Bob Willard: How You Can Be a Sustainability Champion

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Bob Willard: How You Can Be a Sustainability Champion

Two weeks ago, I was fortunate to re-connect with a friend and mentor of mine, Bob Willard.  He was kind enough to let me record our conversation to share with those of you following this blog — and I have no doubt that what he shared will make a HUGE impact in your life as an environmentalist.  Read on.

I met Bob at a talk he gave in Des Moines, Iowa in 2009.  Having already read two of his books, I knew that his voice would impact business leaders throughout the state of Iowa — and it did.  We had dinner, and I soaked up everything I could from his whirlwind visit.  Since then, I’ve read 2 more of his books, used his website, and shared his material with countless others.


Bob is an accomplished author and gives hundreds of keynote presentations annually to corporate, government, university, and NGO audiences… applying his business and leadership experience from a 34-year career at IBM Canada to engage the business community in proactively avoiding risks and capturing opportunities… and by using “smart” environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategies.

Check out his full bio here.

He just released a new book, and if you read to the end of this blog, you’ll understand why it’s such an amazing resource for anyone in a business setting.

But first, I want to get directly into material for you — as a reader of this blog who wants ONE THING… to exponentially improve your ability to persuade for the planet.

I credit Bob’s second book with leading me down the path to where I am today — trying to get tools and training into the hands of environmentalists that will exponentially improve their ability to influence others towards more sustainable behaviors.

THE Guidebook
for Sustainability Champions

What do you do… if you aren’t sure how to get other people — in your organization, or your community — as excited about environmental and social opportunities as you are?

Bob answers this question, and discusses how he spent a majority of his time at IBM Canada helping leaders (everyone is a leader) simply be better leaders.

  • What if the decision-makers aren’t attending the workshops, or reading the books, you are?
  • What if you don’t have the position power in your own organization?

For a cheat sheet on how to lead change, listen below… and get your hands on The Sustainability Champion’s Guidebook.

The 7 Steps on How to Lead Change

  1. Wake Up and Decide
  2. Inspire Shared Vision
  3. Assess Current Realities
  4. Develop Strategies
  5. Build the Case(s) for Change
  6. Mobilize Commitment
  7. Embed and Align

The 7 Leadership Practices to Use Along the Way

  1. Get Credible, Stay Credible
  2. Dialogue
  3. Collaborate, Educate, Network
  4. Meet Them Where They Are *
  5. Piggyback Existing Initiatives
  6. Influence the Influencers
  7. Practice “Planful Opportunism”

The 7 Paradoxes to Understand

  1. You Have to Do It Yourself – You Can’t Do It Alone
  2. To Get Hard Results – Work on the Soft Stuff
  3. Motivators Inhibit Commitment
  4. One Person’s Dream is Another’s Nightmare
  5. Go Slow – To Go Fast
  6. Go Small – To Go Big
  7. Things Need to Get Worse Before They Can Get Better

The 7 Derailers to Avoid

  1. Displaying Hubris
  2. Mishandling Office Politics
  3. Being a Problem Child
  4. Failing to Produce Results
  5. Succumbing to Stress
  6. Changing Everything at Once
  7. Getting Off to a Bad Start

I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (4 minutes) to Bob Willard_Champions Guidebook.mp3.


Sustainability Champion's Guidebook

The #1 Mistake
Environmentalists Still Make Today

Is it possible that your passion can get in the way… of your ability to be effective at helping people change their mind?

“Meet them where they are.  Talk their language.  Acknowledge the validity of their current priorities.  And help them connect the dots between what’s already overloading them with work… or priorities on which they are paid… and what we are calling sustainability strategies.”

Can you use sustainability strategies to help others accomplish what they were already going to do?  Or are you giving them one more thing to worry about?

Bob shares how we can ensure that we are relevant to others with our own mission.


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (2 minutes) to Bob Willard_Number One Mistake.mp3

The NEXT Sustainability Wave

“Selling” is Right Up There
With Used Car Salesmen and Prostitution

Do you have a mindset (a limiting belief) about influence… or persuasion… that prevents you from being successful?

I know I did.

“The word ‘sales’ is not an attractive word for a lot of people.  And yet, leadership is 80% selling.”

Bob explains why this is completely normal.  It’s not your fault… but  it is also absolutely critical to address if you want to be effective as a change agent.


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (4  minutes) to Bob Willard_Limiting Beliefs on Selling.mp3

Are You at Risk of Being
A “Car Salesman” Environmentalist?

Do you already know what you’re going to “sell” someone before they show up?

“You should lead with the thing that is most relevant to their mission…  You need to be comfortable having a portfolio  of different dimensions, benefits you can lead with.  And be very selective and strategic with what it is you start the conversation with.”

Bob explains why ethical influence is possible in business… but also in all areas of your life — family, friends, and community.


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (4  minutes) to Bob Willard_Car Salesmen Environmentalism.mp3

What Would Happen If
1 Million New People “Got It” ?

What would happen if you mastered the soft skills… and we shared these types of tools and training with 1 million like-minded environmentalists?

Bob explains how important it is that we:

  1. Meet people where they are
  2. Think strategically about who to influence, and
  3. Collaborate with others

And what a difference that would make.

“We could pull off in 10 years what would otherwise take us 100… And we don’t have 100 years.”


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (5  minutes) to Bob Willard_One Million Champions.mp3

The New Sustainability Advantage

BONUS: Transform Your
Organization With Bob’s New Book

How is the 10th anniversary edition, The New Sustainability Advantage, so much better than the original?

Bob explains how you can simply and quickly photocopy a single 2-page spread and start a meaningful conversation in your own company!  He also outlines how to use his book to influence specific departments in your organization — with the 7 benefits and 7 threats / risks.


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (4  minutes) to Bob Willard_New Book.mp3

Get Extra Help Using Tons
of FREE Resources on Bob’s Website

Is the material you use to influence others — not only relevant — but current?  Out-of-date facts can really turn people off.

Bob explains all the FREE ways that he works to get relevant and current information into the hands of sustainability champions.  His website — — is chock full of them.  Listen below to learn more.


I apologize if your browser won’t play this Audio plug-in.  Please click here to listen (5  minutes) to Bob Willard_Website.mp3



Adam Hammes is the executive director of the Iowa Sustainable Business Forum, a consultant, author, and motivational speaker. He specializes in helping businesses and sustainability professionals with environmental and social performance.

Check out Adam's new book on Amazon, Audible and Kindle: Sustainable Business in Iowa.

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