I’m a business school failure — in a positive sort of way.
Rather than spend most of my life in a carpeted cubicle, earning-and-spending and, in my case, pimping for the culture of consumption at a large advertising agency in Chicago, my wife, Lisa Kivirist, and I exited corporate America. We resettled on a 5.5 acre small farm in southwestern Wisconsin, endeavoring to learn how to grow our own food, generate our own electricity and in various other ways reclaim the ability to meet our own needs without depending on Corporate America to provide all that we need, for a price. That goes for providing a job as well. The business school I attended as an undergrad primed me for a “successful career” earning income from a Corporation, paying taxes to the government and owing much to the banks that would one day own my home, car and credit worthiness.
By exiting the fast track overflowing with Lattes and legions of consumables (remember, you have the look the part of an Advertising Executive), I’ve settled into my own skin, weeding our bountiful gardens, harvesting more solar and wind energy than Lisa and I can use on our farm, and raising our son with the Earth in mind. Our business, Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast, when paired with our other enterprises like writing, speaking and “green marketing consulting”, provides a lifestyle and workstyle that’s sustaining to us and the ecological community in which we’re inexorably linked. Our journey is reflected in the pages of our book, Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life. What we now do about our nourishment is captured in Edible Earth. And how we live well, on less and without the need to grow bigger and bigger, is found in the pages of Ecopreneuring: Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits. Our business and our life is devoted not to growth, but making things better: for our community, the environment and future for our son (and the Seventh Generation). These issues guide our daily experience and practical resources I’m eager to share through my contributions to Ecopreneurist (they won’t be taught at most business schools or found in the pages of the Wall Street Journal).
In a nutshell, ecopreneuring, as Lisa and I have come to define it, will change the way you perceive money, the role of business in solving some of today’s most pressing problems and the responsibility we must seize to reclaim the commons of commerce and cooperatively — not competitively — restore our planet in peril. For many ecopreneurs, it’s a return to family scaled, local, nature-based enterprises where quality of life is the barometer of “success”, not size of bank account or year-after-year growth in net income. We have a ROE (return on environment) not just a ROI (return on investment).
I welcome your ideas, your enthusiasm and your commitment to making the world a better place, be it through organizations you start or work for, profit-based enterprises you launch, or in a lifestyle you’ve created that helps sustain all the inhabitants of the planet.
If you already operate an ecopreneurial business in either the for-profit or non-profit sector and would like to share your story on the ecopreneuring.biz website we’re developing with inspiring and practical success stories, I’d welcome hearing from you. This website created around our Ecopreneuring book will provide support and resources for finding purpose, living well, and restoring the Earth through your business. While the politicians are talking about making the world a better place, millions of ecopreneurs already are. Are you one?