2015: SGA’s Year in Review

Countdown of the top 11 things we did in 2015

11. Worked with LA Stormwater and Malibu Foundation for Environmental Education on the 22nd Kids Ocean Day.
10. Won a CASQA award for our work with Orange County Stormwater Program and Gnorman.
9. Exceeded goals for County of Santa Barbara’s pilot pet-waste campaign.
8. Boosted social media engagement for San Bernardino County Stormwater with pet photo contests.
7. Helped NRDC and Grant EDC brand their new nonprofit, Watts Re: Imagined.
6. Created a new website for the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department.
5. Co-chaired the 2015 Zero Waste Conference in DTLA and introduced Mayor Garcetti.
4. Volunteered at The Growing Experience urban farm in Long Beach.
3. Read good books on marketing and behavior change in our book club.
2. Went a whole new level of green.
1. Aspired to change the world, one project at a time.
Cheers to 2016! All of us at SGA look forward to another year of working with you to improve our community and the planet.

4 Reasons We Lie, Cheat and Steal


Let’s cut to the chase. We all lie. It’s one of those dirty little secrets every human being carries around. Sure, there are different degrees of it. Bernie Madoff’s deception isn’t really in the same league as telling your girlfriend that you like her DIY dye job. But they’re both lies.

Why we lie is the ongoing fascination of Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University. His most recent book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty reveals some interesting stuff about what prompts us to lie, cheat and steal—and how we can curb that inclination.

First, let’s clear something up. Once upon a time, a very smart Nobel Prize-winning economist named Gary Becker came up with this theory that given the opportunity to knock off a convenience store, we’d make a quick cost-benefit analysis to decide if it’s a good idea. In other words, we’d weigh how much we have to gain from the register against the likelihood of being caught and the punishment we’d receive if we did.

But it turns out humans aren’t that rational. Through a series of experiments, Ariely found that neither money nor the likelihood of being caught had any real influence on whether we cheat. So why do we?

1. The lie doesn’t tarnish our positive self-image. Over and over, Ariely found that most people cheat just a little. We seek benefit, so we’ll shave a couple of swings off our golf game or pocket an extra dollar or two. But we also want to see ourselves as a good person, so we’ll take only a smidge so we can still look ourselves in the mirror.

2. We see a difference between money and goods. In one experiment, test takers were paid for all self-reported correct answers in either cash or tokens that could be redeemed for cash. People lied for tokens twice as much as people who lied for cash. I guess we know why there’s never a pen in the bulk-food section of the grocery store.

3. Cheating is infectious. But whether you catch it depends on who is cheating. When we witness someone in our own social group (a friend, sibling or colleague) cheat, we think cheating is more socially acceptable and we’re more likely to join in. On the flip side, if we notice an outsider cheating, we actually become more honest in order to distance ourselves from the lying, no-good thief.

4. Blame knock-off handbags. Ariely found that when people knowingly wear counterfeit products, they loosen their moral code, making it easier to be more dishonest. Yikes! That fake Louis Vuitton cost a bit more than you thought.

Thinking Fast and Slow

Here’s a premise and a question: Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.

Which is more probable?

  1. Linda is a bank teller
  2. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement Continue reading “Thinking Fast and Slow”

Starting a Book Club in the Office

Good food. A good book. And an engaging conversation. What more can you ask for (OK, well, maybe a little wine)?
The 2013 edition of the SGA Book Club is now rolling, with a great line up of new books on slate. We just completed How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christianson, James Allworth, and Karen Dillon. Now we are onto The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

SGA is now into our fifth year of doing our book club and I wanted to take the time to encourage more work places to try it and perhaps Continue reading “Starting a Book Club in the Office”

The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up

When you’re listening to a speech at an industry conference, what do you remember most? The boring power point presentation that packs 200 words onto one slide or the story that made you LOL?

Ok. That may not be rocket science but our latest Book Club entry, The Levity Effect by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher, takes the importance of fun to another level. It demonstrates through studies and anecdotal evidence that injecting levity into your workplace helps to increase productivity and ultimately boosts your bottom line. A happy workforce also doesn’t leave – even if you want them to. But seriously, leaders of the most successful companies are fun-loving and understand the importance of not taking themselves too seriously. Fun-loving candidates nab the job. And so the virtuous cycle of fun allegedly continues.

The book also provides a laundry list of things you could institute to invoke fun into your workplace. I was proud and happy to find that SGA already does many of these things. After all, fun is one of our core values. Continue reading “The Levity Effect: Why it Pays to Lighten Up”