'Can Business Save the Earth?' and why everyone has a key role to play

50) BW Michael-Lenox-of-Can-Business-Save-the-Earth-on-Green-Dreamer-Podcast-with-Kaméa-Chayne.jpg

Considering that a lot of our environmental, social, and public health issues today are driven by irresponsible business practices, how can we turn this around so that we can collectively use the power of business for good? In spite of knowing what we need to preserve our clean water, clean air, biodiversity, and healthy ecosystems, why is it that we still have resistance against these fundamental, shared human needs? 

Michael Lenox, Co-Author of Can Business Save the Earth?, Taylor Murphy Professor of Business Administration, and Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, shares his wisdom with us. Let's dive in.

This is a conversation on Green Dreamer Podcast with Kaméa Chayne, a show exploring environmental and intersectional sustainability from ideas to life. Subscribe to Green Dreamer on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or any podcast app and let’s learn what it takes to thrive in every sense of the word!


[2:20] What first inspired Michael's passion for the environment. 

[3:45] Kaméa: "What's been your biggest frustration with our current ways of going about environmentalism?" 

[5:21] One thing about inspiring systemic change through business that most people don't understand. 

[5:41] Michael: "Markets and business are the most powerful institutions we've ever invented, and they can be a real catalyst for change and innovation. We have an opportunity—if we unlock that power—to invent the future that we need."

[6:26] Kaméa: "What's something you've changed your mind about over the years when it comes to sustainability solutions?" 

[8:12] Kaméa: "What are some of your top pieces of guidance for helping our sustainability-driven businesses and ventures thrive today?" 

[8:52] Michael: "You have to have some vision of where you're trying to go and what you're trying to achieve... You might pivot from that, but it's a good idea to always have a vision of what that might look like." 

[9:56] What motivated Michael to write his book. 

[10:26] Michael: "The book is about how the system as a whole, and all the stakeholders in that, have a role to play here." 

[11:42] Michael's biggest lightbulb moment while writing his book. 

[11:36] Kaméa: "Between consumer awareness, changes in business, and changes in public policy, is there one that has to come first in order for the others to follow?" 

[14:25] Michael: "How we ultimately make progress on these issues is by everyone doing what they can do to try and move that system forward."

[14:58] Michael's thoughts on the politicization of technology, economic development, and job creation with regard to sustainability. 

[17:14] The importance of helping those who have been negatively affected by eco-technology (like those who work in the coal industry). 

[17:55] Kaméa: "What can we do as individuals to support these big changes? 

[18:58] Kaméa: "What are some common mistakes you see from sustainability-driven entrepreneurs that hold them back from thriving?" 

[23:28] Michael's thoughts on what it takes to inspire people to take this information and apply it to their lives.   

Keep in Touch

Michael Lennox


To follow: MIT's Technology Review

Words of inspiration: "My kids." 

Health tip: "Work out." 

Green tip: "Eat less beef." 

Element of hope: "Ingenuity and my students' passion and action." 

Words of Wisdom: "Don't get overwhelmed by the scope of the problems we face."   

Two Takeaways