The Renaissance Expedition: A (very) new community for all builders, makers, creators and doers (who want to build, make, create and run a better world)

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m an optimist.  I believe that the promise of technology to liberate humanity to realize it’s full potential outweighs the prospective costs/risks.


The caveat is that if that power of those exponential technological advances is held and leveraged by a very few few, then the promise will never be realized.  One doesn’t need to be a conspiracist to believe that human nature being what it is, power will be used to the benefit of the wielder – even if the initial intent is benevolently well intentioned.

If that doesn’t resonate, then consider that the creators and incubators of these new technologies generally do so with the tunnel vision that is so necessary in getting something off the ground – they do not have the motivation or time to reflect on how their advances, especially in the aggregate, can be best employed.

The bottom line is that a new elite lies at the intersection of wealth, and increasingly – data/knowledge.  That equals power at the limit of comprehension. In yesterday’s Independent, Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of Oxfam UK reports that five years ago 388 billionaires had a net worth equal to half the world’s population.  A year ago that figure was 80.  Today its 62.

Wherever one stands in the left-right continuum, few can believe that this trend is healthy.  In fact, more and more are in their way reacting to this – from the Occupy Wall Street movement, to the disenfranchised supporters of the GOP front-runner to the fevered idealists supporting Bernie Sanders.

Who best to arrest and reverse this trend, and serve as the guarantors of that promise noted above?  I think possibly it’s YOU – the accomplished individual who has created something, made something, built something, run something – that increasingly believes that the attributes that empowered and inspired you to be what you are can also be employed for the benefit of other stakeholders.  Your community, your society, your nation, your world.

For want of another number, let’s say there are 10 million ‘leaders’ in the world that really run the place and make things happen – from artists/thinkers to Fortune 500 CEO’s. Let’s further assume that 99% are not yet receptive to defining their sense of responsibility beyond the conventional definition.  In other words, they remain more in the ‘me’ as opposed to we’ stage (for whatever reason).  Finally though, let’s assume that 1%, or 100,000 are veterans of the marketplace of commerce and ideas who DO believe in a sense of greater purpose and demonstrate that every day with their employees, customers, families, friends and communities.

It’s this ‘new’ 1% that can change the world.  By becoming a community in and of itself, that like all communities, supports it’s members as determined by it’s members,  for the good of the community and the betterment of the world.

A fanciful idea?  No.  In fact the genesis of this global community is mobilizing around a new not-for-profit organization called the Renaissance Expedition, itself based on landmark thought leadership of an iconic citizen of the world named Don Simpson. I lead that new organization as it’s first Executive Director.

A Renaissance Leader is…

  • A high integrity individual with sensitive self-awareness and a passion for advancing their enterprise, their community and the world.
  • A creator with a sense of history and the capacity to see the world holistically, to practice systems thinking, to inject a global and a future perspective into present challenges, to honour diversity, and to draw on ideas and best practices from diverse disciplines and economic sectors.
  • A leader who demonstrate the ability to take input from these various disciplines, synthesize it and integrate it for application to a specific situation.
  • An exemplar who demonstrates grace under pressure, and inspires others to have the courage to collaborate and innovate in order to dramatically improve enterprise or community performance.

The Renaissance Expedition is…

A movement which is committed to identify, connect, mentor and promote the efforts of a diverse community of change leaders with similar values and strategic intentions whose purpose is improving individual, organizational, community and global performance.

The Objective of the Renaissance Expedition (REX)…

To create a movement that identifies, engages and mobilizes the global cohort of leader/creators who share a common value system and sense of shared destiny – the new “1%’ of those uniquely positioned to change the leadership narrative. A group committed to start impacting systemic global change in just three years. We will do so by recruiting, supporting and promoting the elevation of no fewer than 20,000 REX members by 2019, and 100,000 by 2021, to positions of domain influence and power – to insert and nurture a new ‘renaissance’ leadership gene into the global DNA from class-room to boardroom to legislature.

Our Charter…

We believe in a world of abundance where we are each held to be responsible for, and accountable to, ourselves. Thus empowered, we are obligated to conduct ourselves so as to better enable a future where;

  • Discrimination, prejudice and violence are no longer tolerated.
  • In spirit and practice all are equal before the law.

  • In spirit and practice all citizens enjoy the same voting rights.
  • In spirit and practice all enjoy the same right to privacy.
  • All citizens are free to express themselves as they wish, without threat, harm or repercussion.
  • All have the right to, and enjoyment of, personal security and property protection.

  • All have access to such education as is necessary to realize one’s wants, needs and desires.
  • All have access to nutritious food, clean water and clean air – in harmony with nature.
  • All have access to healthcare that provides for a long and well-lived life.

  • All can pursue a livelihood that provides for, a productive, accomplished and rewarding life, lived with dignity.

  • For those who cannot provide for themselves, access to such means as allows for a life that is as productive, accomplished and rewarding as their debility allows for, lived with dignity.

  • We ALL endeavour to lead by example.

First Principles…

  • In an age of abundance, self-interest and societal interest need no longer be in conflict. While enlightened self-interest lies at the heart of discovery, innovation and creation, its application is best nurtured and rewarded within a healthy, vibrant, affluent community.
  • We must lead by example. The REX community must attract, empower and mobilize members who understand the dynamics of collective strength and actions.
  • Its members are all ‘leader creators’ – those who are distinguished for having created and/or run private, public or not-for-profit enterprises, or those who are viewed as accomplished contributors to the arts, sciences, humanities and/or social discourse.
  • REX is a self-sustaining movement, an evolving eco-system that will define the objectives and determine the outcomes – from the bottom-up, not the top-down.
  • Accordingly, REX will provide the ‘North Star’ of the movement – our Charter – the aspirational scaffolding needed to empower the community we recruit. Our strength is in the constant pursuit of the promise and potential of the Charter by the network we build and mobilize.
  • REX must strive to be as philosophically agnostic/secular as possible – an impactful centrist movement that rejects and is a counter-force to the deceptively seductive alternatives offered by ideologues and extremists on either side of the political spectrum.
  • Recognizing that the need for leadership is systemic, it is thus global, multi-sectoral and especially, multi-generational.
  • A foundational value of REX is that its members commit to help each other to achieve professional success and thus secure positions of influence and power within their domain – to be remarkable human beings and thus be makers and enablers of exceptional communities/societies through peer networking, coaching and purposeful collaboration, regardless of background or skill set.

We are only in the very early stages of defining/deploying the platform/infrastructure for REX, and consequently are looking for prospective members, contributors, funding etc.  Is this something that resonates with you?  If so I’d love to hear from you.  Likewise, if you think it’s something a friend or colleague would be interested in, please pass this posting along. If you’d like to know a bit more about the ‘how’, click here.

Are YOU interested in mobilizing the ‘new’ 1%?


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I have had the pleasure of being acquainted with bon vivant and man-about-town Bob Ramsay (no relation, and more accurately a Toronto communications consultant and host of the locally famous Ramsay Luncheons) for going on 20 years now.  In today’s Globe and Mail, Bob distinguishes himself with yet another thoughtful piece Confession’s good for the corporate soulthat particularly resonates with the stated mission of this writer (me).  I leave it to you to read Bob’s article – it’s 3 minutes very well spent.

It is however, worth spending a few of life’s precious seconds contemplating a central thesis of the article, that is that ” …I have a feeling that the first major company out of the gate with a failure report would garner huge public and shareholder interest. Their failures would be washed away in a tide of goodwill.  After all, our cynicism about governments and corporations only grows because their means and ends aren’t what they profess.  And if companies regularly confess to failing, they would end up being just like – well, just like people.”

Like Bob, I believe that businesses especially need to perceive ‘crash reports’ and ‘crash reporting’ as an essential element of effective management, and of competitive differentiation.  I do appreciate that this is a daunting, even Sisyphian challenge, but I confess I am bemused by the initial comments that follow the article. Intellectually lazy cycnicism supports only the status quo and prevents the evolution of any organization, business or society.  How many times do we need to witness the failure of iconic institutions such as PennState (no explanation needed), Newscorp. (phone hacking) and JP Morgan (the London Whale) before it dawns on us that there MUST be a way to institutionalize ‘crash avoidance’ mechanisms.

Here’s the mantra.  Make a mistake once and you’re human.  Make the same mistake twice and learn from it – you are empowered.  Make it a third time? Refer back to Penn State, Newscorp. and JP Morgan.

Thanks Bob for elevating the discussion.


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