tv Jerry Greenfield Discusses Social Entrepreneurship CSPAN December 20, 2016 8:00pm-8:48pm EST
>> it is now an absolute pleasure of mine to introduce our guest this morning. he is known for a couple of different things for the brand of ice cream that has helped us get through long nights of depression, ben and jerry and help you through that rough spot and help for becoming one of the faces of social interviewership and positive business. and so all the way from vermont, ease help me welcome jerry greenfield. cheers and applause] >> we have t-shirts. o welcome.
be greenfield: wonderful to here. >> thrilled to be here. and last night you were scooping ice cream? mr. greenfield: i was not. ben and jerry has a local franchise scoop job. i was doing a jerry appearance. i was jerry for an hour last night. it was very exciting. >> and there is so much in your story, but i think for many who haven't heard the origins, i would love it if you share it. mr. greenfield: should i talk with you or the audience? just briefly, ben and i are friends from junior high school. we met in seventh grade gym class running around the track where we were the two slowest, fattest kids in the class.
i went to college and rejected from all the medical colleges i applied to and went to three or four colleges, which i dropped out of. he last program ben went to -- ben went to coal debate and skid more and dropped out and n.y.u. and dropped out. he signed up with a progressive program called university without walls. so at university without walls, you don't have to go to class because the world is your campus and you don't have to take tests. you get credit for learning and ben dropped out of there, too. [laughter] mr. greenfield: there is the interviewer that we are looking for, the person that drops out and doesn't finish. ben and i were failing at everything we were trying to do and we decided to open up a
homemade ice cream parlor and thought we would do it for a couple of years and move on to something else. we learned to make ice cream from a $5 correspondence course. we borrowed $5,000 and opened and opened up in burg ton, vermont in an abandoned gas station and essentially had no idea what we were doing. >> i'm going to go to one of the coldest cities in the country and sell ice cream. if somebody pitched you on that today, how would you respond? >> we would respond the same way all the banks responded to when we asked them for money. doesn't sound like a really good
idea. but despite that. >> how did you get past that? mr. greenfield: not only despite that, but in some reason because so ben, the fact that -- & jerry's was a real artistic success as a homemade ice cream parlor. however, it is a very short ice cream season in burlington, vermont. and we were not really sustainable. and we ended up packaging ice cream in pint containers and selling it to local grocery stores and found some other markets to go to. and so it was the idea that we couldn't sell enough ice cream in the summer in vermont to stay in business. so that forced us to look for
other markets. >> from that initial beginning, sales to restaurants and mom and pops and national distribution, there was a point you were no longer two guys in a hand crank maker in a small shop. you were becoming a business interprice. mr. greenfield: we were becoming a business. [laughter] mr. greenfield: we thought we were going to become ice cream guys. and it was shocking to us to haveben and i wanted a little ice cream shop and we wanted to make and scoop ice cream to our customers and when we found ourselves becoming a like ss, we really didn't
it. you know for you guys who are students here of that age, you may have grandparents who lived through the 1960's and read about the 1960's in history books and peace and love and hippies and all that stuff, that was ben and me and we had negative feelings about business. and so we were actually going to get out of the business. and ben ran into a friend of his who convinced him that if there were things we didn't like about business, if we thought of businesses as the entities that took advantage of employees or spoiled the environment or exploited communities and that's the way we saw business clearly, that's who we were, that if we deposit like those things, we could just change it and essentially make our business
anything we wanted it to be. so we made a conscious decision to try to have our business evolve to something that supported employees, supported the community and did not destroy the environment. >> when a lot of especially growing companies run into those transitions of growth, one of the things they need is more money and having that extra level of owners of directors and guiding the path of the business makes it harder to stay on the path they want to stay on. how did you deal with that pressure? mr. greenfield: we were lucky, because we were able toll combine these values that we had with our business along with the raising money. and the way we did it, ben
discovered this law in vermont that said you could raise money from people in vermont just and n the state of vermont so we decided to do that, to raise money from the local community and do it in a way that had a very low minimum purchase from people. so in that way -- we had a minimum purchase of $126 so vermonters could buy stock in ben and jerry at the time. so we found a way to get the local community to become owners of the business so that we dn't have to go to a big financial institution and didn't have to find venture capitalists and we raised $750,000, which was remarkable to us. and at the end of the offering,
percentage of any publicly held company. for you guys out there, in case you are curious, the corporate average for contributions is around 1.5%. we were essentially at five times that. to see if we could make a difference with that much money and we couldn't. that's what we learned. we set up the foundation. and despite giving this high percentage of money to the foundation, the foundation was overwhelmed as all the foundations in the country are. and so, we wanted to think more about if we wanted to have some social and environmental impact and couldn't do it with just the money we could give away, how could we really do it and it was at that point that the real power of the business was in how
we did our business, how we did our day-to-day business activities. >> what does it look like when a company is running a business for profit and still kicking money into the foundation but what are the tradeoffs you have to make to stay on that path? mr. greenfield: that is a good question, stuart, because we had no idea. this is a great thing to know about interviewership or running a business. because there are so many points along the way where you have no idea. you come up to these questions and you just do not know the answer. and so for us, what it meant was trying to figure out the answer and that usually involves trying some things, sometimes they work, usually they don't work and then you go back and try
again. and so we started off by thinking about the normal day-to-day business activities that a business does, whether ingredients, iceing ice cream, marketing cream, doing your finances, that whole range of things. i think there are a lot of businesses now that actually have an advantage in that the core of their business is volved in either producing products or services that have social benefit. we didn't have that. we were making ice cream, which you could make the case that there is a social benefit for ice cream. [laughter] mr. greenfield: little bit of a tough case to make.
you see entrepreneurs in businesses who are starting out as social entrepreneurs, who are trying to meet a social or environmental need. r us it meant going back and re-engineering what we are doing. >> you were able to connect back to you and the core values and you were becoming the face not just of your company and your brand, these iconic best friends from junior high but the face of that social business movement. mr. greenfield: we were one of a sbrurelof of pioneering companies that were pushing the ideas of social responsible business. pat gone yeah is still doing amazing things.
the body shop was doing. stoney farm yogurt. ben and jerry has always been kind of more visible than other companies probably because we make ice cream. and i think the other thing about ben & jerry's, we tend to be fairly outspoken about what we're doing. and that brings up another saying ing issue around doing socially responsible business. because sometimes we would get criticized, you guys are talking about all these things you are doing, aren't you patting yourselves on the back and trying to take a lot of credit. and ben would always say, you need to be willing to talk about what you're doing so you give
consumers a choice to be either supporting this kind of business or supporting a more traditional business. u know, consumers are always supporting one business or another, whether they like it, know it or not. when you are buying somebody's product you are voting with your dollars. >> there are critics saying you are using this pro-social approach to drive customers to your business. mr. greenfield: so, here's another thing to know. i hate to be getting into lessons. whenever you do anything which is not the normal mainstream way to do things, you criticize. that is the nature of the beast. and you are either going to do
the way everybody else does it and not get criticize or raise your own path. and the whole mainstream environment is always pushing you to do things the way everybody else does it. and so for ben & jerry's, we started getting criticized that we were trying to get customers to buy ice cream by talking about doing good things. and we simply said that it's who we are, it's what we do and that yes, it is marketing. yes, if you are trying to be community-based and community- helpful, that helps to market who you are. if you are doing bad things, that markets who you are also. if you want to be honest and
transparent and again you in, that markets your company. >> talk about the ice cream, too for a minute. how about if we stop for a second. are we doing ok? [applause] >> ice cream, you have loyal, loyal customers. iconic flavors. heavy users. s define it as one pint a week. >> you have a lot of heavy users. the flavors, how much was the two of you throwing it in the bowl?
mr. greenfield: ben came up with all the flavors. i allude to it. he is the frurel guy. he is the classic interviewer. oves to try knew things. has always said he would fail at something new than do something that has been done before. a manageable like agenda. i like to be told what to do, put me in the box and i'll do it. ben did everything at the company that was creative sbrurl. he established a social mission and he was outspoken. he came up with all the flavors. ben came up with the big chunks of cookies and candidatees.
ben can't taste and came up with the strongly flavored ice cream. o that's the flavor story. and ben & jerry's has all these unusual creative flavors that other companies weren't willing to make because they are so much more difficult to make. it's hard to put big chunks of cookies and candy into ice cream and for a lot of manufacturers, for those guys thinking of manufacturing out there, a lot of manufacturers make what is easy to make as opposed to what customers want to buy. it's a bizarre thing. >> how did the two of you become the team you did? it's one thing to meet in junior
high but to spend 40 years in business is an incredible accomplishment. how did that happen? mr. greenfield: we are good friends. ben and i have a very similar world view, but we have different he very different skills. ben is very creative. i have in over 40 years never created one flavor. some murmur out there. i used to make the ice cream. i would manufacture the ice cream and scoop the ice cream. and we have a lot of trust and i think that helps. ben did all the sales and marketing and all the creative stuff and i worked on distribution, manufacturing.
and i think i am smart enough to know that when ben came up with the ideas that were pushing envelope of what's on the edge, that it was ok to do. and that has been one hallmark for ben & jerry's over the years, that it has been willing to be on the edge, both on the issueractices and of social justice and some of those stance. >> one thing that we see a lot now with startups is a goal is often to grow the company large enough that it can be taken public or acquired or some combination. you have gone through of those experiences. you have taken your company
public and subsequently acquired . that wasn't your goal. mr. greenfield: when we started, our goal was to do an ice cream shop for a couple of years and and $20,000 a year a piece move on to something else. we talked about becoming cross-country truck drivers together. [laughter] mr. greenfield: we were not looking for a career. >> when that moment arrived and you got this giant multinational corporation that wants to buy ben and jerry, how do you guys respond to that? mr. greenfield: for context of and , we started in 1978 ben & jerry's getting acquired in 2000 and 2001. and we first went public in the
state of vermont in 1984 and we went public nationally in 1985. so we had been a public company for about 15 years. and we were what i would describe as fiercely independent. about 10 years into the business, we crafted a mission statement that had -- that formalized a three-part mission. so there was a product mission, an economic mission and a social mission. and the social mission explicitly talked about using e power of the business to flafely address social and environmental issues. and that was part of the mission nd we actually started doing social impact reports
starting in 1985. so we did those annually. at that point, we were measuring our success on both financial and social impact. 2000, a 19 -- in ompany wanted to come along to purchase ben & jerry's and our response we don't want to be owned by anybody because we were convinced that any acquirer would be committed to the social mission. it was nothing about anybody. we felt like any big company was going to be concerned about the financial bottom line. we tried to find ways to stay independent. ultimately our board decided that the company was offering was compelling. . sold the business
i can just tell you that emotionally for ben and me, it was horrible. and it's been up and down ever since. >> you remain with the company? mr. greenfield: we remained with the company. up until that point we were on the board of directors. when the company acquired us, they set up an independent board that was made up essentially of the board that had been the board of directors and ben and i declined to be on that board and ever since and even prior to then, we have been on year-to-year employment greements with ben and jerry you want to hear my job
description? >> i would love to. mr. greenfield: ben and i work at the company. no responsibility. no authority. that's the deal. [laughter] mr. greenfield: for better or worse, right? and we essentially do whatever we want. in our employment agreement -- lever. is preuni in our employment agreement, it calls for us to provide similar services at a similar level to what we had been doing before. >> nicely said. good job. when you look at the land scape in business today, are you optimistic of both the direction the world is moving in from a positive business point of view,
neutral, negative? mr. greenfield: you know, i think if i had to tell the truth, usually i say optimistic because i think it's a better answer but i'm pretty neutral about it. realistically, the most powerful force in the world is business. it's more powerful than governments. more powerful than religion. businesses pretty much control governments and if you look at r country, businesses have huge impact on elections through unlimited campaign contributions. businesses essentially control legislation through lobbying. businesses control all the mainstream media through
ownership and businesses have huge impact on how we are all treated as employees and consumers. and big business essentially has one goal, who knows what the one goal of big business is. maximize profit, right? d so by and large, oversimplifying, generally speaking what business is trying to make more money. it's not that business is good or evil. businesses are just trying to make money. without s this power regard to social impact, without regard to environmental impact, because it doesn't measure those things. it measures one thing, the
financial bottom line. nd so am i optimistic? i'm optimistic that people who are starting their own businesses or people who are going to work for other picturees have a larger in mind. today t the young people currently going into business are going to change business. >> going back to that moment when you -- let's try to do some things differently and the idea that you get what you measure and it's hard to identify and keep track of those things, a couple of examples to give people a sense of a, the challenge you had. mr. greenfield: so, a few examples, i mentioned ben and jerry look at sources of
ingredients, we came up with an ice cream flavor that uses brownies from a bakery in new york city that are works with people who are formerly homeless or people who are formerly in prison or people who have all sorts of issues and the good news is we have that flavor here ben and jerry sells ice cream. i mentioned to some of the ice cream shops. we have some franchised ice cream shops that are owned and operated by nonprofits, social service agencies. ofthose are some examples trying to integrate into the product or into the sales these social or environmental concerns.
other businesses do a good job of that. one area that ben & jerry's has been unusual in and continues to is speakingnd -- in out about issues. if ben were here, what he would tell you is probably the most powerful thing that business has, is its voice. talk, when businesses people listen, politicians listen, the media listens, because business people -- business people, people like me -- are well respected and well regarded. we are people that know how to meet payroll. we look at a bottom line. we know what is going on, so businesses are looked at. has used itsy's voice to talk about political issues, sometimes controversial
issues. ben and jerry's has been publicly supportive of occupy wall street, which is essentially an anticorporate movement. ben & jerry's has been outspoken about marriage equality. ben & jerry's has been outspoken in campaigning about mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients in food. outspoken about voting rights and voter suppression. imagine, notght everybody agrees with all these positions, so ben & jerry's is actively speaking out on issues that is losing its customers. amazing. [applause] mr. greenfield: why would a
business do that, stewart? >> i know there are folks in the audience who i'm sure have questions. i've had the pleasure of monopolizing you for a few minutes. >> we have a couple of these because we do have ice cream -- can i answer the question first, why would a business do that? it turns out it is not really bad for business. it turns out, has been says, you are never going to get 100% market share. not everybody is going to buy your product or service. it is much more powerful to connect with your customers, with your employees, over shared values of trying to make the world more humane, make the world a better place. if you lose some customers in the process, that is ok. is businessesnt
that are genuine, that are honest. that have some edge. that is what everybody is talking about, right? you want to have edge? stand for something. tell the truth. make it part of your business. >> thank you. >> hi, thank you so much. this talks took some unexpected turns that i really enjoyed. i question his brief. i'm curious about how when you were inquired -- acquired by unilateral, that shaped or re-the mission statement you shared earlier or any conflicts that came up. >> did everybody here the question? it did noteld: reshaped the mission at all, but what that mission is really based on is -- it is based on the people at ben & jerry's and the people within unilever
wanting to carry out the mission. first several years after ben & jerry's was acquired, i think most of the integrating ben & jerry's into the family and making it more like everything else. the social mission was not really as active, and within the last five years, there has been a real resurgence of the social mission. is ceo of ben & jerry's is committed to the values of the company. the ceo of unilever has a real strong sustainability focus, and so to a certain degree, it matters less what is written on the mission statement and it matters much more about
people's commitment to making it happen. >> another one over here. >> hi. it was ruling nice hearing you talk. what is your favorite flavor of ben & jerry's ice cream? [laughter] >> i'm just curious. mr. greenfield: my favorite dream, a americone vanilla ice cream with caramel swirl, fudge covered pieces of waffle cones. within the top five flavors, jerry garcia, half-baked, tonight dough has moved into the top five. i think chunky monkey is close to the top five. and cookie dough always up there. >> we have a few of those today. mr. greenfield: we do, we have cookie go, chocolate fudge brownie, jerry garcia. the sooner we stop talking --
[applause] >> no pressure, but we are going to make this last question. >> [inaudible] i talk about how different flavors really to different things i'm involved in and my personality. i was wondering if you have a flavor you think embodies you or social issue you care about. mr. greenfield: as i mentioned, ben & jerry's currently has a campaign about voter suppression and reauthorizing the voting rights act, which was recently overturned in the supreme court. that flavor is called empowerment, which is a peppermint ice cream with fudge brownies and a chocolate swirl. tell one last -- i will tell one story. i talked about ben & jerry's
using its voice around a product. it was really part of the transition in ben & jerry's of becoming this company that was willing to use its voice and take on issues. so this was probably in the early 1990's. ben & jerry's was coming out with a chocolate covered ice cream bar on a stick. you know, chocolate bar. been wanted to call it a piece pop. pop. a peace this was during the height of the cold war. there was a big military buildup with united states in the former soviet union. been wanted to call this the peace pop and on the packaging, instead of talking about what an indulgent product it was, to
talk about redirecting money out of the military budget and redirecting it to peace through understanding activities, so that people in the united states and soviet union would get to know each other. and as they got to know each other, they would realize that they had the same interests -- wanted to take care of their families, they may be more interested in each other and less interested in bombing the crab out of each other. -- bombing the crap art of each other. then brought this to the company and it was a huge internal debate. we are going to call it a p pop, talking about the military budget, redirecting money -- 1% of the military budget to this nonprofit called 1% for peace, which conveniently was going to be set up by then
and he was -- set up by ben and he was on the board of directors. so people were saying, we're going to be seen as criticizing a government program, unpatriotic, we're going to be seen as -- people are going to boycott the product. they are -- whatever. ben as the and entrepreneur and founder -- all you guys out there, entrepreneurs and founders, you ready for this -- he shoved it down the company's wrote -- throat. [laughter] mr. greenfield: and we did it and nothing bad happened. nobody boycotted the company. sales were fine. even people who did not agree respected that the ben & jerry's was willing to take a stand on an issue that was not in its own
financial self-interest. it was for the common good. that was the big difference. business is always taking political stance. business is a very political animal. it is always lobbying to not raise the minimum wage. business is always lobbying to not add any more environmental regulation. business is always looking out for its financial self-interest. but when business takes a stand for the common good, people stand up and take notice. this is something that is different. that really set ben & jerry's on the path to being a different kind of company. as ben said, soon there after the cold war ended, so it was very successful. [laughter]
say, there are most days i have to say i love my job, and today is one day i especially love my job. on behalf of all of us that put this together, we have something for you. [applause] >> this is where it's at. [applause] >> where do we find ice cream? back in the hallway? head down the hallway, ben & jerry's ice cream is waiting for you. mr. greenfield: i will be hanging out, happy to chat. >> it is called the 1%, 99%
>> coming down. tomorrow night in prime time, former vice president dick cheney and former defense garment secretary talk about the future of the pentagon in the trump administration. on the futureeo of artificial intelligence and cognitive computing. a discussion on how personal data is collected and used by marketers, government, insurance companies, and employers. that is wednesday starting at 8:00 p.m. eastern. here is a preview with leon panetta. period reminded of the
just before world war i when there were a number of flashpoints in the world at that time related to some of the same -- the same challenges that we are facing now -- terrorism, failed states, territorial's disputes -- territorial disputes, and fragile alliances. and actually, failed leadership. the inability to deal with those challenges. anyone of those things -- failure to deal with those created the result of world war i. we are living in that period where there are a lot of flashpoints. the new administration is going to have to look at that kind of world and obviously defined policy that we need in order to deal with that. but then, developed the defense policy to confront that kind of world. the biggest problem right now is that -- in line with what dick
said -- you cannot have a strong defense. can talk about all the things you want to do in terms of the defense budget, but the reality is, you cannot do any of that unless congress agrees to a budget and provides some certainty as to where the hell we are going. announcer: you can watch leon panetta and dick cheney talking about the department of defense under president-elect donald trump tomorrow night. then, ibm ceo on the future of artificial intelligence and the discussion on how personal data is collected and used. it starts at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. now a panel of women entrepreneurs talk about technology, innovation, and the need for diversity in silicon valley. we will hear from the cofounder of the tech company cloudflare. the computer science museum in mountain view, california posted this event. posted this event -- hosted
this event. >> the history of computing and entrepreneurship in silicon valley are so connected in so many ways that it is hard to tell them apart. we are living through a transformational time, some have said the most transformational time in history, and that transformation is being led by remarkable people. tonight, we begin to highlight the work that our new exponential center is starting to do in the transformational area of innovation and entrepreneurship. the name exponential evoke's the change that is at the heart of the story and that our new center is undertaking to document and explain. it is a pleasure for me to introduce some of that work to you tonight and the people doing it. we have to great guests -- heidi roizen and and -- heidi and michelle zatlyn.