Sustainability A Lot Like Social Media

Wed, 2012-07-18 08:36

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a keynote address given by Gary Vaynerchuk, a best-selling author, business visionary, successful entrepreneur, and wine and social media expert. Gary was an early adopter of social media, using video posts to build a following for what became a multi-million dollar business selling wine via the Internet. As I listened to Gary’s story and his message about the social media revolution, it occurred to me that there is another parallel cultural shift happening right now – corporate sustainability. It’s all about new ideas, change, and reactions to those changes.

The Great Unknown

Development of both social media and sustainability strategies requires creativity, vision, risk taking, and courageous venturing into new territory. There is no single right plan of action, and outcomes are not guaranteed. Will investments of time and money pay off?

1950s woman at a computerEarly Adopters. Cautious Acceptors. Resistors.

When it comes to change and embracing new ways of doing business, players can generally be categorized into three (admittedly oversimplified) profiles. Early adopters are curious and seek out information. They become leaders, innovators, and catalysts for change. The Cautious Acceptors are skeptical and slower to jump in. They sit back and observe, seeking to minimize risk and reduce uncertainty before accepting change. Resistors do just that - resist, until the only choice left is to get on board or get run over.

Job Creation

Innovation creates new demands for human capital. As new ideas are integrated into society, businesses find themselves in need of “experts” that didn’t even exist years before. Think Chief Greenskeeper, Blogger, Interactive Media Manager, Sustainability Ambassador, Green Energy Czar, Engagement Coordinator, and Green Marketing Rep. Theses are just a sampling of the new roles to appear on organizational charts within the last decade.

The Only Constant is Change

The only thing that can be predicted with any certainty about social media and sustainability is that what it looks like today will not be what it looks like tomorrow. Legislation will change, technological advances will be made, and new data will become available. None of it is going away. The question becomes, are you prepared to keep up?

Back to the Future

Many people, mostly the hard-core resistors described above, might say that because of Internet and social media, we have become more impersonal as a society. But, the argument can be made that we are actually more connected and some of the old, more personal ways of doing business are being reinvented. Gary Vaynerchuk makes the point that we are going back to “small town rules.” Businesses are being held more accountable as customers demand transparency. To simplify, authenticity matters – in communication and corporate culture.

Education the Key to Success

A final key point that I took away from Gary Vaynerchuk’s presentation is a simple piece of sage advice for navigating cultural shifts: Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Better yourself. Learn more.

If you are ready to learn more, better yourself, enhance your career, and take an active role in the current cultural shift toward a more sustainable economy, get started with Everblue’s ISSP Sustainability Associate training.

By Amy Malloy

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