Posted 02.06.2018

How to Build a Movement to Change the World

In 1993, David Gottfried had a vision that he wanted change the world, and so he started the U.S. Green Building Council to promote sustainable building. USGBC is the owner of the LEED Green Building Rating System, which is in over 160 countries, and the largest rating system in the world. Next Gottfried founded the World Green Building Council, which now has member countries in over 100 countries to promote green building in their own countries while working to reach environmental goals on a global scale.

Gottfried is now focusing on using his experience and success to help others turn their passions into world-changing work. To that end, he now serves as CEO of Regen360, a company that helps organizations start-up and scale transformative movements that not only build legacy, but advance triple-bottom-line profitability.

Gottfried has developed a seven-step framework based on his Green Building Council successes to teach others how to build and sustain a movement. He calls this initiative BuildMove™. According to Gottfried, this framework is aimed at two types of people. The first are those already working in a given sector who “want to add more transformation into their business and add personal legacy.” He singles out Vincent Siciliano, CEO and President of New Resource Bank, as an example of the first type for his work to green the banking system. “Vince was just a traditional banker, who saw ways to add in sustainability to banking. I want to teach how to bring transformation into what they are doing, help it go viral, and build a movement,” Gottfried says.

The second type of person who can use Gottfried’s BuildMove™ framework includes those who are already bringing world-changing ideas into their work and need help expanding and improving their mission. “I’m mentoring colleagues who are in the transformation game,” says Gottfried. “One in sustainable products, another woman is running a sustainable financial standards business, and one is defining and spreading eco-districts.”

So where should organizations or individuals who want to take the first steps toward changing the world start? Gottfried has some specific suggestions: First, find your passion. “Do you hate waste? Hate traffic? Can you add legacy into your field of expertise? Find something you can work on with gusto and longevity,” he suggests. Then, develop a short strategic plan by writing down and delineating what you want to create. Ask yourself what change you want to achieve in the metrics of health for the planet and people. Says Gottfried: “Stop dreaming and thinking internally, and just start. Google taught us that ‘scrappy’ is okay and even preferred. You can put something incomplete into the world and get immediate feedback that helps you steer the creation in positive directions that you may never have envisioned.” Gottfried has an online BuildMove™ quiz to help you assess if you’ve got the right stuff to build a movement and transform the world:

Such a leap may seem intimidating, especially to people or groups that do not have financial resources to draw on. But even people without money can launch a movement, Gottfried assures us. “With social media you can go viral and reach across the world as you find, recruit, inspire,” he says. He also recommends starting a membership program, which can provide initial funds through dues. Corporations and foundations also can provide funding. Some media companies will do pro bono work to help with media campaigns if they believe in your cause.

It’s vital, in Gottfried’s view, to find your tribe. “The best thing you can do is to get others around you who share the passion,” he says. “They will be CPR for your soul, and they can carry the baton when you’re tired, helping your vision thrive for the long-term.”

And above all, passion must be the driving force behind any effort to transform your work and the world. “Passion is the divine. You have to have the spirit to climb the mountain, especially when it gets steep and hail starts to fall on your head,” he says. “Why am I here? What do I do in the limited time I have left? — are critical questions to ask yourself regularly. A big bank account isn’t enough. It’s about self-worth, and not just net worth.”