VERGE

Two Steps Forward

Earth Day: Just another day at the office

GreenBiz Group
The entryway at GreenBiz Group headquarters in Oakland, California.

Today is Earth Day. Or, as we at GreenBiz Group call it, Monday.

That is to say: For us, April 22 is just another day at the office. I fully expect that the company vibe today will be no different from the other 250 or so workdays in the course of a year — probably much like for everyone who works in sustainability for a living.

What, exactly, does a typical day at GreenBIz look like? I’m glad you asked. This week, I’m offering a peek.

Last Monday, April 15, I asked the GreenBiz team, 30 in all, to keep tabs on their doings that morning to create a representative snapshot of our daily work. As you’ll see, much of it is rather humdrum — lots of meetings and calls — probably much like your job and organization.

First, the big picture: We have several, year-round constants at GreenBiz: our daily output of articles and newsletters; our three annual events — GreenBiz, Circularity and VERGE — and the behind-the-scenes planning for all of them: administrative, technical, sales, marketing, customer service, design and production. There is also preparation for the nine annual meetings of the GreenBiz Executive Network, held at member company offices around the United States, and our research operation, which produces reports, many sponsored by our corporate partners.

With that as preamble, here it is, from the momentous to the mundane: a slice of GreenBiz life.

Making the sale

April 15 was the first day of work for our newest team member, marketing coordinator Ritu Sharma. She spent the morning with her supervisor, marketing director Becky Dempsey, getting the lay of the land. Becky also worked with Ritu’s counterpart and another relative newbie, Hector Gomez, on sending out an email campaign to generate new leads for our sales team.

Leading the sales side of the house, Paul Carp, vice president of business development, was in conversation with a major European energy company about its involvement with VERGE, and in dialogue with Amazon, a sponsor of Circularity 19 coming up in June. Account executive Sam Goldman worked on finalizing Amazon’s participation at the June event. Sam’s colleague and counterpart, Shaandiin Cedar, was "putting together one of our largest strategic programs for one of the largest energy and infrastructure companies in the world." Can't wait to see what that's about.

Meanwhile, customer success coordinator Taylor Flores was providing pageview stats to ScottMadden on its latest sponsored article, focusing on electric vehicle workplace charging infrastructure. She also answered sponsor questions related to Circularity 19. Business development associate Grant Harrison updated a tracking document we maintain of competitive events and participated with Sam on the Amazon call.

The conference chairs

We have chairs for each of our conferences, including one each for the four concurrent VERGE conferences taking place in October. Jim Giles, who heads up the newest of the four, VERGE Carbon, spoke with the Savory Institute, a nonprofit whose mission includes "large-scale regeneration of the world’s grasslands through Holistic Management."

"They told me about the amazing ranchers and farmers they are collaborating with in an attempt to reverse climate change," said Jim, and about developing one of the first public standards for regenerative agriculture. "If a 'regen ag' label ever becomes as common as 'organic', and we need something like that if we are to start drawing down carbon, these guys could be the ones to make it happen."

Lauren Phipps, who chairs VERGE Circular, as well as Circularity 19, was reaching out to speakers for the upcoming "Circular Economy: State of the Market" webcast, including Ashima Sukhdev from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Katie Fehrenbacher, who chairs VERGE Transport, was writing her Tuesday newsletter, Transport Weekly, focusing on a startup that plans to make hydrogen-powered electric semi trucks so its customers can try to decarbonize shipping.

Gordon Murray
The GreenBiz crew, or most of it, celebrating at the GreenBiz 19 conference in Phoenix in February. Back row (from left); Paul Carp, Kwasi Ansu, John Davies, Daniel Kelley, Greg Kerwin, Pete May. Middle row: Lauren Phipps, Holly Secon, Sam Goldman, Taylor Flores, Lina Bigaran, Isa Anne Stamos, Shana Rappaport, Sara Cefalu, Ellie Buechner, Sarah Golden, Sydney Massing-Schaffer. Front row: Shaandiin Cedar, Heather Clancy, Joel Makower, Sam Ho, Eric Faurot, Becky Dempsey. Not pictured: Katie Fehrenbacher, Jim Giles, Hector Gomez, Grant Harrison, Ritu Sharma, John Sutton, Elsa Wenzel.

VERGE Energy chair Sarah Golden joined vice president and VERGE executive director Shana Rappaport on a call with the team behind Mayor Michael Tubb of Stockton, California, about the mayor’s possible participation in VERGE 19 to discuss how the city is advancing green workforce development programs. Sarah also spoke with Jessica Schiller from Schiller Bikes about her vision of "democratizing the waterways and doing the same thing for water that Henry Ford did for land."

The rest of the events team was similarly working on various aspects of our upcoming Circularity and VERGE events. Strategic programs manager Kwasi Ansu was arranging meetings with industry experts in advance of a summit he and I will be co-hosting at Circularity 19 and was encouraging circular economy startups to apply to the Circularity 19 Accelerate fast-pitch competition. Conference vice president Ellie Buechner, who also chairs the annual GreenBiz conference, researched sustainability trends to inform our GreenBiz 20 tracks, which will be used in our speaker nomination form, going live early next month.

Conference manager Sydney Massing-Schaffer looked at a potential venue in Atlanta for Circularity 20 to determine whether it will meet our needs. She also researched the best rooftop bars in downtown Minneapolis for some of our Circularity 19 side events and connected with an old friend about potentially choreographing a dance performance for VERGE 19 — "which would be epic," Syd pointed out. And conference coordinator Sara Cefalu was planning some activities and special programs taking place during Circularity 19: dinner clubs; off-site tours; morning yoga; and more.

Looking forward

Vice president and senior analyst John Davies, who runs the GreenBiz Executive Network and is based in southern California, participated in an interview in advance of a GreenBiz leadership offsite taking place later this month. "It was great being able to take some time to think about where GreenBiz is going and how we'll get there. In my experience, change doesn't happen linearly. It happens across long, flat stretches and then a big step. It feels like we are approaching another one of those steps."

Along those lines, GreenBiz CEO Eric Faurot and president Pete May discussed goals for the leadership retreat, as well as the progress on a nonprofit entity we are looking to spin off later this year. Chief revenue and marketing officer Greg Kerwin worked on developing a fundraising pipeline for the nonprofit in advance of a brainstorm meeting later that day.

Meanwhile, acting CFO John Sutton was at home finishing a year-long thesis, due that night, for a grad school degree in International Developmental Economics. The title: "Temperature and Tempers: Heat’s Negative Impact on Language and Mood." A little-discussed aspect of a warming world.

Behind the scenes

On the production side of the house, creative director Daniel Kelley worked on conceptualizing, designing and editing video assets for Circularity 19, including a marketing video for that event. Graphic designer and production assistant Sam Ho was far away from the office, in Peru. Sam’s mother lives in Lima and each year they gather the community for a week to meditate together in silence — 10 sessions per day, punctuated by meals. "It's a wonderful a way to put aside secular affairs and focus on our Zen practice without any distractions," explained Sam — obviously, before going silent.

Isa Anne Stamos, director of systems and technology, was strategizing how to evaluate a software collaboration platform and participated in a technical planning call for a major GreenBiz.com site-migration project taking place this fall. Finance and operations manager Lina Bigaran was, as usual, keeping the office running smoothly while onboarding Ritu and updating the financials.

Storyville

Last and definitely not least, the editorial team. We meet every Monday morning to plot the week’s coverage, so editorial director Heather Clancy, from her perch in New Jersey, directed the conversation before reviewing résumés for a soon-to-be-filled editorial position — "and trying not to get distracted by the roughly 200 emails that slammed into my inbox because I was cheeky enough to take Friday off." We all know that pain point.

Associate editor Holly Secon and special projects editor Elsa Wenzel were digging through the impressive bounty of applicants for this year’s "30 Under 30" feature, to be published in early June, plucking the best and brightest from amid the hundreds of nominations.

That’s the snapshot — an hour or so in the life. A lot of moving parts for our little team. From the momentous to the mundane, a peek inside what we do every day, Earth Day or not.

Like I said:  just another day at the office.