The year 2011 is almost a wrap, but in keeping with the level of shock value it has had, it’s delivered one more punch on its way out. Brian D. Robertson, a remarkable Canadian-born entrepreneur, died this past Thursday at age 38. Brian was CEO of Amonix, a concentrating solar Originally posted on December 26, 2011. PV company in California. But, before taking on that exciting challenge, he lived in Baltimore with his wife, Eileen, and their growing family, and was serving as the CEO of SunEdison, and that is when I met him.
We were in a course together, along with a fairly large group of people. I noticed Brian early on. Everything about him conveyed focus, purpose and conviction. Though he had a kind of knowing smile at times, a smile that said he was not unaware of all that he had been fortunate to accomplish in life, his predominant expression was marked by intentionality, both for what he was up to in his work and equally so for his family. Brian listened more than he spoke, but when he shared his thoughts his words carried weight and wisdom.
It was after one of those occasions that I decided to approach him about Working Wonders, to request a meeting. He didn’t hesitate, despite his busy schedule, and we arranged a time to talk. This morning, as I read over his emails and thought about our talks that followed from that initial conversation, I remember Brian laddering me down so quickly to what Working Wonders, and the opportunity of the company, was all about. He re-phrased my words to be “a better, more eco-friendly Pottery Barn,” and he wrote about how much he liked the Working Wonders 8-icon system for communicating eco-benefits to consumers, and that in his view the opportunity for Working Wonders is to win customers from existing retailers who are falling down on the job of being stewards of the planet.
I read what Jigar Shah, the CEO of the Carbon War Room, wrote, in his spot-on tribute to Brian, http://gigaom.com/cleantech/in-memory-of-solar-pioneer-brian-robertson/, and I’d like to reprint his last paragraph here, because I can’t imagine how what he said could be put better.
“For those of us trying to change the World for the better, we just lost one of the most important figures of our generation. No one will take his place. The hole that is left will never be filled. It will be a constant reminder to all of us that we have a responsibility to ourselves and to everyone around us to leave this world better than we found it. In that, his family, and in many other things Brian succeeded. I just wish he could have lived a full life. For those of us who knew him – he actually did. Brian made a dent in the universe. He was an incredible person and will be missed.”
Brian helped me to crystallize my role as an entrepreneur for sustainable home and lifestyle retailing and the role that Working Wonders would play as the first on the retail landscape of this new generation. Speaking from experience, he was a powerful mentor. I will always be grateful that I got to be one of the people on the planet who has benefited from his wisdom, intelligence, and abundant generosity of spirit.