Is it possible to run a billion-dollar publicly traded company and save the world at the same time? When Fast Company posed such a question of Timberland’s third-generation CEO Jeffrey Swartz two-and-a-half years ago, his response was to quote Rabbi Tarfon in the Jewish text Ethics of Our Fathers: “It’s not required of you that you complete the task. Nor is it permitted of you that you lay down the task.” advertisement Stratham, New Hampshire–based Timberland may sell boots and clothes, but Swartz’s real passion (and the company’s biggest innovations) go well beyond that. Unfortunately, it’s been a tough business year for Timberland, with revenues and profits down and restructuring claiming some stores. But the company’s efforts to save the world–by greening its products, reducing its environmental impact, pushing its workers to volunteer–are still going strong. Timberland gives employees 40 hours paid leave a … [Read more...] about Fast 50 2008: Timberland
Communication 50 years ago
When Francisca Singh began her new job, she was so worried about her low level of productivity that she figured she might not last very long. Instead, she was given more instruction to help her grasp the intricacies of her work and encouraged to keep at it. advertisement advertisement “You can do it,” Singh’s supervisor told her. “You just need more practice.” To find this sort of nurturing culture in almost any industry is exceptional. But it’s particularly extraordinary considering where Singh works: in the farm fields of California. Singh, who on a recent day was picking seedless green grapes at a ranch just south of Bakersfield, is part of a startup venture that stands to shake up the agriculture industry by improving the way that farm workers are treated, trained, and compensated. Called California Harvesters, it operates for all intents and purposes as a worker co-op (though, technically, it’s a labor trust). … [Read more...] about How a small worker-owned trust could transform agricultural labor for decades
If half of the adults in America picked up this article, they’d struggle to fully comprehend it. About one in seven couldn’t read it at all. advertisement advertisement Now, imagine how tough it would be for these men and women to obtain a decent job. A lack of transportation and affordable childcare are typically cited as the biggest barriers for low-income workers to get ahead. But there’s another fundamental factor that is easily overlooked: A huge part of the American labor force is illiterate. “When you talk about adult literacy, it sounds like you’re referring to a few folks who fell through the cracks, but that’s not the case at all,” says Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, the founder and CEO of Cell-Ed, a for-profit social enterprise that is making promising strides in combating the problem with a mobile learning platform targeted at low-skill workers. “It’s a hidden epidemic.” Formally launched four years ago, … [Read more...] about This mobile learning platform aims to combat the “hidden epidemic” of adult illiteracy.
In 2010, Ahmad Reza Zahedi started a website design business called TechSharks. It was the realization of a longtime dream for Zahedi, 30, a modest, soft-spoken man who sports a short ponytail and who, like so many other tech entrepreneurs, fell in love with computing as a teenager. He recalls with undimmed wonder the summer day 16 years ago when an older brother brought home three boxes. Inside one was a keyboard. Another held a 14-inch monitor. The third, a computer case with everything else. The Zahedi family’s first PC “was terrific for me,” he says. advertisement advertisement Better yet was an accompanying gift just for him. “It was a book about learning Pascal,” says Zahedi. “I started learning programming, and I would sit and work on the computer all day long. I never got tired.” He improved his coding skills online, and he played games–lots of them. “I love games too much,” he says bashfully. “I have … [Read more...] about In The Heart Of Afghanistan, Entrepreneurs Innovate For Peace
“We have the meats!” advertisement advertisement The unmistakable Arby’s tagline is voiced by Golden Globe–winning actor and unmistakable baritone Ving Rhames, who has saved the world time and again by crafting spy gadgets as Luther Stickell in the Mission: Impossible franchise. For Arby’s, he presents “the meats”—an equally essential weapon in the fast food arms race. “We put a bold flag down,” says Jim Taylor, Arby’s chief marketing officer, of the tagline that launched in 2014. “If you are someone with us, who shares a passion for high-quality meat cooked the right way as deliciously as possible, we’re going to be a place you can get an abundance of different types of meat as a centerpiece for every sandwich.” Indeed, in the age of plant-based Impossible burgers and Beyond Meat, Arby’s has not only decided to resist the rising tide of veganism and flexitarianism, it’s positioned … [Read more...] about Arby’s is betting $3.9 billion that its customers don’t want fake meat