3p Contributor: Jonathan Mariano

Jonathan Mariano is an MBA candidate with the Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. His interests include the convergence between lean & green and pursuing free-market based sustainable solutions.

Recent Articles

Chip Conley on Becoming Your Own CEO: Chief Emotions Officer

| Monday January 30th, 2012 | 0 Comments

All too often in the workplace (and maybe even just life), we are asked to push our emotions aside and focus at the task at hand.  But emotions are part of being human and part of human interactions.  It is important not only to be emotionally aware, not only emotionally intelligent, but emotionally fluent to pinpoint such feelings that may hurt or help us succeed.

Last week, Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre, spoke during a Sustainable Business Council Los Angeles event.  Despite his decades of success as a boutique hotelier, he opened up about not only of his personal struggles, but also his insights that lead to his latest book, Emotional Equations.

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Bottlenecks of Utility Scale Renewable Energy

| Thursday January 26th, 2012 | 1 Comment

 Renewable energy still has a long way to go to be our de facto utility energy source, especially in a state like California. Environmentally speaking, wouldn’t it be great if we could snap our fingers and suddenly make fossil fuels disappear, making renewables the default?  We don’t have those magic powers, yet there are companies trying to make utility scale renewables happen as fast a humanly possible. But is it fast enough? What bottlenecks are keeping us from a renewable energy future?

A panel at VerdeXchange Conference 2012 (VX2012), in Los Angeles, made up of key players in the renewable energy industry shared the challenges they are facing as they try to create “Utility Scale Renewable Energy in California.”

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Making Clean Tech a Commercial Reality, Faster

| Wednesday January 25th, 2012 | 0 Comments

There are a plethora of potential clean tech ideas and innovations out there. I have 5-6 in my head right now. Some innovations successfully reach the marketplace. Yet many ideas still struggle to find funding, despite venture capitalists looking for opportunity. Furthermore, although a start-up’s financials may be sound, many find it difficult to find manufacturing and production capability. What can be done to make these clean tech innovations a commercial reality?

A panel at LA’s VerdeXchange Conference 2012 (VX2012), entitled “Global/Regional Models for Fostering Clean Tech & Commercialization: Incubation, Acceleration & Tech Transfer” attempted to answer this question. Despite the long panel title, the discussion raised a common theme: bring as many key stakeholders together under the same roof (so to speak) to spontaneously collaborate.

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World Peace Scores in the NBA

| Friday December 30th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Many people define world peace as an ideal.  One player in the National Basketball Association is attempting to promote world peace each time he is on the court.  How is he doing this? Is it for real?

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, formerly known as Ron Artest, changed his name to Metta World Peace. His surname, World Peace, is easy to understand.  It means world peace.  But his first name, Metta, may draw a question mark.  Metta derives from the Buddhist term meaning loving kindness and friendliness toward others.

When I first saw the Lakers roster for the 2011-2012 season, I thought there had been a glitch on the website, with a player name written as “Metta World Peace.”  It looked baffling to say the least.  Was it actually a players name?  After clicking through, seeing a picture of Ron Artest, and investigating further, I learned his player name and name change are indeed legitimate.

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Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party: Fighting the Same Battle?

| Thursday December 15th, 2011 | 5 Comments

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is often seen as the idealogical counterpart to the Tea Party movement (TPM).   Occupy wants to raise taxes, the Tea Party thinks we are “Taxed Enough Already.”  Occupy thinks corporations are too powerful, the Tea Party thinks government is too powerful.  Despite their differences, these two seemingly opposing movements may have more in common than you think.

Formed from the Grassroots

First and foremost is the logistical aspect that both movements share. Each movement sprung up from ordinary people, angered and frustrated with the way things are being run in this country.  OWS and TPM both began from the grassroots.

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Green Bay Packers Sell Stock as Nonprofit Community Organization

| Tuesday December 6th, 2011 | 1 Comment

When we think of owning stock in an organization, we usually think of for-profit corporations.  Images of streaming ticker symbols and stock markets rising and falling come to mind.  In this case, we typically own stock so that we can (hopefully) make money.

However, we have a unique opportunity to own stock in a nonprofit organization, the Green Bay Packers.  In this case, we own stock for other reasons besides making a profit.  How does ownership in this nonprofit stock work?  Isn’t nonprofit ownership an paradox?

Not Your Ordinary Nonprofit or Football Team

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New Child Labor Law Proposals: Benefit or Hinderance?

| Monday November 28th, 2011 | 31 Comments

The United States Department of Labor has proposed an update to child labor regulations.  These regulations are allegedly targeted at improving the safety of young folks working in the area of agriculture.  Are these proposals a step forward for child labor regulations?  Or do these proposals meddle too much with parent and child rights to choose as individuals?

The typical gut reaction to anything having to do with child labor laws is that these laws must be a good thing because forced child labor is bad.  After all, weren’t child labor laws established more than a century ago?

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School Pizza is a Vegetable

| Monday November 21st, 2011 | 5 Comments

Last week, Congress passed a bill that allegedly labels pizza as a vegetable in school lunches.  How did pizza spontaneously become a vegetable?  Has it always been considered a vegetable? Was it Congress?  Was it the USDA?  Some report it is because of lobbyists.  Although lobbyists do play an influential role, its more so the system of legislation and regulation that creates such strange laws.  Can we trust a governmental system that says a pizza is a vegetable?

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Keystone XL Pipeline Relies on Eminent Domain for Success

| Monday November 7th, 2011 | 2 Comments

Over the weekend, protesters marched on Washington against the construction of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline. A variety of environmental reasons fuel opposition to the pipeline, ranging from possible water contamination, to furthering the continuing use of (dirty) fossil fuels, and even climate change. While these all may be worthwhile reasons, they may fall on deaf ears. Besides the environmental argument, what reason may garner empathy from folks who would not typically fight against oil?

One big reason that may help build opposition to the Keystone construction is eminent domain. The fight against the Keystone XL pipeline has been mostly an environmental fight, but quite frankly, not everyone is an environmentalist and may not resonate with this message.  However, eminent domain may just provide enough common ground for the environmentalist and non-environmentalist alike.

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How to Talk with Global Warming Deniers

| Wednesday November 2nd, 2011 | 36 Comments

Most of you reading this probably believe that human caused global warming is true.  Likewise, you probably know a family member, friend, or colleague that thinks global warming is a myth. And that is where we collide into heated and passionate arguments. How does one talk and reason with folks who think global warming is not a real threat?

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at the Los Angeles Green Festival entitled, “My brother-in-law is a global warming denier,” attempting to answer that very question.  The panel was made up of veterans who have been in the green and sustainability movement for decades: Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director of Green America, and Lois Arkin, a spunky 75-year old member of the Los Angeles Eco-Village.

What doesn’t work?
In order to understand what methods works, we need to understand what doesn’t work.  We have to differentiate between science and belief in terms of global warming.  Talking about just the science won’t work, as belief is something that runs deeper than empirical evidence.

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Pre-Occupied with Wall Street: A Systems Thinking Perspective

| Monday October 10th, 2011 | 35 Comments

The Occupy Wall Street movement has grown exponentially over the past week. What began as a movement targeting Wall Street has turned into something larger than just economic circumstances, but encompassing social and environmental concerns.

Let’s take a systems thinking look at just blaming Wall Street, and why Wall Street is only a symptom of the underlying problem.  Furthermore, how do return to a sustainable, robust, economy? The underlying problem is the collusion (whether intended or not) of Wall Street, the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve.  What we see with our eyes is just the greedy Wall Street corporations making a quick buck, benefiting first from artificially low interest rates from Federal Reserve before the crash, and government bailouts after the crash.  Their benefit is to our detriment, as the rest of America is struggling with foreclosures and joblessness.  What we don’t see is the entire system being skewed by the government in favor of these very corporations.

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How to Encourage ‘Good Food’ for Good Health?

| Monday September 19th, 2011 | 0 Comments

Good food is not only more sustainable for the planet but for our health. Good food tastes really good too. But as much as good food is good for us and the planet, it is not as easy to come by as fast food and processed meals.  What can be done to make good food as common as McDonald’s? More good food policy? More good food action?

Over the past week, the inaugural Good Food Festival and Conference fed the bellies and minds of attendees.  The Good Food Festival brought together folks from all across the food system, from farmers to food businesses, from sustainable food advocates to chefs, from families to even this pundit.  It was not only 5 days of celebrating and eating good food, but also a time to share ideas to make good food a common occurrence.

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B Corp and a Benefit Corporation are Not Created Equal

| Thursday September 8th, 2011 | 12 Comments

B Corporation is a non-profit certification from B-Lab, a company that supports the legal structure Benefit Corporation

B Corp is just short hand for a Benefit Corporation, right? Not quite. Although there are similarities between the two in name, and in spirit, there is a crucial difference. B Corp is a certification and a Benefit Corp is a legal entity. Let me explain.

The Confusion Between B Corp and Benefit Corporations
First off, let’s talk about the confusion. If we look at the description of a B Corp and a Benefit Corporation, both are extremely similar.

“Certified B Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” – B Corp

“Benefit Corporations are a new class of corporation that are required to create a material positive impact on society and the environment and to meet higher standards of accountability and transparency.” – Benefit Corporation.

Confusing? Yes. Both seek to benefit society and the environment. So then what is the difference?

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Solyndra Bankruptcy: Economic and Sustainable Business Lessons

| Friday September 2nd, 2011 | 2 Comments

The once highly touted clean tech start up, Solyndra, has filed for bankruptcy. Solyndra was hoped to be a key mover and player in the clean tech and solar industry.  The United States Federal Government even backed a loan to Solyndra.

Unfortunately, market forces and competition proved unfavorable to the start up and over 1,000 jobs have been lost.  What economic lessons can we learn from Solyndra’s failure?  What insight can we learn for a sustainable business?

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How to Control Labor Costs Before They Control You

| Thursday September 1st, 2011 | 2 Comments

When times are tough, companies look for ways to cut costs. Labor costs are often one of those cuts. An article from management consulting firm Booz & Company’s, Strategy+Business, suggests a way to retool labor costs. But will their proposal help or hinder businesses heeding their advice?

The Booz article sub-headline suggests, “Despite years of cutbacks, many companies’ pay structures are still unbalanced. Here’s a dispassionate, logical way to realign them.” Booz suggests to use market wage rage analysis to bring company wages to the same level as what ‘the market’ pays. They put particular emphasis on long-time employees who may be paid far more than their peers by virtue of simply having been there longer:

1) Appropriate job categorization and responsibility adjustments – for workers paid beyond market rate, reassign and retrain workers to an area suitable for their pay grade.
2) Voluntary separation – asking employees to leave with a severance package.
3) Involuntary separation and performance management – reviewing worker performance and let the lowest performers go.
4) Wage reduction – a one time salary cut to be in line with the rest of the market.

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