Listen to the episode with Astrid Scholz
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Show Notes

My guest today is Astrid Scholz, Co-Founder of Zebras Unite and CEO of Sphaera

In the episode, we discussed: 

  • Astrid’s past experience at Eco Trust (a conservation organization) looking for scalable business models that have landscape-scale impact. 
  • Her realization that organizations exist and create great innovations but they get siloed because it’s not the organization’s mission to go beyond.
  • Astrid’s idea of building a platform that makes it easy to discover, re-adapt, and discover what other companies are doing
  • Sphaera Solutions started as SaaS company with a public facing product where anyone can share company solutions, much like recipes. In essence a kind of open source platform for social change
  • Astrid’s experience of trying to raise money — “I ran into all the usual problems of raising capital while female” — experienced first-hand the biases and learned that the VC culture isn’t imaginative 
  • Jennifer Brandel and Mara Zepeda had similar experiences as female tech founders so together the three of them collaborated and wrote Sex & Startups
  • The women also realized that they didn’t want to compromise to pursue “growth at all costs” which led directly to the idea of Zebras Unite which is essentially that: “Companies can be built for profit and for purpose that have ambitious goals but don’t grow at all costs”
  • Zebras Unite has resonated with thousands of people and how has now grown to be a multi-state cooperative following the mantra of “Zebras fix what unicorns break”.
  • “People can be really deliberate about how they create their organizational culture… nobody forces you to pay you 500 times as a CEO what your lowest employee makes” 

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Listen to the episode with Alex Wick
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Show Notes

My guest in this episode is Alex Wick, CEO and Co-Founder of Cascadia Carbon, an automated personal transportation carbon emissions calculator app.

In our conversation we discussed:

  • Cascadia’s app technology of tracking one’s carbon footprint
  • Unique aspects of B corporations, including reporting requirements, paid time off, maternity leave, and employee volunteer opportunities
  • Raising capital and finding value-aligned investors
  • Living a low carbon lifestyle through limiting flying, driving, and meat consumption
  • Carbon footprint of the internet
  • Average carbon emissions output of driving vehicles and how you can decrease or offset these emissions

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

Video Version

Listen to the episode with Alex Wick

Listen to the episode with Eduardo Gómez
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Show Notes

My guest in this episode is Eduardo Gómez, Co-Founder and CPO of Emitwise, an AI-powered software company that helps companies achieve carbon neutrality.

In our conversation we discussed:

  • Eduardo and co-founder Mauro Cozzi’s brainstorming conversation that led to Emitwise
  • Eduardo’s personal passion for fighting climate change
  • Distinguishing the 3 scopes of emissions
  • Current discrepancies between companies’ carbon emission tracking and reporting versus the actual carbon emissions
  • Process of working with investors and fundraising for Emitwise

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

Video Version

When you get right down to it, I had no business starting a podcast. Especially one about climate change. I’m neither famous, nor particularly great at public speaking, and in the grand scheme of things know precious little about the climate emergency.

But instead of worry about it, as I found myself increasingly doing last year, I decided to learn about the problem. And what better way to learn than talk to people?

As we prepare to launch Series 2, here are the key learnings from the fabulous guests who helped get this thing off the ground.

“Speak Up”

David Darmanin (Hotjar) and Jordyn Bonds (Tallylab) both highlighted the vital importance of speaking up… and carrying on speaking up even if things don’t work out right away. Jordyn’s take on this draws from parallel experiences in bringing up ethical issues in other organisations while David explains the shock factor of a young girl — Greta Thunberg — speaking up. Repeatedly.

Stop Making Excuses

Very few people are experts on climate change, sustainability, and carbon neutrality. But inaction due to lack of knowledge is often just an excuse. Software companies are actually really good at learning new things, it just needs some commitment.

Despite their lack of expert knowledge, Richard de Nys (Award Force), Natalie Nagele (Wildbit), and David Darmanin (Hotjar) have all committed to reducing their company’s footprints by establishing measurement processes and company policies.

Forget Metrics

Peldi of Balsamiq is famous for his reluctance to measure every aspect of this business. While this is counterintuitive to many software geeks there’s an important lesson there: doing the right thing should not be based on ROI.

So sure, while its useful to know your exact carbon footprint, it’s not remotely necessary to start there. You can switch to greener hosting, for example, without worrying about attributing that back to customer satisfaction, churn, loyalty, or what have you. It’s the right thing to do.

“Don’t be selfish”

Accusing a climate activist of being selfish typically seems like something a climate science denier would say. But Steli Efti, CEO of Close, is making that point that to effect deep change within an organisation you need to approach that change from a selfless point of view. Its important to understand what other things are of major concern to your CEO’s, or your staff’s, lives and work to fit carbon neutrality into that. Simply shouting louder doesn’t always achieve the best results.

Similarly, Simon Galbraith of Redgate talks about the importance of biodiversity and habitat loss and how that, for him, is an even bigger issue. A single-minded focus on carbon at the further expense of other planetary inhabitants is just as selfish and misguided in his opinion.

“Tech has lost its moral compass…”

… if it ever had one. Harsh, but likely true, sentiments echoed by Mark Littlewood (Business of Software), Bridget Harris (You Can Book Me), Cennydd Bowles (NowNext), Gareth Marlow (EQ Systems), and Rand Fishkin (SparkToro).

With these guests we dove deep into the misguidedness of modern software companies’ focus on growth at all costs. How far from being a force for good, many tech and consumer electronics companies are more akin to “vandals” than innovators.

The Internet’s Dirty Secret

Hiding behind pixel-perfect interfaces and clean glass devices we forget, or don’t even know, that today’s web carbon footprint eclipses that of global aviation.

This topic, and how to mitigate it with design and technology, is covered with guests Oli Hall (Forge The Future), Tom Greenwood (Wholegrain Digital), and James Christie (SustainableUX).

Look for the Feedback Loop

And last, but one of my personal favourites, my conversation with Gareth Marlow (EQ Systems) highlights just how difficult it is for almost anybody to truly understand climate change effects.

Because the feedback loops are so hard to even identify, let alone see. But by no means impossible, and we discuss a number of historical and current examples of how the effects of climate change can already be seen on our doorsteps.

Join us for Series 2

Very soon we’ll be publishing new episodes as part of our next series. This time focusing more heavily on entrepreneurs who are working directly in the climate change space… and the investors who are funding them.

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Show Notes

My guest today is Richard de Nys, founder and CEO of Award Force, an Australia-based, remote software company.

In our conversation we discussed:

  • Richard’s background as a product designer and how AwardForce came about
  • The issues around planned obsolescence and consequently how designers have a direct impact on sustainability
  • How remote or distributed teams can be climate positive
  • AwardForce’s attempts and drive to be a carbon neutral operation

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Show Notes

Jordyn Bonds is co-founder and CEO of TallyLab. I got to know of her after my interview with James Christie. When I saw that she had given a talk about the web’s energy (in)efficiency I had to speak to her as the carbon footprint of the web an elephant in the tech industry’s room that is largely ignored.

Our conversation touched on a number of issues including diversity, privacy, and how certain key infrastructural choices in how the web and web apps are designed can have an order of magnitude’s difference to energy consumption and efficiency.

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Show Notes

In this episode I speak to Tom Greenwood, founder and CEO of Wholegrain Digital, a London-based WordPress agency who’s built a reputation and business around sustainable web design.

Wholegrain is itself a registered B Corp — meaning that they hold themselves accountable to balancing profit with purpose. Apart from talking through the company’s journey and experience of going through this process we also discuss what exactly is involved in creating a more sustainable website, and what personal and political actions we can all take to advance climate emergency solutions.

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Show Notes

I was so stoked to get Cennydd on the show. As a former designer myself Cennydd was always someone I looked up to. Not just because of his design chops, but also because he always came across as a very principled designer.

When I looked him up recently in researching guests for the show I was therefore thrilled to see that he’d completely shifted focus to evangelising ethical and future design.

My conversation with him did not disappoint.

On the practical level we cover some specific approaches to how designers can do their job better from a climate point of view. But we also discuss how these topics can lead to personal burnout and down periods and how to deal with them.

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Show Notes

Natalie is the co-founder and CEO of WildBit, a remote software company that produces tools for software developers. Natalie came across my radar after my interview with Peldi who suggested I reach out to her as somebody who might be interested in the topic.

He was right.

Because while she personally doesn’t have the time to learn about the issue deeply her company, like Hotjar, had made a commitment to becoming carbon neutral.

Besides discussing her personal views on the matter in the episode you’ll hear how this came about and how WildBit is approaching it.

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

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Show Notes

Frankly, if you work in software marketing or sales and haven’t heard of Steli Efti you’ve not been doing your job right. He’s an accomplished salesperson and negotiator who’s become deservedly famous for openly sharing his expertise for free.

I was lucky to work directly with Steli for a few months at Close but even so I was in two minds as to whether he’d be at all open to discussing this topic.

Turns out I was right to reach out to him. Like Peldi, despite not being an expert on the topic he is personally concerned and we had a fruitful conversation. More importantly (to me) he shared his thoughts on why and how activists in the area struggle with “selling” the problem and what approaches we can all take to do better.

Resources

Here are the direct links to resources mentioned in the episode:

Video Version