Three Tips for “Making Good” from Billy Parish

Billy Parish shared three keys to his career success in a webinar discussion with NWF Emerging Leaders. Read more in his new book, Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money and Community in a Changing World. 
Are you about to graduate? Interested in working to make the world a better place, and also interested in making money along the way? For those convinced that the two goals are mutually exclusive, the latest webinar in the NWF Emerging Leaders Professional Development series set out to prove differently, and most definitely succeeded. In Tuesday’s webinar, Billy Parish shared three major lessons to build a “career of meaning.”

If there is anyone who knows about successfully building a career of meaning, it’s Billy Parish. Within the last decade, Parish co-founded both the Energy Action Coalition (of which NWF Campus Ecology is also a co-founder and proud partner!)–the largest youth advocacy organization in the world working on climate change issues–and Solar Mosaic, a solar energy marketplace, where he currently serves as President. In 2012, Parish and co-author Dev Aujla published Making Good:  Finding Meaning, Money and Community in a Changing World, a project that’s expanded beyond a simple print publication into a multi-faceted support and empowerment system for young people looking to “build careers that make money and change the world.”

This sounds like a big task, and highly idealistic. But Parish assured us that our work, our paying work, not just our extracurricular activities, can be meaningful.

Billy Parish’s Guiding Principles to Building a Career of Meaning:

  1. Follow Your Purpose:  Parish admitted that when he started with EAC, he had no training (and no money) but he had a clear purpose:  building a movement to address climate change. His focused purpose helped him stay the course and fit all the puzzle pieces together to achieve his goal.
  2. Build With the Best:  As you are following your purpose, Parish encourages partnering with the best people you can find to help you accomplish your goals. While you may not be calling up Van Jones or Joel Rogers, as Parish did, he wisely suggested reaching out to the people you actually need on your team–don’t refrain from asking for help for fear of rejection. So maybe you should dial Van’s number after all! (“Hey, remember me from Power Shift ’11?! I was the one in the green hard hat!” might be a good way to start your conversation…) More realistically, think of the “Van Jones” in your life–someone with political, legal and business savvy. A corollary to building with the best includes cultivating relationships with your future co-founders:  identifying your dream co-workers, your dream job. Keep in touch and lend a hand to the people who will help you get where you want to be.
  3. Go to the Root:  Parish used the metaphor of a plant to represent his goals, and warned against always hacking at the leaves rather than tackling the root–the leaves always grow back, they even multiply, and a more effective and efficient strategy is to address the root issue. For Parish this meant building a constituency willing to fight for bold legislation to grow the green energy industry (through EAC’s Power Shift conferences), and later, finding a way to finance clean energy projects (via the creation of Solar Mosaic).

So there you have it:  strong advice from a successful, driven, young, inspired (and inspiring!) entrepreneur for entering the working world while still achieving your ultimate goal of building a cleaner, greener society!

Of course, you are encouraged to read more than just this blog about Making Good — Indie Bound will help you find a local book store to visit and order the book from — the book itself offers exercises and other resources to help guide you through your meaningful career path!

Have you read Making Good, or did you attend the webinar? Are you finding meaning, money and community in this changing world? Share your thoughts, your advice and your experiences in the comments below.

Praise for Making Good from Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada, Author of Global Warming for Dummies:  “Billy Parish and Dev Aujla embarked on a remarkably ambitious book. Not content to educate and mobilize on global warming and social justice, they have written a ‘how to’ book for ethical living in a corrupt economy. It is a practical guide to ensure that ‘making a living’ does not compromise ‘having a life.’ Making Good could change the world.”