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Creating Impact as A Leader: A discussion with Melanie van de Velde

  1. Creating Impact as A Leader: A discussion with Melanie van de Velde Michael D. Levitt 20:38

 In her Board Sessions, Talks, Impact Labs and Immersive Impact Trips, Dr. van de Velde supports leaders to outgrow the competition and transform our world. She provides inspirational examples from around the world that have far better outcomes than others across the sustainability landscape. She reveals the key factors as to why they achieve better results. Her insights are based on her award-winning research (nominated by Cambridge University), 20 years of experience, and best global practices.

Her tools, such as the IMPACT Wheel, enable leaders to tease out innovative, effective impact initiatives for a 200-400% higher return, business growth, increased brand value, productivity & Resilience. Whilst simple to apply, her thought-leading framework underpins our globe’s most successful impact strategies.

To receive our inspirational IMPACT Stories, and insights, or hear about our webinars, you can sign up for our occasional updates at


Or connect with me on LinkedIn:

Quick recap
Melanie and Michael had a preliminary discussion about the potential of businesses to address global issues such as poverty, plastic pollution, air pollution, and rising inequality. They emphasized the need for preventative solutions and wider promotion of sustainable practices. They also highlighted the importance of using high-quality, long-lasting products to reduce environmental impact and the potential for changing supplier mindsets to significantly reduce operational costs and waste.
Organic Conversation Planning
Melanie and Michael had a preliminary discussion about an upcoming conversation, which Michael described as organic and conducive to sharing information. They agreed to keep the conversation organic and to share where people can find them. Michael mentioned that their conversation would be edited by their editor and then shared widely. The specific topic of their discussion was not revealed in the transcript.
Empowering Communities: A Business Solution to Global Issues
Melanie shared their journey from their engineering business background to their current focus on finding solutions to global issues. They emphasized the power of businesses to create structural impact, particularly in addressing poverty. They also highlighted the challenges of doing this work effectively. Michael concurred with Melanie’s approach, noting that teaching communities to help themselves through business opportunities and education can be more sustainable than traditional charity methods. They both agreed on the need to empower communities and utilize untapped talent across the globe.
Root Causes and Solutions to Global Issues
Michael and Melanie discussed the importance of addressing the root causes of global issues rather than merely treating their symptoms. Melanie highlighted the negative consequences of charity in the long term, using the example of second-hand clothing donations leading to job losses in local textile industries. They emphasized that businesses are well-positioned to provide structural solutions such as empowering people with training and employment. Melanie also talked about the plastic crisis, detailing the alarming health effects of plastic pollution and the need for upstream innovations to tackle the issue.
Plastic, Air, and Inequality: Environmental Challenges
Melanie and Michael discussed the problems associated with plastic pollution and its impact on the environment and human health. Michael pointed out the need for preventative solutions, such as using reusable materials like bamboo or metal, and emphasized the importance of proper disposal. Melanie agreed, noting the need to promote these solutions more widely. They also touched on the issue of air pollution and rising inequality, connecting these environmental concerns to larger societal issues outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Business and Environmental Impact Discussion
Melanie discussed their book focusing on four core areas to tackle global issues within a business context. They emphasized the importance of addressing issues at their root across supply chains. Michael shared their personal experiences of implementing small changes such as using reusable bags and washing dishes to reduce waste and pollution. They also mentioned the financial benefits of these changes. Both agreed on the importance of tackling environmental issues one step at a time, even with small actions, to make a significant difference.
Small Changes, Big Impact: Tackling Environmental Issues
Michael emphasized the importance of starting small and thinking creatively to reduce the environmental impact of businesses. They suggested asking employees for ideas and considering simple changes that could make a significant difference. They pointed out the positive effect of remote work and reduced business travel on air quality, noting that everyone can contribute to making a positive change. Melanie agreed, highlighting the importance of thinking outside the box to tackle bigger environmental issues.
Sustainable Products and Practices Discussion
Melanie discussed the issue of unnecessary waste and emissions caused by products intentionally designed with a short lifespan for frequent replacement, such as light bulbs and household appliances. They mentioned the successful initiative by Skipple Airport, who shifted their focus from buying products to buying light as a service from Philips, leading Philips to design more durable and energy-efficient products. They also highlighted the importance of considering out-of-the-box solutions and working with suppliers to introduce more sustainable practices, such as the use of recyclable nylon in carpet tiles. Michael agreed with Melanie’s points, noting that changing supplier mindsets could significantly reduce operational costs and waste.
Sustainable Living: High-Quality Products, Lifestyle Changes
Michael and Melanie discussed the importance of using high-quality, long-lasting products to reduce environmental impact. Melanie shared their personal experience with a pen that has lasted years, emphasizing the importance of using high-quality items rather than disposable ones. Melanie also mentioned their work on sustainability, including running workshops and immersive impact trips for business leaders. They encouraged people to find sustainable products and to make changes in their lifestyles to reduce their environmental footprint. Melanie’s book, which focuses on sustainable living, can be found on traditional channels like Amazon and also on, a print-on-demand platform known for its sustainability practices.


Introductions and backgrounds @ 0:10

Michael welcomed Melanie to discuss sustainable business practices. Melanie shared their background in engineering and running a business in Kenya empowering women, sparking their research on impactful companies.

Sustainable business practices and impact @ 1:21

Melanie discussed how some companies structurally impact issues like poverty by empowering communities through business, education, and jobs rather than just donations. Michael agreed this teaching-to-fish approach is better for long-term change.

Plastic pollution and solutions @ 5:07

Melanie outlined the dire plastic pollution crisis and health impacts if not addressed. Cleanup initiatives are needed but won’t solve the root cause. Innovations preventing plastic use upstream like reusable systems greatly reduce waste and emissions.

Long-term solutions over short-term fixes @ 5:46

Charity aids short-term but businesses can regenerate areas through jobs and opportunity. Examples like durable lighting contracts incentivized long-lasting products cutting waste and costs. Out-of-the-box thinking transforms issues like planned obsolescence.

Business opportunities in sustainability @ 12:57

Four core areas within supply chains, organizations, communities and externally can tackle global issues fitting any company through impact examples and questions. Starting small collectively creates big change through reusable items and efficient operations.

Individual and collective action @ 13:23

Small sustainable switches like reusable bags and coffee cups significantly help if adopted widely. Seeking durable products and questioning short lifespans reduces waste. Collaboration between companies and suppliers innovates solutions for materials and services. United impact inspires positive change.

Michael Levitt Chief Burnout Officer

Michael D. Levitt is the founder & Chief Burnout Officer of The Breakfast Leadership Network, a San Diego and Toronto-based burnout consulting firm. He is a Keynote speaker on The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting and Burnout. He is the host of the Breakfast Leadership show, a Certified NLP and CBT Therapist, a Fortune 500 consultant, and author of his latest book BURNOUT PROOF.

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