YEDaily: James Watson

Twenty-six year old James Watson started his company, Beausoleil Sustainability Solutions, just this past February. Responding to the need to offer innovative and logical answers and connections for professionals advancing “green” initiatives in their respective fields, Beausoleil’s SPRiNG project is a forum for the new generation of sustainability professionals. Find out more about this non-traditional environmentalist in today’s YEDaily.

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Beausoleil Sustainability Solutions capitalizes upon the research, communications and professional networking opportunities that abound in the emerging sustainability marketplace. We do this by offering innovative and pragmatic solutions for those professionals working towards advancing “green” initiatives in corporate and institutional settings.

One notable project has been the creation of a networking/dialogue group called SPRiNG (Sustainability Professionals Resource & Networking Group). With an emphasis on the individual, it’s meant to be a forum wherein one may come to share their knowledge, tools, resources and connections with their professional peers in sustainability. Its unique format emphasizes the facilitation of dialogue and the problem-solving opportunity that enables. Check it out and tell your friends who may be interested.

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I had a profound realization that through realistic, focused action, I could make a truly positive impact on the environment and an emerging marketplace too. In addition to that, I felt that I could produce the most impact via the freedom of operating my own business.

Consider this: If I were to ask you what an environmentalist is, I can safely assume your answer will be somewhere along the lines of, “…a tree-hugging, granola-eating, salad-pushing, sandal-wearing hippie…” You’d be correct in many ways, too.

The more accurate reality of it, however, is that there are many very intelligent and proactive individuals working within corporations and organizations (large and small), advancing environmental initiatives on a day-to-day basis. They’re pragmatic, they understand the realities of business, and they passionately reject those negative environmental stereotypes. Some have been at it for 30 or more years, while others are just getting started – young professionals on a positive mission.

“Green” can be a bit of a tough sell for many people at first, but these sustainability professionals are making a case for it – embedding it into our modern day economy and planting the seeds of it in our pop culture. By working with said individuals toward common environmental goals, I feel I can do my part towards creating a better future.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of each day is speaking to other sustainability professionals. I really enjoy hearing about the unique opportunities and challenges they’re facing. Trying to find a solution together is an exciting intellectual challenge.

The most challenging part of each day is prioritizing my time and resources. As an entrepreneur and aspiring sustainability professional, the need to prioritize the multitude of competing tasks is paramount. Remaining practical, while still thinking outside the box, is a fine balance.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
Environmental protection standards as a whole are in relatively good shape in countries such as Canada, the United States, and those in Europe. It is in the developing nations of the world where environmental regulations simply do not stand up to the same standards. In the absence of government intervention, it becomes the responsibility of the corporation itself to manage its international environmental performance. In five years’ time, I would like to see Beausoleil Sustainability Solutions advising decision-makers in this capacity, be it in regards to responsible global supply chain management, fair and equitable stakeholder engagement, or implications for international development.

What does success look like to you?
Success is much more than material wealth. It’s about the family and friends who have supported me on the sometimes arduous journey towards creating something out of nothing. I hope to always remain humble, never forgetting where I come from.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
It would have to be the end of my first day making phone calls for Beausoleil Sustainability Solutions. I suddenly realized that by this point, I had fully committed myself. I said to myself, “Whether the business becomes a success in its current manifestation or morphs into something entirely different, there is no turning back now.” I had taken the plunge.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I find that when I’m lacking motivation for whatever reason, the best remedy is to perform a task with a high risk factor. Choose the loftiest goal on your to-do list and do it immediately. The world is not black and white, so odds are good that you will not fail outright. The victory you experience, no matter how small, should eliminate any mental block you’re experiencing.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I have been volunteering with the YMCA of Greater Toronto at the Central YMCA location for several years now and was very recently nominated for an award, Outstanding Achievement in Volunteerism.

What originally motivated me to donate my time was a desire to become involved in something much bigger than myself. The personal and professional development opportunities have been outstanding too, so I cannot say it has been an entirely altruistic endeavour. It’s really a testament to the potential of a well organized and ethically competent organization. With all the bad press surrounding shady charities nowadays, it’s a refreshing experience volunteering with the YMCA. It doesn’t hurt that they have been pursuing a far-reaching “green” strategy as well.

What is Notable to you?
Notable is being able to repair your bicycle’s flat tire. It’s the principle. I’ve taught countless teenagers how to repair a flat but so many adults are unwilling or “too busy” to learn. It takes no more than three minutes and is a skill you will benefit from the rest of your life! Whether it’s swallowing your pride or being open to improving yourself, choosing never to lose that child-like curiosity and openness, no matter how old you are, is Notable.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
I have a favourite saying: “Body as requisite for mind.” It goes back to university when my friends and I were training for rugby. My best friend made a comment along the lines of how when he’s training everyday, everything in his life seems to go smoothly – school, work, girls. I agreed with him, and since then I’ve always noticed that when I feel like I’m in a rut or things with my career aren’t going my way, I’m also not training as much as I’d like to or getting out on my bike, things like that. Exercise enables me to manage my stress, which quite simply makes me more effective and much happier.

Meeting new people with great ideas and challenging questions energizes me too, so please do not be shy. Connect with me. Ask me any questions you may have regarding sustainability…

Check out Beausoleil Sustainability Solutions on Twitter, and connect with James on LinkedIn.