Joel Solomon - Author of The Clean Money Revolution
Joel Solomon chairs Renewal Funds, a $98m mission venture capital firm, investing in Organics and EnviroTech. He is Co-Producer of the RSF Social Finance “Integrated Capital Fellowship Program” and is a Founding Member of Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, Tides Canada Foundation, and Chair of Hollyhock. Joel serves on the University of British Columbia Board of Governors and is Co-Author of The Clean Money Revolution, a call to move trillions of dollars from damage to regeneration.
Joel Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:
The Clean Money Revolution
The growth of impact investing
Mission venture capital investing
Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders
Joel's Final Five Responses:
What is one piece of advice you would give sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?
Spend time on finding out who you are and what your personal skills are and improve them. How do you handle conflict? How do you handle self-doubt? How do you handle difficult challenges? So many people are trained on the financials and the technical side, but they've ignored these other things. What about love? How do I get to feel good about myself? This is actually a tone that is set by the entrepreneur and the leader that affects your ability to recruit and retain good employees. There's more transparency. If you act badly, this can damage your company. We have all kinds of societal stories about that right now. The second part of it for me is, look back from your deathbed regularly. What was your contribution? Why are you here? Who do you care about? What do you care about and how are you acting it out with your business?
What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?
Well, there's clearly an awakening going on about the fact that we do live in a finite planet. I've mentioned population and practices that were innocent at one time and now we know much more. I don't think people went out to damage and destroy. But, when we had 1 billion people it was a vast untapped Garden of Eden. So, I'm very excited that something I've felt, just as an idealistic and maybe naive idea 40 years ago, is becoming regularized, professionalized, systematized. And as you mentioned those figures early on, there are now trillions of dollars beginning to be influenced by this. So the excitement is everywhere. I look all across this continent, the number of conferences, the incubators and accelerators, the consumer demand and the new products, the grocery store shelves changing, how we get our energy, what our cars are like. Everything is now in shift. So it's a very exciting time of innovation, ingenuity, and actually there's a lot of room for bright people who are motivated to get in that. So that's very invigorating and it gives me some hope.
What is one book you would recommend sustainability leaders read?
Of course, besides the Clean Money Revolution. Think about what are the deepest curiosities you have and use the modern tools and go start searching, because I was influenced by a wide diversity from spiritual to psychological, too political to practical, how do businesses work, how does politics work? But I think we live in an era where information of course is too much for us and we can't even begin to absorb it, but we do have the ability to follow our instincts. And here's one thing about the books - don't limit yourself just to your field. I'm going to be the best cigar maker. I'm going to be the best renewable energy producer, and all you read is how to be an entrepreneur. I think it's important to be a well-rounded person. You're starting to see in Silicon Valley the philosophy and arts students are starting to find new roles and being lifted up because creativity and ability to think laterally, and to think uniquely, and non-structurally. So be sure and keep yourself broad and diverse as well.
What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in the work that you do?
I'm a very relationship centered person. I learn a lot there. I find resources. I gain friendships. It's time for me to use another four letter word - I find love. The love I'm talking about is a sense of feeling good about myself, a feeling that I'm being the kind of person that brings good energy to me from others, which then causes me to go deeper in my own practice. Be honest sooner or be honest always. But talk about the tough things sooner. So I'm really committed and have done an unbelievable amount of attending conferences, networks, gatherings. Being very people centered, which is not everybody's form. You cannot believe the opportunities that exist today, whether in person or online to connect and to do, you might say peer learning or peer coaching. There's a lot of exuberance about how we're going to make the world better. And so get out and go to places where you're outside your comfort zone and where you meet new people.
Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading?
JoelSolomon.org. That is based around the book and there are many of these podcasts and other kinds of interviews and resources that you could find that hopefully will help you on your journey. In my own name on social media, Joel Solomon, I'm on most of the major ones and I am fairly active and I try to put a diverse kind of information and links and connections to things that might not be easily visible otherwise. And you can have a look at renewalfunds.com, which is our model of an impact venture capital type investment business. But you can translate it down to seed capital, startups and kind of everything you do with money as well. Also, hollyhock.ca for Canada. At Hollyhock you will find a number of resources that cover things I've talked about here for our personal development, inner development, but also really great entrepreneur conferences and those kinds of gatherings that are unbelievable ways to make great connections and learn a lot.