The end of an era is probably an overused term, however I think it is appropriate in how I describe the resignation of Unilever’s CEO, Paul Polman last week. I will make no secret of the fact that I hold Paul in very high regard, not just because he was kind enough to write the foreword for The Intrapreneur (did I ever mention that I wrote a book?) but because he has been an incredible champion of the need for greater purpose and sustainability in the world of global business. The key difference being that he actually walked the talk on these lofty goals. I find it ironic that this is the second month in a row that The Bullog has started with a lament for the loss of a leader who I respect. Regular readers will remember about my comments about Sasha Romanovitch, the outgoing head of Grant Thornton and my full views will now appear as an Op-ed in the Christmas edition of Ethical Cooperation. So go out and buy your copy now! Poor Sacha did not enjoy the decade that Polman had at the helm at Unilever. However my broader point is that we can ill afford to lose leaders like Paul and Sacha as it appears so few are stepping up to take their place. It’s one of the many reasons why I believe we have to look to employees to drive the change, bottom up and inside out. So come on, where are all of you latent “gilet jaunes” (yellow jackets) in the corporate world?
Launching The Intrapreneur Down Under
Some months are busier than others. That’s the normal way of life. November was a particularly busy month in many ways, not least because it involved a trip to Singapore and Australia. I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at an Impact Investment Summit in Sydney, and on the back of that I did two side events including a launch of my book. I was supported in this whole trip by colleagues from the League of Intrapreneurs (LOI), but in particular Kath Leong & Janett Egber – two great role models on how intrapreneurs should support each other. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all their help in setting up the meetings that I had and these speaking opportunities. Indeed I found myself in the Sydney offices of Accenture, EY and Deloitte’s all in the same day. Not for the faint hearted! You can read the interview I did for Deloitte’s here: Confessions of a Corporate Insurgent.
In Singapore I was also given great LOI support by Charles Phua. We got a good crowd to turn out in the centre of the city, and I found myself on a panel with my old friend Euan Wilmshurst, who was the guy behind Project Last Mile, the long running Coca Cola health logistics project which features in my book (did I ever mention that I wrote….ok, enough). He and I have been on a few panels in the past over many years including, I recall, at the Tory party conference back in roughly 2009 I think. It was just like old times. Euan is now working for IBM and I’m looking forward to seeing some the positive damage he can do there, as he brings an intrapreneurial agenda to his corporate colleagues.
French Submersion Course
If you think my day-to-day life is nothing but traveling to exotic places then you’d better stop reading here. I attended a “dolphinyou” seminar in the Red Sea in the south east of Egypt near the border with Sudan. It was a combination of yoga, mediation, coaching and of course la pièce de resistance, free diving with dolphins in a very unique environment. Oh, and it was all in French in case you thought my French “submersion” title was a typo. Get it? I found it absolutely amazing and I hope to see if I can bring some corporate intrapreneurs there next year – watch this space.
As some of you who got my “Out of Office” greeting will know, I attempted to use this time underwater as an opportunity for a digital detox. It was incredibly tough to cut off, but I would highly recommend trying it. If, like me, you find it very difficult to do then you’ll discover just how addicted we are to our devices. Like a friend of mine who gives up all alcohol in January each year hoping to prove to himself and others that he’s not an alcoholic. He’s discovered that the level of anxiety this brings only serves to highlight that he is in fact, borderline alcoholic. Personally, I’d rather cut off from technology from time to time in the New Year than do without a nice glass of red wine of an evening. Draw your own conclusions.
In terms of a quick digest of other bits and pieces in this busy month of November, I wrote a somewhat political blog The Brexit Dichotomy about the fact that the UK’s current angst over Brexit is a mere symptom of an underlying challenge for our current system of democracy. Less controversial is the article I wrote for Indian Management (a bit like the Harvard Business Review of India) on The Maverick Manager that was the Cover Article for October. Unfortunately the link sits behind a firewall and so I’m attaching a PDF version at the foot of this note. Presentations wise I spoke at SAID Business School in Oxford and to Geneva based YEX young executives, which if you’re interested, you can watch here. In terms of recommended readings, don’t miss the great article on by my friend Maggie De Pree and Hester le Roux on Intrapreneurship Systems that appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Last, but not least, I had a wonderful lunch with my relatively new friend, Paolo Gallo, the ex Global HR Director for the World Economic Forum. Paollo is a fascinating guy and has just had his best selling book The Compass and the Radar translated into English. Thoroughly recommended reading for all of you who are “seeking to live a life that truly reflects their values.”
I usually finish with more personal stuff, but the work and the personal is increasingly blurring. “Work life balance” may be the flavor of the month but I prefer to talk about simply how to live a balanced life which may involve aspects of what would normally be regarded as ‘work’ and aspects that would most definitely look more like ‘play’. Some of these activities earn me money and some don’t. But for a very long, earning money has not been the primary driver in choosing what I do. I risk unintentionally opening up a can of worms so will stop there – suffice to say that the ‘business trip’ between Sydney and Singapore provided an excellent opportunity to do a three day stopover in Ubud, Bali, one of my favourite places to recharge.
The December edition of The Bullog will come out at the beginning of January 2019 so until then, let me as a ‘spiritual agnostic’, wish a very Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it and a ‘happy holidays’ for those who don’t, or who are more politically correct that I am.
Best wishes, Gib
* The 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.