How did a small girl and a Harvard professor turn a property developer into a stealth greenie?

Darren Pearson of Diversified Property Group started as a conventional property developer building project homes.  He’s become a “stealth player”, integrating products from leading edge innovators to deliver smarter, greener homes in Sydney, Australia.

He credits his mid-course correction primarily to two people:

  1. A Harvard professor in his global business group
  2. His small daughter

The Harvard professor challenged him to do more than survive the global financial crisis – she wanted to know what he was doing to make the world a better place.

His daughter was more direct – she stopped speaking to him when she found out his company was knocking down all the trees on their conventional development sites.

The right combination of influences (and influencers) made some magic.

The persuasion game isn’t about logic…

Recently, a global campaigner for sustainability announced that he was going back to pushing the fear button, not just talking about the very real benefits and advantages of sustainability.

He may be right – that we need the stick as well as the carrot in creating behaviour change.   I’m not convinced of the usefulness of fear – but I am convinced that influencing is a game of emotional intelligence.

Whichever way we message, it’s worth letting go of the worn out assumption that “business is rational”.    To me, we’ll get a lot further when we study smart entrepreneurs and find out their core motivators and underlying values.

Who’s the smartest entrepreneur in your world?

Who does that person listen to as being important?  How could you go about influencing them more effectively if you gave up on “logic”?

Would you get more mileage out of your sustainability efforts if you focused on what would hook their emotions into the opportunity side of sustainability?