Curiosity Lab
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Curiosity Lab

Rallying the best companies for the world

Interview with Andy Fyfe | B Corp Growth at B Lab

Portrait: Tom Kubik

We caught up with Andy Fyfe, the head of growth for an organization we are huge fans of: B Lab. B Lab is a nonprofit organization that’s building a global movement of people using business as a force for good.

Andy’s leading the charge building a community of Certified B Corporations, comprised of some of the most socially and environmentally conscious companies in the world. Doing good runs through Andy’s veins and his passion for using business to make the world a better place is infectious and inspiring.

What trait do you admire in others?

Humor.

Where are you from?

San Francisco, CA

Share a moment in your life that made you passionate about making the world a better place?

I think I’ve always had a passion for it because I was brought up feeling responsible for making the world a better place. But the time I spent in Accra, Ghana when I was 20 also had an influence. I signed up for a short couple-month long volunteer program where I coached soccer and taught at a boy’s juvenile center. I was terrible at soccer and had no background in social work. I recognized this and wasn’t going to try and front that I was going to change lives. But I committed to showing up every day and just that was more than the boys had seen before.

A lot of us have been in this situation, where at the end of the program, it’s more volunteer work for ourselves. But each of those boys touched my life forever and so whether it’s helping prepare meals for DREAMers here in NYC or just helping a friend move into a new apartment, sometimes it’s just about showing up. I’d like to find more opportunities to show up for others.

Patrons of Progress is all about showcasing people who are using their influence for good. What does “doing good” mean to you?

Doing good means recognizing the imbalance of needs and figuring out your role to fix that. And sometimes it’s maybe not your role. The approach should be calculated, inclusive, and accountable. But we also can’t sit around mapping all the time. It takes courage to lean into doing good while staying humble as you learn along the way. I think doing good needs real listening, because too often we see “good work” carried out by groups pretty far from the issues.

If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

Human.

What sparked your interest and passion to get involved with B Lab and the B Corp space?

I was backpacking through Latin America for a while, hung hammocks, opened a pizza restaurant, crocheted some hats, and did some permaculture farming. I wasn’t saving the world. But over the years I did some work with microfinance in Chile and I witnessed the power of micro-business. These flower shops and corner stands aren’t going to become B Corps. But the impact these micro-loan lending circles had on groups of small entrepreneurs, and the direct outcome of kids going to school and putting meals on the table, portrayed business a new way to me.

It wasn’t the corporate social responsibility campaigns I learned about in school, but rather the grit and heart of passionate people getting it done for their families and their neighbors. Some of them had fascinating innovations around waste purely because they saw untapped resources.

I was skeptical of big business. When I learned there was a non-profit serving as a backbone for companies using the power of their business to be better stewards of the environment and create quality jobs, I was intrigued. And one of our twelve guiding principles at B Lab is that we stand for something, not against anything. I appreciated turning some of my skepticism into hope.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

What do you hope our readers will gain from B Lab’s story and the creation of the B Corp?

Systemic problems require systemic solutions. What I’m saying is that we can’t cut ourselves short in our approach. It’s those people who respond with: “I hear you. But we need to go bigger.” It’s those visionaries who can transcend their vision into practice, measure it, be accountable to it, and yearn to collaborate in order to inspire the next generation. It’s the class president of a public school in the Bronx to a politician fighting for universal healthcare. There is relentless drive in the community of B Corps.

Our founders created B Lab because there was a flaw in our system. Corporate law mandates businesses to maximize profit by any means. Yet a lot of us believe that businesses can and should take into account the interests of its workers, its suppliers, its local community and its ecological footprint. We demand it by supporting better companies in our daily lives. And it takes all of us to demonstrate a behavior change in our society, from seeking out purposeful jobs to choosing to shop at your local coop.

Our collective work in the B Corp community is to help translate that behavior change into something more normative and institutional so that our future generations can pick up where we left off and make it even better. I think we owe it to them and we owe it to our planet.

Resources and technology aside, if you could make one remarkable change in the world by 2020, what would it be?

All publicly traded companies will be required to not only publicly report on their social & environmental impact alongside their financials, but be accountable to it as their expanded fiduciary duty.

Share something that you’ve learned along the way, whether it’s one piece of advice or an experience that has helped guide you in your journey?

A lot of us are working toward far-reaching visions that probably won’t be finished and achieved before we’re dead and gone. We’re proud of our community’s incremental accomplishments, but the organization’s vision is ambitious: a shared and durable prosperity for all.

It’s not a sprint, you need some good people by your side on this marathon. I’ve learned that no matter how talented you are at the good work you’re doing, it’s hard and it can be personal. You need to surround yourself with passionate people to fire you up and put you in check. Our team at B Lab is my family.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

Follow Patrons of Progress on Instagram @curiositylab

Concept + Production by London Wright-Pegs, Michael Tennant + Meghan Holzhauer // Interview by London Wright-Pegs + Meghan Holzhauer// Portraits by Tom Kubik

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Michael A. Tennant

Michael A. Tennant

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Founder, writer, and movement building dedicated to helping people find empathy and purpose. Inventor of Actually Curious, the deep connection card game.