This article is a great read for people who don’t yet know Ray Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Inc., http://www.btobmagazine.com/Articles/2008/December/Mount_Sustainability.html, whom I have begun referring to as the ‘grandfather of sustainability.’ I don’t know whether he would embrace the term or not, but I hope to make the point that he is one of the great sustainability thinkers of our time.
After attending an event where one of the executive members of Interface presented some of their powerful sustainability strategies and practices, I had the pleasure of meeting a young professional, Matt Carter, who had joined Interface after completing an internship. Not only was I so impressed with Matt’s passion for the company’s vision and culture, he was kind enough to share a copy of Ray Anderson’s book, MidCourse Correction with me. Thank you, Matt, for helping enlighten and educate me further on the urgency of the challenges at hand! The book is a must read for anyone who is using the word sustainability in their professional life. It is a fascinating account of Ray’s journey from ‘wildly successful entrepreneur’ to a world-recognized ‘change agent.’ His unswerving focus on sustainability as a core value has governed the very fabric (no pun intended) of Interface’s existence in the past decade. The result has been remarkable–financially, environmentally, and socially. Ray is one of today’s supreme examples of what innovative thinking, sustained commitment, and high-integrity leadership can do to create and grow ‘game changing’ businesses that thrive over the long-haul.
If you have any desire to build a green company, become more sustainable, or search for a company with a truly ‘eco-minded culture’ then I suggest you study this leader and his company. Ray and his team built this amazing business from the gut-wrenching beginning of risky entrepreneurship, to a global example of eco-excellence that will usher others into the collective challenge of ‘going green’ in order to preserve our environment and quality of life. I believe that Ray is a rare man who will be noted in history as having had a profound impact of moving sustainability forward in our world. It is never easy to be a maverick, and Ray’s authenticity and pioneering spirit is leading the way for us all. I hope one day I get to meet Ray and see if he will accept my new title of ‘grandfather of sustainability’ and will hear it as the immense compliment intended.
Also, to join a network of sustainable professionals, go to www.missionzero.org and become part of a network of conversations happening all over the globe on the topic of sustainability.