What’s it all about?
Taking people and companies on a sustainability journey, cutting through the misinformation, lies and overwhelming amount of information to help take small collective steps that make a difference. An early internet tech founder with multiple exits, Graham is on a mission to get society to the tipping point of behaviour change to make sustainable living a way of life for all. We talk about his entrepreneurial journey, the rewards and challenges, the desire to keep building and his passion as an environmentalist to help everyone to make difference.
About Graham Hill:
One of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and featured on the covers of Inc. and Dwell Magazines, Graham is a successful serial entrepreneur and highly sought-after speaker known for his ability to eloquently explain how we can all create a simpler, wealthier, greener and happier planet.
He has presented at many prestigious conferences around the world, including two main-stage TED Talks that have received 11M+ views, and was the Founder of Treehugger.com
Graham is the founder and CEO of The Carbonauts. They help Fortune 1000 companies build climate-literate, sustainability enthusiastic cultures via tools such as live, interactive sustainability workshops.
Their clients include giants such as Amazon, Chanel, News Corp, Toyota, AT&T, Warner Brothers, Discovery, Netflix, Dow Jones, and HarperCollins.
About The Carbonauts:
On a decades long, multi-company mission to help humanity move into the bright green future.
A natural sequel to TreeHugger.com, The Carbonauts inspires and guides people towards compelling, low-footprint ways of living and working by offering them live, time-efficient zoom courses that make it easy for them to slash their footprints at home and work while saving money and influencing others.
Clients include Amazon, Chanel, News Corp, Toyota, Zurich Insurance, AT&T, Warner Brothers Discovery, Netflix and many more.
Our goal is to build movements within companies that reach ~25% of the staff at which point the company culture will rapidly mobilize towards drawdown and beyond.
- The Carbonauts Twitter: (21) TheCarbonauts (@WeTheCarbonauts) / Twitter
- The Carbonauts Linkedin: (8) The Carbonauts: Overview | LinkedIn
- The Carbonauts Website: The Carbonauts – Become a Carbonaut!
- The Carbonauts Insta: The Carbonauts (@wethecarbonauts) • Instagram photos and videos
- Graham Hill LinkedIn: (8) Graham Hill | LinkedIn
About Hyperion Executive Search:
Hyperion are a specialist executive search firm working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy.
If you want to grow your team, or move forward your career, visit www.hyperionsearch.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Less Stuff, more happiness: Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness | TED Talk
- Why I’m a weekday vegetarian: Graham Hill: Why I’m a weekday vegetarian | TED Talk
- Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services Natural Capital: Theory and Practice of Mapping Ecosystem Services : Kareiva, Peter, Tallis, Heather, Ricketts, Taylor H., Daily, Gretchen C., Polasky, Stephen: Amazon.co.uk: Books
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If you do enjoy the podcast, please write a review on iTunes, or your usual podcast platform, and tell your cleantech friends about us. That would be much appreciated.
David Hunt 0:00
Hello and welcome to the leasing clean tech Podcast. I’m David Hunt the CEO of Hyperion clean tech group and your host for the podcast. This week, I’ve got an interesting guest who is quite literally the original tree hugger, CEO and founder of the tree hugger platform, which many, if not all of you will be familiar with. He is a serial entrepreneur started in, in website church way back in the mid 90s. And in the last few years has launched a new company called the carbon Arts, which is helping corporate companies in particular, but we’re helping companies to engage with their staff to enable them to go on a sustainability journey. So lots to cover, as ever. Thanks very much for joining us, please do if you haven’t already, subscribe on the YouTube channel and or in your podcast platform of choice. And if you enjoyed the episode, please share please pass your comments. Please keep up your suggestions as they come through many thanks for now enjoy the episode. Hey, Greg, it’s great to have you on the leaves and cleans up podcast.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 0:55
Thank you for having me. Excited to be here.
David Hunt 0:57
Good stuff. I know it’s an early start for you, but and lots to get through. So we start the conversation with a little bit of a backstory on our guests. And yours is quite well. All entrepreneurs are interesting by definition, but yours is a really interesting one, you are the original tree hugger amongst other things, so be good to get a little bit of the flavour for the entrepreneurial side of your career, how you came to be doing what you’re doing, obviously, how you came to found carbon arts. And then we can dig a little bit more into what that’s all about. But firstly, just a little bit the backstory has been a TED talk, you’ve been involved in lots of really exciting communication types of efforts to lead the sustainable sustainability charge. So let’s get a little bit of what got you in this direction in the first place. And some of the things you’ve done before carbon arts
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 1:38
sounds great, thanks. Yeah, so I’m an undercover Canadian from near Montreal, and I say product design architecture. And in sort of 9394, I was at a school called Emily Carr Vancouver. And they had the internet and at that point that was like text based email, and one graphical web terminal in the library, and which was basically the web with pictures. And I saw that and I was like, that is what I want to do. And so I rode my motorcycle down to Seattle, the day after school ended and bumped in with my cousin, Tisha, and we set about building a company to build websites. And that was in 1995. So I had one of the first very early internet companies, and we did good work and got Microsoft as a client and, and grew it to 60 people and sold it in like three years. And so I was very fortunate. Right place, right time, and so made some money at an early age. And, and, yeah, it was very fortunate. Because I was able to be choosy about what I wanted to do. Yeah. And so that through that sale, I sort of finagle my way to New York. In my travels there, I sort of went, wow, people walk my speed here. I like this place. And so I had a real traction to New York. And so I got to New York. And I had my parents, so I grew up with hippie parents in the, in the backwoods of Quebec. And so I was into environmentalism, and I a couple of books before the finch just got me into science reading. And then I read Natural Capitalism, which really sort of blew my mind. And so from 2000 on, I’ve been focused on environmental stuff. And so I had an idea for a website at that point in 2000, took me a few years, I worked on plant based airfilter. And in 2004, I launched treehugger.com. Now, treehugger.com is a tongue in cheek name. And effectively, at that time, if any of your listeners were around environmental media, prior to that was just terrible. It was partisan, it was anti business. It was not designed for it in any sense. And yeah, it just was, it really lacked something. And I saw this incredible green future out there that I could put together in my head and I wanted to make it easy for others, to see it and be part of it and get inspired. And instead of it being inspired by fear, being inspired by hope we get really people really excited. And so we built a tree hugger and it was focused on still going strong, like 19 years later. It’s part of the IAC dot dash Meredith group, run by my friend Neil Vogel, and yes, still going strong and many, many billions of pageviews. And so we were the biggest green site and on the web very quickly and held on to that for a number of years and then ended up selling it to discovery, who are terrific and We worked for them, I worked for them for a number of years, and we’re actually with the carbon arts starting to do some work with them, which is really nice. And then so so that was tree hugger. And I, after that I just got excited about small living, I was always have done a lot of media. And I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I could just live this exactly as I would like to like, really illustrate a greener way of living. And so treehugger had always talked about small living. And so basically started this company called Life edited. And the idea was that if you apply smart design, technology and a little behaviour change, that you can create a smaller life, and that’ll save you money, that will lower your footprint, and that ultimately, smaller lives a happier life. And so what that translated to were a bunch of sort of space, that place to live that did more with less. So I built some incredible apartments and off grid home, the apartments as a cover of the one of the dwell small space issues, a couple of New York, so things like first one is 420 square feet, moving walls, stretching tables, Murphy beds, folding out over couches. Everything every room was multifunction. In fact, that place had one room and just would transform, so I could have 10 people over for dinner. I could have guests, I hadn’t home office, it just it sliced and diced. So I did that one was very fun. And then I did another 350 square feet even smaller. That’s a lot of coverage. Well, and I gave a TED talk on the on the subject,
David Hunt 6:54
which I was gonna say that was the first TED talk.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 6:57
Yeah, so I have between the two of them. So I have one on small living. It’s called like living with last or something like that. And then one on weekday vegetarianism, I think that was my first one. And that one’s done very well also. So yeah, Ted’s incredible it is, it is such an interesting thing like you could, I started realised at one point be like, talking to 1000 people a night for like, decades, kind of those numbers like they did the internet is absolutely amazing. So yeah, so very, those two have been very popular, and still still continue to go, which is cool. So that was part of life editing. But then ultimately life edited. I’m really glad we did some really cool projects, and I think helped push forward the idea of small living, which is great as in the minimal minimalist documentary as well. But I realised that I didn’t want to, I knew I didn’t want to be an architect, and ultimately realised I didn’t want to be a real estate developer. So it wasn’t a good fit. So I should have done some deeper thinking along the way. But I had some fun. And I think we did some good work. And so that brought me to a few years ago, where I started the carbon arts and basically, the carbon arts the idea, would you like me to launch into that? Or yeah,
David Hunt 8:17
if you did, and so quick summary, because we’ll dive much more into that. But if you give us an overview what that’s all about.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 8:22
So the carbon arts was started three years ago, I guess, in the sort of end of 2019. And we do sustainability and engagement. We do workshops, live workshops, for large corporations like Amazon, Chanel, and AT and T and Toyota, etc. Right. So we’re basically in culture change, we help companies have a long way to go, the world has a long way to go in a short period of time. And if we’re going to get there, you need everybody on board and rowing in the same direction. You need people, your staff to be climate literate, and climate enthusiastic. And so we have great workshops and tools to help make that happen.
David Hunt 9:13
Right. Right, is an awesome challenge. I think education that really helps people to make a make a difference. And generally, I came across both your TED Talks independently and before we started engaging around the podcast. Firstly, as again, I’ve struggled like most to live more minimally, and not from my life of stuff. And the first or the second TED Talk came came to me that way. And again, like many people, I’m trying to live a less, not quite a vegan lifestyle, but certainly where there’s less meat, less red meat in particular as processed foods and again, during my research and for that I came across the other TED talk of yours. And both of those are, again, ways that we as individuals can start to make an impact and collectively clearly that’s where there’s a A large change or I should say a culture shift that’s possible within society. Talking about so you are now addressing larger organisations or working through cabinets to with with, as you say, webinars, training and resources to enable companies to enable their staff to make a difference in their life, what types of webinars what type of subject matter do do those courses involve?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 10:24
So we do both focus on their homes, and then focus on at work. But we tend to start with focusing on their homes. And so we like to appeal to people’s self interest we’re in, we’re in the behaviour change game, which is a very difficult game, we’re pretty good at it. So we got to be really, really smart. And so for most people home is number one. And so if you want to get people climate literate and enthusiastic about climate, it’s a great place to start because it appeals to their self interest. And so we have courses of all kinds, trying to meet people where they are, and appeal to both their heads, but also their hearts. And they’re, they’re not a webinars per se, they’re like live workshops. So it’s all cameras on highly interactive, trying to make it about them, and get them really engaged. So we try to help them understand the basic issues, and then really inspire them to do something, and then make it very easy for them to take those actions. So we do a lot of research to make the next step for them very easy. We focus on stuff that your listeners will be very familiar with. But the big six is what we call it. So you know, your average person, we talked about sustainability, they can’t make this stuff up, but they talk about straws. And they talk about packaging and stuff that we need to fix, but missing sort of the big picture, the big, powerful, muscular sort of approaches. And so we try to get people to understand what those big ones are, and focus on those. And so those are switching to renewable energy, reducing miles driven and making electrifying as many of them as possible. Moving to a plant rich diet or more of a plant rich diet, composting, reducing food waste, reducing and optimising flying, buying high quality offsets, and encouraging people to share. So they understand and share in a very tactful, non preachy manner, positive and helpful to help people understand the building social norms is critical. And so part of you want to you want to take as many of these actions I just laid out, but you also want to be sure to share about it and sexually build the social norms, because that’s, ultimately, that’s our big theory of change, which is backed up by science is, you know, basically, if you can get to 25% of the population, with something that I think intuitively people know is right, morally sort of correct, the right action to take, that’s when the whole society will flip. And so we view our role as really finding the 5%. So you know, they’re only about 5%, that are really willing to do much. So we want to find them, we call them the change agents, find them, educate them, inspire them, and sent them to really get after it. And so building, we want to build some momentum, build the social norms, such that we build it from 5%, up to 25%, when the whole thing flips. And then if you go up a level, if we can get a company, that’s why we’re excited to work with the big companies that we work with, if we can help them transition, then if 25% of all companies also do that, that’s when all the rest of the companies will come along. And so, you know, companies are really a big part of this and we’re excited to work with them. But we’re very focused on on their staff just getting them climate literate, climate enthusiastic. And that leads to eco innovation at work. It’s also great team building and great attract attraction retention. So as as you know, the youth are the working for a values focused company is really important to them. And so this is a great way to illustrate that your company company cares so, yeah, that is the carbon out story.
David Hunt 14:31
It’s a great story and and obviously tree hugger. Before that, I think one of the things that genuinely conflicts me Graham, perhaps you can share some thoughts because you’ve been doing this for quite some time. We clearly as individuals all have a part to play and collective we absolutely can make a difference. And this tipping point you refer to is important that we get there. There are of course, arguments that so often companies and governments forced the agenda on to the individual about what are you doing then dividual to mask the fact that there’s corporations or As governments aren’t doing as much as they could do, it’s a little bit of course of a I guess with greenwashing. There are some companies do this genuinely in some, some that don’t. It’s it’s important that we do both. Clearly education is fundamental to getting anything to change and behaviour change. But how do you see the companies that you’re engaged with? And how do you spot those who are genuinely with us all on this journey, I suppose to those who are, again, both deflecting maybe some of their responsibilities.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 15:25
So humans love to blame. Like we’re, you know, ultimately, we’re fairly lazy. We’d love it to be someone else’s problem. And so yeah, of course, it’s borne out ever everyone points it anywhere else with the foot towards themselves? So I don’t think it’s very, yeah, it’s not, it’s not very surprising. And we, you know, we’re focused really on the on the staff. So you know, the company can somehow use this as greenwashing don’t even care that much. Because really, we’re transforming the identities of their staff, which is ultimately going to help them transform, or the staff will get tired of the company, and they don’t believe the company, they’ll leave and they’ll be somewhere else. But that will have helped them sort of transform and just do more. So I don’t know, we don’t get too worried about it. We certainly don’t feel like any of our clients are greenwashing in terms of what they’re looking for, where our clients tend to be either. Mostly in sustainability, sometimes in HR, although I suspect more and more will be in HR. And so you know, most of the sustainability people they’re there for the reason they’re not they’re not there to sort of greenwash. They care about stuff. So yeah, we haven’t gotten much of that. But yeah, we’re certainly government wants to point to corporations and corporations when appointed governments and individuals want to vote point at both of them. And then yeah, it’s that that’s no surprise.
David Hunt 16:57
We all need to play our part. Right. So what what fascinates me actually is around as you say, those big six and I’ve been aware of clearly have been the sustainability for for 1015 years or more. was aware of tree hugger, obviously, from from those early days, but from from your experiences both that tree hugger now at carbon Arts, which of those areas of Big Six do you find most traction with? Where are people most engaged? Broadly, in some of the work that you’re doing with carbon arts, for example, out of those big six?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 17:26
It’s it’s pretty individual, I would say. But the food thing is always interesting. The people I think, would just pick this because just because do something you do three times a day kind of thing. I think. I think there’s often some energy, energy around that. But yeah, it’s sort of it tends to tends to spread out and you know, it’s highly dependent. That’s what’s tricky about this. Like, it’s not, like, do you live in an apartment? Do you live in a house? Like those are very, like, what what are the, you know, like, Canada, as an example, has a tonne of hydro. Yeah. And, and it’s cheap. And so solar just doesn’t pencil as well up there, and then not as good solar gain sort of gain as well. And so it is highly dependent on sort of where you live. And personally, your situation is, and people in New York don’t have cars. So often. People in LA all have cars. So the EVs are sort of more of a discussion point here. And last lesson. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, I’d say it’s, yeah, it’s highly, highly, highly personal flying as well. And that’s what really makes it tricky. It is really, it is so different for different people. So like the you know, we probably the most people that are our list listeners, yourself myself, like, we tend to our our friends fly, like multiple times a year kind of thing. But the average American flies once a year, right. And so it’s hard to hard to look outside of your bubble, but people are very different life situations. And so we just try to meet people where they are and really find the thing. And we’ve, we’ve become a lot less perfectionistic over time, okay, we just want to find the thing that they are passionate about, and get them moving along. And I think this is about identity building. And identity building can come from action. So you take the action for whatever reason, and then you become the kind of person that takes that kind of action. Right? And so getting people to take action is really critical because it can create that identity. And once you have that identity then can lead to others other things. We don’t like cognitive dissonance. And so we want to be want to be consistent and so we just try to get P find people where they are and onboard them and just help them move along their climate journey.
David Hunt 19:54
How’d you do this interesting point, I should say behaviour change at all levels from the individual to six It is always a challenge. Now she sets around execution, right? It’s around things, actions being done, not just the the inspiration. So how do you move people? How do you try to move people under companies from engagement and an inspiration through then to it becoming habit and becoming the norm? And then them sharing their experiences to their bubble and to their community? And to make this thing keep rolling? Are there any areas where you find that are either tricky to move past? Or how do you take your clients companies and their staff from that first inspiration? Oh, that’s interesting, through to making life changes.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 20:38
Well, what we saw were very focused on behaviour change science. And so that is critical. And I’m only leaning further into that. And probably this year, we’ll hire a full time person. So. So there, I would say there are lots, there are lots of tricks, the big one is continuity. And the challenge here is just getting companies to really commit like we do, some workshops are one hour, they pack a punch, and other really, really great. And if you want true transformation, you probably need multiple, you need to come back and be reminded and need to start to really integrate into your life. So. So continuity is critical. And so we are now do sort of year long programmes with companies kinds of drumbeat of content, the comms, and so you’re constantly reminded, we try to make it about them, we try to make it a group thing, we try to have some friendly competition and some accountability. So we’ll use for some of our courses, we have our own version of the Berkeley cool climate calculator. And so we’ll actually revisit will have them run their footprint at the beginning. And then during the course, we have some longer courses, four weeks, six weeks, they will input stuff, and so we can do a leaderboard, and help people so some sort of friendly competition and just get people on. But they’re all different, right? Signing up for renewable energy happens once might not change that for years. While as plant rich diet is a is a daily thing, you can fall off tomorrow. And so it Yeah, it’s it’s really, it’s really varied. So I think the main thing is trying to get some continuity, and trying to help them feel it in their both in their heads get it, but also in their hearts so that they’re really they have a transformation. Yeah, we have sort of a new identity, it’s just that they know they are happy. Yeah, to do the thing, and to keep it keep it going. But it’s, it’s challenging.
David Hunt 22:55
It’s challenging for people, for sure, I know, some of the websites, you have a community, how does that work, because that’s always one thing, which creating tribes and communities that are, you know, self inspiring all over again, you get into this community, these conversations, and there’s a bit of gamification, as you say, in terms of, you know, positively challenging each other to do better, but how does the community work?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 23:16
We work with a software called circle. And so, you know, I think the community is committed to a number of components, but one of them is just the sort of sharing that happens within there. We also have amas asked me anything’s office hours, like twice a week, so our clients can can drop by and talk among a group of people. We have the newsletter, of course, and we’re also very, we’re high touch. So the leader, the facilitator, is a big part of this, and they’re available to respond. And so yeah, so we try to just keep the communication going, in all sorts of ways and, and, and keep New workshops coming so that people are engaged and, and then we try to really get them to engage during the workshops. So that there’s this real sense of that they’re in it together and through other people. And, you know, one of the challenges with environmentalism is is statistically many people underestimate what how many other people care. I think that a lot, lot less people care than they do. So it’s really important to get people talking because it helps you understand Oh, it’s, that’s, I care about that too. Right. And that’s the way to really get them engaged and really help their their identities to form.
David Hunt 24:45
Yeah, the power of tribe is is fundamentally important. Going back Graham to yourself, you You’re clearly an early tech entrepreneur and sort of business successful event and then a major entrepreneur to start with treehugger and obviously selling that so how Do you keep inspired? And what have been the greatest challenges and rewards for you over the period of time that you’ve been an entrepreneur in this world, from the tech startup through through to now in this sustainability world?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 25:13
Well, I think most entrepreneurs are just problem solvers. You know, and I came from, you know, seven years of design architecture and product design. And so it’s just like, it’s just a design challenge. And I definitely like to ruminate and try to figure things out. So yeah, lots of different reward, we’re, you know, I’m nothing of something. So figuring out of business from nothing is very rewarding as it gets working. Culturally, you know, my first company built websites. And you know, there wasn’t nothing too exciting about that. They were, you know, the bottom was we had a real culture, a real family culture. And it was fantastic. And I’m still still in touch with many of them. In fact, one one of them Matt Daniels is that I’ve worked with the 96 is on the team that’s on the carbon ops team. Yeah, so I like bring them back, bring them back. If I can make O’Neill editor a tree hugger also on the team, very big part of the carbon arts. And so that’s fun. Tree Hugger was very, very rewarding in a different way. Because it was we gave, we created a community a place that people were like, just were so excited about, like, Finally, they were able to find a place that got them that was excited about this beautiful green future and, and so there is a real excitement and connection. And you still feel it. It’s It’s amazing the difference between when I talked to someone who was there and knows tree hugger, and who doesn’t like you just at this point, it’s like tree hugger is one of 1000s and 1000s of sites, you know, that sort of get it. But at that point just was really different people were coming home all sudden, like, wow, this is it. I’m so excited. This is fantastic. So there’s something very, very rewarding Of that, about that. And it was such a great business to because it’s unlimited content. And so I can easily help someone get their cool project on the web, and get them a whole bunch of attention. And it made you know, made us money. So it was a it was fantastic. That’s a great, great job. And yeah, it’s really fun to be the head a tree hugger, for sure. I’d say the rewarding parts. Now for the carbon Arts is just seeing the light go on for people. Like we just when you can really see the people sort of get it and start to make changes and be really excited about it. And moving from climate anxiety to climate optimism because they’re taking action and doing stuff and really getting engaged. Yeah, like the sort of the testimonials and just the feel you get from people just excited about they’ve been it’s it’s tough to know what to do for normal people. Sure. Like, it’s tough to know what to do if you’re in the industry. And so I think a lot of people have have the awareness is really high. And there’s climate anxiety is real, but they don’t know where to start, you sit down and you start researching this stuff. And it’s complicated. There’s so much information, there’s so much disinformation misinformation like of course, you’re gonna give up like it’s, and then you’re just left with the stress. And so through our workshops you can come to we’re trustable entities that are really thought this through and so we help people categorise things and understand them and then start to do something about it in a very accepting, non judging kind of way. And so I think it’s when you see people that you really help them. That’s, that’s really rewarding. And so we’re very excited as we see car companies or clients really get get momentum and start to make a real difference. That’s, that’s really rewarding. Ultimately, this, this is about those people and about building this movement. It’s not, it’s not easy, but that’s the way we’re gonna get there. It’s literally person by person, and we’re gonna build those social norms until we get to 25%. And this whole thing’s gonna flip like the beauty of this is there is a beautiful green future that’s here now. There’s so much that we can do and we just got to keep sort of plugging away. And it’s, it’s all going to happen.
David Hunt 29:54
Yeah, I think you touched on a really important thing that Graham around there’s so much information a lot of disinformation deliver With disinformation quite often there’s too if you create fear, uncertainty and doubt, then the easy thing to do is do nothing, right? Because there’s almost like a tyranny of choice and a tyranny of opinion. And where do you where do you get to the point where you actually do something you just overwhelmed. So having organisations like yours in places where people can go for some rational choices to be made, and for some kind of limitation to some extent of this, just do some of these key things. Let’s start with one thing right there, start with something or one of the six and then move on to the others. We don’t have to solve all of the world’s problems in one week.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 30:34
Yeah, no need to boil the ocean. Let’s just get started. Let’s find something that resonates with you. And let’s get started. And once you get on the path, it just feels good. And it’ll help pave pave the way for the other things.
David Hunt 30:51
One thing jumping background to you, as an individual and to as an entrepreneur, we have a lot of entrepreneurs who have been guests and who listen to the listen to the programme. So a lot of successful companies, at some point have an event quite often. That’s an acquisition. You’ve been through that had been acquired by obviously discovery from from treehugger. But you stayed there for some time. How did you deal with that on an individual level from being the entrepreneur, the founder, the sort of the lead of the business to then joining a much larger organisation, even if it’s one that you feel are clearly some affinity for hopefully, why the transaction happened? It can still be a big change to you personally.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 31:31
Absolutely. Yeah, it’s, it’s a big one. I was I was very lucky, a discovery just treated me so well. I think they just sort of got me. And so yeah, they did move make me into sort of corporate guy. And it was sort of lucky, because we were in there a media company. And so, you know, I did tonnes of media, which is fun for me. And so they treated me very well. So I was very, I was very lucky, I would say. And, but yeah, that’s a big transition. And one that would be hard for me to do. You know, I probably, if, if I’m gonna sell another company at some point. I mean, generally, you know, depends how they set it up. But I probably got a year or two, Max. And that can be a long time. So like, when I talk to friends, or people that are like selling their companies talking about earnouts are working for three years or something. I’m like, wow, you want to be careful about that. Because it is not working for yourself. It’s not being an entrepreneur, and you may not like it, and a year can be a very long time. So couple of to three years like that. It’s a very long time. But I was I mean, I guess the first company. Yeah, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t great. For sure. I didn’t last too long there. But discovery discovery was was was terrific. So I think it’s just good to know what your what you’re good at. And I’m nothing to something guy. That’s that’s what I’m good at. I’m not as something that something bigger. And so it’s important. I just like yeah, I don’t have the I’m not a great manager. I don’t have the patience and the political. The knowledge of political manoeuvring and, and just yeah, I’m an entrepreneur, I’ve had, you know, I think entrepreneurs have a certain amount of ignorance and arrogance. And you know, we think we think we know better. Yeah, and that’s why you go and end up building things. Not a great thing in not a great thing. In a big, big company. So there’s not there’s not a great fit. Some people can do that. For sure, not
David Hunt 33:48
just think that level of self awareness, because you’re absolutely right. And I’ve got one or two friends who have been through and sold their businesses or have gotten to the point where they’re recognised actually, they’re founded that built this thing, they’ve got to whatever it might be 1015 20 people at that point, they’re like, this isn’t fun anymore. You know, for me, it’s not hitting my sweet spot. So my skill set and all these kinds of things. And it becomes difficult because there’s this, I think, in all tech, and certainly in clean tech, there’s this kind of Elon Musk thing where you have to be able to build something from scratch to this global entity, you have to be able to see the thing through to an IPO or whatever the sort of the big number is, when the reality is we’re all geared differently, right? And some people can do that for sure. Some people can take it through to the IPO and beyond. But going to your point a lot of people are just let’s create something when nothing exists, but when something exists, then that kind of challenge disappears a little bit. Do you find that and how do you how do you have that level of self awareness or Have you always had that?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 34:41
I guess I figured it out. I definitely my first kind of the web company like we I remember we got to like 2530 people, and something really shifts at that point. And for me, yeah, you’re they’re just different skills. And so when you have a management layer then it It becomes it’s just a different animal. Also, I remember it being an extremely frustrating period that because you’re going, you’re basically your your staff both don’t want structure and do want structure at the same time, so you’re getting like competing messages from the same people. So it’s wildly frustrating, because I mean, effectively you’re growing, you’ve got to get structure, you’ve got to have a management layer, you’ve got to do all that. Yeah. And they both want it and don’t want it at the same time. And so it’s a very difficult, and it’s for me, definitely less fun after, when you start to Yeah, that just lots of blah, blah, blah, management talk. Not it’s not my thing. So I’m like, I’m very clearly early stage guy, and I’m a lot more mature now than I was then. And so maybe, yeah, maybe maybe it’ll be different. And I think, yeah, I think you can plan it like I, you know, with this one or future companies, I think if I was sort of given a lot of leeway, and it became like, really, product focus, like I’m a designer, and I really enjoy that. And so if you sort of gave me a small, small team and really focused on a part of the business, or the product or something could be very rewarding. I don’t know.
David Hunt 36:25
It’s good to have obviously, the choices that you’ve created by the career that you’ve developed and the way that you’ve built things, just looking at carbonyls now. So what is the not so much on the axis? But generally, what’s the next stages for cannabinoids? Is there? What’s your sort of global your global footprint? Like there’s, obviously throughout the world, everybody wants to join needs to join the sustainability challenges? What’s the plan for the scaling and growing of competence?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 36:48
Well, I think we’re mostly b2b At this point, and we’ve got some great clients. And so we’re just learning to grow within those companies, there should be we have enough big companies that we should be able to be profitable and have enough business. And so yeah, yeah, we’re just growing and then and getting to profitability is a big, big one, I’m hoping we start to have some profitable not months in the next like, three to six months. That’s a big one. And then, yeah, figure out how to scale like, I’m not I’ve made some money, I’m fortunate, I don’t really have to be doing this, per se. So I’m really we are very mission based. And so I’m pretty much I’d say, trying to figure out the business. So I’ve got a money making sustainable business doing, doing really good work. And then I want to step on it. So we’ll probably raise some money in, I don’t know, probably starting in three, six months, we’ll start doing that. I’m such that we can really step on it. I want this thing. I want this thing to really scale. And so that’s Yeah, that’s right, Brad. Yeah, that’s the big story.
David Hunt 38:05
What’s, what’s the root of entry then for people who do want to engage with the working with an organisation? If clearly, if they’re listening to this podcast, they’re gonna have some interest in what you’re all about what we’re all about. So how can they or themselves? Or how can they encourage their company to get involved?
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 38:20
Well, we’re generally big companies, just because we need the numbers. Because if you’re going to find, you know, 5% needs to be something meaningful. So they’re often big companies. So that’s like our primary target. We are doing some stuff with smaller companies, and some of them can be really evolved. And if they’re going to do a lot of the company, then yeah, then then that can be a fit. But yeah, if you just email me, Graham at the carbon arts.com, we do, we’re very easy to set up sort of pilot workshops and give a taste and, and, and go from there. And we’re I actually mentioned I guess, we talked about b2b. We’re also doing some b2c. And we’re looking at some great partnerships with people like the National Wildlife Federation, and JLL, and others, and so will will, will definitely also do some b2c and I think that’ll probably be something that grows, we like the b2b, because we can have an influence on the company and that that is can be powerful. But yeah, we want to make this stuff. We have some great stuff. So we want to be able to offer it to as many people as possible. So
David Hunt 39:33
what is it it’s great to see entrepreneurs like yourself that are really focused on niches even beyond the point where you need to but really have that sense of mission and purpose to drive this forward. Because going back to the point, education is so fundamental clearing through the noise and the chaff and the misinformation, getting people real information. And then most importantly, helping them to engage and to to then take some actions themselves so clearly on the podcast So page will share various links to where they can find carbon notes and yourself on LinkedIn on Instagram or various places. Hopefully they can engage. Thanks very much for your inspiring TED talks for the work that you’ve done with tree hugger and and with Carbonite. So it’s been great to great to speak to you.
Graham Hill – The Carbonauts 40:16
Thanks so much for the opportunity. Keep doing what you’re doing.
David Hunt 40:19
Appreciate you, Graham. Thank you time.