The Solopreneur

Meet Dr. Trudy Heller of Catch the Green Wave

Walk into any one of Philadelphia’s coffee shops and you may find Dr. Trudy Heller feverishly working on her laptop. As a former academic and published author, she may be writing a new blog, teaching her online course, Green Persuasion, prepping for an international conference, or perhaps just enjoying her daily review of the Wall Street Journal. No doubt, the once business school professor turned sustainability educator is busy with one of her many projects. After starting her business Catch the Green Wave to help businesses begin thinking about and adopting sustainable practices, Dr. Heller has been focusing her work on helping entrepreneurs and others who are enthusiastic about sustainability relate to those who don’t understand the need for change.

I am helping people and businesses who “get it” (sustainability) communicate with people who don’t– an essential skill for selling green products and services.

Through her work, she has become a true representation of the global citizen, whether it be through networking virtually, maintaining contacts through international conferences, or collaborating with a myriad of other sustainable companies.

In all of these relationships I look for ways we can support each other.

We got to steal a moment of her time in between projects to find out how she has found so much success as a “solopreneur” while focusing on spreading the triple bottom line model throughout the business industry and the world.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I think what I am supposed to be doing is trying to accelerate the transition to a green economy. I read the Wall Street Journal at breakfast, and scan for articles that track and confirm the transition. I often find such an article and get excited (like the recent news that power companies are proceeding with plans to de-carbonize despite Trump’s roll-back of EPA rules).

What is a recent challenge that you have overcome, and how did you do it?

A few months ago, I ran a pilot version of my online course, Green Persuasion. I am used to teaching, as a former academic, so that didn’t scare me. But I had never before had to recruit students. I faced a wall of fear. It felt impossible, like something I just could NOT do.

I had support, though, from coaches and fellow students in an online course on how to create online courses. I adopted the attitude, “the only failure is to not try.” The pilot went well, and I am working on the next course offering.

What’s your personal networking strategy and what role does your community play in the success of your business?

I enjoy getting to know people face to face, and I also appreciate having a global, virtual network.

I love hanging out in coffee shops. Whenever I meet someone new at a professional gathering I always suggest getting together for coffee at one of my favorite places.

I also participate in virtual, international conferences, and maintain a few relationships with colleagues that I have worked with in India, Mexico, Finland.

In all of these relationships I look for ways we can support each other.

Can you walk us through one of your triple bottom line practices and the impact it has had on your business?

As a solopreneur, I have needed to hire from time to time, including Web designers and maintainers, videographers, speaking coaches, photographers, research assistants. I have developed a practice of hiring other sustainability-minded businesses. Not only can I feel good about giving them my business, but I can think of them as a team that shares my mission. When I have tried to work with people who do not share the vision, it has not gone well.

Can you tell us about your ideal day off in Philadelphia, and where you would spend it?

I live in Mt Airy, and when I get a free day, I head to the Morris Arboretum.

I know all of the unpaved trails, and I love walking and watching the seasons change there. Then I might head to a coffee shop, like the High Point Cafe, a fellow SBN member business.

What is one thing that most people do not know about your business that you would like them to know?

I am in a new chapter of my business, focusing on Green Persuasion. I am helping people and businesses who “get it” (sustainability) communicate with people who don’t understand that there is anything to get — an essential skill for selling green products and services.

I piloted an online course on Green Persuasion in June 2017 and am working on the next version.

What event, program, or member benefit have you found most beneficial, and what impact has SBN membership had on your business?

The most profound SBN influence on my work came from my volunteer role, leading a SBN-organized Circle of Entrepreneurs. We met monthly for about three years. I am still closely networked with many of the participants in the Circle. I learned from everyone, whether they came just once or were “regulars.” Each meeting was a surprise, and we had fun too!


To learn more about Dr. Trudy Heller and how she is helping businesses join the new green economy, click here.