Joined on the show today by Shel Horowitz, the transformpreneur. Shel is a marketing strategist, longtime social activist, and author of many books, including Guerilla Marketing to Heal the World: Combining Principles + Profits to Create the World We Want. You can learn more about Shel and his work at transformpreneur.com.
Discussion guide from my conversation with Shel Horowitz:
1. You talk about solving the world’s most important problems: hunger, poverty, war, climate catastrophe, that sort of thing. People have been trying to solve these for thousands of years. What makes you think you will succeed when so many have failed before?
2. Shel shares some examples, big and small, known and unknown, or organizations doing this the right way!
3. What kind of culture changes has to happen internally within an organization?
4. Do you have to be a life long social activist to do this?
5. What steps can ordinary business people take to start addressing global issues? And how do they turn those initiatives into profit?
6. People are so cynical, frustrated, untrusting — do people really believe this is possible, and that it is worth even trying?
7. Can you actually combine principles and profit?
Find the latest from Shel Horowitz below:
About Shel Horowitz:
Braiding together more than 40 years each in business profitability/marketing and organizing for social change, Shel Horowitz—known as “The TransformpreneurSM”—is working to create a world that rewards business for human-focused, planet-focused values and actions.
Beginning with a one-toddler action against smokers at his parents’ party at about age three, Shel has been involved in environmental and social change movements his whole life. In 1972, at age 15, he was involved in a community group that opposed a nuclear power plant proposed for two miles north of New York City (a proposal that the utility company quickly withdrew). A veteran of the 1977 Seabrook occupation, his first book, written when he was only 22, was about why nuclear power makes no sense. Shel is also the author of the e-book, Painless Green: 111 Tips to Help the Environment, Lower Your Carbon Footprint, Cut Your Budget, and Improve Your Quality of Life-With No Negative Impact on Your Lifestyle. He is directly responsible for the first nonsmokers’ rights regulations in Northampton, Massachusetts, and for the defeat of a large and inappropriate mountaintop development in his current home town of Hadley, Mass. His Down to Business webzine, founded in 1997, was one of the first business publications to have a regular section on sustainability.
On the marketing side, Shel was still a teenager when he started doing publicity and marketing for grass-roots community organizations with zero promotional budget. There wasn’t even money available for stamps, so he used to hand-deliver press releases on a three-speed bicycle, Trained as a journalist, he first became aware of the power of the news media when a local paper refused to print meeting notices he wrote for a controversial group—but gave extensive news coverage to its refusal. Now, for over twenty years, he’s helped businesses, nonprofits, and community groups get their message out to the public affordably and effectively.
After finishing Antioch College at age 19, Shel had to come to terms with his own work history: career paths not only in writing and marketing/PR, but also in radio, teaching, arts, food service, office systems, community organizing, and environmental issues. Putting together his own first résumés led to a new career direction: résumé writing and career services. Shel quickly realized he had the ability to discover a job candidate’s best strengths and highlight them while downplaying weaknesses. In short, he turned résumé writing into a marketing function.
A native of New York City, he returned there to work at two literary agencies as a manuscript reader, and then worked for a year and a half as a VISTA Volunteer community organizer with the Gray Panthers. Pursuing poetry on the side, he became very active in the New York open poetry scene, and met Dina Friedman at an open reading in Greenwich Village.
The two left New York in 1980, spending an academic year in Philadelphia before settling in Western Massachusetts in 1981—and founding Accurate Writing & More with an initial marketing cost of $12 and a total start-up under $200 (most of it for a 13-year-old IBM Selectric typewriter). They married two years later. Daughter Alana was born in 1987 and son Rafael followed in 1992.
Drawing on the marketing he’d practiced in and after college, Shel began marketing his own business locally, and grew it to the largest of its kind in a three-county service area. Gradually, he expanded his practice to marketing for other businesses and nonprofits, and then to consulting on incorporating social and enviornmental change at a profit. He began using e-mail as a marketing tool in 1994, set up his first website in 1996, and quickly developed a reputation internationally as a skilled copywriter and marketing strategist who knows how to stretch a marketing dollar. His client list now includes accounts in Europe, Asia, Australia, and all across the U.S.; his books have sold to dozens of countries, and have been republished in South Korea, Japan, India, Mexico, Italy, and Turkey.
And as an environmental and social justice activist since 1972, he has used these skills pro bono for a number of environmental and social change organizations—especially a group he founded called Save the Mountain, which mobilized thousands of people (in a rural county) and rapidly beat back an “unstoppable” poorly-planned development on a mountain abutting a state park; this was a campaign that combined everything Shel knew about marketing and community organizing, and drew on the skills of many others that he recruited into the organization. Following the success of this campaign, Shel looked at a bigger canvas:.
In 1985, he published the first of eight books on low-cost, high-impact marketing (ten books total). Six of his books have won awards and/or been republished in other countries, including the long-running category bestseller Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Mr. Guerrilla Marketing himself, Jay Conrad Levinson). His 10th book, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World (also co-authored with Levinson), will be published in 2016 by Morgan James.
This new book shows that a growing percentage of consumers are actually demanding environmental responsibility as a minimum requirement for doing businesses, and that businesses that go beyond just being green to turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance are poised for success. Horowitz provides dozens of examples of companies large and small that have succeeded by putting people and planet first: from Fortune 100 like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Southwest Airlines, and General Electric down to small businesses and even solopreneurs.
Shel is a Certified International Speaker and frequent media interviewee (including multiple appearances in the New York Times, Inc, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and many others) who loves to get the word out about this important new paradigm.
He is a former marketing strategist, national political operative, and lobbyist.
Todd has published five books, writes a business + lifestyle column, is a distance runner, and lives in Chicago with his wife Stephanie + family.