Steve Burt answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.
Steve Burt is the Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, founder and original investor in EQi. Steve has spent the past 14 years working with economics data relating to sustainability value, P&L resiliency and investor risk.
We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday.
What’s your mission?
My mission is to democratise sustainability knowledge to allow all humans to make personal choices regarding the way they wish to contribute to reducing human impact.
I believe we all need to understand how we can maintain our economic profitability within the ecological balance needs of the planet and enhance our diverse global societies through business and lifestyle compatibility. Marketing spin and Guru opinions need to be banished and untarnished information needs to be made readily available throughout our society.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I can honestly state that I had no single objective or career path; I naively lived for the moment and learnt what interested me. As a dyslexic I found it sometimes challenging to focus on a career direction hence pursued knowledge that captured my imagination.
How would your friends describe you?
I would like to think my friends would say I am honest, ethical, a straight talker, a dreamer who likes a glass of red and good whisky … and has never grown up….
What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?
I realised some 15 years back that there was a disconnection between what was being observed and measured by science and people’s understanding of the reality and how it will affect them in their lifetimes. It became apparent to me after reading Lord Stern’s Economics of Climate Change that we need to help people and business better understand and relate to the consequences of unbridled consumption.
I distinctly remember walking down Pall Mall in London after a meeting with analysts about how to factor in climate change into fund management and thinking that we need to understand that, if there is a risk, what it really is and how can we mitigate its effect.
I realised that we needed a real-world measurement mechanism to accurately understand operating and P&L risks that could impact economic growth and resilience. We need financial grade metrics that provide clear measurement that cannot be fudged or gamed to identify success or failure.
Who or what inspires you?
Ordinary people who do extraordinary things. I have been blessed or lucky to have met many people throughout my life who have touched my soul with their honesty and actions.
My children and grandchildren inspire me to think about how my actions today will impact their tomorrow.
What really grinds your gears?
Apathy irritates me since that’s a copout. Second would be dishonesty which we experience everyday through media hype and political speak.
Describe your perfect day.
Cooking meals from breakfast to evening dinner for my children and grandchildren; then having a night time dram or two when only the adults are left to shoot the breeze and admire the stars.
What do you see when you look out your window at home?
A rolling garden with stream and wildlife that changes each day and each season. As autumn sweeps in the colours change from the many greens to vibrant yellows, oranges and reds.
What do you like spending your money on?
My family and friends
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
I have a few, the South of France, Southern Turkey and, Tennessee and the Carolinas.
What’s your favourite book?
The Shakespeare play, The Merchant of Venice
What’s your favourite film?
I have a few for very different reasons, A Good Year by Ridley Scott with Russell Crowe; Lawrence of Arabia by David Lean with Peter O’Toole and; Casablanca by Michael Curtiz with Humphrey Bogart.
You’re elected prime minister with a thumping majority. What’s the first thing you do?
Greatly improve communication between the elected and electors to provide an open channel that promotes an interactive democracy. Building local and national consensus, community and wellbeing is key to building a strong and vibrant economy. Hence, making people feel they have a voice is critical to engagement to seek understanding for the hard decisions and support for the policies that are best for the country.
If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?
Russell Crowe since he seems to enjoy life, doesn’t take things too seriously, appears to have a good sense of humour, is not afraid to rip into a subject tongue and cheek and likes a little bevy now and again..
What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?
The best advice was from my father who told me: “Son, the most precious thing you have is your name. Whatever you do in life or whoever you meet, always be fair and honest so people will be proud to say they know you.”
The worst was when I listened to someone who advised me to buy a company when I did not really understand the market. I ended up closing it down. Expensive school fees …
What’s your biggest regret?
Not learning languages, big mistake …
What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?
I would recommend that they consider what aspects of their lives are needs vs. wants – not to restrict consumption or purchases, but to empower sustainable decisions.
Sustainability is not about denial but a balanced understanding of what the effects are of certain types of consumption. The western world has built a society on convenience, fashion and self-gratification without linking a product to the resources it took to put that product in our hands.
What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?
Shared Value Process, a mechanism to balance and connect financial reward throughout a supply chain. Since all resources are either extracted or grown, and each generates its own impact on its journey from source to use to end or life, providing a mechanism to understand, manage and share a resources value from origin to end incentivises all stakeholders to work together to develop sustainable processes.
What’s your favourite quote?
A student once asked Master Zen “When is now?” Master Zen answered “One instance is eternity and eternity is now.”
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Doing what I am doing today with a bit more time on the beach…
And the bonus questions: How would you like to be remembered? – what will they carve on your gravestone?
Don’t live your life by someone else’s script
What is the one question you wanted us to ask you and didn’t?
What makes you tick?
To read other 20 questions with, click here.
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