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Woody Tasch: The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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global oneness project The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs To me, the question of whether the big companies can be reformed-- --and then how much they will be reformed and all the questions of greenwashing and accountability-- Woody Tasch - Point Reyes Station, California - Author, "Slow Money" --and transparency and shareholder activism and all of those different things, that is going on. And my energies are now focused on a, let's say, complimentary but different sphere-- --and it's not to really comment--we can discuss it some more if you want about do we think that's going to work and how is it going to work. What I know is that there's a dramatic need to focus time, energy, and capital on the next generation of entrepreneurs-- --the small businesses that are not necessarily going to be "tomorrow's Walmart"-- --because I don't know if there will be a tomorrow's Walmart to your question. Again, I'm no economic historian and we can conjecture all we want on whether those are dinosaurs that are going to die. There's a certain logic that says yes, these are linear ways of thinking that are reaching a point of absurdity-- --and they're not going to be able to continue. Ask the question, "When is McDonald's going to stop growing?" There are 31,000 McDonald's on the planet. Can we sustain 50,000? Can we sustain 20,000 McDonald's in China? There's water issues, there's grain issues, there's a million issues and all kinds of different questions about the sustainbility of that trajectory-- --and all of the big companies are on that trajectory-- --which is growing, growing, growing, no end in sight, no company that's too big. Whatever that is, I know what I need to do is work with the entrepreneurs-- --who are growing the next generation of small, independent businesses because those businesses represent diversity. And even if you only view them as a safety net to the questionable sustainability of the big stuff-- --or whether you view them as a successor generation that needs to be in place to inherit the failed legacy-- --either way, we need to devote resources to this next generation. Sometimes I also think of a formula. I've found this to be useful when people are thinking about it, so think about the following formula. 98.6% Google plus 1.3% Stonyfield--I'll explain Stonyfield in a second--plus 0.1% Butterworks equals 100%. What the hell does that mean? It's a playful way of saying, basically, 98.6% of our financial selves, if you will, are focused on high-tech, virtual stuff-- --some of which is really cool and really important. I'm not saying this in any way to scapegoat Google in any way. I'm just saying it's an easy way to frame it. 1.3% is Stonyfield. What is Stonyfield? Stonyfield is an organic yogurt company based in New Hampshire. It's now the largest organic yogurt manufacturer in the world-- --probably around $350-$400 million in revenue now, part of Group Danone from France-- --but kind of leading the way for a--if you want to say--mid-sized getting organic product into the mainstream. And then what's the 0.1% Butterworks? 0.1% Butterworks is a farmer named Jack Lazor and his family up in Vermont-- --35 years on one 300+ acre farm making as much yogurt as they can produce from their herd-- --growing their own grain, could be considered an icon of sustainability. It's about as sustainable a food enterprise as I've ever seen. And he has a $1 million yogurt business that he's grown over 35 years. He sells in the New England region, and it is a fantastic product. Anybody who likes yogurt, I will argue this is as good as you can get in a commercially purveyed yogurt of any kind. So if you take that continuum--Google, Stonyfield, Butterworks--and you can plug in anything you want in Google. Let's put Walmart in there for a second, just given this discussion, instead of Google. It'll be easier. So Walmart, Stonyfield--and Stonyfield is selling to Walmart, by the way-- --they're putting their yogurt on Walmart's shelves--and Butterworks. Whether or not Walmart is going to collapse, to me, isn't the issue. The issue is we have to push resources from the left side of that equation to the right side. And if we only have 0.1% all the way on the right, if we get it to 1%, that's a tenfold increase. If we get it to 2%, that's a twentyfold increase. So a modest rebalancing will create sort of a flood of resources to this whole network of small businesses that need it. If I really tried to summarize all of that, I would say whatever it happening on the Walmart and Google end-- --we need to be investing aggressively to promote diversity-- --because the so-called diversification we've had in financial markets represented through all these crazy securities-- --which were supposed to make things safer--everyone forgets; we almost forget-- --they were all invented to minimize risk, and they ended up creating false diversification and increasing risk. Real diversity--real biodiversity, cultural diversity, which is what long-term health and wealth depends on-- --is only going to be maintained in our communities and bioregions if we push the money out and truly decentralize smaller scale ways. And either way--whatever happens to those big things, the Walmarts and the Googles and the rest-- --whatever happens there, we'll be way better off if we have more diversity in place.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 42 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 132
Posted by: global on Mar 9, 2009

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