Why We Became a B Corp – Our Most Important Story

Over the years, I have probably tried to explain to my children a thousand times what it is I do for work. I have an eight-year-old daughter (Stella) and a five-year-old son (Truman)  They are smart and inquisitive kids, very curious about the world and how things work. But even with their insatiable curiosity, it’s difficult for them to understand what it is I do at Brains on Fire. If I tell my kids “we are a creative company that believes in the power of human connection,” I don’t exactly see light bulbs turn on. Concepts like advertising, marketing, and communications are just tough for young kids to get — especially the community-focused way we do it at Brains.

For a long time, if you were to ask my kids what I did for work, their answers would vary. For a few years they would answer that, “He pushes buttons,” a clear nod to my nerd-rooted propensities (I wear glasses) and hours spent on a computer for work. Other times, they would tell people that I worked directly for some of our clients. When other well-meaning school parents asked, I would have to clear up that no, I am not a baker or a horse rescuer or kid helper. Most recently I had to clear up that I was most definitely not a laser scientist. That one didn’t have as much to do with my work at Brains as it did with my son’s “overactive imagination” (Read: “being a little liar.”)

Over the last year or so, as they have gotten older, I’ve finally made some inroads with them on understanding what it is I do. It came when I tried to distill our work to its most foundational element and told them, “I help people tell their stories.” That’s finally when I got light bulbs.

If we get deeper together, I say, “We help good people tell their stories better…so that they can do more good and find other good people.”

 

They get that.

 

And they like that.

 

At Brains, this cuts straight to the heart of what we believe… that for humans, stories are really really important. They connect us, inspire us, heal us and help us find our place in a really big world. We believe people want to be a part of a story that is bigger than themselves, and that they want to find themselves in the stories of others. Whether you’re talking about branding, marketing, advertising or community, we believe a lot of it can be distilled to story.

That foundational element of storytelling is why we became a B Corp. Because we drink our own Kool-Aid. Simply put, being a B Corp helps us tell our story.

It helps us tell our story better so that we can do more good and find other good people.

For those unsure, B Corp is a certification. It is to business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee or USDA Organic certification is to milk. B Corps are for-profit companies certified for meeting rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. It means that in addition to profit as one of our legally-defined goals, we also define goals that include making a positive impact on society, workers, the community and the environment.

It’s a verifiable commitment to viewing business as a force for good in the world.

We learned a great deal about ourselves during the long, rigorous, often tedious (but very rewarding) certification process. It’s a process that I will outline for curious folks in a follow-up post to this one. But for this post, I want to talk about the why. Why did our company want to become a B Corporation? Why does it help us tell our story better?

 

Vision


Like any meaningful cultural change, it starts with vision. The vision for B corporations set forth by B Labs is a compelling one that I’ve personally been interested in and drawn to for years. It’s a vision that embraces the AND not the EITHER / OR. You can be both a profitable business AND do good in the world. It’s not an either/or equation.

Being a B Corp isn’t straight up altruism, but it’s also not cut-throat capitalism either. It’s a healthy, responsible, sustainable median. It’s a better way to do business.

It paints a vision of a community of like-minded businesses that take care of their people, their community, and the environment. Businesses that collectively make an impact on society.

We found ourselves in that story. We recognized our own company vision, the vision set forth by Robbin Phillips (our Courageous President), in the vision of the B Corp ideals. And it’s a story we want to be a part of. A next chapter we want to write.

So it has helped us tell the story of who we felt we already are — as well as who we aspire to become.

 

Your People


Becoming a B Corp should be a collective decision. It’s passed down from the vision makers at the top, but you need collective buy in for it to be successful. You need a culture that embraces it 100% and a team that is eager to continue down the path of improvement together.

For us, the reasoning for our certification was most clearly found in our people.

Every day I am privileged to work with kind, generous, equitable colleagues that inspire and challenge me to be a better human.

At Brains on Fire, it was our people who championed our internal program that allows each employee four paid hours of community service / non-profit donation time every month.

It was our people who started the Good Four campaign. A nationwide call to agencies and creative companies to collectively give four hours of good time together on April 4th. 4/4.

Our people that are always encouraging us to be more diverse, more environmentally-conscious, more transparent.

It’s our people who are always pushing us to do more work that makes a real difference in the world.

It’s our people who find their professional purpose in meaningful work.  

For us, it was simple. The B Corporation certification was the logical and best reflection of our people. It helps us tell the story of our people.

 

The Community


For us, the B Corp community is twofold…

First, It means being a part of a community of same-tribe brands, companies, and organizations that all share values and best practices designed to meet our social and environmental goals.

We are excited to join like-minded companies like Honest Company, Patagonia, Method, Good Worldwide and more in shaping the future of business.

Second, the community is our clients.

At Brains, clients are more than just clients. They become our partners and, more often than not, they become like family. The B Corp certification is a reminder to them that we will always be honest and fair and we will always push them to be famous for their people and the ways in which they love them.

It’s also a call to our present and future clients that we believe in doing work that makes a difference in the world and contributes in a meaningful way to the human experience.

Being a B Corp helps tell the story of our community.

 

Your Most Important Story


The B Corp model is a series of expanding circles that starts from the smallest point and expands outward. It begins with your company or team, then expands to your community, and so on all the way out to big, wide world. You take care of your people and expand out from there. It’s what I like best about the model.

 

 

 

But my biggest takeaway during the whole process is that the decision to become a B Corp is a very personal one.

I believe that the smallest circle is you. It’s your family. It’s your smallest hoop of humans. It’s your most important story. The why starts there — and it ripples out. And when it starts there, it’s infectious…because it’s real.

That’s where it started for me. As a dad, shaping a world that’s better for my kids is my why.

But that also means that ultimately this post really isn’t for you. This post is for my kids. Because the why is them.

Children, this decision was made for you. It’s a symbol of your kindness and your curiosity. Of your infinite potential. It’s a promise to you that you can both make a life for yourself AND be a  conscious participant in the world. It’s a reminder that there is such a thing as enough and plenty. And that people are worth it… always. It’s an encouragement that when the dark feels overwhelming, look for the good… because there is always more of it. And when you find the good, roll up your sleeves and join it. It is a road map. For a brighter tomorrow.  But a map with new horizons to be discovered and built.

Stella, it’s a hammer for your glass ceilings. The strong, smart, creative and talented women that I work with (and also your momma) are your testament that with hard work you can do anything you want in this world.

Truman, it’s an encouragement that the privileges you carry come with the responsibility of empathy and action.

It’s an evergreen reminder to both of you that stories are important. A reminder to hear as many stories as you can and to look for the “human-ness” in whatever you choose to do when you’re grown.

Children, you are my most important story. And I’m beyond proud to be your papa and to take a brave step in this direction with the good people that I work with.

One day, I hope this helps you better understand what it is I do. But more importantly… why I do it.



Like this post?

Why not share with a friend?