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CEO of We First, Brand Futurist & Best-Selling Author


Simon Mainwaring is the founder/CEO of We First, a strategic consultancy accelerating growth and impact for purpose-driven brands. He’s a member of the Steering Committee of Sustainable Brands, the Forbes Business Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Current Work:
Simon is a Featured Expert and Jury Member at the Cannes Lions Festival for the Sustainable Development Goals in 2021, host of the ‘Brands With Purpose’ series with Harvard Business School Association of Boston, and his company, We First, is included in Real Leaders list for the Top 100 Impact Companies in the US for 2021 and 2019, as well as a B Corps ‘Best for The World’ Honoree. He was a Real Leaders Top 100 Visionary Leader in 2018, a finalist for the Conscious Company Leadership Awards in 2017, received the MAKE CHANGE, ‘Conscious Leadership’ Award for 2016, and was a finalist for Global Australian of the Year in 2015.

Simon’s first book, We First was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon bestseller and named Best Marketing Book of the Year by strategy+business. It was named an Amazon Top Ten Business Book, 800CEORead Top Five Marketing Book and Sustainable Brands listed We First as one of their Top Sustainability Books of the decade. His new book Lead With We is available November, 2021.

Simon was a Real Leaders Top 50 Keynote Speakers in the World in 2020, was voted a Top 5 Marketing Speaker by for 5 years in a row, and was on the cover of the National Speaker’s Magazine (U.S.). He’s been featured in BBC World News, The Guardian, Advertising Age, Inc., AMA, Fast Company, and Forbes.

Previous Experience:
Prior to We First, Simon was a writer, Creative Director and Worldwide Creative Director at agencies including DDB (Sydney), Saatchi & Saatchi (London), Wieden & Kennedy (Portland) and Ogilvy (Los Angeles) winning awards at all major advertising festivals on clients such as Nike, Toyota and Motorola. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.

Talking Points

The “Virtuous Spiral” of Transcendent Business: How to Lead With We

You can grow your business even as you wholly commit to humanity and the planet-even during this unprecedented confluence of crises. In fact, relevance and long-term prosperity for your business will absolutely depend on it. How you get, there is to LEAD WITH WE, starting at the top. In this session, Mainwaring lays out a radical reimagining and reengineering of business based on the idea of collectivized purpose. Using extensive case studies and proprietary data collated over a decade of work with top brands, global and local, he will show businesses large and small how the regenerative future of business is in our grasp. That future of life, work, and growth in which WE, together, succeed in business while we restore and protect the social and living systems on which all of our futures depend. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How to drive business growth while solving today’s most pressing challenges.
- How to ensure relevance and resonance with employees and customers.
- How to leverage rising market forces to accelerate your growth and impact.

Tomorrow’s CEO: How to Lead in a Fast-Changing & Challenged World

After recent shocks and disorientation across the global economic landscape, a sudden and profound reckoning is now underway, one that can no longer be written off. It’s increasingly necessary to expand all our ideas about business’s role in making a better world-and that starts at the top. Only business has the reach, resources, and responsibility to respond at scale to the interrelated social, environmental, and global challenges we now face as a species. This “Next Normal” will be characterized by the co-existence of destabilizing challenges, with business positioned on the front line. And those companies that endure and prosper will be the ones with leaders who LEAD WITH WE-who accept and act on the fact that the world will continue to change for the worse if we continue with “business-as-usual.” A revolution is occurring among companies of all sizes, as they transform their core businesses, weave social and environmental responsibility deep into the fabric of their organizations,and reap rewards by elevating their brands far above competitors’ in the eyes of employees, customers, consumers, investors, the media, and Wall Street. Such firms are thinking longer term, acting more responsibly, becoming transparent and accountable, and collaborating in partnerships with other companies-even competitors-to foster a new, more creative mindset focused on addressing the social and environmental challenges we face, not as an afterthought of doing business, but as the very reason for it. In this presentation, attendees will learn:

- How to attract top talent in a competitive marketplace, among new generations mostly guided by purpose and values.
- How to market your company’s purpose along with its services or products without sounding pandering or self-congratulatory.
- How to maintain your fiduciary responsibility to shareholders while living up to your moral responsibility as a human being on a planet in dire straits?

Brands As “First Responders:” The New Mandate for Business Growth

If the recent twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice protests taught us anything, it’s that business finds itself in the trenches and on the frontlines of social, cultural, and global challenges. The economy lives or dies on how responsibly, nimbly, and thoroughly business responds to the world outside its doors and domains, beyond its industry and customer base. In a hypercompetitive market, new generations of workers are much more aware, engaged, and demanding of their companies. In this session, Mainwaring reviews global enterprises, as well as smaller companies, whose employees have responded immediately and directly to crises while simultaneously brand-building. You, too, can all but “future-proof” your business by embracing a “First Responder” mindset and practice. This is the new normal for businesses big and small for the foreseeable future, in which WE together create a more responsible stakeholder-owned capitalism, and a more just and equitable society-even as we turn a continued profit. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How - and why - to put the health and well-being of people and the planet before profit-yet still grow your company.
- How to strategize real-time scenarios to protect your business and support others.
- How to partner in new ways to scale your response and impact.

The New Business Normal: Restoring Relevance, Growth, & Impact Post-Covid

While the viral crisis the world is still suffering comes at an unaccountable human and economic cost, it seems also to have framed a doorway to a new, much-needed, more robust, equitable, and sustainable expression of capitalism, with a whole new brand identity that recognizes our shared responsibility. The widespread and devastating consequences of COVID-19 have forced heads of state, corporate leaders, and citizens alike to reconsider how they do business and live their lives, especially employing more and better social impact strategies. Here, the collective becomes the key factor in our business decision filter. That starts with all the local stakeholders in our enterprise, incorporates our partners, expands into the communities we serve, grows to influence the larger culture, and always considers the environment and planet along the way. In this session, Mainwaring will demonstrate how, emerging from this crisis of tragic proportions, we find ourselves at a threshold of a way forward that better serves all stakeholders and our planet. A pathway that secures a safer and more advantageous future for more - and ideally, all - of us. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How to recalibrate your ideas about “success” and “growth.”
- How real companies measure their impact on real people and pressing problems in the real world-often in real-time.
- How to prepare for the next (inevitable) crisis.

Movement-Making: Turning Your Brand into A High Growth Movement

Collaborative engagement and storytelling strategies activate purpose both inside and outside of your business walls, launching legitimate and meaningful movements with maximum and measurable impact, thus changing your communities for the better. In this session, Mainwaring shows how building a high-growth and high-impact movement requires the co-creation of a brand community. The keyword there is “co-create.” We make a commitment in which the brand and its internal stakeholders participate with others - starting with its customers - on an equal footing. We work on ways to mobilize all stakeholders associated with our brands. We build a community that willingly and voluntarily acts as an extension of our marketing department in the same way that everyone from leadership, employees, and partners promote and extend our brand. Customers, consumers, and the media can contribute to creating and expanding our brand community. Brand loyalists will become key ambassadors for our products, services, and impact because they fully understand - and with our help, believe in, subscribe to, and embody - the greater purpose we share with them and the impact we create together. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How to move from marketing to movement making, advertising to advocacy.
- How - and why - to join an extant movement-and how you can help its stated goals.
- How B2B and B2C companies built their brand movements-and what you can learn from them.

Galvanizing & Guiding A Lead With We Culture Inside Your Company

Vanguard companies, big and small, are practicing - and perfecting - a retooled form of purposeful, productive, and profitable company culture. In this session, Mainwaring introduces the prescription - called LEAD WITH WE -which is consciously built on a three-fold construction. First as a mindset, a point of departure for all associates, whatever their position. Second, as a process to be unanimously applied, whether you are running or starting a company, designing or marketing a product, investing in a company or fund, purchasing products or services-or “just” a cog in the business machine. Third, as an aspirational end-state, a leadership mantle for everyone to guide business, innovation, and interrelations among people and the environment. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How the LEAD WITH WE evolution mends and protects society for the next generations, the doubters, and the disenfranchised.
- How to maximize opportunities to engage employees in the definition, integration, and activation of the company purpose in order to deepen advocacy, productivity, and retention.
- The “top-down,” “bottom-up,” and “overtime” methods of fortifying company culture.

Learning from Nature: Fostering Health & Wellness within the Office Ecosystem

Each year scientists discover more details about the myriad ways that nature is sustainable because of its regenerative and circular dynamics. And every year more companies emulate nature in their structure, processes, and procedures. They understand that “growth” and “success” - personal, business, brand, cultural - must be considered similarly symbiotic, aimed at achieving sufficiency for all. In this session, Mainwaring introduces models of, and a prescription for, achieving vitality, solidarity, mutualism, homeostasis, compassion, healing, diversity, and adaptability in the “life support system” of your business culture. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- What “biomimicry” and “geomimicry” mean and how they apply to regenerative business systems and employee well-being.
- How to conduct an honest employee well-being audit and respond appropriately.
- How to support employee health and wellness effectively while maintaining an equally healthy bottom line.

Beyond Sustainability Storytelling: Defining & Sharing A Narrative that Captures Attention

Forward-thinking companies consistently review and transparently communicate progress across the breadth of all their internal activations, including ESG metrics, DI&E efforts, and community impact-but often only through the lens of their relative adherence to “sustainability” benchmarks. But is this enough? Is “sustainability” even enough, given the urgency and, the enormity of our interrelated crises? In this session, Mainwaring will argue that it’s clear that sustainability as we’ve come to understand it does not go far enough. Nature isn’t naturally “sustainable,” but rather regenerative. As stakeholders continue their transformation from an individual “Me” into one equipped to LEAD a larger WE toward a regenerative future, we must craft a narrative that inspires restoration and renewal. Then we must stress-test, self-disrupt, and continuously iterate and adapt that narrative and practices. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How large companies, such as Nestlé, Walmart, and P&G, are telling stories of circular, regenerative, and net positive systems and impacts.
- How small but growing companies are participating-and which are telling the most effective and emotionally resonant stories about regeneration.
- How regeneration encompasses a spectrum from clean and renewable energy to fair and just human relations, and how different companies are activating it.

Show Up, Stand Up, Speak Up: How to Rise Above the Noise of Purposeful Brands

Do you think business can best weather social, economic, environmental, and political storms by staying out of the rain? The climate emergency is demolishing corporate supply chains. Generations are being born with anxiety, depression, and hopelessness about the fate of their future. We’re in the midst of a global health crisis. Consumers nowadays expect companies to take a stand, even if the issue is highly politicized. But not with empty platitudes. In this session, Mainwarings shows how the most dangerous thing a company can do is try to play safe. We only alienate loyalists on both sides of any issue, and risk atrophying hard-won reputation capital that can take us years to recover. So, instead, companies must take a stand. But on what issues? How vocal should you be? And at what risk to your brand? In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How brands, big and small, responded to COVID, gun control, abortion, immigration, and social justice movements-and what we can learn from them.
- The three biggest mistakes companies make in taking their stands to the public, and how to avoid them.
- How you can join an existing movement already underway-and build your business, reputation and impact by doing so.

Urgency & Optimism: How Business Meets Today’s Challenges with Equal Speed & Force

The undeniable failure of our ecological ecosystem will continue to ravage humanity, erode business viability, and cost literal lives-it already has. Meantime, the gaps in wealth, education, and healthcare can’t yawn any wider without swallowing whole swaths of humanity. Given the urgency and sheer scale of our challenges, it’s easy for all of us to get overwhelmed, pessimistic, or skeptical. But in this session, Mainwaring introduces those businesses that LEAD WITH WE, collaborating with tens of millions of collective employees, customers, consumers, supply chain partners, investors, and movements, all acting as multipliers of collective impact on critical environmental, social, and economic crises around the world. Leading companies, large and small, are thriving, unlocking new revenue-generating prospects from the estimated $12 trillion opportunity in unlocking responses to the SDGs and wider ESG needs. In this session, attendees will learn:
- How our major problems are interwoven, and addressing one will help ameliorate another.
- How to unlock the power of the collective to respond to the environmental “Code Red.”
- How to inspire optimism and urgency among your key stakeholders to solve compounding crises, while driving business growth and innovation by doing so.

Empowering Women: Nurturing the Next Generation of Leaders Our World Desperately Needs

In this session, Mainwaring introduces five CEOs who exemplify leadership and explores to what extent their gender might have anything to do with their success. In 2021, Karen Lynch took over as CEO of CVS Health, ranked No. 7 on the Global 500-she’s the highest-ranking female CEO in the world. Roz Brewer, formerly of Starbucks and Walmart, became CEO of the Walgreens Boots Alliance. As CEO of Citigroup, Jane Fraser is the first woman to run a major Wall Street bank. Former JPMorgan Chase executive Thasunda Brown Duckett became CEO of the retirement fund manager TIAA-she’s one of six women of colour running Global 500 companies. And Véronique Penchienati-Bosetta became the interim co-CEO of French food business Danone, a special case of collaboration worthy of exploration. In this presentation, attendees will learn:
- How these CEOs envision our future and the new expectations of leadership.
- How these leaders frame their respective responses to a market-facing multiple, concurrent crises.
- Young entrepreneurs setting the pace for innovation, collaboration, and industry transformation-and how to emulate them.
Simon is an incredible public speaker and a master at his craft. He understands the intersection between purpose, people, and profit powered by years of experience working with some of the most purpose-driven brands. His urgency for driving positive change in this world is palpable. Glassdoor

The Harvard Business School Association of Boston and We First engaged in a year-long collaboration to put together a series of panels that took a deep dive into purpose and, importantly, its specific practice around the world. We were looking for content that was dynamic, actionable and differentiated, and We First delivered. The panelists were world class, Simon was an outstanding moderator and the response has been fantastic. I highly recommend We First as an exceptional content and training provider.

Harvard Business School Association of Boston

The Accessories Council was honored to have Simon present at the 5th Anniversary of our Business Workshop. Our Business Workshop is intended to inspire, be thought provoking and encourage our members to position their businesses for success. Simon was absolutely an inspiration! He was engaging and provided our team with exceptional information. I was impressed with the amount of time he and his team spent preparing for the session. It was clear they wanted to understand our audience and tailor his presentation accordingly. Simon also volunteered to come back for another session to answer any questions our attendees had. We had 3 packed days of speakers and Simon’s presentation was memorable, very highly rated. We feel most fortunate that he was a part of our 2020 event!

Accessories Council at Business Workshop 2020

Simon led two dynamic sessions at Social Innovation Summit, providing a unique perspective that blended purpose-driven work with the power of branding. He was engaging, insightful, and an incredible thought leader in how we can drive impact through business.

Landmark Ventures at Social Innovation Summit 2020

Simon Mainwaring provided a stirring keynote for the 2nd Annual Nonprofit Board Summit sponsored by the Harvard Business School Association of Boston. His presentation on ""Building a Sustainable Movement” provided both a reality-check and a call to action for nonprofit board members and senior staff. Simon started by highlighting the competitive environment for both mindshare and resources, and the increasingly blurry lines between nonprofits and for-profit social enterprises, and then provided a roadmap for building a sustainable movement with examples of how successful organizations have executed such strategies. From defining the organization’s purpose, to infusing it into the culture, to co-creating a broader community of believers and ultimately influencing societal values, he brought a fresh vision of how to create and communicate impact, the holy grail that most nonprofits seek.

HBS Association of Boston

Simon Mainwaring's presentations to the Conscious Capitalism community are insightful and powerful. They provide not only inspirational guidance or how to get through this challenging period, but also a roadmap for how business leaders can take action to do so.

Conscious Capitalism

Simon Mainwaring is an incredibly effective speaker motivating his listeners to fully engage in examining their company's purpose and and how they share their story. Regardless of company size, his message inspires all to peel back the layers and breathe renewed life into the soul of their corporate values.


Simon Mainwaring was a valuable addition to the inaugural Sustainable Brands 2016 Sydney Conference. He brought with him a wealth of knowledge from previous Sustainable Brands events in San Diego which helped the audience to understand the ethos of the conference objectives. I would highly recommend Simon as both a Keynote presenter and Workshop facilitator.

Sustainable Brands Sydney

I can't express how thrilled we are about your work with our leadership team today. The buzz is still going... Community service IS about the bottom line... Support the mission, tell your story, empower the people... Just a few buzz phrases I am hearing. I appreciate your time and thoughtful presentation today and look forward to continuing this great work.


Patagonia has always valued story-telling, but knowing you can always teach a old dog new tricks, we invited Simon to speak to us and share his insights about the larger context of why telling stories is central to any brand's connection to its customers, as well as share his advanced knowledge of the tools in the social media box.

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