July 20th, 2010

Book Report: ‘The Company We Keep’ by John Abrams


South Mountain Company is a thirty-year-old, employee-owned design and building company on Martha’s Vineyard.  One of the company founders, John Abrams, published a book in 2005 that changed the way I define success  – and he represents an important demographic for GLD readers.

‘The Company We Keep’ is part business book, part manifesto, part love story.  John sent me the book a couple weeks before I was to drive out to Martha’s Vineyard for an interview with South Mountain Company.  I was graduating from the MBA program at Babson College, knew I wanted to be part of the sustainability movement, and sensed there was some magic in this small building company.  I didn’t put the book down for the next week.  John is a talented writer, and in the book he challenges the ‘gospel of growth’, outlines the benefits of employee ownership, celebrates craftsmanship, and articulates the importance of place.  He made me want to be a better person and a more thoughtful professional.

Ultimately I decided to start a business rather than take a job so I didn’t go to work for South Mountain Company, but that brief interaction with the company changed the course of my professional life.  Have you ever had a brief experience like that, or an influential teacher, or an internship during a formative time that you’ll never forget?  I’d love to hear comments with those stories.

I’m also writing this post because John is part of a group of established professionals that have 30 years of experience from which to teach the younger, Green Light Distrikt crowd.  These are active guys in the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) with an unbelievable wealth of knowledge and perspective that might be helpful to some of us starting out.  Here’s John’s blog, which might be another useful source of information as we all triangulate toward the truth.

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Brian Hayden

About Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden founded HeatSpring Learning Institute in 2007. He's an accredited geothermal installer and creates technical training programs on geothermal and solar systems. HeatSpring has been featured in Business Week's "America's Top 25 Promising Social Entrepreneurs"

  • http://twitter.com/jrmoreau James Ryan Moreau

    I love the idea of this book.. thoughtfully manifesting the culture you want and value through your everyday actions at work AND at home. Great stuff!