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“What we do matters to culture and we take that very seriously…making sure there is always a higher reason beyond play to engage,” said Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz, at the recent Variety Entertainment and Technology Summit, in reference to the social impact Barbie 2023 will have. “Play is our language but we are always cognizant of our role as impactful global citizens.” 

You Matter

While the “we” Kreiz was referring to may have been he and his Mattel team (hello Barbie’s mom, I mean Will Ferrell, I mean Ruth Handler), the reality is that what each of us matters. YOU matter, for you too are a global citizen, part of the brilliant ecosystem that is the interconnected web of life on this planet we all share. “I want to be a part of the people that make meaning, not the thing that is made,” says Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie‘s Barbie. Truth is, we are all meaning makers and we are all part of the thing that is made.

Ecosystem Connection

This plays out not just in cinematic glory as the current franchise incarnation exemplifies, but in your office, on your team, and in your company, for they are micro ecosystems within our macro ecosystem. In a meeting recently with Regenerative Rising founder Seleyn Deyarus, we discussed how contemporary culture holds the environment as something out there, rather than recognizing ourselves as part of nature. I shared with her how, back in 2008, when I was on a climate change panel with Santee Dakota author, poet, actor, musician, and political activist John Trudell he said, “The Earth will be fine. She will find her own antibiotic…it just may be that we are the virus she needs to get rid of.” 

While it is true that our anthropogenic tendencies have put all of life within our biosphere under threat of extinction, i.e. we are the cause of the greatest challenges of our time, it is also true that as part of nature, you are here for a purpose. How you show up as a leader and team member, what you do as part of an organization, who you are and how that manifests in the workplace, it all matters.

History (Herstory? Ourstory?) Is On Our Side

For more than 3.8 billion years, Mother Nature has been perfecting design principles and she provides exceptional proof of concept: you here reading this, for example. Nature does not want to get rid of us for we are part of nature. Additional principles of ecosystem health that emphasize why you—and every member of your organization matter:

  • Biodiversity and Stability: Monocultures are more vulnerable to diseases, pests, and environmental changes (think: VUCA times). Each species (team member), no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, plays a unique role in the ecosystem. Diversity ensures resilience, adaptability, and stability which equals success.
  • Trophic Interactions: The flow of energy and nutrients, from producers (plants) to consumers (herbivores and carnivores) to decomposers, each organism contributes to the cycling of materials and the maintenance of ecological balance.
  • Symbiotic Relationships: Where different species interact in mutually beneficial ways. Think of the pollinators on your team, where ideas come from; the developers and engineers who bring platforms to life; the marcom experts who provide a flow of information (nutrient exchange).
  • Resilience and Adaptation: Some species (team members) thrive in ideation, others in the details; some in crises, some in calm. Varying circumstances, and the collective response of diverse life forms enhances the overall ability of ecosystems to withstand disturbances.

As our society grapples with the consequences of a separatist, machine-like gestalt within an extraction economy, we don’t yet know how to answer the question: Can Barbie 2023 can really be of impact to better our global citizenry? But going with the belief that each of us matters to the success of the all, I am betting on the power of Ynon, Greta, and Margo’s big screen incarnation….and the teachings we can all take from the film back to the board room. And Ynon, if you want to talk about Mattel playing even more of a key role in the move away from plastic, I am happy to help!