Meet Your Guide to Profitable Social Change Business: Shel Horowitz
Beginning with a one-toddler action against smokers at his parents’ party at about age three, Shel Horowitz has been involved in environmental and social change movements his whole life, and in the business world since starting his first entrepreneurial venture, as a college student.
Shel began to think holistically about social change and the environment in the late 1970s. By the 1980s, he was already examining the potential role of business in social change. His first book, written when he was only 22, was about why nuclear power makes no sense. Following the Fukushima disaster of 2011, Shel updated that book for the Japanese market.
Much more recently, Shel’s Down to Business webzine (created in 1997) was one of the first business publications to have a regular section on sustainability. His award-winning eighth book, Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet (co-authored with Guerrilla Marketing founder Jay Conrad Levinson), was #1 Environmental category bestseller on Amazon, and made the category bestseller list at least 33 separate months—one of six of his books that have won awards and/or been republished in other countries.
On the marketing side, Shel was still a teenager when he started doing publicity and marketing for grassroots environmental and community organizations with zero promotional budget. There wasn’t even money available for stamps, so he hand-delivered press releases on a three-speed bicycle. Trained as a journalist, he first became aware of the power of the news media when a local paper refused to print meeting notices he wrote for a controversial group—but gave extensive news coverage to its refusal. Now, for over thirty years, he’s helped businesses, nonprofits, and community groups identify their key message and get it out to the public with little or no expenditure. This led directly to his work helping businesses identify and explore the intersections of their own competencies and values with solving deep-seated social and environmental problems such as hunger, poverty, war, and catastrophic climate change.
Living in Western Massachusetts since 1981, Shel has been married to novelist D. Dina Friedman since 1983. Daughter Alana was born in 1987, and son Rafael followed in 1992. Shel and Dina have lived since 1998 in a restored 1743 antique colonial farmhouse in Hockanum Ecovillage in Hadley, Massachusetts, which they solarized in 2001. Shel thinks it might be the oldest solar home in the country.
In his adopted community, Shel’s been active in numerous business, environmental, social justice/human rights, sensible development, and electoral, activities throughout the Amherst/Northampton/Hadley area. He’s served on at least four official government committees, shepherded several pieces of legislation to adoption, initiated the first nonsmokers’ rights regulations in Northampton, Massachusetts, and managed a successful campaign that unseated a three-term incumbent. And as an environmental and social justice activist since 1972, he’s donated his strategic marketing and copywriting skills for several environmental and social change organizations—especially Save the Mountain, the group he founded in 1999 that mobilized thousands of people (in a rural county) and rapidly beat back an “unstoppable” poorly-planned development on a mountain abutting a state park; this was a campaign that combined everything Shel knew about marketing and community organizing, and drew on the skills of many others he recruited into the organization.
Starting with Save the Mountain, Shel began actively combining his two lifelong passions: green, ethical business and living—and creative and effective marketing. As a social change profitability strategist, speaker, and writer, he shows—with laser precision—how to:
- Develop new products and services focused on achieving social change
- Partner with other organizations to lower costs and boost results
- Find the profit opportunities in helping the world
In his speaking, writing, and consulting, Shel emphasizes the crucial importance of honesty, integrity, and environmental sustainability for long-term business health. Shel says being green and ethical, and addressing wider social issues, is not only the right thing to do, but is also a key success strategy that lowers cost and boosts revenue.
Not afraid to be called a “heretic,” Shel demonstrates that market share is often the wrong metric entirely…that social change/environmentally friendly business can be profitable…and that competitors can be among your best allies.
Shel is a popular speaker and media interviewee (including multiple appearances in the New York Times, Inc, Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, and many others) who loves to get the word out about this important new paradigm. A few among many venues where Shel has spoken:
- Forum Davos, Davos, Switzerland
- Bosphorus Conferences, Istanbul, Turkey
- Sustainable Foods Summit
- Green America/Global Exchange Green Festival
Solarfest (multiple appearances)
- Go Green Expo
- Boston Greenfest
- American Society of Journalists and Authors
- Book Expo America (multiple appearances)
- Noteworthy USA National Convention Keynote
- Public Relations Society of America International Conference
- Infinity Publishing Author Conference Keynote
- Publishers Marketing Association University (multiple appearances)
- Ragan Strategic Media Conference
- Regional writing and publishing associations in the Bay Area, Saint Louis, New York, and elsewhere (three with several repeat appearances)
- University of Massachusetts Family Business Center (multiple appearances)
- Business for Social Responsibility
- Colleges and universities including Smith College, University of Vermont, Mount Holyoke College, others
Shel was inducted into the National Environmental Hall of Fame in 2011, and his consulting firm became the first business ever to achieve Green America’s rigorous Gold-level green business certification.
Contact him with this link, or call 413-586-2388 (8 a.m. to 10 p.m., US Eastern Time).
Listen to or read some of his many media interviews on one of our sister sites, GreenAndProfitable.com.