Talks@Google and C-Span2: Wow!

In back to back days, two fantastic videotaped events were released.

First, a  very unique and special event. How many authors get interviewed by their nephew? In this case, David, the son of my older brother, Andy, whom I idolized as a role model growing up, interviewed me.  David prepared like no other, and he was ready, as I you will see in the interview.

Second, my presentation and Q&A to the Fernandina Beach, Fl. Rotary Club at Story and Song Book and Bistro was released on C-Span2 on the BookTV channel.  I think I need to tamp down the use of my hands and arms in the way I talk, but I thought C-Span captured the event really nicely.

What a variation of podcast interviews!

March 11, 2019:  It’s been a whirlwind for me since my book was published just about two months ago. I’ve been asked to be a part of several podcasts. All of them were fascinating for different reasons  Here’s a recap and links for those who are interested in more.

Business For Good podcast with Paul Shapiro and Toni Okamoto

(i’ve known Paul since the early 00’s. Such a friendly person, so easy to work with, but we were opposites.  He’s quite an animal rights leader and now into promoting alternative plant based proteins. But the interview was very fair. Had some tough questions and challenges, especially on McDonald’s Happy Meals, and the future of a veggie burger at McDonald’s.)

Here is what Paul wrote about this podcast:

“When you think about picking a career that’ll help make the world a better place, do you think of working at the largest fast food company in the world?

You may not, but that’s indeed what Bob Langert spent his career doing. The former McDonald’s executive was at the forefront of many of the decisions the restaurant behemoth made relating to social responsibility, from retiring styrofoam containers to paying tomato pickers more to improving farm animal welfare.

Now retired, Bob has a new book out about his career spent trying to help the fast food chain do better. It’s a candid look at where he thinks his former employer got it right and where he believes they came up short.

If you’ve ever wondered how a major corporation makes decisions about improving its sustainability footprint, this interview is for you.”

The podcast created this “superhero” drawing, as they do with all their guests. Cool!

Purpose 360 podcast with Carol Cone and Chris Noble

(I got carried away on this interview.  I love talking about “purpose!”)

Carol and Chris wrote: “McDonald’s serves 70 million people every day, worldwide. As one of the world’s most visible brands, McDonald’s has both an obligation and opportunity to create meaningful connections with those 70 million people and their local and global communities. Today, the company has a focused purpose to use its “scale for good.”

Getting there wasn’t easy.

Bob Langert, former VP of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at McDonald’s, gave Purpose 360 a candid look into the company’s journey from reactive to proactive. It started in the 1980s, when the company was attacked for its use of CFCs in polystyrene clamshell packaging. Langert was tasked with addressing the challenge. Since then, he has helped the company navigate issues ranging from animal welfare and landfill waste to obesity and nutrition. Highlights from the episode include:

  • Considering every touchpoint with society. In transforming the relationship between the business and society, McDonald’s considered macro and micro issues, from nutrition and animal welfare to the environment and the economy. That holistic view helped McDonald’s drive industry-wide change in practices like the treatment of animals.
  • Treat purpose like a mindset, not an endpoint. For Langert, purpose has always been a journey – and one without an endpoint. When integrated within the business – from values to operations – purpose becomes a mindset that guides decision making at all levels of the organization.
  • Partner with your challengers. Greenpeace in particular challenged McDonald’s for its supply chain practices in the Amazon. Rather than shrug off criticism, McDonald’s acknowledged its poor practices and asked Greenpeace for counsel. It took a similar approach to partnerships with organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund. Langert urges purpose leaders to look to partners for expertise and accountability.
  • Support internal ethics. Through years of turbulence, Langert attested to the company’s internal ethics. Stakeholders from the C-suite down to franchise owners wanted McDonald’s to “do the right thing.” And that made difficult decisions easier to navigate, from publicly addressing negative actions to transforming its approach to animal welfare.

This episode is just a taste of Langert’s story. Take a look into McDonald’s evolution in Langert’s new book, The Battle to Do Good: Inside McDonald’s Sustainability Journey. Find it here.”

What Doesn’t Kill You podcast with Katy Keifer

Katy was a delight, about as energetic as they come!  She asked me some zingers toward the end, on food service wages.  Give it a listen to see if you think my answer resonates–or not.

The GreenPeneur Show podcast with Michael Thomas

I loved this interview for two reasons.  Michael asked me about current events, like whether meat should be defined as derived from animals, and a piece of art showing Ronald McDonald’s on a crucifix.  What did I think of that?  Plus, this show emanates from the southside of Chicago, near where I grew up.  I am proud of my southside Chicago heritage!

Passing on some lessons learned to VCCP, a creative agency

March 8, 2019:  Spent some time helping VCCP, a creative agency based in London. I shared relevant parts of McDonald’s sustainability and brand journey. The team was very engaged and spirited, asking probing, thoughtful questions. Emma Whitmarsh, my liaison, provided this feedback:  “Both your video talk and Q&A session was hugely informative and very inspirational for us to move forward.” 

I do believe there is a lot to learn from McDonald’s ups and downs to help other companies and brand successfully blend sustainability aspects into the brand. Good to see marketing and creative agencies leveraging sustainability!

C-Span comes to Fernandina Beach

March 7, 2019: I was invited to speak to the Rotary Club of Fernandina Beach at the Story and Song, a place not on for books, but culture, ideas, and community.  I can’t speak more highly about Story and Song!  C-Span came to tape my presentation and the dialogue. It was quite an exciting scene.  I got a real kick out of the Rotary Club meeting. They started out by singing songs, together.  I was impressed and moved by their joy. They approved a full four year scholarship for a student in need. Again, impressed.

After the Rotary discussion, Story and Song hosted a community discussion of my book. I was grateful for so many friends coming and showing interest in my book.  Friends came from tennis, my condo community, the biking group I enjoy, and the Amelia Island Book Festival. Thank you everyone! I got lots of fair and tough questions. My favorite was about the economics of sustainability. Many believe it is an extra cost. I believe it should be mainstream and not a niche, premium aspect of running a business.

Speaking to the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club at Story and Song Bookstore

At the superior bookstore/bistro/culture center Story and Song in Fernandina Beach, Fl.