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How to Future Proof With Sustainable Business Practices

How to Future Proof With Sustainable Business Practices written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Maisie Ganzler, the go-to expert on how companies can make positive change in supply chains and other entrenched systems. Ganzler has been featured in leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, […]

How to Future Proof With Sustainable Business Practices written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Maisie Ganzler, the go-to expert on how companies can make positive change in supply chains and other entrenched systems. Ganzler has been featured in leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Fast Company, and Bloomberg. She is also the author of “You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime and Other Lessons from the Food Industry for Creating a More Sustainable Company.” Throughout this episode, we discuss the complexities of implementing sustainable business practices and how companies can authentically integrate these practices into their operations and marketing strategies.

Key Takeaways

With over 30 years of experience at Bon Appetit Management Company as Chief Strategy and Brand Officer, Maisie Ganzler shares her insights into the practicalities of sustainability. She emphasizes the importance of defining sustainability specific to one’s industry, advocating for a tailored approach that resonates with both internal stakeholders and customers. Through real-world examples, such as the challenges faced by industrial hog operations, Ganzler highlights the significance of firsthand experiences in driving genuine change.

Ganzler also discusses the critical role of authenticity and personal passion in sustainability efforts. She warns against superficial commitments driven solely by market trends, underscoring the need for sincere and strategic initiatives that align with a company’s core values and operational capabilities. Additionally, Ganzler introduces the concept of the Circle of Responsibility Matrix, a tool used to track and manage sustainability commitments, ensuring continuous progress and adaptation in the face of changing circumstances.

By integrating these insights, businesses can navigate the intersection of profitability and sustainability, making meaningful changes that benefit the environment, society, and their bottom line.


Questions I ask Maisie Ganzler:

[00:53] How would you describe a more sustainable company?

[02:43] Tell us the case study in the book about the profit-environment complexities involving a pig farm

[05:37] What role does a person’s personal passion play in the success of a sustainability plan?

[07:19] How does a business partner with recognized climate & sustainability organizations as opposed to being enemies?

[10:02] How exactly can you build that bridge between profit and sustainability, especially with companies where share price is very crucial?

[11:25] What is a Circle of Responsibility Matrix?

[13:04] Tell us about the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ cautionary tale you write about in the book?

[15:23] What makes students and younger generations a great source of feedback when it comes to sustainability?

[17:29] What is the importance of having sustainability as part of the organizational mission as opposed to a one off action?

[18:30] Is there some place that you would invite people to find about your work, connect with you and pick up a copy of profit first for creatives?



More About Maisie Ganzler:


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Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Maisie Ganzler. She is the go-to expert on how companies can make positive change in supply chains and other entrenched systems. She’s been interviewed by leading media outlets, including the New York Times, wall Street Journal, NPR, fast Company Bloomberg, and now she can include Duct Tape Marketing to that list. And she’s also the author of You Can’t Make, you Can’t Market Manure at lunchtime and other lessons from the food industry for creating a more sustainable company. So Maisie, welcome to the show.

Maisie (00:47): Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

John (00:49): So I’m going to start with a really big question. It might take the whole episode here, but how would you describe a more sustainable company? Maybe even use an example if you could give us a sense of what all that entails.

Maisie (01:03): Well, I think you have to first start with defining sustainability, and I would do that specific to the industry that you’re in. There are a couple broad definitions of sustainability. One that came out of the UN that’s often quoted and one that came out of the Iroquois Confederacy papers. And they are looking at the impacts of what you do on future generations essentially. And I think that is a lovely sentiment, but it’s hard to write a purchasing policy against or to rally your staff to make change with. So at Appetit Management Company where I was the chief strategy and brand officer for 30 years, we actually crowdsourced a definition of sustainability from all of our employees and we wound up with a lot of words, but we talked about the importance of the air, water, soil, but also the people who grow and harvest our food and the animals that are involved in the production of food as well. We wound up with a very specific definition of sustainability that we could then work towards. So the first step I would suggest is that a, no matter what your industry is, you do that kind of Mad Libs version of figuring out what are the words that means sustainable in your particular industry. Then you can set off to becoming more sustainable.

John (02:37): So you pretty much set the table for this is a complex process, right? And you actually have a story early on in the book about the complexities that involves a pig farm. You want to tell that story.

Maisie (02:50): So the title of the book comes from a real story of my boss, Fidel Bacio, who was the founder and CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company, had this personally transformative experience of visiting a industrial hog operation. And I want to put a pin on that idea of that he went to this operation and he had this transformational experience. Anybody who wants to get more sustainable, I suggest that you yourself go and you bring your executive team to whatever your supply chain looks like or where the impacts of your product are felt firsthand. So Fidel had done that and he had met with families that live next to this pig farm and found that they had higher incidences of asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases because they were breathing in particulates that come from the manure the pigs produced. So there’s literally thousands of pigs in one place doing what any animal does, and that is collected in manure, lagoons, what they’re called, and then to get rid of it, it’s sprayed onto fields, the manure is, and so it’s up in the air and people can also breathe it in.

(04:14): So Fidel was really fired up about, this was an awful practice along with many other bad practices of industrial hog production, including something called gestation crates, which is where pregnant sows are kept for their entire pregnancy in a pen that is essentially the same size they are. So they can’t turn around, they can’t walk, they can really just stand, sit and eat. So Fidel’s screaming about this, he’s a loud passionate man and I’m thinking, this is great. We’re going to make real change. We’re going to take on the industrial animal production industry. But then I was also thinking, how are going to talk about this to customers? You can’t market manure at lunchtime. And it gets at the crux of what the book is about, of that duality of wanting to make real change and become honestly more sustainable, but also get market credit for it because we are for-profit businesses, so how do we make decisions that impact the lives of people or animals or the health of the planet, but also that we can drive the bottom line with

John (05:31): And go to one of these facilities and you’ll quickly become a vegetarian as well. So on that note, what role does a person’s personal passion play in deciding which way to go? I mean, there are a lot of companies out there saying, oh, it would be good to say we’re sustainable. And then there definitely are a lot of companies out there like, no, we mean this. So is that a great place to start?

Maisie (05:56): Yeah, I think there’s two questions baked in there really. One is about authenticity, and if you’ve just read a what’s hot this year list, are you seeing millennials care about sustainability and therefore you try to be more sustainable? I think people can sense that they’ve got that detector of when you’re not being authentic and genuine, and not only will you not get the benefit, it may even backfire. So I think you do have to have personal passion in order to come across as sincere. The second piece of it though is picking the issues you take on. And the obvious thing would be to take on the issues that you’re personally passionate about and I think you should, but you also have to have your business person’s hat on and think about are these issues that I can make meaningful change that will resonate with my customers? And so that manure lagoon issue, Fidel was personally passionate about it. It wasn’t a great marketing piece, so we did it, but we also took on issues alongside it that customers could maybe understand a bit more and that we were able to talk about at lunchtime. So passion projects are important, but maybe not the only thing, the only filter you should use. So

John (07:20): There are a lot of groups out there that are, or Greenpeace that are advocating for certain law changes, certain practices. A lot of times they kind of go butt head to head, right? We don’t want Peter coming down here. So how do you actually turn that around and maybe make some of those folks partners?

Maisie (07:37): Well, they can become your greatest ally, not adversary, but ally. And the first thing to do is to accept their calls. Just start with the basic thing of answering the phone. And I think a lot of people are scared, oh no, Pete is calling. Oh no. Green Peace is calling. Don’t let ’em in. So first of all, open up your doors literally or proverbially, have a meeting, find out what it is they’re after. They’re probably expert in this area more than you are. So think of it as free consulting and a free education. Find out what they want and then be transparent about what your challenges are, why that’s going to be hard for you to get to. They need to understand your business in order to give better advice and to make their ask more reasonable. Now, some of these organizations reasonable is not the top of their priority list, but the more they get to know you and your company and they sense your sincerity, the more reasonable they become. And even if you can’t agree at the end, you will not probably have their anger and their ranker against you in the same way you would’ve if you just stonewalled them. And if you are able to meet their demand, they become your best PR instrument.

Speaker 3 (08:58): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing.

John (09:16): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM world slash scale. Where’s the crossroads between profit and sustainability? I’m sure some companies are like, yeah, we could do it that way, but so how do you cross that bridge, especially publicly traded companies that maybe all people care about it, or at least they believe all people care about is share price?

Maisie (10:11): Well, you’ve got to not have the two divorced in order to have sustainability at the heart of your brand. And that’s what I’m talking about and what my book is about, not just about something off to the side, but really critical to how you go to market. You have to believe that’s also going to increase profitability, and the most obvious way that it’s going to be is in driving revenue that you are going to have people buy your product more often or pay more for your product because of the sustainability attributes that come along with it and then it becomes good business.

John (10:46): So it’s probably inherent upon you to, a lot of people are like, oh, we do the right thing because it’s the right thing, but then it’s sort of inherent on you to actually promote that so that the tribe that cares about that really knows.

Maisie (11:01): I think so I do think that marketing should follow operations, meaning that first you should be doing the thing, doing the right thing and then market it versus putting the brochure out and then saying to the operations team, Hey, you got to make these changes now we promised it to the customers. Right,

John (11:20): Right. So at the heart of the book is something you call, where is it? Circle of Responsibility Matrix. You want to unpack that idea?

Maisie (11:30): Yeah. So when I was at Bon Appetit Management Company, I developed something called the Circle of Responsibility, matrix Circle of Responsibility. It was just the brand name that we used internally for our sustainability platform. We tried using it externally, it didn’t work well, it didn’t resonate with customers, but it still worked for us internally. And we kept a red, yellow, and green list just like a stoplight green is all of the commitments that we had made publicly where we stood on them by region and what marketing materials were available for them. Yellow were the things that we were actively working on and red were the ideas that we were stuck on and we pulled that list out on a regular basis and discussed it. And it’s easy to think that you want a lot of greens and not a lot of yellows and reds, but you actually need those yellows and reds, the things that you’re actively working on and the things that you’re stuck on so that you have a constant flow of ideas and something takes longer than you imagined it was going to or something that happens often is that something that’s in the green, you’ve publicly made the commitment you’ve met, it falls out of the green supply chains change.

(12:50): There’s a huge weather event, something like, oh, I don’t know, a global pandemic happens. And all those things that you thought were rock solid and green are now yellows or even reds. So it’s a really active conversation.

John (13:04): You provide an example, maybe a cautionary tale of something called the Better Chicken Commitment. You want to talk us through that one?

Maisie (13:13): Yeah. So you mentioned advocacy groups like Greenpeace or peta. Well, one such group is compassion and world farming, and they put together something called the Better Chicken Commitment. And it really is about making meaningful change in chicken production in how chickens are genetically bred. So they have stronger legs to hold up their body weight as well as how they are raised. And they started shopping around for companies to sign the better chicken commitment. Now it’s tempting when a advocacy group comes a calling as I just told you to try to placate them, but you need to also make sure you’re going to get a real leadership position from that and that you can meet the ask. So in the case of the Better Chicken Commitment are known as the BCC, the first company that jumped, had that leadership position for all of about two hours before the next company signed.

(14:11): Now we’re at a position where there’s for 200 companies that have signed, but no one has yet met the better chicken commitment. It is not clear how to meet it. Does that mean that we shouldn’t have done it? No, it doesn’t mean that it is actually the right thing to do for the chickens and when that many companies sign on, if you don’t, you’re not just not a leader, you’re really a laggard. So now there are a group, it’s called the Broiler Working Group, broiler Chickens that meet on a regular basis cross company along with compassion to all work collaboratively to figure out how to solve this B, c, C and to get chickens that are better for the chickens is who it’s better for. So a really important issue to stay involved in, but probably not a leadership opportunity at this point.

John (15:07): So if somebody’s thinking we want to do the right thing, we want to invest in the right initiatives, but we’re not really sure what’s changing, emerging things coming along, obviously listening to customers. But I took particular note if you actually highlighted particularly students as a great source for, or I guess we’re probably talking about a younger demographic in general as a great source of feedback. So I’m curious what led you to that conclusion?

Maisie (15:38): Well, it’s of course important to listen to customers, but I find if you wait for your mainstream customer to ask for something, you’re probably already behind. Somebody else is working on it. And so college students tend to be more out there, less concerned with practicalities, more extreme, more wanting to be disruptive and make change. So they’re are great almost focus group of what the emerging issues are going to be. They also literally are your consumers of tomorrow, but they’re also the ones that are a little bit fringy and I think you want to be listening to the fringe.

John (16:20): So what’s the first step? Especially if somebody has really ignored this for all intent and purposes and they want to take this seriously, what’s the first step in getting started? I’m sure it’s not picking an initiative, it’s probably figuring out where it fits in the company as a whole, isn’t it?

Maisie (16:39): Well, I think it’s picking the initiatives that fit within your company. So it’s first going out and listening, talking to people like college students, talk to your suppliers, look at what advocacy groups are talking about. Try to read between the lines of what your competitors are talking about and see not just what they’ve committed to, but what they might be trying to brace against, what argument they might be trying to counter and take all that information and along with your personal passion and try to distill that into a platform that makes sense, make sense in terms of you can achieve it and make sense in terms of it’s a story that you can tell and make sense in terms of it’s real and meaningful. You actually will be making change.

John (17:30): Is it enough to just say, okay, yeah, you’re right, we should use less packaging. Or does it really need to flow all the way up to the mission? It’s like, here’s how we’re going to train people. Here’s going to be our culture. I’m kind of given two extremes, but does it really have to start there?

Maisie (17:45): It needs to be throughout your company, it needs to be in your compensation strategy. Is this how people are rewarded? It needs to be in your sales information. It needs to be in your supplier selection criteria. If you are incenting everybody throughout your organization to only find the lowest cost option, you are not going to get there. So you need to make sure that you are with real dollars and with soft power where people get recognized and celebrated for working towards your sustainability goals or else it’s going to be window dressing. Yeah.

John (18:26): Well, Maisie, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you would invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work, and obviously pick up a copy of You Can’t market manure at lunchtime.

Maisie (18:37): It’d be great if people went to and that’s a lot of letters. M-A-I-S-I-E-G-A-N-Z-L-E-R, or they can just go to Amazon and find the book there.

John (18:55): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by. I’m certain this is the first time that I have said the word manure on the show. I can’t speak for all my listeners. Maybe they’ve said it about the show, but first I’m actually on the show. So again, appreciate you coming by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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