The Importance Of Authenticity - Gene Gebolys - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 121

DH - Gene Gebolys

Dan Ryan: Today's guest is someone who, over the past 25 years, has played a pivotal role in the development and adoption of biofuels. He's helping combat climate change by turning net zero from a possibility to a reality. He advocated for legislation that helped make biofuels a viable alternative. He's involved in first of a kind, mega projects involving sustainable aviation fuel and clean hydrogen.

He's the president and c e o at World Energy in Boston. Ladies and gentlemen, Jean GLIs. Welcome Jean.

Gene Gebolys: Oh, great to be here.

Dan Ryan: thank you for being a guest. I know how busy you are changing the world. Um, but I just wanna let all of our guests know I had the pleasure of meeting Jean in the office, I believe where you're sitting right now, uh, with a group of entrepreneurs I was with.

And we came in and learned about what you're doing and how you are changing the world as it pertains to creating these new markets for, um, low carbon biofuels. And you have these really incredible, incredible mega projects, um, and an incredible team that's kind of really international right now. And before we get into.

The how you're changing. Um, I wanted to get into obviously running these companies, being an entrepreneur, um, and traveling everywhere. Hospitality plays a big role in how you made me feel comfortable in your office and giving your time there, and then again now, but what does hospitality mean to you as it pertains to your worldview and what you're trying to accomplish?

Gene Gebolys: Hmm. Yeah. I, I think of being hospitable is, uh, closely connected to being graceful, to, welcoming somebody into your space and putting them, at ease. So, you know, at first it wasn't, um, clear to me how a hospitality podcast might relate to what I'm doing, but increasingly, uh, when people are flying, um, part of their, um, discomfort with it is somewhat the frivolous nature to, some degree of, flying.

For, to, uh, for a holiday or, uh, for a non, uh, required reason. And knowing that you're having a, um, uh, sustainability impact in, doing that. And so what we're really trying to focus on, uh, in our business is how do you decarbonize really hard to decarbonize sectors, uh, like aviation? Um, and so, uh, if we can help be part of hospitality, being hospitable by helping people get from point A to point B with a lower carbon impact, and, um, and meeting their obligations and giving them a sense of, uh, uh, of doing things in, in aligned with their values, um, then it, I, I think there is a connection to, hospitality.

Uh, more, more broadly speaking, I just think of being hospitable is just being welcoming.

Dan Ryan: yeah, well, I can speak to my experience of, with you and as far as your hospitality, welcoming us into your office, uh, telling us about what you do and how you're literally changing the world. Um, and it was just really exciting and impactful for me to see, but also just, I just felt very welcome.

And for those, for the listeners who don't understand, and I'm probably gonna say all this wrong Gene, but, uh, gene and his team and company are figuring, are doing these mega projects where they're creating these biofuels for aviation that I believe have 80% less. Um, Fossil fuels or car or carbon em, that will emit 80% less carbon emissions than a standard aviation fuel.

Um, is that correct, Jean?

Gene Gebolys: That that is right. as you, um, and your, uh, compadres came in and we talked, uh, what I thought was great about that talk was, um, that we were all really open with each other about not how great the things we are doing are, but, um, some of the weaknesses and the vulnerabilities and, and, uh, and so we were, there's nothing more, uh, hospitable than honesty.

And we were all very honest with each other, and I thought that was just great. I, I learned, uh, an awful lot from you and the others in the group and that led to this. So, uh, you know, one thing leads to

Dan Ryan: Yeah, I, and I think, and there's that level of, of honesty and authenticity and consistency. I think that someone entering your world from the outside, they feel it, they pick up on it. And I think it, if done well or truly from the heart, I feel like it makes everyone feel, um, very calm and at peace and open.

So vulnerability I think is really an important role in what we all do in hospitality. And I love how you said, to make people feel more comfortable with the frivolous nature of flying. Like I fly all over the place and Google, I'll use Google flight search, and they started putting in the carbon, uh, Discharge or carbon emissions that would happen from my flight.

Uh, United Airlines started asking if I would like to pay an extra couple dollars to offset, and I'm doing it 'cause it makes me feel good, right? But ultimately I'm like, oh, I'm a real, I'm, I'm a net contributor. Um, and that makes me feel not so great. An exciting development, uh, between where I am and where you are as it pertains to hospitality is, uh, Hilton through their Tapestry brand.

Uh, they just opened a New Haven near that, off 95, near the, uh, the IKEA there. Uh, the first net zero hotel called the, the Hotel Marcel. And I guess it launched almost a year ago as the first net zero hotel. But it, it's not officially net zero I think because it has to take a year of operation. Um, I think what you're doing from your sus, from sustainable, from a sustainable fuel perspective is really gonna help transform.

What Net zero is and make it more achievable. Um, so I was wondering, like at a high level, can you tell us your understanding of net zero and how the fuels that you're creating with 80 per that emit, 80% less carbon can be used to help the globe achieve net zero.

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. Um. Well, first, let me just say there's no greater compliment than, um, than the compliment, uh, of being, uh, felt as authentic and, uh, and, uh, in decarbonization efforts. Uh, there's an awful lot of inauthenticity. And the point you made about, I feel better when I click this button and so I click it, um, is, is, um, part of the challenge, so, uh, net zero, uh, pretty straightforward stuff. Uh, it means that, uh, an entity, um, decarbonize as much as they emit carbon. So, um, so, you know, throughout history the way nature works, um, we've always emitted carbon, um, into the atmosphere, but at the same time, we have taken carbon out of the atmosphere.

And so, Nature, pre-industrial revolution, um, was a very imbalanced kind of recycling of carbon. We would, we would put it out. We would take it in, we would put it out. We'd take it in the, the, the, the trouble with the times that we're living in now is we're taking carbon from deep down in the earth, from long ago, uh, organic material that has decomposed and turned into fossil fuels.

And we pull that out and we emit that into the atmosphere at the same rate that we're taking everything else that's decomposing and going into the atmosphere, and we're adding much more carbon into, uh, into the atmosphere, then we can recycle out of it. So the, the net effect is we're putting way too much insulation in the attic.

Uh, we are not turning down the thermostat and the house is getting very hot. And so, um, starting around 20 15, 20 16 and really accelerating in 2016 to. And beyond, uh, companies started to feel that it was their responsibility, uh, to begin to break this cycle. And so all kinds of leading companies started making commitments to, um, net zero pledges by such and such a date.

And what that means is that they are going to remove as much carbon as they put in and create more of the natural balance that nature, uh, would've had. Pre-industrial revolution taking out as much as they emit in. Uh, there are, um, very detailed ways of measuring, uh, uh, these things, the outs and the ins.

Um, there is a long way to go into getting all of the world citizens to account for these outs and ins in the, in the same manner. Um, but broadly speaking, Net zero is that you're abiding by some set of generally accepted principles of accounting. Um, most notably the science-based target in initiative.

And you are taking out as much carbon as you're putting it. And so you arrive at net zero. So there are, um, bringing it back to my piece about, um, authenticity. Uh, so when we're flying, uh, uh, we're often offered, offered offsets. And what is an offset? So an offset is, is something that happens somewhere that is going to, uh, absorb carbon.

And so as you're flying from point A to point B, if you give some money to that offset, uh, scheme, then they will pay for some activity to happen that's gonna absorb the same amount of. Carbon that you're responsible for emitting. And in theory, it's, it's great. The, the, the, the trouble is that offsets have come under an awful lot of scrutiny.

Um, it's, it's very esoteric. Some offsets are really good, high quality offsets and many, many, many offsets, uh, aren't, um, they're, they're, um, paying for people to not cut down forests that they weren't gonna cut down anyway, uh, that were in conservation areas or, or something. So, um, some offsets

Dan Ryan: in a way it's not even with, just by hearing you say that in a way, it's not even a shell game, it's just obfuscation or it could be,

Gene Gebolys: it. Uh, John Oliver did a really great piece on the trouble with offsets and, and I would strongly recommend anybody who's interested in what I'm talking about,

Dan Ryan: I saw that one.

Gene Gebolys: Uh, it, it, it is, it's really powerful. Now it's John Oliver doing John Oliver's thing, and he's an entertaining guy, so entertainment guy. So he certainly, he's not trying to find the nuance, right?

He's not providing the counterpoint about where someone is really doing good work with offsets. And there are, there are plenty of folks doing good work with offsets, but by and large, because offsets have been so abused, the, the, the general, um, comfort level with offsets is, is pretty much pretty fast, approaching zero.

And so, uh, and so what we're doing is, uh, something, um, called an inset. And an inset is when you are displacing the carbon in the sector, that you are generating the carbon. So when we are. When we're reducing carbon, we're not, it's not in some forest somewhere around the world. It's in the exact same sector.

Uh, it's in aviation. We're displacing aviation fuel with, um, renewable sustainable aviation fuel. And the lifecycle emissions of the fossil fuel that we displace, uh, are about 80% less. So, um, so the, the, the whole idea here is the best carbon sequestration that you can do is to not pull up carbon out of the, out of the ground in the first place.

So when we use, uh, plant-based or animal-based, um, uh, inputs, uh, we can use fewer fossil inpu in inputs and significantly displace the lifecycle carbon emissions in aviation. And it's done right in the same sector. And so it's a, it's a, a, in effect, it's a extremely high quality alternative to offsets, and it's a much higher quality alternative than the status quo.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, so I, I, I like the idea of this, this inset. So specifically as it relates to aviation fuel with these projects that you're doing from, um, Pulling out hydrogen from seawater to refining that and combining everything with the biofuels to create the aviation fuel. Um, how does that affect an airline or the airline industry or other companies that maybe a net contributor, but looking to through rigorous accounting kind of level, the balance sheet on as it pertains to carbon?

Like if I, if I were to give you a magic wand right now, and all of your projects were done right now, and you look out 10 years, like how, how do you see the work that you're doing in your purpose and your, your value driven purpose changing the world or making it easier for everyone to be closer to net zero in the world of aviation?

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. Um, so, um, when, when you were in, we talked about a, a, a number of our big projects, right? We are in the middle. We, we first started producing sustainable aviation fuel in our refinery in Los Angeles, uh, around 2015. Um, we have been expanding that facility and we're in the middle of a $3 billion.

Project to, to dramatically increase, um, the amount of fuel that we can make out of that facility and, uh, improve the technology, uh, on, on how we're making it. We've got a similar project going in Texas, that that's about a $2 billion project. And then we've got a very different project going in Newfoundland on the west coast of, of, uh, uh, on the west coast of Newfoundland, uh, in Canada, in which we are, uh, looking to produce, um, uh, green hydrogen, uh, by taking wind energy and splitting H two O water into H two hydrogen and oxygen.

And, and so then that hydrogen is a carrier of that wind's energy and can be shipped anywhere in the world effectively. Shipping Canada's excellent wind resources to where their most needed. Uh, we hosted, um, the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Minister of Canada at our site around this time last year, uh, in which the, the two leaders of the countries, uh, signed the Canada Germany Hydrogen Alliance in which we're, uh, the two countries are working together to establish this trade where this, a few months after, uh, you had invaded, um, Russia and uh, the Germans, um, began their, um, urgent quest to move beyond Russian natural gas to clean alternatives.

And so this idea of being able to capture, um, these vast resources in Canada and move them to Germany, uh, is super attractive and super appealing. Obviously you've got a country Germany's twice the size of Canada, for example. Uh, it's got, um, Uh, I'm sorry, twice the population size of Canada, and it's got, um, uh, Canada's got about 20 times the, the land mass of Germany.

Uh, and so the ability to move really good natural resources, wind and water, uh, from Canada to Germany in a way that it, that improves Atlanta, the, the economy of Atlanta, Canada, and it improves the, uh, sustainability and, uh, literally the economic lifeblood of Germany collaborating together. Uh, those are, those are, uh, really promising, uh, projects.

Um, sorry, you asked me,

Dan Ryan: Well, just like, well, yeah, it was a bit of a, well, a bit of a different question, I think. Thank you for sharing that, because I think it's really important to just understand like, the importance of these, I'll call, I mean, you're calling them projects. I'm calling them mega projects because it's just, it's so much people, uh, there's such a, an impact globally.

You have heads of state negotiating treaties over it. Like I just, I I know you're understating it, but I like, I want to just attach the word mega on there. Um,

Gene Gebolys: Oh, there, there's no, there's no question. These are mega. Uh, once you're, once you're talking these,

Dan Ryan: exactly.

Gene Gebolys: I've been doing, I, I've been, you know, I started, um, world Energy is funny thing. It's a, it was a one man, uh, company called World Energy, uh, in, in 1998. Uh, somebody pointed that out to me a couple years after I had started it.

Um, so I guess, uh, uh, whether that, that's. That's something, uh, a naive person does, or a really, a vicious person does, or whatever, I don't know. But, um, you know, it was certainly a grandiose name for one, one person operation. But you know, the, the, the, a company that starts, um, with, uh, one person maxing out credit cards, um, and 25 years later is deploying about $15 billion into, um, three really large projects.

Uh, yeah, it's, it, these are, these certainly by any definition I'm familiar with, these are big projects.

Dan Ryan: Right. So how, how can the, these mega projects, like let's just pretend they were, they were done today. Like you're all finished, everything is fully operational. Um, and then let's fast forward 10 years into the future. What kind of an impact do you find these projects in your company, in creating this marketplace for insets?

Um, with respect to, like, how, how do you see it impacting aviation and just companies looking to be net zero in their operations?

Gene Gebolys: Yeah, it's, it's a really interesting question. When, when, whenever you're looking at displacing fossil fuel in anything, whether you're doing wind and solar to replace coal or, or gas fired power plants or anything, it's, it's really easy to fall into this trap of, oh my God. What we're doing is at such small scale, given what would be needed to displace everything at full scale.

So we got about a hundred billion gallons of, of, uh, aviation fuel used around the world every year. Um, we at, uh, at this point when these projects are, are finished in, in LA and. In Houston, uh, will be at about 600 million gallons. Uh, you, you could be forgiven if you said, you know, gene, what are you doing?

600 million in a hundred billion gallon market? Why even bother? Um, and I'll tell you, um, the reason goes back to this word that I didn't know was gonna be the buzzword or the discussion, but I I, it seems to be emerging as such. It's about authenticity and if some of the leading brands in the world are going to be authentic about the, the net zero commitments they made, they're going to a either meet them in a real way, not some goofy greenwashed way, but in a real way.

Or they're gonna go to the world and say, look, it can't be done. Those are their two options. I guess they have three options. One, they can greenwash it. Two, they can do it in an authentic way. Three, they can go out to the world and say, no, can't be done. Um, it's really important that the leading corporations of the world, uh, of the world don't greenwash it and don't say it can't be done.

Um, so you get companies, the leading tech companies, uh, uh, uh, are, are in this category. The leading finance companies are in this category. The leading consulting firms are in this category. And if you think about a consulting firm or a finance company, how do they produce emissions? Well, in many of them, think about a consulting firm.

In many of them, 60, 70 or even 80% of their emissions come from flying people around. So if they can't do a real job of really displacing those carbon emissions, um, well then how else are they gonna meet their, make their net zero commitments real? Um, they're not. So, um, what I feel like we're doing, even though it's a small little drop in the ocean, is we're creating the ability for, uh, leaders to lead and for companies that take their brands seriously, uh, and, and want their brands to be authentic, to find ways.

And, and so what we're doing is finding ways are what we're doing in Newfoundland or in Houston or in Los Angeles, enough to make even the smallest dent on their own. No, they're not. But their progress and the way progress works is you take a step and then you take another step and another step and another step.

And for example, uh, how did we end up in a $12 billion, uh, green hydrogen initiative? On the West coast in Newfoundland when we're a biofuels company. What, how, how does, how does that play? Uh, well that plays because we went from biodiesel to renewable diesel to sustainable aviation fuel. And at each step of the way, we're trying to drive down the carbon intensity of what we're doing.

And as we were looking at how do, how can we drive down the carbon intensity, uh, in aviation fuel, it's not just the feedstocks that you use, but it's a, it's a hydroprocessing. Uh, it's very similar to making oil, you use hydrogen, uh, as part of the process to make sustainable aviation fuel. But we we're, uh, currently making, um, uh, sustainable aviation fuel from gray hydrogen.

This is hydrogen that it originates as, as natural gas, and it's run through a process called steam methane reforming. It's made into hydrogen and then it's used as an input in our process. Well, it was only natural for us to say, okay, we've gotta drive down the carbon intensity in our hydrogen as well.

And so we started working with our, our partners at Air products, uh, largest, uh, supplier of hydrogen in the world. And we started working with them about how do we get cleaner hydrogen into our process. And they were developing a project in Saudi Arabia, one of the first, uh, uh, project green hydrogen projects in the world.

And their leaders, um, really shared with us everything about that project and how that project works and why does it work and what they intended to do. We started looking at, okay, how do we get that green hydrogen from Saudi Arabia into, uh, into Los Angeles? And it's gonna be very difficult. So then we found ways to generate.

From a renewable natural gas, the hydrogen that we need in Los Angeles, but we were still stuck on wow, that the fundamentals of that green hydrogen are pretty interesting. And then we found a really great place to do it in Canada. And so we thought, what do we know about this? Not a lot. Let's go learn.

And so this is what I think is the importance of taking the steps you can take. You don't know where they can turn out. Uh, I, I, I, if I can ramble just for one second longer to, to, to share where, um, I, I, I, I share with my kids all the time that when I was in high school, uh, I thought it was really silly that I was taking typing classes and Spanish classes.

When would I ever really need typing or Spanish? Well, now I type all day every day, and I'm married to an Argentine woman. Uh, we have a Spanish speaking family and I'm surrounded by Spanish, so you never know where things are gonna end up. So, you know, I think the really important piece of all of this is that in the, in look, humanity has no choice.

We will address climate change or we will perish and stop. And so we have to take the steps to do what we can do when we can do it. And the, and the solutions to, uh, to, to climate change are going to come from the exact same companies that are changing everything else about how we live. These are technology companies.

These are big finance, this is big consulting. This, these are the companies that change the world and they're the ones that are gonna help lead us because they're serious about their net zero commitments that are gonna lead us to the solutions that we need to have up the long haul. But we can't sit and wait for them to emerge.

Dan Ryan: so, and that's why I lo I love the analogy of like, it's, it's almost what you said is progress not perfection. Where 600 million barrels versus a hundred billion barrels, it is a one drop in a huge bucket. But if you think about like that future, I call it the Star Trek future, just 'cause I'm a huge fan and I always hope that we get to this place of unlimited clean energy and where.

People and of, and aliens and everyone just gets along for a common goal until the Borg comes. And we, just worry about the Borg. But, um, that's just me geeking out. But if you were to take the advancements or what you learned about that hydrogen and how it can, what you've learned there in Newfoundland and how it's helping what you're doing in, in Saudi Arabia and also, or in Texas and in Texas and LA and what you're hearing about from Saudi Arabia, it's all the kind of like this iter iterative process of taking, putting one step in the forward, one step in front of the other and learning. While I, I'm hearing those four different areas right now. Like if you look 10, 20 years out, what advancements have you been a part of that you see could hit scale and really get closer to that a hundred billion gallons of aviation fuel? Like, can you foresee anything, like, if you think about it, what excites you most about the work that you're doing right now?

Gene Gebolys: So all energy on uh, on earth comes from the sun. Um, uh, directly or indirectly and the sun puts enough energy, uh, onto the surface of the earth every single day to power everything we do. And so the, the task here is to figure out how to convert the sun's energy effectively into powering things we do. Um, I don't think it's a very viable option to never go see your, your parents again in some different distant place, or to have world leaders not meet together 'cause they can't f fly because of carbon emissions.

Those aren't viable solutions. So we need to find viable ways to continue to power the advancements of the modern world without all of the detriments. So if you're asking me 10, 20 years out, how, how, you know, what's gonna be doing all the work? Well, sure, it'd be great if we, um, if, if Fusion is around, uh, then, right?

There's a whole bunch of really promising stuff that it will be terrific if, if we make advancements in those things. I think the biggest advancement we could make, um, as a society is to charge for externalities, to charge for the cost of emitting carbon. And if people were really paying for the cost of the carbon emissions, uh, that they, that they're causing, uh, things will be a lot more expensive.

A lot of things will be a lot more expensive, um, unless you did them in a lower carbon intensive way. Um, so the, the, the hydrogen that we're working on and, and, um, in Canada. That hydrogen can go into making green steel, for example. So if your car was priced, um, uh, with green steel at one price and, and gray steel, the traditional steel at another price, um, and those, those were somewhere near price parity and consumers had to decide what they wanted to, to buy as long as that price was close. Most customers will want the cleaner, uh, vehicle that's made of green steel, that it's made from hydrogen and modern, uh, techniques, uh, that allows for very low carbon intensity steel to be made again from that same wind, uh, converting, uh, uh, water into hydrogen and using that hydrogen in the, in the steel making process. But as long as it's really, really, really cheap and it is to emit carbon, then any alternative is going to, is gonna, is going to struggle. So we need to do two things. Of course. We need to, to advance, uh, the technology side, and that is, as you said, it's gonna be an iterative process. We're gonna get to places that we could not have imagined.

If you'd asked me 10 years ago, would we be doing what we're doing now, I'd have said no chance. Uh, so how, how, uh, insightful am I gonna be about where we're gonna be 10 years from now? Not very. What I know is 10 years from now, uh, if we're successful, we're still just doing what we can do and we're gonna be taking the steps we can take and we're gonna be getting to better, better places because we're taking those

steps. Uh, so I don't really know where it all goes. I know that the world is giving us, uh, the sun is giving the world all. All we need, we just need to figure out ways to convert this. But we won't figure those ways out if just digging up what the sun gave us billions of years ago out of the, out of the, out of the earth

Dan Ryan: Hmm.

Gene Gebolys: is a viable alternative.

We'll just keep doing that. And we gotta, we've got a, a tragedy, the commons problem in that no one of us can say it can, can prevent climate change. And so we're gonna have to all collaborate on the, the issue or the other guy's always gonna do the cheaper thing. I'm gonna do the more expensive thing.

We're both gonna end up with the carbon emission, um, the same carbon emission problem. So it's a, it's a big issue on getting carbon priced correctly.

Dan Ryan: I, I'm curious. I, I feel like, uh, in 2008 there was a huge, from a real estate development perspective, like there's a whole huge push with lead, um, and sustainable building practices that is really exciting because like there became this like measurability of what makes building a building and operating a building sustainable.

Um, then it kind, it changed the way things were done. And then now I'm seeing there's been a change in the past. I don't know, maybe since in the middle of Covid, like, uh, a lot of the retail investors and banks and, um, financiers are really pushing to have some kind of a measurement on sustainability, which I think is good.

And I think it's, I'm hoping it's driven by. The retail investor or just the everyone on the street 'cause it's important to them. What I'm curious to know is, and I don't know if you're seeing it, but is there a way to show that from a development, whether you're building a refinery, a wind farm, a hotel like most of the people here, is there a way to show that from a sustainability perspective, that, that there's a, a lower cost of capital on the debt or the equity side by employing, um, green or sustainable practices in development,

Gene Gebolys: Um, I'm not in your industry and won't pretend to know how to tie mine to yours.

Dan Ryan: but you are building things

Gene Gebolys: And we are building

Dan Ryan: you are borrowing money and raising equity. Right.

Gene Gebolys: we are doing all those

Dan Ryan: Does it come up any

Gene Gebolys: there's only different, so many ways you can slice this, right? Yes. We, we build things, we raise capital to build those things. Yes. Uh, we end up having to have a, a essentially the, the facility partially leased.

Yeah. It's, it's, it's, yeah. It's, it's similar. Um, so, um, the, what I, what I am seeing is this, um, we have now, um, we, we just did a deal with a, a company that doesn't want to be mentioned in this

Dan Ryan: Fair enough.

Gene Gebolys: Uh, so, uh, so I won't mention who they are. They're a very big name company that everybody's heard of, and they run these very high-end, um, excursions, global excursions, where they're bouncing around and going to all these different places.

They charge a bunch of money and it's private air travel to all these places. And, um, and I, I forget what the length of time is, but it's around the world tour. And, um, they, uh, have just recently, um, bought a sufficient amount of, of, um, these inset credits to make that entire, uh, activity carbon neutral.

Dan Ryan: Wow.

Gene Gebolys: So what the way they're thinking about, um, hospitality and it's not buildings.

The question you asked was about buildings, but it's not specifically buildings, but the way they're thinking about creating experiences is not just in the physical space, but it's the way one gets to the physical spaces. And, and so, you know, I think they're thinking about hospitality, um, very broadly and connecting the decarbonized travel with the onsite experience.

Dan Ryan: Hmm. Okay. That's pretty interesting. I'm, I, I think I, it's a separate conversation, but I'm just, I'm really curious, like, as far as like the big, the big banks and other investors, if they are looking for some kind of a measurable metric to show that they can inset or offset or, or whatever and if would lower a cost of capital.

So, but I don't, I don't know. This is like a, a puzzle. I'm trying to figure it out. Um, but going

Gene Gebolys: So on, on that front, uh, we're, we're, um, supplying to a group called the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance. And if you look at who's, uh, in the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance, it's a who's who of, of the corporate leaders from around the world. Uh, and, and you know, it's the Microsofts, it's the Deloitte's.

It's, it's, uh, I think Apple's part of it. It's, but. A bunch of finance companies. Bank of America is in there. I think JP Morgan is in there. Anyway, we're supplying, um, through the Sustainable Aviation Buyers Alliance. We are supplying those companies now because they're thinking about, um, how best they can begin to decarbonize their aviation activities.

Um, and so, uh, the, the example I gave you earlier, um, uh, about the, as yet to be named, um, uh, hospitality, hospitality Company or, or Enter, they're really an entertainment company, uh, and how they're tying things together. Um, I think lots, lots of companies are thinking more broadly about, um, how their carbon impact impacts their core business, and do they get to continue to do their core business. If they don't think creatively about creating real solutions on carbon impact, and I think that's, that's more broadly true.

Dan Ryan: Well, that, that all comes back to authenticity and values, right? Because the, the most successful brands are the ones where they're fully in alignment with their values. And if, if, like you say, and I, I believe that if we don't fix this, we're doomed. Like it all, it has to be a part. Survival in a way has to be a part of our values.

And I think that that's gonna, especially after this year that we've had of just everything being so hot with all the extreme weather, I just feel like that's gonna, if it's not already first and forefront in all these companies, um, it ha it, it has to percolate up and it has to be authentic.

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. Like, okay, if you're a corporate leader today, how can you be a corporate leader on everything? But the biggest problem the species face,

Dan Ryan: True. Agreed. And, and actually that's a great segue into the next question. Where, so I, I think I would consider you, you're kind of, I, in a way, I feel like you're creating a market, you're a market maker, if you will, um, and a elite and a leader within sustainable energy. So if you're on the vanguard of this movement of, of, of creating these insets, if you will, um, what advice do you offer to other companies or entrepreneurs who are looking to take that one step towards progress on these bigger projects that almost seem impossible.

Gene Gebolys: I've never been big on advice. What, what the hell do I know that, uh, others don't. I just know my own experience. My own experience is, um, uh, for me personally, I do best when I don't doubt myself. Um, don't overthink it. Um, see it.

If you believe it and really see it, um, go learn about it. Go, explore, move towards it. And if you are wrong, you are wrong. No big, big deal. I mean, I'm, I'm wrong all the time. I find, uh, very early in my career, I, I used to, um, I don't know why this would've been, uh, of use to anybody, but it helped, um, uh, startup companies write business plans.

And I was in college at the time. I was a 20 year old kid helping companies write business plans with, with, with active. Now I didn't know anything but. Um, people would come in about their, and these were small businesses, um, through the small business, uh, administration. And they, uh, they would come in and they would be planning and planning and planning about how to start their pie business or, uh, you know, their contracting business or whatever.

And they were really uncomfortable because they were gonna have to leave their job to go do this thing. And, um, look, it's important to have a rough sense of where you're headed, but I have found, in my experience, I learned so much more by just going and starting something and going and meeting with potential customers and talking about, uh, talking to potential suppliers and talking, uh, to potential financiers, uh, and trying, uh, and I, I, and I think that that is the same spirit.

Um, uh, that I would bring to anything.

Dan Ryan: Yeah, I think that just resonating with me. I, I think I wrote a college essay on this, like, to get into college, but it was really, I read something by Mark Twain and it was all about learning by doing. Right. You gotta do it to, to really learn it. I mean, some people can learn it all in books in theory, but for me, I, I need to learn by doing, and what you were saying of taking those meetings, talking to customers, learning, learning, learning, being curious.

I call those, each one of those interactions, a collision. And I feel like the more collisions that we can all have, the faster progress will happen. And that's, that's why I love doing these podcasts as well, because each one of these is a di it's like a totally weird way of communicating with someone. Uh, it's an uninterrupted conversation.

No one's asking if you want sparkling or still, or red or white or what's your main, like you can, I'm really listening to you and hearing this and like, I. These things are resonating with me, and I, I would agree with you. It's, it's, we all have to collide to make things happen from my experience.

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. What the hell? Go give it a go. Right? What's the worst that can happen? I think we get ourselves so worked up about, you know, our quality of life and oh my God, the kids' tuition and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And these are all very real things. But look, we all, uh, in, in, in the western world, the vast majority of us live well beyond any kind of norm throughout history.

Dan Ryan: Yep.

Gene Gebolys: Uh, and, and we get so hung up and, you know, the, the, the kid needs a new pair of sneakers or whatever, and it's all, we don't need all that much. And then the, and the, and the, um, irony of the whole damn thing is, The more you don't worry about it, the more it all works out anyway, so, so, and, and, and, and you know, it's, it's like learning things in books is nice or reading the newspaper is nice, but travel is so much better, right?

You can't, you can't experience, um, experience I mentioned that my, my, you can't experience things remotely, uh, only by, to your point, having a collision do you really understand something. My wife, as I mentioned, is from Argentina. Argentina has, um, famously struggled with inflation for a long time. They're currently going through a period of about 120% of inflation.

So we can all imagine, we hear about post, post-World War ii, Germany and other places that have gone through, um, hyperinflation and how difficult that is, and people walking around with wheelbarrows of money and so forth. You don't really get that until you experience it. So, uh, so in Argentina, um, counterintuitively, um, the bars are full, the restaurants are full, uh, people are, are living for the day.

And then you go, well, how could this possibly be? They're in this period of rapid inflation. Well, of course they are. Their money's not gonna be worth anything tomorrow.

Dan Ryan: better eat it and drink it now.

Gene Gebolys: Exactly, exactly right. So I mean, of course that's obvious once you think about it, but you don't, you don't think about that until you go and see it and then have to, or at least maybe you would've thought of that.

I didn't think of that until I saw it and, and, and, uh, you know, so yeah,

Dan Ryan: Do you know what, as you were saying it, it's like to, to get out there and do it. And, um, recently I interviewed a woman from Boston. Um, her name's Tanya Nyak. She's a well-known designer, but she also is a, a restaurateur in Boston. Have you ever heard of the yellow door taqueria?

Gene Gebolys: I'm not sure

Dan Ryan: No. There's a couple of 'em


Gene Gebolys: as much as I was just talking about frivolous travel. I, I'm kind of never

Dan Ryan: Okay. Well, she, it was really funny. We were talking about like failures and successes and I remember just talking about this shirt that I read somewhere and it said on the back of it, it was like, failure is just unfinished learning. And it was just kind of like a velvet rung. And I was like, oh, okay. I'm just failing and I'll just figure it out.

But she called it a, she called it t-shirt wisdom. So again, I think we can all benefit. I guess the, that's the long way of saying you're on the fence and thinking about it, the best way is to just try and keep iterating until you succeed. Or you know what, Hey, that's not for you. And that's great data as well.

Gene Gebolys: Mm-hmm. And, and, and, and ultimately our, our, I think our risk appetite, um, is kind of hardwired at birth. And, and so you gotta be what you are. Right? And, and if your risk appetite is, uh, uh, is low, uh, then don't take risk.

Dan Ryan: Exactly. Yeah,

Gene Gebolys: if you're not that worried about failure, um, but you're really afraid of boredom, then take some risk.

Dan Ryan: exactly. And hopefully do it when you're younger because I find in my experience, risk is inversely proportional to age and responsibility.

Gene Gebolys: Hmm. It's definitely better, uh, to do it. Um, pre kids, uh,

Yeah, it's no, but look, the, I think, um, for most of us, uh, the, the downside of our, um, perceived risk taking isn't as down as it would seem. And whether you've got kids and whether you're 50 or whatever, uh, you know, I think there's, um, I think we, I, I think we, uh, overweight in fact, and we, we know this from, from studies, we overweight the risk of loss.

Dan Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And that's probably it. It's tied into, um, how we view ourselves in the world and, uh, and just realizing that a business opportunity or an entrepreneurial venture is different than your own personal idea of who you are. Oftentimes, we can get very wrapped up in both of them.

Gene Gebolys: Boy, that's, that's, that's, that's a podcast in and of itself right there, you know, are, are, you are. If you, if you are one, if you are an entrepreneur and if you are a risk taker that what you just said is absolutely critical to maintaining your sense of self, you are not your business venture. You, your self-worth does not go up when the p and l is looking good and it does not go down when the p and l is looking

Dan Ryan: Mm-hmm.

Gene Gebolys: and if you can't differentiate those two, The, the, it can be really, really tough. I've seen people do that well. Um, and, and, and that ability to, to create that disconnection. And unfortunately, I've seen people do it really poorly leading to really tragic outcomes.

Dan Ryan: I've had it. More often than not, I do it well, but there have been times when I have not done it well. But again, that's that iterative learning, right, and

Gene Gebolys: Yeah, right. Easy to do when you're like having a conversation like

Dan Ryan: yeah, exactly.

Gene Gebolys: oh, you really should separate those two. And then you're,

Dan Ryan: Then you're in it.

Gene Gebolys: and then you're in the midst of a, a nose dive and you're.

Dan Ryan: Oh my God. Well, as you're looking at all the work that you've done with all the ups and the downs and all the, all the zeros after the bees that you're working on, um, what's exciting you most about what you see coming down the pipe?

Gene Gebolys: Um, had an interesting conversation the other day, um, with, uh, my kids are in their twenties and they had some, uh, family friends over, and so they were a big group of us and we were talking about boredom and we were kind of going around the, the, the, the table about, um, about boredom. And we got to me and I said, um, what are you talking about?

I'm, I'm, I'm never bored. If I'm in a boring situation, I get up and leave. Uh, you know, it's, it's, there's, there's fascinating stuff all around us all the time. Uh, and, um, so what do I see as the most interesting stuff coming down the pi? Is that, is that, well, obviously it's the, you know, the big drivers are, um, uh, what happens with artificial intelligence and where, uh, this journey takes us.

Um, I am hopeful that in the yin and yang of life that, um, that this period of, um, of, of, um, entrenchment in isolated camps can get to something beyond where, where we're, we're, we're seemingly headed. Um, I, I do think that we will just go through a period of tremendous, um, innovation. In energy as, um, and, and climate related stuff generally.

And it's not just create new energy, it's use less of it and create new ways to, to power what you need to power. Um, that's gonna be, uh, that's gonna be a massive, uh, change in everything we do. If you think about even just automated, you know, automated vehicles, um, self-driving cars, uh, and how they change everything in a city, right?

You don't need parking garages all over the place. So we get all that back. We don't need to have parking spots all over the place. We don't all need to have our own cars, which are sitting in parking lots all the time. We can, the, the, the efficiencies of how cities can work and we, and we can come back into closer proximity to each other.

Uh, More of us can live like they live in, in, in Amsterdam, where, where people live in relatively small individual dwellings, but they share the, the collective space together. Uh, I think there's a real opportunity for us to get into this almost a post industrialization mindset where it's just more and more and more and more and bigger and bigger and bigger into something that's a little bit more thoughtful, a little bit more sustainable, a little bit, um, uh, little bit better.

You know, I don't think, I can't think of anything, uh, more boring, uh, since we keep coming to that term than, um, living in these massive houses that we've, that we Americans have built for ourselves in complete isolation from our neighbors with massive lawns, and we're social beings.

Dan Ryan: Yep.

Gene Gebolys: What have we done?

We've just created all these isolation pods, which are way too big, uh, and way too far away from each other. So I, I'm really encouraged generally by a, a lot of the sensibilities of the generations that are coming after us. Uh, they generally are, uh, a lot less judgy based on race, gender, sexual identity, all that, you know, they, they're generally more open-minded.

Um, they are generally less worried about, um, uh, ownership and they're much better at sharing. Uh, and, uh, and I, I think there's a lot of promise in their sensibilities. And I, I think there's, I mean, our generation, my generation, um, naturally grew up in the time we grew up in, and so we waste a lot and we consume a lot, and we're.

We, we believe that the next purchase is gonna be the one that really makes us happy. Uh, and Okay, fair enough. Our, our kids and our, you know, the generations that follow aren't buying

Dan Ryan: Mm-hmm.

Gene Gebolys: I think that's got a lot of promise to it.

Dan Ryan: Totally. Well, I'm, I'm very hopeful with that as well because I really feel that, uh, this moving away from this kind of ownership society to more of a stakeholder society, just, you know, you were saying that thing about cars, um, it's like, uh, if you think about how. Much of a, the life of a car is just idle, right?

I don't know. I bet it's over 90%. And that's probably, if you look at that from a capital allocation perspective, it's probably not the best use of capital. Right. And I think that we are in this place where like a huge boulder is, has got thrown into a river and like now all these different eddies and currents are trying to figure their way around it.

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. No, it's in, it's, it's, it's incredible. I mean, going, going back to the, um, sustainability concerns. Think about the amount, you know, about 9% of all the carbon emissions in the world go into making steel. Uh, you know, you think about all of the steel we make and throw it away. Even, even the, the, um, the shells of things that we throw away, the shells of a computer.

Do we need to be throwing them the shell of it away all the time? Can't we recycle, can't we, um, you know, do we, do we need to be creating all of this? Junk and throwing it in the garbage and then creating more junk. I, I, I can't imagine that we do. And so we're, you know, just by necessity we're gonna have to figure out how to be a lot more efficient.

Uh, and, and, and I think that's gonna lead, uh, I'm hopeful that that leads us back to each other.

Dan Ryan: I, I agree and I think we're just in this time of turbulence now, but I am also very hopeful that the work that you're doing as World Energy and countless other entrepreneurs in the energy space is really gonna help lead to more innovation and more progress. And because I do see that like energy consumption as difficult, as hard as it is from like an environmental perspective, it also correlates pretty nicely to human progress as well.

Gene Gebolys: Oh yeah, no

Dan Ryan: So like, I really want to find this way to get to this Star Trek future. And I know that you're playing an out, even though you say it's a drop in a huge bucket, I really believe that you're playing an outsized role in this as a leader. So I appreciate getting to know you and, and you giving and investing your time in this podcast and just helping educate all of us.

So thank you, thank you, thank you. And if people wanted to learn more Jean, about world Energy and what you're doing, like what's a good way for them to, uh, to get involved or, or learn more?

Gene Gebolys: Yeah. Um, LinkedIn is a, is a good way to connect, uh, the website, of course, uh, world is a good way to, to, uh, connect and, um, I think those are probably the


Dan Ryan: Perfect.

Um, well, again, I just want to thank you so much for your time and I know how busy you are at changing the world, and thank you. Hmm.

Gene Gebolys: Thank you. I, I enjoyed it.

Dan Ryan: All right. And also I'd just be remiss without thanking our listeners, um, again, we just passed two years and like it's crazy how much we've grown and I appreciate all of you so much.

Um, and we must be talking to great people like Gene to keep everyone engaged and growing. And the word of mouth going. So if this has changed your idea on energy or insets, offsets hospitality, please pass it along. Uh, we would appreciate it greatly 'cause we grow one listener at a time. Thank you.

The Importance Of Authenticity - Gene Gebolys - Defining Hospitality - Episode # 121
Broadcast by