In the course of our careers, there are certain key events that change our outlook or approach to what we’re doing, or, in some cases, enhance our social or professional status. For me at least, such episodes typically have never been planned or scheduled, but have rather presented themselves as pure impromptu opportunities. The best examples that come to mind being the pivotal roles I played in the formation of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Crocs.
But perhaps the most significant ‘game changer’ in which I have been directly involved was the development discussed last Friday on National Public Radio and in a San Diego Union Tribune editorial. It’s something I have blogged about before: my being part of the team that negotiated the agreement between the United Egg Producers and Humane Society of the United States on expanded cage sizes and other enhancements for laying hens to make them more humane – reforms that both sides have asked be turned into federal legislation.
But why am I making such a big deal out of this one? Because I believe it has far broader implications than any of my previous career experiences, and could well be a paradigm for other issues I am either currently working on or have taken part in. For example, what if all of the producers of such materials as plastic, glass, aluminum and paper were to agree on the creation of a national infrastructure to collect and reuse them, including a timetable of, say, 20-plus years, along with whatever investment it would take? What if the cattle, pork and poultry industries were to form a coalition to eliminate the regular use of antibiotics? What if all of the coastal countries in the world agreed not to fish for certain threatened species for at least five years in order to give them a chance to replenish themselves?
That’s why I think this particular accord should be regarded not merely as a singular event, but as a bellwether for the cooperative resolution of other problems, as well as disputes. So whatever your cause may be, and though it may have nothing whatsoever to do with chickens, eggs or humane standards, I urge you to take inspiration from this precedent-setting covenant as proof that industry and idealists, or people with seemingly opposing motivations, can work together to bring about constructive change — and to accomplish meaningful reform instead of merely engaging in unending acrimony.