We had an opportunity to catch up with Mark Brand, CEO of MB, Inc. and highly anticipated storyteller at BIF2018. Passionate and purposeful, Brand talks to us about the power of connectivity, combining purposeful networks, and some of the fascinating endeavors he’s taken on.
Last year you wowed us at the BIF2017 Summit, coming out in full force with your journey. Tell us a little about your experience and what it was like to be a part of the Summit?
For scope, I’m terrible at vetting folks and on top of that, am a Canadian who’s been buried in my work for a decade. I attend events and based on what I speak about and who I’m with, the universe and all its soldiers (I’m looking at you Saul & Yarrow) line me up with great people. I was hanging out on day two last year and a gentleman who I recognized started talking to me about real upward mobility, not band-aid entrenchment solutions, for marginalized populations. He said, “You need to help us out in New Mexico”, and it still didn’t click at the time, I just had a crush on his brain and his vision. Turns out he founded Fast Company and he’s the Mayor (of Santa Fe, New Mexico) now, so I think he knew what he was talking about.
Another discussion I had was with the team at Peace Love Studios that’s led us to partner further. What I’m getting at here is everyone at the conference is truly about change and impact. Being able to share my story to accelerate others work was a real gift that’s still giving.
Since your time at BIF2017, we’ve seen you take on some incredible new endeavors: a new role as Professor of Innovation at USC, cooking at the Vatican as Executive Chef for Pope Francis’s Laudato Si Challenge; tell us a little more about what you’ve been up to – and where you find the time to do it all?
Time is our most valuable resource, so it only made sense for me to find out how to get all of mine back. I did, and am now focused solely on scalable projects that will impact all of society, and teaching or speaking to those who can do the same. My role as Professor at USC is teaching doctoral students of social work how to approach the work they’ve been doing, some for decades, and flip it on its head using design methodologies and no bullshit real-world experience. It’s the most rewarding work to be teaching those who are in it, with so little resource, but all the passion.
Rome was incredible. I got to cook for 400 global leaders and through my menu and words discuss solutions from agriculture and people to climate change. Folks often look at the traditionally “Barriered” as a burden, but they’ve got it all wrong. They’re the solution, and I got to share that on a stage I could only have dreamed of prior. I’m a deeply spiritual, non-religious dude, so it was extra special to have this group bring me in. It shows that purpose and impact trump affiliation, pun fully intended.
I also became certified as an Integral Facilitator this year from the Ten Directions program, which has taught me how to use my whole body as an instrument and how to mediate the hardest of conversations. When you start to use all of your senses, kind of like a tuning fork, you can achieve so much more because you don’t waste time on, well, time wasters. Intuition plays a big role, trust it.
At home in Vancouver the partnership of our Social Hub, Save On Meats, and charity, A Better Life Foundation, served its two millionth meal to those in need. Two Million. When people say small businesses can’t make big changes, we beg to differ. The programs now feed between 900-1300 people a day and we couldn’t be prouder of the work where it all started and continues to grow. I have an incredible team of people.
Where does that take you now? Talk to us about what you’re working on.
Everything is the short answer. I’m working more than ever and feel better than ever. This summer I’ve been spending a ton of time in NYC and as of the fall am bringing my company and charity stateside, with the intention of building brick and mortar centers akin to Save On Meats in every single neighborhood that needs one. We’re also taking my Greasy Spoon Diner series National and International to Australia, where I’ll serve as Entrepreneur In Residence for the City of Sydney this fall for 2 weeks.
My digital platform PAL has found partners with DOMO and Fairshare and we’ve been nonstop this last 6 months working on getting the data we need to start to end homelessness in a city by city case using emerging tech that is simply incredible.
We launched HATCH Europe a few months back and I’m super excited to see my dear friends and family Kimberly, Charles, James, Phillip, Holley, Vika, and Quentin all from the network joining BIF this year. They’re insanely beautiful and impactful people that are going to blow the audience at BIF away.
You know Saul, 5 years ago, I couldn’t get people to amalgamate impact and business mentally. It was church and state. Now it’s all anyone wants to talk to me about and I’ve seen a massive change not only in normalized vernacular but hunger from people with wealth and power to do real, sustainable good. Not just write cheques. I’m over the moon with the state of things and really appreciate how you and BIF show up to help the conversation.
We’re excited to have you back on stage at BIF2018. What are you going to share this year?
It’s all Top Secret. I’m doing a talk that’s deeply personal and that I’ve never done before. I’m very excited to share it.
What does the Summit experience mean to you? How would you describe it?
It’s an opportunity to embrace new perspectives I don’t get exposed to. The conference is challenging whilst supportive, it’s engaging whilst also disruptive. I’m certain I’ll end up in all the heated discussions I had no idea I wanted to have again.