tv Jerry Greenfield Discusses Social Entrepreneurship CSPAN December 21, 2016 2:11am-2:58am EST
ben and jerry's has a local franchise scoop job. i was doing a scoop shot visit, 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? what works? >> yes, some combination of 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 was rejected from all the medical schools i applied to. then, went to three or four colleges. fourn went to three or
colleges, that he dropped out of. the last program ben went to -- to colgate, which he dropped out of. he went to 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 entrepreneur 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 started with $8,000. we borrowed another $4000. we opened up in 1978 in burlington, vermont in an and ited gas station essentially, had no idea what we were doing. to hear that in that sentence. i'm going to go to one of the coldest places in the country and sell ice cream where they sold gas. youomebody pitched that to 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
of that, the fact that -- so ben & 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 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 at which you
were no longer two guys in a hand crank ice cream maker in a small shop. you were becoming a business enterprise. how did you manage that? mr. greenfield: we were becoming a business. [laughter] >> you are becoming a business. mr. greenfield: we thought we were going to become ice cream guys. and it was shocking to us because ben and i wanted to have a little ice cream shop and we wanted to make and scoop ice cream to our customers and when we found ourselves becoming a business, we really didn't like 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 is it we were, that if we did not like those things we could essentially change it. and so, we made a conscious decision to have our business
evolves 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 layer of owners, directors, leaning in and guiding the path of the business makes it harder for the entrepreneurs to stay on their path. how did you deal with that pressure? mr. greenfield: we were lucky, because we were able to 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 within the state of vermont and 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 that vermonters could buy stock in ben & jerry's at the time. so we found a way to get the local community to become owners of the business so that we didn't have to go to a big financial institution and didn't have to go the more traditional route, find venture capitalists and we raised $750,000, which was remarkable to us. and at the end of the offering, one out of every 100 families in vermont had bought stock in ben & jerry's so we were a community-owned company at that point.
>> and the next stage, and then you went full public. >> then we decided to reestablish the ben & jerry's foundation as the charitable arm youhe country because, know, to us at that time, businesses were essentially machines making money. we felt like if we were going to be this business, we needed to give away some money. we set up the foundation where the foundation would get 7.5% of the company's pretax profits, which was the highest percentage of any publicly held company. there, in caset 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. [laughter] >> that is 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. so, how could we really do it? 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. >> can you give us an example of that? 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 trade-offs 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 entrepreneurship 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 it's sourcing ingredients, selling ice cream, marketing ice 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 involved 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] >> it is a little bit of a tough case to make. you see a lot of entrepreneurs who arebusinesses starting out as social entrepreneurs, who are trying to meet a social or environmental need.
but for us, it meant going back and reengineering what we were doing. >> there were a couple things that happened at the same time. one is you were able to connect back to you and jerry's core values. you were becoming the face of not just your company and your brand, these iconic best friends from junior high, but also the face of that social business movement. mr. greenfield: we were one of a handful of pioneering entrepreneurial companies that were pushing the idea of socially responsible business. you guys are probably familiar with patagonia, which is still doing amazing things. the body shop at that time was really doing well. stoney farm yogurt. there were companies. ben & jerry's has always been more visible than other
companies because -- probably because we make ice cream. and i think the other thing about ben & jerry's is we tend to be fairly outspoken about what we are doing. and that brings up another interesting issue around saying doing socially responsible business. because sometimes we would get criticized that, you guys are talking about all these things you are doing, aren't you just 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.
you 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. >> at some point, critics also said you were using this prosocial approach to drive customers to your business. -- herenfield: yes, so is another thing to know. i hate to be getting into lessons. whenever you are getting into anything which is not the normal, mainstream way of doing things, you are going to get criticized. that is the nature of the beast. going to doher everything the way everybody else does it and not get criticized, or you are going to blaze your own path. mainstreamle
environment is always pushing you to do things the way everybody else does it. jerry's, weben & started getting criticized that we were trying to get customers to buy ice cream by talking about doing good things. it is simply said that who we are, it is 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. and if you are doing bad things, that markets who you are also. if you want to be honest and , thatarent and genuine markets your company. >> let's talk about the ice cream too for a minute. mr. greenfield: how about we
stop for a second? are we doing ok? [applause] mr. greenfield: i just wanted to check in. >> yes. ice cream, you have loyal, loyal customers, iconic flavors. mr. greenfield: heavy users. [laughter] >> dedicated users. mr. greenfield: ben and jerry usings a heavy user as one point a week. in the world of ice cream, a pint of week is a lot of ice cream. >> so, the flavors. how much of that was the two of you sitting in the kitchen, throwing it in the bowl? up withnfield: ben came all the flavors. i alluded to this, i should tell you. ben is the entrepreneurial guy
between us. ben loves to try new things, is fine with making mistakes, has always said he would rather fail dosomething new than something that has already been done before. and i like a manageable agenda. i like to be told what to do, put me in the box, tell me to do this, and i will do it. ben did everything at the company that was creative, entrepreneurial, groundbreaking. ben established the social mission for the company. ben was outspoken about social and political stands. ben came up with all the flavors. ben came up with the big chunks of cookies and candies. ben can't really taste, so he also came up with the really strongly flavored ice cream. so, that's the flavor story.
so ben and 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 is really 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 is a bizarre thing. >> how did the two of you become the team you did? it is one thing to meet in junior high, but to spend 40 years together in business is an incredible accomplishment. how did that happen? mr. greenfield: we are good
friends. ben and i have a very similar worldview, but we also have very different skills. as i said, ben is very creative. i have, in over 40 years of ben & jerry's never created one flavor. some murmuring out there. jerry's?!" i used to make the ice cream. i would scoop the ice cream. and we have a lot of trust. 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
good ideas that were pushing the 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 business practices and the issue of social justice and some of those stances. >> 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 -- you have gone through both 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 make $20,000 a year a piece and 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 & jerry's, how do you guys respond to that? mr. greenfield: for context for folks, we started in 1978 and ben & jerry's got acquired in 2000 and 2001. we first went public in the state of vermont in 1984 and we went public nationally in 1985. we have been a public company for about 15 years.
and we were what i would describe as fiercely independent. at that time -- about 10 years into the business we crafted a mission statement that had, that formalized a three-part mission. there was a product mission, an economic mission, and a social mission. and the social mission explicitly talked about using the power of the business to innovatively address social and environmental issues. so, that was part of the mission and 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, another company came along wanting to purchase ben & jerry's and our response was, we don't want to be owned by anybody because we were not convinced that any acquirer would be committed to the social mission. there was nothing -- it was nothing about unilever. it was nothing about anything. we felt like any big company was not going to be concerned about anything besides the bottom line. we tried to find ways to stay independent. ultimately our board decided that the company was offering was compelling. we 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.
>> but you remained with the company? mr. greenfield: we remained with the company, employed with the company. up until that point we had been on the board of directors. when unilever acquired the company, they set up an independent board that was made up essentially of the same board that had been the board of ben & jerry's and then and i declined to continue on that board and ever since, even prior to then, we had been on year-to-year employment agreement with ben & jerry's that renews annually, unless either party decides to not renew. jobyou want to hear my description? >> actually, yes. 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? we essentially do whatever we want. in our employment agreement -- and this is pre-unilever. our employmentn agreement calls for us to provide similar services at a similar level to what we had been doing before. >> nicely done. [laughter] mr. greenfield: right? good job. >> so, when you look at the landscape in business today, are theoptimistic of both 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 optimistic, stay
because i think it is a better answer, but i am pretty neutral about it. realistically, the most powerful world isthe world' is an is. it is more powerful than governments. it is more powerful than religion. businesses pretty much control governments and if you look at our country, businesses have h on elections through unlimited campaign contributions . businesses essentially control legislation through lobbying. as nurses control all the mainstream media through ownership and businesses have huge impacts on how we are all treated as employees and consumers and big business
essentially, has one goal, w. who knows what the one goal of big business is? maximize profit, right? large, by and oversimplifying, generally speaking, what businesses are trying to do is make more money. and it is not that business is good. it is not that business is evil. business is just trying to make money. and it uses this power without , without social impact regard to environmental impact because it doesn't measure those things. it measures one thing, the financial bottom line. and so, am i optimistic? i am optimistic that people who
are starting their own businesses, or people who are going to work for other larger picture a in mind. and that the young people today currently going into business are going to change business. >> going back to that moment when you and ben said, let's try to do some things differently, and you get what you measure, and it is hard to identify and keep track of those things. a couple of examples to give people a sense of the challenges you had. mr. greenfield: so, a few i mentioned how ben & jerry's looks at how it sources ingredients. we came up with an ice cream flavor that uses brownies from a bakery in new york city that are
working with people who are formally homeless, or people who are formally in prison, or people who have all sorts of issues in the good news is, we have that flavor here today, chocolate fudge brownie. ben & jerry's sells ice cream. i mentioned some of the ice cream shops. we have some franchised ice cream shops that are owned and operated by nonprofits, social service agencies. so those are some examples of 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 be unusual in is speaking out about issues.
if ben were here, what he would tell you is probably the most powerful thing that business has, is its voice. that's when businesses talk, 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. so ben & jerry's has used its 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. ben & jerry's is outspoken about voting rights and voter suppression. and as you might imagine, not 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? [laughter] >> 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.
have questions? we do have ice cream, so -- mr. greenfield: can i answer the one question first? why would a business do that? it turns out it is not really bad for business. it turns out, as 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. what people want is businesses 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. question? >> hi, thank you so much. this talk took some unexpected turns that i really enjoyed. my question is brief. i'm curious about how when you were acquired by unilever, did that reshape the mission statement you shared earlier, or any conflicts that came up? mr. greenfield: did everybody here the question? it did not reshape the mission at all, but what that is based on is the people that ben & jerry's and the people at unilever wanting to carry out the mission. and so, for the first several ac, i k moste
ndrom unilever's e integratingt 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. the 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 really nice hearing you
talk. a quick question. what is your favorite flavor of ben & jerry's ice cream? i am just curious. [laughter] mr. gfield: my fa flavor is americone dream, a vanilla ice cream with caramel swirl, fudge covered pieces of waffle cones. for you guys who are interested, i think within the top five flavors, cherry garcia, half baked, tonight dough has moved into the top five. ishink chunky munky close to the top five. dough is up there today. >> we have a few of those today. mr. greenfield: we do, we have fudge dough, chocolate brownie, cherry cagarcia, whenever we stopped talking. [applause] >> no pressure, but we are going to make this last question. >> [inaudible]
i talk about how different flavors relate to different things i am involved in and my personality. i was wondering if you have a flavor you think embodies you or something you are passionate 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. can i tell one last -- i will tell one story. i talked about ben & jerry's using its voice, and this is around a product. it was really part of the transition within 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, a chocolate bar. ben wanted to call it a peace pop. ofs was during the height the cold war, which you have also read about in your history books. there was a big military buildup with the united states and the former soviet union. ben 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 -- they wanted to take care of their families and they would be more interested in each other and less interested in bombing the crap out of each other. so, ben brought this to the company and it was this huge internal debate. right, we are going to call a we are the peace pop, going to be talking about the military budget on the packaging, we are going to be talking about redirecting money -- 1% of the military budget to this nonprofit called 1% for peace, which conveniently was andg to be set up by ben, he was on the board of directors. so people were saying, we're going to be seen as criticizing a government program,
we are going to be seen as unpatriotic, we are going to be seen as -- people are going to boycott the product. they are, whatever. and ben, as the entrepreneur, as the founder -- and you guys out there, entrepreneurs and founders, are you ready for this? he shoved it down the company's throat. he said, we are going to do this. and we did it. and nothing bad happened. nobody boycotted the company. sales were fine. even people who did not agree with the position respected that ben & jerry's was willing to take a stand on an issue that was not in its own financial self-interest, right? it was for the common good. and 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. lobbying toalways not have any more environmental regulations. 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. and as ben said, soon there after the cold war ended, so it was very successful. [laughter] >> well, i must say, there are most days i have to say i love my job and today is one i especially love my job. i got to have an amazing conversation on behalf of all of
us that put this together, we have something for you. [applause] >> this is where it's at? right? [applause] >> where do you find the ice cream? ck of the hallway? ben & jerry's ice cream is waiting for you. mr. greenfield: i will be hanging out, happy to chat. happy to chat. >> it is called the 99%, 1% vanilla -- [indiscernible] >> tomorrow night in prime time, former vice president dick
panetta talkon about the future of the pentagon in the trump administration. then the ibm ceo on the future 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. >> i am reminded of the period just before world war i when there were a number of flashpoints in the world at that time related to some of the same challenges that we are facing now. terrorism, failed states, territorial disputes, fragile alliances. all of that. and actually, failed leadership. the inability to deal with those challenges. anyone of those things --
the 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 define policy we need to deal with that. the defensevelop policy to confront that kind of world. the biggest problem right now is that, you know, in line with havedick said, you cannot a strong defense. you could talk about all the things you want to do in terms budget, but you cannot do any of that unless congress agrees to a defense budget and provide some certainty as to where 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. -- hosted this event. >> and now for tonight's program. 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. guests,two great heidi roizen and michelle zatlyn. taking us through their conversation is marguerite john hancock. she has been working in the field for more than two decades, first at the stanford graduate school of business and now, lucky for us, here at the computer history museum. i am delighted to introduce you to her right now. please join me in welcoming marguerite hancock. [applause] marguerite: thank you, john. thank you and good evening. welcome tonight to the inaugural event kicking off the exponential series featuring founders, changemakers, and visionaries.
silicon valley is home to pioneers of the possible. from bill hewlett and david packard to mark zuckerberg, history, media, and pop culture secretly showcased the transformational stories of silicon valley. but what about women? while tech companies and venture capital firms today are starting to actively support rising female stars, women entrepreneurs often go unheralded. female founders raising series a capital jumped from 10% to 15% in 2015, but still they are too rare. fortunately for us, we have two remarkable women entrepreneurs here tonight. what can we learn from them, who have forged their own paths for innovation and impact? make no mistake, they are noteworthy for their innovation and impact by any measure. they also both happen to be women. to introduce tonight's speakers,