How Anger is Good For Business

Tuesday I was walking around my ravished Brooklyn looking at what Hurricane Sandy had left behind.

Flooding 150 ft. from my house, during Hurricane Sandy

While my house was about 100feet from the mandatory evacuation zone, we were fortunate that the surge of water didn’t quite make it up to our house.

Others nearby did not fare as well.

Living near the Gowanus Canal, one of the largest and most polluted Superfund sites in the country, is normally quite safe and not a problem.  But Sandy caused the toxic water surge to damage untold homes and small businesses in the area.

I walked past many of these homes yesterday.  Some quite destitute looking people were busy trying to assess what was left of their home and possessions.  Some are now virtually homeless.

Walking further to the next neighborhood, Red Hook, things quickly got worse.

A street in Red Hook, Brooklyn, day after Sandy

Entire blocks were still submerged underwater.  Many artisans and small businesses have their lofts there by the water, and many were looking at their homes and livelihoods now destroyed.

That is when I really got mad.  Mad knowing that this storm most likely was intensified because of global warming.

And it is my fault.  It is all of our faults.

Not anyone else’s.

Yes, we can blame others for doing “worse” things to the planet.  It’s what I’ve gotten good at doing over the past 30 years.

But what good does that do?

The other night I had the opportunity to have a private dinner with Bill McKibben, co-founder of, one of the top 10 people I most admire.

McKibben, if you are not familiar with him, is so very committed to addressing climate change that he makes someone like Al Gore look lazy.

The man is unstoppable.  He is taking on some of the largest and wealthiest mega-corporations and calling them on the crap they are doling out to the world.

At dinner I asked, “Bill, don’t you sometimes feel like it doesn’t really matter anymore?  That people just don’t care?  That you are out-numbered, out-financed, out-resourced? What keeps you going?”

McKibben thought for a long moment and said, “Stefan, what keeps me going is how much I hate oil companies!”

Since that conversation, I have thought long and hard about how useful anger and “hate” can be sometimes.  Anger is powerful energy and can be used to accomplish things that you might not normally be able to accomplish.

It can be a tool to use.

The right kind of anger and targeted strategically, of course.

Remember the four-Oscar movie Network?  It’s a story about a deranged TV news anchor that persuades his viewers to open their windows and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!”

We have all gotten to that point in our lives.  And when you’re there, if you keep your mental faculties in tact, you can be extremely productive and move something forward in a dramatic way.

Here’s how to leverage your anger

  • Get clear on what you are mad about
  • Make sure it is something worth being angry over
  • Take ownership of the issue
  • Determine the resolution you want
  • Decide how you will accomplish this
  • Then yell it out from the rooftop of your building!

We all know it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.  If you really are mad as hell, yelling will not be a problem for you and in fact most likely will feel really, really great.

Just make sure you warn everyone before you start yelling!


Soon after my three-hour walk around Brooklyn yesterday, I was mad as hell.

And still am.

I’m mad that we all are not taking things we are doing to our planet nearly seriously enough.  It is no longer enough to screw in energy efficient light bulbs, buy a hybrid car, or recycle some used paper and metals.

Not nearly enough.  Even those of us I call “deep green” can do much more.

In fact, the fastest way we’ll not only stop destroying our planet and communities, but actually start restoring them, is by showing people how to make money doing it.

It will not be government, subsidies, courtrooms, or even education.  Of course these could help immensely, if, and when, they ever get going.

Instead it will be you and me, as entrepreneurs.

So here is what I’m doing about it:

My newest company, the Shift Group, will be working with entrepreneurs committed to solving some of our planet’s biggest problems.

If you have a business that addresses climate change, air pollution, water pollution, waste management, energy, biodiversity, deforestation, ocean destruction, etc., I want to meet with you.

If what you are doing is game changing, I will open up my resources to you and help you in any way I can.

I’m not kidding.  If you’re not familiar with my background, here is Stefan Doering’s LinkedIn Profile.

All you have to do is email me at

Leave the rest to me.

Yes, being mad can do really cool things!


Action Steps for the Week

What are you mad about?  Are you sure it is worth being mad about?  If so, what are you doing about it?  And are you playing small or are you really stepping up and playing full-out?

If you could amp it up more, make sure you really are upset about the issue.  If you’re not as upset as you thought you were, or if the energy has waned, review what you are most committed to.

  • What is it you most want changed?
  • What is your role in this problem and solution?
  • What will you do about it?
  • By when?

Create a game plan and start to implement it this week.