was honored to lend my voice to this crucial discussion,” Gagan said. “This is an issue that many, if not all, of Guru’s clients face in their business models, supply chains and operations. To find an authentic route to action and then weave that purpose into our brand stories – without alienating consumers in the process – is a delicate-but-necessary tightrope for businesses today to walk. Inaction is no longer an option.”

It’s not a matter of if a brand is going to engage in climate action, but how. It must, increasingly, be at the center of everything a business does.

As Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia and Guru client, Patagonia Provisions, said, “Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.” Chouinard also quoted David Brower as saying, “There’s no business to be done on a dead planet.” Even young Greta Thunberg warns of the same. Profits won’t matter if we don’t have a planet on which to enjoy them.

It’s really that simple. And it will require that we, as consumers, demand change and that we, as businesses, engage our consumers in conversation that inspires them to demand change. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Take Guru client Goddess Garden Organics, for instance, who makes reef-safe mineral sunscreens, natural facial care, pure essential oils and aromatherapy, and chemical-free perfumes.

Goddess Garden’s simple-yet-profound raison d’etre is to save the ocean. They fight this fight through the products they sell, and through their ocean preservation foundation, Protect Our Mother (POM).

POM Foundation supports scientific research and legislation, generating campaign support and engaging in sampling and lobbying efforts to raise awareness to help clean up our waters. The Goddess Garden team advocated for the legislation recently passed in Hawaii, banning chemical sunscreens (oxybenzone and octinoxate) to protect coral reefs. We are hopeful that their home state of California, with its 12,145 square miles of marine protected areas, is next.

Goddess Garden is also on a mission to affect climate balancing by increasing the plant life in the ocean that oxygenates our air and sequesters carbon. For example: Sea urchins are depleting kelp forests. Their main predators, sea otters, have been brought back from near extinction in the Monterey Bay area. By moving some rescued sea otters to urchin-heavy areas, the otters can continue to repopulate, while also controlling the urchin population. This will allow the kelp to grow and to help restore the natural balance.

But perhaps most importantly, Goddess Garden is manufacturing products that can replace the problem (chemicals from our skincare products polluting the ocean) with a solution that will make a difference (wonderful skincare products that do not pollute the ocean).

These are the kind of companies that Guru wants to work with, to ensure that their authentic, powerful work is known to every consumer. Not just to sell sunscreen and after-suncare products. But to make a difference that will increase joy and reduce suffering in the world and hopefully, save Mother Earth.

Top-down change requires policy change on the part of politics and commerce. Bottom-up change requires that every consumer is doing their part through everyday choices: from the food and beverages in our kitchen, to the products we use on our bodies, and the organizations we support and promote.

But all change will require overwhelming, unyielding demand by consumers and constituents with the urgency of a house on fire.

 

 

 

From Dark to Light, a Happy New Year to You

January 2, 2019 / no comments

Happy New Year, everyone!

I am starting the year off with a tone of gratitude harmonized with deep appreciation for all of the work that the Guru Crew (staff) and our clients and partners accomplished in 2018. I am also energized for the exciting collaborations we embark upon beginning today!

With the spaciousness of rest just before the new year, I was reflecting back on the inspiring achievements of the year and forward toward our North Star in the years to come.

In so doing, one must ask the self-reflecting questions: “Who are we?” and “What does the world need from us?” What kept coming up for me harkens back to the original reason I named the agency, “Guru.”

Guru means “sage” or “teacher” as a noun, and “from dark to light” as a verb. A guru does not necessarily hold the answers, but acts as a powerful mirror to facilitate the answers from within the student. We fully embrace this inclusive collective nature of the guru with the domain and handle “WeAreGuru” to showcase our business partners’ roles in their own and the world’s solutions.

We believe that business has an important role – perhaps the most important role at present – in increasing joy and reducing suffering on this planet. Moving businesses “from dark to light” and helping the impactful, conscious businesses we collaborate with to thrive will have a reverberating impact for generations to come.

So, that is who we are. And to further punctuate what the world needs from us, I reflect on one final aspect of “Guru,” which is that of holding the higher vision. Here at Guru, we hold the higher vision of increasing joy and reducing suffering for ourselves, our clients, our partners and our world. We see the potential and will relentlessly push to realize it.

I am excited to be on this journey with each of you!

Gagan (Jared Levy)
Founder and CEO

Allow us to introduce…

November 13, 2018 / no comments

We are dedicated to helping create a thriving world. We believe business is the key to getting there. Business has helped us make the social, environmental, and economic messes we’re in today – and it can be instrumental to getting us out.

“It’s just business” has been struck from our vocabulary. We’re calling each and every business into its responsibility to be a good citizen. And, we believe with our full hearts that this is possible without compromising profit. To think otherwise is just a failure of imagination.

Guru has built a reputation as an innovative creative agency. But as we approach a new year, we are excited to re-introduce you to our intent and services. After working at the nexus of business and impact, we’ve recognized a need and in 2019 are launching the world’s first cloud-based impact management system to more effectively and efficiently help brands to define, implement and expand their impact.

We call it MAHA.

MAHA multiplies and amplifies an organization’s impact efforts through:
  • Impact Strategy Documentation
  • Individual and Team e-Training and Certification
  • Values-Aligned Advocate and Influencer Connector
  • Impact Campaign Generator

Our focus at Guru has always been to stoke the fires of a passionately purposeful brand at the center of a business. We help organizations identify, crystalize and fan the flames of this beating heart at the center of their efforts.

We then use this purposeful brand as an organizing idea for managing an organization’s rippling impact through its spheres of influence. This is the purpose of our creative work, but we take it much further – to every decision an organization makes and every point of contact with customers and stakeholders.

MAHA’s mission is to empower and connect values-aligned brands, influencers and individuals to take action on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in service of amplified global impact – a natural extension of Guru’s vision to increase joy and reduce suffering in the world.

Together, Guru and MAHA believe in the power of business to create a thriving future on this planet. And we’re counting on purposeful brands to do the heavy lifting. But it’s going to take all of us. The large and the small. The established and the start-up.

As we look toward 2019, our products and services are scaled for both ends of the spectrum: from full-service purpose branding and acceleration services for those needing custom attention, to e-learning and campaign generator resources for those just starting out.

We’d like to tell you more.

Please reach out to us to meet the new collaborators in our mix and hear about how Guru, together with MAHA, is ready to help you and your business level up as a purposeful brand in 2019.

We Are Proud to Launch REBBL’s “What’s Your Elixir?” Campaign

September 12, 2018 / no comments

Guru and REBBL, creator of organic, super herb-powered coconut-milk elixirs, have launched “What’s Your Elixir?,” a new integrated marketing campaign that connects consumers to the transformational power of super herbs and adaptogens.

As the brand continues to thoughtfully expand into targeted conventional retail stores across the country, “What’s Your Elixir?” aims to reach a wider audience, allow REBBL to get to know their REBBL community on a deeper level, and help consumers understand the power of super herbs and their benefits for the body.  

“What’s Your Elixir?” exemplifies the edgy, deep, and powerfully transformative position the brand holds in the marketplace and leverages a laddered messaging approach, featuring the key brand strengths: taste, natural ingredient functionality, and deeply-rooted social impact. The first wave of the campaign focuses on the exquisite taste of each of the 14 unique offerings, focusing on the arresting design of the bottle packaging, playing up the bright pops of vibrant color and language with statements such as “As good for you as it looks” to entice the viewer to learn more.

The second wave of the campaign will introduce consumers to the truly functional benefits of REBBL’s family of elixirs, driving awareness to the ancient wisdom of the Plant Queendom through super herbs and adaptogens like turmeric, schizandra, and reishi, all staple ingredients in the REBBL lineup.  

As the campaign progresses, the messaging will begin to educate consumers about the larger impact story at REBBL’s core, particularly its dedication to impact sourcing and the 2.5% of net sales that is donated to Not for Sale – the non-profit that co-founded REBBL – for every bottle sold.  Together, REBBL and Not for Sale are working to co-create a future without human trafficking and building a regenerative business and new model for innovative social enterprise.

By connecting taste with function, and ultimately conveying the brand’s greater purpose, REBBL demonstrates the breadth of functionality of its product line and the impact it is having through an array of different channels. The “What’s Your Elixir?” campaign coincides with the launch of REBBLs enhanced website, and will feature digital advertising, social media, a fun and playful video series that engages consumers, integrates influencers, and drives user-generated content, connecting them directly with the larger REBBL Community.  Touting the traditional uses and benefits of the many super herbs featured in REBBL products, the campaign asks customers to share and celebrate the elixir that powers their lives. 

“We are really excited to launch such a fully-immersive campaign and look forward to learning more about how consumers use our elixirs in their own lives, as they discover the ability to tend to their own health while helping create positive social and environmental impact in such an authentic way,” says Rusti Porter, Senior VP of Marketing at REBBL. “Super herbs and adaptogens are still new to most people, and we love the way this campaign helps introduce them to the mainstream through the exquisite taste and intrigue of REBBL products, and once we have their attention- brings them deeper into the holistic story of how we source the truly efficacious power of plants to vitalize our bodies, our communities and our planet.

In addition to popular grocery stores like Whole Foods and other diverse health food retailers nationwide, REBBL has recently launched in west coast Target locations and Safeway stores, continually expanding its distribution. Coming on the heels of its $20 million fundraise in spring 2018, and with an anticipated 8,000 plus retail outlets by the end of this year, REBBL’s growth is powering its ability to help build self-sustaining, resilient communities around the world.  

Follow along with the campaign using #MyElixir on Instagram and Facebook or visit http://rebbl.co/ for more information.

Just Business Is Not Business As Usual

September 12, 2018 / no comments

Just Business, an investment company with headquarters in San Francisco, announced today that it has closed the seed round of its new Innovate For Good Fund. The $1.6m seed round is intended to accelerate the growth of early-stage enterprises that fit the mission of the fund to generate tangible impact while delivering a solid financial return for its investors.

Just Business is the independent investment arm of the international non-profit, Not For Sale. The investment firm is widely known for its incubation of REBBL, one of the most successful functional beverages in the USA market and a Guru client.

The Just Business “Origin Fund” also incubated Dignitá, a very successful restaurant enterprise headquartered in Amsterdam, and served as the sole investor to grow Square Organics.

David Batstone. Photo by Louise Andersen

“We are dedicated to bring more dignity to people and planet,” says David Batstone, the managing partner and co-founder of Just Business, “and the best way to do that is to embed that mission into the core of business enterprises that we believe can scale.”

The Innovate For Good Fund has identified three investment opportunities in which it plans to invest:

  • Z Shoes Organic will receive growth capital from the Innovate For Good Fund. This fashion shoe enterprise is designed around the concept of “impact sourcing,” deeply embedded in the supply chain work of the international non-profit Not For Sale to source latex and cotton from native communities from the Amazon of Peru. Not For Sale owns 5% of Z Shoes, and the company gives 2.5% of every sale to fuel Not For Sale’s work around the world.
  • Another recipient of growth capital from the Innovate For Good Fund will be Relocity, which deploys a very innovative technology and business model to reinvent corporate relocation.  Successful companies today are racing to secure the best talent, wherever those individuals might live.  Relocation services have not kept pace with needs of the mobility market. Relocity offers an on-demand concierge to meet the needs of an individual in relocation.  For every hour of billing, Relocity donates 1% to the work of Not For Sale to fulfill its mission in the community where that worker will be relocating.
  • Square Organics, a plant-based, organic snack company, is another impact company in which Innovate For Good plans to invest. The capital investment will enable the enterprise to extend its direct-to-consumer outreach to an engaged millenial audience and augment its visibility through retail channels.  Square Organics is committed to “impact sourcing” and dedicates 1% of each sale to Not For Sale.

The Innovate For Good Fund is advised by an investment committee comprised of five members, all of whom are personal investors in the fund: Batstone; Jostein Solheim, former CEO of Ben & Jerry’s and now in senior leadership at Unilever, Head of the Foods & Refreshment Division for North America; Ray Lin, a senior partner at Latham & Watkins law firm; John Clair, a former director of supply chain and operations at Miller Brewing Company; and Mark Wexler, also co-founder of Just Business.

“I want to be participate in funds that have an economic mission to deliver a sustainable return to its shareholders, while at the same time being a force for good that will change the world,” says Solheim.  

The Innovate For Good Fund touts many other highly influential impact investors, including “Gagan” (Jared) Levy, the chair of the Social Venture Network/Investor Circle and founder of the impact branding agency Guru.

Given the growth trajectory of its portfolio, Just Business anticipates raising more capital for the Innovate For Good Fund in mid-2019.

“We see so much opportunity to scale change,” explains Wexler, who also serves as CEO of Not For Sale. “Great business models help us extend the benefits of capital, technology and talent to those people in the world who previously have been left out.”