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”


A Thrift (Home Improvement) Store with Social Mission

Construction and demolition debris makes up over half of our nation’s solid waste. That’s the problem that Community Forklift trying to solve with their business. They are not a forklift store, rather it is a thrift store that sells surplus, salvaged and new green building materials – with a social mission. Think of it as a combination of Home Depot and Goodwill thrift store wrap in one package.

So the other week I talked to Ruthie Mundell, Outreach and Education Director with Community Forklift, to get an insight from her about their business.

Construction and demolition debris makes up over half of our nation’s solid waste. That’s the problem that Community Forklift trying to solve with their business. They are not a forklift store, rather it is a thrift store that sells surplus, salvaged and new green building materials – with a social mission. Think of it as a combination of Home Depot and Goodwill thrift store wrap in one package.

So the other week I talked to Ruthie Mundell, Outreach and Education Director with Community Forklift, to get an insight from her about their business.

Continue reading “A Thrift (Home Improvement) Store with Social Mission”

Guangzhou’s (China) Innovative Transportation System

Check out this city of Guangzhou, the economic hub of China’s eastern coast, for its transit systems. In a country that have more than 1 billion people, even a city the size of Guangzhou has population in the 10 to 15 million range that equal population of probably some of the big cities in Asia. It is “the fastest growing city in the fastest growing province in the fastest growing country.”

With the kind of population like they have, the city have to offer an integrated transportation system. They’ve got too. Traffic jams is common problems in many of cities in Asia. The streets there are not like here, which is wide and have 4-6 lanes. Over there, you’ll be lucky to find cities that have more than 4 lanes.


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

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Part 3: distribution channel

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


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.

Why the United Nations Needs to Go Creative Commons

With the rise of social publishing, the United Nations need to lead by going Creative Commons license for all of their publications. You know that the UN has published thousands of world class publication for everyone. These publications are available for free for anyone with online access. Yup, free access.

However, they’re missing the boat by locking most of their publications into Copyright situation. Case in point, this publication on “Kick the Habit,” a comprehensive guide to climate neutrality for everyone – yes, everyone from individuals to organizations to cities, governments, SMEs (small-medium enterprises) and corporations – pretty much cover all of us who uses energy. However, this guide is not easily accessible for anyone unless it gets to the hands of influencers, who can then help spread out the message around via different medium like Twitter, Facebook, social publishing, etc. you name it. 

I almost got kicked out from Scribd (a social publishing) this morning, because I wanted to share (read: non-profit, non-commercial) this Kick-the-Habit publication (pdf) online so people can access it, read it and get educated on the issue of going carbon neutral. 

Here is the email I received from Scribd this morning.

Hello, DewitaSoeharjono —

We have removed your document “Kick the Habit” (id: 40082915) because our text matching system determined that it was very similar to a work that has been marked as copyrighted and not permitted on Scribd.

Like all automated matching systems, our system is not perfect and occasionally makes mistakes. If you believe that your document is not infringing, please contact us at and we will investigate the matter.

As stated in our terms of use, repeated incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and prohibit you from uploading material to in the future. To prevent us from having to take these steps, please delete from any material you have uploaded to which you do not own the necessary rights and refrain from uploading any material you are not entitled to upload. For more information about’s copyright policy, please read the Terms of Use located at

Best regards, Scribd Support Team Questions?

This is the UN COPYRIGHT. 


So the way I understand it, it IS okay if you made copies for non-profit distributions. But it’s NOT okay for online distributions. Interesting…

Digital vs. hard copy influence

Want more people to read? A quick math on Scribd: 60 million readers every month, 20 million embeds, millions of people readcast (read and let people know what they’re reading). Plus it can get downloaded by IPad, Kindle, and some other e-reader gadgets. It’s about distribution. That stats versus printing 200-some pages! Why waste papers these days if you don’t need to? Hellooooo? There’s more upside potential, i.e. more people read, online. That’s the fact.

Creative Commons is about democratizing publishing and access. Look, I am not using it for commercial purposes. My intention is to share worthwhile reading materials with others. You think after this I’m going to upload UN stuff. No way, baby. It’s not worth the risk. Because I still want to share the world with more reading stuff going forward

By the way, the UN is not alone in this case. There are other organizations have the same attitude on copyright thing. I know I singled out them (sorry about that) because they have many more organizations under their wings. If they lead, others will follow.  

I just hope some UN officials in New York, or elsewhere in the world, pay attention to the implications of online culture on sharing. Sharing is social. Social means less restrictions.

Nuff said. Let’s unlock the potential…

Global 10 Risks Facing Businesses

Ernst and Young recently released its Business Risk Report 2010 based on interviewed with a panel of more than 70 industry executives and analysts from 14 sectors.

If you look at the snapshot of the top 10 global risk across the 14 industries they cover below, you’ll see how a number of risk listed is associated with the sustainability factors of your business.

For example, in the business of green, there are regulations and compliance apply to business of any size. Literally, there are dozens of environmental regulations apply to small businesses, from environmental permits, air quality regulations, cleanup, ecosystem protection, fish and wildlife regulations, and more.

Eventhough, radical greening risk dropped from number 4 in 2009 to 8th in 2010, environmental regulation, consumer trends and strategic responses – remains a long term issue.

The snapshot below is what they called ‘risk radar.’ These are the drivers that might affect how you do business and at the same time, how it can help you position into the future. Compliance is associated with politics, law and regulations. Financial is the kind of risk associated with the economy and market ups and downs. Strategic is associated with customers, competitors and investors. Operational risk affects the processes, systems, people and those in the value chain.

Global 10 business risks:


– click on the image for larger view

The table below shows on the relative importance the top 10 business risks across the 14 sectors they studied.


For more details, you can download the ‘Business Risk Report 2010’ here.

images: EY