How can B Corps help create positive change and a sense of purpose for workers and stakeholders? Tim Jones @thegrowgoodco tells us all about it.
In Episode 77 of the Bean Ninjas Podcast, Bean Ninjas CEO Meryl Johnston talks to Tim Jones about being a B Corp Ambassador, how his past roles led him to this position, and how B Corps are helping create a fairer, greener, more positive future. Tune in to learn what’s involved in becoming a B Corp, as well as how Tim’s work has evolved into a role filled with purpose.
Tim consults to like-minded, socially-responsible companies and explains how meaningful work has enhanced his sense of purpose in life.
Episode HighlightsWhat makes a business a B Corp? How can B Corps help create positive change and a sense of purpose for their workers and stakeholders? Join us on the Bean Ninjas Podcast to hear Tim Jones @thegrowgoodco talk about his experiences with B… Click To Tweet
01:00 – 02:00 — Tim Jones explains his mission to help people find their purpose
02:00 – 04:00 — Tim’s take on financial freedom
03:00 – 04:00 — Tim talks about removing debt in your life and becoming free
04:00 – 07:00 — Tim recommends ‘The Bleeding Edge’ documentary on Netflix and talks about his ‘awakening’
07:00 – 08:00 — B Corps are for-profit businesses that aim to balance purpose with profit (and how this fuelled Tim on his new mission)
09:00 – 11:00 — Five pillars of B Corp certification: Governance, Workers, Social Impact, Environmental Footprint, & Business Customer Model.
12:00 – 14:00 — Tim was made redundant and started his own coaching company for other B Corps
15:00 – 17:00 — Expanding demand for B Corps and the advantages of being a first-mover in your industry when becoming a B Corp
19:00 – 20:00 — The benefits of using LinkedIn to help build your network
20:00 – 21:00 — The importance of knowing your audience and speaking to their level of knowledge
21:00 — Tim talks about his E-book The Why and the How of the Business of Good – available via his website https://www.growgood.co/
How B Corps Can Help You Live and Work With Purpose and Meaning, featuring Tim Jones
Announcer Welcome to the Bean Ninjas Podcast, where you get an all-access pass to see what happens behind the closed doors of a fast-growing global bookkeeping and financial reporting business.
Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of The Bean Ninjas Podcast. Today, I’m chatting with Tim Jones, who is The Grow Good Guy. Welcome to the show, Tim.
Hello! Or as we’d say over this side of the ditch, “Kia Ora.”
And where in New Zealand are you chatting to us from?
So I am based in Christchurch, so down south. I guess the biggest city in the South Island or the mainland, as we call it.
My dad is actually from Christchurch so I have family over there and have visited many times.
Excellent. That’s nice.
Yeah, beautiful part of the world. So let’s start with a little bit about you and what you’re working on. If you were to meet someone at an event and you had 60 seconds to explain who you are and what you do, how would you do that?
That’s a great question that has taken me quite a few years to try and distil this. So essentially, the tagline I’m kind of working within the minute is, “I’m in pursuit of purpose.” So for me, but for people around me, and I guess, ultimately everyone, to be able to find more purpose and meaning in life so that you can have a better life and you can contribute more in your life and create a better world for more people.
Love it. And we’re going to dig into how you came to be running this business. But before we do that, I wanted to quickly touch on a couple of things around financial freedom, which we do in every podcast episode and then we’re going to jump back into your story. So first question is what does financial freedom mean to you?In our latest podcast episode, CEO and founder Meryl Johnston talks to Tim Jones @thegrowgoodco about finding purpose in his work, how B Corps helped him achieve this, and the benefits of being a B Corp business. Click To Tweet
So that’s something that I dwell on quite a lot. For me, it’s basically being in a position where you get to thrive. I look at some of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Now, when you are at the point when you can be the best that you can be and you have no worries about your ability to survive, that is what I’m kind of aiming for in many ways. And I kind of think that’s the sweet spot. And whatever that number is for you, it’s going to be different.
So you’re the first person to tie this back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but I love that. I actually think that really makes sense.
Well, just for me, I’ve done a lot of research on purpose and meaning and to why we do what we do and why we are as we are as humans stuff. And really, once your basic survival needs are met financially, the rest of it is just trinket treat. You know? It’s nice to have.
Yes. And so, creating that financial freedom in line with the theme of this podcast means that if you’ve got that taken care of and you have your basic needs covered, then you can start to work on things that have more meaning or bringing more purpose or happiness into your life.
One of the follow-up question, is there any particular resource, advice that you’ve received, book; anything like that that has helped you either on your path to financial freedom or has helped you develop the skills around this?
I mean, probably the best sort of piece of advice that I was probably given was get rid of debt as quickly as you can. I know some people, I mean, the New Zealand interest rate and I guess globally interest rates are genuinely pretty low. So some people would make the argument, “Money is cheap. Now is the time to go and borrow money.”
But for me, I just kind of feel like if you can owe nothing to anyone, that’s a big step to freedom because you’re literally not indebted to any other personal organization. So I guess my wife and I are running that as our end game is by the only significant debt we have is our mortgage and we’re working hard to get rid of that as quick as we can. Because in my mind, once you’ve got rid of that, you’re free. You can do more of what you want to do.
Yup, love it. So let’s go back to your story. And when did you get into running your business in its current form and how did you get into it?
I had what I guess you could describe as like a hard exit mentally from the corporate world. Majority of my career, I spent in medical device sales. So if you imagine it in a hospital, any product or any item within a hospital that is used by a nurse, a doctor, a surgeon and is maybe even potentially implants into a human being, there are multiple companies selling those products into that hospital. So that was my job.
I specialized initially in selling hips and knees, so the actual hip and knee joint, and then moved on to selling spinal instruments and implants to orthopedic and neurosurgeons around this field. And it’s a really cool job; part of your job is to go into the operating table and support the surgeries and make sure that the surgical team and the patient get the best outcome that they can with your product. So really, big sense of meaning in connection to making someone’s life better.
But over the ten years of my career, I started to understand the economics of health care and how it seemed to be increasingly maximizing profit was the main driver up to the patient outcome. And that just didn’t sit well with me and the best way to capture this idea in this short podcast is to send people to go and watch The Bleeding Edge [Inaudible 00:05:27] It’s a documentary all about the medical device industry and how there is this murky, unethical underworld where it’s all about basically [Inaudible 00:05:37] instead of focusing on patient outcomes.
And so, all of that kind of came to a head for me, really crystalized post earthquakes here in Christchurch. So I don’t know whether it’s made as much news in Australia that it did over here, but in 2010-2011, we had a sequence of pretty significant earthquakes here. And so, that kind of near-death experience that we all went through I think led to a lot of people in Christchurch reassessing what they were doing or where they were going.
And then, in 2013, my wife and I had our daughter. And that’s again is another mechanism, a birth of a child, or a significant death in a family; so a parent or sibling or someone really close to you. So near-death experience plus significant life event like that can create what’s called a subconscious awakening. And that’s really what I had; it all just came into clarity, “What am I doing? Why am I working for these big companies that kind of say they care about fixing people, but actually all they care about is making money?”
And there’s something going on and I don’t want to be a part of that because now I kind of understand who I am and who I could be in a lot deeper way. So that kind of led me on a bit of a journey to go and work out, “Well, is this just me? Have I turned into a bit of a crazy weirdo? Or have I seen something here that needs to be changed?” And that ultimately led me on a long journey and it’s a journey that’s still going on.
But through that, I discovered B Corporations or Benefit Corporations. B Corporations are, I guess, for-profit businesses that aim to balance purpose with profit. So maximizing the positive social and environmental impact that they’re making while still making money. So when I stumbled across this idea, I said, “Okay, this is it.” And other people have kind of seen that perhaps I wear an insatiable desire for profit or cost is creating some challenges on the side.
And so that was like really reaffirming and I kind of found my tribe. And I thought, “Well, there can’t be one of these in New Zealand.” So I Googled it and I was like, “Damn, there’s two of them in New Zealand. Oh, there can’t be one in Christchurch. Damn it. There’s one in Christchurch.” It’s so cool to be the first one of these in New Zealand.
And then, so I connected with the company that was based in Christchurch, a B Corp called Eagle Protect and I went and booked a sort of 45-minute meeting with their CEO, Steve Ardagh, and he is an amazing human. And I left his office about three hours later with my mind just completely blown. That there is this whole new way of business and commerce and how it can be done in a way that is beneficial for everyone.
And that’s I guess, that’s one of the, what the B stands for in B Corporation is a benefit Corporation. So have a company that creates why the benefits and just primarily as we have done for the shareholders or for the one or two or a small group of people that own the business.
What are some of the elements of a B Corp? I know a little bit about this; something that we are interested in Bean Ninjas and it’s actually on a project list for something that we would love to become as I fit some of the criteria myself. It looks like there’s quite a process that you go through and looks like there’s not just one element, that it’s quite a holistic with the business. I was wondering if you could talk to some of the awesome examples on what a business might need to implement in order to become…What to find purpose in your work? Learn how B Corps can help you do just that with @thegrowgoodco #bcorp #purpose Click To Tweet
Totally. It is a really rigorous assessment and that’s a good thing. In New Zealand, there are other certification systems where you pay your money and you’re a member. You don’t actually have to be doing anything; you don’t have to change any of your cultural behaviour or activities. So that’s what I really liked about it.
The e-course or the certification assesses your business across five pillars. So it’s your governance, which is essentially who owns your business and how transparent is the business. So for example, you would get more points if your business was a worker-owned cooperative and you would get less points if your business is owned by one person. You would get more points if you had a board of directors that was elected by the employees. You get zero points if you have no board or no advisory board.
So I guess, so there’s governance. There’s workers; so how you treat your staff. We’re pretty lucky in Australia and New Zealand that we get a lot of points in that kind of bracket because it’s government/state-mandated. So you know, things like parental leave or sick leave is obviously state-mandated or government-mandated in New Zealand and Australia, whereas in other countries like the US, you’re not necessarily guaranteed of those things. So the workers’ column is looking at how you treat your staff and what benefits they are given and so on and so forth.
And then, there’s your social impact. So how do you interact with the community in which your business is situated? Are you aware of your impact on the community, are you seeking to provide opportunities to your local community, do you buy your supply chain, are you supporting local smaller businesses where you can; things like that.
Then there’s your environmental footprint, which is primarily your water usage and your carbon footprint. And then finally, there’s your business customer model. So how is it you’re delivering your business and for which sort of beneficiary? So if you’re, again, like if you’re an organization who’s, say, working to provide opportunities to a disadvantaged community, you’d get a lot of points in that customer model sector.
And overall, that’s how you’re basically assessed on and you score points for how you answer each question and the aim is you need to get 80 out of 200 points on their assessment total. If you get over 80, then you could click the button and say, “I’d like to go through the process to be audited.” And then once you passed that, if you’re still at 80 points, you sort of pay your certification fee and you’re in.
One thing, I would totally advise anyone listen to this is to go and take the impact assessment test is free. So you can go to take this assessment and look at your business across these five pillars and consider your business through a hole on lenses that you may well not have considered them through, and that’s completely free. It’s only if you actually want to get audited and certified that you need to pay your money.
Do you want to be the first people that do it, take the kudos and know that you did the right thing? Or do you want to be the last people who have to do it?
So I think that’s a really nice explanation of what a B Corp is and some of the criteria. So we go back to your story; so you went and met with the CEO of the one and only, or one at that point, B Corp, in Christchurch and came out mind blown, feeling inspired. And so, what happened next?
Initially, I was still, so I’d exited the world of medical and I basically went on a bit of a mission to go and find work pretty much in any other industry just to see what was going on in the world, I guess. And I ended up falling into working for a firm of surveyors and engineers in the world of I guess professional services in the building industry.
And I took this enthusiasm and I said to the director I was reporting to, like, “Hey, this is a really amazing thing. I think this could be really cool for the business. There’s only two in New Zealand. This is groundbreaking stuff. This would be amazing; our culture and our direction and it’s a real point of difference.” And the board were just kind of like, “No, we’re not interested.”
So that was a bit deflating and then, within me, I’ve kind of always; when I was in the medical sales, they spent a lot of money for a lot of resources into you in terms of training, particularly around sales training. And I guess as part of my journey, I’d always wondered if I’d be any good at training and coaching. And so, I was a bit disillusioned that this professional service wasn’t really aligned with how I was and I’m kind of thinking, “Is this just going to be a continuation of this lack of values and alignment that I was feeling in the medical world?”
And I thought, okay well, the next best step for me is going to be to try this coaching and training staff. So I actually managed to, I guess network my way into an opportunity to do training and coaching; sales training and coaching for a New Zealand-based company. And they were sort of a small family-owned business; really small team and again, I saw a positive B Corp and go, “I think you guys would be a centre of this because you’re doing a whole lot of good. You get back to the community. You are really great to your staff.” But I guess, a small family business is just; it can be quite time and labour-intensive to do the assessment and I think they just weren’t in that space at the time to really do it.
And, so this is 2015. Yeah, it would have been 2015. And I just kind of thought, “You know what? I love this idea of B corp. I’m telling everyone else they should go and do it. But I’m not doing it.” And so late 2015, an opportunity arose that we’re actually, few of us got made redundant from the training company and I just thought; I think at that time I was maybe 38 or maybe a bit less; and I just thought, “If I don’t give my own business a go now, I’ll never do it because it’s just not going to happen.”
And so, that was how I initially started out, just offering sales training and coaching support for other B Corps and businesses for good, because my theory in it is what’s my contribution and if I can take all the skills and everything I’ve been taught and everything I’ve picked up in a 12/13-year career of sales and marketing, if I could take those skills and give them to the businesses that are trying to change the world, that seems to be a pretty good place to start. And so, that’s where I started.
Wonderful. And so, because there was only a couple of B corps in New Zealand at the time, was it a challenge to find those first few customers? Or as the time went on, there was more and more of these businesses that you were able to help?
Yeah. I mean, for sure, initially, there wasn’t that many; that is for sure. And to a degree, with my first few clients, they weren’t really that purpose-driven. But at the time, it’s like, I guess I had to compromise to a degree just to survive.
I ticked all the boxes for idiocy, really. My wife and I had just had our daughter, so my wife wasn’t working and we just bought a house; we just got our mortgage. And I go, “Hey, Les. Why don’t I start a business in an industry I’ve had years of experience in, fundamentally, in a market that’s non-existent.” Yeah, don’t do that, kids.
But it sounds like it’s worked out well, so; and you mentioned in the beginning, sometimes you didn’t, you needed to work with businesses that weren’t always purpose-driven. And what are things like now? Have you felt that that market has expanded? It definitely feels like there’s a growing trend towards people wanting to run or work for purpose-driven businesses.
Totally. I still do a good amount of work with; I mean, I’m definitely much more selective now. I know my businesses for over four years down the line, so obviously got a bit more; I have more profile. People kind of know me a bit more. I mean, that was something, when you’re going out on your own and, “Hi, I’m me. You don’t know me and I think I’m pretty good at training. Would you like to pay me some money to come and train your team?”
There was so much going on; the impostor syndrome starting your own business. Some people have paid me money but I don’t know anything, they’ll notice already. There’s all that kind of stuff. I probably still spend a large amount of my time working now with businesses for good and helping them with their skill development. But there is a growing interest in the purpose side of things.
I kind of thought where we are now, it’s going to be this time last year, but I guess I’ve just been ahead of this curve the whole way. I mean, just last night, I was in Palmerston North, just having a talk there with the Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with another B Corp that’s based just outside Palmerston North. So Palmerston North is like at the lower North Island of New Zealand. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been, they wouldn’t have rung me and say, “Hey, can you come and do this?”
So the conversation’s getting there but I think we’re still; I guess it’s like the second world, a phony war. It’s not really kind of happening, but there’s people I’ve been dealing, there’s some kind of intent. That being said, I did hear from a mate of mine on the weekend who; he just left a very large New Zealand company; one of the biggest. And they have just put that certification through.
So there or thereabouts. But it’s not the main dominant framework yet, but it’s coming. And I think the thing people have got to realize, I’m going to totally pull for this phrase, a good friend of mine, Michael [Inaudible 00:17:03] as he says, “This stuff, you’re either going to get there by conscience or by consequence. So you’re either going to do this because it’s the right thing to do. Or you’re going to have to do it because all your other competitors have done it. And do you want to be the first person that does it and take the kudos and know that you did the right thing? Or do you want to be the last people who have to do it?”
That’s a great one putting it. So I’m interested in your thoughts on growing your business. And one of our audience are either early stage in growing their own businesses or they’re wanting to take that leap and start a business. And you talked about that example of a year or two ago, you might not have been invited to speak at that event, but you’ve been working on growing your profile.
So what was some of the things that work for you when you were building your network and your profile related to helping you grow your business?
Totally. I am a big believer in the use of LinkedIn. I think that’s such a powerful tool to be able to share messages and consolidate your thinking and reach out to people who share you’re thinking and connect with people and so test your ideas. And by doing that, you can kind of build your profile and build awareness for who you are.
I kind of feel like in the world, I meant, so training, coaching, consulting; in many ways, there’s a lot of that profile-building just comes from doing what you do. And the more you do what you do, the better you get at doing it and the more people go, “Oh, I’ve heard of you. We want to have a conversation.”
I guess I still primarily rely; I mean, my background is in sales, so I kind of use the sales hammer the most. So I have no fear in just cold-calling a company and say, “Hey, I love what you’re doing. I specialize in helping train companies like yours. Can I have a conversation?” So I kind of rely on that rather than not the marketing hammer of too much from that side.
So I have reflected on this a few times, it’s like, I’ve done some work with some pretty large companies in New Zealand; so I’d say large NZX 50, NAZ stock, they’re still relatively small. But in the context of who I could work with here, I’ve done some work with some pretty big companies. I look back and go over four years ago, “Could I have done what I’ve done for them today four years ago?”
And I don’t think I could’ve. I think there is an element of you have to do, you have to sharpen the sword, you have to go through the process of developing and owning your content before you get to a level where actually, it’s respectable enough that you can offer to clients deserving of it.
I don’t say my early-day clients weren’t deserving, but I look back at the content and the style of what I’ve delivered four years ago, and I literally go, “I can’t believe people paid me money to look at that. It’s awful.”
If you’re going to be in business for yourself, why not be the best person that you can be, in the best organization, because that makes life meaningful.
It’s funny you say that. That relates to something that I’ve been working on. So I recently launched a second version of the Financial Literacy Training Course for Bean Ninjas and I’ve been working on it for a year and a half. And so looking at the way that I put some of that content, back then, compared to now and how I’ve thought, or even with feedback, you’ll learn more actually, that there’s a better way…
…In that concept, and actually section B should be going before section A to make it all make sense.
Exactly that. And so, one of the other big things for me was, this is like a two-edged sword. Sometimes, you just think everyone knows what you know because it’s in your head and you are kind of like; I think someone said to be an expert on a topic, you need to read ten books on it. So if you love the thing that you’re promoting and all about, if you’ve read ten books on it, you’re probably on the top 1% of experts globally on that topic.
But because you’re in that bubble, you kind of go, “Well, Meryl must know all this stuff because I know this stuff.” So you kind of made me don’t push message or the idea that you have because you think, “Well, no one wants this because they all know this stuff.”
But then, the other side of that is you get so far down the rabbit hole of knowledge on that topic that you forget what people do and don’t know. You start maybe delivering content at such a high level that people just go, “Oh, I have no idea what you’re on about,” because you kind of then presume that everyone does know at that level. Does that make sense?
It does. Because you’ve had some of that knowledge in your own head for so long.
You make that assumption that everyone else has that.
So we’re coming to the end of the podcast. So two final questions for you. One is whether there’s anything else that you wanted to add or expand on from what we’ve talked about. And then, the second question is that I know that you have an e-book that our listeners might be interested in and I was wondering if you could describe more about what it’s about and also, where to find it?
Totally. I’ll probably do the second question first if that’s alright. I guess this is a prime example of me, maybe thinking that people know why they should convert their business to be more purpose-driven, but it’s not a necessarily obvious thinking point or idea. And so, I sort of sat down probably three or four evenings and thought, “If I write this down and make it a little e-book, that might be useful.
So I wrote an e-book called “The Why & the How of Business for Good”. So I guess the beginning part is all the evidence for business for good or purpose-driven business and there’s literally no account to evidence to say that you shouldn’t do this. All the statistics on employee engagement, productivity, profitability, it’s just been the right thing to do, morally, spiritually. Like, it will make you a better human in better business. There’s no reason not to do it.
And then the second part of it is really just some beginning thoughts about how can you start connecting to understanding where the good is in your business already because every business is doing something good, in general. And it’s just a matter of trying to find those little nuggets. So yeah, you can get a hold of that through my website and I’m sure we can put a link in the podcast.
In terms of anything else to cover, I mean, the whole purpose in meeting stuff is a tricky subject and I think a lot of people don’t want to go there because it maybe is a bit confronting, but the more and more research I do, and this is starting to pull together ideas and philosophies that have been around for thousands of years. If you don’t go and confront the stuff you don’t want to confront, you’re ultimately not going to have the best business and be the best human that you can be. And if you’re going to be in business for yourself, why not be the best person in the best organization that you can be because that kind of makes life meaningful.
You’ve articulated that really nicely. Well, Tim, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It’s been really great chatting with you.
Thanks for having me. And the next time you’re over in New Zealand skiing, let me know.