Hundreds of green building professionals from all over the nation will be making their way to Seattle this week for the International Living Future unConference, a highly anticipated event purposed to take on the most significant sustainability issues of our time.

Are you planning to attend? With our headquarters located in Seattle, we couldn’t relate more with this year’s theme of “place and community,” and look forward to connecting with our clients, colleagues and peers in the city we love. Our team will be well represented and we’ll be on the lookout for familiar faces and new connections.

Don’t miss our session on Thursday, April 2 at 3:15 p.m., where Director Brad Pease and Vice President of Talent Management Julie Honeywell will present alongside Donna McIntire of the Department of State Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations. The panel, titled “The 6 Source Secret for Influencing Sustainable Behavior to Promote Health & Vitality of Buildings,” will uncover different ways to leverage human behavior to create lasting and impactful sustainable change. By using the Influencer Model developed by VitalSmarts, they will challenge attendees to look at how their sustainable programs are implemented and help improve success through behavioral change strategies.

Interested in getting the inside scoop on these leadership secrets in advance? Come to the panel prepared by reading the previous post below from our Abundance Blog leadership series, where Julie summarizes the main factors to create change within an organization.

If you are attending the conference and would like to meet up with one of our consultants, leave a comment or drop us a line at


The 6 Essential Sources of Influence to Become a Sustainable Leader
By Julie Honeywell

At the beginning of my series of posts about leadership in sustainability, I made the bold claim that the success of corporate social responsibility leaders relies on their ability to influence change.

Leaders often fail to execute successful sustainability strategies or programs because they bet on a single intervention to create transformation, rather than a diverse arsenal of influence strategies. Over the past few months, I’ve taken you through a model developed by VitalSmarts that describes six sources of influence to help leaders create lasting organizational change based on measurable results.

Creating Change Requires Decisive Action

A recent survey of 328 organizations conducted by Corporate Culture found that 63% of companies agreed with the definition of behavior change as “an evidence-based process that uses psychology, behavioral science and audience insight to change how people act.”

The vast majority of respondents – 94% – also agreed that behavior change is a key component of a sustainability initiative. Clearly, business leaders understand the importance of enacting change, and acknowledge that it’s more than just nudging people.

Your change initiative is 10 times more likely to succeed in the long term if you take decisive action to develop a methodical approach to change and engage employees through least four of the six sources. My posts go into each source in detail — but below is a refresher on each source of influence. Click on the link in each of these paragraphs to read the original post in its entirety.

Personal Motivation

Tapping into personal motivation makes behavior change real, substantial and ongoing. It’s not enough to tell someone to change, or to tell them why you want them to change – they need to want it for themselves and to commit to the idea of change.

Help your employees connect the sustainable behavior you want to their own personal values. For example, at Paladino, our employees create purpose compass posters to define their own connection to our company value of Abundance. This approach assumes that any successful change initiative must contain an upside, a state of abundance. Sustainability does not imply scarcity.

Personal Ability

It’s important to create an environment that encourages personal involvement in sustainability, but you must also help employees by teaching them new skills. Sending employees to a training seminar isn’t effective without the support systems to ensure they have the tools to deliberately practice what they’ve learned. Give employees time to focus on practicing new skills, assign mentors and view failure as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Social Motivation

Peer pressure might be the most powerful of the six sources of influence. We all have a deeply felt desire to be accepted, respected and connected to other human beings. A raised eyebrow, a curled lip or a small shake of the head can wield more influence than burning platform speeches. Start at the top and engage company leadership as champions of your program.

Then start to engage the rest of the staff. The good news is that you don’t need to change everyone’s mind – seek out opinion leaders who wield influence over their peers and gain their commitment. If your opinion leaders personally value recycling and model this behavior, chances are good that others will follow.

Social Ability

Have you ever experienced the wisdom of crowds? Then you know it works. A large group’s aggregated answers to questions involving quantity estimation, general world knowledge, and spatial reasoning has generally been found to be as good as, and often better than, the answer given by any of the individuals within the group.

Crowdsourcing shouldn’t be used for everything, but can be effective in choosing among alternatives, creating alternatives and vetting your tactics. Engaging groups that will be impacted by your change strategy will help gain buy-in and foster collaboration. They are likely to develop more solutions than a single individual struggling on her own.

Structural Motivation

Non-human factors also influence the way individuals and organizations behave. You may be surprised to learn that several of the traditional rewards systems, such as bonuses, won’t necessarily create the behavior change you are seeking. That’s because rewards systems often focus on results and not behavior. Consider designing rewards that mean something intrinsically to us as human beings and emphasize the three main sources of personal motivation – autonomy, mastery and purpose. As author Dan Pink says, “You probably want to do something interesting; let me get out of your way.”

Structural Ability

Our physical environment has a subtle but significant impact on the way we work. Changing “things” to achieve the behavior we want is one of the easiest sources to implement. Things are much easier to change than people! Use your work environment to your advantage – make the behavior you want easy, and make the behavior you don’t want difficult. For instance, if you only stock green cleaning supplies in your building, it’s impossible to use anything else.

Getting the Results You Want

As you begin to plan your influence strategy, remember your role as a leader is to focus on three to five high-leverage behaviors or actions that, if routinely enacted, will lead to the results you want. Think of these key behaviors as the lead dominos – they start a chain reaction that leads to an outcome. It takes some investigation to determine the behaviors you are trying to change. You need to ask yourself the question, “If everyone just did this one thing, would the rest would fall into place?”

It’s easier said than done and won’t happen overnight. Once you know what behavior you want, work to develop six-source influence strategies by researching best practices of the experts who have done it before. Then conduct mini-experiments to see what works and refine as you go.

As sustainability leaders, you are laying out a road map for reinvention in your organization.

We’d love to hear your stories about how you changed behavior in your organization. Please leave your comments below.

Julie Honeywell is Vice President, Talent Management, at Paladino and Company. To read her previous posts in this series on Sustainable Leadership please click on:

Transform Your Organization by Just Changing “Things”
What Does it Take to be a Leader in Sustainable Development?
Creating Change by Having Clear, Compelling and Measurable Results
Is it the Carrot or the Stick That Motivates Employees? 
Two Heads Are Better Than One in Creating a Sustainable Organization
If Everyone Recycled – Would You?
Practice Makes Perfect in Executing Sustainability Strategies
Motivating Employees to Achieve Your Sustainability Goals

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  1. Americans Flocking to China

    Did you know that at the end of 2014 there were almost 600,000 Americans
    found to be living in China according to a recent a Chinese

    Some are taking jobs in the booming economy, some are there for the
    incredible education opportunities and some are even retiring to China.
    Whatever the reason, each year China is seeing a growing amount of
    Americans moving in. This year the country began issuing Visas lasting
    for 10 years to Americans – previously the Visas lasted only one month.
    As a result, the United States embassy is offering tourist-level Visas
    for 10 years to people coming over from China. With the increase of the
    wealthy in China, however, the chance of someone from China staying
    longer than 10 years is unlikely. Experts say that China now offers a
    higher number of opportunities than the United States, meaning people
    from China no longer visit America for economic relief. The United States
    was once a land of hope for the impoverished of China, but in the last 10
    years, China has restructured its economy and moved 600 million of its
    residents from being destitute to middle-class.

    This is great news for natives of China, but how does that translate to
    so many Americans moving there?

    Economic Stability:

    “China is transforming into a world super power, not using military
    force, but instead by using financial prominence.” Economic expert David
    Reagon says, “China is closing deals all across the globe involving
    commodities, rare metals and even long standing contracts for resources,
    natural and otherwise.”

    In contrast, U.S. policy assists other countries financially as
    settlement for support on matters as the war on drugs and international
    terror. The U.S. policy relies on a hopeful monetary trickle down,
    meaning the wealth will hopefully get to those who actually need it.
    Success isn’t always guaranteed however. China proves that they mean
    business by building infrastructures that will be beneficial to the
    entire region’s population. These include hospitals, roads, shipping
    facilities and many other beneficial additions – all without prompting.
    Jamaica sports a beautiful convention center built a few years ago by
    China, all in exchange for business relationship that will be secured for
    25 years between Jamaica’s sugar production industry and themselves. Even
    Africa is seeing the benefits of working alongside China for the past ten
    years. By helping other countries China is only ensuring it will have any
    natural resources they need for years to come.

    The U.S. is giving China support in the project known as the Keystone
    Pipeline, a project that will begin bringing cheaper oil from Canada to
    Texas ports. China holds contracts for the steel pipe required for the
    project, once it’s completed they would receive the majority of the oil.
    Normally tankers bringing expensive oil into the U.S. return empty, but
    using the up and coming Keystone Pipeline, these tankers will bring
    Canadian oil into China. Given that China holds the dominating interest
    for Canada’s tar sands project, they get final say in who receives the
    oil, with the U.S. being the only current buyers. Of course this would no
    longer be the case if China were able to transport oil to its own

    Not long ago China and Russia agreed on a long-term contract for oil and
    natural gas, the oil would be coming from Russia’s own pipelines. China
    is clearly making it priority to have long lasting natural resource
    stores for its people. With ample supplies of natural resources, no debt
    or ongoing wars, it’s not hard to see why China’s economy is so


    The editor of Escaping America – David Goodwin – stated, “China’s transit
    network is astoundingly effective. I don’t see any reason to purchase a
    car. I get around locally by the metro system and I get between cities
    with bullet trains. This all costs around 90% less if I were to own a
    vehicle. As of now China has more than 1,500 bullet trains; the U.S.
    currently has none. The price of riding a bullet train is lower than a
    lunch in the U.S.

    “Airlines are low-cost as well, flights can be as low as $50 and “up
    to” $200 for a flight across China. All with just a single day of
    booking. There’s also zero fees for baggage. Large cities have easy to
    use metro systems that are simple to navigate for Americans with English
    announcements and signs, as well as helpful digital displays.

    “If you need a taxi, they’re just one click away. Plus, they’re
    government-regulated with meters. Most taxis are cheap, costing a few
    bucks per ride; an hour ride usually totals around $25.

    “Also, I’ve hardly seen any crime. Launching a business in China is easy,
    and the Chinese government makes transferring funds to the country
    simple. You always read that China is pure communism, but from my
    experiences, it feels like capitalism on steroids.

    “The one thing I dislike is Chinese housing. Here
    it is tiny compared to the U.S. However, the Chinese people seldom spend
    time in their homes. Plus, in China I can stay in nice 4
    stare hotels with breakfast for far lest then renting a place in the
    US. On upside of tiny homes, though, is less impact on the

    Family and Lifestyle:

    “China offers such a wide range on things to do that I rarely feel
    bored.” Goodwin explains, “It has anything you can think of, and all of
    it at a percentile of the U.S. price.
    Ranging from shopping to a night on the town, China is simply the best.
    Most of the country is modern, almost all of it is well-planned and
    carefully thought out. It’s also convenient – trains, airports and the
    overall city layout are all super convenient.

    “The entire time I stayed in China, I never saw policemen carrying guns.
    Think on this for a second: Policemen who feel safe enough that they feel
    no need to carry firearms.

    “Another big thing you will experience when you get to China is food
    diversity. You will find amazing dining spots from every national cuisine
    almost anywhere you visit. The food prices are much lower than in the
    state too. You can happily go out to eat daily on a tight budget, and you
    don’t have to pay for tips or taxes. Also, the food quality really
    shines. China’s government has high standards as to ingredients that they
    allow and don’t allow as food additives. Most hormones, chemicals and
    genetically modified ingredients are banned in China. What’s more? Chefs
    are still in charge of the food. By comparison, the U.S. allows
    scientists to make most of its food. General Mills, for example — which
    is among the most prominent food suppliers in the states — has thousands
    of scientists on the payroll, but hardly any chefs. As a result, China
    has much better nutrition habits. You can see it instantly on a stroll
    down any street. You will rarely see anyone overweight. For
    America, well I don’t think any more need s to be

    An Overseas Business Consultant, Kenneth Agee, working for a U.S./China
    dating company known as A Foreign Affair states “In the last 10 years,
    the market for Chinese customers has really expanded. We have over 20
    Chinese offices now. We’ve also witnessed a huge change over those 10
    years. When it began, the customer base was all women from China trying
    to marry men from America and move over to the states with them. These
    days, almost half of the Chinese women seeking marriage are looking to
    move their new husbands to China. The American men we talk about this
    with are reluctant off the bat, but upon experiencing China, they stand
    amazed. Additionally, they’re amazed with how many Chinese women can take
    care of their new husbands financially.”

    A Foreign Affair hosts a monthly event that flies U.S. men to China so
    they can meet women in the country. Hundreds of Chinese women seeking
    husbands are attracted to these events and the women have even coined the
    term “Mail Order Grooms” to describe these men.


    Being a super power in the world’s economic state still doesn’t satisfy
    China. Now their sights are set on becoming a super power in the world’s
    intellectual state. Last month CNN released a special report that
    predicted China enrolling more than three-quarters of the nation’s
    toddlers in preschool. In contrast, U.S. has less than a quarter of its
    preschool-aged children enrolled.

    In 2015, more than 9.4 million Chinese students took what is basically
    the Chinese SAT test. Every single testing facility took countermeasures
    against cheating by using facial recognition-capable film surveillance.
    They even installed specialty materials to the windows and walls that
    blocked all electronic signal. Why are they so adamant about cheating?
    China believes that test scores alone should be the only thing
    universities consider when they decide who gets in – not monetary status
    or or familial ties. To make it better, getting into a university for a
    year in China – of which there are now over 4,000 – costs an average of
    $1,500. The U.S., by comparison, charges up to $45,000 for the same

    While China commits large quantities of resources to education, Doug
    Ducey – Arizona Governor – is cutting funding for education to a
    record-breaking low. America is already ranked 38th in world in
    education. Arizona is now the “proud” owner of the 50th rank in
    the U.S. education. So why don’t politicians and those who financially
    support them do something about the quality public education? Simple,
    they don’t send their children to get Arizona public schools or to State
    Universities. Seth McFarlane’s latest comedy blockbuster, TED2 even takes
    jabs at Arizona’s dismal education system. These ridiculous spending cuts
    were made as a counterbalance because the government issued the wealthy a
    one-billion dollar tax-cut the previous year. This, in turn, has forced
    thousands of teachers to leave education this year alone. An Arizona
    teacher – Linda Collins – stated: “Arizona teachers and Arizona education
    in general receive no government support. It’s that simple.”

    An ironic fact: corporations that benefited from, and pushed for, the tax
    cuts that resulted in education funding cuts, went on to apply for over
    75,000 work Visas. Their argument for this action is that somehow America
    doesn’t provide the skilled labor they need. Another fun fact: The
    majority of those work Visas are from China and other Asiatic


    China’s previous issues with pollution is seeing great success in getting
    it under control. Many cities now have taxis and buses that operate on
    natural gas alone. Even their motorcycles are mostly electric. In
    addition to the the air pollution being reduced, the noise pollution is
    going down too.

    Last year China saw over half of its new energy be supplied by renewable
    sources. Within the same time frame, over 2.5 billion trees were planted
    by over 560 million Chinese people over the whole country. In the 1982 to
    2003 period, Chinese volunteers planted more than 42 billion trees.
    Volunteer-planted trees now span more than 46 million hectares, which is
    about 113 million acres (176,000 sq miles). That’s enough to rank
    China first in the world for human-planted trees.

    Over in the U.S., many leaders of the country are still
    arguing about whether global climate change is just fiction.


    Back in 2008, the political leaders in China decided that the country
    needed major changes for medical insurance and how it’s delivered to
    ensure social stability and a better healthcare system. China has since
    officially abandoned their healthcare system, which was based on market
    principles. This fourth and ongoing phase of China’s healthcare evolution
    is dedicated to delivering cost-effective health coverage for all Chinese
    residents by the year 2020. It’s estimated that, by 2020, almost 100% of
    the population will have comprehensive, if modest, health care coverage
    from government-subsidized insurance.

    China had more than 9,800 privately-owned hospitals as of 2013. This
    gives people choices between public and private medical attention. The
    competition that resulted has maintained low cost and high-quality
    healthcare. To compare, the states has 5,686 private and public
    hospitals. Period. For most people in China, they only have to travel
    just minutes from home to access quality, low-cost healthcare. David
    Goodwin states, “Healthcare is so affordable that I don’t even need
    health insurance to afford to use a private hospital”


    As China continues to grow many Americans are seeing the great
    opportunities and higher standard of living Asia, the
    influx Americans is expected grow over the next few decades
    as more Americans call China home.


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