Over 180 packed the ballroom at the Grappone Center on Monday to hear Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman’s startup story at New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR)’s annual conference.
Goldman’s multimedia presentation capped a day of innovative learning and networking for the state’s leading sustainable business organization.
Monday was also the launch of the organization’s new outreach campaign.
Named, “Just One Thing,” the campaign will help businesses begin or advance their own sustainability efforts through the sharing of organizations’ stories of simple but achievable actions.
Key highlights from the day included:
Keynote Speaker Seth Goldman
Goldman, co-founder and “TeaEO” of the bestselling organic packaged tea company in the world, came to NH to tell the story of how his passion for social business helped build Honest Tea into $100m in annual sales and a high-profile acquisition by Coca Cola.
Goldman explained how his passion for a low calorie iced tea drink led him to overcome endless naysayers. He began his talk, and his hit book "Mission in a Bottle," with a beloved Chinese proverb: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.”
Goldman mixed humorous tales from the early days of Honest Tea with a vigorous defense of his partnership with Coca Cola, a company often criticized for its opposition to bottle bills and health initiatives in schools.
Goldman detailed how key challenges with production and distribution made his sale to the world’s largest beverage distributor a huge opportunity to provide an alternative to high sugar drinks that previously dominated the market. He also cited two NH business leaders, Jeff Schwartz of Timberland and Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield, as two key advisors during the early years of Honest Tea’s rise.
Governor Maggie Hassan was on hand to help present the annual Cornerstone Award to Manchester’s Jeff Baker of Image 4.
Image 4’s President and CEO, Baker was recognized for his sustainability leadership in the brand marketing industry and contributions to local nonprofits.
Governor Hassan also presented citations to Trish Taylor, Executive Chef at the Grappone Conference Center, and The Co-op Food Stores of New Hampshire and Vermont.
NHBSR’s Cornerstone Award is awarded annually to an individual, organization, or business that exemplifies the concepts of corporate social responsibility within their organization and promotes these concepts to the greater business community within New Hampshire.
Huddle Ups: Unusual Unsessions Led by Attendees
For the second year, NHBSR adapted the well-established “unconference” format to offer a unique range of participant-driven “Huddle Ups.”
Rather than a one-to-many lecture or panel, Huddle Ups allow attendees to propose ideas, topics, or questions for discussion.
Conference attendees pre-chose eight topics via online voting, and added two additional topics on the “floor” of the conference. The ten topics discussed were: Convincing Your Peers that Sustainability is Profitable, How do I assess and address my business’ environmental impact?,
Sustainability for Small Businesses, Sustainable Investing, Can Your Business Go Zero Waste?, Recruiting/Supporting Talent for Sustainability, How Do We Create Shared Value in the NH Economy?, How to Market Your Sustainability, Young Professionals & Sustainability, Sustainability Metrics: How Do You Measure?
The day concluded with insights from sustainability leaders across the region’s leading industries.
The panel included Tom Raffio, President and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, George Mandragouras, CFO of Cirtronics, Todd Leach, Chancellor or the University System of New Hampshire, Jeff Baker, President and CEO of Image 4, Rauni Kew, PR and Green Team Manager, Inn by the Sea and George Parmenter, Sustainability Program Manager for Delhaize America, Hannaford parent company.
Panelists shared advice and sustainability trends businesses should be aware of and addressing.