The Webster’s Dictionary definition of success is – “degree or measure of succeeding; favorable or desired outcome”. The #1 societal definition of success is – “achieving wealth, respect or fame”.
What if success was defined as – “loving all brethren/sistren and positively impacting their lives”?
Lee Zimmerman left Stanford Graduate School of Business with an MBA, but with no real passion for business. “I couldn’t find anything I was excited to do in the business realm,” he recalls. “For whatever reason, it just felt hollow when I looked at business opportunities.”
But he’d been inspired by the school’s innovative public management program, one of the nation’s first business school nonprofit leadership training grounds. Zimmerman decided to work with a San Francisco–based nonprofit, and the experience convinced him to find a way to blend his business education with his altruistic inclination.
Zimmerman teamed up with his former Stanford GSB classmate Brian Anderluh to buy the Evergreen Lodge, near Yosemite National Park, with the idea of creating a for-profit social enterprise company. Starting with 18 cabins, they expanded the 20-acre facility into a resort that included 90 cabins, a tavern, a recreation center, a saltwater pool, and outdoor game areas, among other amenities and services. Then they expanded to a second property, Rush Creek Lodge, which offers lodge rooms, suites, and villas, and uses greywater recycling systems and solar panels to minimize its environmental impact.
Both businesses were built around a self-funded social program that employs high-potential young adults, mostly from urban San Francisco and Oakland, who work for about four months as full-time paid interns in various departments at the lodges. Those interns get job training, exposure to wilderness experiences, and assistance from program staff in planning educational and career steps to help them “build momentum in their lives and realize their fullest potential”.
“Most of these kids live in inner-city neighborhoods and some have never even been to the ocean, let alone visited true wilderness. We’re teaching them that life can be different from what they’ve had.” said Zimmerman.
Evergreen Lodge was certified as a founding B Corporation, putting it in the same corporate category as well-known socially conscious companies such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Revolution Foods.
Looks like strong models of success to me.