by Carl Hourihan
One February 13th, GreenHomeNYC hosted Jacquelyn Ottman for a workshop on Telling Your Sustainability Story.
Jacquelyn is an internationally recognized expert on green marketing and eco-innovation and author of five award-winning books, including The New Rules of Green Marketing. She is the founder of Ottman Consulting, which has guided strategy for over sixty Fortune 500 companies, the EPA’s Energy Star, and the USDA’s Certified Biobased Labels. Jacquelyn writes and blogs for her sites wehatetowaste.com, greenmarketing.com, and contributes to the Huffington Post. She is also a certified Zero Waste Professional and is the Residential Recycling Committee Chair on the Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) committee to the Manhattan Borough President.
Jacquelyn offered her insights, as well as provided activities for attendees to participate in order to help everyone understand how to tell their own stories, whether it be for their job search or over-arching careers. She stressed the importance of telling a story to demonstrate our credibility rather than a grocery list of accomplishments and qualifications.
In small groups, we worked on finding personal motivations for building our careers in sustainability and identifying our individual expertise that relates to our sustainability goals. Additionally, she highlighted the need to tell people something that will make them both remember and believe your story. One example she provided was from her childhood, being teased by siblings as ‘Junkie Jacquie’ and later becoming her high school recycling coordinator. Following our history in sustainability, she asked that we think of something we do in our day-to-day lives that relates to our interests in sustainability in order to portray our passion.
Jacque encouraged us to remember that our stories are not written at once, but that they unfold over time. Considering this we were asked to come up with what the logical next steps are, and how those can be achieved. Finally, she encouraged all of us to be weird, to be ourselves, and to make bold claims while telling people our stories in order to convince them of our passion.
At the end, we left with a handy guide and experience to help tell our sustainability stories. Don’t believe me? Well, let me tell you about some high school ski club trips that were canceled because it was 70°F in February and the trails were nothing but dirt. I was so angry and decided that something really needs to be done about this whole global warming thing…