Rebecca was invited to join a televised 26 minute live debate with Jordan Williams, Dr Oliver Hartwich and Laura O’Connell Rapira which was aired on New Zealand’s TV1 last week.Read More
Currently there is a surge of writing and talk about how we can best support purpose-led investors, entrepreneurs and their companies to scale. In this article I summarise existing approaches and make a case that although they’re helpful, it’s a shift in perspective that may help us more rapidly achieve the outcomes we want. What’s even better is there’s scientific proof that this shift in perspective and intention is in even greater alignment with how our brains are hardwired to work.Read More
‘Social entrepreneurship, or business for good, isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s been around since the industrial revolution. And in Aotearoa, social enterprise has been widely recognised as part of Māori culture for a lot longer.’
“If you go back 150 years ago, a business’ purpose was two- fold,” Rebecca says. “While entrepreneurs wanted to make a profit, many were also driven to serve communities and wanted to provide their workers with resources like housing and affordable food.”Read More
There is no doubt that October 2018 has been a huge month for the climate change agenda. It was a month that made its mark, leaving no doubt that we are in the zone of both great risk and great opportunity.
As the world’s scientists doubled down on their conviction of the magnitude of climate change’s impacts, governments including New Zealand’s own are increasingly signalling changes ahead. A recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that to keep temperatures from rising to disastrous levels, all nations need to instigate radical changes within the next 12 years.
It highlighted a number of impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, coral reefs would decline by 70–90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (more than 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC. Simply put, if ever there was a signal that it’s time to get on board the opportunity train to create breakthrough innovations, or get left behind, then this is it.
We can see the signals of change amplifying across our communities, from the individuals who are grappling with small decisions on whether to ride an e-scooter instead of driving, or order the impossible burger on Air NZ; to the farmers digging deep to understand how best to innovate their business models; to the company boards who are starting to sit up as they see investors moving away from carbon-rich assets by the droves.
As Laura Parker writes in National Geographic: “Until recently, the consequences of climate change were thought to be so far into the future that many people, including those who live in coastal zones, declared they needn’t bother; they’d be long dead by the time catastrophe struck.”
No more. With the impacts of a changing climate increasing, many are now saying that it is not enough that we try to limit further global warming – we must also do far more to ensure we survive it.
That’s also the message from a coalition of major global figures, including former UN head Ban Ki-moon and Bill Gates who in October launched The Global Commission on Adaptation. As stated by Ban Ki-moon, “without urgent adaptation and action, we risk undermining food, energy, and water security for decades to come”.
Less than 24 hours after release of the IPCC’s report, New Zealand’s own Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, addressed the Australia New Zealand Climate Change and Business Conference, sharing what he was able to about our own much-anticipated Zero Carbon Bill, which will set our long-term climate goals and the mechanisms to drive it (such as an independent Climate Change Commission).
The debate is heating up about which are the best technical, economic, and social responses to achieve the formidable challenge. It’s interesting to think about how we can take a systems view to prioritise both our actions and existing solutions for climate change, to those that will give us maximum ‘co-benefits’. This means not just focussing on carbon reduction but including Maturanga Māori approaches, and social and environmental considerations, while giving us the greatest potential to bend the CO2 emissions curve (the infamous hockey stick) down as quickly as possible.
While every one of us has a role to play, there is an urgent need to work as a collective and this means taking the time to synthesise the solutions we already have while taking a humble approach when exploring the large pieces of the puzzle we’re yet to discover. By working through a process to prioritise actions and existing solutions we can truly optimise our mitigation and adaptation pathways. If we can do this, then we have the best chance of minimising unintended consequences of our actions.
What's clear from this month is that the train of change is rolling (and fast) – it’s up to us to jump on board.
The appeal of the buy-one-give-one model has been attributed to people's tendency to most easily connect with individual stories of distress, rather than inequality or suffering experienced by a large group. Psychological research has discovered that people are likely to donate twice as much when told a story of an individual’s suffering, as they are to help “anonymous millions”.
Interestingly, they’re also less likely to donate to an individual when they’re placed within a broader pattern of inequality or deprivation. Purchases being marketed as “benefitting a child in need” accompanied by supporting imagery of the children being “helped” are likely to succeed, as consumers are granted an easy solution to a simplified, individualised, problem.Read More
We had a lot of fun in our first (almost full) team meet celebrating the official Companies Office recognition of our name change to The Lever Room Ltd from Rebecca Mills & Co Ltd. There was fresh Carrot Cake thanks to Ripe Deli, coffee thanks to Billy and Organic Mechanic Kombucha too. Even better than cake and coffee is how excited we all are about our new name and refreshed platform which will help us scale our own impact into the future.
Full TV production crew in my living room. Thrilled and slightly nervous to be part of the five part live and interactive new ambitious series that explores what we collectively want for our future. 'What Next' airs over five nights Sunday June 11 to Thursday June 15 at 8.30pm on TVNZ1. I'll be popping up throughout the show (along with many friends) giving perspectives on the future of our economy, environment and lifestyles. Given the changes taking place in the world it feels like an important conversation. You can join, vote on issues and add comments live at www.tvnz.co.nz/shows/what-next
And...the resulting image capture of the show
A bit taken aback to be profiled as one of the NZ's most inspirational women and as an ambassador for the global Bobbi Brown Cosmetics 'be who you are' campaign, in this piece by MiNDFOOD. In this article I take the opportunity to speak about true definition of beauty and showing up in the world as the authentic pure essence of you. I also talk about one of the more embarrassing moments of my life, the need and ways for women to support each other in business, my ideas for supporting young female entrepreneurs, and opportunities for those driven to create a better more equitable world.
5 lessons from hiking 620km in 24 days, solo, across Northern Spain.
Since completing my solo hike, I have come to believe that these keys are needed to achieve any bold mission at pace. I hope you find them helpful as you step out to achieve your own purposeful goals.
1. WATCH, LISTEN AND LEARN FROM THOSE WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE YOU
Despite what your ego tells you, you are not the first person in the world to attempt what you are attempting…or at least something vaguely similar.
Humans are pretty smart, learn from these other humans, be humble. Think outside the square for those who may have had similar ideas to you, even if this means learning from those who walked the earth many generations ago.
Talk to them, ask good thoughtful questions, and listen to what they say.
If the person you want to speak to is no longer alive, I find it helpful to ask ‘How would ‘insert name of epic human’ approach this mission?’ You may feel silly at first, but actually ask the question, then listen quietly to the answer.
2. GET THE BEST, AND LEAST, AMOUNT OF GEAR FOR THE JOB
Get the best gear for the job, and nothing, and I mean nothing more. To achieve this you will need radical preparation. You can’t afford to have ‘stuff’ that will slow you down, cost you money, distract you in its acquisition, and ultimately be a waste of the planets resources.
Prior to setting off I researched the heck out of what gear was required to keep me safe for the conditions. To be in my backpack, my gear needed to meet the following 5 conditions, without compromise:
Re-usable, ideally beyond the immediate mission
Respectful of nature and people. I prioritized gear that had undertaken a cradle to cradle (full life cycle) approach to design
Respectful of my body
When embarking on an ambitious goal you need to keep your tools lean.
The ‘lean criteria’ listed above is a simple way to filter and prioritise what you might need to take with you.
3. GET A PERSONAL MANTRA OR SUCCESS ANTHEM
When setting out on your mission you will hit barriers you didn’t foresee and that will set you back. It’s easy to spend time wallowing, but what you really need to do is change your internal state, immediately. When you change your state the panic will subside and I promise a solution will come to you.
There were times on my hike when I found myself alone, lost, injured, hungry, at the mercy of mother natures rain and winds and unable to think straight. It happens. Being lost is part of the bold journey into the unknown.
These two practical things helped me rapidly change my state:
1. I got a mantra.
Mine was ‘Just go around’ – it’s shorthand for 'find another way'. I’d repeat it to myself, in an upbeat gentle way, when I needed a way out and couldn’t see it. I’d repeat it sometimes many times a day. The mantra itself isn’t mine per se; I stole it from Seth Godin, who said (in a Tim Ferris podcast) how he uses it with his son.
2. I got an anthem.
Mine was a kind of success theme song, and actually, I had two. Beyonce: ‘Run the World (Girls)’- to strut my feminine power. And, Beastie Boys: ‘Make Some Noise’- big beats and a dance party in my hiking boots. I made sure I could access and actually play this music as part of my emergency first aid kit.
While Beyonce or The Beastie Boys might not be your bag, I suggest you purposefully choose music that feels familiar to you, is happy and that you can easily sing along to. If you keep it for when you really need it, it will have a profound and immediate impact.
4. BE ON GUARD FOR PHYSICAL PAIN, BUT DON’T LET IT TRICK YOU
You’re ability to keep yourself mentally fit and mindful of thought patterns when you are in physical pain are keys to rapid success.
As you set out on your bold mission your mind will be trying to convince you of all sorts of hyped up scenarios. Scenarios that, (if played out) could guarantee your failure. The thing is, most scenarios will be not only false, but they also cause you to obsess about and focus on the WRONG things.
When you're attempting something big, lets face it, a certain degree of pain is inevitable, but it doesn't need to derail you. To get past it you'll need to locate your inner resolve and mix it with a good portion of common sense. I find that when my mind is coming up with stuff like ‘I can’t go on’, ‘I’ll injure myself permanently’, or ‘I’m not built for this’, it’s time to pay attention.
When you first notice any internal chatter around pain keep your wits about you, notice, but don’t dwell on the pain or obsess. If physical pain is enough to stop you in your tracks (even when you aren’t focusing on it), stop IMMEDIATELY and repair what damage you can ...then stop focusing on it and KEEP GOING. Keep going until you can’t physically take the pain anymore, then repeat the cycle.
If you do this I promise you will surprise yourself with both the limits you can handle, and the progress you will make.
5. EMBRACE THE BEAUTY OF NOT KNOWING WHAT LIES AHEAD
Many of the best experiences I had on my hike were those when I was just starting to feel vulnerable or frightened about what lay ahead. There were times where I wondered what the hell I was doing or considered that I must be mildly insane.
Quite often I also found myself unsure of what was happening in any given moment, I couldn’t understand the language and I was in unfamiliar territory.
I find a similar pattern in life, when I am attempting a bold mission, the self doubt driven questions start to bubble up. We feel vulnerable when we don’t what lies ahead. I’ve come to believe it’s a good sign to feel nervous and have a certain degree of self doubt, it keeps me humble, prepared, and on my toes.
If you are questioning your sanity, you are most likely on the right path. Keep walking! and good luck
By Rebecca Mills
“Entrepreneurs driven by purpose always outperform those driven by money”
— Jeff Hoffman
For the longest time, there was a separation between doing business and doing good. The natural path of progression for those who wanted to do good in the world, was to either amass a fortune through traditional business and then become a philanthropist, or to live a humble life, working hard for a dedicated yet resource-constrained not-for-profit, hoping to secure enough funding to provide a helping hand to people or the environment.Read More
TEDxAuckland speaker Rebecca Mills was the founding strategist for Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz's B Team, out to put social good at the heart of business. Here's why she sees New Zealand as an incubator for scalable ideas.
Rebecca Mills comes from a big family. When she was a little girl she would sit under the dinner table and observe everyone, always acutely aware of what was going on around her. When Rebecca was nine years old she remembers Bob Geldof’s Live Aid having a profound effect on her.Read More
Interview: Rebecca Mills: The woman who wants us all to help change the world
One of my favourite things that happened last year was TedxAuckland, one day in August when I sat down in the ASB Theatre in the morning and left eight hours later feeling thoroughly inspired. The best thing about Ted talks is that it's always the speakers you know nothing about that inspire the most. Last year it was Welby Ings and Grace Taylor, both of whom moved me to tears.
The first speakers for this year's event on the 16th of August have recently been announced - and it's the same perfect smattering of the known and unknown that I delighted so much in last year. One of these is the wonderful Rebecca Mills, a sustainability strategist who helped build Richard Branson's world-changing movement - The B Team. Here are her words of wisdom...
Tell us a little about what you do
I build strategies that create a brighter future for people, the planet and profit. I rapidly sythensize data and insights to find leverage points, which when activated result in high impact, transformative and scalable models for individuals, business, cities and entire countries.
What’s the proudest moment in your career to date?
There have been a couple, but most recently being nominated to curate New Zealand’s ‘global shapers’ on behalf of the World Economic Forum. It's a great honour to have received nominations from around the world and it's the first time New Zealand will have a presence in this capacity.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
Who are your biggest influences?
I am both inspired and challenged by the friends and family. My Grandmother Mary Mills continues to influence me every day- she was born at a time when women did not have the opportunities and ability to catalyse real change like we do today. Despite that, she was a thought leader and activist, all the while raising 11 children and working night shifts as a nurse.
What one thing do you think people can change in their daily lives that will help make the world a better place?
I’m going to be controversial here and say eat less meat - specifically red meat. It’s estimated that 14.5% of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions come from livestock – which is more than the contribution from all forms of transport. Beef production makes up 41% of those emissions. Last year, Brazil reported a 28% increase in Amazonian deforestation - 80% of deforested land in Brazil is used for cattle farming. This results in a huge loss of biodiversity. Modern beef farming is also a huge drain on water resources. A 2010 study calculated that it takes 1799 gallons of water to make just 1lb of beef.
If you could have dinner with any three people in the world, living or dead, who would you pick?
Amelia Earhart – I’m fascinated by her life, the mystery around it, and how she came to be the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
Charles Darwin - developing theory of evolution against a backdrop of disbelief and skepticism – that’s cool.
Charles Eisenstein - He’s alive and already a legend.
If you could go back in time, what one piece of advice would you give your 20 year old self?
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Hopefully doing something different to what I am doing now…my ambitious aim is to design myself out of a job within five years. We won’t need sustainability strategists in the future, my dream is that we have the models, mindsets and approaches we need to create a better world built into our DNA.
What can we expect from your talk at TedxAuckland?
To feel confident and happy that together, today - moving as a collaborative system, we can create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.
What other speaker are you most excited to hear from at TedxAuckland?
Rory Steyn – chief of Nelson Mandela’s personal security. What that man must have seen in his time is mind blowing.
What’s your favourite Ted talk at the moment?
Joshua Prager – In search for the man who broke my neck. I had a life changing accident when I was 16,where I lost a lot of skin from my face, fractured my skull and was lucky to walk again. I can relate to the the emotions he raises and mirror he holds towards us about the human condition.