“If you aren’t making money on your sustainability efforts then you’re just not doing it right”
Kevin Wilhelm is the CEO of a company called Sustainable Business Consulting. He is one of the world’s pre-eminent business consultants and teachers in the field of sustainability.
He has 20 years of experience working with hundreds of businesses ranging across thousands of different industries from Fortune 500 multinationals to medium size businesses. His company specialises in helping companies realise business value through the integration of sustainability into everything they do. His clients include Nordstrom, REI, Alaska Airlines, The North Face, Expeditors, Redbox, Drugstore.com, and Real Networks.
Some of the topics discussed in this weeks episode:
- Worked in professional soccer and baseball in the US
- They help companies find a win-win solution for themselves and the environment
- Businesses want to do right by the environment, SBC shows them how to save money and even make more money while taking care of the environment
- Helps companies manage waste in an economical way
- A lot of states and cities in the US work hard to hit the tough environmental targets they’ve set themselves regardless of the federal approach
- Many global corporations are taking far more action than people realise as investors are demanding this
- Lots of innovation by companies such as Walmart and Target and they push their suppliers to meet certain standards
- How the Port of Seattle set standards far higher than those set by the Paris accord and hit their targets which put pressure on large ports worldwide
- What can a bank do in terms of climate issues? Columbia bank made a proactive step to assist companies that needed financing (Green Loans) to implement environmental change
- The finance industry in the US is leading the charge
- How Kevin handles climate change deniers
- Blogpost – How to talk to the other side
- How he helped professional sports teams to be carbon neutral which led to other teams following suit
- How he Exceeding his own Expectations by writing his first book
- How electric cars are doing in the USA
- People put limitations on themselves
- How he created a graduate scheme programme in sustainability issues
He has taught 13 different business courses on sustainability, has lectured across the country hundreds of times, and is the author of three acclaimed books in this field including:
– Return on Sustainability: How Business Can Increase Profitability & Address Climate Change in an Uncertain Economy
– Making Sustainability Stick: The Blueprint for Successful Sustainability Implementation
– Sustainable Jobs: The Complete Guide to Landing Your Dream Green Job.
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Tony Winyard 0:00
Exceeding expectations Episode 54. Welcome to another episode of the podcast where we aim to give you ideas to help you get better referrals, testimonials, etc. Because if you exceed your clients expectations, the benefits to reputation far exceed the effort you put in which results in you getting more referrals, recommendations, re bookings, and so on. We have a Facebook group, which you’re of course, welcome to join and start conversations in there. if there’s a particular guest you would like to hear interviewed on the show do get in touch, let me know. And it will be great if you could leave a review for us on iTunes or one of the other podcasting platforms, because that’s really how we’re able to get the word about the show spread around so more people are listening to it. And if this particular episode, if you find it interesting, or if you know someone in particular you think would get good value from this episode. Please do share with them that would really help. Remember, all the episodes now have a full transcript on the exceeding expectations site at https://www.ExceedingExpectations.me. So you can go there to find the transcripts. Now it’s time for this week’s episode.
exceeding expectations. My guest today is Kevin Wilhelm. How are you Kevin?
Kevin Wilhelm 1:20
I’m good. How are you today?
Tony Winyard 1:23
I’m pretty good thank you. I’m over here in London. And you said you’re based in Seattle?
Kevin Wilhelm 1:29
Tony Winyard 1:30
Because all I know of Seattle really is I remember there used to be a programme called Fraser and I’m pretty sure that was in Seattle, wasn’t it?
Kevin Wilhelm 1:36
That’s right. And basically, we have the same weather as London. So that gives you an idea of what it is.
Tony Winyard 1:44
I feel really sorry for you!
Kevin Wilhelm 1:46
Absolutely. Everyone seems to think that Seattle is nothing but rain. But which we do get a lot during the winter, of course, but from about, you know, mid May through the end of October, there’s probably no better place the world to live in Seattle.
Tony Winyard 2:01
And what was it that brought you there in the first place?
Kevin Wilhelm 2:04
You know, my wife and I lived in the Midwest, and of the United States, and it kind of bumped around various cities and states, you know, with college, undergrad, and then getting graduate school and we landed in Seattle, this is where we wanted to be.
Tony Winyard 2:20
Just tell us a little bit more about your your business background and what it is you’re doing now and how that came about how you got into that in the first place?
Unknown Speaker 2:28
Yeah, so I so I run a organisation called Sustainable Business Consulting, which does exactly what the name of it, we work with organisations kind of as trusted advisors, to help them realise business value opportunities through better social environmental practices. So what we do is we help organisations, you know, take a take a look at their organisation beyond just the financial realm. But what are they doing from an environmental perspective? What are they doing from a social perspective, you know, we can conduct greenhouse gas inventories with them kind of do sustainability assessments. And once we help them baseline, what they’re doing, we set them on strategies that help them kind of set vision and goals that align with, you know, what needs to happen with the planet, or what needs to happen in terms of their business. And we’ve found that we’ve developed a bunch of Win-Win solutions for businesses where we’ve kind of busted the myth that exists here in the United States that if you want to do right for the environment, or for your community, that it’s going to cost more, what we’ve done is flip that on its head and showed organisations ways they can save money, or even make more money by being a better community steward and taking care of the environment better.
Tony Winyard 3:54
And what was it that got you into all of it in the first place?
Unknown Speaker 3:58
Well, it’s interesting, I’d actually worked in pro soccer here in the United States, and also professional baseball for a number of years, and always had kind of this environmental ethic wanting to as you drive around the country help take care of our natural areas. And when I was working with in both of those different types of organisations, I just kept seeing so much waste, and so much just dollars that were being wasted, whether it’s paper energy, or things are being thrown out, or materials were printed and no one read them. And I just kept thinking gosh, you know, this is just a tonne of waste of money. And each of these things have an environmental impact too. So if we could make the business case around saving money, then people always would get on board. And so I’m not trained as an environmentalist, or as a scientist or anything, I’m purely trained as an MBA, who goes in and helps organisations see where the money is around, things where they have waste, and where they can make slight changes that to their business models that actually then help improve their environmental performance. And that’s what got me into it. And then over the last, say, 12 to 15 years, we’ve obviously established ourselves as leaders here in the United States, big global brands come to us, that want to take action on these issues. So we don’t necessarily have to convince them so much anymore, is now we show them, where’s the path? And where can they, exceed their own expectations in terms of, growing or being in better environmental ….
Tony Winyard 5:45
What I hear over here in the news, and obviously, you don’t know how much to believe. But what we see is that there’s a lot of people in the states… or certainly maybe the administration are kind of denying the whole climate change. What actually is the attitude there towards climate?
Unknown Speaker 6:01
Well, certainly, from a political standpoint, our current administration on the federal level, is, that their heads are in the sand on this issue. I think the majority of Americans in the polls show that, people realise this is a global existential threat and action needs to happen. And, unfortunately, for people in the UK and around the world, all they see is, our president out there making these ridiculous statements. But the good news is, and what you want to know, and your listeners want to know, is that while the federal government pulled out of the Paris climate pact, a number of states and local municipalities, 1500 of our largest cities, as well, as, the states of California, Oregon, Washington, New York, Minnesota, all said we’re still in. And, collectively, we can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions without the federal government to hit the targets that are needed. So that’s a positive thing, whereas the federal government things have happened, states and municipalities that believe in this are taking action. And even better news is that the market, the business community is taking action. So whether that’s investors supply chains, large global brands, they all see that this is something that needs to take, they need to take action on and they are, and so no matter what people’s political persuasion, is, whether they believe in climate change, or not, businesses are moving and their consumers are moving as well.
Tony Winyard 7:47
Do you find yourself having to educate people often on the subject?
Unknown Speaker 7:51
It depends on the audience, I would say about, you know, 50% of the time I do and 50% of the time people get it. They already, they don’t need to be convinced. They just want to know, what do we do? And so, and that’s been increasing, I would say 10 years ago, you really had to kind of rattle cages and, shake and say, Look, this is a huge problem, we got to take action to see what’s happening, I think now, especially United States with the amount of extreme weather that’s due to climate change. You’re getting people paying attention, because there’s been, the worst flooding in 140 years in the Midwestern United States, massive hurricanes that hit last fall, some of the worst forest fires that hit the western United States last summer, and they’re going to happen again. So I think it’s, within our kind of citizenry here in the United States, while the debate may be whether or not climate change is real, or not everyone kind of understands what’s happening with this extreme weather, and what those impacts might be.
Tony Winyard 8:56
Has there been much progress in in tackling some of those issues?
Kevin Wilhelm 9:02
Yes, and no, I would say that at at the, again, at the state and the local level, there’s been a lot of progress. I mean, our state here in Washington where Seattle’s located, we just passed 100% clean energy bill, that’s going to demand that, more energy generation from fossil fuels, and, massive incentives for vehicle electrification, which are both our two biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. But bringing it back to,, getting away from the global, big political scale, business is across the country. And we have, global brands that we work with across not only in the United States, but internationally. They’re taking massive action. And so, I try not to get caught up in the day to day what’s going on at the federal level. Yes, it’s sad, and in a lot of ways, incredibly frustrating. But you can’t, you’re not going to change that, that right now. So where can you make the change? Where can you move the needle, and fortunately, there’s a lot of opportunities to do that through business, because business will follow where the market is headed, they will follow money, business will follow their consumers and what they’re asking for, and the investors are demanding this.
Tony Winyard 10:23
I’m by no means an expert on this, but from what I do see, there’s been a tremendous amount of innovation in this area, in the last few years.
Kevin Wilhelm 10:30
There’s been, a tonne of innovation, and a lot of it being led in the kind of outdoor industry and the apparel industry through groups like the sustainable working group, you’ve got big large, global companies like Walmart, Target, who have put out real, tangible goals, they have what they want to do, and moreover, has a project called “Project Gigaton”, they’re trying to remove a gigaton of co2 emissions from the atmosphere, within a certain period of time. So they’re getting their hundred thousand plus suppliers to get on board and step in line. And those suppliers will push their supply chain to do it and not just one company. Banking, you’re seeing lots of innovation in terms of financial services and products. It used to be that in the investment world that in the United States, one out of every $10 was invested in just, what we call social responsible investment funds. And that’s expected to be one out of $3 in the next few years. So people are putting their money, where their values are, and that’s forcing innovation. And I think that’s, that’s really exciting.
Tony Winyard 11:43
So how do you see things changing over the next few years?
Kevin Wilhelm 11:48
Fortunately, and unfortunately, we’ve got a massive political election coming up in 2020. But the first political debates, at least in the Democratic Party start in the next few months, and there’s a few candidates that have staked their whole candidacy on tackling climate change. So it’s going to be in the narrative, it’s going to be in the news. And then, of course, because our current president and Republican Party are in the denial stage, it’s going to force this, this conversation up there, and, he’s not on people’s everyday, mindset, everyone’s going about their day to day trying to, get to work, get the kids to school, be safe, just get home and time to cook dinner, they’re not thinking about what’s going to happen in 2050 or 2100. And I think that that’s one of the things that where, I have a lot of conversations in the scientific community. And I tell people, when you talk about 2 degrees centigrade by 2050, or sea level rise by 2100, that’s just too far out. And it’s too, it’s, it’s too hard for people to grasp. When you say, we need to make massive changes in our energy grid, so that in 10 years, people will be able to ski or cross country ski in these mountains we go every year, then people can kind of get it, or make these changes, and from our environmental perspective, so that there’s fish that you can fish or animals you want to hunt, you have to bring it down to the very basic level of what that person is interested in. And that’s one of the things that, our firm, Sustainable Business Consultants, we do a lot of that we help take big, global complex issues and bring it down to the business level and the department level, and even the individual levels of people understand how what they’re doing can play a part in these bigger issues.
Tony Winyard 13:38
Before we started recording, you were telling me that you’ve been helping a lot of major organisations such as the Port of Seattle you were talking about?
Kevin Wilhelm 13:46
Yeah, I mean, this is an example where, an organisation comes to us, and they’re, in line with this podcast, how can we exceed expectations? And, they were setting their climate target, a couple of years ago, they’re dating, you know, should they be in line with the city’s goals, the counties goals, with the Paris Climate accord? And we said, look, yes, to all those, and you really want to go, maybe you want to go above and beyond that, maybe you want to be the first port in the world to commit to climate neutrality, or climate negativity, by 50, instead of 80% reduction. And they did that. And so it’s now put this bar out there that, forces other ports to say, well, we got to be at least as good as, as Seattle, whether that’s Rotterdam or, wherever, around the world, Singapore, Rio or New Orleans, or any of the, big major ports and Shanghai or Beijing, you know, outside of Beijing. So, you’ve got this, this feeling of like, okay, let’s, let’s not only go there, but by putting that goal, it’s way above kind of what they were expecting themselves to do, then it’s going to force them to have a be creative. And, and problem solve in a way that they realised that the traditional way that they’ve gone about their business just won’t cut it.
Tony Winyard 15:11
You said you did something similar with, I forget which bank it was you mentioned?
Kevin Wilhelm 15:15
Yeah, well we’ve worked with several different banks, here locally worked with credit unions, VCU and very credit union we’ve worked with, you know, a bank, it’s at Bank wanted to be kind of one of the greener banks in the United States. But one of our really, more exciting ones more recently, is a bank called Columbia bank, which is a large, you know, regional bank here in the United States, and to give your listeners, it’s about, $13 billion in assets US. So whatever, that is an exchange rate right now for the pound. But they, you know, we’re thinking, Well, what can we do on these issues in terms of environment, you know, we’re just a bank. And then when you start realising that there’s all these, these initiatives have been put in place, and, the public sector and the private sector are looking for financing and people who will, backstop projects that need to take place that can bring renewable energy, or other type of sustainability projects to bear, all of a sudden, they start going well, we can do that, we’re the bank, so it’s just really a way of kind of shifting the mindset, and how they can play on these issues. And so instead of the bank thinking about, well, let’s try and cut down our own, paper issues and, energy internally, which they definitely are going to do, and they need to, they really saw, like, wow, we can really be a catalyst through what we do in our day to day with our loans and our accounts and our products and services that we put out there. And if we shifted them, a loan is a loan. So making it a green loan to a different type of business and making them more available, that can have a major, major impact on what needs to take place.
The financial industry is huge in the states; you’ve mentioned a couple of banks, you’ve been helping, what is typically the situation in the finance industry?
Well, the finance industry has actually been leading the charge. There’s a programme out of the UN, that got together probably 65 of the largest banks around the world, including, Standard Chartered and Lloyd’s and some of the other ones in the UK, as well as some of our big ones in the United States, Bank of America, Wells city, to your etc, and they came to an agreement called the equator principles. And it used to be that, banks would finance large major infrastructure programmes. And then afterwards, they would, say, Okay, now you need to go back and remediate that. So we’ll finance the copper mine are the, the timber harvest, and now go back and, plant the trees. Instead, they’re putting on a front end, and they’re saying, if you want this financing, what are you going to do to protect the environment that’s currently there? What are you going to do to currently protect the communities that doesn’t have a negative impact? So that’s happening, that kind of the debt markets in the equity markets and the financing. A lot of the largest institutional investors have banded together to a group called CDP, which stands for the Carbon Disclosure Project. And they send out a questionnaire to the companies they invest with, which are about the top 3000 largest publicly traded companies across the globe. And they’re saying, what are you doing on climate? What are you doing on water? What are you doing in your supply chain to make sure that human rights being taken care of, and the amount of investment that 10, there is over 100 trillion dollars. And so that’s larger than the GDP of the UK for 50 years, practically, you know, or it’s the combined GDP of the United States, EU, Russia, China, Japan, England combined. So you get a sense of when money is saying, We care about this, and we want to do it, they’re pushing things. So that’s where the finance industry can have a major impact.
Tony Winyard 19:20
From some of the things you’ve just been saying, it sounds quite optimistic?
Kevin Wilhelm 19:23
You know, you can only hope to be optimistic. I mean, if, and certainly here in the United States, we read about, our president’s most recent trip, just recently this past week, so you can and, people on one persuasion of the aisle, they’re happy with it, the other half, they’re not happy with it. So you can’t control that what you have to do is where what can you focus on? And where can needle and I feel like they’re, they’re is real, optimism, because, you know, when people realise, where the opportunity is, as opposed to where the risk is, and then they get really excited. And, I think no one likes being around that, that downer of a person that comes in and says the planets on fire, we’re all going to die, you know, it’s like that. But when people come to say, Hey, get on this school bus, this is where the party is going. This is where, how you can make more money, how you can do better how you can be cooler, cooler brands, your customers and your employees and attract the right people to uh, yeah, I kind of wanna be part of that. And that’s what needs to happen on our sustainability movement. That’s one of the things that we try and help all the companies who work with do that so they can exceed their own expectations,
Tony Winyard 20:41
When you encounter people who may be disbelieving of the whole climate change argument, what kind of things would you say to people to try to get them to see your argument?
Kevin Wilhelm 20:53
For the most part, I don’t try and convince people, if they’re a climate denier, or the climate activist, one side or the other, I mean, I feel like it’s like trying to commit someone of a, trying to, get a Catholic to convert to Protestantism, or someone who follows, the Jewish faith become Buddhist, you’re all trying to go to the same place, but how you get there, you disagree quite a bit. So what I try to do is, when I find someone who I don’t agree with, I try and, first of all, I try to be really empathetic, and try and listen and try and hear what the concern is, and what’s really behind it. And usually what they say it is, is not really what’s behind it, it may be, they think this, climate change thing is a hoax, but behind that there’s economic anxiety, they, know that if, there’s public policy on this, it’s going to mean that their job is threatened and their livelihood is threatened. And so when you find that what’s really behind it, then you can find where your common ground is, and where the solutions are. And so I actually started a whole blog series called “How to talk to the other side”. Because, at least in our country, people are, they’re very divided, and they’re in their own tribes. And probably you’re experiencing that in the UK, the pro Brexit, anti Brexit movement, those people are there in there. So where can you listen to what their concerns are, and find that middle ground and move things forward?
Tony Winyard 22:32
You mentioned before about professional soccer, you had some involvement? Also you were telling me about you’ve been helping some organisations within the football, soccer environment?
Kevin Wilhelm 22:41
Well, yeah, it’s funny, because I got my start right out of out of university, working in professional soccer, football, as it’s probably called around the rest of the world. And, it’s just a, former soccer player that, wanted help this sport grow in the United States. But then I realised that there was a bigger need out there. And that’s where I got on this mission to help organisations find ways that they could be better, you know, financially by being better, socially, environmentally responsible. And that led us to a conversation with the Seattle Sounders, which is the top pro soccer team here in the United States. And they were looking for ways that they could green their own office operations. But coming back to this theme of your podcast is exceeding expectations. When we started, saying, well, where can you have an impact? It’s, well, it’s great if you do stuff in the operations, but what about the 45,000 Fans who come to every home game? What if you could inspire them? And then what could you do? And then we had this thought process? What if they became the first professional soccer team here in the United States to be carbon neutral? And what if they were the first professional sports team in the United States, whether that’s Major League Baseball, the NFL National Hockey League, or Major League Soccer to become a first carbon neutral team, and what if by them doing it, they showed the roadmap so that every team did that here in the United States and every team engaged their fans, then you’re talking about real positive change. And that’s a change that’s needed. When we talk about I mean, five years left to really take action on climate change. That’s the kind of action that’s needed. And so what started as a conversation of how can we green our own operation change into? How can we change how sports which is one of those unique activities where it cuts across political divides, religious divides, economic divides? How can we use that to be a catalyst for what’s needed for the environment, society is all
Tony Winyard 25:06
How’s it been progressing?
Kevin Wilhelm 25:07
Well, they just announced it, basically, two or three months ago, here in the United States. And they’ve won awards for it and are sending some positive press, the next big step is there’s a big conference in United States called Green Sports Alliance, where actually our firm sustainable business consulting will be representing them, because we get a lot of the work behind the scenes with them. And unveiling it to a lot of the other pro sports teams and leagues. So what I was expressing was my hope of where we could be in five years. But you needed somebody to plant that flag in the ground and the Sounders have done that. We’ll see what happens. But I’m not super optimistic it’s going to happen there. But I’m hopeful, and we’re certainly going to drive towards that goal.
Tony Winyard 26:01
Changing the subject. You mentioned that you’ve written a few books do you want to tell us a bit about that?
Kevin Wilhelm 26:06
I appreciate you bringing that up, Tony, I mean, I love the the theme of this of your podcast, by the way, because the whole idea of exceeding expectations and telling people or helping people kind of think through how they could go above and beyond, it’s core to who I am and who our organisation is I have been giving talks about what I talked about in this podcast about how there’s a positive return on sustainability, not just financial, but social, environmental, and have been going across the United States and flying a conference after conference, telling people this message trying to educate people and inspire people. And then someone said to me, you want to write a book, and I’m like, I don’t know how to write a book, I’ve never written a book, I haven’t even written a term paper since college, like I had written maybe 15 pages, probably my life. But the more people that kept coming up to me saying, you need to do this, you need to do this, I kind of started talking to people that done it, and talked to other authors, and sat down and wrote my first book, and it was called, actually called return on sustainability. It was designed to be a kind of a period piece, because I had an how business can increase profitability and address climate change in an uncertain economy. And that was, of course, after the financial crisis in 2008. But unfortunately, we’re still in that mindset. And so I wrote it with the idea of like, Well, here’s a book I can give out and talk to, a few companies and students, well, then it became a textbook and 55 different, universities and colleges across the country that exceeded my expectations. So then, a few years later, someone’s like, what’s your sequel? And what do you need to do next? And so, I was helping a client that wanted to become the greenest Coffee Company within its industry. And so laying out here are the steps from all the work that we’ve done, having worked with 150 plus companies, and about 37 different industries, these are the common things you need to put in place to have a successful programme. And, and then, my publisher said, well, it’s great to have a book, but what if you put in a whole bunch of, case studies, which were two examples, worksheets, and you can turn it into a textbook, and it could be both used at the corporate level, but also at the university level, and we’ll distribute it. And they did, and I’m always blown away, that’s gone into another 65 or so different universities. And so it’s been one of these things where, you know, I had no training, no skills in this, I had zero expectation of what this was going to do. And it’s far exceeded whatever I hoped and, and, and it’s helped me, write a few others where I’ve kicked around; one on how to, a lot of people come to me in the industry, how do I get a job in this space? What do I do? So I wrote a book called sustainability jobs, how do you land your dream green job. And now that I’ve done it, now, my expectations are higher, and I want to write something that’s going to the next one, if I do write something, will be, societal, something big. And that’s the hopeful message I love with your podcast is you’ve got individuals who, how can they exceed the expectations within their own business or professionally or personally, and this is one case where I did it.
Tony Winyard 29:41
Clearly, they’ve had an impact in the States. Have they been sold internationally as well?
Kevin Wilhelm 29:45
Yeah, they have, one of the things that, hilariously, Tony is it, once you start selling on Amazon. You never know what your sales are, and where they’re coming from, or anything like that. So it’s, it’s available globally, it’s the first two books and then translated into multiple different languages. But it’s also one of those things where, I wrote Return on Sustainability now 10 years ago, and I wrote Making Steadily Stick six years ago, and I’ve written these other two in the last two to three years, that, I’m so busy with my client work, and focused on the day to day of moving the ball for that you forget that I didn’t have books out there until I get a royalty check. And it’s like, oh, okay, cool. 300 people bought this book last quarter, you know, I it’s literally something that I don’t pay any attention to anymore. I probably should. But, it’s like, okay, on to the next one. And what’s the problem of the day we solve now.
Tony Winyard 30:46
You touched upon very briefly about electric cars, what is the take up on electric cars in the states? What is the attitude towards it?
Kevin Wilhelm 30:55
It’s still definitely new, in some of the, quote unquote, for lack of a better term; “greener cities” across the country, so think Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, they’ve really taken off and you see them a lot of different places in the the rest of the country, it’s, it’s still pretty a new technology, and something that hasn’t been fully adopted yet. But that’s all going to change pretty quickly, most of the major car brands, GM, Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen, Saab, have all said that, they’re going to phase out, the internal combustion engine within the next five years. And they’ll be going to hybrids and, and mostly to fully electric vehicles, and some of them are doing it even faster by 2022. And so there’s just amazing growth, it’s going to happen in this sector and in needs to happen. Because, there’s been studies that show that we can get 78 to 80% of all of our power in the United States through, wind power or solar power alone. And if we have cars running on that renewable energy, then you’re going two-four, you’re taking fossil fuel, plants offline natural gas, and coal plants offline, and replace them with real energy, and you’re taking, petroleum and fossil fuels out of cars. And, we can dramatically reduce carbon emissions by, really embracing electric vehicles. And I think it’s going to happen. I don’t know of a single person who, once they’ve gotten into an electric car and owned it, has ever wanted to go back. I’m on my third, they are fast, they’re quick, you can get in and out of traffic, like nobody’s business, they’ve got all the bells and whistles, even more so than even the high end vehicles, until I think that once they catch on, they’re going to catch on in a big way.
Tony Winyard 33:05
What about public transportation with electric vehicles?
Kevin Wilhelm 33:07
Well, Seattle’s a unique city, because probably most of city runs on hydro electric power, our buses downtown, we actually have the lines overhead, like you’ve seen a lot of European cities, or you see, obviously, for rail across Europe.
But, there’s been, quite a move towards hybrid buses, but the electric buses are just just getting off the ground. And, they’re just starting to get into our fleets locally here over the next couple of years. So I think there’s real opportunity, but there’s a great case study in Shenzhen, China, there air quality was, such a bad, native drawing on everyone’s health, but also on the economic productivity of that city, they started, they switched their buses out, first, all 25,000 metric buses switched to electric. And then they said, Let’s attack our taxicab fleet and our Tuck-Tucks, they swapped out 20,000 cars and taxis with electric vehicles. And now, you don’t have the black hazy cloud, you don’t have that problem of London Fog. And they saw not only, better environmental things, but the amount of asthma and health issues related to that dropped significantly, and also employee productivity rose dramatically. And so it was kind of a win win win. So I think that’s a big case study, and that’s in China and could happen in the rest of the world.
Tony Winyard 34:42
Before we wrap up, what are your general thoughts on exceeding expectations and why people maybe should consider that as an attitude towards life?
Kevin Wilhelm 34:51
Well, I think that, for a lot of people, that there’s a tendency that put your own limitations on yourself, whether you haven’t done something you never taught something. You’ve never seen something done like that before. And I think it’s really just a mindset shift.
You know, I was really fortunate as a young kid, I was exposed to a lot of different things. And it was also I was in the theatre and arts, believe it or not, and sports. And so you learn to fail a lot. I mean, you go in for additions, and you get turned down a lot. You go up on stage, and you every time you try and do a solo, you belted out, in practice 30 times portly before it once correctly. And I think that if people can look at their own lives, and where they’ve done that, whether it’s been in sports, or arts, or music, or career search, or even, chasing after their beloved, husband and wife, they probably had a lot of breakups, and the ones that didn’t work before they found the one. If they take that mindset and apply it to what they’re trying to do, say in business, or wherever they’re going in life, they realised, hey, I can do far better than I ever thought I can manage things that I failed that I didn’t think I could do. And so the message I would like to leave people with is that, push yourself. If you, there’s it’s kind of like you going to the grocery store, and every single thing that’s on the on the shelves was invented by somebody at some point, it just happened. So, I use a case study of, 13, 14 years ago, a graduate school programme came to me and said, Hey, do you want to teach a course on businesses sustainability we need one? We’re thinking if we created the first ever sustainable finance course the United States. And I was like, well, A I’ve never thought about it B. There’s no playbook because it’s the first one ever done. I’m like, I don’t even know what this is. But I mean, generally I did, but you know how to turn that into a graduate school course. And, but as I talked it, over with them, nobody knew. But then we started figuring out what it could be. And it created and it was successful. It was one of the highest rated classes in the graduate school programme. And then that led been asked to teach sustainability for accounting and finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, operations, strategy, marketing, all different areas. And, what I, someone asked me, back in 2006, would you ever teach a graduate school programme or even an undergrad class? That’s a no, I’m not qualified. I don’t know anything about this. But, 30 years later, I’ve got, 1500 former students, I’ve taught in seven different programmes, I’ve had 12 new classes. And I have to pinch myself, because it’s just something I did. And that’s an example, where, whoever’s listening to this podcast, they can take that on, maybe you can look at your life and say, why not? Why not me? And as opposed to say, “Why me?” You say, “Why not me?” And that’s what we did with my business, when we set it up, when sustainable business consulting was getting going, there was nobody who wanted to do this, I went around and talked to, 50 or so consulting firms in the Seattle area and kept saying, somebody needs to do this, they want to get somebody to do this. And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, I guess I have to do it. And the businesses exceeded my expectations. I mean, I have 150 plus clients, massive global brands and clients that I would be dying for, eight, nine years ago now are just run of the mill. And so, just want to leave that message with your listeners is that, push yourself, realise you can do more, and just ask yourself, why not me?
Tony Winyard 38:53
Well, Kevin, if people want to find out more about you, where would they go
Kevin Wilhelm 38:57
Our website at Sustainablebizconsulting.com. You can follow me @Twitter at Kevin_Wilhelm, you can also follow our company at @SBC_consulting on Twitter, or, you can go to my personal website, which is Kevin-Wilhelm.com. And for any of your listeners who hear it and wanna reach out and want to know more about what we do or how to how to go about it. Don’t hesitate to contact me through any of those channels, or to contact Tony, who’s running this amazing podcast. And we’ll we’ll figure out a way to get in touch with you.
Tony Winyard 39:38
Well, we’ll put all of those links in the show notes. And I’ll also include a link to that blog post, you mentioned the “How to talk to the other side”. So before we finish, Kevin, you mentioned before there was a quotation you quite like, do you want to tell us about that?
Kevin Wilhelm 39:53
Well, there’s two that I like, one is a personal one on, climate change, what we find is we take it obviously incredibly serious, but when I’m giving presentations, I often use humour because it’s such a dark topic. And people say, Well, how can you? How can you make jokes about someone climate change? And I say to them, well, if you’re not laughing about climate change, that means you obviously don’t realise how bad it is. That’s one, but the one that I always turned to in the business context of sustainability is that because people think that there’s this myth that you can’t make money by doing the right thing. And I tell people all the time, that “If you’re not making money on your sustainability efforts, then you just aren’t doing it right”.
Tony Winyard 40:21
That’s a good quote to end on. Kevin. Thank you for your time, Kevin. I really appreciate it. And best of luck with all that you’re doing, because, well, the world needs what you’re doing hugely.
Kevin Wilhelm 40:52
Well, thanks so much, Tony. It’s a real pleasure. And I gotta say, I really enjoyed your exceeding expectations podcast.
Tony Winyard 41:01
Next week is Episode 55 with Cynthia Zhai from Singapore, and she helps senior executives and speakers develop a more powerful speaking voice and give them more confidence in what they do and in presentations they give, and so on. So that’s next week with Cynthia Zhai. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode, and hope you have a fantastic week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai