Published March 8th, 2023
Life's Too Short To Spend It At A Job You Are Miserable At
Maggie Philbin: Welcome back to another episode of Climb by VSC. I'm your host Maggie Philbin and today we will be speaking with Dylan Welch, the CEO of green.org. We will be learning a lot about how he used his media and business experience to create new opportunities in renewable energy sustainability in context. He has a great wealth of knowledge based on his background working in TV before this. I'm just so glad to have you here with us today.
Dylan Welch: Yeah, Maggie, thanks so much for having me. I just love people who are using media and PR and marketing and you know, social media to educate people about sustainability and the climate and finance and all that good stuff. So I'm excited to chat with you today.
MP: Awesome. Well, why don't we actually kick-start this, especially for folks who may not be familiar with green.org and your background, do you want us to tell us a little bit about how you got here?
DW: Yeah, for sure. It's a long journey. But to sum it all up, I worked as a television producer for a few years, producing a business finance real estate entrepreneurship television show here in San Diego that was syndicated around the country, but I just got burnt out working in that industry. And I was making my boss a ton of money. And I was getting a salary. And I was like, You know what? I want to kind of venture into this entrepreneur space, be my own boss run my own business. And so I left that company and started in media and marketing company was running that with clients providing a bunch of different marketing services while I was doing that and basically building all their brands and their social media channels and making them all this business. My team and I launched green.org, which was basically a media channel, all about sustainability, sharing news and renewable energy, clean technology and just highlighting cool people doing exciting things. It started out as just a new site, expanded it to a social media channel, expanded it to a podcast, and then now we're also adding semiannual events as well.
MP: Yeah, that's a lot of work. So in your time building it as a media brand, how have you seen that it's changed for you?
DW: Yeah, I mean, it's crazy how quickly the whole media industry as a whole is constantly changing. That's why I got into the industry at first was because it's obviously a huge industry, but also the ability to use you know, screens and cameras and phones to influence people was something I've always been interested in and started out with television and film just because that was what was like popular at the time. Then over the past 10 or so years. Everything's changed so much with social media. Everyone's you know, their own content channel and content creator. So I've just been kind of watching it and trying to determine, you know, what's the best move? How can we stay ahead of trends, what trends are just sort of like a flash in the pan that will die? And how can we keep growing our media company to you know, make revenue and you know, pay with the staff, but also sort of not sell out to? You know, whatever. It's like the hot thing at the moment.
MP: Has there been any climate startups that have been talking to you? So I know you have a really sick podcast, though. And so I'm sure like, you know, founders or other interesting folks always flying across your desk as people that you'd want to speak and meet with. So is there anyone that comes to mind that you're really interested in?
DW: Yeah, there's so many cool companies out there. That's what is really exciting about green.org Because on a day-to-day basis, we write like news articles, profiles and highlight people and companies that are doing cool things. So it's really cool to see just sort of the different phases of companies that are out there. There's like, you know, companies that are about to go public who have amazing electric vehicle technology. Then there are guys or women who are just like one-off teams who are starting to raise funds for this crazy idea. Then there's you know, full-on companies that are already driving revenue. So really like the sustainable world as a whole is such a broad topic and any company can be sustainable to a certain extent. So whatever you're interested in, whether that's fashion technology, artificial intelligence, electric vehicles, or energy, there's something out there for everyone. So whatever your interest is, you can go and find those companies to work with.
MP: On the fashion front. I was I read this morning that Ralph Lauren has a new program, and they're going to be launching this thing where you can return your old cashmere sweaters, give them back to them, they're gonna reuse them, recycle them. It's part of their whole like circular economy of clothing. I'm curious what you think about companies who launched initiatives like that. Is it greenwashing to you or is it that everyone has to do their part? Like, what's your take on that?
DW: Yeah, I mean, that's a good question. I think in general, it's helpful, you know, even if the company is not the most sustainable in the world, if they're at least acknowledging it and trying to make those steps towards being more sustainable, like no company right off the bat is going to be 100% Sustainable literally, that's not possible. So I think the first step is to be like, okay, cool, good for you for making that journey. Now, let's like check-in in six months or a year or whatever it is, and see if they're actually sticking to it. There's definitely a huge you know, kind of greenwashing. Going on where every company is working on that but also at the same time, it's better that they're making at least some sort of initiative than being like masquerade ball just be extremely wasteful and like, not worry about this. So there's like, both sides, but you know, I applaud any company that's at least trying to make you know that happened in one way or another for the company.
MP: Yesterday, I worked with a company in the sustainable packaging space, and he was always explaining to me how there are so many companies that had all these pledges, but zero plans. Is there a particular area of climate technology that you all and your team are really focused on reporting on right now that, you know, when you're in the newsroom, you're deciding on your stories like oh, we must take on something like this?
DW: Yeah, there's, I mean, there's definitely the trends. And as a media company, like, you know, we're not really out there trying to type up like 10 craziest electric vehicles of the future and sort of those click baity titles, but there's definitely sort of long-term trends that are happening, you know, five, six years ago, like when Elon Musk was with Tesla, it was really exploding. Everyone was talking about electric vehicles, that was kind of the forefront so we wrote a lot about electric vehicles. And then we've shifted over time and get a lot about fashion, just because the fashion industry is extremely, extremely wasteful. But there are also some really good companies that are sort of trying to be more sustainable. Shout out to Adore Me, a huge sponsor of the green summit and then now we're focusing a lot on kind of what you guys are doing, like more of the investment and financial side of green technology. Just because, you know, every business every entrepreneur needs to learn, like raise money for them. Not everyone needs to raise money, but like, it's good just to know the knowledge of how to raise money. It's good to know how to invest in other cleaning technology companies. So we've been doing a lot of talking to a lot of different financial experts in the green tech space and just kind of getting their thoughts feedback and how we can apply their knowledge to the average person's everyday life. Have there been any interesting things that come to mind that you'd want to share with our listeners? I mean, it's just crazy, like the amount of money that's out there. You know, green.org is a relatively small company. So when we're all of a sudden talking to a venture capitalist firm, that has $100 million in the bank that they're looking to invest in, you know, clean tech or renewable energy, it's kind of like, alright, this is pretty cool. That's exciting. There are some people with deep pockets who want to invest in things that you know, can potentially change our future for the better. So that's what I like to see is like, those big crazy numbers that are almost like unfathomable, and then, you know, they're using that money to invest in different companies. So that's what always gets me pretty excited. And that's why I like talking to venture capitalists and people in the financial, you know, the tech industry because they've got some money to invest in. There are companies out there that really need it. So it's cool when they can kind of come together.
MP: Are you making personal investments of your own?
DW: Not quite yet, but that is actually sort of the next step for what we want to do at green.org and myself.
MP: Yeah I love that good for you. Did you imagine that this is how your life would have transpired? Like did you grow up one day, like– how did you think about your journey?
DW: There's such a crazy story and like, I mean, when you're a business owner and an entrepreneur or really anyone that says like, everyone has day-to-day, anxieties of life, pay your bills, your job relationships. So sometimes you have to like take a step back and look at everything big picture. I remember when I was working as a television production or television producer. I would carpool with my neighbor because we both worked very close to each other and we'd always like, bounce business ideas off each other or talk about like, our goals or what's happening and like I remember being like, so burnt out. I was working every single day from 6 am to 9 pm Yeah, and I'm just like, “Man, I'm so burnt out, all I want to do is run my own media company about sustainability.” And then like, fast forward, and its has happened, which is pretty cool. So like, I tried to remember that and think about it now whenever there's, you know, stressful things happening or you know, whatever like day-to-day stuff is going on. So it's yeah, it's kind of about like, again, keeping that big picture of seeing yourself and where you want to go in the next five years, 10 years, and then just kind of mapping out that game plan to make it happen. And that's what I'm doing every single day. It's like, okay, where do I want to be the next five years and how can I use what I'm doing now to then make that happen?
MP: So it was cool to like, look back and see if there have been any lessons learned, like when you were making that leap?
DW: Um, yeah, the biggest lesson learned is to go out and do it. Honestly, like if you like, don't be afraid there's obviously like, so many, you know, negative things that can come and this is just specifically talking about leaving like a full-time corporate nine-to-five job to start your own business. Not everyone has the passion or the want to be an entrepreneur or a business owner. But if that is like deep down inside of you, if you feel it, go out and make it happen. It's challenging. It's hard, but the financial side of it can be extremely rewarding. You can take control of your life, you can set your own hours, and now's the best time to do it. And basically, history's the easiest way to start your own business. You can start a business, you know, with the start of an Instagram page and a couple of posts on LinkedIn and Facebook if you have a product or a service, and then you just continue to grow from there. It's not easy, but if that's what you want to do like just create a planned day-by-day and go out and just make a little bit happen every single day.
MP: Yeah, and Greg on earth has transpired a lot because you've launched the podcast and now you have the summits that you're putting on and I know COVID was a little tough because you are your son, Mr. Virtual, but now they're coming back in your life. Can you share a little bit about how that's going?
DW: Yeah. I mean, green.org It's been a crazy journey. Like we've had 1000 ideas that never worked out and 10,000 ideas that kind of worked out, but in general we have this game plan to keep growing it and growing it, and as like the revenue grows and the team grows, we can kind of reinvest into more things you want to do so really just started out as basically a news site blog essentially, like I don't like to call like a blog, so I feel like that like devalues it a little bit. But it just started out as a website where I would write articles and I would interview people and then we slowly grew it. We added social media channels, we ended our podcast, and then just kind of talked to like a business mentor of mine. He was like dude, we put together a virtual summit and it was amazing for our business. You should do that too. So that kind of like clicked we made that happen and then we've had a few years of like virtual events during COVID. Then we just had our first in-person green summit in San Diego back in September, and it was so fun. Just so inspirational. And so now we're excited to expand that into our London event or New York City event in our next San Diego event in 2023.
MP: Are there any states that are going to be at those events that you're really looking forward to?
DW: Yeah, I mean, what's so fun like this, one thing I love about putting the events together is basically each event has about 15 speakers. They'll have about 10 to 15 minutes to go up. On stage and give the kind of like a TED Talk and style of presentation. So I love sort of putting together like this All-Star lineup of speakers and I like to mix it up with men and women, different generations, Gen z's, millennials, boomers, different industries and kind of putting together just this like crazy lineup, almost like a music festival. Like you wanna you kind of have to fill out like the crowd and you're like, Alright, I know this person.
MP: Who you would like to open?
DW: Yeah, exactly. We got to hype it up with like, a really high-energy speaker after this. Which was really fun. And so yeah, basically, you know, now with three events and three new cities, we have 45 Speaking spots. So we're just actually starting to announce our different speakers for the different events basically today. But we do have the founder of North Face confirmed as our keynote speaker for all the events and he's a close colleague friend of mine, he's speak spoken at the last green Summit. He's been on the podcast, so awesome to have sort of like that person who literally, you know, he's in his probably 70s by now. So someone who like, really was on the forefront of starting sustainable businesses, building like a really, you know, high profile brand, multibillion-dollar business and then to kind of like, retire after, you know, 25-30 years and then now he's just like, this awesome dude who's speaking and hanging out and giving advice, really excited to have him at the events and share his knowledge.
MP: Well, I thought I had listened to the episode when you had him on and I love the part where he was explaining how they were getting off the ground. They literally went door to door on the West Coast when they were first launching North Face.
DW: I mean, it's so crazy like thinking that, you know, now you see north face every single day. Anywhere you go, you see a north face jacket or a hat. Or gloves or whatever it is, but thinking back on, you know, in the 60s when I first started their company, you know, they were just selling, you know, door to door. So I think you know, from a business standpoint, getting that first sale, that first client is always kind of the hardest and it gives you that little confidence. So then it's just like cool. Got that. Now think long term 30 years from now will you never know what could be the next North Face.
MP: Yeah, interesting part about their strategy to was having a physical magazine or the catalog where they would sell out of which I feel like in some ways has made a bit of a comeback to I'm sure maybe it's not as sustainable as the paper that that brands are sending us but we do see a lot of brands, you know, delivering catalogs to your homes, whether furniture or clothing, and it's kind of nice, I feel to break up because everything really is so online. And it's nice to just get a little bit of a preview of a gift in the mail.
DW: I know I mean, that's what's crazy is again, kind of going back to like watching those trends of marketing and media change and shift and going with it like you know, you think back even 10 or so years ago, everyone got newspapers delivered every single day to their front door, which was like crazy to think about. You'd subscribe to a magazine and it would come like once a month now it's just like, instant constant second-by-second news every single day. And I do think people tend to like you know, those physical things that you can hold in touch and I think it's almost like people are sick of being bombarded constantly nonstop with like, promotion advertisements every single second. So when you can sort of like put that on your screen and almost go back to that old school, what's it called? The sort of brings back old memories, I think?
MP: Yeah, it's true. I mean, and so I was just so flooded with brands. At this point. You hardly see friends as much as you would hope to.
DW: Yeah, it's unfortunate. Like it's really it kind of sucks because I hate being on social media. And I just think it's really bad in general for like, your mental health for like the average person. But then as the owner of a media company, it's like, well, unfortunately, that's kind of where our audience is. We have to be there. So it's a very double-edged sword. What I do is I just hire people to manage it all for me and I try to link it up there. I like absolutely have to but I do find myself obviously, you know, scrolling through different things. And yeah, I think like, especially Instagram too. They really kind of like gone downhill. Now, like you look at your feet and it's like, two posts of like your friend or somebody follow and then an advertisement and you just kind of like “Damn how what am I doing with my life”.
MP: Yeah, so true. I want to go back a little bit to the conversations that you had with the CEO of North Face or the founder. I thought it was really interesting in the podcasts that you had with him because he was talking about, giving space to your employees to find something in the company that they're really proud of. And there is a situation where we had some people that were like on the manufacturing line, and they were also really interested in photography. So he's like, okay, great, go to these far-flung places. I'm curious as to how you do that with your team too. And encourage them to find places within you know, green.org where they're really proud of and maybe it's like less stressful for them.
DW: Yeah, that's a really good question. I think this just kind of came through my own personal experience of, you know, applying for jobs and getting a role and then being pigeonholed into that role, even though there might be another role that I'd be more passionate about or better at, but I was just never asked, never given the opportunity. So I constantly and I'm always checking up with my team. And I'm like, Okay, I know you're doing this, but what do you want to do? Like, what are you passionate about? And I found that like, a lot of people are like, Oh, I really liked what I'm doing now, but I'm really interested in like this side of things. For example, our social media manager, she manages all our social media channels. And just last week, I just had a call where I'm just kind of checking in with her and I was like, so like, what do you want to do? Like where do you see yourself in five years and she was like, Well, I really want to get more on like, the sales and business development and partnership side of things. And I was like, well, that's like a huge part of green.org and the green summit to why don't you start like sitting in on some phone calls that we're having, and then, you know, after a month of doing that, you've kind of see how you can get started, you know, helping there so I think in today's age with just like, post-COVID, you know, everyone's kind of working from home. People are much more selective about how they're spending their professional time. And if they're not getting paid really well, or they're not doing something they're passionate about. I think you know, it's there's a good opportunity that people aren't going to want to continue with that job. So it's really up to, you know, the business owners, the bosses to find ways to keep your team excited. Otherwise, you're gonna get burned out and bored and leave and start their own competing company, which is what I did because my boss has never provided that for me.
MP: That's really touching to hear and good inspiration.
DW: Yeah I mean, like, you know, you see all this stuff about like quiet quitting and all that and like, I mean, life is so short that you should you know, only be spending time on things that you're passionate about, that you care about. Like, obviously, not every single person can quit their job and go out and start a business but at the same time, like if you're miserable in your job, life is way too short to just, you know, stick around and do that. Like life is all about new experiences, challenging yourself growth. So you can't find that if you just start stuck in that position. So go out and like ask for opportunities and make opportunities happen, you're gonna get rejected a million times and get used to rejection as well. It's kind of fun. Now I get rejected every single day. I'm like, Hey, you want to buy this product? And they're like, no, no, screw yourself. I'm like, sounds good. That's the next one. But yeah, so it's just like, you know, growth and push yourself as a boss, you have the opportunity to you know, give your employees as opportunities as well. So, it's all about like finding that middle ground.
MP: So why don't we talk a little bit about like the state of media, because we see, it's just Vox had layoffs this week, you saw the CNN layoffs that happened earlier in the year. And I'm just curious how you're thinking now about the future of media and then at the same time, you do see job postings and new people joining companies or you know, media brands, who are working in covering for climate. So I just want to hear your take a little bit about where you see the future of media.
DW: Yeah, I mean, it's crazy. Like I like to look back on where it started and the trends that have happened versus just sort of looking at it like right now like there will always be big companies laying off people and there'll always be the company's hiring. So I think in general, the biggest trend we've seen say in the past 10-15 years is one like what we're talking about before, the downfall of like newspapers and cable television, which used to dominate everything everyone used to go and wash their TV at a certain time for their favorite TV show. Then, that kind of got replaced with like, big social media channels and everyone, everyone went online CNN, Fox went online, then obviously like Facebook, Instagram started and blew up so I don't think like the digital news digital media is going anywhere. But I do think there will be really huge corporate platforms like Facebook, Tik Tok and Instagram, but then we'll see the not see we already are and have some of the emergence of just like millions of little mini niche content creators, who are essentially their own little mini media news channel. And there's no better time than right now to kind of get on that and do that. Just because of what we were talking about before like starting your own business and entrepreneurship like it's, it is extremely hard to go out and start a media company that's successful. But at the same time, it's extremely easy. You can go out and start your own Instagram page or YouTube page with your phone right now. But being strategic about like how you actually grow that and monetize it is sort of the hard part. So I think that's what we'll continue to see. And, again, going back to like people who, you know, coming out of post-COVID don't want to settle for a job that they don't like, you know, Why settle for a job making say $5,000 A month or you know, $60,000 a year when you can be a content creator influencer and make tenx that you know, like a lot of people really like shit on like influencers, but at the same time when an influencer who's 20 years old is making 50-60 or even 100 grand a month, then it's kind of hard to shit on them. The old people are shitting on them or other people that are like essentially jealous. So I really like watching I love seeing like young people just sort of do new exciting things and work around the system. So hopefully that'll continue. And if you plan on starting a media channel, my advice is just don't start a media channel just to start a media channel like have some sort of product or service that you're selling. And you kind of like become the like thought leader in your space and then sort of pitch your product or service versus just creating media channel to get you to know, sponsorships or you know, like Patreon and things like that. So that's a lot harder to do right off the bat and a lot of people I've seen try and fail. So that's my advice, go out and start your business but be strategic and have a plan when you come to do it.
MP: I really glad that you brought that up and there are beauty influencers, there are fashion influencers, there are people who did the YouTube unboxing, there are all the hardware products and gadgets. But actually, who would you say is there even an influencer in the climate space?
DW: Yeah, Dylan. Well, no, I'm just kidding.
MP: You need to be spending more time on Tik Tok.
DW: Every day I'm like, should I be more on a camera, on Tik Tok? And so I'm kind of starting not to care and just like posting a little bit more often. You know, there's definitely, there's a few people that come to mind. But I think again, sustainability is just such a broad topic, like being a fashion sustainable blogger versus someone who's like, looking at the latest electric vehicle trends. It's both you know, sustainable. So even like going back into like, getting that niche area that you're interested in is helpful. So that's what's been nice about green.org is we've been relatively broad about selling like the sustainable space so we can kind of be flexible with it. But then there are other you know, zero wastes bloggers who are huge on social media. So yeah, it's kind of like being strategic again, starting it off and knowing like what lane you want to stick in, is really important.
MP: Yeah. Well, I really loved our conversation. I think we spend so much between everything from North Face to understanding what's happening in media to spending our time on Tik Tok. Are there any final thoughts that you want to leave with us and our listeners?
DW: Yes, no, all the same questions, but for you, I want to hear all of your thoughts and feedback. Where do you see the media industry going in 5-10 years?
MP: You know, I think I think it comes down to citizen journalism, to be honest, I think it's really going to be people like you or me, who are delivering the content. And I think we're gonna continue to see brands owning it themselves. You saw that with like Andreessen Horowitz or like, we're just gonna launch our own media division, and we'll put our own news, some of our startups some of them that we don't. And so I think you'll see that a lot of brands doing it on their own, and not always depending upon mainstream media to cover it. So that's what I like the like the citizen journalism or like the brand doing it themselves, but I think it's going to be that type of own content.
DW: Yeah, exactly. Couldn't agree more. No, no other thoughts on my end, just hope that you know, everyone has a good day, six days a week. If you're interested in hearing about, you know, sustainable leaders and business owners and people who have you know, kind of walk the walk and talk the talk, we would love if you came to the green summit, we're basically using green.org to pull together like an all-star cast and list of speakers, business owners, influencers, leaders and giving them a platform to share sort of their vision of what a sustainable future looks like. So hopefully, we see that it's the events are so fun, and so inspiring. San Diego, one in New York City.
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