Founding SBC and Growing to 220+ Clients

Why I started Sustainable Business Consulting.

In 2004, with a war chest of $500, I created this LLC, had my “world headquarters” in our guest bedroom of a 2-bedroom apartment and set out with the mindset of helping companies make more money by doing better for the environment and community.

Seizing on the clear void in the market at the time for someone to make the business case for sustainability, I was surprised at how the business grew – as when I started I hoped to one day work with potentially 30 or more companies and a Fortune 500 company, to now our firm having worked with over 220+ companies. Our small firm has been a force multiplier and helped catalyze change to empower hundreds of organizations to have a greater, more positive impact on society and the planet. In fact, in 2022, we will have helped companies reduce emissions 100,000 times those of our own.

Moreover, I wanted to create a firm where I and my friends would want to work. One that prioritize meaningful, inspiring work and that was also a fun place to work. I wanted values of life-work balance, where we could take the work seriously but not ourselves, and where we could be part of the solution to many of society’s biggest challenges. I’m happy to say that those core values of excellence, partnership, authenticity and fun are still our values today.

My Journey

In 1997 I was working in Pro Soccer for the Minnesota Thunder (now MN United of MLS) and was on the fast track as I was the youngest General Manager in Pro Sports.

While sports was amazing, I realized that more needed to be done to save the planet and advance social justice. So I left my job in pro soccer, with the dream of exploring the west before it was gone. As I drove across the country, I saw beautiful areas across the country that were polluted and faced both economic and social inequality, and was wondering how I could on these issues. They were interconnected, and I just kept coming back to the thought that if business was part of the problem and capitalism created these situations, then business could be part of the solution. Having a background not in environmental sciences or social justice issues- but one of business, politics, sports and the non-profit sector, I was determined to try and find a way to do “business for good.”

Get in Touch

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Become a Bestselling Author of 5+ Books

I never had any intention of writing a book.

But after flying around the country to give the same basic speeches over and over again, I realized that a more effective, efficient and less carbon intensive way to do that was to share my message through a book. My first book – Return on Sustainability was about making the business case & imperative for sustainability but each of my books has served a different purpose and addressed a new need:

Return on Sustainability

This book came out just after the financial crisis of 2008, and my fear (which was proven correctly) was that with a recession, most companies would make the same old mistake of pulling back on their environmental, climate and community initiatives to save cost. This book was needed in the marketplace to show that companies can save money, enhance their brand value and inspire employees through better social & environmental practices - even in desperate times. I obviously never imagined that 12 years later, it would still have relevancy as the Covid 19 pandemic rolled out, but the same examples and lessors from that book are still relevant today.

Making Sustainability Stick

As companies kept approaching SBC asking for the keys to success in the long-term, I decided to create the roadmap for doing just that. At the time, I had consulted with about 65+ companies, and the keys to success for successful implementation kept being the same things, so I wrote this down to be “the guidebook for implementation.” The first half of this book focuses on the technical aspects of sustainability “the what” and the second half focuses on the human and organizational change elements of getting this done “the how,” which the second part is what so many organization neglect when trying to do this work.

Sustainability Jobs and Intangible Value

These books were written with the goal to help anyone transitioning the sustainability space learn how to prepare for a land their dream “green job”. Rather than having 30 coffees about landing a job, I included the expertise of over 30 sustainability thought leaders to get all this knowledge and wisdom in one book.

How to Talk to the Other Side

Written as a practical guide to help people break down the divisiveness, hate and vitriol that has come to fill our politics, social media and discourse. Unveiled at the start of the pandemic, this book provides practical, commonsense ways for finding solutions with people you might typically think of as on the “other side.” Full of case studies for finding practical ways to move forward between Republicans vs. Democrats, Business & Environmentalists and even how to cross the rural vs. urban divide.

Sharing My Learnings Through Speaking and Teaching

I teach Sustainability/ESG Reporting at Harvard Graduate School...

…because I believe it is one of the best tools to educate today’s leaders and those of the future the most up-to-date, real-world, best-in-class case studies for addressing the largest problems facing our society and planet today. I find this is a valuable part of the SBC vision and it also helps keep me current with the trends of each generation. For speaking engagements, I typically do paid and unpaid speaking events about 2x month and I focus on providing an inspiring message while offering the roll-up your sleeves practical solutions where sustainability, profitability and social justice intersect.

Let's take control of your sustainability journey and drive business value - now and for years to come.

About Kevin
A CEO, Harvard professor and author, Kevin Wilhelm is one of the world’s preeminent thought leaders in the space of sustainability and climate change. He brings 20+ years of experience working with over 220 organizations including New York Life, Amazon, Expedia, Nordstrom, Alaska Airlines, REI, Eddie Bauer, the Seattle Sounders and multiple cities, counties and government agencies. He is also an instructor at Harvard and the University of Denver and the author of five books, including an Amazon #1 best seller in the business category “How to Talk to the “Other Side: Finding Common Ground in the Time of Coronavirus, Recession, and Climate Change”
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