Gil Friend: Learning and investing as if we belonged to the natural world | Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

October 27, 2023

What might it be like if we approached education and business as if we belonged to the living world?

In this conversation, I speak with Gil Friend. Gil, a systems ecologist and business strategist, is widely considered a founder of the sustainable business movement. He is noted for inspiring, challenging, and supporting business, policy, and investment leaders to rethink business in light of the challenges posed by climate change and sustainability. Joel Makower describes him as “one of the most thoughtful and creative thinkers I know in the area of sustainable business, adeptly bridging the scientific and technical aspects of sustainability with the practical realities of the business world and its impact on people and the systems in which they operate.” Gil is the founder and CEO of Natural Logic Inc., a strategy boutique advising the world’s leading companies on building “massive value” through business-integrated sustainability strategies. He is an inaugural member of the Sustainability Hall of Fame and was named “one of the 10 most influential sustainability voices in America” by The Guardian. He is also recognized as one of the Bay Area’s “top 25 movers and shakers” in CleanTech. Our discussion includes:

🥥 How can we reconsider capitalism to be reciprocal, not extractive; caring, not alienating; regenerating, not just generating for the few?

🥥 What would happen if we went to school to learn in order to contribute to all life, rather than simply attending prestigious institutions like Oxbridge?

🥥 Approaching capital (of all kinds, not just financial) in ways that meet the needs of all life, re-evaluating even what those needs are systemically rather than individually.

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Benjamin Freud, Ph.D.

Benjamin Freud, Ph.D. is the co-founder of Coconut Thinking, an advisory that supports schools and learning organizations to co-create, co-develop, co-stress test, and co-implement ideas that nurture the conditions for emergent learning. Benjamin is also the Head of Upper School at Green School, Bali. He was previously the Whole School Leader of Learning and Teaching at Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Thailand. He was the Academic Coordinator at Misk Schools, one of the most prestigious and high-profile school in the kingdom. In 2018-2019, he was also the Head of Upper Primary and Middle School at Misk. Prior to this, he was Vice-Principal of the Middle School and High School at the Harbour School in Hong Kong. He holds a Ph.D. in History, an MSc in Education, an MBA, an MA in International Relations, and a BA in International Affairs. Benjamin was born and grew up in Paris, France. He moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and spent 11 years there in different cities before living in the U.K., Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and now Bali, Indonesia. He started his career in consulting for Internet start-ups in Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, working with people whose ambitions were no less than to change the world. This experience had a profound effect on Benjamin's outlook on education, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

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