Tag Archives: Daniel Lubetsky

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Sustainable Small Business: Mission Possible

The newest trend in small business is in fact the oldest business model around: for-profit ventures that serve the community in a direct and positive way. Since ancient times, successful small businesses have fundamental integrity structures built into their DNA. You can’t double deal customers like the Big Boys on Wall Street and call it “hedging.” Why? Because you will lose every customer you have. So by nature, most small businesses operate with the long-term in mind or they won’t have a long-term. Building a satisfied customer base with a reliable and loyal workforce is the best way to grow a Small-b.

Combine this reality with the dissatisfaction and mistrust that ordinary folks have with global corporations and too-big-to-fail financial institutions and that explains the genuine rebirth of Small Business with a Social Purpose. These days, the hottest new businesses are social enterprises in some way. Either by addressing a social problem directly with a for-profit solution, or by incorporating a mission-based view for how to serve people and planet in a responsible way, 21st century small businesses are changing the model of Good business. Doing good business is no longer just about profits. In fact, doing “good” might even cut into your profits, because profits must be balanced against social mission and community engagement.

So the questions to ask for the modern Small-b is: What’s my mission? In what socially responsible way do I intend to accomplish it?

There are different ways to address this issue. Daniel Lubetsky, founder of KIND Bars, is dedicated to the cause of Middle-East peace. The son of a Holocaust survivor, Lubetsky’s passion is to forge peaceful ties between Palestinians and Israelis through joint business ventures. When putting his mission first, the entrepreneur explained, his businesses failed or had moderate success. When he changed his focus and developed a product that customers loved and put his mission of global peace behind it afterward, he gained spectacular success. His entrepreneurial advice is to develop a great product with great values that support the social mission.

The other way to go about this is through more traditional social enterprise models that combine social purpose with sustainable revenues. The Hot Bread Kitchen in Queens, New York does just that: sells out-of-this-world bread products to support its stellar workforce of low-income immigrant women.  Is it possible to build a sustainable social enterprise in New York City? HBK seems to be pulling it off and establishing a great model for other social enterprises. According to Stanford Social Innovation Review, Hot Bread Kitchen is an example of a successful social enterprise using an updated “hybrid” model. “Rather than take a non-profit model and add a commercial revenue stream—or take a for-profit model and add a charity or service program—Hot Bread Kitchen’s integrated hybrid model produces both social value and commercial revenue through a single, unified strategy.”

For today’s SBs, social purpose and sustainability are part of the for-profit recipe. It is simply a matter of how you blend the ingredients.

Stanford Social Innovation Review Reports:

“In the aftermath of the 2007-08 economic crisis, the global economic system is still regarded as broken. Calls for reform have been particularly strong among youth. Vast unemployment, ballooning debt, and entrenched inequality have left a generation of young people frustrated with modern capitalism and motivated to change it. Among the voices for reform, hybrid entrepreneurs are opening the way for a reformulation of the current economic order, combining the principles, practices, and logics of modern capitalism with more inclusive humanitarian ideals.

The essence of this movement is a fundamental convergence and reconfiguration of the social and commercial sectors, from completely separate fields to a common space. (See “The Hybridization Movement.”) Hybrid organizations that are currently being created serve as a testing ground, and we expect that the most successful models will be replicated (see yellow arrow in the graphic). Yet hybrid entrepreneurs are not the only actors through which the hybridization of the economy is happening. Existing for-profit and nonprofit organizations are also part of this trend.”

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Compassion & Hope: Lessons of the Holocaust

One of the holiest holiday season’s of the year is upon us and consumers are out waging their war on Christmas. We are told to shop, shop, shop and keep the American economy rolling! Most of us, however, are holding onto our money as much as possible these days. The rainy day we did or did not save for is here for the third challenging year.

Last year at this time, there was a lightness of being in the air. We had HOPE. Hope for an economic recovery, hope for better government, financial opportunity, job growth and homeowner restitution. Twelve months later, none of this has come to pass. The growing discontent exemplified by the Occupy Wall Street movement reveals it is far worse than it was.

Further, we watch in sadness as Middle East revolutions we thought were over reignite with more devastation than before. We are dismayed by “the great social experiment” of Western Europe that has fallen apart before our eyes. That Heroic America helped create their prosperity after World War II and Reckless America played a key role is destroying the same economies we helped to build reveals a conflict we have yet to reconcile. Everywhere we look, we witness heartbreak in others and in ourselves.

It’s easy to get lost in despair and hopelessness. How did we get to this point of social and economic deterioration? How do we rebuild our nation and renew our sense of hope for a better world?

This weekend, after my yoga class on the Lower East Side, I went out for coffee with an amazing couple: George and Tzipi Weiss. In the course of a conversation about our mutual disenchantment with the economy and U.S. politics, it emerged that Tzipi, a professor of social work at Long Island University, was the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. She said her parents rarely spoke about their experiences, yet despite that she grew up with a heavy feeling. Despair at the brutality and destruction human beings were capable of walked with her through childhood.

Yet when her mother finally spoke of the horrors she had endured, she did not speak of the atrocities. She spoke instead of the small acts of kindness that helped her survive one of the darkest periods in human history. A German woman left an apple on the windowsill every morning in the Concentration Camp where her mother was imprisoned and saved her from starvation. Another woman took the scarf from around her neck and gave it to Tzipi’s mother as she was being transported to another camp. Those who survived, explained Tzipi, made it our alive on the random acts of kindness of strangers. It moved something in my heart to hear her speak with the passion and earnestness of one who has carried the burden of humanity through life and triumphed over it.

As the child of Holocaust survivors, Tzipi explained you could never feel simple joy. You knew you had to grow up to do something important for the world. Tzipi has become an expert and definitive scholar on Posttraumatic Growth,” a study of how to use trauma as a tool for personal transformation.

It reminded me of a talk I attended the week before with Daniel Lubetsky, CEO and maker of KIND Bars, those healthy treats you find at the Starbucks counter. Daniel was the presenter at a Values & Business Roundtable event, a strategic partner of my sustainable business web media company “Good-b.” He spoke of his youth as the son of a Holocaust survivor and how he grew up wanting to right this great wrong. He ended up creating an organization called “Peaceworks” to develop peaceful economic partnerships between Israel and Palestine. He also started the movement of “Do the KIND Thing” inspiring tens of thousands of random acts of kindness. After speaking to Tzipi, acts of kindness took on profound meaning.

My thoughts spun around how these two people, who had carried the pain of their parents on their shoulders, had not grown up to be bitter and vicious themselves. Instead they had dedicated their lives to love and healing the human race. How extraordinary is that?

As we begin Chanukah this week, the Festival of Lights, I am inspired by the light that shines brightly in people like Daniel and Tzipi. On the sides of the Dreidel, the children’s Chanukah toy, the Hebrew words spell out an acronym that represents the historic Jewish struggle for survival: “A great miracle happened here.”

The miracle that happened with Tzipi and Daniel is not only that their parents and the Jewish people survived the Holocaust. It is also that the hatred and depravity of those years compelled them to do something “important” for the world. These two beautiful souls and others like them become for us beacons of hope in the world. Their lives prove that while human beings are capable of the most despicable acts imaginable, we can take our deepest suffering and transform it into love.

Tzipi and I spoke about her remarkable son, Hari Prasada who has rejected Judaism to embrace Bhakti Yoga, a religion that seeks relief of suffering through meditation and the practice of compassion. She said it had hurt her deeply that he left Judaism after what her family had endured. Yet through devotion to her son, she has learned to accept his choice. Upon reflection, I realized how miraculous it was that two generations later, the grandson of Holocaust survivors had chosen to dedicate his life to teaching love and compassion.

It proves that random acts of kindness are not random at all. They have the extraordinary power to right great wrongs and inspire us with hope for humanity. As we begin these holy weeks, the goodness that blooms in Daniel and Tzipi dwells within each of us. If we can remember the power that kindness brings, collectively we really could change the world. That this monumental human tragedy has also led to great acts of love is proof that another great miracle has happened here.

Monika Mitchell is the CEO of Good-b.com, a new media company dedicated to sustainable business and the co-author of the newly released ground-breaking book, “Conversations with Wall Street.”