Thursday, February 27, 2014

Profitability Takes on a New Meaning with New "Benefit Corporations" aka B Corporations

Many social entrepreneurs are interested in both making money and making a difference in the world. Until now, those who wanted to align their business and social missions have been forced to choose between forming a for-profit corporation or LLC and making substantial donations through them, or becoming 501(c)3 or 501(c)4. In a traditional non-profit organization excess benefits and unrelated business income can be subject to excise tax and ordinary corporate income tax, respectively, and activities not related to an entity's mission could eventually jeopardize the tax-exempt status. 
Several states have enacted legislation that allow companies to mix business with societal and environmental goals. This legislation incorporates the social change aspect of nonprofits, yet retains the ability to make profits that investors find attractive. 

According to, "Government and the nonprofit sector are necessary but insufficient to address society's greatest challenges. Business, the most powerful man-made force on the planet, must create value for society, not just shareholders. Systemic challenges require systemic solutions and the B Corp movement offers a concrete, market-based and scalable solution." 
There are two kinds of B Corps: Certified B Corps and benefit corporations. While they are generally the same thing, there are some distinct differences. "Certified B Corporation is a certification conferred by the nonprofit B Lab. Benefit Corporation is a legal status administered by the state. Benefit corporations do NOT need to be certified." However, the benefit corporation requires a third party assessment. For example, both companies "are required to publicly publish a report assessing their overall social and environmental performance against a third party standard." But, "Certified B Corporation [must achieve] a verified minimum score on the B Impact Assessment (80 points out 200 needed). While benefit corporations are required to publish an annual report assessing their overall social and environmental performance against a third party standard, that report is not required to be verified, certified, or audited by a third party standard organization." 
Unfortunately many state governments haven't passed benefit corporation legislation, Connecticut being one. Currently, benefit corporation legislation has been passed in the following states: 

B Corps are gaining traction in the business world, but states that fail to jump on this new trend, risk losing business to states that have already done so.

Friday, February 7, 2014

“Social Currency:” The New Way To Promote Your Business?

As you may know, New York’s Fashion Week is in full swing. In a rather timely manner, Marc Jacobs, the designer of the famous “Daisy” fragrance will be opening “Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop” in Soho on Friday.

The store will essentially be accepting tweets or Instagram photos in lieu of cash.
According to Samantha Murphy Kelly from Mashable, “By snapping photos and posting messages with the hashtag #MJDaisyChain, visitors are awarded with Marc Jacobs-branded gifts when exiting the store. This ranges from perfume and necklaces to even purses (the best Instagram photo of the day will win a handbag). Each visitor then visits the front counter to receive a gift.”

Lori Singer, the VP of Marketing for Marc Jacobs, explains that this is a way to thank fans and followers. The Daisy brand is one of social media’s most popular brands.

“The concept stems from a conversation the brand had with Facebook, which identified them as one of the top fragrances engaged with their followers on the site. Marc Jacob's Daisy fragrance isn't the most followed on Facebook, but its fans are among the most loyal — from posting about the brand to even drawing pictures that represent its message and style.”

This isn’t the first time a company has attempted such a thing. Back in 2012, Kellogg’s opened “The Tweet Shop” in Soho, London. In order to promote their launch of Special K Cracker Crisps, they offered free 100 calorie sample bags in exchange for Tweets.

I doubt this will be the last time a company attempts to build their brand and/or new product in this way. It creates strong word of mouth promotion and can be used in in lieu of other types of advertising; it will certainly be more effective.

My question is: Would you give away your wares in exchange for social currency?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

We're All Going To Be Hacked!

No, I am not talking about the likely chance of getting your computer hacked at the Olympic games in Sochi. Rather, I'm referring to the "hacking" that is a mindset and term of change that a small group of innovators are implementing, and we should get used to it.

Hacking is essentially changing, revising, and morphing the limits of an idea, item or event into another. The idea of "hacking" something traditional and creating something innovative began with the invention of "hackschooling."

I have never included a video in my postings but you need to watch this TED talk. It explains the idea of "hacking" applied to education - ie, "hackschooling." According to, "the most innovative entrepreneurs are people who are able to hack the status quo and create something completely new."

So, how can hacking help you achieve your goals? While your ambitions may not necessarily be the same as Logan's, the hacking mindset is definitely one that can be used for any goal.

Hackschooling makes me happy: 
Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversityofNevada

Now I'm not asking you to go reinvent the wheel, but it might be a good time to actively seek out new options, consciously look at things with a new perspective, and work towards a healthier and happier outcome for all.

I've compiled a list of "mind-sets" and actions that can help you and your coworkers a happier and more innovative bunch:

Basically, I want the takeaway to be this: Getting out of our comfort zones invites both risk and possibility, and true innovators love both.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Soho Crime Novel, "Cold Storage, Alaska" is Reviewed by the New York Times

Benay Client, Soho Press, has a new crime novel in the New York Times book review. Cold Storage, Alaska is written by John Straley who has written three other books about the snowy northern state for Soho Crime.

Straley’s bold combination of the Church and State-prison may be viewed by the truly religious as a crime in itself, regardless of his story-line and plot. However, when you add in the fact that this novel is based in a small village in northern Alaska that thrives off of booze and survives off of the antique economy of fishing, readers will begin to realize that this book is more inclined to highlight our human struggles rather than disrespect anyone’s God or Church.

Despite the fact that Straley is not the first nor will be the last to tackle the secularization of our once sacred institutions, Straley is nothing short of brilliant when it comes to making the characters very human, and therefore the story that much more believable. Readers can only hope and pray for a better synthesis of vice and religion, two worlds that may not be that far apart.

You can purchase the book on Soho Press’ website.

-Antonio Rivera

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Good, The Bad, and The Young: Letting the Younger Generations Prove Themselves in the Workplace

Photo Credit: Koren Shadmi - NY Times
On Sunday, there was an article in the New York Times, which hit close to home.  As a Millenial who graduated with a Liberal Arts degree, I can sympathize with the trials young people face in the job market. We’re not only competing against each other, but also with those from older generations who were hit by the Great Recession and are thus willing to take an entry-level salary.

Robert Goldfarb, a management consultant for corporations and the author of the aforementioned article, has noted a peculiar bias against the Millenial generation by upper management. He found that many executives are frustrated by their own anecdotal interactions with Millenials and thus transpose these on an entire generation.

For example, executives have told Goldfarb anecdotes such as “’When I was my grandson’s age, I started at the bottom and worked my way up; he’s not willing to do that.’ Or, ‘My daughter majored in philosophy, of all things — how will that get her anywhere?’” Goldfarb explains that even if they don’t have a personal experience, Gen-Yers are usually slumped into the description (the one we’ve heard repeated time and time again) of being self-absorbed and lazy.

“The general message from these leaders is this: More young people would be hired if they had the right qualifications, but too few have the skills and discipline needed to succeed in today’s demanding workplace.”

The Millenials are often slated as the “entitled generation” but are never given the chance to prove themselves as a competent and intelligent bunch. However, most of us are ready to prove ourselves in the work environment. We may appear overeager but that’s certainly better than being apathetic, right?

According to Goldfarb it is. “Rather than waiting for educational institutions or the government to bridge this generation gap, employers should consider accepting some responsibility for introducing young people into the work force.”

Goldfarb explains that hiring and training young people, even those with liberal arts degrees or those who never graduated college, can give employers a leg up when the economy finally rebounds.  After all, we are “a population hungry to prove its value.”

- Marcie Gainer, Executive Assistant