South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress

President Barack Obama and Republic of Korea Lee Myung Bak         photo: Pete Souza – White House

Did Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid give hint to South Korean President to speak about green economy to members of congress? The President of South Korea, Lee Myung Bak, who is on a state visit to Washington this week – his speech seems to hit the chord at today’s Joint Session of Congress.

At the session, Lee Myung Bak talks about his country’s emergence to join the economic powerhouses of the world. Transforming itself from one of the poorest to the most dynamic economy. Think about for a sec. You probably know some of the household names here via technology or car, brands like Kia, Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. Those brands originated from Korea and branched out from there.

So. Korea is a small country, with only 48 million people in comparison to the U.S. with 312+ million in population. This is a country that have no natural resources and yet managed to become global top 10 economic power!

It’s very impressive, when you think about how they achieved that position – in just one generation. Why? Because, they prioritized education.  Continue reading “South Korean President Talks Green to US Congress”


Chart of the Day: External Drivers of Change

According to the findings of “Leaders of Change” survey by EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit), gathered from 288 respondents (senior executives) “the focus of change management have shifted from cost conscious to more emphasis on growing market share and preparing for the future.

According to the findings of “Leaders of Change” survey by EIU (Economist Intelligence Unit), gathered from 288 respondents (senior executives) “the focus of change management have shifted from cost conscious to more emphasis on growing market share and preparing for the future.

Sales and marketing also get more attention.

As the chart shows below, the external drivers of change varies from industry to industry. For example, for consumer goods company, competitiveness is top on the list (56%), follows with customer demand (44%) and desire to increase market share (51%). Continue reading “Chart of the Day: External Drivers of Change”

Ecological Non-Toxic Raw Materials

Few days ago, I blog about reverse innovation as one of the trends that can have an impact on any-size of business. Reverse innovation is innovation adapted from emerging markets (developing world), first. This company’s products fit that description.

It just so happen that the other week, I had the opportunity to interview Alex Khan, who is the Operations Assistant at Compo Clay, a company that manufacture green raw materials for the homes and building industries.

This company is an example of how you don’t have to be a big business to do a reverse innovation. A small business can do it.

The story

Compo Clay was founded by a guy named Eric Man, who’s the Managing Partner of Compo Clay, 7 years ago. Eric found that there’s a lot of ineffiencies in the market for building products, home decor, architectural designs and a lot of stuff that he said that he wasn’t comfortable with for his family. You either have to give up a lot of quality or you’d be bring in toxic products that are harmful to the environment into your home. So that’s how he set out to do things differently. He wanted to solve all of these problems and come up with a product that would be beautiful, aesthetically pleasing product while also being a good quality and healthy for both for the human and earth.

They have been in R&D (research and development) for 7 years and now ready to bring to market.

Innovation is at the core working with team of engineers, they’re constantly working to improve their products and breaking barriers.

The niche market and its competitive advantage

Their niche are products are environmentally safe. These products consists of 6 ingredients that make up all of their products: 50% mineral composition, sea salt, sand, water, recycle fly ash, reinforcing fibers, which is glass-based fibers. All of these ingredients are sourced from the earth crust so there’s no mining, no deforestation and no chemical use. Alex says that their “products are totally non-hazardous, so there is no there is no lead, formaldehyde, no VOCs (volatile organic compound) and totally non-combustible. So you have no problem associated with fire toxic.”

Sample of some of their products include home decor, building products, mantel pieces, planters, statues, and different things targeted for the residential market.

Strategy: when it comes to selling their supposedly “green” products, they put “green” aspect secondary. What’s important for them is for customers to realize that their products are aesthetically beautiful, light in weight, thus save money on packaging, shipping, etc.

It’s important for any business to have a mission, purpose. This is how they intend to change the world.

1. Green products – provide products that are affordable to many.

2. Green operations – concious of their actions they way they run the company operations through continuous development and implementation of green technology and practices. They use variable energy in the operations and there is no heat is use in the molding process.

3. Green society – to educate consumers and communities on sustainable awareness.

Distribution channels

They use grassroots approach. Using a network of specialty stores. Products are sold through Amazon, Ebay, small boutiques throughout the U.S. They have storefront in Alameda, CA with soon to be opened flagship store in San Fransisco. Their long-term view includes helping bigger companies to go green.

Dig deeper. I break the interview into 3 parts: about the company, line of products and distribution channel. It’s something that everyone can learn. 

Part 1: the story

Listen on Posterous

Part 2: line of products

Listen on Posterous

Part 3: distribution channel

Listen on Posterous

Related reading: 20 Global Trends that can have an Impact on Your Business


Huge Procurement Dollar for Small & Minority Biz (in Maryland): Interview with Jerry Godwin

The other week I had the opportunity to have Jerry Godwin, Business Development Specialist with Wheaton (Maryland) Business Innovation Center as guest on my program – Ecotwist. In this interview, we talked about a whole range of issues from the innovation hub that the county offers to State’s procurement dollar for small and minority businesses. (Podcast of interview is below).

Innovation Hub

There are 5 business innovation network within the county based on location and industry: Shady Grove (biotech), Silver Spring (IT and software development), Wheaton (professional services), Rockville (international and tech companies), Germantown (biotech and life cycle companies).

There are two reasons why you’d be interested in participating in some sort of incubation: 1) Typically you pay below market rate for space provided. 2) The county provides broad technical assistance for CEOs and their staffs with close to 60 seminars a year. Some are 1 hour long, some are 2-3 hours long.

Currently there are over 180 companies in the county’s incubators network. The objective is, within about 3 years with the kind of environment created, Jerry says “with the technical training and synergies,” they expect that these companies will outgrow its space.

More than 90 companies have outgrown their spaces and move into commercial space. About 94 of these companies still in business, considering the failure rate of business the first year is about north of 85%. So that’s a pretty darn good success ratio. About 100 of companies under their portfolio have graduated from the program. They created 2500 jobs. Use 500,000 sf of commercial space. And bring $500 million of capital infusion back into the county.

The county provides financial and tax incentives for small businesses from new jobs tax credit, enhance new jobs tax credit to enterprise zone tax credit.

Montgomery county procurement

Jerry also said that there’s a big push in procurement dollar for small and minority businesses, which is part of the county’s Local Small Business Reserve Program.

All County departments’ is required to contract a minimum of 20 percent of annual solicitations to small businesses. The solicitations are reserved for vendors registered with the Local Small Business Reserve Program. The dollar amount is around $35 million for FY 2010.

For a business to participate in the procurement, it’s a 2 step process:

  1. Register as vendor with Montgomery County at
  2. Register with Local Small Business Reserve Program at

You can also visit Montgomery County Economic Development, for more details.

There’s more that we covered in our interview. Check out the podcast of “Doing Business Locally: Interview with Jerry Godwin.”

Lessons from the Top: How Top Performing Companies get Into Sustainability

A recent Sustainability and Innovation survey of global corporate leaders conducted by Boston Consulting Group and MIT Sloan Management Review, found that sustainability is at the core of many ot the top performing businesses. BCG and MIT surveyed more than 3000 business executives and managers and organizations from around the world. The survey captures insights from individuals in organizations in every major industry.

Point of entry: waste reduction and resource efficiency

These are initiatitives that companies can start working on. Waste reduction and resource efficiency are identified as the low-hanging fruit. Respondents put the two as priorities that help them run lean and efficient operations. It is measureable and it saves money.

Via MIT Sloan Review Management.

For Clorox, it was an entry point into sustainability. “We had done the measurement on footprint and the groundwork on projects so that people could buy into the greenhouse gas reduction, solid waste reduction and water reduction goals,” says Beth Springer, executive vice president of international and personal care at Clorox. “They could see the path.”

For Johnson & Johnson, resource management is also an efficiency measure that contributes to profitability. According to its 2009 Sustainability Report, between 2005 and 2009, the company completed more than 60 energy-reduction projects, representing $187 million in capital investments, which it expects will collectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 129,000 metric tons annually and provide an internal rate of return of almost 19%. The projects have so far generated about 247,000 megawatt hours of cumulative energy savings a year.

During the same period, Johnson & Johnson made a 32% cut in both hazardous and nonhazardous waste. “It’s been better for the bottom line, especially in terms of energy costs,” says Al Iannuzzi, senior director of worldwide health and safety at Johnson & Johnson. “Waste is cost to the corporation … and, of course, the less waste you send out of your gates, the less expensive it is to make your product.

The top drivers

From there, the embracers expand their practice to embed sustainability into their core values, because they see the link between sustainability and profit. Among the top drivers that support sustainability-related investments are:

  • – Increase margins or market share.
  • – The opportunity for greater potential for innovation in their business models and processes.
  • – Access to new markets.


Click on image to see larger view.

Making it happen


The 7 habits of top performing businesses:

1. Move early – even if information is incomplete.

Be bold. Use your gut. This is a journey.

2. Balance broad, long-term vision with projects offering concrete, near-term “wins.”

It’s a balance between ambitious vision and areas of competitive advantage. The smart companies narrow their projects into those that they can produce early, show bottom-line results and practicality.

3. Drive sustainability top down and bottom up.

Sustainability must be driven not only from the top down, but also it must involve employees at all levels for ideas and insights from multiple sources.

4. Aggressively de-silo sustainability – integrating it throughout the company operations.

Top performers applied sustainability to all existing business processes.

5. Measure everything (and if ways of measuring don’t exist, start inventing them).

Establish baselines and develop method of assessments so that starting point can be identified and progress measured. Try to establish ways of quantifying the impact of sustainability on brand, innovation, and productivity.

6. Value intangible benefits seriously.

“Smart companies are realizing that conservation of natural resources they need is a fundamental part of risk management.” Coke and Pepsi realized that water is the key ingredient to their business. Water conservation is fundamental to their business, if they want to stay in business. Allow time to develop the ability to measure and understand fully – intangible advantages. Companies need to make investment decisions based on tangible benefits, intangibles and risk scenarios.

7. Try to be authentic and transparent – internally and externally.

Be realistic. Do not overstate motives or set unrealistic expectations. Communicate your challenges as well as your successes.

Dig deeper for Sustainability: The ‘Embracers’ Seize Advantage, here.

Chair Fabric Made of 80% Recycled Materials

Spotted this few weekends ago at a Safeway store. Cool chair made with fabric made of 80% recycled materials that include plastic bottles. That means, less plastic waste going to the landfill.

This is an example of what could be. You think Deer Park bottles made their way to make this product? Technically, they could. If they do, this eco-friendly chair can be their revenues generator and expansion to new markets (read: new customers). 

I checked Deer Park website. But couldn’t find any info about this particular product. In case you have some info about this product, drop me a line or let me know in the comment section. 



How Focus on Certainties can help Reinvent, Redefine Your Business, Career

“We are actually within the next 5 years that I would call the great transformation,” says Daniel Burrus in this interview with Dr. Moira Gunn of IT Conversations (Tech Nation). That’s kind of in-your-face prediction. Daniel Burrus is the author of the book “Flash Foresight.” (I haven’t read the book yet. However, listening to this conversation made me want to read it!)

The interview is thought-provoking. It brings certain conditions into perspective. Conditions that can impact the livelihood of either business or individual, if you ‘really’ care about your sustainability as a business or professional. Daniel Burrus, says “the future is where we’re going to spend most of our time.” Why not spend time thinking about it now?

The sure way to predict the future

The sure way to predict the future is by focusing on certainties instead of uncertainties. Things that you know will have bigger impact. For example, what do you think of the use of social technologies, will it go up? Yes or no? Yes, for sure. How about mobility? The number of people who’s buying smart phones? Growing or stagnant? The answer is: it’s growing.

Another one: population growth. According to National Geographic, world’s population soon will reach 7 billion people. Yes, you read that right. 7 billion people living on earth! How will this impact you, your job, your business?


The three certainties that can predict the future with accuracy, according to Daniel Burrus:  

1. Demographics

2. Technology 

3. Government regulations

That’s the big three.

Linking certainties with opportunities

There are other certainties that we can think of, i.e. people are living longer, that means we need to save more for retirement, stay healthy, etc. Figure out what this kind of certainty means to you. What are the opportunities if you are a financial professional or if you are in banking? Consumers are demanding more openness, transparency, access to better products, less toxic. If you are in the consumer products and haven’t made the move to clean products yet, this may be the time to create line of new products. Be innovative.

The same thing with access to (or scarcity of) fresh water, for human and business consumption. How does it impact you- say, if your key ingredient is water? You probably will need to start thinking about water efficiency – if you want to stay in business. Where’s the opening for your business? How do you keep the social license?

Some things are certain. The use of smart phones as replacement of a computer. Use of iPad in business. The growing number of users globally using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites. More people using social networking tools will have a big impact to anyone, business-wise or career-wise. Do you see how your company might need to have social presence to stay competitive, or even for branding? Do you need to retrain yourself in social media, so you can ‘keep’ your job? Etc. Okay, you get the idea.

That’s just a start.

I’m sure you can think of other certainties in your line of business or job that can help you see the invisible future  through the lens of opportunities.

So start thinking about it…

Once you know what “certain” things are growing in your line of profession or business, you can start envisioning the future and start looking for opportunities. 

Check out the rest: Flash Foresight.