Arriving at the B Corporation Champions Retreat in Los Angeles.

Tell me if this interaction sounds familiar. You’re at the dentist:

Dentist: It doesn’t look like you’ve been flossing much.
You: (hangs head in shame), you’re right, I haven’t.
Dentist: Well, flossing is the number one… blah, blah, blah.
You: (goes back to not flossing).

Certainly, this conversation is familiar to me. But once upon a time, my dentist pulled a 180 on me. It went like this:

Dentist: hey, your gums are looking pretty good!
Me: (shocked, confused): really? Wow.
Dentist: (encouragingly) yes, truly, they’re doing good. Now, if you can bake in a small amount more flossing than you’ve been doing, I think you’ll really be doing great. Really, I’m really impressed keep it up!
Me: (goes home and flosses more, since I was basically not flossing anyway).

Positive. Not negative. Encouraging. Not critical. Supportive, not destructive. What worked so well for me with my dentist just happened for me and many others at the B Corporation Champion’s Retreat. I attended this great retreat on behalf of 4THBIN last week in Los Angeles. While there, I got encouraged instead of criticized, I got inspired instead of depressed, and I got celebrated instead of attacked.

A presentation covering the Climate Strike at the B Corporation Champions Retreat.

4THBIN has been a certified B Corporation since summer 2012.

Yet just this week, I’ve finally seen the reason. We’ve won two “Best for the World” awards for our contributions to environmental issues, and now I really AM proud of what we’ve done. What changed was that I just came away from our first deep engagement with the B Corporation community as a whole, and I must say, it was very positive. Very encouraging. Very up, not down.

Rather than lament all that is wrong in the world, at the B Corporation Champion’s Retreat all the speakers, topics and sidebars were focused on how they made (or how we can make) things BETTER. Not “here’s why this sucks, and why that guy sucks, and why you suck and by the way, if you don’t want to suck so bad, do this.” No one wants to listen to advice given in that way. Its framed as an attack, and the listener doesn’t have time to get out from behind their emotional fortifications to listen to the speaker’s potentially helpful suggestions. They’ve been ducking shrapnel from the speaker’s opening assault, and they aren’t coming out to listen until the shooting stops!

Instead, the B Corporation community says, “here WAS a problem we identified in ourselves, and here’s how WE worked to fix it internally, look, listen, learn, make suggestions.” That’s positive – and it’s an invitation to review a whole host of problems, big and small, mass market and fringe marginalized use case. All topics were brought to the room with hope, with optimism, and with encouragement.

We have to help save the world, but need our donuts first.

I came away from the B Corporation Champion’s Retreat inspired, ready to look inward at problems we have as a company, problems that exist in our community, problems that exist in our local governments.

But rather than attacking those people and problems, lecturing them about how “they’d better floss or they’re going to be toothless”, I’m going to observe their struggle, understand their needs and perhaps the reasons they’ve made the choices they’ve made to date, and then I will present and live by a better example.

Anyone want some floss now? Let me know in the comments below, I’ll send you some. At 4THBIN, the entire team and organization is always looking at ways to make things BETTER for your business, and for the world.