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My Climate Journey on Smash Notes

My Climate Journey podcast.

December 31, 2019

A podcast about a recovering software entrepreneur (me!), and my quest to reorient my career around helping solve climate change for this next chapter and beyond. Includes interviews with people in the thick of tackling this problem, and commentary from yours truly. I'm glad you are here!



Episodes with Smash Notes

Today's guest is Jimmy Samartzis, CEO of LanzaJet.

Lanzajet accelerates the global energy transition by using its leading technology to make safe, sustainable aviation fuels and diesel fuels from waste.

Jimmy has spent most of his career focused on climate change and advancing the decarbonization of industries reliant on fossil fuels. As a senior executive with several consulting firms, including Booz Allen Hamilton, Oliver Wyman, and Slalom, Jimmy advised CEOs and senior executive teams on mergers and acquisitions, strategy and operations, sustainability, and customer experience. He also spent a decade working for United Airlines. Jimmy served in several executive roles at United, including as chief executive of a $2B business unit. In June 2020, Jimmy assumed the role of CEO at Lanzajet, where he's leading the company through a scale-up in technology and production, with renewable fuel refineries planned in multiple countries. Jimmy has Master's degrees from The University of Oxford and Johns Hopkins University.

I was looking forward to bringing Jimmy on the show because we haven't talked about Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs) as a decarbonization solution. In this episode, Jimmy explains his career path to LanzaJet, the company's mission, and how LanzaJet fits into decarbonizing aviation. We also discuss SAFs generally, what the airline industry is doing to make zero-emission flight a reality, and why aviation has been hard to decarbonize.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded May 4th, 2021

Today's guests are Kristen Winzent & Merrill Feather, Co-Founders and Collaborators at The Regenerates.

The Regenerates is a brand and marketing consultancy focused 100% on building momentum for climate solutions. Kristen and Merrill met in the MCJ Slack community when they were looking for marketing-focused jobs in the climate space. Realizing they were both up for 3 of the same positions, they decided to start their own marketing consultancy. Kristen and Merrill have decades of experience as in-house marketers for creative strategy partners. Before founding The Regenerates, Kristen was an in-house marketer on the global creative campaigns team at Airbnb and was a strategic consultant at Pramana Collective. Prior to The Regenerates, Merrill was a brand manager at Hasbro Toys and a product marketer at Facebook.

I was looking forward to speaking with Kristen and Merrill because marketing plays a significant role in addressing the climate crisis. Kristen and Merrill take me through how The Regenerates came to be, their "aha" moments, and what the consultancy does. We also discuss how to assess climate impact in a job offer, where brand strategy and community organizing come together, and whether a financial hit is necessary to transition into climate. For those looking to work in climate but aren't sure where they fit in, this is a great episode.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 12th, 2021

Today's guest is Bruce Friedrich, Founder & Executive Director of The Good Food Institute.

The Good Food Institute is an international non-profit that promotes plant-based meat, dairy, and eggs as well as cultivated meat as alternatives to conventional animal products. GFI was founded to answer a fundamental question: how to feed almost 10 billion people by 2050 without burning the planet down.

Inspired by Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé, Bruce has focused his career on food systems and global justice. Prior to founding GFI, Bruce ran a homeless shelter and food kitchen in inner-city D.C., served as the Vice President of International Grassroots Campaigns at PETA, was a Teacher in Baltimore, and, most recently, worked as the Director of Policy at Farm Sanctuary. In early 2016, Bruce founded Good Food Institute and currently serves as Executive Director. He oversees GFI's global strategy, working with the U.S. leadership team and international managing directors to ensure that GFI implements programs that deliver mission-focused results. Bruce is a TED Fellow, Y Combinator alum, and popular speaker on food innovation. He has penned op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Wired, and many other publications.

In this episode, Bruce explains the importance of reimagining the food system and how it affects climate. He walks me through The Good Food Institute's mission, what inspired him to pursue global food justice, and why meat is dangerous to public and environmental health. We also discuss the "holy grail" of scaling meat alternatives, the timeline for broad adoption of these products, and where policy fits in. This is a great episode and expanded my understanding of the meat industry and its role in climate change.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 30th, 2021

Today's guest is Paul Gross, Co-Founder & CEO of Remora.

Today, heavy-duty trucks move 70% of goods shipped in the United States and account for 7% of the US greenhouse gas pollution. Remora is developing a device that captures carbon emissions from semi-trucks. Its device will reduce emissions from these trucks by 80% without affecting payload, range, or trip time. Remora installs a container between the cab and the trailer of semis, which allows them to collect, store, and then monetize the emissions. It sells the carbon to concrete producers and other end-users, which dramatically reduces emissions, meets climate commitments, and adds a new revenue stream for carbon.

Remora Co-Founder, Christina Reynolds, developed the technology as a Ph.D. student. Paul came across it during his time at Yale and convinced Christina to leave the EPA to start Remora. Before co-founding Remora, Paul conducted award-winning experimental research that uncovered new solutions to collective action problems like polarization and the climate crisis. He also holds a BA in Data Science and Statistics from Yale University.

Paul is an exciting guest, and I enjoyed learning more about what the team is up to at Remora. Paul walks me through what led him to co-found Remora, why he's so passionate about carbon capture, and what the company hopes to achieve in the future. Paul explains the problem Remora is fixing, its technology, and what makes the company unique. We also dive into the trucking industry and the carbon emissions market more broadly. This is a great episode for those interested in innovative carbon solutions and transportation.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 14th, 2021

Today's guest is Caroline Cochran, Co-Founder & COO of Oklo Inc.

Oklo Inc. is working to build powerhouses, advanced fission power plants on a microgrid scale. The team focuses on small advanced reactor generators that are waste and carbon negative. Unlike traditional nuclear power, its technology doesn't require water to cool the system, has vastly different security and safety characteristics, and Oklo can use nuclear waste as fuel. Oklo is revolutionizing nuclear energy to create a clean energy future.

Caroline holds a BS in mechanical engineering and a BA in economics from the University of Oklahoma. She met her co-founder, Jake DeWitte, while studying nuclear engineering in graduate school. After researching nuclear energy's history, Caroline, Jake, and a group of classmates wanted to see advanced fission technology come to fruition. In 2013, Jake and Caroline founded Oklo Inc.

I was excited about this episode because nuclear energy is a fascinating and controversial topic. Caroline walks me through how she and her co-founders started Oklo, the problem it's tackling, and how the company uses recycled nuclear waste to power its facilities. We also dive into nuclear power and where it fits into the clean energy landscape, how nuclear waste has been stored in the past, and why advanced fission is different from traditional nuclear technology. For anyone looking to learn more about nuclear energy, this is a must-listen.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 9th, 2021

Today's guest is Eliza Nemser, Co-Founder of Climate Changemakers.

Climate Changemakers is a nonpartisan community action network organizing to support climate candidates and ambitious climate policies. The team mobilizes political support by transforming climate-concerned individuals into a community of climate changemakers. Prior to founding Climate Changemakers, Eliza was a consultant for the NRDC Action Fund and spent over two decades working as a geologist, focusing on earthquake engineering and seismology for big oil companies.

In this episode, Eliza walks me through her career path and how she first got political when it comes to climate action. We discuss the inception of Climate Changemakers, how individuals can take action, and why political advocacy is vital to the planet's future. Eliza also touches on advice she has for those interested in getting involved but aren't sure where to start. Eliza is a fantastic guest and a perfect example of the many ways one can fight for the climate.

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 5th, 2021

Today's guest is Irving Fain, Founder & CEO of Bowery Farming.

Bowery Farming is a modern farming company building smart indoor farms located close to its cities. Its farms are powered by its proprietary farm operating system, BoweryOS, creating a simplified, agile food system focused on flavor, freshness, and safety.

Irving has a diverse background across varying industries. He started his career in investment banking on Wall Street, where he focused on private equity and helping companies raise late-stage capital. Leaving the financial sector, Irving served as Director of Digital Marketing & Content at iHeartMedia. After four years with iHeartMedia, he knew his real passion was in entrepreneurship. Irving co-founded CrowdTwist, an enterprise software company providing comprehensive omni-channel loyalty & analytics solutions for industry-leading brands. Irving switched his focus towards climate solutions with a nagging feeling that he wanted to solve complex and significant problems with broader societal implications. In 2014, he founded Bowery Farming and currently serves as CEO.

Irving is a great guest, and I felt a lot of similarities in our respective journeys. Irving guides me through his career path, why he's always felt a passion for entrepreneurship, and how Bowery Farming came about. He explains Bowery Farming's mission, the practice of indoor farming, and what sets Bowery Farming apart from its competition. We also discuss the broader agriculture landscape, where policy fits into the conversation, and the future of food. This is a fantastic episode for anyone interested in the future of farming.

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 9th, 2021

This week's guest is Bill Weihl, Executive Director of ClimateVoice.

ClimateVoice is a non-profit that mobilizes the voices of employees to encourage companies to go "all in" on climate. Large corporations and companies have historically shied away from lobbying against the fossil fuel industry. ClimateVoice was founded on the idea that these companies need to engage in climate policy and use their power to fight for the climate. Before founding ClimateVoice, Bill spent twelve years at Google and Facebook working on sustainability for the tech giants. He also spent a decade as a computer science professor at MIT. Bill holds a Ph.D. from MIT in computer science.

In this episode, we dive into ClimateVoice, the non-profit's mission, and the problem it's tackling. Bill also touches on why corporations are hesitant to get involved and how ClimateVoice mobilizes employees to demand change. It was great to have Bill come back on the podcast and learn more about ClimateVoice.

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 8th, 2021

This week's guest is Val Miftakhov, Co-Founder & CEO of ZeroAvia.

ZeroAvia is building the world's first practical zero-emission aviation powertrain. ZeroAvia utilizes hydrogen power to accelerate the transition to sustainable aviation.

Before focusing on climate solutions, Val held several senior business and product positions at Google and McKinsey & Company and was a nuclear researcher at Stanford Linear Accelerator. Val is a serial entrepreneur in the EV space dedicating the last decade to electrifying transportation. He founded eMotorWerks, a company working on smart grid EV charging solutions. Val founded ZeroAvia in 2017 and assumed the role of CEO in May 2019. With two degrees in Physics, Val holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and Masters from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. He is a two-time winner of Russian Nationwide Physics competitions. In his spare time, Val makes good use of his airplane and helicopter pilot licenses.

In this episode, Val takes me through ZeroAvia's inception, what the company is working on, and why he decided to tackle zero-emission aviation. We discuss why batteries or bio/synthetic fuel aren't the best solutions, where hydrogen power fits in, and how zero-emission aviation impacts the airline industry. We also dive into key milestones for the company, the public-private partnerships it has secured, and the future of ZeroAvia. It was great to be joined by Val and learn more about his experience in zero-emission aviation.

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded April 1st, 2021

This week's guest is Joshua March, Co-Founder & CEO of Artemys Foods.

Before Artemys Foods, Joshua is a serial entrepreneur. He founded Coversocail, a customer experience platform that helps brands develop meaningful relationships with their customers at scale, and iPlatform, a social application company that was one of the world's first Facebook Preferred Developers.

Artemys Foods is on a mission to empower humanity to eat sustainably. It's working on the next generation of meat alternatives by cultivating meat. To replicate the full flavor profile and aroma of meat, Artemys Foods uses cell-based meat, growing real muscle and fat outside of the animal in bioreactors. Then they combine plant-based meat with the cultivated animal cells, enabling the team to create a more meat-like taste and texture. Artemys Foods is working to increase the efficiency of production and decrease the cost of bio-engineered meat.

In this episode, Joshua walks me through his motivations for starting Artemys Foods, the alternative meat landscape, and how Artemys Foods fits in. Joshua and I talk about software versus biotech entrepreneurship, what critics have to say about cultured meat, and how to scale alternative meat production. He also explains where Artemys Foods is at with staging, capital, and entering the market. It was great to learn more about the world of alternative meat and Joshua's journey.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded February 18th, 2021

This week's guest is Mike Hall, CEO of Borrego.

Borrego is a leading developer, EPC and O&M provider accelerating the delivery of large commercial, community solar, and utility-scale solar and energy storage projects in the United States.

With a background in Chemical Engineering, Mike is the 3rd co-founder of Borrego, then Borrego Solar. The origins of the company date back to the early 1980s when a family friend built an off-grid PV-powered home in Borrego Springs. When Mike's brother, Aaron, graduated from college, he started a rooftop solar business out of their family garage, and Borrego Solar was born. This year, Borrego Solar rebranded to Borrego and expanded its efforts to accelerate renewable energy adoption to meet increasing demand. Mike also sits on the board of Metrus Energy and Solar Energy Industries Association.

Mike and I have a fantastic discussion about Borrego, its evolution, and the solar and renewable energy sector more broadly. Mike explains the history of the solar market, the importance of policy at the state level, and how the various types of energy markets need different solutions. We also dive into the problem of intermittency, seasonal energy storage, and dirty peaker plants. Mike has been in the solar and renewable energy sector since the early 2000s. It was great to have in join me this week.

Enjoy the show!

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded March 31st, 2021

Today's guest is Lyndall Schreiner, Director of Product at Afresh & Founder at Earthrise School.

In 2018, Lyndall had her climate aha moment after the IPCC 1.5 Degree Report came out. She was invested in redirecting her career to focus on climate. After 18 months of learning as much as she could about climate and volunteering with the Sunrise Movement, Lyndall landed at Afresh as Director of Product. Afresh is a startup focused on using AI to eliminate food waste in the supply chain. Lyndall also started Earthrise School, which offers individual and group coaching for people who want to pivot their careers to focus on the climate emergency. 

Lyndall is a fantastic guest as she successfully transitioned her career into climate and now helps others do the same. In this episode, Lyndall walks me through her "aha" moment, the experience volunteering with the Sunrise Movement, and how she founded Earthrise School. We also talk about her experience transitioning to a startup and finding the right fit for her needs. We also dive into her approach, where she found success, what she learned along the way, and advice she has as a career coach. For anyone looking to make a career shift towards climate, Lyndall has a wealth of knowledge, and this episode is a must-listen.

Enjoy the show! 

You can find me on twitter @jjacobs22 or @mcjpod and email at info@myclimatejourney.co, where I encourage you to share your feedback on episodes and suggestions for future topics or guests.

Episode recorded March 26th, 2021

Want to get in touch with Lyndall? Join her Climate Pathfinders weekly call here: https://bookearthriseschool.as.me/schedule.php?template=class&appointmentType=21194976

For more information about Earthrise School, visit: https://www.earthrise.school/