The world-premiere of a rap video is not your typical event for the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. But then again, everything about the third annual Social Enterprise Symposium, hosted by the Smith School’s Center for Social Value Creation March 31, 2011, encourages students to think beyond business as usual to innovative ways to incorporate social good into good business.
So where does the rap video come in? Honest Tea founder and CEO Seth Goldman debuted his company’s musical tribute to organic living, “Rethink What You Drink,” as the part of his keynote address to kick off the symposium. Nearly 600 university students and others packed the Hoff Theater at Stamp Student Union to hear Goldman, then attend a number of breakout sessions covering topics from social entrepreneurship to sustainability.
Goldman said his keynote and the rap video — a slap-stick follow-up to a video produced by Stoneyfield Farms yogurt company – capped what has been a “wild” month for his company, which was acquired by beverage giant Coke on March 2. He spoke about starting his company 13 years ago with a mission-driven vision, based on his values of minimizing environmental impact and maximizing health benefits to consumers, and how he has maintained that mission while innovating and growing.
Goldman encouraged students and future social entrepreneurs:
- Ingrain your mission in your career and pursuits.
- Be passionate and don’t give up. (Goldman admits he still wakes up in the middle of the night, excited with new ideas for Honest Tea.)
- Create a team and succeed together.
- Be semi-realistic. Pay attention to objective realities.
- Balance life and work.
“Where we’re going is not pretty,” he said, talking about the world’s environmental, social and economic challenges. But he was excited to see so many students in attendance and joining the conversation started at the Social Enterprise Symposium and the Center for Social Value Creation. “You’re in a wonderful packaging facility – make the most of it,” he told students.
Goldman’s keynote was followed by sessions on conscious capitalism, an emerging business paradigm that measures value and well-being for all stakeholders; business opportunities in reducing obesity and increasing healthy eating; corporate sustainability; and women in businesses. A second round of breakout sessions had students hearing from successful social entrepreneurs; learning about financing economic growth in Africa; finding sustainable careers; and understanding sustainable product design. MBA students were invited to participate in a case competition sponsored by GE Healthcare.
The event culminated with a networking fair and reception, during which participants had the opportunity to speak with representatives from more than 20 organizations, including the event’s sponsoring companies. Ernst & Young served as the gold sponsor; PWC and KPMG were silver sponsors; and Constellation Energy, Macy’s and Pepco were bronze sponsors.
This was the third year the Center for Social Value Creation hosted the event, organized by students in the AshokaU Terp Changemaker Team. Championed by Melissa Carrier, executive director of the Center for Social Value Creation, the club is part of the university program started by social entrepreneurship organization Ashoka. The University of Maryland’s Terp Changemakers are supported by the Center for Social Value Creation and one of the original programs in Ashoka’s Changemaker Campus group.
Portions of the event were streamed live and archived footage can be viewed online: www.livestream.com/creatingvalue.