On this 60th episode of the SHINE podcast, I am delighted to share this amazing interview with a new friend, James Regulinkski of Carbon Collective. Together we talk about the important subject of sustainable finance and investing. In this interview, you will learn how we can 10x our return on investment for climate and the impact of investing in ESGs versus non ESGs and how that supports a world that works for everyone. We also talk about Project Drawdown and how that was a huge inspiration for the mission and vision of Carbon Collective and how they choose their investment portfolios. Lastly, we speak about the special co-founder relationship of James and Zach and the practices James engages in as an early stage entrepreneur to keep his light shining bright.
How Banks Could Bail Us Out of the Climate Collective — https://www.newyorker.com/news/annals-of-a-warming-planet/how-banks-could-bail-us-out-of-the-climate-crisis
Aspiration Bank — https://www.aspiration.com/
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0:01 Carley Hauck
Hi, welcome to the SHINE podcast. My name is Carley Hauck, I am your host. This podcast focuses on the intersection of science, the application of conscious inclusive leadership, the recipe for high performing teams, and awareness practices so that you can cultivate the conscious inner game skills to be the kind of leader our world needs now.
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This is the 60th episode. And it will be the last episode for the next couple of months as I regroup and take a well deserved pause. The SHINE podcast has been shining bright since May 2019. And I am delighted to share this amazing interview with a new friend, James Regulinkski of Carbon Collective and we talk about the important subject of sustainable finance and investing. In this interview, you will learn how we can 10x our return on investment for climate and the impact of investing in ESGs versus non ESGs and how that supports a world that works for everyone. We’ll also talk about Project Drawdown and how that was a huge inspiration for the mission and vision of Carbon Collective and how they choose their investment portfolios. We’ll also speak to the special co-founder relationship of James and Zach and what James does as an early stage entrepreneur to keep his light shining bright.
The future is up to us humans. I can’t wait for you to listen. Thanks so much for being here.
Carley Hauck 2:28
Hello, SHINE podcasters thank you so much for joining me and my friend James Regulinkski. He is the co-founder of Carbon Collective. And James, I’m so excited to have this conversation with you. Thanks for joining me.
James Regulinkski 2:44
Oh, Carley, thank you so much for having me. This is a pleasure.
Carley Hauck 2:46
Well, one of the first questions that I often ask folks, because SHINE is about conscious, inclusive leadership is: what does conscious, inclusive leadership and business mean to you?
James Regulinkski 3:05
I love this question. I love to challenge my thoughts on this a lot. And I think my opinion might be a little bit out there. But I guess that will be for all of you to decide. So I think the number one thing that a leader needs to do, which is particularly hard in the US, is to realize that their job is not to lead, their job is to support every other person at the company and the organization. I think with the sort of the culture of the individual, we get hyper focused on what are the superpowers and strengths and talents of leaders? How cool are they? What is Elon Musk gonna say next, what kind of personality do they have?
And I think most things happen in the world, because you have an incredible team there. And so, well, my job, my probably my most important job as the founder has been too, to bring the right team together to make these things happen. It’s closely followed by making sure that that team has all the resources they need to to thrive, that they don’t aren’t blocked by things that don’t need a block be blocked by that. We haven’t created systems that impede them from being the best selves, that we haven’t detracted from their life in a way where they can’t bring their best selves to work, and that we’re using their skills on the right problems. So vision setting can help sort of establish the direction and the momentum of the company and, and the holding, holding different parts of the processes that need to happen so that that people’s time is being used effectively and that we’re all going in the same direction well, can look a little bit like what we often call that sort of leadership set setting. They’re like, Oh, I’m this is the map to where we’re going. For us Carbon Collective we talk a lot about the inverted pyramid that as co-founder, as one of the co founders My job is to support and let everyone else stand on my shoulders.
Carley Hauck 5:05
Some of the salient things I heard you say, and thank you for that answer, was really creating the atmosphere for your team to thrive, so that they can bring their best selves. And the truth is that we bring our messy selves to right. You know, it’s like, it’s like, it’s not one without the other sometimes. Right?
James Regulinkski 5:26
And part of that, exactly, I think it’s sometimes similar to parenting, which is like, co-founders can have conflicts, and we fight, but we don’t. We don’t. Sometimes parents don’t resolve their fights in front of their kids. And so kids never see that there is a resolution process. And similarly, Zach and I tried to resolve any problems that we have ever had in the space of the company. So we show how resolution of conflict occurs and what aspiration we have around that. That’s a way in which we sort of live that and show our messy selves. I don’t pretend I go through my ups and downs cycle, I don’t pretend I don’t have them. We are initially talking about like, Oh, should I just not come to a morning meeting? If I’m, if I’m having a down day? And the answer is no, absolutely show up. But also let everyone know that this is where you are and what you can and can’t do. And that reminds people that having limits stating your limits, communicating those is part of, of giving everyone permission to do that.
And if if you’re in a place of that’s traditionally viewed as a place of power, the example you set probably has more weight than what you say, if I if I tell everyone I’m about to go take a run to deal with anxiety, it’s going to be a lot received much more differently, in terms of giving other people’s permission to say, oh, there, it’s okay to deal with anxiety and not just hold it inside. Then if I say, you know, say nothing about it and have radio silence, or just sort of shutdown and don’t respond to people well.
Carley Hauck 6:54
Yeah, I love that you’re, you’re really talking about leading from authenticity from vulnerability. And so that leads me to the next question, you have a very special relationship with your co founders, Zach Stein, and from what I’ve heard from listening to a couple interviews that you both have done separately, is that you’ve been childhood friends, I think since you were four, right? You grew up in the Bay area together, you had lots of, yeah, lots of interactions, and then you moved away, because your family went sailing around the South of France, I totally want to hear about that. And then you found each other again, after you came back, something like that?
James Regulinkski 7:35
Our dads were friends in college. And so as you know, we were sort of four to 10 ish. We were, you know, at each other’s house all the time. And we have great stories of building forts, bailing out tree forts, from our sliding down mountains together, and just being completely silly as kids. And that was, like, you know, one of the one of those friendships that you, you, you hold on to, like, it’s, it’s formative, if you will.
But when we by the time, you know, I left to go sailing around the world with my family, and, and Zach actually came and visited us a couple of times. But, you know, by the time we were in high school, and then college, we were living in different parts of the US and going to school elsewhere. And there was not, you know, we have that we have that gap, you change, you grow.
But I did, when I moved back to the Bay Area, I took a job at ALL Power Labs, which was in Berkley, and I was biking home one day, and saw someone coming back for basketball. And he looked really familiar. And I don’t remember who said it first, but we started staring at each other. And so we literally ran back into each other on the street, and started discovering who we were as adults and building a new friendship that wasn’t based on necessarily just the childhood memories, but seeing where we had come and what we were up to. And then I got pulled into his entrepreneurial journey. And we started another company together. And the growing that we had, while maintaining that friendship made us both, I think, better at leading, better at being part of a company better at being mostly just better at being human and vulnerable. And then growing together and letting someone else sort of push you and and support you. Because I think both of those are necessary. So that was it is a it has been a joy to work with Zach and go through all of those all of the hard times and all of the exhilarating thrilling times.
Carley Hauck 9:40
Well, you know, I teach a lot with leaders and teams on creating a foundation of psychological safety. So that trust, innovation, belonging, high performance can really exist. And so what I imagine is there’s a real strong level of psychological safety and trust between the two of you because of the longevity of your relationship.
And when I speak to psychological safety, it’s, you know, maybe there’s criticism, maybe, you know, maybe sometimes your real messy selves come through. But there’s such a level, and this is my assumption. but there’s a level of trust and like, you know what, Zach’s kind of being an asshole today, but I really know he’s got my back. Yeah, or vice versa, I really know that we will be able to resolve this conflict.
And so I feel curious, how do you resolve your conflict? You know, together? You were mentioning that before? And what do you think supports you to do that to come back and say, Hey, we’ve got the same mission, we’re on the same team. Let’s, let’s let this kind of pass, let it go and get back to what we’re here to do. Or I don’t know, maybe that’s not the narrative you have, maybe it’s something different.
James Regulinkski 11:00
I mean, for us, we know that we are not going to be successful without each other in this company. And maybe it’ll get to a point where one of us could leave in the distant future. And that would be fine. But like, right now, the company is what it is because we both brought our selves to this and what was so valued, like what we valued.
I want to take a step back a little bit to talk about how we sort of developed because after that, that hiatus in the friendship, like, you know, as adults, you are a different person than you are as a kid. And so we did intentionally rebuild that space of psychological safety. And it came in a fairly messy process, which I won’t describe here because then you know, everyone will be psychoanalyzing me, but be no one wants to hear that, that the details of that drama, but one of the things we stumbled upon is a really great tool for us to, to grow, was we would read books together, we would both we listen to books, we both had a shared Audible account.
And there are books on on leadership on communication on psychological safety, whatever the topic was, because we found that one of us would go and read something and get excited about and try to explain it to the other, the other person would be like, Well, I don’t see how that fits into my life I like and then starting, the person would have the first person who brought it would be like, I now need to defend this idea. And, and it would become a big issue. If we both read it at the like, one right after the other, and then came and talked about the ideas and how they might or might not fit into our work life or our relationship. That allowed us to sort of step back and be collaborative together on on that and see how it could fit in.
So we have our like our list of favorite books that that helped us. And one of them was Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, yeah, absolutely, which is a treat to listen to, because they’ll actually sing some of those goofy songs, which most people tell you to skip over. But anyway, having that shared reading, and then making an aspirational goal of using that in our communication gave us all of these tools to fall back on.
Zach also has a lot of talents. But one one that he brought, or one idea that he brought into our relationship was name entertainment. So as we observed something that happened again, and again, we would just give it a name, so we could talk about it. And little tricks like that allowed us to sort of separate out the strong emotional anxiety, tension elements of any issue that came up, which sometimes was interpersonal, strictly.
And sometimes we were feeling strong emotions, because we’re raising big chunks of money and hiring people and firing people and, and having to make decisions about the fate of the company. And not knowing whether it was right or wrong. So some of it was external, but you’d still have that strong emotional stance and being able to, to really see the other person. And to practice active listening, for example, again, coming out of the shared reading, and being able to know, what, see what the other person was doing in the practice of seeing the other person or of active listening has just allowed us to continue to help each other grow.
And like, I know that Zach has made me a better person, a better leader, a better participant in this company, and that is that there’s really the foundation of a trust is that at the end of the day, I have seen how Zach has helped me become a better person. And so I can look back at that when I’m having a frustrating interaction or maybe I’m just hungry or maybe I’m fresh, like scared about something or worried about something at work and bringing that into conversation I would I ever need to take a step back and take a step back and can look back at this this now, you know, five years of working together. Six more than that now. Wow. And remembering like all the times that he has, he has been there that we have worked through the difficult thing we have used the skills we have learned to grow. And so that’s really cool. And that’s how we got there.
Carley Hauck 15:02
Thank you. Yeah, that’s what I was hearing is that you, while leaders are learners, so you’re already doing one of the right things, I also hear that you’ve been growing your self awareness and therefore able to self manage when those bigger emotions come up and even name, hey, this is happening right now. And what I hear is that you’ve had different tools to lean on, that have supported you to move through the conflict.
So I could go further into leadership, but why don’t why don’t you tell our listeners that you are the co-founder of the Carbon Collective, which is such a cool business. And it started in 2019, right before the pandemic, so you’ve had quite, you know, I don’t even know what to call that quite a mountain. That’s your first starting a new business in the midst of such a pivotal time.
James Regulinkski 15:54
Honestly, I think that starting right at the beginning of the pandemic was really for us, it was worked out really well. The whole world changed to remote work, and Zach and I wanted to be working remotely anyway. But it also meant that people were more available for these kinds of interviews. So the start of the business, we didn’t know exactly what we were gonna do. It wasn’t like we were chatting, like, oh, I have a perfect idea for business. Let’s go start this.
We were like, we finished up our previous startup, we wrap that up, end of 2019. So really, it was right at the start of 2020. And we knew that we wanted to be working on climate change, we knew we wanted to be building something that was directly impactful to people’s lives, and that we could actually manage with the skills and resources we had at the time.
So it wasn’t like we needed to go learn how to be a chemical engineer to start a product or go find that person that was what is what is with the skills we have now how can we build this. And so really, it started out with just finding exercises, we sent out a survey to everyone we knew and we asked them to send it out to everyone they knew to understand how they related to their anxieties around climate change. We interviewed like 150 people or something both individuals and professionals in the space, trying to understand how they related to the money and their anxieties and climate change and, and their work and sort of this sort of broad space. And we started to come up with ideas that seemed like they might work. And it wasn’t until that summer that we started to see how, as a planet, we have all the technologies that we need to solve climate change, but we weren’t putting enough money collectively into solving them, we need to be investing about $5 trillion every year. And while that’s a large number, it’s not an insurmountable number. And well, there’s a lot of new technologies that need to be implemented. It is not a novel idea, like go engineer a new thing that has never been seen before, we have all those tools. And so now we just need to direct that towards the solution.
And we discovered that people get exhausted by making constant decisions, making frequent decisions every day. And so having one time decisions helps allow you to be more likely to stick with a solution. And all of that came together into this idea, which is what Carbon Collective is, which is an online investment platform that allows individuals to divest their money from fossil fuels, invest in climate solutions, and put pressure on companies. And having that all sort of automatically taken care of for you means that you’re not having that one more thing we’re like. I’m gonna ignore the fact that my money is fueling the future I’m desperately trying to avoid in every other part of my life.
And I don’t have to worry about, you know, constantly readjusting or putting pressure, etc, that someone else’s, is taking care of that and then sharing that process with me, because I don’t think it’s enough to say, Oh, we got this where you don’t have to think about it, because that’s gonna lead to greenwashing that’s going to lead to folks not being not understanding how their money or their their their life energy is being put to use.
And so we also sort of bring that all out into the open and you can go into our website and find out why we invest in everything we invest in, and how we come across that. As a disclaimer, this is not going to be financial advice. So this is just me talking about the history of our company and our story and our philosophy and so forth.
Carley Hauck 19:35
And I’ll leave a link in the show notes so people can find Carbon Collective and learn about how they can, you know, get involved and open an account and all of those things. And since you just offered that lovely disclaimer, I will also share that I am a current client of Carbon Collective. And for those of you that are listening to the podcast, one of the things that I have made a commitment and intention for every single one of these episodes, and this is going to be, by the time this airs, it’ll be number 60.
But I mentioned climate change and every single one of the episodes because that is the largest problem our humanity is facing. And it is why I started the writing of my book SHINE. And therefore why this podcast started, because I was doing a lot of research of leaders and companies that really wanted to reprioritize business so that it was in service of people and planet.
And it’s really interesting, because I found out about Carbon Collective about a year ago, and I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, who also works in leadership and organizational development consulting. And I won’t out him at the moment, but he had just started working at Accenture. And he was saying, you know, Carley, I’ve got this great 401(k). But it’s invested in all these fossil fuels. And it’s ridiculous, and this is totally not in alignment with my values. And now I have to do all this extra research. And then I happened to find out about your company. And I thought, Ah, this is awesome. This is awesome.
James Regulinkski 21:19
That’s probably a good segue for me to also mention that we did just launch a 401k program for companies because most people do most of their investment, they’re saving for retirement through a 401k plan if they have one. And they’re often very few and very poor choices when it comes to investing with your values on a four with a 401k.
Carley Hauck 21:39
So let’s talk about it. What is the 401k a Carbon Collective offer?
James Regulinkski 21:42
So right now we’re offering essentially our same core portfolio theory. And as we watch other
investment vehicles in the future, we’ll sort of roll those into the plan as well. So the same idea where you divest, reinvest in climate solutions. So it’s really a broadly diversified portfolio because most people want to have large market exposure for financial reasons so that they can sort of enjoy track the market and the growth in the market.
But they don’t want to do that while investing in the things that are actively destroying the planet that they’re going to retire into. I mean, how ironic is it that if you have, you know, enough money to retire, but it’s in a world where you’re where it is, it’s a grim, grim version, not the one you imagined when you were doing all that saving?
So both divesting from those, and then taking that portion that would have gone to fossil fuels and saying, no, we want to, we want to invest that in the technologies that are actively bringing us to a solution that are transitioning our economy away from needing and relying on fossil fuels. So that is that portion for our in particularly in our robo advisors, or we call our climate solutions fund. And should our common solutions fund is that all of the companies that were identified by Project Drawdown as being-
Carley Hauck 23:12
And I know a Project Drawdown is you know what it is, but tell our listeners what project or I can even fill in the blank. What do you think, What would you like to do?
James Regulinkski 23:19
I’d love to hear what your answer is.
Carley Hauck 23:23
Well, it’s going to be short and sweet. But Drawdown is a book, one of the many wonderful books that Paul Hawken wrote. And basically, in that book, he speaks to 100 different ways that we can actually reverse climate change. And so what you said at the beginning of the interview is like, we already have the solutions, we know what to do. It’s just that we have to divest from these industries, from these ways of being that are actually not supporting humanity, and the planet to flourish.
And Paul’s newest book, which I think has gotten a little bit more acclaim, and I think it’s really just based on the title, which is Regeneration, the first week that regeneration was out. It was a New York Times bestseller, but that feels much more hopeful than drawdown. Right. And so it’s it’s essentially the same information, but that’s my answer for drawdown. What’s your answer?
James Regulinkski 24:22
Yeah, I’d say that I’m an engineer by education. So I generally describe it as the open source model that was put together by about 100 or so engineers and scientists, right, I looked at everything we needed to do to get to that point where we’re pulling more co2 out of the atmosphere than we’re releasing.
And that’s, to me a very hopeful point to be at, because it is not just sometimes we talked about direct air capture or these things to sort of, or carbon sequestration, where we’re saying oh, the technology will allow us to continue businesses you all, but this is a no, we can change everything. And the natural systems that are already in place will do that carbon sequestration for us. But we have to get to a point where we’re not producing as much co2, or other greenhouse gasses.
And some of the answers that came out of this were a little bit surprising. But all of those answers that companies, publicly traded companies are working on a solution, so their primary work is on one of those spaces we put into our climate solutions fund.
Carley Hauck 25:33
Awesome. So for folks that are not maybe as familiar with what ESGs are and investing in ESGs, versus, you know, not investing in ESG is, could you break that down?
James Regulinkski 25:41
Yeah, so ESG is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. So I will talk about what it is, why it’s better than the status quo and why we need to move beyond it.
So ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. And it was developed in response to the industry, people demanding that they have some way of responsible investing. And previously, it had been very hand wavy, what counts as a responsible investment. So a framework was put together, that essentially takes a whole bunch of data and compiles it down to a single score and rates every company on the stock market based off of those three categories.
However, if you go to the website of the main data producer, they say there and big font ESG is not a measure of the ethical-ness of a company, they probably don’t say ethical this, but it is not the measure of how good a company does. It is a financial risk metric. And so he’s saying how much risk is there as it relates to these criterias.
So often in these portfolios, they tend to have fewer of the worst actors. So it’s an exclusionary filter. So this is why you should, if you have no other choice, choose an ESG, you’re going to have less exposure to the worst companies out there. However, many ESG funds end up with companies like Exxon Mobil, and companies that aren’t building the world that we are trying to build that’s Fossil Free fuel, fossil fuel free, or the world in which we solve climate change and move our economy away where people thrive and the planet thrives. It is often what are the best actors within what are the best actors within a sector. And what are the end which ones sort of aren’t the worst.
So it has its limitations. Again, if you have no other options, ESG can be a way of being less bad. But you’ll still end up with exposure to companies that are not really in alignment with building the future we want to see.
Carley Hauck 27:47
I’d like to ask a question, which I think I know the answer to but I’m curious about your perspective. So a company that has invested in becoming B certified right, a B Corp company, they have to hit certain criteria along the ESG. So would you say that if a company for example, Allbirds, I believe is a B Corp. They’re then high on the ESG in comparison to a company that hasn’t gone through the B Corp certification.
James Regulinkski 28:15
Yeah, in that case, though, it has more to do with the rigorousness of the B Corp certification than that there’s even a unified, there isn’t a unified document that says anyone who has a good that has an ESG score, it means the same thing across datasets. It’s not even a consistent score that every one could look at and go, I know how I rank up in a similar way. So well, I love a B2B court certification, and it will push a company to be a lot better. I guess maybe that’s the pun they intended. It is not the same to say that if you have a high ESG score that you would do well on all the processes that would take to get the decertification.
Carley Hauck 28:56
Okay, so let’s talk about Coca Cola and Pepsi. Yeah, because being that I do have a core fund and Carbon Collective I noticed that out of all the portfolios out of the companies in my portfolio, Coca Cola and Pepsi were in there. And I was like, Huh, why have they been chosen?
James Regulinkski 29:20
So I’m going to do a little bit nerdy bit about why you see those and why this comes up more than other things. So that when we made the portfolio, the way we constructed it was that we bought it the sector by sector portfolios for each sector of the economy, except for the four highest carbon emitting sectors. And that is why we got rid of fossil fuels and a lot of other bad actors in terms of sort of building the future we wanted to build.
And then that percentage we replaced with our climate solutions, which was all because that fund isn’t an ETF. You can’t go out and buy it. It is visible in your portfolio as individual shares that we’re buying on your behalf. However, when we went to go construct the financial sector and the consumer staples sector, there was a bunch of other companies we had to cut out, there was companies that were involved with private prisons, there are companies that are involved in arms manufacturing, and well, those aren’t part of our core, we’re solving climate change, they’re a part of our we don’t, we don’t see a world in which we want to be investing in these, even though this is our main focus.
So there are things that we cut out there exclusionary, that sort of are table stakes of being a decent human, that we had to reconstruct that sector of the economy. So when you look at your full shares, a bunch of companies are hidden in ETS, and you don’t see those. And then there are some companies that you see that are visible, because we bought, we built this sort of single stock holding collection. So that said, Coca Cola is in there, because the main thesis of the core portfolio is you’re broadly invested in the market, you’ve cut out the worst actors, and what you’re left with are companies where it is which will survive and could thrive in a world where we solve climate change, and are receptive to pressure that are worth spending that time on pressuring them.
We don’t believe that Exxon Mobil that ConocoPhillips, that these oil producing companies, Dow Industrial that does do manufactures most of the plastic in the world, not the most, but one of the largest that these companies are, are going to be receptive, or that are spending our time and energy trying to change them away from their core business. Right? It’s worth it, we don’t have enough time, we don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough resources, to spend all of our effort trying to change these companies to be something completely different from what they are, because there is internal inertia, there is identity wrapped up in it, they’re going to be incredibly resistant to change.
But we have seen some of these other companies that are what we call the low carbon economy that are sort of their existence is not threatened, like Coca Cola can still make a bubbly, sugary drink. In a world where we solve climate change, that plastic could be a bioplastic and net zero, and the carbon could be pulled out of the atmosphere to fizz the soda and they could source the wine.
Carley Hauck 32:22
And you’re speaking to why I said Why is Pepsi and Coca Cola and mostly because I’m such an anti plastic person. And when I think about the pounds of plastic that had been put into our oceans, yeah, Coca Cola is in fact responsible for a lot of that.
James Regulinkski 32:40
They are. 33% of all plastic production goes to food and packaging, wrappers and containment. We’ve kind of accepted that as the status quo. And I think we can do a lot better. Like I’ll say that straight up. Again, our belief in this case is that the place to stop it in the same way that the place to stop oil is not on the individual level, same buy less oil, it’s what stopped producing the oil, let’s stop making that economically tenable.
In the same way, the pressure where we weren’t the standard we take on sort of the petrochemical side, it’s not all the people consuming buying and producing that plastic started it’s not that people consuming the plastic it’s the people producing it. And ultimately, that is the Dow Chemicals of the world, and the Exxon Mobil, Exxon Mobil mix of massive like a massive percentage of the plastic that goes into those bottles.
And then we do need collective action outside of any political collective action, and we need personal action on alternatives to plastic for Pepsi and Coke. Compostables, reusable, it’s like there’s a ton of a ton of good options, then start selling this there’s syrup and stuff to a soda, like a fizzy drink fizzy maker at home, like lots of ways that we could reimagine the consumption of beverages.
Carley Hauck 34:04
There’s also I mean, there’s a lot. I mean, it’s just going off on a little bit of a tangent.
James Regulinkski 34:10
Let’s go, let’s go deep.
Carley Hauck 34:11
Well, I guess, before I go into the tangent, and before I go deeper, I’ll just summarize, you’ve answered really well, what an ESG is, which is the question I had and investing in ESG is versus non investing. And so you’re giving some really wonderful examples right now from, you know, the Dow and the Exxon, which is not investing in ESGs, to investing and other portfolio companies that are much more aligned with that.
But, you know, one of the things that I think is lovely about living in California is they tend to be trailblazers and some of these systems and even legislature, for example, in January, there was this mandated composting system and program that had to be brought through all of California. And then I saw in the news maybe a few weeks ago that LA has boycotted all plastic like you, they will not give out plastic into go orders in LA. And that started in May of 2022.
And so I think we’re going to see more and more and more of that where states where cities are creating different rules. And laws essentially said that we are being more mindful of our consumption.
James Regulinkski 35:28
And that’s why we might be at peak plastic, or close to it. Like there’s a positive outlook where, especially on the disposable side, where we’ve sort of reached our tolerance for it, we’ve seen what the harm is. And it seems it also is a attractable problem, where oftentimes climate change as a whole feels like an intractable problem. It is so large, it has so many different facets, you know, there’s the plastic part of it, there’s the transportation part of it, there’s the construction part of it, you can, you can get overwhelmed by how many different pieces there are involved.
And so I’m excited for what people have pushed for on the plastic front. And when it comes to climate change, it is still not the biggest, like whether you have forks, plastic forks, which I don’t think we should have thrown in every to go order. But I also don’t think that solving that piece of the problem is enough, or is even the highest leverage point.
Now there’s a lot of reasons we can do ethical things that are unrelated to climate change. Like there’s, as I said before, there’s I don’t see, I don’t want to live in a world with private prison systems. trafficking, human trafficking, there’s lots of things that are important to stand that go beyond climate change that we should think about in our lives. And when we make decisions, the way we construct a carbon collective was focused on saying this, this issue affects all other issues, right? And what is the way we can make the biggest difference on this issue, so that we have the most likelihood of having a large lever arm, but all these other, and all these other issues?
Carley Hauck 37:08
When I was doing research for my book, I spoke to a wonderful person, she’s a Stanford professor, and she does a lot around sustainable finance. Her name’s Alicia Seiger, she actually, Alicia, if you’re listening, you ended up not making the book, but our conversation definitely hit home. And you when you look at the Sustainable Development Goals, being there, what is it 17 of them, I’m trying to remember 17. She said, If we solved for climate, we would solve for all of them, because they all are impacted by climate.
James Regulinkski 37:34
And if we don’t solve, which is sometimes more scary, is they exacerbate a lot of a lot of each other a lot of these issues, climate refugee, right? Being a climate refugees will exacerbate like all sorts of I think hate crimes, which I’m really terrified of, or, I mean, what I hope for is that we open up our borders to other people and bring you know welcoming arms as as they deal with the loss of their their land and their livelihoods, etc. But I’m scared about the alternative reality. So that’s the sort of the, the nuance of how these play.
No, I don’t like to leave things on just, we’re not leaving yet. But I don’t want to just say these negative things and try to rouse climate fear. I think we have the solutions and examples, both on the technological side, but also on the interpersonal side, also on the how do we develop policies that are? And how do we respond? How do we develop that internal empathy, so that we have the strength when there’s a big crisis comes up to to share that out trying to do a call back to earlier in the podcast?
Carley Hauck 38:40
Well, I love that you just kind of switched gears. And I have just a couple more questions before we end, although I’m sure we could, we could talk for many, many hours. So you just talked about this internal empathy piece, which, in my book, I refer to the inner game a lot in the inner game are these qualities that every person can cultivate, and they’re their qualities of consciousness.
And so you and I spoke a little bit about this before we hit the record. But the qualities that I focus on are self awareness, emotional intelligence, which incorporates empathy, resilience, which could be growth mindset, well being like how are we taking care of our own well being? And then how do we see that by taking care of ourselves, we’re able to therefore take care of others and therefore see the interconnection and how we’re taking care of the planet. But then also how are we leading from love and how are we leading from more authenticity and vulnerability, this is all on the inside, and then it shows up on the outside.
And so you know, being a co founder being the fact that you started this business in the midst of the pandemic that you are tackling a really big problem with some fabulous solutions. What is the inner game that you have really cultivated on the inside, for example, maybe there’s one of those qualities that you feel like, really has you be the leader, and the person that you want to be?
James Regulinkski 40:16
As you said, then, I was like, Man, I need to do all of these things. What is this person she’s describing right now and how can I be them? But for me, empathy has, as I said before, like my job is about supporting others, empathy is so crucial to that. And realizing, when you’re at your limits, goes along with the empathy piece, probably more than any other. So that self awareness, I don’t want to focus too much on self awareness, because I think that you, we should also be community aware, and there’s like these external paths, the self awareness that should be merged in with that concept. But if I don’t know my limits, and I can’t, as I talked about earlier, bring that to bear, I can’t make space for the empathy that I need to have.
And the space we’re working in, on climate change is really easy to get overwhelmed by climate anxiety. It’s something that is, is very real, and and, you know, is aging us all faster than we can imagine. Because it’s an existential problem in a way that we haven’t collectively faced many other times. So I, as I said before, I think as a society, and all these questions are kind of as a society, as a society, do we redirect our resources to solving climate change, but also as a society, are we preparing ourselves to to deal with how different the world it’s going to be?
Carley Hauck 41:55
Yes, the adaptation, the letting go.
James Regulinkski 41:58
We talked about solving climate change a lot. But solving climate change isn’t getting back to the world that my parents grew up in. But that ship sailed, it’s creating a world where we cause as little harm and save and make flourish as much as we can, it’s about setting us on a new trajectory that can be really beautiful, to solving climate change could be making, you know, better homes and transportation. And that can be a more joyful, exciting world.
But it’s also putting us down a path where we do think of ourselves as true stewards of the planet, that it isn’t just for us, and how do we create space for the other living creatures here and the other people who aren’t rich white Americans, like there’s a, a shifting of the consciousness that occurs and like I think of the the internal work I do is sort of like tending to the soil, that I’m going to be one of these plots of land where there’s going to be cool new, new realities growing from in the future, and, and taking the time to get to know my limits, and then work on the so I can I can have the space for the empathy is, is how I tend to that soil.
And I don’t know, investing is all about imagining a better future. And like, when you invest in a house, or you invest in stocks, or a certain company or thing, I think the future is going to look like this. And we can either invest in that future personally, or literally in our investments, and say, I believe the world is going to look like it did for the last 10 years, or I believe it’s gonna get worse, or you can say, I believe it’s gonna get better, I’m gonna invest like the world is gonna get a whole lot better on all these fronts. And whether you’re doing that through self care, or you’re doing that with your dollars, I think that that is what’s going to allow us to manifest the solutions, or this new world in which we’re, we’re able to come off this.
Carley Hauck 43:44
Yeah, well, I, I heard a lot of things I heard self awareness really allows you to self manage some of the climate anxiety that comes up. And therefore there’s a greater self empathy that you’re able to have, oh, wow, this is hard. There’s a lot of freaking uncertainty, and our planet is on fire. And I don’t really know how it’s gonna work out. But I know that I’m going to be one of those leaders that’s charging a new way forward, and getting us to 10x. You know, our investments in a supportive climate.
And, you know, I also felt a ton of climate anxiety. And I wrote the book when Trump was elected because I didn’t see a future that I felt excited about. And my nephew also right around the time that I was given the contract for this book. He was four. He looked at me and he said, Auntie Carly, will you help me save the ocean? And I’m like, Ah, I mean, what do you say? You go? No, dude, I’m not doing it, not doing anything. So you’re not gonna have it. You’re not gonna have coral reefs or dolphins or fish to eat when you’re 20. And I did nothing. And I just couldn’t. I couldn’t say no, I I said yes, yes, yes, I’ll help you.
And, you know, this is the number one. What’s the word? It’s the number one concern of young people right now is climate. And, I do see the consciousness rising. It, you know, I mean, it’s been four years since I wrote the book, but like, the consciousness of leaders, the consciousness of business is rising. So it’s exciting.
James Regulinkski 45:32
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So I think what every business really needs to ask itself is what are we doing about climate change. And unfortunately, what that is often led to in the corporate world is making a pledge, making a pledge, it’s unenforceable, and that you’re going to be out of your role as a sea level person before or board seat before you have to implement. And the pledges are often focused on like the lowest hanging fruit that everyone already knows about. So they tell it saying solar panels, we’re going to replace all of our lights with LEDs, or we’re going to buy carbon offsets.
However, every business has some superpower, they have some reason they exist, there’s something they’re really good at. And the question I think that is, every business should ask that is far more interesting is how do I take that superpower? How do I take that core competency that we have? And use that to address the problem?
Carley Hauck 46:33
For example? What if I was a really large credit card holder? In the US? How could I greatly influence my customers, my shareholders to vote with their dollars and more environmentally, socially? Just ways? I mean, that seems like a perfect opportunity. Right?
James Regulinkski 46:55
Right. So in this case, the the large company that has has a bunch of credit card holders who are making purchases every day, so they might say, hey, we could we could build part of our platform to to help people spend, see the impact the environmental impact of the dollars or spend or see how saving money is actually also, you know, consuming less so saving the planet, or we can use the data that we we collect from there to help help everyone help our members understand collectively where the biggest opportunities are, they can have an integrated opportunity to allow their customers to vote on the issues that were most important to and shape how the money that this company is using is being spent and is influencing the rest of the world. From a shareholder perspective, more and more, the companies that are going to win in this political environmental space is by having a stance is by saying this is what we believe.
And well, let’s let us show you how we believe that. So I think ultimately, you win customers that way. And I think that this company has an opportunity to use their that combination of their data and their presence as this as this provider of financial services to to enable better spending habits for the planet. And that might well have a much larger impact than any amount of commitment to buy zero carbon energy.
Carley Hauck 48:22
Totally. I I 100% agree. And you know, two of the companies that I highlight in my book that I did a lot of research that are doing some of that already, Bank of the West Bank, located actually in San Francisco, and they were highly influenced by BNP, which is a very environmentally responsible French bank. Yeah, but Bank of the West and the last year that I was consulting and working for them, they came up with an ATM card that was 1% for the planet. So every single purchase, there was some of that going back towards the planet.
And then we think about Salesforce, which is also one of the companies I highlight in the book, you know, Salesforce was having this very large conference called Dreamforce, every year where they’d have 100,000 people descend on the city of San Francisco from all over the world. Well, in 2019, which was the last in person version of this that I was attending. They had a huge focus on the SDGs. And so they were educating all these people on the benefits of actually aligning their business for sustainable development. And I mean, that’s just one way to have major influence, in addition to buying the Salesforce, you know, CRM to help small businesses and large businesses. So I think that’s kind of speaking to some of the examples that all companies can be leading from that place.
James Regulinkski 49:48
Right. And financing companies that deal with finance are shaping what happens. The investments that they’re making are saying what is possible and what’s impossible the rules they said, around how money is lent could shape whether a renewable energy project gets financed, so we talk a little bit about on the on the lending on the credit card side, but they also have you also have a banking operation, then you have another area where you can help accelerate or make a more positive planet for everyone. And I am inspired by the examples that you’re giving about folks, companies who really dig in and say, What can we what can we do? That could, I could talk to you about many more of really exciting places where companies have have stepped up and thought creatively?
Carley Hauck 50:35
Awesome. Do you want to tell me one more?
James Regulinkski 50:37
Oh, one that I love, it’s a little bit dated now. But Interface Carpet was this carpet company that looked at how they could make carpets that had this problem where they just the strict regulations on how much pollutants could come out of the water. And so they made a target to get to the point where they were, water was cleaner coming out of the factory than coming in. So their process actually cleaned the water as opposed to dumped the you know, we’re just under the legal limit of whatever toxins were happening. Were in there, they looked at ways to use carpeting as, as more of almost like a service as opposed to as a as a consumable and taking responsibility for the end of life and recycling all their own materials.
Now, each of those steps where you say, I’m going to go, and like we are a carpeting company, that we you know, we just provide this thing that gets us to say, oh, no, we are a company that exists in this world of limited resources, how do we make it better? How do we take responsibility for what we have? And not? I will I will pay for someone else to deal with this problem. But I am the ultimate.
Carley Hauck 51:54
Yeah, I’m we’re taking responsibility, and we’re gonna make it a better product.
James Regulinkski 51:59
And it’s so easy, like we talk about companies as separate entities. But I think it’s really, that alienates the reality, which is, companies are made up of individuals. And each of those individuals has a set of beliefs and has a conscience and wants to live in a beautiful world and wants to be actualized as a human being.
And so, it’s so much easier when we have a bad guy that it’s a company. But it also means that it’s hard for us to imagine change, because we don’t understand how companies think. But I do understand how people think that I can empathize with their struggles and the pressures they’re under and maybe help them see a different alternative way of being.
Carley Hauck 52:38
And that’s why I love working with leaders and supporting teams. And I really feel like the greatest lever I can pull in this lifetime is supporting the shift in the hearts and minds of leaders and businesses. Because just what you said, there is a consciousness. And it can either be for good, or it can be for evil. I mean, I don’t like using evil. But let’s bring in the Star Wars, I’m definitely on the Skywalker Skywalker path.
There we go. Well, James, fellow Jedi. Thank you so much.
James Regulinkski 53:16
That was a lot of fun, Carley.
Carley Hauck 53:18
Thank you so much, James. I know, again, we could talk about a lot of things. But is there anything else that you’d like to leave folks before we end?
James Regulinkski 53:28
I guess the startup hat wearing co-founder part of me is like, one more time if you guys are all interested by what you heard here, go check out Carbon Collective. If you can watch this 401k program, which means you can absolutely if you don’t invest personally, you can also help maybe get your company to change how they do their investments.
But also, even if you don’t check us out, because you want to work with us, there’s a lot of resources on our website, there are resources on how you can do this yourself. There are resources on how you can talk about these issues with other folks. We believe that this problem is more important than our success as a business. So we try to be really transparent and give you everyone the tools to be more conscientious about how they use their money, or invest our money. So if it’s only to see what those resources are, head over to carbon collective.co. And I hope that it’s helpful.
Carley Hauck 54:27
Thank you. Thank you so much. We’ll leave all those links in the show notes.
Thank you, James, for your time, your service, your vision, and creating an easy way for those of us that really care about social justice, environmental responsibility that we can vote with our dollars and support capitalism to be more conscious. There are many links in the show notes and resources. And I’ve added a few more including this amazing new startup called Symbrosia that actually supports us to have different ways of reducing our carbon footprint through offsets.
Lastly, because of my investment, and consulting with Bank of the West for a few years supporting leaders, teams and culture change, I wanted to give them a plug because they really are a wonderful example of a company leading from a higher responsibility to people and planet. I was privileged to support Bank of the West for three and a half years and in October 2018, the bank pledged to provide 1 billion in financing for clean, efficient and renewable energy products over a five year period. Over that five year financing initiative, their customers’ demand for sustainable financing exceeded their expectations, and they hit the 1 billion mark more than two years ahead of schedule.
As a result of this brave action, the Conservation Alliance, which is a consortium of more than 250 businesses in the outdoors industry, announced that it was ditching Bank of America for Bank of the West based on their divestment of coal, tar sands and Arctic drilling. While banks can often seem like opaque institutions, it’s important to remember that everything that banks do is dictated by decisions made by humans, and what humans finance today will define the world we and our children and grandchildren live in tomorrow.
I think there’s a lot more opportunity for credit card companies, for financial institutions, for tech institutions, to really put their money behind causes that really matter. That’s what I’m rooting for. That’s what I’m standing for. And as always, thank you so much for listening, for joining this community and I would love to stay connected with you. So please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Carley Hauck and you can also go to my website, carleyhauck.com.
Wishing you a wonderful summer and until we meet again you the light and shine the light.