Alice Cooper screamed it best: “School’s out for summer. School’s out for-ev-er!”

Books are closed for good for 2015 graduates. Final words echoing from inspiring speeches, and tassels turned. I can still remember the intoxicating feelings of elation mixed with melancholy as I walked down that high school hallway lined with lockers one last time, 30 years ago…the world at my feet and my head in the clouds.

It’s been a time of reflecting lately as I’ve watched my daughter take those same steps. The last day of going to class, and the final essay she wrote for Lessons of Vietnam where she crafted her own solution rather than answering from the pre-selected options of “what’s best for the U.S.”1 Cheering on friends on Millbrook’s baseball team in the state championship as her very last high school memory before graduation’s pomp and circumstance.

As the door to high school shuts, it opens a world of possibilities. Cliched for sure, but true, and I think it’s more true today than ever before. As the executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals Gerald Tirozzi said so eloquently in 2008: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist and teaching them to use technologies that haven’t been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.”

Yes, that quote is from seven years ago, but it still rings true today…we are all acutely aware that the world is continuing to evolve at an exponential pace.

Tirozzi’s vision? “The future calls us to prepare students who are imaginative, creative and entrepreneurial — and who have the capacity for ‘high touch’ abilities such as compassion, personal rapport, social interaction and caring and helping others.”

That’s the future I want.

More importantly, that’s the future a few smart companies are building, now.

I last wrote about The Audacity Factory, the Triangle’s first “incubator and accelerator for audacious social impact startups,” a very cool concept to encourage radical thinking and monetize ways to make the world a better place.

It is absolutely important work, but we still need not-so-radical businesses to meet our everyday needs. Like coffee.

Some companies are blending these concepts: providing an everyday product, or service, with an unwavering commitment to “meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.”

This commitment earns them certification as a B Corp. Currently, more than 1,000 Certified B Corps from 33 countries and more than 60 industries are working toward one unifying goal: to redefine success in business. Seven are listed in a Raleigh search: Baldwin&, Dimensions in Occupational Health and Safety, Larry’s Coffee, Rain Water Solutions, Riley Life Logistics, Spring Leaf Strategies and Waste Zero.

So what is “redefining success”? It varies, but it’s not all about profit. Larry’s Coffee is leading by example with its efforts to integrate sustainability into its culture, using rainwater to flush the toilets and worms to turn organic waste into valuable fertilizer. Describing his unusual renovation of a Five Points building, his words are inspiring: “Don’t let anyone tell you ‘you can’t do stuff’!”

But it can’t be all business either. Sometimes you need a party to save the world, and that’s why NC B Corp Champions are throwing a free Community Celebration, June 17 from 6-8:30 p.m. on the lawn at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. Featuring food, local artists and musicians, it’s the perfect excuse to hang out with like-minded people who want to change business as usual.

Whether you’re a student, community connector, business or non-profit, RSVP and go. It’s the perfect way to spend a beautiful evening, heat wave or not. School’s out; time to enjoy summer!2

  1. Her explanation via text to me, accompanying pics of her three-page answer (with her teacher’s permission): “Of course I was me and made up my own :D”
  2. And maybe accidentally learn something.
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