About a year ago, I wrote this post which was part homage and part pay-back to the people who had inspired me and moved me and spoke the language that I could relate to. I consider these people, THE Superstars of the CSR world. The reason I believe they are so special because is they have managed to make something that is considered either too fuzzy or too complicated into something that is approachable and relatable. This is not easy; in a world that is full of CSR resources that are either too academic or way too advanced for the casual reader tentatively dipping his toes into the sustainability waters, these people are like a breath of fresh air.
Now, after almost half a decade of observing, reading and following these people, I can see some clear patterns that emerge from the paths these wonderful people have blazed. These are my top lessons for being the next superstar in CSR and Sustainability.
Be Compassionate, be Human:
If you can’t show compassion towards those who are struggling on their path to sustainability, how can you expect to make the world better? Chris Milton is a shining example of those who teach without being patronizing, who inspire without being judgmental.
Chris has been doing his fair share of good work since he has started writing and when someone asks me for a comprehensive resource on CSR, I refer them to this series that he has created. But that is not why he is a superstar, it is because his writings are full of compassion, whether he is discussing the issue of Rape in India or Chiquita’s Ethical Dilemma, you can’t detect a hint of judgment in his words, all you can see is a matter of fact narrative that come from a place of understanding and empathy.
Ditch the Vernacular:
If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or offer your opinion, you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. CSR people use vernacular too often and perhaps we all could use a lesson from Elaine Cohen. She is a master of combining humor with even the dullest of topics like…CSR reporting. Who would have thought you could actually look forward to reading a CSR report review. But you do, ohh By God you do!
Have a Backbone:
I live and practice this principal in all walks of life but in CSR it becomes even more important. Why you ask me?…because there are just too many different opinions out there and none of those are right or wrong, they just look at things from a different prism.
A CSR Superstars says what she thinks and says it with conviction. It will please those who can relate with your reality and would alienate those who don’t. But at least no one could blame you of neutrality!
Don’t just do it..Live it:
Few people respect talking heads. We respect those who get up early in the morning, work late into the evening and who build a life around what they believe in. Julie Urlaub is walking talking example this discipline. Go check out her blog and her recent interview on Triple Pundit and you will know what I mean.
Enjoy the process:
One person who I see living this principal every day is Leon Kaye; he is enjoying the sustainability journey and it is obvious when you connect with him, the energy is contagious. What we do in our day-to-day lives might occasionally seem tedious, but remember that every day that we live is an opportunity to add meaning to the world; to educate, to spark conversations, to challenge status quo and to persuade someone to do the right thing. Don’t take that lightly!
Remember to keep things in perspective — even on your worst day as a CSR professional…heck as any professional, you have still got an opportunity to make a difference, even if a very small one.
Yes it is important to take this passion to the next level and create something magical but don’t let that struggle black out the fascinating journey you are on.