Diana Kapp: Author of Girls Who Green The World

Episode 274

Who says, “Girls DON’T rule the world?” No one that we know. I can’t wait for you to hear this conversation with Diana Kapp, Author of Girls Who Green The World. In her book, Diana shares the stories of 34 women who are hip deep in the kind of environmental work that matters to the future of our planet. She shares her own journey and why sharing girl’s stories is her purpose. We talk about her own journey in finding her purpose as well as more about a few stories from the book. Listen and be inspired. This show will leave you excited and hopeful. On this episode of #TheKaraGoldinShow.

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Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be I want to be, you just want to make sure you will get knocked down. But just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Kara Goldin show. Join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go. Let’s go. Hi, everyone, it’s Kara Goldin from the Kara Goldin show. And I am so thrilled to have my friend and next guest, Diana Kapp who is the author of girls who green the world, her second book on our podcast today. So she has a fascinating journey. And she’s a journalist, she has covered everything from San Quentin prison to Afghanistan to teen suicide, and depression and entrepreneurs who run the world, I was lucky enough to be asked to be in her first book, and girls who run the world. And I was so thrilled to see that she decided to write a second book about amazing, amazing people who are running companies who are making a difference in the world with girls who green the world. So you may have read some of her work over the years, and the New York Times the wall street journal or magazine. And a few years ago, as I mentioned, she wrote her first book, but her second book is so terrific. I just finished it last week. And it is comes at a critical critical time when people are making huge decisions around climate change. And every single one of these companies really having a voice and making a difference is critical. And I think Diana, taking the time to share their stories is also just incredible. And really, really inspirational.

Diana Kapp 2:13
Well, thank thank you, Kara, I’m happy to be back on with you and always fun to talk to you. I’m, I’m really excited about this book, because I do feel like we’re just it’s such a critical moment where the conversation around climate has gotten so negative. And there’s so much sense of kind of climate gloom and doom and anxiety. And young people particularly are really struggling and suffering. There was a study the lancet did in 2021, they published it, of 10,000 teams around the world. And 56% of them said they believe the statement humanity is doomed. And what I think people are overlooking is that there’s a lot of really powerful creative work that is happening and inroads that are being made, and particularly women that are just on the front lines coming up with interesting, very innovative solutions. And we need to hold on to that. Because when the negative takes over, then I think everyone just gives up and kind of gives them to the sense of like, it’s inevitable, there’s nothing to be done, we’re on the road to ruin. It’s not true. And that’s it’s not like a black and white. Like, we either fix it now or we’re ruined. It’s like we’ve got to start making the changes. And that’s what these people are doing. And you know, the more changes we make, the more we slow things down. And the more we have time to come up with even bigger innovations. And we have to

Kara Goldin 3:52
No, I totally agree. And I think it’s sometimes it’s so much easier for people just to kind of go there, right? Because then yeah, they they don’t need to fill in the blanks. But I think what you’re doing is filling in the blanks by talking about these companies that are doing really amazing things. But let’s go back to the beginning because my podcast is really about the journey. And I before we get to any of your books, I really want to start at the beginning about you, Diana, and what did you think you were going to do when you grew up?

Diana Kapp 4:26
God I was really not an ambitious young person. I in my second grade, we had a career fair at Chevy Chase Elementary School, and there was like 100 workshops you could sign up for, and I signed up for cake decorating and hairdressing. And I do think that’s how I’ve gotten so attached to this issue is because I was not a young person who had big aspirations for myself or really believed that You know, anything is possible. And I just had to dream it up and go make it happen. I mean, I grew up in a pretty traditional family where my mom did work, but she was, you know, really focused on the family. And it was all about my dad’s career as a lawyer. And, you know, he was the money side of the family, and she was the kid side. And so just seeing that, I think I, you know, I got kind of caught up in some of that traditional thinking and went off to the University of Michigan that, you know, did not know what I wanted to study, I became an English major, which is like what my mother had done. And just as a young person, I really, I didn’t have like a developed passion where I was, you know, driving towards something in particular, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to go to medical school, I just didn’t have that. And so when I graduated, I really, like fumbled around in the most major way. And I had jobs that would like sound interesting, like, I was a legislative correspondent for The senator from Michigan, and I had an internship at CNN, but a lot of it was just very administrative, like down in the basement cutting tape. And, you know, never seen the light of day or having the ideas taken seriously. And I had a real personal turning point, when I just made this decision that I have to strike out on my own. And like, I moved across the country from Washington, DC, where I grew up to California. And it was just really this idea that, you know, I have to go out there all by myself, and like, find my way and find something that I care about, and then start to pursue it. And I fell into an amazing job working in a startup biotech company, which, because I done sort of communications and writing, they were about to go public, and they needed someone to do communications and investor relations. And that just was so impactful to be in this place where like, anything was possible, the place was growing like crazy, they gave you, you know, not too little responsibility, they gave you way too much. And you know, for the first time, it was like I had people that really thought I was smart and believed in me. And that job just totally changed my life and trajectory.

Kara Goldin 7:41
So journalism. So you, you figured out that actually getting people stories, as I mentioned in the intro, you traveled around Afghanistan during some pretty crazy times. You know, you’ve been in San Quentin Prison, like you’ve done a lot of different topics along the way. But what was it about journalism that you really loved and found, you know, most interesting that you wanted to get up and do every single day?

Diana Kapp 8:12
Well, I mean, in all the jobs like in the biotech company, affymax where I was head of investor relations, like it all was about storytelling, and so much is about storytelling, the way that we portray things and make people interested in them and move the ball forward. And it’s all it is all about rooting and story and making people care about things. And so I had been doing that in kind of like a business context. But I as the more I got into that, I just started feeling like I really want to tell stories that matter in the world to try to make change and focus on issues that I care about. And so that started with, like, the very first big story ever did was about women freezing their eggs. And you asked me to come up with a like an instance where like, I’ve had adversity and had to overcome something and learn a lot about myself in the, in the meantime, and the beginning of my journalism career, there’s a great story for you, which is I’d gone to business school at Stanford, right out of out of working in this biotech company had been surrounded by all these graduates from the Stanford Business School, and I was interested in entrepreneurship. And so I went there and I did that. But I, when I got out, I ended up going to work in advertising. And that was when I got this idea I wanted to storytelling for the sake of storytelling and for things I care about, but I didn’t know anyone really who worked in the industry. I had a couple of contacts from the biotech company, and the one that worked in magazines. Beans, which was my particular interest, was the wife of a reporter who I had done some work with when I was at affymax, like on the other side, and he would come down and do interviews with our CEO, and I would facilitate that. But so his wife worked at Health magazine, and she was literally like, the only person that I knew. And so I would send her these missives, like, you know, I’m interested in journalism, and I’m thinking about changing my career and starting at the bottom, and, you know, what do you think about this pitch about, you know, women freezing their eggs, and she, you know, sometimes it would take her like weeks to fly to me, and my whole, like, the way life is busy, and like, she probably had a million things in our inbox, but I was so vulnerable. And I would just hold on to that as like, you know, the only way something’s going to happen for me is if I can channel this particular woman and get to her and I would take it very personally, if I didn’t hear back from her and kind of just felt like I would live and die based on whether this person would help me. And my husband had this incredible idea. He said, what you need to do is change the dynamic with this person who you are kind of chasing after, and you’re feeling like, you know, beholden to her. And oh, please help me? And would you give me a little bit of your time? Instead? What if you wrote to her? And you said, I’m trying to change careers? And would you be a coach to me, and I would pay you for your time to meet with me weekly. And it totally turned the tables on this relationship. So suddenly, she was like, invested in my success. It was just a small amount of money, but you know, made her feel valued. And then you I mean, she went on to take my first big feature article at San Francisco magazine, she moved from house to San Francisco. Then she introduced me to editors at Elle and Oprah, like, she really launched my career. So it’s a good lesson, though, in sort of thinking about, like, how can you change the dynamic from being in this position of like, Please help me, you know, I’m so unworthy, and like, give me a little bit of your time to like, I’m valuable. And, you know, I think a lot of women sell themselves short in that way. And it’s just about sort of the lens that you have on a such a situation. And you can turn it around,

Kara Goldin 12:33
definitely. And I think you brought up another good point, it’s about thinking about the other side of the table, like, you know, trying to really, it’s not just about you, but it’s around sort of trying to picture what that person is life, right? Life is like, but also, what is going to make it beneficial for them.

Diana Kapp 12:52
For her, right, you always have to think about like, what can I do to make this, you know, appealing to this person, like they have their own career they’re trying to build and, yeah, in all situations, but also, I think it’s very easy to take, like, you know, you don’t get an email back, and you just automatically expect the worst and think that, you know, it’s something personal about you, and they don’t, you know, they don’t think you’re, you know, smart enough to do this or whatever. And it’s probably just that they went away for the weekend. And it got buried in their inbox. And I don’t know, I just think we we tend to ascribe way too much to things that maybe don’t have a lot of meaning, or, you know, you need to just try again,

Kara Goldin 13:37
let’s get to your book, girls who green the world. As I said, everyone needs to read this book. Definitely. You know, one of my favorites for this year. It’s shares the stories of so many incredible founders and people who are just really making a difference. There are some of these entrepreneurs that I know and I’ve had him on the podcast like Greg Renfrew, for example. But there’s others like, Caitlin from Pulp pantry, who I really would love to get to know because she has such an incredible, inspiring story. So tell me a little bit about what you found in interviewing these various female disruptors and what were you inspired by?

Diana Kapp 14:22
I mean, similar to the first book, girls who ran the world like I was really struck that most of these women did not know anything about the area that they go into, and ultimately become kind of experts in and found companies or become activists in before they get started. And, and also similarly and very similar to your story. It often starts with something super personal, that happens. That is a problem in their own life that they’re looking to solve. So like the pole pantry, girl, I Um, she was a student at USC Caitlin moat margin tall. And she was she had been working in a in a low income neighborhood in a gardening program. And she’d been meeting these young kids who literally had never seen like a fresh tomato or tasted one like, you know, bursting inside their cheek. And at that school, she had that in her brain when she went over to her good friend’s house. And she was doing juicing, which was really popular back, you know, in the 90s at USC, and she would see like, this huge bunch of carrots go in, and this like, thin bowl of juice come out. And she was just like, wow, like all that fiber. And like all that delicious, nutritious stuff is just getting thrown in the garbage can. And meanwhile, there’s these kids over here that like live in food deserts, and they never get any nutrition that comes from fresh fruits and vegetables. And so, you know, that was something that just felt so personal to her. And so she literally called up the next week, you know, 10 Juice sarees, around the Los Angeles area and just said, Hey, I’m going to pick up these bins from Target, if I come by in my car, can I take all your gunk, and I’m going to try to cook something out of it that’s, you know, delicious. And she was thinking about the fact that like so many cereals and things that we all eat, they come from things like corn, or carrots, like it’s already being used in a lot as the base and a lot of different foods that you might not even know it’s in there. And so she just did a bunch of experimenting in our own kitchen, kind of like you did. And then she was living with these 10 Girls, it was like a big group house and she would just see like, what would what would everyone just, you know, what, when would the snacks all disappear? She’d made this like granola that was out of like, you know, drying up this pulp. And then, you know, she made brownies out of it. And then she was making cookies with beads and you know, all this kind of stuff and, and then ultimately she she fell on this idea to make chips. And she got taken into the target incubator, and they know all about chips, and they ended up bringing her poker chips into their stores. And that’s how she got launched. And she recently was on Shark Tank and got funded and but she she also like you, which I think is really important and interesting is like she hires this little band of, of people, little sales force that goes out into the stores in each of her regions. And like literally moves the bags into like a more prominent position on the shelves. And like make sure that all the flavors are being displayed. Like it’s still very like hands on and unglamorous and being done by like a bunch of individuals she hires, it’s there’s no big mystery to this, like, You got to have the shelf visibility to sell.

Kara Goldin 18:14
So you talk to a lot of different females in different industries, everything from food to fashion, and that are disruptors and are creating change. What’s the thread there that not only that they’re doing good, but what are the challenges that they’re up against? And of course, they probably feel maybe it’s legislation, maybe it’s fundraising, do you feel like things are, I mean, to be an entrepreneur is really hard. But to be a social entrepreneur, especially when you’re creating something, you know, like Caitlyn was doing, like others have been doing that is just new, right? That no one’s doing it, and what’s the need really doesn’t appear to be there, because there’s no one else doing it. So what do you think was kind of the consistent thread amongst these people that just made them kind of get back up again?

Diana Kapp 19:08
Well, I mean, one of the things that I think is really challenging for social entrepreneurs, and I think you face this at hand, there is no perfect solution to making like, you know, an environmentally sound product that, you know, on every metric is, is, you know, green. It’s yes, you’re like in the case of your drinks. It was like, Well, what about the plastic bottle? You know, well, what about, you know, people are asking Caitlin, like, you know, but you’re serving your pulp chips, like in bags that have foil on the inside, and that’s not biodegradable. And I think something that’s interesting is like they have to really embrace these women have to embrace that, like, we’re not going to go from zero to 100 and to perfection. right away, like, there’s always going to be trade offs. So you’re going to make improvements in getting rid of plastic or using waste in a certain way or slowing down fast fashion. And, but yet your packaging might still have to be, you know, have some non recyclable elements. Because the machines that exist, don’t, you know, won’t take those kinds of packaging or even Kaitlyn learned that most municipalities at this time, like they won’t recycle. Even compostable bags will not go into the systems of a lot of these urban recycling systems. And so she was like, instead, they’re just going to get those things are just going to come up their systems and cause more problems. Anyway, I just think there’s a lot to be said for you don’t give up just because you can’t achieve 100%, green certified sustainable 100%, you know, top of the chart on every dimension, we have to make strides. Even when it’s, you know, we’re in the process of making change.

Kara Goldin 21:20
No, I think that that’s, that’s really critical. The other thing that I would say to that, too, is that so often, you know, people want to grab on to quick points around, you know, really the core of the product tent that I founded and, and ran for many, many years, was really about unsweetened flavored water, and we chose a certain package to put our product into, but when you look at the different packaging options out there, like aluminum, for example, the majority of aluminum is made in China. And they have different regulations around how they make it. And they’re able to create things in China that they can’t create in the US and whether or not that is actually monitored, whether or not people are actually looking at the environmental effect. The reality is, is that the, you know, environment is actually harmed, we believe more by aluminum cans and sort of creation of aluminum cans, and then you shipping it overseas than actually creating a bottle and as long as it can be recycled. And so I think that there’s there are definitely trade offs. But I think like the one thing that I would say to that, too, is that you have to be you’re not just about creating a product, you have to be educated. And you have to really understand a lot about why you’re doing things. You know, and I’m sure every one of these people that you talk about, sort of get the the naysayers or the people that believe that they know more. And so if you can’t educate people about their, you know, opinions and educate the consumer to when they ask, I think it’s an important piece that whether you’re energist, city corporation, or you know, green wave or any of the other ones that are out there, so but there’s so many stories in here, and everybody has got to read this book for sure. And lots of different things to touch on,

Diana Kapp 23:23
I learned so much about like how big a problem food waste is, and like what’s going on with how clothing has become a disposable. And that, you know, we on average, as Americans individually throw away 80 pounds of clothing every year. And we on average, keep our clothes less than six months. And just what some of these habits like I think a lot of what I’m trying to do with the book is have you think think about some of these issues and try to like move to a new, more mindful way of going through the world. Like you’re not going to become perfect on every score. But you at least might think about like how much we consume, and how much we throw away. And you know that we’re going to make the changes by recognizing those habits in ourselves. And then starting to like demand that from the products that we buy and starting to, you know, hold people to account for, you know, are they really greenwashing and just sort of doing this for marketing purposes? Or are they actually trying to change their industry? And so we have to educate people so they even know to ask and to notice one way or another?

Kara Goldin 24:48
No, I think that that is so so important. I feel like another thing that I really picked up on in this book was that maybe these people wouldn’t necessarily view themselves as leader. They’re just doing, they’re creating a company. They’re entrepreneurs, but they’re leading, right? Especially they’re leading on issues. They’re, they’re having to be vulnerable. Right. And I feel like you even as a successful journalist, you went out on a limb first to write a book about, you know, entrepreneurs and then talking about, you know, green entrepreneurs as well and green initiatives, like, what do you think is the thread around leaders? Because people have asked me Are leaders born? Are they, you know, what is it that you need to be able to do to become a leader and, and kind of stay a leader, I guess, is, is really the key thing.

Diana Kapp 25:46
I mean, I think that you have to be, like, genuinely curious and interested to like, solve a problem that’s out there that exists. And you have to not be easily dissuaded from how damn hard it is to do any of these things. I mean, Greg, is Greg Renfrew is, you know, up against 80 years in which the FDA has not regulated a single beauty product in the United States, like we just, we’re not looking at what the ingredients are, we’re not demanding that there’s any change. And so she’s making herself like, responsible to actually try to not just launch beauty products, but she’s actually like building this whole army of lobbyists who are going to Washington with her, like, this is her sales force, that are educated about what’s in products, and educated about, like, what they’re doing to our environment and our bodies. And she’s, she’s not just taking on the selling of, you know, cosmetics she’s taking on, like changing the cosmetics industry, which I think is, you know, because people are really, you know, it’s it’s a type of ambition, I think that really ties them together. That’s not just about like, I want to make my own company successful. It’s like, much more importantly, they want to, like actually move the needle on, like, changing how we do things and how industries operate. And I think that’s just amazing. Well,

Kara Goldin 27:23
and I think it’s, it’s, it’s energizing, and it’s inspiring, and clearly, that’s what I was feeling and your second book, you’ve got a gift to be able to share people’s stories. I mean, obviously, they have them. And I think it’s, it’s a criminal when people don’t actually share their why because I think it makes you love the products and the company that much more.

Diana Kapp 27:47
I love this young girl in San Francisco who started this restaurant, that’s a pizza restaurant called Trash pies in the mission, and it’s all of the produce that she’s using there is like considered ugly produce. So it’s like it doesn’t meet the cosmetic standards of grocery stores. And so instead, like, it just gets trashed, and right now we in in the world, not just in the US, we throw away 30% of all food that is produced. And meanwhile, you know, all these people are going hungry. So she’s, she’s really got this interesting concept that we there’s so much more we could be using. That’s, you know, just because it can’t go into the whole foods doesn’t mean like that, that tomato isn’t delicious, or that that orange isn’t worthy. And so she’s bringing in all that produce and she’s got a whole restaurant. That’s just ugly stuff. And so she uses the restaurant as like a form of activism which I think is really really cool. And you could say the same thing about him it’s like you started a brand which is like activist against all the shiver and added crap and it’s raising the issue every time you hear about him and drink one bottle it’s like you’re you’re learning about an issue that’s going on you know, we’re having all these hidden sugars all the time. Yeah.

Kara Goldin 29:12
And it’s it really speaks to across categories that you can do good by creating great products or services right it used to be Yeah, when diet things were created ages ago, I remember in the 70s when my dad was a major food company it was just everything tasted horrible if it was diet that would there was like a trade off today you can actually find products and companies not just in the food and beverage industry that are doing good. That that have purpose have a mission so I loved hearing more about this. So thank you so much. Where do people find out more about Diana cap but also everybody needs to get this book for sure.

Diana Kapp 29:58
We can find girls who agree In the world at Amazon and Barnes and Noble target bookshop like pretty much anywhere, but I would truly recommend that you go to your local indie bookstore. And if they don’t have it, ask them to order it because we really need to keep these bookstores from going under. And my website, Dianna cap.com, has a section called resources. And one of the things I’m most proud of is I have like a running list now of like over 200 things, if you click on this list, what teams can do, and it’s really what anyone could do, but it’s like hundreds of suggestions of ways that you can start to make change in your school, in your neighborhood, in your company in your own life, and just really moving towards like we all need to get active and register people to vote and worry about the upcoming midterms because the climate issue is a big one and so we can do things personally but we also really need to do things on the policy level and that’s about politicians and getting people into fists that really care about climate it’s a problem totally

Kara Goldin 31:10
totally agree. Well thank you again and thanks everybody for listening to this episode. If you haven’t already please subscribe to the Kara Goldin show so that you are sure not to miss out on an incredible guests like Diana cap and many others that we’ve had to add definitely give this episode five stars. It definitely helps the algorithm and find me on all social platforms that Kara Goldin and if you haven’t read my book, undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters, please pick it up at bookstores on Amazon, also on Audible, you can download it, and we’re here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We are now trending top 1% of entrepreneurial podcasts in the world, which is absolutely crazy. It’s insane. And so thank you for supporting us and also for coming on Dianna for sure. So thank you everybody for listening and good bye for now. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book.com and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening