Ryan Woldt, author and entrepreneur, sits down with The Green Summit to share how he started the World’s First Mobile Co-Working Space
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m from the Midwest, but have lived all over the country. I grew up in the restaurant industry, but became a Commercial Real Estate Broker, Photographer, Creative Director before coming back into the hospitality world as someone who turns struggling businesses around. One thing I really love about the hospitality industry is creating communities of people who are would never have connected but share a love of a product or place.
What is a fun fact about you?
I started the worlds first (and at the time only) Mobile Co-Working space, One Wild Life Co.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
How much time do you have? The climate is changing. Regardless of the reason (a cycle as my grandfather might say, or human impact as I might), it is changing, and change brings fear. However, those fears manifest in different ways depending on your viewpoint and generation. How we respond to those changes and fears will help determine if we are at the end of this luxurious lifestyle we’ve been living on Earth, or at the beginning of a new period of innovation and awareness.
From a business standpoint all the rules have changed, and lots of questions are floating out there about the future of business. In California, a business that doesn’t recycle can get fined, but as we’ve seen from recent recycling center closures there isn’t a well thought out plan of how to achieve successful completion of a products lifecycle. We also have so much more knowledge than was available 10, 50, 100 years ago. That knowledge is finally forcing people to exam their choices. Whether it is an individual deciding on buying local versus big box or a potential entrepreneur weighing the ethical ramifications of starting a business that may create more waste or a negative impact of some kind. How do we use that knowledge?
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
Specifically, the restaurant/brewery/hospitality industry seems to be heading towards a point where there aren’t a lot of middle class restaurants. There will be automated quick food, and high service expensive food. In general, this industry is ahead of the curve as far as offering local options and being aware of the impact of climate change, but it is also a very wasteful industry to begin with. It will take longer to eliminate the impacts that another type of small business might.
This industry is impacted very directly by climate change because the cost of the products they sell, food and beverage, are also directly impacted by climate change. As costs of goods and labor go up some businesses will close. This industry has been near or above saturation point for a long time making for a narrow window of error. More and more successful restaurants will position themselves less as a place to consume (though still places of consumption), and more as a hub of the community. That has always been the crux of the industry, being a community meeting place.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
There is an argument I hear a lot about the effects of climate change being too big for one person to make a difference. I see and feel that myself. Just going to the grocery store, looking around and realizing there is more plastic in that room than I could prevent by never buying plastic again in my life is fairly deflating. The reason to keep making the effort in my personal life and business life isn’t so much that the impacts associated to me will make a difference. It is because those efforts might inspire another person to make an effort, and another, and another.
All of those people will inspire someone, and that second wave another. Become an ambassador for change and your ability to effect that change will grow tenfold. So make the effort. Think about the choices you make with your purchasing and lifestyle. Think about what kind of world you want to leave behind. Do you want to make it better? I do.