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Scholar. Educator. Writer. I help people learn to start and manage better, more sustainable businesses and be better humans. Opinions my own.
Photo by Martin Katler on Unsplash

Note: I previously wrote about why Tesla isn’t sustainable. This isn’t so much a follow-up or update as it is a follow-on piece. But I’ve structured this piece in such a way that you can read them in any order you like and they will still make sense.

Tesla is an easy target in the sustainability space because they have crafted an image dependent upon a message that doesn’t match with how they operate or the realities of their market.

Many replies to my original piece (reflecting the image of Tesla and EVs) went something like this:

“Sure, Tesla might…


Here’s what to do instead

“Pursue your passion” is a modern, career advice mantra. From (person) to (person), the career advice that best exemplifies our modern culture is “pursue your passion”.

This advice is dumb and immoral.

“Pursue your passion” is dumb and immoral because of its natural consequences and some massive flaws in its assumptions.

There are, in general, two consequences that naturally follow from “pursue your passion”.

“Pursue your passion” is really the beginning of an if-then argument. If you pursue your passion, then you will be successful/happy/ultimately fulfilled. Most of the “pursue your passion” proponents are really talking about economic success not…


Lawyers are annoying. I would know: I’m one of them. We are so annoying in fact that they are the subject of endless jokes, some of which are quite funny.

But lawyers will not be replaced by blockchain technologies. Neither will accountants, bankers, or any other job role.

Rather these job roles will be “disrupted” meaning that their current essential roles will change. An example might help…

From computers to computers

Until the 1950s, “computers” were largely assumed to be humans. That’s right: humans who computed data.

Starting from advances made during World War II, machine technology became increasingly sophisticated so that these roles…


Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Note from John: I’ve been on a break from writing on Medium for a bit, but here’s some thing short that I put together this afternoon. Enjoy!

It used to be that if you produce oil, you competed against other oil companies. If you make movies, you compete against other movie producers. If you make phones, you compete against other phone users.

This alignment bent quite a bit after World War II as companies began to diversify, especially into related fields. It snapped back to attention with the Internet era as smaller players could reach larger consumer segments and thus…


Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Exam time always brings out a great deal of stress in my students. This is especially true of my undergraduate students.

The list of stressors around exams are numerous: parental pressure, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of missing your alarm and being late to the exam (okay, maybe that’s just my recurring nightmare)…you get the point.

All relate to one essential lie: that student grades on said exams carry weight. A great deal of weight.

But before we get to why it’s a lie, let’s define what an exam is.

An exam is a measure of your…


Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

A bribe is “something that serves to induce or influence”.

When Amazon amounted that it would split its new second headquarters between New York and Crystal City, VA, it also announced that it would receive over $2 billion in “subsidies” from both localities.

Sounds like something that might have induced or influenced Amazon.

So…a bribe.

Locating in New York and the DC area make sense for economic reasons: they are the two largest metro areas on the East Coast of the US which itself is the most highly populous area of the US.

But Amazon will have nothing but trouble…


Why the rest of the world would do well to look at the sustainability challenges of living in the desert.

“man walking on desert with camel” by Federico Gutierrez on Unsplash

When I speak with sustainability professionals outside of the UAE, many chuckle at the idea of the UAE trying to be sustainable.

How can country dependent on oil exports be “sustainable”?

How can country with no natural water resources be “sustainable”?

How can a place in the desert be “sustainable”?

Those are the first three questions I usually get. I have your answers below!

What these questions usually show is how little people understand about the global economy, but more worryingly, how little even sustainability professionals understand about the coming global shifts due to climate change.

To understand what the…


It’s all about the customers.

Not all tech companies have the same customers — and that really matters. by rawpixel on Unsplash

In business strategy, one of the key components is the Theory of the Business: What is the purpose of the business? Who are its customers? How does it make money?

Often, companies answer these questions publicly in downright flippant fashion.

But these questions do have real answers. And those answers for the biggest tech companies can help understand which are more sustainable as companies and which ones you might want to avoid (either as a user or as an investor).

Amazon’s customers are, for the most part, consumers. They operate much like a regular retail…


Tesla is widely viewed as one of the world’s most sustainable companies.

When someone tells me that Tesla is a sustainable company, I often must excuse myself from the room. The very suggestion is laughable.

Yes, Tesla produces electric cars. Yes, they are working toward a “sustainable energy future”. And electric cars generally are better for the environment than traditional gas-powered cars.

But…

None of that makes Tesla a “sustainable” company. And certainly it doesn’t make it one of the world’s most sustainable companies.

To understand why, you have to first understand what sustainability is. …


“round clear gem stone on ground” by Chris Coe on Unsplash

Earlier this summer, the diamond company deBeers, which sells about 35% of the world’s mined diamonds and is owned by the massive mining company Anglo American, piloted a blockchain network called Tracr. It’s purpose? Track diamonds from the mine to the consumer. It worked so well that they are going to offer access to the system to every diamond mine, middleman, and retailer in the world.

Why is this such a big deal if it works?

In 2000, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) was created in response to so-called blood diamonds, those diamonds whose sale profits armed groups. Today…

John Katsos

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