Articles — Alan Webber
Using strategic social responsibility to create business opportunities
Fast Company Co-founder: Launching a Social Responsibility Discussion—A Primer
from Acronoym, a site hosted by ASAE
Recently, Susan Sarfati, CEO & president of the Center for Association Leadership, and I spoke at different times with Alan Webber, better known as the high-energy co-founder of the very hip business magazine Fast Company when I got an opportunity to chat with Alan myself, so I asked him how association leaders can begin effective discussions of one of the biggest and coolest business changes of the past 20 years: the use of strategic social responsibility to create business opportunities while benefiting society and the planet.
From afar, America resembles a 2nd-rate power
Hints of our diminished state can be seen in our paranoia, our swooning U.S. dollar and our untidy airports.
By Alan M. WebberA not-so-funny thing happened last month while I was on a business trip to Austria and Sweden: My country started to resemble a second-rate power. I saw it in three different places — at an international conference at the Benedictine Abbey at Melk in Austria, at a quiet public square in Stockholm and at the Los Angeles International Airport, when I got home.
At the Austria gathering, the Waldzell Institute held its annual meeting aimed at the spiritual development of society. The theme on the stage with the Dalai Lama was legacy, but the conversation among participants during breaks turned to America. The questions came not as accusations, but as laments: "What's the matter with your country?"
The Europeans who come to this conference are worldly people who track what's happening globally with an impartial eye. To them, China's growth and dynamism is the most compelling story of the 21st century. "Dynamism" was the sort of word people once used when talking about the United States. Now, they watch us like rubberneckers driving past a car wreck. "You used to be such a great country," they say. "Not even a country. What happened to the great idea that once defined America?"
'All War is Local'
by Alan WebberI'm living now in Santa Fe, a lovely city of some 70,000 people far from the media glare of the Boston-Washington corridor, which was my home for more than 20 years. About a month ago, I flew back to Washington to spend a weekend with an old friend, Larry Smith.
Larry is originally from an Indiana town even smaller than Santa Fe, as he likes to remind me. But Larry's career in Washington has been anything but small-town. His résumé includes a stint as chief of staff to then-senator Gary Hart, a leadership role in rethinking the country's nuclear and military strategies, a position as counselor to two secretaries of Defense, and a key position nurturing Business Executives for National Security, a non-profit designed to bring the tools and resources of business leaders to the hard work of dealing with today's issues of global terror and national security.
When I settled down in Larry's Capitol Hill home, newspapers read and discarded on the coffee table between us, he gently asked, "So, how's the Iraq war look to the good folks out in New Mexico?"
The Future of the Future
By Alan WebberWhen more than 700 business leaders, entrepreneurs, cultural leaders, and elected officials open the Toronto Artscape conference on September 30, the topic will be global cultural change. Speakers and attendees will address the vital importance of creativity and innovation, and the need to embrace risk to make change happen. But even more profoundly, those who come to the Toronto gathering will instantly become key participants in an emerging global conversation that is gradually moving to the center of the world’s attention.
From Toronto to Tokyo, from Copenhagen to Chicago, from San Paulo to San Francisco—in virtually every major city in every industrialized country in the world—leaders of business, government, and not-for-profits are preoccupied with the same fundamental question: What do we need to do to compete successfully in the economy of the future?