A prophet of the connection between nature and design, Lex Amore of the Biomimicry Institute shares her zen approach to tackling a communications career. Learn about her passion for good storytelling and just how important it is to step into nature to avoid burnout.
Lex Amore combines her background in biomimicry and communications to serve as a connective tissue between humans and the natural world. She works with media, organizations, brands, and influencers to enhance advocacy and engagement for nature-inspired design. Lex also guides the communications strategy for the Institute to further biomimicry education and application across industries and audiences. She has advocated for sustainability thought leaders for the past decade, bringing expertise in writing and strategic communications to each project aimed at making a positive impact on the world. Lex achieved her Master of Science degree in Biomimicry from Arizona State University in 2018 and bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University. She has also received extensive training from the Climate Reality Leadership Program, LEED, and in sustainable design by working with a multitude of industry leaders across the globe. Her ultimate mission is to inspire others with actionable, positive movement forward using nature-inspired innovation and community collaboration.
Dawn Crawford 0:02
Welcome to the Create Good podcast. I’m Brian, and I’m Dawn. And we’ve spent the last decade plus working with passionate communicators activist and do-gooders around the country. We also host a conference called Create Good, where we gather folks to share their work, and create a community for people trying to make the world a better place. The Create Good podcast is a conversation with changemakers and rabble rousers to find out what makes them tick, and how they create good. Let’s get started..
Hi, and welcome to this episode of the Create Good podcast. today. We have Lex Amore. So glad you could join us today.
Lex Amore 0:49
Thank you, Dawn. It’s wonderful to be here.
Dawn Crawford 0:52
Fantastic. Well, I’m really looking forward to learning more about you and having all of our listeners also learn about your very interesting nonprofit that you work for. And I’m sure all of the challenges and opportunities that come with it. So the beginning part of our conversation today is really just an introduction of you, so people can know a little bit more about you and your organization. So could you just share your name, your title and the name of your organization?
Lex Amore 1:20
Yes. So I’m Lex Amore, a communications director at the Biomimicry Institute.
Dawn Crawford 1:26
So tell us about what the Biomimicry Institute does.
Lex Amore 1:32
We are the bridge between nature and design. And so we work with everyone from youth, and educators for youth all the way to startups. And basically what we’re doing here is we’re translating the incredible strategies that nature has evolved for us to be able to design more regeneratively.
Dawn Crawford 2:00
Interesting, and so you have a master’s degree in biomimicry, correct?
Lex Amore 2:04
I do Yes. i When I learned about the topic, I dove in deep, I found my path I found my my home.
Dawn Crawford 2:13
Interesting. So to make it translatable to folks out there, like what’s one of your kind of concrete projects that you’re working on right now.
Lex Amore 2:21
Right now, we are looking for startups that have created a nature inspired innovation where our Ray of Hope prize, and applications are due at the end of the month. And basically what we do is we help foster the growth for these companies that are working on really incredible solutions on climate change and any of the other sustainable development goals. And so what we do is we train them through a 10 week program, how to increase their storytelling communications from their biomimetic innovation and connect them with investors, help them get really great business training, and basically try to get them over that startup valley of death so that they can create more nature inspired products and bring them to the market sooner. Because when we have that we’re going to change the way that we design our entire society.
Dawn Crawford 3:16
Very cool. It’s very interesting. Yeah, I’m sure there’s a lot of good communications challenges in this work.
Lex Amore 3:23
Dawn Crawford 3:24
Great. So how many years have you been in this wonderful world of nonprofit communication?
Lex Amore 3:29
Well, I’ve been with the Institute now, about two and a half years. And before that I worked in the agency world – public relations.
Dawn Crawford 3:40
Excellent. Well, that is a perfect segue. We’re going to start our 20 questions. And the first question is, yes. Tell us tell us about your career and 90 seconds or less.
Lex Amore 3:51
Okay. Oh, the pressure’s on okay. So I teach people how to look to nature to make better choices that support all life. I started my career in public relations for law firms and big banks moved into a focus on sustainability after facing moral conflicts with the clients I was representing. And still after working with incredible change agents through that sustainability PR firm, I felt like I wanted to do more to help create a more regenerative, sustainable planet. So I found biomimicry pursued my master’s in science. And now I use the power of communications and storytelling to further nature inspired innovation in education and design at the Biomimicry Institute.
Dawn Crawford 4:34
Lex Amore 4:35
90 seconds we got it?
Dawn Crawford 4:37
that was real good. Yeah, um, I noticed on your LinkedIn profile that you’re living in Hawaii, are you still in Hawaii?
Lex Amore 4:44
I am. Yes, I live on the island of Maui. We are a remote organization. And one of the reasons I brought me here is the culture of the though they talked about the aloha spirit and it’s
Real it is actually lived here. And part of it is honoring the land and the water. And there’s also this rich biodiversity here. So I basically get a playground of learning from the nature that also heals me and powers me to send this kind of energy out through the world through my work.
Dawn Crawford 5:20
Absolutely. Yeah. And I think, yeah, island life and island ecology is definitely Yeah, it’s cool place to see all of this in action, like on a very real scale. Yeah.
Lex Amore 5:31
Right. There’s a reason why Darwin was so fascinated, the life that’s evolved here has to be very unique and tailored here. But at the same time, it will translate to other biomes that we can also learn from.
Dawn Crawford 5:41
Absolutely. That’s great. And it’s beautiful.
Lex Amore 5:43
So yes, there’s that too.
Dawn Crawford 5:48
Great. So yeah, so you spoke a little bit about why you came to the world of nonprofits. But you know, why nonprofits why this work,
Lex Amore 5:56
I, I have a lot of privilege in the background in the life that I’ve grown up in. And I was able to pursue this kind of higher education, and going to the nonprofit world basically means that I get to give away this information to everyone to all audiences at the institute, our mission is to open access availability to this kind of nature inspired education. And so I get to basically help others without them having to have the same kind of barriers that would prevent them otherwise.
Dawn Crawford 6:38
Absolutely. That’s great. So what’s the fate your favorite thing about what you do?
Lex Amore 6:43
Oh, I love inspiring other people to find hope and connection to the natural world. If I would have had this kind of education when I was growing up, I think I would have saved myself from years of feeling unworthy and disconnected and striving for a purpose that when we ground ourselves in this very real truth that we are imperfect animals here on this planet, that gives us a sense of returning to this sense of purpose. And by empowering people with these kinds of actions to design their lives in ways that are furthering balance, and a actual regenerative ecosystem. It can save so much grief and despair, given the challenges that we face as a society today.
Dawn Crawford 7:38
Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, there is. Yeah, we’ve talked, we’ll talk a little bit more about burnout later. But a lot of people will have mentioned just coming out, being out in nature and how restorative that is and how it does ground them, you know, literally, to just remembering how important it is and how you’re a part of something bigger. In a small but important way.
Yeah. Okay, magic wand time. If you could change one thing about your work life, what would it be?
Lex Amore 8:10
Well, this is probably intuitive, but I would give us a whole lot more resources to work with so that we can connect more people with this kind of thinking I would, I’d hire a full communications team to support my team’s incredible work throughout our different spaces. We have a very small team, and we all do a lot. And if I had more resources, I’d be able to really be able to touch more and more lives, and we’re already having an effect on.
Dawn Crawford 8:46
Absolutely, yeah, I think it’s really good point for nonprofits, right? There’s so many amazing things that nonprofits do and their reach is so limited by the resources that you have it being time, time, people or money. Right. And that can often Yeah, and often communications gets the short end of the funding stick to within the organization. It’s hard to fight for those funding dollars. But yeah, yeah. But for people to know about what you do, we have to communicate.
Lex Amore 9:19
Yes, relying on the generosity of others is both a blessing and a challenge sometimes, but what I like to hope is that we all have our place in the world to make change. And for those that maybe are a little bit more well off and are focusing their energy somewhere else that if they can help us to do the kind of work that we’re doing so that we can really make a big difference together. It’s monumental and storytelling really is at the core of being able to connect with people where they’re at.
Dawn Crawford 9:56
So what are you looking forward to the next year in your work life
Lex Amore 9:59
Hmm. We are celebrating 25 years of biomimicry. It’s really incredible to think that Janine Benyus popularized the term in 1997, with her book, and so in May, we’re putting on a big event that is going to celebrate what has happened over 25 years, it started out as a meme. And now it is a movement. And we have this global network of practitioners and learners and advocates, and we’re bringing everyone together to look at what has happened and where we’re headed from now. And the slightly running joke is that 25 years from now, we don’t want biomimicry to be a term that everyone uses just crazy to think we want it to be just good design, we want this to be so embedded naturalized in the way that we see and interact with our world, that in a real monumental shift in our change in a way that we’re approaching life. At this, we’re celebrating 25 years. And this is where we’re at. And it’s been incredible. And now 25 years from now, we want this just to be embedded in the way that we look and see and feel the world around us. So I’m really excited about the event that we’re putting on Janine is going to have a conversation with me. And we’re going to talk about where we’ve been where we want to go, raising up some of the the voices of where people have been doing this all around the globe, and it should be a really, really rewarding gathering.
Dawn Crawford 11:38
That’s fantastic. That’s great. So you’ve achieved a lot in your life, you know, getting your secondary degree and those sort of things. But what else do you have to achieve?
Lex Amore 11:48
Personally or on the work level?
Dawn Crawford 11:50
Um, let’s go work level. And then if you have some personal things you want to share, we would love to hear them.
Lex Amore 11:56
Okay. Well, let’s see, I think that we have a lot of work to do throughout the organization and really infusing indigenous wisdom into biomimicry education, connecting deeper to place, there’s momentum happening with ask nature, which is our platform for offering 1000s of biological strategies and innovations and educational resources. But given that biomimicry is not a new concept in theory, but more of a design framework, that’s really what has changed the scientific methodology of going through a design spiral and bringing this kind of practice into solving challenges. But asking nature something that humans have been doing since we started, but we want to offer a better storytelling platform for bipoc creators for those that haven’t had as much of a voice in the environmental and even social justice movements. And so there’s a lot that we’re doing behind the scenes, but I think that we have still a lot of work to do. And that’s, that’s partly Yes, on the work level. But it’s also for me, too, I am working daily on uncovering my own unconscious biases and how I can recognize where I have influence in the world and being able to use my voice for all of life. And that includes, you know, every single kind of different human perspective and voicing for these other species that don’t have a voice themselves.
Dawn Crawford 13:33
So you’ve transitioned into having a nonprofit career. So what advice do you have for people who are thinking about that, or for new professionals who are just entering the field.
Lex Amore 13:44
And going from a agency life to nonprofit was definitely a big shift for me, I would say, the biggest advice I could give is, slow down, get ready to be flexible. And you have to be very diligent about creating your own kind of balance with caring and recharging your reserves. Because a lot of us are drawn to this work because we care so much. And it’s beautiful, how much we care. But sometimes we lose ourselves in the process because the work never ends. And if we don’t have reserves for ourselves, we can’t serve others. And so whatever type of work you’re getting into whether or not it’s nonprofit, or honestly going into a different pathway, being able to learn what you need and finding those kinds of healthy boundaries is going to save you a lot in the long run and help you to actually be more creative and continue your passion without getting to burnout.
Dawn Crawford 14:47
Absolutely, yes. That the work never ends is the greatest piece of advice because I think, yeah, in the for profit world or in other scenarios even. You know, I think that the work does end, you run on a budget, or you run out of campaign time, or you run out of hours, right? Whereas nonprofits, when you run out of money, you just need to put more time in.It’s like, call us all the money’s gone. But you know, there’s still your resources, you know, you tend to add things, right. And especially in communications, it’s, yeah, can you make one more outreach to one more reporter or write one more blog posts to improve SEO to your site? Like, all these things? Right? It’s just one more. Yeah. So that’s really good to talk about balance, there
Our next set of questions around feedback. So this is something that we’re really passionate about at BC/DC ideas, but also Create Good is about creating, you know, more of a kind review structure. So this is feedback that’s really about your creative work in your ideas, and how you deal with that getting that input because of communications, collaboration is key, right? That everything is better when we work together? Absolutely. So yeah, how do you personally process criticism and critique and feedback on your work?
Lex Amore 16:14
I like learning from my mistakes. So I approach all of my work with an open mind, a colleague of mine once said, that is stuck with me, she was offering a different kind of perspective to be passionate, but not precious. And so there’s a way to reflect, receive, and find, separate yourself a little bit from the criticism, and that’s what I try to do is saying that, assume best intention, and I want to see what I can extract from this kind of criticism to help improve myself. And that I always want to be learning and growing. And so my team knows and hears from me a lot. Like I want to know, I want to hear how I’m doing. Because I can’t improve upon that. If I don’t know,
Dawn Crawford 17:10
And then, you know, how do you like to receive feedback? And how do you communicate that to your colleagues? So you say that, yeah, you’re kind of tell them that I want to hear it. So. But you know, how do you like to receive it? What kind of format?
Lex Amore 17:24
Yeah, delivery is important, because there, there is a lot that can go wrong with saying the wrong thing. So my, my first ask is compassion, is recognize that I am human, I make mistakes, and to assume best intention with me as well. And if I’m asking for feedback, and getting another pair of eyes on something, it’s because I genuinely want it. But the way to deliver it is also to value my work and my effort to not diminish, you know, there’s no need to put adjectives in terms of who I am as a character. It’s just this could be improved in this way. Because of this, that would be helpful. And then we just align on the actual format, like are we going to share track changes in a Google document, like getting really granular on the exact delivery so that there’s ways to work together in a collaborative sense, and everyone knows what we’re dealing with, but delivery, for me, that’s something that I come back to time and time again, it’s just remember that your words matter, and that we all have feelings. And yes, it’s good not to be too sensitive about things and to not assume that because someone is making criticism of my work, for example, that doesn’t mean that the attack on me, but again, there’s being conscious, intentional and compassionate with your word, I think and bridge a lot of misunderstandings that sometimes happen between feedback.
Dawn Crawford 19:06
And then is there a style of feedback? That doesn’t work for you?
Lex Amore 19:11
Yes, definitely. I can do away with judgment. I can do away with accusations. Yeah. Any kind of meanness is not accepted in my world.
Dawn Crawford 19:26
Absolutely. Yeah. We’re the same way. Yeah, we’re, yeah, we confront people on it. And yeah, I’d be like, so this, this wasn’t okay. You know, and we were interacting with, yeah, 15 different bosses every week. Right. And so we get a lot of feedback every single day. So yeah, I think it’s, yeah, there’s ways of Yeah, collaborating and doing this then
Lex Amore 19:47
and asking clarifying questions. Yeah. So if maybe you’re uncertain about something, just ask like, I heard this when you said this. Can you clarify that? Is that what you’ve met?
Dawn Crawford 19:58
Exactly? Yeah, let me slow uou down there? What does that mean? Absolutely.
Lex Amore 20:03
And that’s a way also to not be combative in response, because maybe someone’s having an off day. And they just said some things, and they didn’t realize their impact rather than thinking like, Oh, this is a terrible person. Hmm, I wonder what’s going on in your world? Can you clarify what you meant by that? That didn’t really sit with me very well.
Dawn Crawford 20:25
Okay, so burnout. You know, I think, I think this is something that a lot of folks are kind of dealing with, or have dealt with in the last year, right? Either moving out of a new job, or, you know, just dealing with burnout, of our mission to right and isolation and all these things that communicators, that a lot of it is about connection and relationships, and that the last two years have been rough for that, right. So how do you avoid professional burnout? And how do you kind of manage that? keeping going?
Lex Amore 21:00
Hmm, it’s really important that we’re talking about this, because it’s so rampant and, and something that I’ve actually struggled with a lot. I’ve had many breakdowns, and challenges over the years of riding myself so hard, because I’m my, my biggest critic, I really am the hardest on myself. And I know a lot of people in the nonprofit world, they, they have that same kind of tendency, we hold ourselves to such high standards. And so the first thing that I do is make sure that I get adequate time in nature, it really has healing capacities, there were countless studies that have shown that by spending time in nature, it balances your homeostasis. And you can increase dopamine, serotonin production and decrease cortisol levels, there’s major benefits for spending time in nature, what does that say about us is that we are really just coming home to the natural world, because we created these walls around us that separates us. And by going back to our source, I think it’s incredibly powerful. I also meditate and journal every single day and recognize that when I wake, it’s like a new opportunity to practice these kinds of behaviors, taking regular walks in between calls, not scheduling calls back to back. Knowing when to sign off. And being in tuned with the physiological state of my body is helped me a lot to be able to take a step back and just balance myself. Because if I don’t know what’s happening, and I start feeling that, that pressure rising, if I don’t hear the cues that are coming, then I run into exactly that burnout. And so I have to be aware and intentional and really slow down enough in my personal life to be able to tell what’s happening. And so it’s a diligent practice every day, I make mistakes all the time, and have to basically just say, Okay, well, tomorrow’s a new day, now is a new moment, and just let it go. But I don’t think that there’s a one track fits all for everyone. For me, these are some of the things that have helped me, but I think it takes for everyone to really look at their lives and find, find the joy, figure out how you can still care about everything going on and still stay in touch with the news and being aware of your influence and how you can make a difference. But again, filling your cup so that you have enough reserves to be able to show up when you need to. And that’s about knowing yourself and finding that balance internally.
Dawn Crawford 24:00
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. And it takes trial and error. Sometimes, yeah. Maybe on the air part, probably. Um, so
what what makes you come back to work every day? Well, you know, on Monday, you know, how are you coming back?
Lex Amore 24:19
I come back because I see the real difference that we’re making. I get to have such an incredible opportunities to connect with people literally around the globe, and how many times I get to hear them learn about biomimicry and feel this huge aha moment is relief. Like that just makes sense. Why have we been doing that? And now I’m gonna dedicate the rest of my life to practicing like this. It’s It’s amazing. I never get tired of hearing people find this way of asking nature and inspiring their own lives. And that breath of fresh air of just thinking, I can relax a little so that I can focus better, and pick my path forward. Because I know that there’s this global movement happening. We don’t have to solve all the problems ourselves, I show up because I know that there is people really actively doing this kind of work on every level. And that is how we’re making real systems change happen. And so if I don’t get to interact with these humans, and I don’t get to inspire this kind of change, and I’m not connected to the natural world in that way, I wouldn’t want to come back and do the work because then, you know, it’s not easy what we do. And for my role, specifically, I wear a lot of hats. And I show up because I’m so passionate about the outcome that I get to see and and all the work is worth it.
Dawn Crawford 26:05
Absolutely. That’s fantastic. Okay, so this is our rapid fire section of questions. These are definitely tended to have one word answers, but I found that my communications folks are struggling with that assignment.
Lex Amore 26:20
We love words
Dawn Crawford 26:21
Exactly, make sure people know exactly what we’re over communicating exactly what we try to do. Yes. Sounds
cool. So what is your favorite word?
Lex Amore 26:34
Dawn Crawford 26:35
What’s your least favorite word?
Lex Amore 26:38
Dawn Crawford 26:39
What is your personal nonprofit cause or passionate?
Lex Amore 26:43
Dawn Crawford 26:46
What is a nonprofit cause it gets too much attention.
Lex Amore 26:50
None. We all need to be lifted.
Dawn Crawford 26:54
What is your favorite curse word?
Lex Amore 26:58
Oh, am I allowed to say this here? okay. Yeah.
Fuck, yes. It’s so cathartic.
Did you know that it actually originated from fornication under the consent of the king?
Dawn Crawford 27:13
Oh, wow. There we go.
What profession other than your own would you like to try?
Lex Amore 27:25
I would love to try being a health coach.
Dawn Crawford 27:32
And then what nonprofit professional or organizational kind of communications team would you like to talk to on a podcast like this? Hmm.
Lex Amore 27:42
Malama, Maui Nui.
It’s a local nonprofit organization here on the island that’s mission is to educate and inspire and empower locals and visitors to nurture the environment and support of Maui’s ecosystem, the economy, quality of life and the unique culture of Hawaiians.
Dawn Crawford 28:07
Beautiful, fantastic. Well, thank you so much. This conversation was so zen. I feel more relaxed now. Just talking to you.
Lex Amore 28:16
That is my hope, Dawn, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.
Dawn Crawford 28:21
Yeah, it was fantastic. So yeah, thank you so much. And thank you for everybody who’s listening out there and have a great rest of your day.
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