University of Vermont

School of Business Administration

Jeffrey Hollender: "Be Passionate About What You Do"

Jeffrey Hollender

Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, spoke to a packed room about entrepreneurship and social responsibility during the second Dean’s Leadership Speaker Series.

“You probably would describe me as a serial entrepreneur,” Hollender told the crowd of about 90 students, faculty and community members.

Hollender, who is a leading authority on corporate responsibility, sustainability, and social equity, spoke about successful social entrepreneurship.

“The reason I started Seventh Generation in 1988 was not because I had a desire to sell bathroom tissue and laundry detergent, but I was passionate about trying to refine the world of possibilities that business plays in society,” he said.

Seventh Generation is a leading natural products brand known for authenticity, transparency and progressive practices.  It remains an independent, privately held company, distributing products to natural food stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and online retailers in both the U.S. and Canada.

“We live in a world where CEO’s in large companies make 500 times what the average or lowest employee makes, during the time when I was at Seventh Generation we limited the highest salary, which was my own to 17 times what the lowest paid person makes,” he said.

Hollender left Seventh Generation a year ago and has since founded Jeffrey Hollender Partners, a business strategy consulting firm.  He has written several books including 2010’s The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win. He calls his eclectic mix of duties, from Chairman of the Green Peace Board to advising big box stores such as Walmart, a welcomed challenge.

“We live in a world of irreconcilable differences, but it is being in the midst of those most challenging and often divisive issues that requires the greatest amount of innovation to solves some of the problems we face,” he said.  “The single most important thing is for you to be passionate about what you do.”

After his hour long talk, Hollender participated in BSAD 138- Entrepreneurial Leadership.