*Explicit language warning in this episode
“You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems in one go… You can’t solve it all once, but just start doing any something better than nothing.” –Stephen Lease
Stephen Lease is the CEO and co-founder of goodr, a company that makes sunglasses that are fun, functional, and affordable. Sunglasses for people who think running is fun. Stephen is an entrepreneur at heart and after five failed businesses, goodr became the one that soared. In this episode, Stephen and Tina reflect on his company’s response to a controversial social media post and its evolution since. Stephen shares his own journey as a runner and what it means to merge his love of the sport with his knack for being an entrepreneur, and doing good for the planet.
Pineapple Gate and Owning Mistakes
Companies are people, and sometimes people make mistakes. Stephen recounts how a few years ago, goodr posted a photo on social media that received a lot of backlash. It was a result of not having the right checks and balances in place. Since then, goodr has been doing a lot of behind the scenes work to ensure this doesn’t happen again, and to have much more empathy for the world.
“It was not okay,” Stephen said. “We didn’t have the checks and balances that we do now, but we got to learn from it. We now review everything as a committee so that multiple eyeballs are on it. There’s an approval process of names and copy so that this doesn’t happen in the future.”
Fail while daring greatly
We live in a world where it’s easier to point fingers than it is to look inside. Stephen quotes Theodore Roosevelt’s famous“A Man in the Arena” speech reflecting on how sometimes it’s better to fail while daring greatly than not playing the game at all.
Stephen didn’t start running until later in life. He ran his first marathon when he was 30 then got into ultras in 2017.
“One of the funnest things about running,” he says, “is there’s just always somebody around the corner that is way faster than you. And I remember meeting people who are 100 mile runners and then saying out loud to myself, ‘there’s no way I would ever do that.’ And flash forward to being around enough people. Enough friends. Then all of a sudden, something that seemed unobtainable in a moment is like, this is obtainable. It’s not gonna be easy, but I could prove to myself that I could do it.”
The Perfect Storm
“I love entrepreneurship and starting companies and business culture. And I loved running. So talk about a perfect storm of things. It all enabled me to marry two sides of my life that I love.”
Stephen also admits to his privilege as a white heterosexual male in America. He says he grew up in a lower middle-class family, but his parents didn’t push him to be anything he didn’t want to be. He was problem-solving for himself early on and met his co-founders of goodr back in high school.
goodr For the Planet
goodr is part of 1% for the Planet, a nonprofit founded by Patagonia for businesses and individuals to commit to donating 1% of their top-line revenue to causes that benefit the Earth. Additionally, goodr has purpose projects where everyone spends 10% of their time on nonprofits or art-related projects. That’s where the idea came for becoming a carbon-neutral company. To the team at goodr, it’s important for them to offset their carbon footprint as a way to allow athletes– runners, cyclists, golfers– anyone who wears their sunglasses, to feel they too are protecting the outdoors.
“You can’t solve it all once, but just start doing any something’s better than nothing. Progress, not perfection. That’s the I think that’s the biggest message with the environmental movement,” Stephen says.
Go here to get 15% off at goodr
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Thank you to my wonderful sponsor Momentous and Athletic Greens for sponsoring this episode of the Running for Real Podcast.
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Launching my new podcast with my co-host Knox Robinson from my 200th episode
in February. These episodes are going to go a bit deeper when it comes to the running world and the problems we are facing. I am very excited to have Tracksmith funding this project for us. If you want to sign up to be the first to know more about this new podcast sign up here
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Thank you to Stephen, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.