Ice Cream Social

The Struggle for the Soul of Ben & Jerry's

| 304 pages

Ice Cream Social

Tells the inside story of the thirty-year struggle of Ben & Jerry's to remain true to its social mission, even after it was sold in 2000

  • Tells the inside story of the thirty-year struggle of Ben & Jerry's to remain true to its social mission, even after it was sold in 2000
  • Unfolds like a novel, with memorable characters, dramatic confrontations, reversals of fortune, humor, and pathos
  • Describes a clash of cultures-bottom-line corporate versus mission-driven independent-that will have wide resonance at a time when many entrepreneurs aspire to combine profit with purpose

For more than three decades, Ben & Jerry's has been committed to an insanely ambitious three-part mission: not just making the world's best ice cream but also supporting progressive causes and sharing its success with all stakeholders-employees, suppliers, distributors, customers, cows, everybody. Living up to these beliefs is fun when you're doing it right, and it creates amazingly loyal customers, but it isn't easy.

This is the first book to tell the full, inside story of the inspiring rise, tragic mistakes, devastating fall, determined recovery, and ongoing renewal of one of the most iconic mission-driven companies in the world. No previous book has focused so intently on the challenges presented by staying true to the mission as the business grew. No other book has explained how the company came to be sold to Unilever, one of the world's biggest corporations. And none has described the unprecedented contract Ben & Jerry's negotiated with Unilever to preserve the three-part mission or the complex working relationship that has allowed the company to pursue that mission on a much larger stage.

Brad Edmondson tells the story with a journalist's eye for details, dramatic moments, and memorable characters. Among the dozens of key figures Edmondson interviewed, his most important source was Jeff Furman, who helped Ben and Jerry write their first business plan in 1978 and has stayed involved ever since, serving as chairman of the board since 2010. It's a funny, sad, surprising, and ultimately hopeful story.

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Overview

Tells the inside story of the thirty-year struggle of Ben & Jerry's to remain true to its social mission, even after it was sold in 2000

  • Tells the inside story of the thirty-year struggle of Ben & Jerry's to remain true to its social mission, even after it was sold in 2000
  • Unfolds like a novel, with memorable characters, dramatic confrontations, reversals of fortune, humor, and pathos
  • Describes a clash of cultures-bottom-line corporate versus mission-driven independent-that will have wide resonance at a time when many entrepreneurs aspire to combine profit with purpose

For more than three decades, Ben & Jerry's has been committed to an insanely ambitious three-part mission: not just making the world's best ice cream but also supporting progressive causes and sharing its success with all stakeholders-employees, suppliers, distributors, customers, cows, everybody. Living up to these beliefs is fun when you're doing it right, and it creates amazingly loyal customers, but it isn't easy.

This is the first book to tell the full, inside story of the inspiring rise, tragic mistakes, devastating fall, determined recovery, and ongoing renewal of one of the most iconic mission-driven companies in the world. No previous book has focused so intently on the challenges presented by staying true to the mission as the business grew. No other book has explained how the company came to be sold to Unilever, one of the world's biggest corporations. And none has described the unprecedented contract Ben & Jerry's negotiated with Unilever to preserve the three-part mission or the complex working relationship that has allowed the company to pursue that mission on a much larger stage.

Brad Edmondson tells the story with a journalist's eye for details, dramatic moments, and memorable characters. Among the dozens of key figures Edmondson interviewed, his most important source was Jeff Furman, who helped Ben and Jerry write their first business plan in 1978 and has stayed involved ever since, serving as chairman of the board since 2010. It's a funny, sad, surprising, and ultimately hopeful story.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Brad Edmondson


Brad Edmondson is a writer and consultant who helps people and organizations understand and benefit from social change. He is fascinated by how change happens, and why. A few years ago, while writing about New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park, Brad learned that the wilderness preserve at the core of it was once privately owned. The land reverted to state ownership after loggers cut down all the trees and walked away. Now the park is the crown jewel of the Empire State, thanks to one far-sighted law, a vigilant public, and one hundred growing seasons.

Brad was raised in rural south Florida, on a farm that was established in 1923 and is still operated by his family. He attended Deep Springs, a college with an unusual curriculum that trains students for lives of service. By the time Brad got a history degree from Cornell in 1981, he knew he wanted to be a writer and storyteller. Instead of going to graduate school, he took editorial jobs at the Ithaca Times (1981–85), a weekly newspaper that covered peace and social justice issues, and American Demographics magazine (1985–98), a monthly Dow Jones magazine that explained the impact of population change and consumer trends on businesses, organizations, and society. During Brad’s tenure as editor in chief of American Demographics, the magazine was nominated three times for the National Magazine Award for General Excellence.

Brad’s articles have appeared in AARP The Magazine, American Scholar, Utne Reader, and Atlantic Monthly. His recent corporate clients have included Head Start, Honda, the National Bicycle Dealers Association, and the Private Label Manufacturing Association. But he keeps returning to the power of long-term, multigenerational commitments. While serving on the board of the Finger Lakes Land Trust (1994–2007), Brad helped create a fifty-year plan for a regional network of protected land in a scenic region of Upstate New York. He also helped manage an endowment while chairing the investment committee of Deep Springs College (2000–2010). These visionary organizations taught Brad the power of good stewardship and managing for perpetual return. Brad also noticed that people who are devoted to the greater good usually lead fun and exciting lives, have lots of interesting friends, and have more inspiring funerals.

Brad has two grown children, Will and Emma. He lives in Ithaca, New York with his wife, Tania Werbizky, who works in the field of historic preservation. They daydream about cross-country skiing or bicycle touring, depending on whether or not there’s snow. Current trail conditions are posted at Brad’s website, www.bradedmondson.com.

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Contents

Foreword by Annie Leonard

Prologue

Main Characters

One

"We're Completely Insane, and We Need Your Help!"

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield never planned to become business icons when they opened an ice cream shop in Burlington, Vermont, in 1978. Neither did their friend Jeff Furman, who was a key player from the beginning. Twenty-two years later, Ben and Jerry resigned from the board of directors when the company was sold to Unilever for $326 million. But Jeff stayed to fight for a new vision of business that links the owners' prosperity to employees, communities, and the environment.

Two

A New Kind of Start-up

The growth train started rolling when Ben & Jerry's sold its first pints in 1981. As growth accelerated, Ben and Jeff seized the opportunity to build a different kind of business. The board of directors used trial and error to invent a mission that gave equal emphasis to three goals - great ice cream, social purpose, and profit. When it worked, the world started to notice.

Three

Progressive Sweatshop

Between 1988 and 1990, an admiring media profiled Ben & Jerry's as a "socially responsible business." But integrating the social mission into daily operations proved a complicated struggle. The company's pioneering attempts to pursue a three-part mission made history, but the ride was anything but smooth.

Four

Staffing the Social Mission

Between 1990 and 1992, skilled managers started implementing the three-part mission in strategic ways. The company's most important contributions during this period were the annual reports that introduced social auditing to American businesses.

Five

Money Starts Talking

1993 was the year it all went wrong. A decade of rapid growth ended six months after Ben & Jerry's broke ground on an expensive new ice cream plant. As a management crisis deepened, the board abandoned the company's celebrated salary ratio in 1994 and decided to look for a CEO with mainstream corporate experience.

Six

Yo, I'm Not Your CEO

Between 1994 and 1996, the social mission became more integrated into operations as social audits sharpened the company's focus on measurable results. But the first attempt to find a "professional" CEO failed, and in desperation, the board made a quick decision that proved disastrous.

Seven

The Gulf Was So Wide

In January 1997, a new CEO started focusing on maximizing value for the shareholders of Ben & Jerry's, which made the company an attractive target for a takeover. As the CEO groomed the company for a sale, the board did not face the growing risk.

Eight

Leading with Progressive Values

In the late 1990s, Ben & Jerry's made several important social mission advances, including an effective campaign against bovine growth hormone, a statement of Leading by Progressive Values, improved rules for values-led sourcing, and taking the three-part mission overseas.

Nine

Unacceptable Choices

By the late 1990s, consolidation in the ice cream industry made it difficult for Ben & Jerry's to continue as an independent company, even though most board members did not want to sell. Ben became estranged, board meetings resembled legal depositions, and it often seemed that investment bankers were calling the shots.

Ten

The Sale Agreements

Unilever wanted Ben & Jerry's badly, and its top executives were willing to keep the social mission if that would clinch the deal. In 2000, after a long struggle, Ben & Jerry's sold, but only after Unilever signed sale agreements that created an independent board with legal authority to protect the social mission and product quality in perpetuity.

Eleven

A Thousand Cuts

The three-part mission went on a long detour after Ben & Jerry's was sold in 2000. Unilever assigned the company to a manager who cut costs aggressively and violated the sale agreements in increasingly blatant ways, and it took seven years for the board to mount a counterattack.

Twelve

Counterattack

In 2008, the activist spirit of Ben & Jerry's reignited as the board pushed Unilever to take the sale agreements seriously. While they negotiated, they also prepared a lawsuit and a public relations campaign. They almost went through with it, too.

Thirteen

Pursuing Linked Prosperity

In 2010, Ben & Jerry's made peace with Unilever, and the three-part mission roared back to life. A talented CEO and profits from international expansion made it easy to set audacious goals. While things are far from perfect, the company has recommitted to its struggle to change the world while also making great ice cream profitably.

Epilogue by Jeff Furman

What does it all mean? In this epilogue, the man known as "the ampersand in Ben & Jerry's" reflects on four decades of trying to advance the three-part mission and linked prosperity, and on the eternal struggle to remember people's names.

Reflection by Anuradha Mittal

Why the most important question for moving forward on linked prosperity is "How can we be more unreasonable?"

Notes

Sources and Further Reading

Photo Credits

Index

About the Author

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Ice Cream Social

ONE

œWe re Completely Insane, and We Need Your Help!

Jennifer Henderson can t forget the day in 1988 that she met Ben Cohen, Jerry Greenfield, and Jeff Furman. œBen and Jerry were famous, and I was a young community organizer, so I was excited, she said. œThey were starting a new organization, and they wanted a bunch of people to get on board.

œWe met in a big room that had a thin wooden divider down the middle. They started talking, and pretty soon Ben got all excited. He was waving his arms and saying all kinds of things, like how he was going to prevent war by printing up a million bumper stickers. He was shouting and getting red in the face and I was thinking, this guy needs professional help. They all had long hair, Ben and Jeff had big wild beards, and they were wearing old T-shirts. Jerry was just sitting there beaming. Jeff was very calm, like he knew some secret reason why this was actually going to work. It was not at all what I expected.

œWe took a break, and I went to the other side of the divider and called a girlfriend and told her that I had met these crazy people, and she just wouldn t believe what they were like. I forgot that the divider was really thin, so everybody could hear me. When I came back in, Ben rushed up to me and said, ˜Yes! You re right! We re completely insane, and we need your help! Then they took us down the street to where they had a store, and Ben scooped us all ice cream cones. He didn t introduce himself to the people there or anything. He just walked behind the counter and started in, with everybody staring at him.

œI thought about them all the way home. Jerry was really sweet. Jeff was smart and funny. Ben scared me, but he was also funny, and he said something I couldn t get out of my mind. He said that businesses are the most powerful institutions in the world, and they could become the world s most powerful forces for social change. It seemed to me that they were on to something, so I signed up.

Jennifer started consulting with Ben & Jerry s just as they committed to a radical vision of business. She stayed with the company through an epic struggle, including a change of ownership, as it kept trying to live up to that vision. Although Ben & Jerry s has been a wholly owned subsidiary of the world s second-largest food company since 2000, it is still committed to a different way of doing business. This book is about that difference.

Jennifer has been on the board of directors of Ben & Jerry s for eighteen years. The company s annual sales were $167 million when she showed up; now they are somewhere around $500 million, and the company has devoted customers on every continent except Antarctica. It is the kind of company that might consider setting up a shop there, too.

A few years before Ben Cohen met Jennifer, he decided that scooping ice cream wasn t enough. Ben and Jeff Furman led the company through several years of experimenting, sometimes painfully, with the idea that business could be a force for progressive social change as well as a machine for making money. Ben & Jerry s became a leader in the movement to make businesses more socially responsible, and the company pursued what it called a œdouble bottom line while operating as a publicly traded company from 1984 until 2000. They were among the first companies to adopt policies that are now widely known, such as paying a living wage, publishing audited reviews of social and environmental performance, and teaming up with not-for-profit organizations, to name a few.

image

image

Top: The first Ben & Jerry s store in Burlington, Vermont, shortly after it opened on May 5, 1978. Bottom: The first Free Cone Day, May 1979.

Ben & Jerry s took radical, crazy-sounding ideas and proved they could work. It made it easier for other companies to try these ideas. And behind all its efforts was one big idea the company called œlinked prosperity. As the company prospered, it said, all of the employees, suppliers, customers, and other living things that had contributed to its success should prosper as well.

The company s mission had three parts that were equal and interrelated. It wanted to make the world s best ice cream, to pursue progressive social change, and to provide fair compensation to employees and shareholders alike. Ben & Jerry s stuck to these principles as it became an international brand with passionately dedicated customers. But the company eventually grew beyond the managerial abilities of its board, and after years of struggling, the board was forced to sell the company to Unilever. Ben walked away from the deal with $41 million. Jerry got $9.5 million. Jeff got about $1 million. Yet Ben and Jerry have also said that losing control of their company was one of the worst experiences of their lives, and they still don t want to talk about it. It s a hard subject for Jeff, too.

The social mission did survive the sale, however. The founders and the board accepted Unilever s offer only after negotiating a detailed agreement that guaranteed them a continuing role in the company and gave them legally enforceable powers. Under the agreement, Unilever is the sole shareholder of Ben & Jerry s, and it controls the company s economic and operational decisions. But Ben & Jerry s also has a separate board of directors that is not controlled by Unilever. This board elects its own members, and it exists in perpetuity. It acts as a watchdog and has the legal authority to block proposals that lessen product quality or the social mission. As sales increase, investment in the social mission must also increase.

The story of the company s endless pursuit of linked prosperity offers answers to the questions Ben put in Jennifer s mind: What would the world look like if businesses got serious about pursuing social and environmental justice? What if a business was directed toward several equally important goals, with profit being only one of them? And what would happen if social justice activists controlled the board of directors of a large, global enterprise? Could that work?

There s a second, related question. It s the question of legacy. Thousands of business owners do value their employees, the natural environment, and the community at least as highly as their own bank accounts. But investing in these areas rarely produces an immediate financial return, and many investors see social investments as unnecessary costs. So how can socially responsible businesses retain their progressive values after the founding generations retire? Or, to put it another way, how can someone give up control of a successful enterprise without throwing away its purpose?

The Ampersand

In this story, the good guys and the bad guys are not always where you might expect them to be. For example, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are widely known as pioneers of socially responsible business. But the people who wrote the sale agreements that preserved Ben & Jerry s as a socially responsible business were elite corporate lawyers, about as far from Vermont hippies as you can get. Several Unilever executives have become so enthusiastic about the drive for linked prosperity that they have said and done risky things to promote it. And the social mission s most steadfast champion "the only person who consistently fought for it at every stage of the story "describes himself as an activist first, and adds that he has little interest in being a business executive.

Jeff Furman s coworkers often describe him as œthe ampersand in Ben & Jerry s. He became friends with Ben and Jerry years before they scooped their first cone. He helped them write the company s first business plan in 1977 by borrowing a similar plan from a pizza joint and substituting the word œcone whenever that plan used the word œslice. He did a lot of different tasks for the company as it struggled to get going; he joined the company s board in 1982, and he was a key contributor during its decade of rapid growth. He is still on the board in 2014, and since 2010 he has been its chair.

Jeff really is a lawyer and an accountant, but not in an ordinary sense. One Unilever executive refers to him as œa lawyer in disguise. He is a balding guy with a fringe of long hair that he tucks behind his ears. He smiles a lot, trims his beard only occasionally, wears a T-shirt every day "no matter how cold it is "and spends his time working with not-for-profit groups and businesses that have progressive values. And he didn t even meet Ben or Jerry until he was thirty.

Jeff got a degree in accounting in 1965 and a degree in law in 1969, but as the 1970s began, he was not exactly on a career track. In fact, he couldn t keep a job. He was a parole officer until he was given a gun and told to prevent a suspect from fleeing out the back door. He couldn t even bring himself to load the thing. Boston University fired him for spreading the word about an antiwar protest. What he did like was working for the Workers Defense League, representing blue-collar folks and conscientious objectors. That experience gave him strong feelings of compassion for people who hold entry-level jobs. It was a big reason why he later suggested that Ben & Jerry s adopt the policy of paying the company s top employees no more than five times its starting salary, and it is why the company continues to pay a living wage to its employees today.

Jeff met Ben Cohen at Highland Community, an innovative school for twenty-five emotionally troubled teenagers near the isolated mountain town of Paradox, New York. Jeff did administrative work, and Ben taught pottery. Naomi Tannen, the school s founder and director, was a powerful influence on both of them. Jeff says that they were Naomi s employees, not her students, but it could have gone either way. œShe had a dream, and she pursued it relentlessly, said Jeff. œShe was also tolerant of eccentric people, as long as they were pointed in the right direction. I think Ben and I both learned a lot from her example.

Jeff was raised in a Jewish family, and so was Ben; Jeff grew up in Queens, and Ben grew up on Long Island, less than twenty miles away; they both had been cab drivers; they both liked to laugh and do silly things; et cetera, et cetera. Hilarity ensued. Ben soon introduced Jeff to Jerry Greenfield, who had been Ben s best friend since they struggled through the seventh grade together. Jerry was cut from the same cloth. The three men shared ideals that were formed in the 1960s and tempered by Vietnam and Watergate. They were smart and creative but ambivalent toward government, suspicious of big business, painfully aware of injustice, and looking for better ways to live.

The business Ben, Jerry, and Jeff built sprang from these values. Selling ice cream wasn t their real purpose. If it didn t come from the heart, they weren t interested. As the years went by and the business got bigger, they kept pushing for ways to make things more interesting, more political, and more fun. They went farther than they ever thought they would. Calvin Trillin wrote that Ben represented œone of the people who carried the style of the sixties into consumer businesses aimed at their contemporaries, and whose response to success is to express not gratitude for living in a land of opportunity but astonishment at a world so weird that people like themselves are considered respectable businessmen. 1

For the first five years of their ice cream business, Ben and Jerry found themselves working a lot of eighty-hour weeks, a lifestyle neither of them enjoyed. The money was not that great, either. They briefly decided to sell the business in 1982, when it might have been worth $500,000, and they asked Jeff to help with the legal and financial questions. Jerry moved away from Vermont then, but Ben changed his mind and decided not to sell. (Jeff persuaded Jerry to hold on to 10 percent of the company s stock and stay on as a consultant; Jerry returned to the board of directors in 1990 and stayed until the company was sold in 2000). And then the broker that Ben & Jerry s had hired to sell the business sued for breach of contract and won $100,000.

The moment the judgment was announced, Jeff ran down the street from the courtroom to Merchants Bank in Burlington, Vermont. Ben and Jerry followed close behind, with the county sheriff literally on their heels. The guys persuaded the banker, a friend of theirs, to let them withdraw the entire contents of the company s accounts and give it to them in cash. Then Jeff flew home to New York, where the court couldn t get at the money, with $90,000 on his lap in a paper bag. When he got home, he dumped the money on the bed, turned to his girlfriend, Sara, and said, œLook what I found! (Maybe he was trying to impress her; in any event, she later married him.) Jeff kept the money in a safe-deposit box until the lawsuit was settled, and then sent it back to Vermont. Ben and Jerry never doubted that he would.

Stories about the early years of Ben & Jerry s are often funny because these guys did not do things the way normal businesspeople do. For example, Jeff shared his Ithaca office with several others, including me and the not-for-profit group that owned the ice cream shop downstairs. Jeff called it a œPartnerShop. He came up with that idea when the board of Ben & Jerry s asked him to manage the franchising of stores. Some of the stores were just normal franchises, where the company licenses its logo, formulas, and other valuable property to someone who uses them to make a profit. But Jeff also thought it would be cool to franchise some stores to not-for-profit organizations that give young people job experience. As a side benefit, Jeff s Ithaca office occasionally filled up with teenagers who were trying to organize a skate park. It wasn t part of a grand design. It was just Jeff s way of using a creative twist to combine two of his interests.

Another World Is Possible

One summer day in 1999, Jeff came into the office above the Ithaca store and made a call on his grimy telephone. I didn t listen to his side of the conversation at first, but then I noticed that he seemed to be getting more serious, and he was using lawyerly words like œshare price, œsuit, œcounter-suit, and œfly to Amsterdam. He also stared at the ceiling after he hung up the phone, the way people do when they ve heard upsetting news. He told me that things were not going well at Ben & Jerry s, and that he couldn t go into the details. Then he left.

Ben, Jerry, and Jeff did not want to sell their company. Although they still regarded a lot of their duties as chores, they also enjoyed their success. They were responsible for the jobs of about eight hundred people, many of whom they counted as friends. The business had come from their hearts. They struggled for a year and a half to find some viable alternative to giving up control, but they failed. They settled for Unilever.

In 1999, Ben & Jerry s was rooted in the idea of linked prosperity. It was making progress in a campaign to reduce the environmental impact and increase the sustainability of its business at every stage of its operations, from reducing the nitrogen and phosphorus output at its dairy farms to eliminating bleached paperboard in its containers. It was doing all kinds of things to improve conditions in its factories and its suppliers farms, and it paid employees a carefully calibrated œliving wage that was well above the market rate. It was trying to œlead with progressive values in all phases of its business, according to a statement the board adopted in 1997. Jeff feared that all of this might be lost, and the thought was agonizing.

Ben ended up having quadruple bypass heart surgery a few months after the sale went through; the stress of losing his company might have had as much to do with his heart problem as had decades of taste-testing ice cream. Unilever offered Ben and Jerry seats on the post-sale board of directors, but they never took them. Both men are technically employees of Unilever today, but they do not have job descriptions. And Ben can be sharply critical of Unilever "although, as the founders and brand icons, he and Jerry still have some influence on the company that bears their names.

Jeff, on the other hand, stayed on the board. He wanted to try to keep the company s social mission alive. He had invested a great deal of time and effort in the social mission, and he felt responsible for the welfare of employees. In fact, the sale agreements had given him the power to sue Unilever if it didn t live up to its promise to pay a living wage. The agreements also empowered the board to block any changes in the product formula and to ensure that the company would continue to invest in social initiatives. Jeff couldn t just walk away.

In the years that followed the Summer of the Grimy Telephone, Jeff and the other board members of Ben & Jerry s struggled to find effective ways to pursue linked prosperity within the strictures of a huge multinational corporation. They traveled a dangerous, twisting road. They didn t always live up to their responsibilities, and the whole thing almost ended up in court. But after a decade of struggle, Ben & Jerry s and Unilever found ways of working together. Once again, the company is making an honest effort to walk the talk on the social mission. It is still taking risks few other companies would consider, and it still sets an example for other companies to emulate.

When Jeff became chair of the board of Ben & Jerry s in 2010, he was also involved in supporting the US Social Forum, a national gathering of progressive groups held in Detroit in July that year. He decided it would be fun to persuade hundreds of people from all over the country to ride their bicycles to Detroit "the Motor City, after all "as a way of spreading the Social Forum s message, œAnother World Is Possible. Jeff was a fit sixty-six-year-old then, still a runner, and although he did not have a lot of experience with bicycles, he resolved to organize a delegation of riders to go from Ithaca to Detroit on a winding route of nearly five hundred miles. I offered to help him train and to ride with him part of the way.

After the first day s ride, we found ourselves in Seneca Falls, New York, population 6,700. We were two middle-aged guys on the loose, but we were also quite tired and sore. Most of the other riders were several decades younger than us. They were at a nearby campground, eating food cooked on a camp stove, singing around a campfire, and sleeping in tents; we were at a comfy motel in the village, looking forward to a hot shower, a decent restaurant, and an early night. After we finished dinner and called our wives, we had just enough energy left to stroll down Main Street, where we found the Women s Rights National Historical Park.

The park commemorates a meeting that took place in 1848. More than two hundred women and several men gathered in Seneca Falls to draft a Declaration of Sentiments. The document states that œall men and women are created equal and calls for women to be given the right to vote, hold decent jobs, and own property. When women finally did get the right to vote, seventy-two years later, only one of the people who signed the 1848 document was still alive and eligible to cast a ballot. Charlotte Woodward had been just eighteen when she went to Seneca Falls. But when the Nineteenth Amendment passed and she became eligible to register, she was ninety years old and too sick to leave the house. So none of the 1848 attendees ever actually voted.

We sat on a bench in the evening light after reading the historical markers, enjoying the calm that comes after a hard workout. œRiding to the US Social Forum on a bicycle is sort of like running Ben & Jerry s, Jeff said. œIt s about looking for alternative ways to make the job more interesting, more political, and more fun. The company ran on that same kind of energy.

There was a long pause. œThat s smart, I said. œChange happens so slowly that you d better figure out how to enjoy yourself while you re fighting for it. I was paraphrasing the columnist Molly Ivins, who wrote, œWe have to have fun while trying to stave off the forces of darkness because we hardly ever win, so it s the only fun we get to have. We find beer and imagination helpful. 2

Charlotte Woodward spent her whole life struggling for the right to vote, and when the day finally came, she couldn t do it. But perhaps she was not all that bothered about missing her chance. After all, she wasn t fighting for herself. She had been struggling for the rights of women all her life. Perhaps she knew in 1910 what Dr. Martin Luther King said the night before he was killed in 1968: that it might take more than one lifetime for us to get to the mountaintop.

Ben, Jerry, Jeff, and their colleagues made mistakes as they built their business, but they never gave up on their belief that another world is possible. They found that maintaining a three-part mission takes constant effort when you are surrounded by businesses that focus on profits above everything else. To succeed, you must persuade everyone in the organization to buy in and participate in the struggle. Because your expectations are higher, what looks like success to an outsider might feel like failure. There will always be a temptation to take the easy way. You can always get credit, pocket the money, and let things slide. That happened at Ben & Jerry s more than once, and there s no guarantee that it won t happen again.

What is certain is that the struggle to reconcile profits with social justice will never end. The Ben & Jerry s story shows that the struggle can also be fun, when you re doing it right.

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Endorsements

"Just as Ben & Jerry's is no ordinary business, this is no ordinary business book. It's fast paced; it has compelling, fully realized characters; and the narrative is gripping. I couldn't put the book down. That made it difficult to eat my Cherry Garcia at the same time."

-from the foreword by Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff

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