Adán's a pretty damn generous guy. A couple months ago we came across his organic juice company Almighty when we were sponsor-hunting for The Generosity Journal and asked if he might be up for it... He came back with a cool 'yeah man, love your work' and well, that was that. No BS. He doesn't see giving back as something to make a fuss about – he believes that when you're in the position to do so, it's just what. you. do. He's even got Almighty backing some wicked local charities with a portion of every sale to build veggie gardens and grow fresh yummies in our schools. We sat down over a cool glass of beetroot juice for a yarn with him about social innovation, generosity, and what makes him tick. And yes. The beetroot juice kicked ass.
Adán! What’s rockin’ in the world of Almighty at present?
We’re really thrilled to have such a good stable of stockists across the country after such a short stint doing business in NZ, so we are now really working to ensure consumers gain a deeper understanding of who we are and why we are here.
There are a truckload of options when it comes to beverage choice, and we want to make sure that we are the one that people reach for from the fridge, as we are one of only very few NZ-owned organic juice companies in the market and the only one that is committed to giving 3-cents from each and every bottle sold to help dig veggie gardens in schools and teach kids how to grow and cook with fresh produce.
What businesses, organisations or business trends are inspiring you at the moment?
We certainly couldn’t go without mentioning the great influence that Karma Cola have had on the development of our business. They are our distribution partners, but have also been great mentors to us since very early on. We have shared values and aspire to make a difference in NZ in similar ways.
Another big global brand that I think many businesses like ours look up to is the alpine clothing brand Patagonia. Their founder, Yvon Chouinard, has worked tirelessly from day one to build a great product and use their influence as leverage to inspire and implement solutions to environmental crises and sustainability.
As far as business trends, it is certainly the areas around social innovation that inspire us. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (2016), eight out of ten people say it is the responsibility of business to lead the solution of social problems. Ours is a social enterprise that has been informed by this idea that business has the ability to strengthen and advance civil society.
What place do you reckon generosity has in business?
Generosity has a place in everything, of course, but at Almighty we choose to look at our business model and practice in a slightly different way.
We don’t think of our contributions to social and environmental projects as generous, but as more of a civic duty. It is not giving, as in a gift, but a responsibility. It is what we feel should be treated as a cost of doing business, and we’ve built it into our model to reduce some of the challenges associated with discretion and choice.
One of the barriers to regular giving is the process associated with determining what you can give and to whom. We become anxious about whether it is enough and we question our ability to have a true impact. If we, as businesses, build this into our concept from day one, we’re able to approach this as a business-as-usual expense and it even makes our planning a bit easier.
I believe the same could be true if applied to consumer behaviour. At the moment, consumers have to make a conscious choice to support businesses that they feel good about giving their money to. It probably seems somewhat naïve and idealistic, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just trust that all businesses were contributing to social good?
I suppose this is part of the idea behind the One Percent Collective – encouraging individuals and businesses to give 1% as a matter of course makes it a natural thing that we do because we are just responsible members of society.
We broke it down a bit further and realised that, for ourselves, giving a fixed amount (3 cents) for each bottle sold was more appropriate, and this ends up representing closer to 2% of our total revenue.
Hah! Legend. Can you tell us three things that inspire you and why.
People inspire me.
I had a really interesting interchange at the recent #WhyMusic conversation that posed questions around the role that music plays, and can play, in social change. Warren Maxwell was playing and speaking, and while I sometimes find his sentiments to be a touch too earnest and ethereal for me (I do regard him as a great man and friend, BTW), much of what he said that evening really resounded with me.
“Music is one of those strange things that we don't really understand why we need it, but we do. For me it captures ALL of what it is to be human." – Warren Maxwell of Trinity Roots.
This is a particularly compelling statement about the impact music has on us. It really is, but it is the human element that I believe is most important. The stories in music that touch us are rooted in human experience. Whether it is triumph, struggle or love, whatever, it is the connection to others that elicits emotional responses that are, for me, most profound.
So, it is really people in and around my life that inspire me most.
I made a rather sudden change to my professional pathway when the opportunities for Almighty began to present themselves, and this reminded me of when I was a teenager and my father left his career in corporate management to become a guidance counsellor at one of the largest and toughest high schools in the state. He wanted to make an impact, not because he was generous, but because he felt it was his responsibility as a Mexican that achieved a relative amount of upward mobility in American society. I have always looked up to him for this and it continues to inspire me.
On a day-to-day basis, though, it is my beautiful family here in Wellington. My wife, Ping, and my four sons. My mates, my brothers and sisters in the local music scene, my business partners, all of these people inspire me.
What more does one need?
What a legend Adan. Check 'em out or even sign up to lend a hand at a school garden they support at www.almighty.nz and pat yourself on the back next time you sip one of their mean juices – you'll be doing some kids a solid favour!