B Team Leader David Crane sits down with us to answer a few questions:
What inspires you?
For the past few years as I have shifted into that phase of life when you have a responsibility to mentor younger people. In that regard, I have been very lucky. I have been inspired by my contact with the legion of young people rising out of school and into the ranks of business, NGOs and government with a burning desire to make the world a “cooler” place – literally.
Which B Team challenge or initiative are you motivated by most, and how is your company/organization helping to lead on the issue?
Clearly, the Net-Zero by 2050 Initiative. In the face of government passivity and meek-to-no leadership on the climate issue, it is up to nongovernmental entities and institutions to take the lead and corporates, for the most part, have more resources to lead with impact than do other type of nongovernmental institutions.
What convinced you to take on this challenge? Why do you believe that it cannot be achieved without business engagement and leadership?
I have spent my career in the electricity business – a business that produces a boring product of great disinterest to the vast majority of people. So we, in the power industry, motivate ourselves by ascribing enormous value to the fact that electricity underpins almost every element of modern society from health care through education to virtually every form of wealth creation and, as such, could be considered a noble calling. When you wake up one day, as I did sometime in 2006, and recognize that a side effect of producing electricity – your noble calling – is that your industry is the largest single contributor to the melting of the earth, then you have a moral imperative to act.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned on this journey?
Some people “lean in” to long term problems of breathtaking complexity and potential dire consequences, like global warming, but the great majority of people would rather look away from the problem. Our struggle is to get more of that first kind of people into leadership positions, which is difficult since their views make them less likely to be embraced by the passive majority.
What is the first thing you read every morning?
These days, the news cycle out of Washington is relentless and mostly negative from my perspective, so the first things I read when I wake up are Politico and CNN to make sure the world I have woken up to in the morning is the world I left when I went to sleep the previous evening.
What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur seeking to start a new company today?
Just do it! Unlike when I was young, there is no business discount on being young. Yet I think the same family/cash flow pressure that has inhibited personal risk-taking during the family-raising years is likely to remain the same even for the millenials, so they should do it now!
If there is one big change you could make in the world today, what would it be?
The easy answer would be to wish for a change in the prevailing politics which have caused such illogical and counterproductive outcomes in the US and the UK in the past year, but it would be better to focus on the underlying societal pressures that have led to those outcomes. Over my lifetime, we have seen the greatest wealth creation and technology change the world has ever known but, instead of benefitting all people to varying degrees, it has benefitted some people to an almost unconscionable degree and has left many of the remaining disenfranchised and profoundly worried about what the future will bring to them and their children.
If you were given an extra day next week, how would you spend it?
White water rafting with The B Team.
What one thing would you change to help more companies go further, faster, towards sustainable business?
I would centralize clean energy procurement at a very high level of the company. Indeed, if I could do anything imaginable, I would have myself vested by the CEOs of the Global Fortune 100 with responsibility for all of their collective energy procurement worldwide, with the mandate to make them all 100% carbon free within five years. The changes you would see in the way energy is produced would be remarkable! Transformation of the way we live, when it comes to an enabling commodity like energy, has to be demand-driven.
This interview is part of a new series to help you get to know the B Team leaders, what they are working on and what they are passionate about. You can read Richard Branson’s interview here, Yolanda Kakabadse’s interview here, Sharan Burrow’s interview here, Bob Collymore’s interview here, and expect a new one each month.