Seth Goldman served as keynote speaker for Emory undergrads at UBSLC Feb. 5

By David Cohen 

Doing business the right way can change the world.

Seth Goldman has changed the landscape of the beverage industry by creating a socially responsible company and product.

Just ask Seth Goldman, co-founder of the nation’s top selling organic bottled tea, Honest Tea. Since the company’s inception in 1998, Goldman has done things differently — or, as he likes to call it, “honestly.”

Goldman was the keynote speaker Feb. 5 at Emory University’s Undergraduate Business School Leadership Conference and relayed his inspirational message to the next generation of business professionals.

“Business done the right way can be a really effective vehicle for change,” he said.

As far as change in an industry, few can say they have accomplished more than Honest Tea. Last month Beverage World magazine named Goldman the No. 1 beverage disruptor in the industry. By bringing all-natural, organic and fair-trade ingredients to the mainstream, Goldman and co-founder Barry Nalebuff have created a beverage that is healthier for the body and the planet.

“We market drinks with less sugar,” Goldman said. “We changed sourcing so our products are all organic, and we have a fair-trade certification. We are even changing the way that large corporations think about change. Now we are part of the Coca-Cola Company, and many times when a big company buys a smaller one, they get involved in a way that almost dilutes what the brand is for. I think that we have continued to be a mission-driven company.”

What is the mission of Honest Tea?

In 2013, Goldman and Nalebuff released a book, “Mission in a Bottle — The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently — and Succeeding.” True to form, it was a comic book and detailed the ongoing mission of the company: to create great-tasting and healthier organic beverages with honesty, integrity and sustainability for all.

As keynote speaker for the 16th annual UBSLC at Emory, Goldman called for a more responsible way of doing business, a message that fit well into the conference’s goal of empowering students with the skills to return to their home schools and make a significant positive impact.

“I think for me the surprise was that business could be a substantial vehicle for change,” Goldman said. “I didn’t fully appreciate that when I was in school, and I thought that it was more of a dry, numbers-based field. That’s what has been such a nice surprise and what has been so gratifying.”