82 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.

    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
    Kimberly Shenk on Bringing Transparency and Trust to the Beauty Industry

    Kimberly Shenk on Bringing Transparency and Trust to the Beauty Industry

    Kimberly Shenk is the co-founder & CEO of Novi Connect, a company that was inspired out of transparency pain points Kimberly experienced firsthand launching an indie clean beauty company.
    Novi Connect is the first data-driven marketplace for personal care product development. Novi helps brands create clean and sustainable products by working with suppliers, manufacturers, brands, and retailers to validate ingredients along the supply chain. The company acts as a neutral party to ensure full transparency while protecting intellectual property for each group. 
    Kimberly was formerly the Head of Product/Data Science for multiple tech startups, including Eventbrite, and served as a Data Scientist and Officer in the United States Air Force. She holds an MS from MIT and a BS from the U.S. Air Force Academy. 
    If you’re in the beauty industry and would like to learn more about Novi Connect, head to their website and sign up for a free account: noviconnect.com/purpose
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●      How to start building a trusted network across stakeholders in order to deliver benefits along the supply chain
    ●      How intellectual property within industries can create challenges for transparency
    ●      Why it’s difficult to verify source ingredients the further down the supply chain you go
    Key Takeaways: 
    ●      The Empowerment of Third-Party Verification. The power of third-party verification comes from two crucial factors. First,unlike internal assessments, an unbiased outside entity assesses the product. A third-party verification cannot be bought, and this independence ensures the integrity and credibility of the verification process. Second, these verifiers stake their own reputation on their assessments, underscoring their accountability and commitment to integrity. To maintain credibility and mitigate legal risks, they rigorously conduct due diligence before endorsing any product.
    ●      Broken Systems Inspire Innovation. I’ve said this many times and I’ll say it again: When you experience a broken system, that experience is an invitation to fix it. To innovate a solution takes courage, creativity, and a leap of faith. Kimberly experienced a broken system when running her own beauty brand, and that experience inspired her to create a new company that fixes the challenges she encountered. By creating Novi Connect, she’s created a solution that helps an entire industry.
    ●      Data Science's Role in Advancing Transparency. The evolution of data science has revolutionized our capacity to capture and analyze diverse datasets, fostering transparency within businesses and across sectors. This transparency helps us make more informed decisions, driving progress and accountability. Looking ahead, the integration of AI holds promise for further transparency, shaping a future where data-driven insights catalyze positive change.
    References:
    Connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn
    Novi Connect
    ChemFORWARD
    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.

    • 38 min
    Glen Delaney on Creating an Economic Valuation for Nature

    Glen Delaney on Creating an Economic Valuation for Nature

    Glen Delaney is a project director at the nonprofit Earth Economics. Earth Economics quantifies and values the benefits nature provides, driving effective decisions and systemic change through a combination of education, natural capital analysis, and policy recommendations. As businesses begin to explore their impact and dependency on nature, valuation is a useful tool for integrating nature into their existing frameworks.
    In his role, Glen works with climate-impacted communities, tribes, and governments to value ecosystem services—the benefits created by nature—translating their work protecting and restoring nature into a dollar figure.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●     What “ecosystem goods” and “ecosystem services” are and why they’re valuable
    ●     How and why businesses are starting to value nature
    ●     Frameworks that help businesses embed nature into their strategy and decision-making
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     The Economic Wake-Up Call from Nature. The conversation around nature’s value is growing louder, especially as we confront a critical juncture where environmental degradation and climate change start to hit our wallets. Look at California, where leading insurers like State Farm and Allstate stepped back from renewing homeowner policies in 2024 due to increasing risks. This move strips individuals of coverage, leaving them to face financial vulnerabilities on their own. Companies too are grappling with the tangible impacts of climate change, from droughts affecting manufacturing to unpredictable crop yields in supply chains. It’s a stark reminder of an old adage: we often fail to appreciate what we have until it’s under threat. Our collective delay in valuing nature’s gifts is now being countered with the harsh reality of its decline, signaling an urgent call for environmental stewardship.
    ●     Climate Change: The Economics of Health Impacts. The repercussions of climate change extend well beyond financial losses, touching the very essence of our well-being. Health insurance companies are also considering adjusting premiums to reflect the increased risks associated with environmental shifts. Wildfires deteriorating air quality, extreme heatwaves, and out-of-character flooding are translating into higher medical claims and hospitalizations. Droughts leading to wildfires not only claim lives and devastate communities but also jeopardize access to healthcare, contaminate water sources, and degrade air quality far beyond the immediate areas of the fires.
    ●     A Global Domino Effect: From Migration to Food Security. While the U.S. may not be grappling with climate-induced migration or food security yet, the global nature of our supply chains and the pandemic have highlighted our interconnectedness. Events unfolding across the globe offer a glimpse into potential future scenarios closer to home. Our global interdependence reminds us that the impacts of climate change are not confined by borders.
    References:
    Connect with Glen on LinkedIn
    Earth Economics
    The Natural Capital Protocol framework by Capitals Coalition
    Task Force for Nature-related Financial Disclosures
    inVEST by the Natural Capital Project, Stanford University
    The Nature Conservancy
    Kresge Foundation
    Soil and Water Outcomes Fund by Quantified Ventures
    Avahoula Climate Mitigation Project with Pachama & Delta Land Services
    Stitching the West Back Together: Conservation of Working Landscapes, edited by Susan Charnley, Thomas E. Sheridan, and Gary P. Nabhan
    Purpose and Profit episode with Fawn Bergen, lead of Intel’s Corporate Sustainability Group
    Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD)
    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,

    • 49 min
    Senan Ebrahim on Solving the Maternal Health Crisis

    Senan Ebrahim on Solving the Maternal Health Crisis

    Senan Ebrahim is a physician-scientist and entrepreneur dedicated to creating technology to improve global and maternal health. Senan is the founder and CEO of Delfina. He developed Delfina to create lifesaving AI-powered pregnancy care after personally witnessing the challenges faced by pregnant patients and their care teams.
    Senan previously founded Hikma Health, a tech nonprofit creating digital health solutions for refugees, migrants, and other vulnerable populations. He has an MD and PhD from Harvard in Computational Neuroscience
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●      Why the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world
    ●      Why maternal health inequity exists across populations
    ●      The importance of data for better decision-making (and better health outcomes)
    Key Takeaways:
    ●      Change Takes a Village - Real change, the kind that reshapes systems, is a team effort. It thrives on a network of individuals across the whole system that are ready to rethink, test, and collaborate to create better solutions for us all. Senan's initiative with Delfina in maternal healthcare shines a spotlight on this truth. Senan is the first to acknowledge all of the partners that have shaped Delfina’s journey. From doctors willing to pilot a new idea, to users offering feedback for refinement. The truth is, that it takes a village to create systemic change.
    ●      Tailoring Solutions to Fit the User - The principle of one size fits all falls short in addressing complex human behaviors, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Delfina's approach to maternal healthcare highlights the importance of understanding and respecting individual risk, environment, and challenges. By integrating recommendations that resonate with the individual's daily life and cultural context, Delfina makes behavioral change more approachable and sustainable. This sensitivity to the nuances of the user experience isn't just thoughtful—it's effective, bridging the gap between knowledge and action in meaningful ways that create better outcomes for all.
    ●      Closing the Gap Between Us and “Other” - Refugees are often painted with broad strokes that obscure their individuality and humanity. Senan mentioned his grandmother was a Syrian refugee. My family is intertwined with narratives of displacement and resilience as well. From my father and grandparents' escape from Lithuania during WWII, to my sister-in-law’s flight from war-torn Cambodia. Each story is a testament to the human spirit, and each story reminds us that the plight of refugees is not a distant issue; it's woven into the very fabric of our communities. By bringing these stories into the light, we bridge the gap between 'us' and 'them,' transforming refugees from abstract concepts into fellow humans deserving of empathy, dignity, and support. The more we share stories of displacement, the more the refugee crisis moves out of the shadows of “someone else’s problem to solve”, and gently nestles into our interconnectedness, asking us to care for our fellow humans. 
    References:
    ●      Connect with Senan on LinkedIn
    ●      Delfina
    ○      Learn more about Delfina’s collaboration with the Mayo Clinic here
    ●      Hikma Health 
    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 w

    • 53 min
    Shola Richards on Toxic Culture and Workplace Bullying

    Shola Richards on Toxic Culture and Workplace Bullying

    Shola Richards’ life’s mission is an ambitious one: To end generations of professional suffering, simply by changing how we treat each other at work. An advocate for positive change, Shola addresses the often-ignored issue of workplace bullying by highlighting its impact on trust, communication, and company resources. With a focus on unveiling the cost of toxic behaviors, Shola offers practical solutions for creating healthier work environments.
    At his core, Shola is an advocate and humanitarian, guiding us back to our shared humanity. Shola shares his insights as a speaker, coach, consultant, and author. His work includes the best-selling books Go Together and Making Work Work, with a third booking coming out in late 2024.  
    I met Shola a year ago at an incredible NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) workshop. I immediately gravitated toward his genuine warmth and openness. Shola is a remarkable human-being, making a huge impact.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●      The transformative power of sharing mental health stories
    ●      The importance of practicing civility in modern-day discourse
    ●      The often-overlooked distinction between being nice and being kind
    Key Takeaways:
    ●      Embracing Ubuntu: "I Am Because We Are". Imagine a world where we live by the profound ethos of ubuntu, an African philosophy that teaches, "I am because we are." This philosophy illuminates our inherent interconnectedness. It suggests that our humanity is inextricably linked to the humanity of others, and that our personal well-being is anchored in the collective well-being of society. Shola's exploration of ubuntu in Go Together suggests that adopting this worldview could revolutionize our approach to life, work, and leadership. Ultimately, transforming the world around us.
    ●      Cultivating Culture: A Collective Responsibility. We are all collectively responsible for the culture we live in, the culture we work in, and the culture we’re passing down to the next generation. Simply put, culture is just a collection of the norms we accept, or no longer accept. Culture is powerful because it permeates everything. Seeping into how we behave, how we view the world, and how we view ourselves. What we have compassion for and what we judge. What cultural norms don’t feel right to you? When have you felt like you had to “play the game” when your insides were boiling or crumbling? What if, next time you felt that way, you took a deep breath and said “That didn’t sit well with me. Can you please explain what you meant?”. This could invite a courageous dialogue that might just help pave the road to a better culture.
    ●      Protecting the Heart of the Workplace: Listening to the Empaths. In environments that feel cold and disconnected, those most in touch with their humanity—the empaths—feel the impact most sharply. They are the canary in the coal mine, alerting us to psychological hazards that lurk within toxic cultures. For leaders, the call to action is clear: listen and respond. Ignoring toxic behaviors erodes morale, diminishes trust in leadership, and questions the organizational commitment to employee well-being. Remember, your employees are building your company's future. Their success is your success. As leaders, it's your job to foster a nurturing environment where every team member can thrive, innovate, and excel. 
    References:
    ●      Connect with Shola on LinkedIn
    ●      Shola’s website
    ●      Books by Shola:
    ○      Making Work Work: The Solution for Bringing Positive Change to Any Work Environment
    ○      Go Together: How the Concept of Ubuntu will Change How We Work, Live and Lead
    ●      Keep an eye out for Shola’s next book due out September 2024
    ○      Civil Unity: The Radical Path to Transform Our Discourse, Our Lives, and Our World 
    Connect & Share:
    If you enjoy the podcast, would you pl

    • 54 min
    Cassandra Zentner on a Nontoxic Solution to the PFAS Crisis

    Cassandra Zentner on a Nontoxic Solution to the PFAS Crisis

    Dr. Cassandra Zentner is the Vice President of Technology and Sustainability at actnano, the global leader in PFAS-free nanocoatings used to protect circuit boards across industries. Actano was created after the CEO, while working at a different company, saw factory workers getting sick from handling traditional coatings. Actnano’s technology is currently protecting many of the world’s foremost consumer electronic brands, safeguarding millions of vehicles, and defending numerous industrial applications against harsh electrical and environmental conditions.
    Cassandra leads actnano’s implementation of innovative protective materials. While driving customer-focused technical initiatives, she also leads the company’s sustainability efforts and commitment to protecting human health and the environment. She brings her scientific background—a PhD in Chemistry from MIT—to drive actnano’s mission to bring safer chemical alternatives to the electronics industry.
    In this episode, we discuss:
    ●     PFAS—what they are and why they present a huge problem
    ●     The meaning of “safer chemicals”
    ●     The importance of prevention versus mitigation 
    Key Takeaways:
    ●     Takeaway 1: Innovating Out of a Broken System. When actnano founder Taymur Ahmad noticed the harmful impact of PFAS in protective coatings, he didn't just stand by. He saw a broken system as a call to action. A puzzle to be solved. By developing PFAS-free nano-coating he stepped up as a true innovator, showing us that discovering a broken system is the first step towards creating a solution. It's a reminder that the world benefits immensely from changemakers like Taymur, who not only dream up safer alternatives but also pave the way for others to adopt these groundbreaking solutions in their operations.
    ●     Takeaway 2: The Invisible Threats Among Us. We're naturally drawn to the big, obvious problems. The proverbial elephant in a room. Yet, it's often what we can't see that poses the greater danger. PFAS, a prevalent yet invisible threat found in countless everyday items—from electronics to personal care products—carries serious health risks, including certain cancers, fertility issues, and developmental delays in children. This hidden danger reminds us that sometimes the most significant threats to our well-being lurk out of sight, challenging us to look beyond the obvious.
    ●     Takeaway 3: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind. Then there are the enormous issues we choose to ignore, like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an immense span of waterborne waste twice the size of Texas, floating in the middle of the Pacific without much attention. This "plastic continent" is a stark example of "out of sight, out of mind," yet its impact on our health and environment is profound. Microplastics, including those containing PFAS, break away from this mass, infiltrating the seafood we eat and carrying with them a host of health risks. It's a clear signal that just because we can't see a problem, or a problem feels far from home, doesn't mean it's any less real or harmful. This unseen danger serves as a critical wake-up call to the interconnectedness of our global ecosystem and the hidden impacts on our health.
     References:
    ●     Connect with Cassandra on LinkedIn
    ●     actnano
    ●     EPA page on PFAS
    ●     ChemSec
    ●     North Carolina DEQ page on the Cape Fear River
    ●     Change Chemistry
    ●     EU page on REACH Regulation
    ●     EU page on RoHS
    ●     Purpose and Profit episode with Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group 
    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. Hel

    • 44 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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