This category includes articles about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), typically including donations to or other support for nonprofit organizations.
This category includes articles about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), typically including donations to or other support for nonprofit organizations.
Today was the second day of the Fathom impact cruise to the Dominican Republic. It was an “at sea” day that on a traditional cruise would be spent entirely at rest. Not on a Fathom cruise. An at sea day is just time to prepare for the service we’ll be doing later in the week.
First, each passenger was provided with a cohort and invited to attend an orientation with the cohort. This isn’t a “how to find your life preserver” sort of training, rather it is a session on developing empathy—not sympathy—for the people we serve, helping us to see them as human beings with the same passions we have.
Following the orientation, we got training in providing instruction in English as a second language. While my wife has a teaching degree with a certificate in teaching English as a second language, the rest of us did not and were quite pleased to get some preparation. We were, among other things, assured that we speak English well enough to be of help to students who speak virtually none. That was encouraging!
In the afternoon, we had optional advanced training based on Ashoka’s training built around the “Humans of New York” blog, again teaching us how to feel empathy for other people. The exercise involved getting us to listen deeply and thoughtfully to strangers—other passengers—so that we could really get to know them quickly.
These trainings were great reminders of things I’ve been taught effectively by the guests on my show over the past three years. We all fall into the trap of seeing a person not so much as a human being but as a caricature of the person they are. We look at outside manifestations of people, their hair color and style, the clothes they wear, their age, and we make decisions and judgments. We stop seeing individuals and drop people neatly into the categories we have in our minds for them: old, young, uneducated, elitist, religious, intellectual, etc. All nonsense.
Today, members of the media on the cruise were invited to a briefing with Fathom President Tara Russell and Carnival CEO and President Arnold Donald (Carnival owns Fathom). They are an impressive pair of leaders. They handled the press well, fielding questions from across the spectrum of interests from seasoned travel writers to impact folks like me.
This evening, we had dinner in the elite sea food specialty restaurant on board. Again, we got to spend time with Tara and Arnold. It is great to see them come together on this project. Tara doesn’t have a long history with cruising; her career has been in the impact space. Arnold, on the other hand, is the CEO of the world’s largest cruise line and he’s handed over a ship to someone in whom he has obvious confidence and with whom he shares a sense of purpose and passion.
At dinner, one of the other journalists on the trip commented that the day had been “stressful.” I asked why and he reminded me of the workshops we’d attended (separately). His point was that the sessions had taken him outside of his comfort zone. It was great evidence that this cruise is not like any other cruise you or I have ever been on. While no one mistakes this cruise with a day at the office, the mood aboard the ship is one of preparation, not relaxation.
Fathom, a new cruise line owned by Carnival, got underway this week with its inaugural cruise. This isn’t your ordinary cruise; it is voluntourism writ large. With approximately 750 passengers on board, the MV Adonia will arrive at Amber Cove every other week bringing a small army of volunteers. For the inaugural cruise, Fathom invited a few journalists along, including me.
We set sail Sunday, April 17, 2017 about 4:00 PM from Miami headed to our single destination, Amber Cove, near Puerto Plata, a city founded by Christopher Columbus before 1500.
Passengers will have nearly four days for volunteering and fun, arriving on Tuesday afternoon and leaving for Miami on Friday afternoon. This approach also gives passengers an opportunity to spend time in the city in the evening, a rare feature on cruises (typically, cruise ships sail at night to be in a different port most days of a trip).
One of the first signs that this cruise would be different was the set of “fair trade” toiletries we found in the bathroom. Fathom is working to ensure that there is integrity in the effort to do good on this trip.
This evening, Fathom’s President Tara Russell hosted a small group of journalists at her table, giving us an opportunity to get to know her better. We also met her family members who are traveling with her.
I first connected with Tara after my wife told me about Fathom nearly a year ago. Tara appeared on the Your Mark on the World show in an episode produced for Forbes here.
Tara is passionately committed to driving real impact, but recognizes the need for the business to be profitable without stealing passengers from other Carnival cruise lines.
One of the strategic ideas for Fathom was that by incorporating service they might attract younger passengers, including more Millennials, who hadn’t cruised before; it seems to be working. No longer in my forties, I am certainly among the older set on this cruise. Tara, who is about 40, appears to be about the median age of the passengers. During the muster drill the crew asked who had not cruised before and nearly every hand went up.
Aaron Hurst, the social entrepreneur CEO and Founder of Imperative and author of The Purpose Economy is on board. In fact, a copy of his book was waiting in our stateroom when we boarded.
The ship is full of socially-minded, good people and I’m looking forward to meeting them with hopes of telling their stories.
This week, I will do my best to provide a report on the activities each day. Internet access in the Caribbean is dicey so be patient if you don’t see a report.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Dr. Julian Maha founded KultureCity about three years ago, shortly after his son was diagnosed with autism. The diagnosing physician, Maha says, told him his son would likely have to be institutionalized. Motivated by that challenge, Maha set out to create a nonprofit that would actually drive greater impact in the lives of those affected by autism.
Maha really believes he is completely reinventing the model for nonprofits. Last year, Microsoft MSFT +1.03% launched Windows 10 with the #UpgradeYourWorld campaign I covered here. KultureCity was one of ten nonprofits recognized by Microsoft as part of that campaign, suggesting that Maha has created something different from typical nonprofits.
Maha asserts that the innovations he’s implementing at KultureCity make him “a true social entrepreneur.” He says, “ We are on a mission to fundamentally change the culture of how autism is viewed by society and to show the world that these individuals not only have potential but the means to achieve that potential.”
One of the key innovations that Maha has created is a diversity of revenue sources. He identifies seven different revenue sources:
While it is clear that you could describe each of these as being a form of donation, there are seven distinct strategies for these donations.
KultureCity generated almost $500,000 of revenue last year, more than double the $183,000 it reported in 2014. The organization raised only $20,000 in 2013, its first year of operations.
There is a lot of work to do, Maha acknowledges. “For instance, work environments are not optimized for their success, and the culture is one that limits them because of their diagnosis. We are trying to change that by inspiring the community to see their potential and also to give the right tools to autistic individuals to help them not only succeed but be accepted fully by society.”
Maha sees the reinvention of the nonprofit model as being key. “The biggest challenge is to help society understand that the traditional nonprofit model is broken and in dire need of revitalization. Nonprofits need to be judged on their impact and also their ability to empower the populations that they serve. In addition, nonprofits also need to utilize their resources in a way that maximize impact and decreases organizational overhead.”
KultureCity’s social media presence suggest the company is playing above its weight, that is it may be having more impact than its revenues suggest it would. As of this writing it has almost 33,000 Twitter followers and 41,000 likes on Facebook, significantly larger numbers than most nonprofits of their scale in my experience covering the space.
Maha never loses sight of the fact that his purpose isn’t to remake nonprofits for its own sake, but rather to change the world for people with autism, giving them a “chance at a brighter future.”
On Thursday, April 7, 2016 at noon Eastern, Maha will join me for a live discussion about his innovations in nonprofit management and the impact that is having on his constituency of people affected by autism. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Qualtrics, a 2002 startup that since raised a total of $220 million in venture capital in 2012 and 2014 and considered by many to be a unicorn, recently made a $1 million donation to the Huntsman HUN -3.80% Cancer Institute.
While Qualtrics isn’t a social venture, it is interesting to see such an entrepreneurial company embrace corporate social responsibility so enthusiastically.
CEO and cofounder, Ryan Smith, says, “Everyone has been impacted by cancer in one way or another – whether they have fought it or they have a friend or loved one who is fighting. Our goal is to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth. We are honored to partner with Huntsman Cancer Institute to raise funds for cancer research — research that is changing the way cancer is treated, diagnosed, and fought.”
The company didn’t stop with its $1 million donation; that is just the beginning, Smith explains.
Qualtrics and Huntsman Cancer Institute partnered to launch Five for the Fight, a campaign inviting everyone, everywhere to give $5 to the fight against cancer and then to invite five of their friends to do the same. People write on their hand the name of someone who has fought cancer and pledge their $5 to the fight in honor of that person. They then post a photo or video to social media using the hashtag #fiveforthefight, tagging the five friends they are challenging to join the fight against cancer. They then head to fiveforthefight.com to donate.
Smith added that the donation was presented to Huntsman at the annual Insight Summit in Salt Lake City last week, where Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Mario Capecchi joined Smith on stage to present the check to Peter Huntsman of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
Smith is serious, it seems, about curing cancer. “When cancer is eradicated, the world will be a very different place. When we look around and see how many children have lost a parent to cancer, or parents who have lost a child to this dread disease or people who have lost a spouse … the list goes on and on. With so many people fighting cancer and so many more impacted by it, we are eager to help in any way we can to support the amazing research being done to fight cancer and to find a cure for it,” he concludes.
On Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Smith will join me here for a live discussion about Qualtrics’ #fiveforthefight CSR campaign. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Qualtrics:
Qualtrics is a rapidly growing software-as-a-service company and the provider of the world’s leading enterprise survey platform. More than 8,500 enterprises worldwide, including half of the Fortune 100 and 99 of the top 100 business schools rely on Qualtrics technology. Our solutions make it fast and easy to capture customer, employee, and market insights in one place. These insights help our clients make informed, data-driven business decisions. Global enterprises, academic institutions, and government agencies use Qualtrics to collect, analyze, and act on voice of the customer, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, 360-degree reviews, brand, market, product concept, and employee feedback. To learn more, and for a free account, please visit qualtrics.com.
Ryan Smith co-founded Qualtrics in 2002 with the goal of making sophisticated research simple. As CEO, he has grown the company from a basement startup to one of the fastest-growing technology companies in the world. Qualtrics has more than 8,500 enterprise customers including half of the Fortune 100, 1,600 colleges and universities worldwide, and 99 of the top 100 business schools. In 2012, Qualtrics received a $70 million investment from Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital, the largest-ever joint investment by these two firms. Additional funding was secured in 2014 to support the company’s continued product innovation and rapid international expansion. Insight Venture Partners led this $150 million round of new investment, with significant participation from original investors, Accel Partners and Sequoia Capital.
Ryan was named one of Forbes’ “America’s Most Promising CEOs Under 35” for 2013, is a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal and has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Inc., The New York Times, TechCrunch and USA Today. He has also appeared on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and FOX Business. Ryan is sought after for his business acumen and as such is a frequent guest lecturer at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
CES, that is, nerd heaven, 2016 just wrapped in Vegas. Over 6,000 members of the media attended. More than 170,000 people were at the event that covered over 2 million square feet of exhibition space. It was huge.
Now, I want you to imagine cleaning up that mess. Think about all the waste going to the landfill. My eco-friends are crying as they think about the environmental impact.
This is where Jeff Chase , V.P. of Sustainability for Freeman, the event planning organization that supports CES for the Consumer Technology Association, enters the picture. Chase explains, “Working with CTA, Freeman helped to create and manage a waste/recycling plan to help reduce the footprint of the event. Working with several recycling vendors and partners of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo Center we help find new ways to reduce the amount of items going to the landfill by working on an awareness campaign to exhibitors on how to reuse or repurpose left over materials.”
Chase says they even found ways to benefit local charities with their environmental programs. “Furniture, flooring, fixtures and building materials were all given to several different charities,” he says.
Some of the milestones reported this year include recycling half a million square feet of carpet, up 70 percent from the previous year. The balance over 1.1 million square feet was reused. Almost 28,000 square feet of vinyl banner materials were repurposed into tarps, hockey rink liners and outdoor movie screens.
The effort extended community-wide. “The Consumer Technology Assocation held a wonderful E-Waste program on Sunday at the Las Vegas convention center for the local residences to bring their old electronics to be recycled. This is the first year to offer this service and will continue next year,” Chase says.
On Thursday, January 14, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Chase will join me here for a live discussion about the efforts to reduce the environmental impact of CES. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Freeman:
Founded in 1927, Freeman is the leading global partner for integrated experiential marketing solutions for live engagements including expositions, conventions, corporate events, and exhibits. Headquartered in Dallas, with over 70 offices in North America and the U.K., Freeman produces more than 4,300 expositions annually, including 135 of the 250 largest U.S. trade shows, and 11,000 other events worldwide. Customer-driven, Freeman offers a total package of solutions, with a scope of products and services unmatched by the competition. An employee-owned company, Freeman places an emphasis on respect for people and providing unparalleled customer service. Freeman has received numerous trade show industry awards for excellence in leadership, creative design, community service, innovation and customer-driven partnerships.
Jeff has been a passionate driving force on many sides of the trade show / event industry for 28 years. He spend his first 5 years as a General Services Contractor working in Nashville/Washington DC, and then got a job in California to take the position of Show Director for one of the largest tradeshows in the industry, and over the next 8 years he helped grow that show in the United States and launched it in Europe and Asia. Then he started his own event production agency which he ran successfully for 10 years and worked with clients such as eBay EBAY -4.00%, PayPal, Visa, Google and many others, then sold it to FreemanXP, the premier Experiential Marketing Agency. His current focus and passion is working as the Vice President of Sustainability. He works closely with many Fortune 100 companies like McDonalds, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and Autodesk to help them meet their goals for green/sustainable events. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC)
This is a guest post from Angie Stocklin’s, COO and Co-Founder of One Click.
It’s nearly 2016 and time to wrap up a season of giving. Family and friends gathered together to count collective blessings and to share food, stories and gifts. We are, as New Year’s approaches, entering the handful of days when we are all focused on making and keeping promises — about how to treat ourselves better and how to treat others like we treat ourselves. So, it’s the perfect moment to reflect on the ways we can and do give back; to think about how we share the fruits of our success with those who need help the most.
Our mission statement calls on One Click, from senior leadership to our entry-level team members, to “enrich lives by helping people find the eyewear meant for them.” For those most desperately in need, “the eyewear meant for them” means the reading glasses and sunglasses we provide at no cost through our partner in giving — Timmy Global Health.
Timmy Global is a local (Indianapolis) 501(c)3 dedicated to providing, improving and expanding healthcare and health-related programs in Latin America. Their goal is to establish long-term, sustainable programs to provide a variety of assistance including clean drinking water and on-site health exams. All of this is built around long-term, individualized profiles. Medical teams who visit every 2-3 months will come equipped with the medical history of their patients in order to provide the most effective, efficient care possible.
The fit for us is a natural one. We’re able to provide Timmy with reading glasses that can be crucial to a family in need when their means of earning a living depends upon being able to see up close, such as weaving or fine beadwork. We’re also able to provide sunglasses that serve both as protection from the brightness of the sun, as well as from diseases of the eye that arise from the accumulation of fine dust and plant particles.
For so many people around the world, being able to see through a reading lens or a UV tint means being able to perform vital work. When, for some, cost and availability of that eyewear is insurmountable, access to relatively low cost eyewear can become a matter of basic survival.
In our partnership with Timmy Global Health, we’re not just giving the eyewear to individuals; we’re giving eyewear to individuals so that they can continue to provide for their families. When their families are strong, it means that they can work together to make stronger villages. When those communities are healthy and vibrant, when they become thriving social and economic centers, they are less likely to need help so that Timmy can concentrate on bringing aid to the next community in need.
Because our partner is local, we’re able to make low-cost deliveries of high volumes of product without having to cut back on the amount of help we’re able to give. Which in return means that our giving can be more efficient, wide-ranging and, ultimately, helpful. And, just as importantly, we’re able to spend time getting to know the Timmy Global Health team. Sometimes, saying “hi” and “how are you doing?” leads to conversations that develop into decisions that lead to increased efficiency, bigger ideas and, most importantly, the ability to simply help as best we can.
So, in this season of promises — of introspection and dedication to bettering ourselves and the world around us — we are proud to renew our commitment to improve the lives of people in need. We are incredibly blessed to be in a position to help the less fortunate and grateful to have a local partnership so perfectly suited to making that help as effective as possible.
About Angie Stocklin:
Angie Stocklin, COO and Co-Founder, along with her husband Randy, of One Click, oversees business operations including customer service, order fulfillment, merchandising and vendor account management for felix + iris, Readers.com and Sunglass Warehouse.
Yes, this is a shameless plug for my new online course, but don’t stop reading, yet!
Over the past 18 months or so, I have produced five courses for online training company Pluralsight. Today, the site published the most recent of those courses, “How to Add Profit to Your Business by Adding Purpose.”
Over the past few decades, a transition has occurred that has changed the way most people think about social causes and corporate responsibility. The old-school notion that we make money at work and do good on our own time is just that, old school.
The cool kids are all integrating their lives such that their careers, investments, and consumer behaviors all align with their core values. Fewer and fewer people today are willing to go to work all day at a job they merely tolerate so that they can put food on the tables. People want to live on purpose!
Because of that demographic shift, companies can–some would argue must–incorporate purpose into their business strategies in order to reach the right employees and the bulk of customers who are willing to make purchasing decisions based on social causes.
The new course makes the case that companies can clearly add profits by strategically adding purpose to their business and goes on to explain exactly how to go about incorporating a cause into the business model to do so.
The course wraps up with a case study on Estee Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand, which thrives because of its decades long role in fighting the AIDS epidemic. Over the years, I’ve covered this story a few times for Forbes.
Now, I’ve compiled all of the corporate social responsibility wisdom I’ve gathered from my 25 year business career and five years of writing about social causes and corporate social responsibility into this new course on Pluralsight. You can take the entire course for free using a trial membership or for no additional charge if you’re already a subscriber.
Pluralsight is recognized as a tech “unicorn,” raising $135 million in their last venture round. It is also a notable example of a purpose-oriented business itself, working to enable learning at radically affordable rates.
One of my role models is a young social entrepreneur, Nidhi Singh, in India who has created a platform not unlike the Your Mark on the World Center to cover corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurship, impact investing and philanthropy in India.
Nidhi reached out to me about six months ago to explore a collaboration between the Your Mark on the World Center and her platform, CSRlive.in. We are excited to be doing so, cross sharing content to give her audience direct access to our stories and our audience direct access to hers.
India recently passed a law requiring all corporations to do some CSR. Nidhi explains, “The new mandatory CSR law has opened up a world of possibilities for Corporate India to do good and contribute strategically to equitable, sustainable growth in India. So I would not say this is a problem, rather a tremendous opportunity that has materialized for all CSR & Sustainability professionals to work, collaborate and create real, on-ground impact with some real funds (INR 25,000 Cr/ $4.5 Billion annually) that are now available specifically for this purpose. There are many companies that have been voluntarily executing CSR projects but many more new companies (approximately 16,500) have now come under the ambit of the new CSR law. CSRlive aims to facilitate the process of optimum utilization of this CSR spend.”
Nidhi has ambitious plans for CSRlive. She says, “As an online platform dedicated to briging news, updates, policy changes, and expert opinions in the CSR & Sustianability sector; we promote best practises, thereby inspiring and encouraging more of the best to take a foothold, grow and expand. We facilitate connections between relevant stakeholders – for example – a genuine NGO looking to survive/scale up can present it’s case and funding requirements to a Corporate company looking for an authentic project that is aligned with their CSR policy. If there is a noteworthy activity in the CSR & Sustainability domain, CSRlive will be its voice. Going forward, we also aim to acknowledge best practises through CSRlive Change-Makers Awards.”
Nidhi has an inspiring vision for the future. “We believe in the power of a good story that is well told to engage and inspire people towards greater good! Getting transferred to the CSR division is still considered ‘Corporate suicide’ (though unadmittedly)- and CSRlive is committed to turning this around with its reportage and passion to connect and bring the right people to the right jobs and the right funds to the right organizations and individuals. The success of CSRlive will be in facilitating a change in mindset – which in itself is half the battle won,” she says.
On Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 11:00 Eastern, Nidhi will join me here for a live discussion about CSRlive and the promise of the new CSR law in India. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about CSRlive.in:
CSRlive is positioned as India’s credible, livewire news platform dedicated to the social sector and CSR practices presenting content that is delivered using innovative social media engagement, cutting edge technology and a sterling team of subject matter Journalists. We intend to create new benchmarks with frontline reportage on CSR, Sustainability, Philanthropy and Corporate Citizenship. We aim to not only inform, but to establish long-term partnerships with different stakeholders, creating a synergy between available resources and needs of communities. Through CSRlive.in, we intend to give voice and strength to every noteworthy activity in this sector, whether undertaken by a small gram Panchayat or a large multinational Company. As a part of our long-term strategy, we will identify, analyze and acknowledge the best practices and the real change-makers in the social sector, through our proprietary Award modules.
Nidhi is a prominent Social Entrepreneur and a well known name in the field of Advisory and Communication in the sustainability space. She is a former Television Journalist and has worked with leading National Channels like Star News and TV Today Network in various capacities widely reporting on lifestyle, fashion and trends. As a successful entrepreneur Nidhi is co-founder of thecsrjournal.in, Indigreen – a fair trade, organic clothing label & The Green People of India (TGPI) – a collective of sustainable enterprises across India. Nidhi is very passionate about Yoga and is a long time practitioner of Kriya Yoga Meditation as taught by Paramahansa Yogananda (Autobiography of a Yogi).
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
HSNi’s efforts to support needy children around the world through its partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF provide lessons for social entrepreneurs seeking to have impact at scale.
HSNi CEO Mindy Grossman provides some background for its partnership, saying, “HSNi Cares was established in 2010 with a mission to empower women and support children and families in need locally, nationally and globally. All children, regardless of their income, ethnicity or geography have the right to be protected and be given the opportunity to reach their full potential which is why our global HSNi Cares partner is the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. UNICEF does whatever it takes to save and protect the world’s most vulnerable children. Through our partnership we raise both critical funds and awareness.”
For Grossman, the cause is personal. She says, “I joined the national board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF in 2012 and over the past three years have had the opportunity to see UNICEF’s work firsthand both in Senegal in 2012 and Guatemala in 2015. Exposure to the challenges children face around the world has emboldened me to do more to support the organization and have even greater impact. “
She now serves as the Vice Chair of the National board of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. “Through HSNi Cares, we have recently concluded our third annual awareness and fundraising campaign for the U.S. Fund,” she adds. “I’m so proud to be able to use my platform as CEO to make such a meaningful impact.”
She notes that in 2015, all eight HSNi brands supported the campaign, bringing the total raised since 2013 to over $2 million.
She goes on to say, “Recently we held our 3rd annual HSN Cares Primetime Special for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and joined forces with Star Wars to bring customers fun, relevant product while raising awareness for the organization. Their generosity during this campaign will help provide medicine, nutrition, clean water, education and more to children around the world. In addition to financial contributions, we leveraged our platform to purposefully shine a spotlight on a global crisis. Generating both understanding and awareness is a critical element in creating meaningful long term impact.”
Grossman will receive the “Spirit of Compassion Award” at UNICEF’s Snowflake Ball on December 1, 2015.
Social entrepreneurs will note the importance of personal passion and commitment to a cause as a key take away from the HSNi social impact efforts.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 5:00 Eastern, Grossman will join me for a live discussion about the partnership with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and its impact. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about HSNi:
HSN, Inc. (Nasdaq:HSNI) is a $4 billion interactive multichannel retailer with strong direct-to-consumer expertise among its two operating segments, HSN and Cornerstone. HSNi offers innovative, differentiated retail experiences on TV, online, via mobile devices, in catalogs, and in brick and mortar stores. HSN, a leading interactive multichannel retailer which offers a curated assortment of exclusive products combined with top brand names, now reaches 95 million homes (24 hours a day, seven days a week, live 364 days a year). HSN.com offers a differentiated digital experience by leveraging content, community and commerce. In addition to its existing media platforms, HSN is the industry leader in transactional innovation, including services such as HSN Shop by Remote®, the only service of its kind in the U.S., the HSN Shopping App for mobile handheld devices and HSN on Demand®. Cornerstone comprises leading home and apparel lifestyle brands including Ballard Designs®, Chasing Fireflies®, Frontgate®, Garnet Hill®, Grandin Road®, Improvements® and TravelSmith®. Cornerstone distributes approximately 325 million catalogs annually, operates seven separate digital sales sites and operates 11 retail and outlet stores.
Mindy Grossman is the CEO of HSNi a $4 billion direct-to-consumer retail portfolio that includes live content retailer HSN and the Cornerstone portfolio of home and family lifestyle brands. Mindy joined IAC, HSNi’s former parent company, in 2006 as CEO of IAC Retail. In 2008 she took the company public. During her tenure she has positioned HSNi as a leader in boundaryless retail, offering customers a seamless shopping experience across – television, catalogue, online and mobile. Today nearly half of the company’s revenue is generated through digital commerce. With nearly four decades of experience at some of the world’s most iconic brands including; Tommy Hilfiger, Polo Ralph Lauren RL +2.38% Company and Nike NKE +0.00%, Mindy is known as a transformational leader. She has been named one of Fortune magazine’s “Top Persons in Business,” Forbes’ “Top 100 Most Powerful Women,” and Fast Company’s “Top 100 Most Creative People in Business.” Mindy serves on the boards of the National Retail Federation, Bloomin’ Brands and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Worldstock sources artisinal products from around the world, largely from underprivileged women, and makes them available to people in the U.S. and elsewhere in the developed world at prices that provides fair earnings to the artisans. All Worldstock orders ship “carbon neutral” to the customer.
Byrne offers three key observations to help social entrepreneurs.
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 6:00 PM Eastern, Byrne will join me for a live discussion about his insights for social entrepreneurs and change agents. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Overstock:
We are an online retailer. Founded in 1999, gone public in 2002. First year revenues of just under $2-million, today revenues approach $2-billion. Over 1,500 employees. We were initially created as a liquidation channel for the first waves of failed dotcoms. Today we’ve evolved into a first run retailer selling everything from toasters to patio furniture.
Patrick M. Byrne, CEO, launched Overstock.com in 1999 with revenues of $1.8 million. In 2014 Overstock.com had revenues of $1.5 billion and net income of $8.8 million. Forbes magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country for 2010, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%). Byrne received the 2011 Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
In 2001, Byrne began Worldstock Fair Trade, an Overstock.com division selling handcrafted products from artisans in developing nations. The department distinguishes itself by returning 60-70% of the sale price to artisans (over $100 million has been paid to Worldstock’s artisan suppliers). In addition, Worldstock net profits have been donated to fund philanthropic projects in several countries. Worldstock and Byrne have funded the building of 26 self-sustaining schools internationally that currently educate thousands of students.
A “classical liberal,” Byrne believes that our nation’s success depends on a sound educational system and healthy capital markets. Since Milton Friedman’s passing in 2006, Byrne has served as chairman of The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, an organization leading the national debate for school vouchers.
Towards the goal of clean capital markets, in 2004 Byrne (as a citizen-journalist) began a vigorous campaign against abusive Wall Street practices, focusing on regulatory capture, hedge fund “expert network” (insider trading) schemes, settlement system failures, systemic risk, and the possibility of economic warfare against the US by organized crime and foreign governments. His stance quickly caught the attention of Wall Street analysts and reporters, becoming a point of high controversy and ridicule until the economic crash of 2008, occasioned by the very things Byrne had warned of. Byrne’s website DeepCapture.com has received much recognition, such as Weblogs Award “Best Business Blog” (2008), Business Pundit’s “Best Business Investigative Journalism” (2009), and Xmark’s “Top Site on Corruption in the USA” (2010).
Before founding Overstock.com and serving as chairman, CEO, and president, Byrne held the same three positions at Centricut, LLC, a manufacturer of consumables for industrial plasma torches, and held the same three positions at Fechheimer Brothers, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, manufacturing police, firefighter and military uniforms.
Byrne received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and Asian studies from Dartmouth College, a master’s in philosophy from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford University. He has taught at the university level and is a frequent guest lecturer discussing internet commerce, capital markets, Wall Street practices, education, leadership and ethics.
In 2014, Byrne’s political philosophy, mathematical training and concern over corruption on Wall Street combined to move him to create Medici, Overstock.com’s financial technology subsidiary building platforms for digital asset exchange on the same technology that powers bitcoin. In 2015, Byrne became the first person in history to purchase a digital bond, using Medici’s t0.com private debt equity trading platform.