On the Net Impact Conference 2009: Brianna Bain

Wow, what a conference this year. If you haven’t been before I would definitely recommend it. From the myriad of inspired students and professionals, amazing panelists and key note speakers to mingling after the conference with people who have traveled from across the nation and from other countries, my conference weekend will not soon be forgotten.

The highlight of the weekend for me was the closing Key Note panel . It included Seth Godlman- CEO of Honest Tea, Jeff Furman- Board Member of Ben and Jerry’s and Lisa Lorimer- Founder of Vermont Bread. Their discussion topic was focused on maintaining their social mission while growing to scale, labeled “selling up or selling out”. I was in total awe during this discussion, these three have taken bold strides that to the traditional social driven eye would seem suicidal or at least against all underlying social missions. Once given the chance to explain their
strategic moves, it was clear to me that they are in a sense truest from of change maker. They risk their brand identity to further spread the breadth and depth of their mission and only accepted deals that would allow them to maintain control and ability to to stand for what they believe in. I think too often deals like this are seen as signing your soul over to the devil, but if the devil owns the #1 largest distributing company to spread your product and mission to otherwise unreachable markets, you have the opportunity to have the conversation of why high fructose corn syrup is not in your product as sales steadily climb, while never actually selling any part of your soul, I’d say go for it. Some might say “They” (the big guys) sold out to these social mission power houses. A very good sign! The most sustainable/efficient action is to use what structure is already in place rather than fight against it and
this exactly what they have done.

What an inspiring, eye opening weekend!

-Brianna Bain
Net Impact member since 2008


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