Moving the Mountain: Marketing Social Change and Making It Last

Interview by Billy Shore

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What is the key to creating sustainable social impact? Social change pioneer Bill Novelli and Washington DC restaurateur and chef Erik Bruner-Yang (Maketto, Brothers and Sisters, Spoken English) sit down with Debbie and Billy Shore to discuss cultural identity, community engagement and lasting social impact. As the former architect of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Novelli built a social marketing program that successfully challenged big tobacco’s overwhelming political and cultural influence. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is that we can move the mountain… but we’ve got to start by saying, ‘we can do it,’” says Novelli. “We need to change social norms and expectations,” he continues. Bruner-Yang thinks the solutions to intractable social issues like gun violence require long-term inter-generational thinking. “If you’re 40-plus, your mind is made up. America can be and has been at the forefront of social change. Some of these big issues you have to just skip a generation,” he observes.

As a professor in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, Novelli sees the promise of the next generation of leaders. “I go home every night with a song in my heart because they understand that there’s more than one bottom line. They want purpose. They want to work in an organization that doesn’t just have a profit, but also cares about people and the planet,” he says. Long-time No Kid Hungry supporter Bruner-Yang describes how his former passion for music translated into owning restaurants. “It’s a lot of the same tangibles. You get to be creative, you’re entertaining people, you’re using a lot of the same thought processes,” he notes.

Listen in as these two guests discuss talk about how their values have motivated them to lead purpose-driven lives.

Resources and Mentions:

Bill Novelli

Founder // Business for Impact, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business
Bill Novelli is the founder of Business for Impact at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Novelli is the co-chair of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, a national alliance dedicated to reforming advanced illness/end of life care in the United States. Previously, he was in leadership roles at AARP, The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, CARE, and was co-founder and president of Porter Novelli, one of the world’s largest public relations firms. His most recent book is Good Business: The Talk, Fight, Win Way to Change the World.

Erik Bruner-Yang

Kicked off his hospitality career as general manager of Sticky Rice, a sushi restaurant in Washington DC. Around this time, he developed a deeper appreciation for Taiwanese cuisine. In 2011, he opened Toki Underground, a ramen shop that won Eater DC’s “Best New Restaurant” the same year. Bruner-Yang has since opened several other DC establishments, including Maketto, a three-level Asian market with a retail store, coffee shop, and restaurant; and Paper Horse, a fast-casual ramen stand inside Whole Foods. His most recent projects include two venues inside the swanky Line Hotel: Brothers and Sisters, which interprets global classics from the era of grand hotels, and teensy Spoken English, a standing-room-only space modeled after Japanese tachinomiyas. All Bruner-Yang concepts are housed under the group Foreign National. He was nominated for James Beard’s “Rising Star Chef” in 2015 and was a semifinalist for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” in 2016.

No Kid Hungry

Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign is ending child hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need, every day.

The Georgetown Global Social Enterprise Initiative

GSEI brings the power and innovation generated by cross-sector partnerships to bear on the world’s most pressing problems by emphasizing implementation and measurable social change. As an initiative of the School of Business, GSEI strives to expose career professionals and students to how social, economic, and environmental (SEE) value can facilitate large-scale and lasting change. GSEI is built on robust partnerships with corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Our partners and collaborators bring opportunities for students, faculty, and stakeholders to think critically about how organizations can look across sectors and SEE Value in large scale and lasting change.

Maketto

A communal marketplace located in Washington DC combining retail, restaurant and cafe experiences. The 60-seat restaurant is an interpretation of Cambodian and Taiwanese cooking. The retail section of Maketto is a precisely curated mix of international footwear, clothing, accessories, books, and magazines. The café serves local coffee roaster, Vigilante Coffee and provides a full coffee bar experience 7 days a week.Brothers and Sisters is located in the Line Hotel DC lobby and serves American classics with Taiwanese and Japanese influences. Toki Underground is Washington DC’s first Taiwanese Ramen and Dumpling House.Spoken English is a Tachinomiya-style neighborhood space located within the LINE DC. This standing-room only restaurant welcomes open-minded patrons willing to engage in new interactions with neighbors, strangers, and friends alike.