Well Made

88 Taking Responsibility with Jeffrey Hollender

Episode Summary

As the co-founder of Seventh Generation and Sustain Natural, Jeffrey Hollender knows what it takes to build transparent businesses with a focus on sustainability. On this episode he shares successes, failures, and his current efforts to shift fundamental systems.

Episode Notes

Jeffrey Hollender co-founded Seventh Generation on a mission to create home products that are better for the planet. He co-founded of Sustain Natural (with his daughter Meika) to make sex and wellness products that are healthier for women and the planet. But now, he says his product making days are over.

Now, Jeffrey spends most of his time as a professor at NYU, the co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council, and a writer. His career path has been one of a steady zooming out. He started by facing the sustainability challenges of specific industries and products, and now he's working to fix the fundamental systems that are holding companies and consumers back. Jeffrey believes that systems thinking is invaluable, transparency is key in creating trust, and sometimes doing things the old way is best.

“Systems thinking is invaluable because it teaches us to anticipate the unintended consequences.”

In this episode of Well Made, Jeffrey starts at the beginning, sharing a bit about the teachers that put him on the path of sustainability advocacy (1:17). He talks about how education can create a fundamental shift in how we think about sustainability and how it impacted his kids’ firsthand (11:30). In his decades as a leader, Jeffrey has realized the importance of being a generalist. He shares how he prefers the generalist mentality over the specialist (12:07). Company culture was a huge focus on Jeffrey’s growth as a leader. He shares the importance of transparency and culture when building a business that’s good for people and the planet (19:31). He talks about the how systems thinking is not only a sustainable choice, but a competitive one (34:27). Jeffrey shares how he and his daughter Meika started Sustain (38:26). And finally, he talks about how he started working with Ben & Jerrys and the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility(47:07).

Links and images from this post are on the Lumi Blog.