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The Secret Green Sauce: Best practices used by actual companies successfully growing green revenues including "how-to" case studies on pricing, ... seeking "cost less, mean more" solutions. Paperback – November 19, 2009
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About the Author
The Secret Green Sauce is based upon the national network Roth built as the Green Business Coach for Entrepreneur.com. He is founder of EARTH 2017, a website offering free business news on how businesses are growing green revenues. Bill is a professional economist and experienced business leader having served as Senior Vice President of Pacific Gas and Electric Energy Services, COO of Texaco Ovonics Hydrogen Solutions and CEO of Cleantech America (a solar power plant developer). His milestone achievements include participating in the launch of the first hydrogen fueled Prius, development of solar power plants and sale of the first enterprise scale, meter-linked energy information system. His public service includes being a Corporate Sponsor for California's pioneering legislation limiting CO2 emissions and he has served on the California Hydrogen Highway.
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And sometimes, the right thing to do is long overdue. Roth is deeply troubled that we flush our toilets and water our lawns with clean water, while around the world, 5000 babies die every day for lack of clean water. (Editor's note: There are technologies, like graywater recycling, which has been around for at least three decades, that could drastically reduce our water waste. There are also easy steps we as consumers can take, like turning the water off while we brush our teeth or wash something, except for the few seconds when we're wetting our toothbrush or sponge.) But ultimately, business not only needs to help us get there, but it is showing leadership; many companies, for instance, have pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020. We could debate about whether this is fast enough, but it's a huge turnaround from the attitude of a decade ago that it didn't matter.
How do you know when your green program is successful? 1, it actually works, and 2, it's sustainable. And in order to achieve that, Roth recommends being both green and a price-leader. This is in keeping with my own observation that the best green programs appeal to both personal self-interest and planetary good.
What Roth calls the "awareness consumer" is a huge and growing segment, which had already reached $10 trillion per year (85% of that controlled by women) by the time he went to press. He offers many strategies to monetize that segment. And he notes that workers in green teams at their workplace start being change agents at home and in their neighborhoods. Also, workers in green buildings are demonstrably more productive, and green companies also boast typically higher stock valuations. Cool!
Yet making dollar savings the only criterion for starting green initiatives is short-sighted, in Roth's opinion. Many great green initiatives take longer to pay back than the two years CFOs typically look for, and they get left on the table, along with the revenue they would have brought in. "Siloization" is another enemy of greening the corporate world, and too many initiatives fall victim to turf battles or simple death-by-bureaucracy.
In short, this brief book has a lot to offer. It would have had even more to offer if Roth had worked with a good book shepherd. The editing is poor, there's no index, and the interior design reminds me entirely too much of a book I typeset myself in a word processor in 1985, before I knew anything about publishing. We book shepherds can make a big difference.
Bill leverages his experiences both as an entrepreneur, participating in the energy efficiency revolution, and interviewing numerous pioneers who are innovating green solutions to offer a roadmap to success. He describes the steps necessary to reach beyond the customer who has embraced the `green religion' to the pragmatic mainstream consumer that has everyday needs that can be met with properly configured green solutions. Bill identifies three key groups to address: concerned caregivers, CEO's who see the handwriting on the wall from `green' regulation and multinationals like Walmart driving green supply chains, and Millenials who are becoming aware that they are in charge of their future `environment.' Each of these provides an opportunity for an entrepreneur to support their `values with [a] value' proposition.
Bill offers numerous examples (as many `making green pay' authors do) and wraps these into a clear series of steps that help the business owner actually grow green revenues as opposed to the less-satisfying simply saving money being green. One analogy I liked was Bill's prompting of a client with a baseball analogy: "OK, you know the objective in baseball is scoring a run by touching all four bases in sequence. But what is your strategy to get to first base? Do you even know where first base is?" Here he focuses on price-strategy and builds on Geoffrey Moore's "Crossing the Chasm" insights for entrepreneurial success. But this is just getting to `first base.' Bill leads one around all the bases to home plate with sound advice on vision, strategy, crossing the green-pricing chasm, innovation of "cost less-mean more" products, and growing revenues via the green aware customer to score. In all, he presents a quite useful roadmap for framing your successful engagement with the emerging green-aware customer.
And as a footnote, I met Bill in mid-2008 when he gave a presentation on his book, "On Empty, Out of Time." I took the time to mind-map the content of that book to better retain all the useful points. Since then we have engaged in an ongoing discussion of how to best develop green businesses. I was not really aware of the extent of "The Secret Green Sauce" until I read the published version and my reaction was "Good job, Bill." He offers sound practical advice for the small to medium-size business owner who seeks to grow green revenues.