Michael Potts, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute, spoke to a group of University of Washington students in all fields – business, engineering, public affairs – about solutions for a renewable energy future.
He addresses energy efficiency, building efficiency, 21st century electric cars, trucks, planes – and gives success stories such as a recent project to retrofit and “green” the Empire State Building in New York City, which resulted in both money and energy savings.
Watch this 15-minute video of highlights from Potts’ lecture.
Former Starbucks executive Christine Day became Lululemon Athletica CEO in 2008 and has turned the under-performing athletic clothing retailer into a near-billion-dollar company. Lululemon’s business is as healthy as the lifestyle the brand supports and customers who buy its yoga and exercise gear. Aside from clothing quality, Day believes in sharing profits, supporting employee life goals, partnering with communities and providing a unique store experience for guests.
At a sold-out lecture on University of Washington campus in spring 2011, Day shared insights of her Lululemon leadership philosophy and strategy with Foster School of Business alumni, faculty and students. Lululemon is bucking the recession using a steady growth model centered on customers, community and staff.
Greg Gottesman, managing director at Madrona Venture Group, spoke to UW Foster School of Business alumni and students about his tips for finding (or leading) a great company or organization.
He blogged about 13 characteristics of a great start-up culture on TechFlash recently and expanded those concepts in a lecture with anecdotes and examples, recommending people consider corporate or start-up culture before taking a job or launching a new venture.
Here are his 13 cultural characteristics of great culture:
No politics – Give credit where credit is due. Be genuine about it.
It’s not a job, it’s a mission – People can work for competitors or jump ship anytime, but companies that foster a culture of a strong mission do best to attract and retain great employees.
Intolerance for mediocrity – Everyone pulls their weight well at all levels; there is excellence in each role and companies repel or naturally weed out those who aren’t comfortable succeeding or excelling.
Watching pennies – Leaders and senior managers treat company assets as carefully and thoughtfully as they would their own personal assets; waste is not tolerated.
Equity driven – Stock options or other non-cash value helps grow businesses for the long term.
Alignment – Everyone is on the same page. Strategy is clear. Like a well-tuned sports team, people all work toward the same goal vs. individual heroism.
Good communication – Even in bad times, communication remains strong; over-communication is even more critical in times of difficulty (i.e., an executive leaves, a key client departs, company is hacked)
Strong leadership – Lead by example and maintain a positive attitude. Leaders boost their own morale and those around them as they set the tone for the whole company.
Mutual respect – Hierarchy may exist, but everyone is respected for their contributions. “Wins” are celebrated together, regardless of title or department.
Customer obsessed – The customer is always the most important asset. Gottesman emphasized this may be the most important characteristic of an organization.
Energy – Good energy permeates across the company and is almost tangible.
Fun – Never underestimate the power of a good start-up that knows how to have fun. Particularly when first in start-up mode, he’s often seen companies that thrive on early-stage activity where employees work hard and play hard.
Integrity – Great companies have an internal sense of doing things the right way. They spend the extra effort to create value that will outlast their own job or time at the company (i.e., documenting code).
Watch video excerpts from Greg Gottesman’s talk on culture.
Wind power. Natural gas. Hydro power. Solar power. When Puget Sound Energy President Kimberly Harris spoke with University of Washington Foster School of Business alumni, students and faculty about clean energy recently, she was also speaking with her customers.
Puget Sound Energy is the 2nd largest owner and operator of wind power in the United States and the utility’s Green Power Program was named one of the US Department of Energy’s “top 10” renewable energy programs in the nation. The Washington-based company continues to look for new ways to address energy efficiency, smart grids and power Washington residents and businesses with heat and electricity. While offering a public service and being heavily regulated, Puget Sound Energy also operates like a business, focusing on customers, return on investment, return on energy, operations management and technology innovation.
What challenges and opportunities face our energy suppliers? How can we as consumers, communities and businesses contribute to clean energy and energy efficiency? What is the future of energy? Watch this 7-minute video of excerpts from Harris’ clean energy lecture.
Rich Barton is executive chairman of Zillow, chairman of Glassdoor, chairman of new venture Travelpost, board member of Realself (started by CEO Tom Seery, Foster MBA 2000) and involved with numerous other start-ups.
Watch a condensed 12-minute version of his guest lecture: