22 July 2024 Last updated at 03:25 GMT

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Brian Heather is a serial entrepreneur; young, dynamic, good looking and with a real social conscience. Not only is he in the business of sustainable building, landscaping and water proofing, this 30 year old business man is changing the landscape of green buliding.

It may be a buzz word to many, but let me assure you, being green is more than meets the eye. Brian is a much sought after entrepreneur who has landed himself in the spotlight with his inaugural Ted Talk on June 23 on "The importance of reconnecting our cities to nature".

His business, Solterra Systems, is a fully licensed electrical, landscaping and waterproofing company that focuses on integrating environmental technology into buildings.

This can range from green roofs where you are producing food, to rain screen siding systems that protect the building from the elements with plants. 

But enough about that, how can we connect our cities to nature. Here's what he had to say:

What can communities be doing more of to connect their cities to nature?

The first step is attaching an ROI to the benefits associated with being in nature for all humans. For example, they estimate that the average American spends 26% of the day being distracted whether its a text message or an advertisement - but right now technology is very much a part of what we do - and so, if we just look at businesses for example, there is a loss of productivity in the workplace and people have in general very un-balanced lives.

So, my goal, is to show that putting humans in more natural settings, that people are more productive and can recover from a distraction faster as well as the fact that they will be more healthier. This can only benefit workplace production.

What made you choose to be an entrepreneur?

I had some success working at a former company as an employee building a renewable energy division and just realized that my vision would not be fully implemented by working for someone else. So, when I was 24, I decided to leave and start Solterra Systems.

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The ability to have a vision and to get a number of people excited about that so that that vision can be executed and accomplished.

What's the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a young entrepreneur?

I started my business in 2008 right at the start of the financial crisis which was not a good time for any contractors, so I had to go out and figure a way to gain clients and convince them to spend money on green technology when people where not spending money at all. It was a time when other contractors were going out of business.

What is the most important lesson you have learnt?

No matter what you are doing, defining responsibility is most important. When you have a group of people working towards the same goal, responsibility needs to be defined.

Who are you mentors and how did you get them?

I have a number of mentors in the Entrepreneurs Organization that have been through some of the same difficulties that I have been through and so they share these experiences and challenges.When I was just starting, I met this guy who was the only person in the US who taught all courses to become a certified green roof professional and he took me under his wing. This was instrumental in proving to my first clients that I could do the work.

What's the biggest issue that your industry is facing?

Education because right now not many people are familiar with the technology so the cost to obtain a customer can be high. We are faced with providing the education to the client to assist them in making a decision and to actually take the step of purchasing the technology. There is still a lot of work to be done here.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

We just obtained our first patent so we are moving more heavily into product development and manufacturing. It is my goal to be distributing internationally some of the green technology that we have been working on and to take a systematic approach to designing and constructing buildings with a core competency of implementing this green technology into the building.

You can find out more about Brian by visiting www.solterrasystems.com

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The Mean Girls CEO Krista Whitley Castellarin shares her entrepreneurial journey with Marketing Eye, talking reality TV, PR, dog grooming, drag queens and more.

From dipping her toe in dog grooming to featuring on popular program Dragon’s Den, it appears Castellarin has done it all. Her appearance on the TV show made history after she received a $200,000 investment for 10 per cent of her grooming business, Fabulous Furballs. 

Today, she runs hybrid engagement agency The Mean Girls, helping American businesses grow through advertising, marketing, public relations, social media and a variety of other outlets.

However, her journey wasn’t without its bumps as she juggled motherhood with her entrepreneurial desires and reality TV appearances.

What makes me #happy? The sun shining. My dog giving me a cuddle. Spending time with my family. Children. Winning. Getting sales. Building my company. Walking in the park. Reading a book. Being in love. 

The United Nations was onto something when they declared March 20, as the first International Day of Happiness. Aimed at encouraging countries to "better capture the importance of the pursuit of happiness and well-being in development with a view to guiding their public policies", #happyday has certainly struck a chord.

Our in-house social media expert tweeted feverishly in both Australia and US on consecutive days about #happyday with great results. People from around the globe retweeted, shared and commented. People simply want to be happy.

I asked a few people in our office what makes them happy. 

Jan - Chocolate
Amanda - Laughing with friends and family and drinking wine
Arnaud - Sunshine
Thibault - Holidays
Eliza - Going to the movies
Rin - My Mum
Melinda - Food
Tina - My daughter 

Fairly standard stuff. We all have synergies when it comes to what makes us happy and we all are in the pursuit of happiness in some shape or form. What is going to give us the lasting moment of happiness where our cheeks hurt from smiling too much or our brain sends off endorphins.

Like most people, I have my ups and downs. Days when I am so happy and where I feel so fortunate to live the life that I do and to have the people around me that effortlessly make my life "happy". But, there's a BUT - is it selfish to want something more. Something that lasts longer than a day or a week? Does having the right house, car, job, family mean that we should be happy and grateful or is that desire for more ok?

I can't help but want "more". More things that will make me happy and none of them revolve around material possessions. Long ago I realized that no material possession is going to make me happy. I no longer want for designer bags and shoes. I have too many already. Nor do I have that holiday that I dream to go on. I have been on plenty. 

The things that I long for, money cannot buy. They revolve around things that are more heart-felt. 

In business, my happiness is not measured by how much money I make but instead on how well we do from a creative and customer service perspective. I often talk to my employees about happiness and what it means to them. In fact, I wrote to them all an email today asking them what do we need to do as a company or me as a leader to help them realize their dreams.

Our finance director has a small child who she picks up from childcare daily and I thought about it a few weeks ago and decided that if I had a child I would want more than anything to spend more time with my child. So what did I do? - I told her to come in an hour later and leave an hour earlier each day. Is that bad for business? No, it absolutely is not! She is an outstanding employee who saves me money every single day. Her ability to look at the business and make changes that are taking Marketing Eye to the next level has nothing to do with how many hours she works. Its quality not quantity. Did I reduce her salary. Gosh no! I value her as a person who looks after the company's finances and that of my own. I believe in the time she is here at the office, she will work twice as hard and her happiness level will increase because for the first time, she can go home guilt free at a reasonable hour and prepare meals for her child and spend invaluable time. 

How are you creating happiness for yourself and employees who you value?

Yusen Logistics offers a full spectrum of integrated logistics functions designed to give customers a better experience.

Japanese-owned company Yusen Logistics, which commenced operations in Australia in its current form on 1 April 2011, is actually a merger of two logistics companies that have operated in Australia for almost 25 years. 

The merger between freight forwarder Yusen Air & Sea Service and domestic logistics company NYK Logistics was simply the result of business sense – it occurred when parent company NYK Group realised that, after 2008’s global financial crisis, having one integrated logistics arm was better than two competing ones.

The resulting contract logistics and international freight forwarding company offers a full range of end-to-end supply chain solutions, including ocean freight forwarding, air freight forwarding, customer brokerage and tariff consultancy, as well as supplier management. Its network is similarly comprehensive, linked together by operational bases in 36 countries worldwide. 

General manager of business development Grant Gurney has been with Yusen Logistics Australia through the Yusen Air & Sea Service side since 1999 and thus seen it grow from being a “reasonably small freight forwarding company” to a “major player in the market place”.

“Yusen Air & Sea Service opened in 1988 as a fairly small operation in Sydney and Melbourne, offering freight forwarding and customs brokerage services,” he explains. “Since then the business has grown mainly through organic growth, to a stage where we employ close to 100 people in the freight forwarding division. We’ve since opened in Brisbane and our turnover has increased markedly.”

All in one

In the spirit of being a combination of two initially separate companies, Yusen Logistics has ensured none of its services are separate either.

Gurney claims Yusen Logistics’ “total integration of services” is one of its greatest points of difference. “A number of our competitors have the same range of services as we do, however in many cases their different logistics functions are run as separate companies under the one holding company,” he says.

“In Yusen Logistics, all of our functional logistics services come from the one business. This ensures better commercial offerings, better operational service and better administrative procedures, which lead to a better overall experience for our customers in all areas.”

Yusen Logistics’ complete management of processes on the freight forwarding side is supported by 1-Stop Connections, who supplies the information required for its import and export operations. “Our use of 1-Stop includes an important software tool that allows us to make and receive payments from fellow community members, thereby speeding up the exchange of documents and funds without the need to physically transfer paperwork,” Gurney says.

Positive change

Another of Yusen Logistics’ competitive advantages is said to lie in following a philosophy originating from the company’s country of birth. 

“Kaizen is a Japanese word that, loosely translated, means ‘change for good’,” Gurney explains. “It is not just a program that we run to fulfil our customer’s expectations around continuous improvement, but a core principle of the way we do business.”

In accordance with the philosophy of Kaizen, Yusen Logistics staff are trained and encouraged to look constantly for ways to improve efficiencies. “In this way we can assure our customers that we are doing everything possible to help them in areas including safety, quality, environment, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs,” says Gurney. 

For several years now, Yusen Logistics has also followed a “very strong” environmental policy. “In terms of not just having an environmental policy but in living by it, we would be at least the equal of our competitors, if not ahead of them,” he adds.

Catching the wave

Over the next three-to-five years, Yusen Logistics will focus on further developing its ocean freight forwarding services – a “growing area” according to Gurney. “Down to pressure from consumers to lower costs, a lot of businesses are transitioning from air freight to ocean freight movement – so a large range of products that were formerly transported by air are now moving by ocean,” he explains.

Using this strategy, and supported by its full spectrum of services and a dedication to continuous improvement, Yusen Logistics hopes to weather increasing consumer pressure to achieve “sustainable growth” across all facets of the business. “Our overall objective is to become a top-five international freight-forwarding company within the next three years,” Gurney says. “And it’s tracking in the right direction.”

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