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2019 AEE West CWEEL Breakfast Speaker Highlight: Move Your Market. Change the World.

Written by MaryAnne Lauderdale, PE, CEM

Transforming Sustainability from a “Check-the-box” Approach to a Strategic Growth Driver that can Move Your Market and Change the World.


Carolyn Parrs, CEO of Mind Over Markets and founder of Women of Green, engaged the morning audience with her keynote presentation for the CWEEL Women in Leadership breakfast, at AEE West in Santa Clara, CA on June 6. Ms. Parrs provides strategic marketing advice, helping her clients tap into the exploding interest in sustainable products and services from consumers, and their demands for corporate environmental accountability.

Some “fun facts” from Carolyn’s presentation – recent marketing surveys have found:

  • 88% of Americans think that the average person should be taking “concrete steps” to reduce his or her environmental impact
  • Women…
    • Purchase 85% of all consumer goods in the US
    • Have $7.4 trillion in purchasing power
  • 92 million Millenials (born between 1981-1997) have $1.4 trillion in disposable income
  • When Millenials trust a brand’s environmental and social/business practices…
    • 90% buy from that brand
    • 95% recommend the brand to others, largely via social media

But how can companies reach these consumers effectively with their products? How can they get their messages out in the world of nonstop news feeds? And, how can companies learn what their consumers and customers really want?

Carolyn’s formula includes four essentials:

  1. Lay the Sustainability Groundwork for Strategic Growth
  2. Define your Sustainability Strategy & Work It
  3. Seek Collaborations to Advance It
  4. Own your Sustainability Story yet Lead with What’s Meaningful to Your Customer

These steps may appear simple and logical, but her approach with clients is all about disciplined action. In one case study, she shared the story of PNM (Public Service Company of New Mexico) and the local community at loggerheads over adding more renewable energy in the state, while maintaining affordable energy costs.


Action began by interviewing community members, utility customers, environmental advocates and thought leaders to learn what was important, where stakeholder interests diverged, and where their interests coincided.

Sustainability Strategy

Carolyn’s sustainability strategy follows the LEAP approach:

  • Listen
  • Engage
  • Align & Act

which can result in:

  • Profit

For the community and stakeholders in New Mexico, these actions contributed not only to the utility’s interests, but helped them see that their concerns were listened to and heard. Balancing community interests with financial possibilities and constraints created solutions-driven interactions, and contributed to the next essential: Collaboration.


This interactive process evolved into a true collaborative effort to identify realistic objectives for the state and local jurisdictions. Ultimately, the interests of the community – to increase sustainable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the state – became aligned with the utility’s and consumers’ needs to meet projected energy demands cost-effectively.

Carolyn has employed this strategy to assist many corporations with their sustainability plans. However, the job does not end there.

Own your Sustainability Story

Organizations have the tools to communicate their objectives and results, but unless the organization has an integrated communication strategy, companies are at risk for allowing their successes to be dissected and represented as failures. Organizations need to recognize their strengths and challenges, and craft the stories of their actions to present a consistent message communicating their obectives and results clearly.

Whether an entity is a startup or has been around for more than 100 years, the process for developing sustainable energy supply with community involvement is simple and clear: we can solve these environmental problems as a whole society. To close, Carolyn shared a video by Greta Thurnberg, a young woman whose forward-thinking videos have activated many people world-wide to recognize that they are empowered to create and participate in the solutions to our current climate management challenges. Greta said, “What we need more than hope – is ACTION!”

We are the guardians of our world – there are no others. THE TIME IS NOW!

For more information, contact:

Carolyne Parrs, CEO Mind Over Markets
Seattle – Santa Fe

Carolyn Parrs | CEO, Mind Over Markets | Founder, Women of Green

Carolyn Parrs is the CEO of Mind Over Markets, a trusted, strategic advisor since 2003 helping brands transform sustainability from a “check-the-box” approach to a strategic growth driver that can move their market and change the world.

Carolyn started her journey working at some of the top New York City advertising agencies including Benton & Bowles and Wunderman Worldwide, serving clients such as General Foods, Proctor & Gamble, AT&T, IBM, Richardson-Vicks, Manufacturers Hanover Trust, Time/Life Books and more. 

Carolyn and her products have appeared on television shows including Good Morning America, ABC News, CBS News and on radio and cable shows such as HBO, CNN and Lifetime Channel. Print coverage includes The New York Times, L.A. Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, People Magazine and Cosmopolitan.

As committed sustainability advocate, she created Women Of Green, a robust online community that “turns up the volume” of the feminine voice in green. She is a featured author in Thomson Reuters book series for C-level executives: Inside the Minds: Greening your Business. She lives and works in Seattle and Santa Fe with her pups, Heart and Soul.