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A Letter to All Courageous Optimists

KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz, CEO & Founder of Sustainable Brands, addressing the audience at SB'20 Yokohama

August, 2021

Dear Courageous Optimist,

Several years ago, leaders within our community dubbed SB “Home for Courageous Optimists”. This descriptor delighted us then as now, as it describes our ambition since the beginning better than we ever could have.

Since our inception, we have endeavored to provide a safe place for hard conversation about the real state of the world. A place imbued with a focus on thoughtful, progressive, brand-led solutions for navigating our way to a new, more sustainable future. Today we take that responsibility more seriously than ever. The volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world we live in today is an inevitable part of the  transition we must undertake in our time, and it will not be going away any time soon. In this setting the need for accelerating brand led solutions is more necessary now than ever.

In the midst of this volatility, we all have two choices. We can crawl under the covers and pretend business as usual or, perhaps incremental improvements are the best we can do. Or, we can step in and step up to our role as leaders and bravely push ahead to the better world we envision together. We continue to be inspired by the way you all keep choosing to step up, and we aspire to do the same.

Why Face to Face is Important Now More Than Ever

As a company, we chose to ‘go virtual’ long before COVID hit, in an attempt to reduce costs, open the door for more diversity of perspective, reduce our carbon footprint and support the work-life balance of our team. Since COVID hit, we have convened tens of thousands of our community members around the world virtually. We are grateful for the extended reach this format allows, and believe in the power of connecting virtually. However, candidly, we also recognize the limitations we experience as a company, and as a community of not being face to face. We miss the kind of rich human connection that is only really possible through being together face to face — connection that is so necessary to building deep alignment, enabling problem solving sparked by serendipitous human interchange, and most importantly, trust. And trust is the most fundamental and frail of human relationship characteristics necessary to support and enable big change.

For this reason, we are so greatly looking forward to being together again with each other, and with you in San Diego in just a couple of months. Like you, we continue to keep a close eye on safety recommendations as we adapt to the fact that COVID will likely be with us for some time to come. While we completely respect and support individual choice, and are committed to continue to open our arms virtually to all our community members around the world who feel more comfortable joining from the comfort of their home, we are encouraged by safety statistics coming out of large scale events where vaccines are required. And we are grateful that so many in our community have chosen to get the vaccine and are making plans to join us in person.

However you join us, whether virtually, or face to face on our favorite island in San Diego, just please do join us. It is this community of courageous optimists that can and will infuse all the other circles you inhabit with the vision, tangible solutions and hope so desperately needed at this time.

I wish you well on your journey and am very much looking forward to seeing many of you in San Diego.


P.S. Do take advantage of current pricing which will necessarily go up as we get closer to the event.



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