Hotrod and I spent the weekend at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) Energy Fair. Hotrod represented Caleffi and put on a couple of workshops on Solar heating and troubleshooting. It was fun to watch him present! He is so smart…and knows so much about this brilliant, planet saving technology. I am proud of him, and inspired by him.
He wasn’t the only genius at the Energy Fair. There were people of all shapes and sizes and talents sharing brilliant ideas and systems for sustainable energy, housing and food production. We aren’t waiting for these technologies to develop. The technology is here! So why are we still so dependent on coal, natural gas and oil?
Because, dang it, these industries aren’t economically sustainable. Currently energy prices are so low that solar and other alternative energy approaches don’t create an attractive, immediate return on investment. And at some point, energy prices will go up, and that will help. But what else can we do?
If you were around in the 70s, you may remember this Wendy’s TV ad: A feisty old gal looks down her nose on competitors burger and demands to know, “Where’s the beef?” I feel like that old gal when it comes to business. If your business plan is to give services to people who have no money, I’m going to want to know, “Where’s the money?” Without cash and profits, business won’t survive. Or, it can drag on while the debt piles up on the balance sheet, enslaving the owners.
As the weekend progressed, I noticed a troubling theme running through the event. So many of the stories shared included a deep belief that there isn’t any money to be made doing this fabulous work. Or, that it diminishes the work to introduce a profit motive. Sigh. Perhaps that’s the real impediment.
Why do so many business owners have an attachment to poverty? Unless we start to positively connect profits with power, we can’t fund the energy revolution. Big money can be used for big good.
While I was filming this video, a fellow approached me to find out what I was doing. I got on my soapbox and lectured him on my philosophy: Until people understand the real value of what they are creating and doing – from manufacturers to installers – this industry won’t be lucrative enough to have an impact. If profitable business isn’t a priority, sustainable energy won’t be either. Instead of qualifying the message with, “This isn’t a sales spiel, I’m just sharing money saving tips,” what about embracing our sales, marketing and financial responsibilities?
I think I came off a little strong. As he began to back away, he handed me his business card. It had his name, and his wife’s, on it. I couldn’t help but ask, “Does your wife get paid?” Nope. She doesn’t.
Now, it’s not my job to decide what they (or you) should be and do and have. However, I know that there are brilliant people (this fellow included) who can successfully move us from our dependence on fossil fuels to sustainable energy. What can we do to communicate the value of these alternatives? What financial, marketing and sales skills are required? Does it come down to self esteem and personal development skills?
What do you think? Comment below!