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Meet 200 high-impact leaders making a difference

Members of the Fast Company Impact Council—founders and executives, activists and scholars—convened this year in New York City to discuss how to meet our most urgent economic and social challenges.

Meet 200 high-impact leaders making a difference
Gregg Renfrew, Founder and CEO, Beautycounter. “What got us here won’t get us there. The future of business depends on a holistic approach to business as defined by a triple bottom line—people, planet, profits.” [Photo: Jai Lennard; Hair and makeup: Ryu at Halley Resources for Clarks Botanicals]

Global CEOs don’t need another outlet for sharing their ideas. They have the Business Roundtable, the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, and countless other platforms for communicating their thoughts to one another—and the rest of the world. But as it becomes increasingly clear that corporate chieftains don’t necessarily have all the answers (see “The New Capitalism,”), we at Fast Company are excited to have launched a new initiative, the Fast Company Impact Council, to bring together a diverse group of business and cultural leaders—people who don’t normally travel in the same circles—for meaningful conversations about how to run a smart company in 2019 and beyond.

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If you look into the fossil record, 95% of all phyla were founded within 5% of the evolutionary history. One day the dinosaurs are here, and the next day they’re gone. That’s punctuated equilibrium. You’re in stasis, and there’s a moment where mutation occurs, and then all hell breaks loose until you find a new stasis. The taxi industry is what it is for decades, and then Uber and Lyft show up. The music business is based on records and radio until it becomes concerts and Spotify. And that type of change—rapid, deep, and industry shattering—engenders investment opportunities that are really quite unprecedented. —James Coulter, founding partner and co-CEO, TPG Capital [Photo: Jai Lennard; Hair and makeup: Ryu at Halley Resources for Clarks Botanicals]
At the first meeting of the 200-strong council, in April, chief innovation officers from big corporations mingled with founders of direct-to-consumer brands. Designers networked with finance executives. Their common goal? To build innovative, robust businesses that can also be a positive force in the communities and countries where they operate.

“The fragrance industry has been hidden behind trade secrets. I think it’s important to move the needle toward transparency within the industry.” Michelle Pfeiffer, Founder, Henry Rose [Photo: Jai Lennard; hair: Richard Marin at Cloutier Remix; makeup: Brigitte Reiss-Andersen at The Wall Group]
The Impact Council is onto something. A recent Deloitte survey found that 28% of millennials believe that companies should try to make a profit while 32% said businesses should also try to improve society. “Their children and their children’s children will probably have those perspectives, but even more magnified,” said Howard Buffett, grandson of Warren Buffett and author of the book Social Value Investing. To thrive in the future, executives are going to have to embrace many of the ideas and insights we’re sharing here. In other words, they’ll have to lead with impact.

[Source: All data cited comes from a 20-question survey conducted in August 2019 and completed by 25% of Impact Council members]
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