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An action plan for the planet by venture capitalist John Doerr

There’s a new climate action plan book out that I think you should read. It’s called “Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now”. I know there are a lot of climate books out right now, but this one is different for one major reason. It’s by venture capitalist John Doerr, one of the major backers behind some of today’s most innovative companies including Google and Amazon. Let me try to explain why that matters for the planet, and why it matters to me. 

Turning money into more money

I grew up in Silicon Valley listening to my parents and their friends talk about what was happening on Sand Hill Road. (That’s where well-known venture capital firms like Kleiner Perkins have offices.) As a teenager in the mid-1990’s I remember thinking there was a lot of chatter about how to use money to make more money. The companies they talked about didn’t seem to be solving any real problems (like the destruction of nature or poverty) when I was a teenager. And those were the issues I cared about.

After graduating college with a BA in journalism, I somehow ended up with an internship at Merrill Lynch training other interns how to cold call strangers to convince them to attend a “free dinner hosted by a Merrill Lynch money manager.” It reinforced my belief that the pursuit of turning money into more money was uninteresting and so was traditional marketing. 

Helping good companies get discovered

But in 2004 I got a job at an online marketing agency in San Dimas, California managing Google Ad campaigns. My job was to research keywords, write ad copy, manage ad budgets, client relationships, and analytics. I turned ad campaigns into money for my clients, and for the first time, it was interesting. I loved helping small companies grow and get discovered. 

However, when my son was born and I became increasingly concerned about climate change, that nagging feeling came back. Was I just turning money into more money? I wasn’t solving problems related to climate change or poverty. It all felt like a waste of time. But I decided to keep researching, writing and looking for solutions in my own life to the environmental problems that concerned me. Finally, after taking a lot of classes and reading a lot of books, I realized that most environmental problems can be solved through innovation, investments, and the right policies. Solutions aren’t cheap or easy, but they exist. 

Speed and Scale

Enter a new book called “Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now” by renowned venture capitalist John Doerr. The master of turning money into more money has written about environmental solutions. “Speed and Scale” is a perfect follow-up to “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates. Doerr writes about a lot of the issues Gates wrote about, including Green Premiums. But “Speed and Scale” is more focused on what investors and individuals should know in the coming decade. It’s also a bit easier to digest, especially if you pick the audible version. 

Finally, what I love about Doerr is his approach to framing what needs to be done, and how to get it done. The only business book I’ve ever finished is by him as well. It’s called “Measure What Matters”. In “Speed and Scale”, he helps us measure what matters related to solving the climate crisis. And I believe that’s what matters most. Here’s the plan, according to Doerr:

Net Zero By 2050

  1. Electrify transportation
  2. Decarbonize the grid
  3. Fix food
  4. Protect nature
  5. Clean up industry 
  6. Remove carbon


  • Policy and politics
  • Movements
  • Innovation
  • Investment

So if you’ve ever worried that you’re just turning money into more money, read “Speed and Scale” to learn what you can do to have a positive impact. And if you’re working on ways to get to Net Zero by 2050, contact me and let me know what you’re working on. Maybe I can help your company get discovered online.

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