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3 Important Tips for Budding Ecopreneurs

3 Important Tips for Budding Ecopreneurs

The world needs more people who care about the Earth and how we’re treating it. If you’re one of those people, it’s time you got your business started. However, building a company, much less one that requires managing more than just profit (people and planet, too!) isn’t easy.

I recently had an opportunity to sit down for coffee with Ted Rollins, who has a seriously impressive wrap sheet. To catch you up to speed: Ted Rollins is the successful ecopreneur who started Campus Crest with $14,000—and grew it to become the second largest student-housing platform in the world. What’s the eco-friendy spin? Their focus is on the triple bottom line of environmental, social and economics.

I left our coffee meeting filled with inspiration and ideas for how I too can build my business. If you’re passionate about making a change for our environment, don’t miss his tips for “green” ecopreneurs looking to make a difference.

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1. Find Balance

“Balancing economic returns with environmental and social stewardship is something that requires thoughtful leadership.”

You’re going into a tough business, and knowing how to balance what’s right for the environment, the greater community and the people is critical. As a thoughtful leader, you must consider how all of these are impacted by the choices you’re making for your business, always focusing on improving the lives and environment of everyone.

Being a thoughtful leader requires you to:

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  • Be curious: How can I make this better? How can we improve that?
  • Reflect: How can we do this differently next time for a better outcome?
  • Take action: We know what we need to do; we’ve done the research, so let’s go.

Check in with yourself and other leaders in your startup regularly to make sure you haven’t lost track of this thoughtful approach. Better yet, consider whether you need to modify what that means to your business as it evolves and grows.

2. Surround Yourself With the Right People

“Good team members working together will make better decisions.”

Good ecopreneurs don’t figure out how to balance social and environmental stewardship on their own; they surround themselves with others who share the same passion and drive about your goal, product, business, etc. Because of this, these employees have a stake in making the best decisions possible for everyone.

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Making the final hiring decision is not where this stops, though. Invest in your employees, involve them in your decision-making process, and rely on their complimentary skills to bring your shared passion to life.

3. Don’t Be Deterred

“Keep on pushing until you achieve your goal, even when you are at the end of your rope. Especially when you are at the end of your rope.”

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy, much less being one with an environmental agenda. Moving forward when you get pushed back or are struggling to manage the 3 P’s (triple bottom line: profit, people, planet), is hard, but not impossible. Just look at people like Ted Rollins, Blake Mycoskie (founder of TOMS) and Jeffrey Hollender (founder of Seventh Generation). When in doubt, remember you are in great company; they’ve been there before, and have built their businesses into brand names.

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Rollins also reminds ecopreneurs about the cautionary tale of the old gold miner—he stopped digging on his claim 1 inch from the gold. Don’t let go of the rope too soon; hold on, forge ahead and finish what you were meant to do.

Being an ecopreneur isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding if you hold tight to your dreams, surround yourself with people who share our passions, and push forward in the face of difficulty. Use these tips to forge ahead with your earth-friendly business and make the difference you know you can.

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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