When I founded Become Energy, one basic (yet vague) goal motivated me: to ‘make positive energy simple.’ While the details around this were loose at best, I wanted to create a company that..
…delivered real projects, done well – MAKE
…which had a positive financial, environmental and social impact – POSITIVE
…was in a sector I knew about with an addressable problem – ENERGY
…did not confuse the hell out of the customer – SIMPLE
So, to say it was a ‘company’ back then would be a bit of a stretch. But since Become Energy’s incorporation, a lot has happened (to be shared over a few beers!). There have been highs and lows, but it’s been a true journey. A journey where I’m continually…
…INSPIRED – by our fortunate access and engagement to some of the most influential and impactful brands and the people who represent them.
…HUMBLED – by working with some of the most talented and passionate people I’ve ever known.
…PROUD – of what is taking place and excited by what the future holds.
Of course, there are a lot of reasons for concern and anxiety: at a macro-level, the continuing political uncertainty and the harsh realities of climate change rearing its ugly head; and for me personally: a young family who don’t see me as much as they should along with the financial reality of putting ‘all my chips’ into making this business a success.
What does Pittsburgh have to do with any of this?
After years of feeling motivated (while shocked), inspired (while concerned), and enthused (while angered) by this person (through his insightful messages), I’m incredibly honoured to be attending Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Pittsburgh this week. It would make sense to have a clear objective of what I’m looking to gain from this experience, but in truth it feels like one of those times when you just ‘close your eyes and jump right in.’
If you’re interested – and I take zero offense if not – I’ll be sharing thoughts, insights, ideas, connections and conversations throughout this coming week. So, as they say… watch this space!
DAY 1: “WE ARE GOING TO WIN THIS” – AL GORE
Day 1 of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training provided an incredible reminder and reinforcement of ‘why we’re doing what we’re doing.’ One would think answering some pretty basic (yet fundamental) questions would be easy, but I found it to be a challenge requiring introspection.
– Why you?
– Why now?
– Why this issue?
When you’re running an incredibly fast race, you don’t really have the time to step back and reflect on why the race matters in the first place. We had a chance to do this and I feel fortunate that my compass has been recalibrated.
And then Al Gore walks on stage and speaks to you – you personally, like no one else was in the room (a rare talent) – and spends two hours taking you through a journey which is incredibly structured, yet natural, and answers the following
– Do we need to change?
– Can we change?
– Will we change?
Spoiler alert, the answers to all three questions…YES!
Apart from a feeling of supreme motivation and purpose, here are a few additional takeaways I thought worth sharing:
Pittsburgh’s story is pretty incredible– The city that was thrust into the international news after Trump’s ‘I represent the people of Pittsburgh, not Paris’ statement, has a powerful vision to play a key role in the renewable energy revolution. Mayor Peduto shared a poignant recap of history where he stated, “Pittsburgh built America – and we also created polluted air and contaminated water at the same time.” But they were also left out in the cold in 1979 after the US stopped relying on domestic steel production. And while the next 30 years were a challenge (20% unemployment rates, etc), Pittsburgh “rolled up its sleeves” and “rebuilt a city that was left for dead.” What has emerged is a city playing a key role in the decarbonisation of our energy and transport system. Today there are 13,000 clean energy jobs in Pittsburgh with a thriving research and innovation centre that is building the future of the city – and the US.
The Climate Reality model makes sense – Equipping individuals with science-based facts and compelling content, while challenging them to ‘act’, is an approach that will (and already has!) have a serious impact. And while we live in a world that is more politically polarised than ever before, acting on climate change cannot be a partisan issue. We need to make sure we’re collectively working with those that may have different views to our own to avoid the echo chamber and work towards inclusive solutions to the most pressing global challenge of our time.
Strength in diversity…and numbers – I would assume the assortment of backgrounds from other countries is similar, but the c. 20 people participating from the UK represent a wide range of industries and vocations. We have an equities analyst, executive coach, augmented reality film student, oil and gas consultant, local councillor, and many more. Oh yeah, and an industry colleague (but more importantly, a friend), David Hill from Open Energi. But in total there are 1,300 people, from over 30 countries, who have all come together with a shared goal – telling ‘truth to power.’
An incredible day 1 with lots more to come – I’m exhausted (emotionally and physically – jetlag never fun!), but excited for more!
Matt Allen is Founder and CEO of Become Energy.