The Bullog – September 2018

Greetings Bullogers!

Two cheers for Jeff Bezos…. Hip, hip!

It turns out that Jeff, now the richest man in the world, has decided to donate $2 billion of his vast fortune into a new foundation to be called the Bezos Day One Fund.  I suppose we should all be happy about anyone giving away such a vast sum of money, shouldn’t we?  Perhaps.  Then again, his personal wealth has increased by $65 billion this year alone and so he’s not likely to be too hard up for cash despite this philanthropic largesse. Much of this eye watering wealth arises from Amazon’s share price soaring and making it the second trillion-dollar corporation in the past few weeks alone (regular readers will recall my reference to Apple in July’s Bullog).  Would the world be a better place if Jeff and his Amazon empire paid its workforce a fair wage instead of donating this money to charitable causes? Or indeed, couldn’t they easily afford to do both?  (Yes I know I’m conflating Amazon the corporation with Jeff Bezos, the High Net Worth CEO, but in my mind there’s very little difference) If these new “super-States” like Amazon and Apple were more democratic then we, the people, might be able to have a say in the matter.  How we “democratize the corporation” is something you have already heard about from me and you will no doubt be hearing more on this in the future.

Coming to my own world, the August Bullog was always going to be a difficult act to follow from the perspective of shock value. No, I haven’t gone out and bought any more farms in Scotland recently.  But I do have to say that I was hugely encouraged by the positive reaction I got to that announcement. The architect has completed the ‘as-is’ drawings and I’m able to view these on a high-tech 3-D platform. It’s really exciting to be able to navigate through the old ruins of the farm as if I was steering a drone – just like in a video game.  I was expecting to encounter zombies or knife wielding thugs jumping out of doorways or broken windows.  Having experienced some of the local pubs on the island at closing time, I felt more than ready to handle that sort of situation.   I plan to update you again in a few weeks time once they have sent some concept drawings.  Stay tuned.

After the relatively easy pace of the summer months. September has been far busier as predicted.  It’s been a game of two halves: the first-half doing a nice gentle trip to Provence with my mum for a few days.  The second half was spent in the US speaking at a number of events relating to intrapreneurship and of course, promoting my book, The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a corporate insurgent.  This is the first time you’ve heard me mention it, right? I joined Maggie De Pree of The League of Intrapreneurs on a panel at a CEO Investor Forum hosted by Paul Newman’s charity CECP in the World Trade Center. The event was all about trying to convince Wall Street analysts of the benefits in having a long-term strategy as opposed to just focusing on short-term profit in the next quarter.  If you can’t find anything interesting on NetFlix tonight, then why not watch the short video of the event.  It was a lot of fun.

I also spoke on panels at the Business Fights Poverty “Rethinking Collaboration for the SDGs” event in New York and at an RSA gig in Pittsburgh.  At the former, Unilever kindly agreed to buy 150 books so that all the audience were able to have one – I find that giving away books is so much easier than selling them!  Joining me on the panel was the very impressive Myriam Sidibe, Unilever’s Social Impact Director for Lifebuoy soap who is touching hundreds of millions of lives through promoting handwashing with her soap.  The latter event was a smaller audience where I was one of three intrapreneurs grilled by Maggie De Pree.   The messages around intrapreneurship seemed to land very well and there is clearly an appetite and some momentum for taking the intrapreneurship movement to the US.

I also attended a bunch of events around the UN General Assembly in New York, where many of the ‘usual suspects’ of the sustainable business crowd were in attendance. One of the highlights was a DSM lunch held in the magnificent surroundings of the New York Library.  When you hear DSM’s impressive CEO, Feike Sijbesma, talk about business leadership from a moral perspective, you do realise he really gets it.  Sadly he’s one of the rare exceptions that proves the rule.  My money remains on change being driven and demanded from the bottom up, by an increasingly millennial workforce hungry for purpose and meaning in their careers.

I’ll end on something of a more bittersweet note.  Given my slightly different career focus of late, I decided that it was time for me to stand down from my role on The END Fund board.  I had originally decided to join the board for one year as a favour to a client.   Seven years later, I can honestly say it was one of the best things that I’ve ever done. I’ve watched The END Fund grow into one of the most powerful and innovative organisations in the neglected tropical diseases space and under the leadership of the CEO Ellen Agler, they’ve raised well over $100m for the cause, trained over 900,00 health workers and treated 146 million men, women and kids around the globe.  I said my farewells at an investor event hosted by the Chairman, Bill Campbell, in his beautiful New York apartment on Central Park West. Despite having stepped down from my formal role on the board, I know that I will be supporting the work of The END Fund on the outside.

I usually round off with a little bit of personal stuff and this month is no exception.  I attended a fascinating retreat in a beautiful chateau in Bourg-en-Bresse, one hour from Geneva, hosted by the fascinating Alex Inchbald who is a businessmen turned ‘extreme artist’. Alex believes that there’s an inner artist inside of us and his mission is to unlock that potential whether it’s painting, writing, playing beautiful music or even solving world hunger.  Really inspiring stuff!

That’s enough for me for now. Do keep the comments and suggestions coming I’ll be back in touch next month.

Until then,

Best wishes, Gib

* Bullog  = Bulloch + Blog

Make sense?  Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.  If it’s not for you then feel free to unsubscribe below.