Conscious Capitalist Profile

By:Rebecca Saltman Issue: Conscious Capitalism Section: Collaborator Profile

Rick Tallman

Conscious Capitalist

When I was asked to think of people who demonstrate conscious capitalism, living their mission and who catalyze collaboration within their communities, one of the first names that came to mind was Rick Tallman. Rick is a veteran entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Renova Capital Group, and founder of the Tallman Group, a nationally-recognized consulting firm, working to improve the governance and management of American non-profit organizations. He established his reputation years ago as not only a successful entrepreneur but a dynamic agent for collaboration; leading four early-stage companies through hyper-growth and eventual public offering or acquisition, and six non-profit agencies through successful start-up or total reorganization. Rick serves on a number of corporate and non-profit boards, frequently lectures on the subject of social entrepreneurship, and if all of this weren’t enough, he was a Company Commander in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, holding both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. I don’t know about you but this all makes me feel like I am standing still in the very midst of an Iron Man Triathalon.

Earlier this year at the Responsible Economy Roundtable, Rick described a masterful collaboration that Renova Group is developing with Mi Casa, Main Street Power, ICAST and Morgan Stanley to get solar panels installed on the roof of the Mi Casa facility located in Denver, Colorado. Mi Casa’s mission is to advance the economic success of Latino families through three program areas; business, career, and youth and family development. From an outsider’s perspective such an undertaking may seem like a simple project. However, this collaboration allows for every single stakeholder to receive exceptional value and nails sustainability by continuing well into the future.

Here’s how everybody benefits from this effort:

  • Mi Casa wins because they get a 30kW solar power system installed on their roof, a free energy audit, energy efficiency work on their facility, a much lower electric bill, education/job-training programs in solar, roofing and energy efficiency work for the participants in Mi Casa’s programs, and a brand new roof.
  • Morgan Stanley wins because they make a reasonable return on their investment and are able to point to demonstrable, sustainable support within the local community.
  • Main Street Power wins because they earn a small fee, receive an excellent marketing opportunity and strengthen their own triple own bottom line. Moreover, Main Street Power will give at least 50% of the man-hours of the project while training and hiring previously unemployed people from the community in partnership with Mi Casa.

Additionally, Main Street is implementing similar programs, together with non-profit partners, in low-income neighborhoods in California and New Jersey. Utilizing the Colorado plan allows the imminent return to be exponentially greater because it is both scalable and replicable.

Rick has also taken risks that most non-profits would never broach given their scale and vision. One of the most startling examples is his acclaimed success, several years ago, in eliminating all fundraising events from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado (BBBS).

Tallman was able to shift major corporate sponsors from outcome-specific “event sponsors” to “programmatic collaborators”, enforcing a broader vision on the part of those contributing funds. In the old model, sponsors would buy a table at fundraising dinners. The innovative BBBS of Colorado asked one of its key sponsors to put the $10,000 it would have invested in the dinner into adopting a School-Based Mentoring (SBM) site school instead.  The sponsor agreed, and was able to make a value-added contribution without increasing its financial commitment. This not only showed measurable impact but also developed a strong case for future collaborations.

Event planners and their vendor companies needn’t feel their bottom line threatened, however. Rick still sees the need for events whose agendas celebrate collaboration, cultivation, gratitude and recognition. He feels strongly about creating a fun way to value the contributions of all of the partners in improving the lives of those served by the organizations with which he works.

Rick will never be accused of thinking small or inside the box. Tallman pitched the T. Boone Pickens Foundation about a partnership to expand youth mentoring programs serving the U.S. military community. Under Tallman’s leadership, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) sought a national partnership with the T. Boone Pickens Foundation to profoundly improve the lives of military families in communities across the country, asking for $600,000 per year for five years. Dozens of the affiliates had already developed local military partnerships as a spontaneous response to the need in their communities. Yet the lack of a concerted national effort greatly limited their ability to bring programs to scale and more effectively support those that serve us every day. The proposal showed innovation, value and significant impact.

The collaboration and innovation paid off. On October 8, 2008 the T. Boone Pickens Foundation awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters a five-year $3 million grant that will provide professionally supported mentoring services to substantially more children of deployed military. With more than 700,000 American children having at least one parent actively serving within the U.S. military, the grant could not be more timely or necessary.

With the grant, Big Brothers Big Sisters will more than quadruple the number of children served of deployed military families. Professionally supported services provided by the nations nearly 400 Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies include screening, training, meticulous matching, ongoing match support, activities and outcome evaluation. The T. Boone Pickens Foundation grant will allow agencies that serve deployed military families to add support staff, enhance program awareness among local commanders and create targeted recruiting materials.

Doing a little research I came across a definition of conscious capitalists: conscious capitalists (or business people engaging in conscious capitalism), “put values first before profit.” It’s capitalism infused with “soul.” One of the things that I find most extraordinary about Rick is he is a shrewd business man and equally astute at creating social profit partnerships and collaborations. Rick truly models capitalism infused with soul!

Rebecca Saltman is a social entrepreneur and the President and Founder of an independent collaboration building firm designed to bridge business, government, non-profits and academia. Contact Rebecca at rsaltman@foot-in-door.com.

Learn more about Renova Capital Group at www.renovacapitalgroup.com.