Cultivating a Cleantech Sisterhood with Lisa Ann Pinkerton, Founder and Chairwoman of Women In Cleantech & Sustainability

From the newsroom to the boardroom, Lisa Ann Pinkerton has used her keen analytical skills to share technology stories with the world for over a decade. She is Founder and CEO of the award-winning Technica Communications, Founder and Chairwoman of the non-profit Women In Cleantech & Sustainability, an international speaker and moderator and documentary filmmaker. She was named a PR Executive of the Year by the American Business Awards (2020), Female Entrepreneur of the Year for Advertising and Marketing by the Women in Business and the Professions World Awards (2020), and a Woman of Influence by the Silicon Valley Business Journal (2017).

Before founding Technica Communications, Lisa Ann was a Senior Account Executive and managed new business operations for the San Francisco PR firm Antenna Group. She got her start as a broadcast journalist covering environmental science in 2001. She was awarded the Best Environmental Journalism award by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2005. Her work has been broadcast on National Public Radio, PBS Television, WPXI-NBC, American Public Media, The Environment Report, Great Lakes Radio Consortium, Free Speech TV, WYEP 91.3FM-Pittsburgh, WRCT 88.3FM-Pittsburgh, and WCPN/WVIZ PBS ideastream in Cleveland.

On episode 146 of the Bigger Than Us podcast, Lisa Ann reflects on the path that led her to realize the gap in women’s networking in cleantech, how she rallied support from women and men to create a more diverse space that benefits everyone, and her mindset on learning from failure.

By catalyzing a platform for women and men to work together for the green economy and using her voice to inspire and educate, Lisa Ann Pinkerton is having an effect that is Bigger Than Us.

Take me to the podcast.

When the Newsroom Was No Longer Enough

My commitment to the planet came about because I recognize that she doesn’t have much of a voice. And I could help be that voice and that catalyst for change.

What I think people do find interesting is that I got my start as an NPR reporter and in PBS broadcast journalism. I did environmental science. I learned a lot about media and how to make a story compelling and how to read your audience.

It was very early, but people were very passionate. They were just starting to figure things out. And the economics were almost there to a place where it could go more mainstream.

So I covered a lot of technology pieces anytime I could, but at the same time I would cover environmental pieces, things that could excite people about nature, because our theory was if people feel inspired by nature, they’re more apt to want to protect it.

But at the same time, I recognized that there was a lot that these cleantech companies needed in terms of media exposure and support, and they weren’t getting it. And one story from me, even if it was from NPR wasn’t going to change their world all that dramatically. They needed a lot of those stories. So that’s why I evolved my career into public relations, and then eventually founding Women in Cleantech and Sustainability.

Filling the Feminine Networking Void in Cleantech

I started recognizing, well, women definitely network differently than men. And I wanted to bring these two worlds together.

I was going to a lot of co-ed networking events. It would be me and five women in a room of 150 people, and we would all naturally gravitate towards each other. The men I would meet would assume that I was somebody’s assistant, or I was right out of college, but not that I was a business owner.

I wasn’t the CEO of a big tech company or that kind of thing. They weren’t interested in talking to me, never mind the fact that I have a massive network, and I could probably connect them with multiple decision-makers that they’re looking to connect with. But they never took the time to get to know me.

At the same time, I was going to a lot of women’s entrepreneurship events. It was night and day, the experience. I felt inspired, I felt energized, excited about what I was doing. I felt the support from the other women there. And I started recognizing, well, women definitely network differently than men. And I wanted to bring these two worlds together.

There were maybe a couple of other women’s organizations in the Bay Area, they had chapters, but nobody was holding any meetings. And nobody was — if they were holding meetings, they weren’t really very interesting topics, not topics that I was interested in. And they weren’t regular.

So I started Women in Cleantech and Sustainability, to be an educational and networking organization that would support women and men in their careers in this field, bring greater gender diversity across the spectrum, and also inspire women to be the natural leaders that they are.

Giving Female Industry Leaders a Voice

What we know about the roles that women aspire to: they are the ones that they see other women being successful in.

When I recognized that there was a dearth of women showing up in the industry, we knew they were there, but they weren’t visible. So we brought them out into the light so that they could meet each other and support each other.

We started doing WCS talks, which is a TED-style event that Google hosts every year, in 2014. We just invited some of our female colleagues who we thought would give great talks, and they had some prominence in their field.

They had never been asked to give a talk on their experience as being a woman in the space and how that related to their industry. Through that experience, they realized what their voice was, and the message that they wanted to share with the industry at large.

They went back to their marketing teams at their companies and said, “I want to speak more. Put me on these panels.” And they hadn’t insisted on that before, because they actually hadn’t had the opportunity to speak in a way that was genuine to them in their voice.

What we know about the roles that women aspire to: they are the ones that they see other women being successful in. So it’s important for us to highlight women, and show them being successful as a way of encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps.

Seventh-Generation Thinking and Creating a Sustainable Mentorship Model

We are all connected, and we are all together as one on this planet.

How will my action today affect the seventh generation of my family? When you take a moment to consider that, and the spectrum of influence that your decision today will have on people seven generations from now, it changes the motivation for the decision that you want to make or the action you want to make.

I mean, you could say, in 500 billion years, none of us, none of this will exist anyway. So, what does it matter?

You’re here, you’re in this reality, and you have the opportunity to make the best decisions for this reality. We are all connected, and we are all together as one on this planet. We’re all Earthlings. And the only things that divide us are human constructs. And so some of us won’t be here, that’s fine. You have an opportunity today to leave this place better than you found it.

We have a mentorship program that we’ve been running for about four years now. And it is oversubscribed every year. What we do is source mentors from the industry. And we do this once a year. The output of that is that after six weeks, it’s not as if you don’t ever talk to your mentor anymore. These become long-term relationships.

I had no hand in crafting it. You have new board members and new volunteers that come in and learn the ropes, and then the older volunteers will graduate out of running the program after a couple of years. So it’s self-sustaining.

We all know what our mission is. We know what the vision is that we want for our organization and the community at large, and when people have an idea of a program or an initiative that they want to create, the organization supports them in that. We trust them to make the right decisions and to be the leaders that we know that they are to create the program that they envision.

The legacy that I get to leave is through these organizations and inspiring the communities at large that are part of these organizations to go out and make the world a better place.

The Gamer Mindset

Why not be an active player?

Anybody’s willing to live their life as they see fit because honestly at the end of the day, it’s all just a game. And if life’s just a game, if you play video games, you fail a lot, that doesn’t mean you quit. It doesn’t mean you act conservatively so that you’re not gonna die in the game. You just go do what you do.

We all have an opportunity to fail forward, if you will. Because failure gives you data, gives you information, you can make a better decision next time.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about myself on this journey for me that it is okay to fail, and it’s okay to make mistakes. And that people are not going to hate me for it.

You have your players, and you have your NPCs. And I think people get a chance to be a player in the game and not a bystander. If you have the opportunity, why not? Why not be an active player?

The Transcript: Bigger Than Us Episode 146

Host Raj Daniels  00:20

So, Lisa Ann, I like to open the show by asking my guests the following question. If you were asked to share something interesting about yourself, what would it be?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  02:09

Oh, man. Well, it depends on the audience for sure. Some people find certain things more interesting than others. And I think for myself, what I think people do find interesting is that I got my start as an NPR reporter, also, PBS broadcast journalism. I did environmental science. And probably the most famous people I interviewed during my time were John McCain and Robert Kennedy Jr. And those were some really good times at NPR. And I learned a lot about media and how to make a story compelling and how to read your audience. But at the same time, I recognized that there was a lot that these cleantech companies needed in terms of media exposure and support, and they weren’t getting it. And one story for me, even if it was from NPR wasn’t going to change their world, all that dramatically. They needed a lot of those stories. So that’s why I evolved my career into public relations, and then eventually founding Women in Cleantech and Sustainability.

Host Raj Daniels  03:13

So can you place us, from a time perspective, when was this?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  03:18

I was an environment science reporter between 2001, and I think the last report I did in 2011, somewhere around there.

Host Raj Daniels  03:33

So clean tech was in, what? A very nascent stage just being talked about? Where were we in this journey?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  03:40

It was very early. People joke that I was cleantech before cleantech was cool. And I would cover solar conferences, and one of them came through Cleveland, which is where I was doing most of my local reporting. And it was a very small conference. Probably more Birkenstock shoes than Oxfords and a couple of solar ovens and things like this. So, it was very early, but people were very passionate. And they were just starting to figure things out. And the economics were almost there to a place where it could go more mainstream. And also, because I was in Cleveland, wind was a big deal. I did a couple of big stories on doing some offshore wind within Lake Erie. And what all that would mean and how that would work. So I covered a lot of technology pieces anytime I could, but at the same time I would cover environmental pieces, things that could excite people about nature, because our theory was if people feel inspired by nature, they’re more apt to want to protect it. So one story was going down into a cave in northern Pennsylvania, uncovering how a group of people had taken it upon themselves to clean out the cave, because it had been a big party spot for maybe 40, 50 years. And it was just full of trash. And they were mapping the cave and finding really interesting stuff. So cool stuff like that always really kept me going over those years.

Host Raj Daniels  05:19

So staying on the theme of inspiration, what inspired you to start the Women in Cleantech and Sustainability organization? And can you share with the audience your role at the organization?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  05:30

I’m the founder and Chairwoman. And I founded the organization in 2011. It had been about two years since I had founded Technica Communications and I was going to a lot of co-ed networking events. And especially in Silicon Valley, there was the Photovoltaics Society and things like this. And what would happen––two things would happen. Number one, it would be me and five women in a room of 150 people, and we would all naturally gravitate towards each other. The second is that the men I would meet would assume that I was somebody’s assistant, or I was right out of college, but not that I was a business owner. And when I told them I was a business owner, they were like, “Oh, wow, that’s really interesting. Tell me more.” And I remember thinking, well, if I was a guy, this wouldn’t be interesting at all. At the same time, I was going to a lot of women’s entrepreneurship events, because I wanted to learn how to be an entrepreneur, and find my support with, you know, with my gender. And it was night and day, the experience, I felt inspired, I felt energized, excited about what I was doing, I felt the support from the other women there. And I started recognizing, well, women definitely network differently than men. And I wanted to bring these two worlds together. And at the time, there were maybe a couple of other women’s organizations in the Bay Area, they had chapters, but nobody was holding any meetings. And nobody was––if they were holding meetings, they weren’t really very interesting topics, not topics that I was interested in. And they weren’t regular. So I started Women in Cleantech and Sustainability, to be an educational and networking organization that would support women and men in their careers in this field, bring greater gender diversity across the spectrum, and also inspire women to be the natural leaders that they are. And so we have a lot of different aspects of the organization that are, some are more deliberate, like our Mentorship Program, or Executive Leadership Program, and others are more subtle, and they all work in concert to give women that participate in these activities the opportunity to realize the leader that is inside themselves, because a lot of the people that come through our organization, they’ve never been given that opportunity.

Host Raj Daniels  07:56

So let’s go back to something you said. How do men and women network differently? I’m very curious.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  08:04

This is obviously my own personal observation. And obviously, it’s highly generalized. Not everybody’s like this, those are my caveats. But what I have found personally, is that it kind of goes back to that hunter-gatherer mindset. I’m sure you’ve been networking where certain people, they just sort of shove their business card in your face. And they want to know all about you. And as soon as they realize you’re not actually their target market, they try to get out of the conversation as soon as possible. So very targeted, and they’re not actually interested in who you are, or what makes you tick, just sort of, what do you do as a job? And what access can you give me? And my experience, especially early on, was that generally speaking, since I wasn’t somebody’s target, audience, I wasn’t the CEO of a big tech company or that kind of thing. They weren’t interested in talking to me, never mind the fact that I have a massive network, and I could probably connect them with multiple decision-makers that they’re looking to connect with, but they never took the time to get to know me. On the flip side, women in general, tend to want to get to know you first. They want to make sure they like you first, that they want to be your friend, that there can be a friendship there. And if they recognize that, then they’ll do business with you. So when I network with women, generally speaking, we do talk about business, obviously, and what we do with our careers and whatnot. And we naturally make sure to talk about what our backgrounds are or what inspires us, things that are just generally more social aspects of a conversation. And then we’ll go have a meeting afterward, and talk business. Whereas I found that when I networked with men, they wanted to talk business first. And then if there was business there, then they would have a coffee meeting with me a week later.

Host Raj Daniels  10:14

I really do understand what you’re saying, I’ve actually experienced that myself. And I guess it speaks more to my feminine side because I found that that networking meetings, people are almost looking over your shoulder at the next person that they want to go meet once they realize that you can’t help them. And I lean more towards the social aspect of getting to know a person, spending time with a person. And then if I know I can trust them, I guess. And then eventually, if we can do business together, great. But if we can’t, at least we have a friendship or a strong acquaintanceship.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  10:48

Exactly. And I think personally, I teach a lot of networking. That’s part of this stuff that we do at Women in Cleantech, and people are going to change jobs multiple times throughout their careers. So just because they don’t have a direct connection to the action that you’re looking to fulfill through the networking doesn’t mean that they can’t help you in the future, or don’t know people who can help you. Networking is all about relationships. And that’s why I think women are actually really good at it.

Host Raj Daniels  11:16

I would agree. Now, earlier you said women are natural leaders, but they don’t know it. Can you share some of these leadership traits that you’ve seen?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  11:25

Yeah, absolutely. So again, generally speaking, because gender is very fluid. But when you think, in a general way, between masculine and feminine leadership skills, typically, the leadership skills that you hear about, or that you experience or people tell you, you got to be this way, or that way, tend to be more masculine leadership skills. Be competitive, or just make the decision, and then tell people to carry it out. I’m giving a talk tomorrow. I give this talk frequently called Lead Like a Woman. And in general, what it teaches is it highlights these natural leadership skills that are more on the feminine spectrum that everybody has, and everybody should cultivate. And one of them is leading by consensus, getting your team together, and having a conversation about what direction or what decision ought to be made. And some people might see it as weakness because you’re not being a leader and telling people what to do. But when you lead by consensus, you have a more cohesive action that the whole team can carry through and feel inspired to commit to. Another would be leading through empathy. So the masculine trait of this leadership tool, if you will, would be to deny emotions. Emotions have no place in business, get over it, do the job. Whereas a woman might feel compelled to, or someone more on the feminine spectrum, might feel compelled to address the emotionality at hand, to take the time to be there for the person who is having the emotional moment, talk through it, support them as they need. And then understand that once that person is through the experience, they will go get the job done.

Host Raj Daniels  13:43

And I was watching one of your presentations. Can you speak to these two bullet points that I took down here? One is domination as a leadership style, which I thought was very interesting. And the second is seventh-generation thinking, which I love. Seven generation thinking.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  13:58

Yeah. Well, dominance as a leadership style is just, it’s that competitiveness, and forcing your will or your vision on the people that you’re leading, and the ecosystem at large, and, there are times, I’m sure, when that tool is useful, because every leadership skill, it’s a tool. It’s a tool in the toolbox, and the most effective leaders, whether they’re male or female, or any gender in between, it’s about recognizing the challenge at hand, or the moment at hand, and picking the right tool out of the toolbox that’s going to be effective for that person at that moment. So I’m sure dominance as a leadership style has its uses, but in today’s 21st-century world it’s is not going to be as effective as some other tools that are more inclusive. I wouldn’t say gentler but are more collaborative.

Host Raj Daniels  15:17

And the seven-generation thinking?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  15:20

Yes. So this is the way Native Americans made decisions. They took the moment to think, how will my action today affect the seventh generation of my family? When you take that moment to consider that, and the spectrum of influence that your decision today will have on people seven generations from now, it changes the motivation for the decision that you want to make or the action you want to make. And it encourages you to think, in a broader sense, about the consequences of your action today.

Host Raj Daniels  16:12

That resonates very deeply with me, but just for a moment, I want to play devil’s advocate, if you’re okay with that. Lisa Ann, in this day and time, who has time to think about seven generations, and second, I won’t be here. So why should I care?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  16:29

Okay, great points. I mean, if I could also kind of go down the nihilist spectrum, you know, I mean, you could say, in what is it 500 billion years, none of us, none of this will exist anyway. So, what does it matter? At the same time, you are, we are all lucky enough to be existing in this reality, whether it’s a matrix or a one-time opportunity, or whether we come back multiple times. It doesn’t matter. You’re here, you’re in this reality, and you have the opportunity to make the best decisions for this reality. We are all connected, and we are all together as one on this planet. We’re all Earthlings. And the only things that divide us are human constructs. And so some of us won’t be here, that’s fine. You have an opportunity today to leave this place better than you found it. And that’s specifically actually why a lot of conservative politicians and conservative leaders are starting to shift their thinking towards being more sustainably-minded in their political decisions because they recognize that they have a responsibility to their children and their grandchildren. And the other devil’s advocate point you made was, who’s got that kind of time? Well, Elon Musk has that kind of time. He’s thinking seven generations from now, he wants to make us an interplanetary species. On the cynical spectrum, it’s probably because this planet isn’t gonna be that great to live on. From the inspirational perspective, he believes that we are a species that has the opportunity and the intelligence to be existing on multiple planets. And that is an activity that requires multiple generations.

Host Raj Daniels  18:34

It does, and staying on the inspirational perspective because I’m aligned with you there, let’s go back to the organization WCS. Tell me about some of the women that have come through that organization and how you’ve seen women’s participation change in cleantech over the last 10 years.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  18:54

Thankfully, we are starting to see more and more women participating in conferences, and being speakers. So the term “manel” was very real 10 years ago. And I feel really thankful for certain men who were offered many speaking opportunities. And at some point, they decided I’m not going to be on a panel unless you have at least one woman on it and that woman should not be the moderator. Because moderators are facilitators to the conversation. They are not held up as experts in their own right. And so they wanted to move the industry away from just, oh, we need a woman on the panel. Let’s make her the moderator. That doesn’t cut it. So I feel really thankful that we had a series of men who demanded this on the panels that they were invited to speak on. And over these past 10 years, I’m really thankful to see that we see more and more women showing up, more and more women speaking, giving keynotes. And also being supported on the entrepreneurship side. You’re seeing more and more female entrepreneurs within our space, which is very inspiring. I like to think that WCS, you know, helped play a little bit of a hand in that. I do know, several women have come through the organization, who––we started doing WCS talks, which is a TED-style event that Google hosts every year, in 2014. And the first one we did, we just invited some of our female colleagues who we thought would give great talks, and they had some prominence in their field. And the feedback I got from at least two of them was that, A, they had never been asked to give a talk on their experience as being a woman in the space and how that related to their industry and sort of share their story. And through that experience, they realize what their voice was, and the message that they wanted to share with the industry at large. And they went back to their marketing teams at their companies and said, I want to speak more. Put me on these panels. And they hadn’t insisted on that before, because they actually hadn’t had the opportunity to speak in a way that was genuine to them in their voice. I feel very fortunate to have helped facilitate that. At the same time, what we know about the roles that women aspire to: they are the ones that they see other women being successful in. So it’s important for us to highlight women, and show them being successful as a way of encouraging other women to follow in their footsteps. We have had countless women come through our organization, start as volunteers, move up onto the board, and then find their dream job. One woman came through; she moved to the Bay Area. And previously she worked on oil rigs as an engineer. And she would be the only female on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico for months on end. And she has some incredible stories about what that experience was like. So she came to the Bay Area, she wanted to move out of that industry into cleantech, didn’t quite know where to start, and started showing up at some of our events. She became a board member, and then shifted between a couple of committees over the years as she sort of found what inspired her and has been fundamental in establishing our membership program over the years. And then through the networking that WCS provided, she found her dream job in business development for an NGO organization that has an office in Palo Alto. And she feels so fortunate that we were able to provide this conduit for her to meet the people who could give her that dream job. And we have multiple stories like that. I mean, there’s only a handful that I know, and I know that there’s more that we don’t know.

Host Raj Daniels  23:16

That’s very amazing. Can you speak briefly to the mentorship program?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  23:20

Absolutely. So we have a mentorship program that we’ve been running for about four years now. And it is oversubscribed every year. And what we do is we source mentors from the industry. And then our members apply to be a part of the program. And it’s a six-week program. And it has a curriculum, there’s a handbook. And there’s a process to encourage the mentors and mentees to meet and go over certain things in the handbook at each meeting, in addition to just the general account conversations that they might have on their own as a mentor and mentee. And we do this once a year. And the output of that is that after six weeks, it’s not as if you don’t ever talk to your mentor anymore. These become long-term relationships. Because we do take the time to match up the expertise of the mentor with the desires of the mentee to move in a certain direction. Some of our mentees are right out of university. Others have established careers but they want to move into the cleantech space. So they’re looking for someone who can help show them the way there and so there’s a variety of different reasons why people are looking for a mentor. The other thing I really like about the mentorship program is that I had no hand in crafting it. So it’s an example of this hive mind that the board and all the volunteers at Women in Cleantech and Sustainability have. We all know what our mission is. We know what the vision is that we want for our organization and the community at large, and when people have an idea of a program or an initiative that they want to create, the organization supports them in that, and we don’t have to babysit them the entire time to make sure they’re doing it right. We trust them to make the right decisions and to be the leaders that we know that they are to create the program that they envision. And so they did a fantastic job at building that program, and it is self-sustaining. So the people, you have new board members and new volunteers that come in and learn the ropes, and then the older volunteers will graduate out of running the program after a couple of years. So it’s self-sustaining. And it’s just one example of the way the organization has evolved to facilitate and support the natural leadership skills that these amazing women have, but they haven’t been given the opportunity to express them or use them.

Host Raj Daniels  26:11

I love the hive mind mentality. Any plans to expand the organization nationally?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  26:19

Oh, yes. Well, I mean, COVID really forced our hand there. So we always thought, Oh, we can’t go. We can’t expand broadly, we can’t expand internationally, it’s just too much of a lift, how do we do virtual well, then COVID happened. And so we had to do virtual. So we embraced that opportunity. And we went international. So we have, we have a virtual membership option now. And we have paying members from seven different countries, 26 states within the United States. And we also have the Los Angeles chapter, which we established before COVID hit, and then we plan on establishing more chapters over time, as the organization can support them. And we’re an all-volunteer organization. So we are mindful that people have day jobs, and they have lives. And you know, burnout is a real thing, and we don’t want that. We want people to feel inspired and have fun with our community. And so we will grow to these other chapters within the country, you know, as as the ecosystem supports it.

Host Raj Daniels  27:27

Which sounds wonderful. I’m going to switch gears here to the crux of our conversation, which is the why behind what you do. You mentioned 10 years with WCS. And then prior to that, you started Technica Communications, which you started reporting, you said, on the environment, I believe, about 20 years ago. What drew you to that kind of reporting? And what motivates you, what keeps you going in this particular sector?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  27:55

Well, honestly, I think it goes back to those early camping trips with my dad, who was an Eagle Scout, and, you know, leave the place better than you found it. We all have an opportunity to do that now. It doesn’t have to be in sustainability, you can leave the world better than you found it in any number of ways. My commitment to the planet came about because I recognize that she doesn’t have much of a voice. And I could help be that voice and that catalyst for change. And I have certain skills that I could utilize towards that. And so I started out with using my theater degree and my nonprofit master’s degree to do nonprofit journalism, and then from there supporting clean energy startups, to get the exposure that they need to get the funding and the partners that they need to grow, to commercialize. And then with Women in Cleantech, it just evolved even more. When I recognized that there was a big, there was a dearth of women showing up in the industry, we knew they were there. But they weren’t visible. So bringing them out into the light so that they could meet each other and support each other. So that’s why I do what I do. I don’t have any children. I made that conscious choice years and years and years ago. So WCS and Technica, my company, these are my children. And the legacy that I get to leave is through these organizations, and inspiring the communities at large that are part of these organizations to go out and make the world a better place because honestly, I feel like anybody can be––okay, I’m gonna get a little philosophical on you.

Host Raj Daniels  30:04

Please do.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  30:07

Anybody’s willing to live their life as they see fit because honestly at the end of the day, it’s all just a game. And you get a chance to just do what you feel is appropriate for your life. And I have no judgment, right? But at the same time, if it’s a game then you can go do whatever you want. So why not do something big? Why not do something great? And if life’s just a game, if you play video games, you fail a lot, that doesn’t mean you quit. It doesn’t mean you act conservatively so that you’re not gonna die in the game. You just go do what you do. You learn, do better the next time, and continue striving. And at the same time, in a multiplayer game––I’m kind of a gamer. So if you haven’t guessed already, that’s why I have this sort of mindset. You have your players, and you have your NPCs. And I think people get a chance to be a player in the game and not a bystander. Because honestly, people are welcome to, anybody can do whatever they want with their life. I’m not making that kind of judgment. But what I am saying is, if you have the opportunity, why not? Why not be an active player?

Host Raj Daniels  31:25

Why not be an active player? Well, let’s continue on the philosophical road. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about yourself on your journey?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  31:37

Wow, the most valuable lesson I’ve learned about myself on this journey for me that it is okay to fail, and it’s okay to make mistakes. And that people are not going to hate me for it. Or write me off for it. I came from an upbringing where you know, perfection was highly valued. And so I really strive for that. Because if I’m perfect, then I’m lovable. Right? And so through this experience of growing WCS and growing Technica, and just being an entrepreneur, you are going to make mistakes along the way. And those mistakes are learning opportunities, you learn so much from mistakes. And so the lesson is, you know, forgiving myself for making mistakes. And understanding that people aren’t gonna write me off for it.

Host Raj Daniels  32:38

Sounds like a gamer attitude.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  32:44

I mean, a lot of people in especially a lot of the people that I meet, I shouldn’t say a lot. But a common theme of some of the people that I meet through Women in Cleantech and Sustainability is a fear of failure because they want so desperately to get somewhere. And we all have an opportunity to fail forward, if you will. Because failure gives you data, gives you information, you can make a better decision next time.

Host Raj Daniels  33:17

Well, it sounds like you do a lot of counseling as part of the organization too.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  33:21

Yeah, I try. I try to be subtle about it. Because you know, people have to want to hear the advice, right? You want to make sure you have an invitation.

Host Raj Daniels  33:33

I know.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  33:34

I just don’t want to go around telling people how to be because again, anybody is allowed to be any way they want.

Host Raj Daniels  33:39

Right. So let’s move into the future. It’s 2030. You have a magic wand. Where do you see it? What does the future hold for the Women in Cleantech and Sustainability organization?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  33:52

Oh, wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, my magic wand would be, we have a well-funded endowment that will maintain the organization for generations. We have chapters on every continent. And we are having various programs like an entrepreneurship program, which we’re developing now, and flourishing chapters of communities that are supporting each other. And, maybe we’re doing some prominent award recognitions, for all types of genders in the space. And, by 2030, I like to think that the concept of sustainability, clean energy, the energy transition, if you will, I’d like to think that by 2030, these concepts are so naturally ingrained into the industry that we don’t need an organization like WCS. But at the same time, I’d still like it to be broadly growing and thriving. Maybe we’ll even have a chapter on Mars.

Host Raj Daniels  35:01

Well, I’m a big believer in bringing things to reality. You said a well-funded endowment. Can you give me a number?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  35:10

Oh, man.

Host Raj Daniels  35:12

We’re magic wanding here, Lisa Ann.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  35:14

We are magic wanding, so, I think a million dollars isn’t even that much money anymore. So I think a 20 million, 30 million endowment would be a robust amount of funding that the organization could thrive on just on interest alone.

Host Raj Daniels  35:35

I think 2030 and 30 million has a nice ring to it. So there’s your goal, right? Here you go.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  35:43

That’s right.

Host Raj Daniels  35:44

30 million by 2030.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  35:46

We could do that.

Host Raj Daniels  35:47

Absolutely. In this environment. There’s, I heard today, there’s going to be 40 trillion dollars moving in this direction.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  35:57

Wow.

Host Raj Daniels  35:57

So I think the universe can carve out, as you said, you’re representing her right? I want to thank you for giving her a voice. So I’m sure that she’ll be able to carve out 30 million from 40 trillion.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  36:10

Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And that’s kind of the magic that we find within Women in Cleantech and Sustainability. And it’s a universal magic. So when you get a bunch of people together, working towards the same goal, having that hive mind, magic does happen. People show up with the agency to be able to provide the organization with what it needs. And we find within the organization, if we just voice what we need, within a couple of weeks to a month or so, it shows up.

Host Raj Daniels  36:40

So I’m looking for that new target on your website now.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  36:44

That’s right. It’ll come. It’ll be there.

Host Raj Daniels  36:47

Absolutely.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  36:48

That’s a good challenge. Oh, and I think it’d be a really good exercise for the community at large because a lot of the women in our organization, they’ve never asked for money before. They’ve never done sales. And the concept of a $5,000 sponsorship, and asking someone for that amount of money is new. And sometimes things that are new are scary. So we have an entire program for our board, that we teach them how to do development work, which is quote, unquote, “sales.” And sales is not a four-letter word. And it’s very empowering for them to get that first sale. And then, you know, what we find is that, over the years, these ladies will set their own targets for themselves, you know, I’m gonna go for $10,000 in sponsorship, $20,000 in sponsorship, whatever it is, and they’re picking numbers that feel uncomfortable for them because they want to stretch themselves.

Host Raj Daniels  37:44

Well, I think it’s doable.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  37:46

I think so too.

Host Raj Daniels  37:48

Last question. And you gave some advice earlier when you said it’s okay to fail. But if you could share some advice or words of wisdom, and it could be professional or personal with the audience, what would it be?

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  38:00

I’ll go back to the advice that my mother gave me, and I still live by it to this day, which is, “I can’t” never did anything until “I can” came along. And the concept there is your ability to create the world you want to see, be it a small world or a big world, the changes that you want to see in this reality, start with your belief that they can exist and that you can make them happen. Everything else is just details.

Host Raj Daniels  38:30

I like that a lot. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time. I look forward to seeing the goal of 30 million by 2030 come to fruition. And catching up with you again soon.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  38:41

Wonderful. Maybe we’ll catch up again when we’ve got that 30 million.

Host Raj Daniels  38:44

Hopefully before that.

Lisa Ann Pinkerton  38:46

Yeah. Okay, good.

Before we go, I’m excited to share that we’ve launched the Bigger Than Us comic strip, The Adventures of Mira and Nexi.

If you like our show, please give us a rating and review on iTunes. And you can show your support by sharing our show with a friend or reach out to us on social media where you can find us at our Nexus PMG handle.

If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send Raj Daniels an email at BTU@NexusPMG.com or contact me via our website, NexusPMG.com. While you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech green tech sectors

Raj Daniels

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