87 episodes

Dedicated to sharing the stories of business visionaries who are intentionally establishing a purpose beyond profit. From economy building to the refugee crisis. From climate change to equity. Listen in to hear how business visionaries are having a positive impact on the world by using their brand.

Purpose and Profit with Kathy Varol Kathy Varol

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 49 Ratings

Dedicated to sharing the stories of business visionaries who are intentionally establishing a purpose beyond profit. From economy building to the refugee crisis. From climate change to equity. Listen in to hear how business visionaries are having a positive impact on the world by using their brand.

    Staff Sheehan on Greening the Aviation Fuel Industry

    Staff Sheehan on Greening the Aviation Fuel Industry

    Dr. Stafford (Staff) Sheehan is an American scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur at the forefront of the carbon capture and utilization industry. Staff is the Co-founder and CTO of AIR COMPANY, a business converting captured carbon dioxide, water, and electricity into the fuels and chemicals that we get from fossil fuels today. He is the inventor of AIR COMPANY’s core patents and is responsible for the technology and operations of the business. Prior to founding AIR COMPANY, Dr. Sheehan served as the co-founder and CEO of Catalytic Innovations, where he developed electrochemical technologies to reduce energy consumption in refining processes.
    Staff was recognized on MIT Technology Review’s Innovators Under 35 in 2023, as one of Chemical & Engineering News Talented 12 in 2017, and a Forbes 30 under 30 in 2016. He received his BS in Chemistry from Boston College and his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Yale University.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●     Carbon capture and carbon utilization
    ●     The process to create sustainable aviation fuel
    ●     The magic of chemistry
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     Circular Economy in Fuel Production: AIR COMPANY is transforming captured carbon from the atmosphere into fuel, creating a circular economy in the fuel industry. When this fuel is burned, the carbon released can be captured again to make more fuel. This closed-loop system is an incredible leap forward in sustainable energy.
    ●     Cutting Costs and Emissions Globally: The ability to create fuel anywhere in the world means we can slash energy use and costs across the supply chain. By producing fuel locally, we eliminate the need for transportation, drastically reducing associated energy use, costs, and emissions. This innovation could revolutionize how we think about energy logistics and help eliminate global conflict over fuel.
    ●     Turning Thin Air into Valuable Resources: Chemistry often feels like magic, and AIR COMPANY's work with carbon capture and utilization truly embodies this. Their work gives the phrase "making something out of thin air" a whole new—literal—meaning as they convert atmospheric carbon into new products like - aviation fuel, perfume, and vodka.
    References:
    ●     Connect with Staff on LinkedIn
    ●     Air Company
    ●     To learn more about renewable hydrogen listen to the Purpose and Profit episode with David Reynolds, then Chief Executive of the Department for Trade and Investment for South Australia.
    ●     Defense Innovation Unit
    ●     “$400 per gallon gas to drive debate over cost of war in Afghanistan”, by Roxana Tiron, The Hill, October 16th, 2009
    ●     NASA CO2 Conversion Challenge
    Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading them!
    If this episode resonated with you, I ask you to send it to a friend. Help bring even more visibility to these leaders that are using business as a force for good!
    Subscribe to the Purpose and Profit newsletter to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.
    This podcast is for you, the listener. I’d love to hear what resonated with you, or if you have a suggestion on who would be a great guest for this show. Please send me a note at info@KathyVarol.com.

    • 37 min
    Alex Lauver on Innovating Solutions for a More Sustainable Outdoor Industry

    Alex Lauver on Innovating Solutions for a More Sustainable Outdoor Industry

    Alex Lauver has been in the Outdoor Industry his entire career. Alex is currently Sr Director Materials, Innovation, & Sustainability at Outdoor Research (OR) where he specializes in advanced materials, sustainability, and high-performance apparel.
    Since 1981, Outdoor Research has created outdoor apparel, accessories, and equipment for outdoor enthusiasts and military users around the globe with an Infinite Guarantee for their products. Most recently, Outdoor Research has partnered with a chemical company called Nikwax for PFAS free waterproofing, with all of their products transitioning to be free of intentionally added PFAS for Fall 2024 production.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●     Why PFAS are prevalent in the outdoor industry, and why PFAS are a problem
    ●     The ups and downs of the continually evolving sustainability journey
    ●     Green-washing and green-hushing
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     Persistent and Pervasive PFAS: PFAS are notorious for their persistence in the environment and their ability to bioaccumulate in living tissues, including humans, leading to serious health risks. These "forever chemicals" don't break down easily and they’re highly transmissible through air, water, and soil. Because of potential cross-surface contamination, factories aiming to produce PFAS-free materials will most likely need to eliminate PFAS entirely from their processes, a daunting task but one that could trigger a domino effect of widespread adoption of PFAS-free manufacturing.
    ●     Collaboratively Evolving Sustainability: Sustainability is a continuously evolving journey. We learn, test, improve, and then repeat the process. To accelerate collective progress towards a sustainable future, transparency is key. When organizations share their sustainable innovations openly, others can replicate successful strategies and propose even better solutions. Transparency fosters a collaborative environment where sustainable practices can rapidly evolve and improve across many organizations and industries collectively.
    ●     Shifting to Net Positive: Alex pointed out a stark truth: the most sustainable action for companies, as they currently operate, would be to cease business. The black and white truth of this statement illustrates how radically we need to transform our current business approaches. The goal is to shift from a standard and accepted operating model that has a net negative impact on the planet to achieving a net positive impact. This paradigm shift demands a complete overhaul of our current operating methods, pushing us towards innovative, planet-friendly business models.
    References:
    ●     Connect with Alex on LinkedIn
    ●     Outdoor Research
    ●     Outdoor Industry Association
    ●     Nikwax
    ●     California AB 1817 “Product safety: textile articles: perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)”
    ●     bluesign
    ●     International Trade Association page on the Berry Amendment
    Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading them!
    If this episode resonated with you, I ask you to send it to a friend. Help bring even more visibility to these leaders that are using business as a force for good!
    Subscribe to the Purpose and Profit newsletter to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.
    This podcast is for you, the listener. I’d love to hear what resonated with you, or if you have a suggestion on who would be a great guest for this show. Please send me a note at info@KathyVarol.com.

    • 57 min
    Rob Acton on Creating Impact by Serving on a Nonprofit Board

    Rob Acton on Creating Impact by Serving on a Nonprofit Board

    Rob Acton is the Founder & CEO of Cause Strategy Partners. Through his firm’s signature program BoardLead, Cause Strategy Partners has placed nearly 3,000 professionals in the United States and the United Kingdom on nonprofit boards, while training tens-of-thousands more in high-impact nonprofit board service.
    Rob is a recognized expert on nonprofit governance and leadership. He has nearly three decades of experience founding, leading, and scaling social good organizations as both a nonprofit chief executive and board leader. Rob currently chairs the Board of Directors of Broadway Inspirational Voices. His causes are second chances for formerly incarcerated individuals, nonprofit capacity building, and the performing arts.
    Rob’s forthcoming book, Becoming a Causie: Champion Your Cause Through Nonprofit Board Leadership will be available for preorders on July 5th and is slated for release in early September.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●     The personal—and professional—benefits of joining a nonprofit board
    ●     What makes a great board member (and what makes a terrible board member)
    ●     Why diverse representation on nonprofit boards matters
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     Shifting The Conversation To Meaningful Action. “What causes do you support, and how do you support them?” This was a question Rob started asking people, instead of the standard “What do you do for a living.” It stopped people in their tracks. I love this question. In an age when so many people confuse liking an Instagram post with action, this question moves beyond what causes matter to you and into the world-changing realm of actions. With that in mind, I’d like to ask you: “What causes do you support, and how do you support them?”
    ●     The Three T's of Board Commitment. Rob discussed the commitment expected of nonprofit board members, emphasizing the three T's: Time, Talent, and Treasure. Time involves dedicating 4-6 hours a month, manageable alongside a regular job. Talent means leveraging your professional skills to guide the nonprofit. Treasure is about financially supporting the cause, reinforcing your commitment. There's a psychological shift when you invest your own resources, and it feels disingenuous to ask others to donate if you haven't done so yourself.
    ●     Setting Up for Success. Cause Strategy Partners provides a blueprint for success that all organizations can learn from. They emphasize three key components: high expectations, training, and accountability. High expectations mean clearly defining the job role and responsibilities from the start. Training ensures individuals acquire the necessary skills to excel. Accountability involves regular check-ins to track progress and ensure each person meets the established expectations. This structured approach sets new board members—and employees—up for success.
    References:
    Connect with Rob on LinkedIn
    Cause Strategy Partners
    Taproot Foundation
    Broadway Inspirational Voices
    Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading them!
    If this episode resonated with you, I ask you to send it to a friend. Help bring even more visibility to these leaders that are using business as a force for good!
    Subscribe to the Purpose and Profit newsletter to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.
    This podcast is for you, the listener. I’d love to hear what resonated with you, or if you have a suggestion on who would be a great guest for this show. Please send me a note at info@KathyVarol.com.

    • 58 min
    Anna Hammond on Creating Access to Nutritional Food From Excess

    Anna Hammond on Creating Access to Nutritional Food From Excess

    Anna Hammond is the Founder and CEO of Matriark Foods, a social impact business on a mission to scale access to healthy food for the benefit of people and the environment. Each year in the USA, roughly 33 million tons of perfectly healthy vegetables never make it to the table. That’s a waste of food, water, and greenhouse gasses. It’s bad for farmers and the planet. Matriark Foods upcycles farm surplus and fresh-cut remnants into healthy, delicious, low sodium vegetable products for schools, hospitals, food banks and other foodservice. 
    All Matriark products are Upcycled Certified. Upcycled food is about doing more with less, and elevating all food to its highest and best use.
    Matriark is also a certified Women-Owned Business (WBE) that mentors and supports other WBEs. It’s a fact that despite receiving less than 5% of venture capital,  WBEs outperform  other structures by 63%. In the words of Joan Armatrading, “If women ruled the world, it would be a good thing.” Matriark Foods is a shining example of this.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●      The issues with our current food system that cause so much food waste while people go hungry.
    ●      What Upcycled Certified means.
    ●      How Matriark Foods benefitted from participating in incubators and accelerators.
    Key Takeaways: 
    Forging New Paths: Imagine setting out on a journey into uncharted territory, where every step forward demands innovation and resilience. For the most interesting projects with the biggest potential to make an impact, at the start there is no “plug and play”. In order to have a plug and play you need a system to plug into. But when you’re creating entirely new ways of doing things across an entire supply chain, you’re doing the heavy lifting of creating an entirely new system. While the initial stages will be daunting, each stride forward lays the foundation for a future where, eventually at scale, you will have created a new system that others can plug into—and that new system you forged will enable systemic change making a bigger impact than any one person or organization could ever have on their own. This work of system reinvention takes time, it takes collaboration, and it’s essential for fixing the broken systems we’re currently relying on that are damaging people and the planet. 
    Tackling Food Loss and Waste: Food loss (on farms and in supply chains) and waste (at the retail and consumer levels) deprives farmers of income, costs consumers money, and exacerbates biodiversity loss. All while more than 700 million people go hungry worldwide including 44 million Americans (13 million of which are children). America discards more food than any other country, an estimated 30-40% of the entire food supply. Each year that equates to 46 million tons of food, 145 billion meals, and $473 billion lost dollars that were used to grow, transport and dispose of the surplus (which is roughly 2% of U.S. GDP). This wasted food not only doesn’t make it to hungry people’s mouths, it’s also a greenhouse gas footprint equivalent to 4% of total U.S. GHG emissions. All of that of that time, energy, and money for nothing. Matriark's innovative approach to food upscaling offers a triple win: income for farmers and manufacturers, reducing carbon footprints, and enhancing nutritional well-being. 
    Food as a Gateway: Food is more than nourishment; it's a gateway to connection, grounding, and humanity. We talk about breaking bread with others, as a way to form bonds. And food is literally how we nurture our bodies, so they have the fuel they need to operate in the world. Food is a way to ground, since natural food literally comes from the ground. Food serves as a cornerstone of human experience that ties us all together—but too many people are still tied together by the shared experience of food insecurity. This is a global problem, that we call need to do our part to help solve. 
    References:
    ●   

    • 51 min
    Shawn Seipler on the Power of Purpose, and the Power of Soap

    Shawn Seipler on the Power of Purpose, and the Power of Soap

    Shawn Seipler is the founder and CEO of Clean The World, a social enterprise that offers sustainable, socially responsible programs to the hospitality and meetings industry. Their mission is to prevent millions of deaths caused by acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease.
     
    Clean The World started in Shawn’s garage in 2009, recycling leftover soap from hotel rooms to create new bars for those in need. Today Clean the World is a global enterprise with over 8,300 hospitality partners, and processing centers in seven cities that have manufactured and donated more than 84 million bars of soap while diverting 26.7 million pounds of waste from landfills.
    Partner organization CTW Events is a customizable team-building experience with a purpose that enables corporate teams to build hygiene or educational kits. Since 2012, CTW Events has distributed 5.1 million kits to over 933 charity partners around the globe and supported 191,000 hours of corporate team-building participation.
    In this episode we discuss:
    ●     How one person's trash can be another person's treasure (and life saver!)
    ●     The ups and downs of a social impact start-up
    ●     The importance of mission when the going gets tough
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     The Power of Clarity: Ever notice how a simple, easy-to-understand mission can light a fire in your belly? It's like a roadmap, guiding us through the twists and turns of our journey. When a mission speaks to our hearts, it's not just a statement—it's a call to action that inspires us to roll up our sleeves and get to work. In a world buzzing with noise, clarity is a powerful lightning bolt leading us toward meaningful change
    ●     Honoring the Why: Amidst the complexities of execution, it's essential to stay true to your “why” not your “how”. While strategies and tactics may evolve, the core purpose (i.e. your “why) remains constant, guiding decision-making and fostering authenticity. Staying true to our why is like finding our true north. It keeps our actions grounded, reminding us of our core values and passions.
    ●     The Rise of Changemakers: We need more people rolling up their sleeves and using their intellect, creativity, and business knowledge to dive into the world of social enterprises—accelerating the business revolution. The power of social enterprise is in the marriage of business savvy with social impact. It’s the marriage of purpose and profit. These changemakers aren't just dreaming of a better world—they're building it, one impactful venture at a time.
    References:
    ●     Connect with Shawn on LinkedIn
    ●     Clean the World
    ●     The WASH Foundation
    ●     CTW Events
    ●     The Soap Story Museum
    ●     “After 10 million bars of soap, Clean the World is just beginning”, Orlando Sentinel
    ●     CBS Evening News feature on Clean the World
    ●     Learn about becoming a B Corp at B Lab.
    Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading them!
    If this episode resonated with you, I ask you to send it to a friend. Help bring even more visibility to these leaders that are using business as a force for good!
    Subscribe to the Purpose and Profit newsletter to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.
    This podcast is for you, the listener. I’d love to hear what resonated with you, or if you have a suggestion on who would be a great guest for this show. Please send me a note at info@KathyVarol.com.

    • 48 min
    Hannes Schoenegger on Questioning the Fashion Status Quo

    Hannes Schoenegger on Questioning the Fashion Status Quo

    Hannes Schoenegger is the co-founder and CEO of Swiss bag brand QWSTION and its “spin-off” company Bananatex®. QWSTION has been making bags from plants since 2008, combining functionality and timeless design with the smallest ecological footprint and biggest social footprint possible. Their efforts have been honored with several international awards for outstanding material development and sustainability solutions. Bananatex® is a Cradle to Cradle Gold Certified® material. 
    In this episode, we discuss:
    Why recycling won’t solve the global plastic pollution problem Understanding the full cost of materials The importance of questioning the status quo Key Takeaways:
    Beyond Recycling: Addressing global plastic pollution requires more than just recycling. While recycling plays a role, it's not a complete solution. First, not all plastics can be recycled, and those that can degrade with each recycling cycle, limiting future usability. Plastic's diverse chemical composition also complicates the recycling process by making effective sorting challenging when compared to materials like glass and aluminum. Moreover, the recycling process itself can increase toxicity and release harmful microplastics into the environment.
    Equitable Waste Management: It’s interesting to think about how to spread the cost of our waste problem across all stakeholders. While regulations target corporations' environmental impact, what about consumer responsibility? Could a shift toward consumer accountability for end-of-use disposal accelerate demand for sustainable alternatives, prompting companies to adopt more eco-friendly practices?
    Navigating Sustainability's Complexity: Sustainability is complex because you’re dealing with natrual ecosystems and business systems, and sometimes there aren’t clear ways to value costs and benefits. We don’t always know all the implications of a process or decision. But what we can do is make the best decisions available to us given the information we know now. For example, we know plastic can be a huge problem, and therefore we need to start innovating alternative solutions across the board.
    References:
    Connect with Hannes on LinkedIn Bananatex® A Textile (R)evolution, a short film on Bananatex® QWSTION The National Law Review primer on New York State’s “Fashion Act” Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you please consider leaving a short review on Apple Podcasts/iTunes? It takes less than 60 seconds, and it really makes a difference in helping to convince hard-to-get guests. I also love reading them!
    If this episode resonated with you, I ask you to send it to a friend. Help bring even more visibility to these leaders that are using business as a force for good!
    Subscribe to the Purpose and Profit newsletter to make sure you don’t miss future episodes.
    This podcast is for you, the listener. I’d love to hear what resonated with you, or if you have a suggestion on who would be a great guest for this show. Please send me a note at info@KathyVarol.com.

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
49 Ratings

49 Ratings

JocelynS95 ,

Fantastic for ESG practitioners

Love these interviews and the insights from the guests. As a relatively new ESG practitioner, these episodes are one of my favorite ways to keep up to date and learn best practices in the industry.

Sam1234? ,

Great interviews across the sustainability spectrum from a seasoned and insightful interviewer

I really enjoy Kathy’s insightful dialogues with purpose professionals across a variety of sectors. This is a must listen for current or aspiring sustainability / ESG professionals.

andrea.peterson ,

Incredible Interviewer and Informative Podcast

Kathy is truly an amazing interviewer, continuously asking thoughtful questions and allowing her guests to open up and share their perspectives on the modern business world. This podcast is positive, impactful, and exemplifies how much ingenuity and innovation there is in the minds of the business leaders of today.

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