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James McGregor believes scalable commercial sustainability solutions are the key to our collective environmental and societal challenges

In the final episode of our fourth season, I was delighted to co-create a conversation filled with pragmatism, hope and energy for tackling the major problems that exist in our world today. I was introduced to James McGregor by our very first BWL guest, Paul Dunn, on the basis of our shared passion and believe in systemic transformation.

James has been involved in the commercialisation of sustainable innovation and technologies for over 15 years and has a wealth of knowledge on how to identify the crux of a systemic problem, converge stakeholders to address the issue and how to align novel approaches to commercial outcomes.

In this conversation we map much of the terrain of James’ life which will be familiar to regular listeners – what called him to doing this kind of work (after an early career in the military), how systemic work begins with individuals and organisations figuring out what’s most important, and what particular capabilities they can bring to apply to creating a better world. This approach led James into the unanticipated chair of TV show producer, an unintended role which was, as James puts it, simply the right solution to the right problem.

James and I look forward to hearing from you via the links below if there’s anything you would like to discuss or share in response to this conversation.

Here’s a review of the key messages from this episode;


  • Get really clear on why you’re doing what you’re doing & what’s important to your organisation
  • People think visions are enough. It’s not.
  • I could see all the problems in the world, but didn’t see the ideas that can help solve them getting out into the world
  • Being afraid isn’t a bad thing. Fear has a job to do. It’s job is to tell you to bring courage to the table


  • Look to solve problems at scale – e.g. how do we transform a region to a net zero economy?
  • Businesses are well placed to be the change-agents that fix these problems
  • We didn’t set out to create a TV show – it ended up as the right solution to the right problem
  • Build into the storyline is a lot of social science about how you communicate sustainability so it resonates with consumers

Sustainable business

  • Doing good can be good for business
  • People look at sustainability as a cost item instead of a value creator across the business
  • Sustainability can be a revenue generator, increase profit by reducing operating costs, reduce risk making you more resilient to changes in the business environment & add assets to your balance sheet
  • Focus on how sustainability can solve problems for key stakeholders within your ecosystem
  • The sustainability outcome is a consequence of solving the right problem in your business or marketplace
  • Discovery process: 1 – understand your why, 2 – map ecosystem of business, 3 – gain stakeholder buy-in

Follow James via the links below;

Watch the TV show James produces – Renovate or Rebuild here

Online courses on developing and growing sustainable businesses (new courses coming soon)

Follow Tim and join the Better World Leaders community via the links below:

Link to article reflecting on this episode on Medium here –

youtube @timcollings – click here for channel

Episode Pages for this episode and all previous Better World Leaders conversations available here;

As always, great thanks and appreciation to the team who contributed to bringing Better World Leaders to you;

To Brendan Ward for mastering, final production, composition and performance of original music throughout each episode.

To Cooper, Pat and the team at RadioHub studios for audio editing, technical support and creative guidance during the episodes that are recorded face-to-face. You can find out about Radio Hub’s services here –

To NokNok Studios for website design, hosting and advice. Find out about NokNok’s awesome services here

To Cirasa Design for logo and site graphics – Find our about Cirasa’s inspiring work here

This is the Better World Leaders, brought to you by 4iLeadership