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.

But.

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%?

 

Are you a ‘Lone Genius’?: You need a Thought Partner!

You create, build, manage, make, run and organize things – adding value to a multitude of stakeholders in a complex and volatile world. You are accomplished at what you do, recognized by your peers as a leader. But there is a lot on your plate – or more accurately plates – with the prospect of only more being heaped on. It’s a constant juggling act, and as good as you are, you admit to yourself that you don’t have all the answers – in fact more than you’d like to admit or show, you’re frequently stuck.

Sound like you? If you are like most senior executives that I’ve met through my my business career and coaching/advisory practice (including most especially -me), the answer is yes. In discussions with literally hundreds of accomplished individuals over the past year, from CEO’s (start-up to Fortune 500) to senior civil servants to NPO leaders to performers and artists, most report experiencing the pervasive sense of loneliness and uncertainty that comes from being an accomplished builder/creator/operator.

It’s tempting to look to the 180,000+ books on leadership on Amazon.com (just for example) for inspiration for the most current 5 or 10 step solution to your problem, but logic suggests that they ALL can’t be correct. In fact it all becomes ‘noise’ – the bleating of thousands of advice-givers more interested in advancing their agenda than in supporting yours. And in a world of exponential advances in technology, and of industries/societies impacted for better and for worse, the noise gets ever louder – even desperate.

Of course, the ‘answer’ does not lie without – with ‘them’ – it rests within you. It’s why so many of us engage in constructive self-talk – we are constantly discussing with ourselves our situational awareness, our ability to both understand our environment and to positively shape/impact it. It’s this self-talk that speaks to the need for a true partner that can offer a second-set-of-eyes perspective to your ever-changing relationship with the world around you.

Which leads us to the concept of Thought Partner. In a 2012 guest post in Forbes Magazine, Rania Anderson well defined the concept;

A Thought Partner is one who;

  • Challenges your thinking
  • Causes you to modify your paradigms, assumptions or actions
  • Has information or a way of thinking that provokes you to innovate or otherwise leads to value creation in your business, career or life.

Thought Partners are usually people who possess information, knowledge, or a way of thinking that challenges and provokes divergent thinking for you.

I would add that a Thought Partner is a sometime coach, sometime mentor, sometime advisor, sometime connector of dots and resources, and sometime friend, who is above all else – often even more so than your business or life partner – your confidante alone committed to think with you, rather than for you. Safely, securely, in the greatest confidence.

Critically, the need for a Thought Partner is not a one-off, sequential exercise. We have all witnessed the demise of the five year business plan – now reduced far more appropriately to one year and ever more iterative planning cycles, due to the complexity and volatility of the exponential change noted above. Instead, just as planning is now an all the time, real time activity, so too is the need for your Thought Partner. As an oft-repeated quote paraphrasing Albert Einstein puts it “enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of the lone genius“.

As you contemplate this New Year, the question is – is 2016 the year you cease being a lone genius, and instead seek out your Thought Partner, or are you going to continue to talk to yourself to cross-pollinate, conceptualize and execute the initiatives and actions that determine your future?

 

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[…]

 

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Je Suis Charlie: You (and we) HAVE To Rethink Leadership

The infrequent visitor to this blog might be puzzled by the an apparent lack of coherence found herein. In the ‘Digest’ section I share many of the timely articles/stories that have captured my attention – all more or less speaking to the scale and scope of profound disruption, the forces that are ever faster shaping our existence.  Elsewhere in ‘Posts’ one will find the sometime chronicling of my journey over the past few years, and my thoughts on the changing nature of leadership.  Still elsewhere, the diligent reader will see that I’m applying myself to the challenge and reward of establishing a CEO Forum to better explore ways of building 15 or so exceptional businesses though peer mentoring and collaboration.

Sadly, the coherence is to be found in the shadow of the tragedy we’ve all just witnessed this past week in Paris, where the forces of ignorance struck out at a society wrestling with just the initial consequences of profound politico-socio-economic disruption driven in turn by exponential technological growth.  I have previously observed that orthodoxy generally can be regarded as a reaction to change – be it in our religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism etc.), our cultures, our legislatures, our institutions, our organizations – and our businesses.  As the complexity of the world becomes more indecipherable to some, many within our societies are clearly falling back on simpler answer sets for comfort and guidance – a disenfranchised (or perhaps more accurately unenfranchised) population that is growing at an alarming pace.  That this is happening speaks to a leadership deficit that is equally alarming – in our religious leaders of course, but so to in the leadership of our politicians, our community leaders and our business leadership.  When young men (and now women) take up arms against their homeland, there are a great many ‘leaders’  who have failed them, and more to the point, their victims.

If you’ve read this far, you must – MUST – take a few minutes to watch Jeremy Howard’s recent TEDx talk in Brussels – The Wonderful and Terrifying Implications Of Computers That Can Learn.  If you do so you will see that the stuff of science fiction is shaping our world much, much faster than most of us realize – with the attendant consequences (good and bad) on the entities that we lead.  It is not hard to imagine that those seeking a simple and simplistic  understanding of life and their role within it will join the ranks of the ignorant to our collective peril.  In short, if we want a world where each human has the opportunity to be a constructive and participative citizen and is motivated (and incented) to be the best ‘them’ they can be, we need a leadership cohort that is much, much better at making sense of their environments, with the consequent capacity to apply enlightened leadership to the reality of profound disruption.

And who provide the greatest numbers to the global leadership cohort?  Those who run businesses.  Those who are responsible for inventing things, making things, making things better, organizing things, creating employment.  Like it or not, our businesses have been given a societal license to create and distribute wealth and power a prosperous, healthy world.  Our businesses, like it or not, are the engines of societal growth.  On the whole – and as a cohort – we’ve done a pretty inadequate job, taking refuge in the laissez faire POV that ‘it’s not my job’ to think of the bigger picture.  “My job is to  run my business”.  The reality is, if we as a society are to realize the benefits – for all citizens – of profound disruption, then its our business leaders who need to step up and assume the responsibility of true leadership, or else inevitably others will (that societal license I referred to is ‘use it or lose it’).  And where product life-cycles are increasingly measured in months, successful businesses are adapting to a world of constant flux – something government and public sector leadership are structurally prevented from doing.

Simply put, to defeat ignorance we need to create happy, healthy societies that engage their populations – failure to do so will have terminal consequences.

What does it mean to be such a leader?  I have no idea.  But I do know that it’s less about where you look for answers as much as it is with whom you frame the questions, and share in the exploration and discovery of objective solutions.  I know that leadership isn’t found in the self-serving ‘how to be a winning CEO’ lists/articles we are all subjected to, but rather that leadership is nurtured from within.  And I do know that the place to start is at the ground floor – within the businesses that drive our societies.  Every business has the capacity to be an incubator for equitable wealth generation and distribution.  Every leader has the capacity to be an exemplar of enlightened leadership – accepting that when they seek the mantle of leadership they are joining a global community of world makers – who are party both to the defeat of ignorance and the victory of enlightenment.

We are all Charlie.

 

 

Change leader, change thyself

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Building self-understanding and then translating it into an organizational context is easier said than done, and getting started is often the hardest part. We hope this article helps leaders who are ready to try and will intrigue those curious to learn more […]

 

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Mindfulness Can Literally Change Your Brain

 

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Consider Cynthia, a general manager in a health care organization. Her promotion into that role increased her direct reports 10-fold and expanded the range of businesses she oversaw […]

 
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