Interview with Carol Sanford

Carol is a Fortune 500 business consultant working to transform the way social leaders affect change.


Q: Who are you? Introduce yourself as you would at a dinner party.

A: I educate and coach entrepreneurs on how to create financial platforms from which to grow responsibly and ethically. I've been a long-term thinking partner with game changing leaders of businesses like Seventh Generation, Intel Corporation, and Google. I've supported growth of dozens of local start-ups like [Impact Hub members] Community Sourced Capital, Herban Feast, Caruh Salon, and Evrnu. I've also helped foster financial platforms that make it possible to change the course of history with Colgate, leading governance changesn in South Africa, and Kingsford Charcoal, where they won an award for Economic Development. Through my technology and education offerings, I've helped shift stakeholder relationships and responsible business practices which lead to the founding of UN Global Impact. I share stories about all of these experiences in my books. 


Q: What is your background? How does it differ from what you are doing now?

A: For almost four decades, this has been my work. I started as a university professor at San Jose State University in Silicon Valley. Later I worked within businesses to educate them on building strategic thinking, leadership/culture ability and operational changes. Now I'm offering invitation-only programs for business leaders, entrepreneurs, investors and change agents, all working in communities of learners. This is happening in five cities across North America.


Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I'm engaging entrepreneurs, investors, and change agents on a monthly basis to help them change the course of history with their businesses. Being in the ongoing group gives them access to thought leaders and experts from the entrepreneurship and investing community. It also gives them the opportunity to connect with thinking partners from other businesses. Applications are available.


Q: Why did you join Impact Hub?

A: I would like to meet people who are ready to pursue change, using their businesses or their wealth to make a significant difference in society and on the planet. I'm looking to invite the right people into the learning community and to work with game changing individuals. At Impact Hub, I can also offer free talks to support those who have interest.


Q: How do you make money?

A: I educate and coach business leaders in the communities I have formed, or work with their individual business as a whole over sustained time. I bring together entrepreneurs to elevate their critical thinking and decision making capability. This improves their ability to enhance their roles as founders or CEO's. It is carried out in communities of learning where they master helping others think in a more advanced way about business. In similar communities, I educate investors on due diligence of investing opportunities and how to support their business leaders toward success. Plus, I have learning communities of change agents who work with businesses as consultants, coaches, and similar roles.


Q: What is something that really excites you right now (a trend, life development, time of year, food, etc)?

A: My last two books have been WINNERS in their categories! The Responsible Entrepreneur: Game-Changing Archetypes for Founders, Leaders and Impact Investors has won four top Entrepreneur book awards. The Responsible Business; Reimagining Sustainability and Success also won four awards for General Business. Both books include stories of my clients, colleagues and students. They are required reading in more than 100 universities, including Harvard, MIT Sloan, Stanford, U of Michigan. Plus BGI and UW Foster.


Q: You have $10M to spend in the next year, and you can’t spend it on you, your friends or your family. How do you spend it?

A: I would build a center at a University that develops critical thinking skills and living systems thinking practices. This is not the same as currently used concepts like systems dynamics and biomimickry. My intention would be to replace existing business school concepts, even those in sustainability schools, which I believe lead businesses on a false path. This would give individuals the opportunity to fully develop and contribute.


Q: What’s on the horizon for you (a new project, career path, personal development)?

A: I'm aiming to generate two eBooks every year, starting with The Responsible Human by this June and The Non-Displaceability Advantage by the end of this year.


Q: Where do you usually hang out when you are at Impact Hub? How often are you here?

A: I travel so much that I'm only at Impact Hub when I have meetings there, about once a month. I am often upstairs [on the 4th floor] with BGI/Pinchot, or I'm in meeting rooms leading events and developing dialogues on strategy.

Q: What is something we don’t know (either about you, or something else)?

A: Many of the so-called best practices promoted and used by social entrepreneurs are actually irresponsible and work against their intentions. This slows down the large shifts of thinking that can happen in our society, and large shifts of action toward the planet.


Q: Give us your top three Seattle gems!

A: Occidental Street and Square, Pacific Science Center, and the Seattle Seahawks philosophy and coach.


Contact Carol at [email protected].