Ben Franklin & Dick Franklin

By: Gayle Dendinger Issue: Global Trade Section: Inspirations

Why do they do it?

Inspirational leaders put forth tremendous energy, display unstoppable determination and pay a high price, to bring shared vision, collective genius, and collaborative creativity to fruition.

The early colonies and subsequent United States were truly blessed to have Benjamin Franklin, as such a leader. With his many different interests and wonderfully diverse careers, Ben Franklin has not only served as an inspiration to many people, but also as a catalyst around which many historical and world changing events have occurred. Among his legacies is the great wisdom he has imparted, some of which is highlighted below. He said,

“Think of these things, whence you came, where you are going, and to whom you must account.”

“It isn’t what you know that counts; it’s what you think of in time.”

Fast forward about two and a half centuries, to a lunch with this Founding Father’s great, great, great, great, great, great, great, nephew (I am assuming), Richard Franklin. Richard personifies Uncle Ben’s sage wisdom and has put his great words into action.

“Think of these things, whence you came…”

Richard was born and raised in Toronto. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from St. Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; a Master of Business Administration from Dalhousie University, Halifax; and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Commerce degree from SMU, Nova Scotia in 1999.

Dr. Franklin related that he has 25 years of CEO, COO, CSO, and SVP level experience with corporations such as Reebok, Coors, Head, Seven-Up, and TCI. He has leadership experience on three continents, in multiple industries and for companies ranging from multi-billion dollar businesses to I.T. start-ups. He has dealt with competitive business challenges from icons such as Coke, Budweiser, and Nike; to global launches, re-branding, and product line extensions.

Richard explained that his expertise is in strategic planning, futuristic visioning and creative positioning for optimal competitive advantage and long-term growth; he founded Envirobrand for which he serves as CEO.

“Think of things…where you are going, and to whom you must Account.

Ben and Dick Franklin Richard’s passion is creating eco-strategies and envirobranding in a carbon-constrained world. He assists corporations and non-profits in transformational, cultural and process change, which brings about more profitable, competitive and sustainable business strategies for the future.

His goal is to create a harmonious relationship between the environment and the daily realities of living. Using a concentric circle model, Franklin illustrates a central hub representing the environment, ecology, and quality of life while the outer ring represents jobs, housing, food, and other basic needs. He is concerned that small businesses are so preoccupied with the daily business that it will be difficult for them to add social responsibility and ecology-friendly solutions to their business strategy and execution. As a result, he is challenged to encourage and assist with transformational change in small businesses going forward.

As we progressed through lunch, Dr. Franklin reiterated that he is greatly interested in the environment because the future of his children, their children and generations of all living things depend upon on what we are doing today.

“We must hang together, or we will assuredly hang separately.”

Over dessert, he explained that he grew up appreciating the sea. He recounted his grandfather’s tales about the massive amount of fish in the Grand Banks - where you could simply drop a baitless hook and reel in a cod. An avid diver, Franklin has amassed over 1,000 dives in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, not to mention countless islands, archipelagos and fresh water lakes around the world.

Over the last 40 years, he has watched the reefs, coral, and marine-life slowly dwindle, until they are only a shadow of their former selves. In fact, the populations of fish and sea creatures have been greatly reduced - in some cases by as much as 90%. His diving experience has been a visual time capsule of the oceans being besieged on all fronts by overuse, misuse and abuse. The problems, however, are not just in our oceans, but in every ecosystem. They are declining, and the rate of decline is accelerating.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”

True to Franklin form, Richard is doing something about it. He has done sustainability work, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects, built Environmental Management Systems (EMS), eco-strategies and envirobranding for organizations such as Merrick, KUSA - Channel 9, Douglas County Schools, St. Mary’s University, Accuwater, and Texas Business for Clean Air.

His many community activities include United Way - Denver, Denver Children’s Museum, Renewable Energy Task Force, Audubon Society, The South Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, CORE, Cenikor, Clean Tech 2010 Incubator, and the Rocky Mountain Clean Tech Open.

“It isn’t what you know that counts; it’s what you think of in time.”

Over the years, Franklin has experienced many things that have motivated him to lead change in the world, especially when it comes to the environment. He is a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Clean Tech Open (RMCTO). The RMCTO was founded on the belief that the best way to improve and preserve the environment is through technology. The goal is to link world-class innovators who will ensure that the best and brightest ideas are developed with the resources and funding to grow into a thriving clean tech company. Ultimately, the goal is to strategically structure and connect the dots between various groups and organizations to achieve measurable goals and make a sustainable difference by collaborating on the most salient issues of the day: deforestation, water, clean energy, pollution, conservation and climate change. It is yet another example of a handful of people - dedicated to a cause - changing the world.

It is encouraging that the experience, professionalism, commitment, and passion of the present day Franklin can again serve as a catalyst around which a multitude of caring people can work together - to restore the earth and improve the lives of it citizens. We look forward to his new book entitled “Ecogeddon 2050” which is slated for a spring 2010 launch.

Uncle Ben would be proud and we are appreciative.