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What if the foundation of your family business were threatened by something out of your control? What if the livelihood of 70 employees and their families were at stake, as the license to operate your business became called into question? What if 57 years of family history, grown through generations of hard work and sacrifice, were at risk of being lost? What if the reasons were actually one with which you fundamentally agreed?
Journey to 8 states, 3 national parks and 3 countries to experience the life-changing education and adventures that led Trent A. Romer to finding sustainability for his plastic bag manufacturing business and himself.
In the USA 30+ million small businesses employ 47+% of the private workforce. This means, there is no sustainable future without small business. That is to say, future generations will not enjoy a stable climate, a viable biosphere, an equitable and opportunity rich economy, global peace, justice and inclusion, without small business making all of those things part of their core mission and business.
So what does it take to turn a small business into a sustainability leadership lighthouse? For one thing, it’s not the same journey as a global corporation or a forward-thinking government organization. Small business is edgier. There’s less room for error, less buffer in the face of external threats. Small business has a more intimate interdependence with its employees, local community, suppliers, customers. Small business takes a lot of heart. It’s more personal.
In this book, you hear the rare and important voice of a small business owner taken by surprise as the world around him starts signaling that his company’s core product is out of sync with a sustainable future. We are talking about the iconic plastic bag.
This is an important book because it tells a very personal story with enormous honesty and humility. Why didn’t this business owner do what most small business owners choose to do and just tune out these signals in order to get through another quarter? How could he take on the unimaginable risks of pivoting his entire business, when so much was at stake, the market wasn't demanding it yet and the risks and challenges of pivoting ahead of the market were so enormous? And what did his co-owner, employees and family make of all this?
This is the anatomy of 21st century leadership. It is personal, vulnerable, honest and it happens in the humble arena of one day at a time. I’m so glad Trent has written this for us and about us.
Leith Sharp, Director & Lead Faculty Executive Education for Sustainability Leadership Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health