Episode #3: Solitaire Townsend - positivity and its power to change the world

25 September 2018

Solitaire Townsend of Futerra

Solitaire Townsend is an entrepreneur, sustainability expert and author of ‘The Happy Hero - How to change your life by changing the world’. She co-founded the change agency Futerra in 2001, one of the first sustainability agencies in the UK, through which she has advised governments, charities and major corporations like Danone and Nike. From humble beginnings, Futerra now has offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Mexico City and Stockholm.

She has been a TEDx speaker, and has written for the Guardian and the Huffington Post. She was named ‘Ethical Entrepreneur of the Year’ in 2008, is a member of the UN Sustainable Lifestyles Taskforce, and a London Leader for Sustainability.

Soli’s book could almost be seen as a manifesto for this podcast, all about the powerful evidence that becoming a change maker is something that makes life better and more fulfilling, as well as making a difference to society. In this interview, we get into the detail of how Soli’s own life was changed dramatically by one catalytic moment, and how positivity in the face of big problems is the most powerful element you can have at your disposal.

Show notes

How the world was a very different place for the 11-year-old Solitaire, and how a humble flyer transformed it completely (2:10)
Having been inspired by success, how the support of some good people helped Soli to take the next steps (6:58)
How Futerra went from an idea for a one-off project through to becoming a thriving business (9:22)
Lessons learnt leading a company when you’ve not gone the traditional route to getting there (11:17)
Solitaire’s personal purpose, and the fact that people find it difficult to hear (16:40)
Having worked with some of the best companies, how far have we really come in our journey to sustainability? (18:06)
What are the emerging trends in business and sustainability? (20:15)
Why the UN Sustainability Development Goals have become so helpful, even though they’re far from perfect (22:30)
What inspired Soli to write the Happy Hero? (26:48)
Coping with the process of writing a book when it’s not something you naturally enjoy doing (30:15)
The core focus of positivity was obvious from the beginning, but the research gave it a huge added dimension (31:12)
Dealing with the reality that many of the campaigning community are anything but optimistic (33:18)
Why the vegan movement is an example of the difference between negative and positive energy, and the powerful symbol that came through Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech (35:51)
The damage done when the change movement is dismissive of the small steps that people take (39:42)
The crisis curve and its role in creating the conditions for change (41:00)
The three things that can happen once you reach the crisis point (43:21)
How close are we to making the wrong choice, fuelled by polarisation and negativity? (46:58)
“It’s all going to be okay” can be the most powerful message (50:25)
One practical change Soli would aim to bring about before hanging up her campaigning gloves (52:26)
What advice would she give to the younger Solitaire? (52:40)
The impressive change maker that has inspired Soli the most (54:05)
What mistake has Soli made that led to a positive outcome or personal growth? (55:33)
The thing that Soli believes that others thing is wrong (57:33)
One of Soli’s favourite books (59:18)
What advice would Soli give to young would-be change-makers who are just beginning the journey? (1:00:36)

Soli on twitter https://twitter.com/greensolitaire

Futerra -  https://www.wearefuterra.com

The Happy Hero https://amzn.to/2NWyzID

A town like Alice – Neville Shute https://amzn.to/2zpmfbB