After a late flight info town, I was up bright and early on Wednesday to make sure I made it to the Green Business Conference on time to register. The conference was about 10 blocks from my hotel so I decided to walk there. San Francisco is such a beautiful city and I couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather. As I walked through this beautiful city, I forgot how not-so-beautiful it can get in certain areas. The homeless population is the largest in the US. That’s topic for another blog though.
I arrived to the conference at 7:45am and got situated right up from to get the most out of the speakers and workshops. They had a great vegan and organic breakfast for all the people nerdy enough to get there early... yeah, that was me. For two days I listened to (and learned from) some amazing individuals in the green sector of business. The highlight of the conference for me was meeting and listening to the story of Seth Godman, TeaEO of Honest Tea. He founded Honest Tea about 10 years ago out of his kitchen. They had everything from loose-leaf tea to delicately sweetened iced tea that they are known for today. They grew the business to over $20M in sales and just last year sold 41% of the company to Coca-Cola for over $70 Million. What made their story so amazing is that despite some flack from some of their “die-hard” greenies, he showed that the deal with Coca-Cola was in no way “Selling out” to the dark side. Goldman and HIS company still has full contol and autonomy and with the help of Coke’s distribution efforts, Honest Tea is the largest selling organic beverage on the planet. The culture that was such an important part of their DNA is till very much alive and that is something that Goldman himself promises to keep intact at any expense. I had the opportunity to speak with Seth, as a customer, and was taken back how humble and down to earth he is. Green Business is still very much alive and his success story inspires me to keep pushing and forging ahead in this economy despite what the nay-sayers have to say.
We also heard from journalists, marketing experts and sourcing experts over the 2 day conference. Success story after success story just re-ignites ones passion and desire to succeed as a true, triple bottom line business... People-Planet... then Profit!
Wednesday night I was fortunate to get a Private tasting of a group of Chilean wines from a 4th generation vineyard owner and their award winning winemaker, both of whom were at this tasting with me. I took my friend Kat from Organic Processing Magazine and had a wonderful time meeting Sebastian DiMartino, the great-grandson of the 1st generation of this renowned wine making family. We carry their organic wines in our West Coast Pizza Fusion’s and it’s always great to meet the wine makers, farmers and artisans responsible for what makes Pizza Fusion so special. It was great to hear their story on why they switched over a good piece of their vineyard to organic soil and hear their passion for sustainable farming. I know this is a bit cliche, but when I meet these people, it allows us to truly know where this food (and wine) come from. Assuring our customers that we truly care what we serve them is as pure as possible. These were some great people and you can’t have a bad wine tasting with great people and exceptional wine! Good times! A huge thanks to Michelle L’Don from Organic Vintners for putting this together. You made us feel like we were having dinner with the president!
There was so much going on, including some amazing, and unexpected, speakers. One of the speakers that was on the list was none other than Chuck D. Yes, the very same front-man for Public Enemy! He is (and always has been) a powerful voice for activism and is now a regular on these circuits. I was a bit disappointed I wasn’t staying longer but I have a pile of work waiting for me when I get home. I am recharged and ready to ignite and inspire change in this damn world. My tools may include organic pizza and hybrid cars, but I know we are making a difference. I am surrounded but such special people and my partners push my creative threshold daily. Michael and I came up with a great idea, but the idea is real because of the people that we work with and that believe that they are a part of something special. I am honored to work with each and every one of them and wouldn’t trade this for anything.
I had a wonderful time falling more in love with this wonderful city. Met some special new friends and spent some time with some old friends I call family. Thanks for a great 4 days!
I would like to close with this thought...
All of this taking place only 7 days after the historical announcement that Barack Obama would be our next President. The man that proved to everyone, that no matter how bad things get, that we as a unified society, can achieve the impossible. He told everyone that “YES WE CAN”, and he is right. But we all need to come together and continue this forward motion. It is OUR duty to set this man up for success, to be the wind at his back to power his sails... he can’t do this alone and getting elected is only the beginning. I ask all of you, to please take Yes We Can, and add your own part to the end... Yes We Can ________! Yes We Can WHAT? What are YOU going to do to make a difference.
Yes We Can Make a Difference... Yes We Can shake our dependence on all fossil fuels... Yes We Can find alternative sources of new energy and clean coal and nuclear are NOT the answer.
Yes We Can!