From AWOL to A List

To all the beautiful souls who’ve been writing to me,
wondering where I’ve been and with whom.
I took an extended and unintended suburban sabbatical.
An unexpected break from making and sharing.
And it was fantastic.

After the success of The Business Romantic Events,
I took a week to regroup. Which turned into a month, which turned into six.
I had a bucketload of work to do with new and old clients,
and a truckload of play to do with Sonny.
So I did just that. 

I was careful not to get caught in the busy-ness of it all.
I waited and watched. I listened and let it all unravel. 
A little space away from the chase, works wonders.

So where to from here?

Firstly, give yourself a cheeky high-five.
If you're reading this, you're a part of the A-list.
The ideas, events, & people
you're about to receive, be invited to and meet,
will transform your work & life forever.

This newsletter is your VIP AAA pass
to thriving in a 21st Century Renaissance.

From today...
I'm going all in on Artistry,
and soon, you will too.

Oooooh.

Can you feel that?

It’s called conviction, and it’s been missing,
but it’s essential for where we’re heading.
So leave your things,
take a few deep breaths,
and let us begin,
again,
together. 

Yeow!

Why Feeling Is The New Thinking

We are entering a new era of business. One that demands we question long-held assumptions about the nature of work.

Our insatiable desire to measure, automate and scale every inch of our experience, is causing a seismic shift it what matters. Radical changes are taking place within talent acquisition, customer & employee experience, innovation, marketing & employer branding. But the savvy, courageous few are embracing an emerging conversation.

Like it or not, believe it or not, the new era of business is as much about feeling as it is about thinking. As much about trusting as it is about testing. As much about emotion, intuition and instinct as it is about listening, learning & leveraging. 

‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou

How your employees feel about themselves, about each other, about the work they do and the organisation as a whole, greatly impacts the quality, quantity and consistency of their output. 

How your vendors, customers and competitors feel about your company continues to define the value, length and profitability of those relationships. 

How the job market feels about your workplace will influence the calibre of talent waiting and wanting to work for you. 

Heck, the way you feel about this article will determine whether you choose to gain any value from it.

Make no mistake, how your business feels is now just as important as what it does. And the organisations brave enough to explore this with enthusiasm and vigour will be leaders in tomorrow's economic climate.

But let’s be honest, to speak earnestly about feeling in most boardrooms today would leave us open to ridicule and regret. Despite our best intentions for a more human-centric workplace, one that allows, encourages and champions the entire spectrum of the human experience, we’re not all there just yet. 

So how do we navigate such a delicate & dangerous conversation?

Perhaps one reason we dismiss talking about ‘feeling’ is we are yet to find a language that sufficiently contains it. We don't have effective enough words to frame the value and relevance of feeling. When discussing the ‘vibe’ of our latest offering or the ‘feel’ of the next leadership offsite, we can so easily wind up sounding fluffy and esoteric, lightweight and inconsequential.

Inevitably we're asked for proof. Our people require us to find data, we're told that the business will need to see a clear ROI if the company is to direct any funds into anything of this nature. 

And those concerns are legitimate because feeling is unpredictable. It’s flakey, inconsistent and idiosyncratic. It won’t fit within a formula, rarely submits to a system and is heavily influenced by factors outside our control.

Feeling is hard to work with, but work with it we must.

Because despite the perks, the pay packet or the positive rhetoric, our people stay, work harder & smarter when they feel something. Our customers stay longer, engage deeper and share louder when they feel something.

And I don't necessarily mean feeling something good. I'm talking about feeling something real. Something deep, emotive, visceral, meaningful. Something that stirs your soul, that speaks to your spirit, that rips you, your colleagues or clients out of the numb, default, predictable way of being, and demands you feel...anything.

But what does the feel of an organisation even mean? Where do we start if we want to accentuate it? And how on earth do we begin a conversation about the feel of our business without alarming or alienating our colleagues or clients? 

Given the nature of this conversation, it feels cheap, ironic and hypocritical to distill the dynamic realm of emotion into a formulaic template for success. But I will say this…

1. Begin with how you feel. 

Allow yourself to lean into your experience. Listen with your body and try to trust your gut. No one else has to know. It’s between you and yourself. But give yourself permission to go there. To play with it in your heart and mind. To fully experience what is emerging within you, in the conversation or in the atmosphere around it.

To be truly effective in the future of work, we must rebuild the dialogue between our thoughts and our feelings. They need to work in tandem, shift workers, high-fiving when they tap each other in. Imagine the possibilities for your career, team or business if you could draw on the entirety of your human experience. Dropping in and out of thinking and feeling when it serves. 

2. Capture how you feel. 

Take notes in a private moleskin. Draw pictures in the margin. Scribble on draft copies and leave hidden comments on google docs. Getting it out of your body makes it real. Playing with language and colour and shapes will help you form more concrete reasons as to why you or why it feels a certain way. 

This will enable you to better articulate how you feel to others. Widening the palette of language you can use to illuminate specific feelings, gives you a far batter chance of having it be understood by your colleagues or clients.

3. Seek to know how others feel.

Listen to the language of those around you. Look for what articles your colleagues are liking on LinkedIn. Read between the lines of customer reviews. What are they not saying? What are they hinting at? What are they hoping you’ll feel too but struggle to find the frame for it. 

Then ask them how they feel about it. Speaking to, acknowledging and celebrating how others feel, legitimises their experience. It gives them permission to trust their instinct, to follow their own flavour. It invites participation in the whole spectrum of our experience and cultivates a broader, more inclusive and diverse conversation.

The world was flat once.

People always laugh at those who dance with the unknown. So we might not currently have an acceptable, agreeable or manageable way to measure, articulate or scale the ‘feel’ of a team, an event or an organisation. But it doesn’t mean it’s not already impacting you.

I’m reminded of the Joseph Heller quote ‘Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.’

Just because you can’t measure it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.

Now more than ever is the time to risk what they might think on how it feels

So how do you feel about that?

 

***Author note: I intentionally left out any case studies, statistics or stories that would give weight to my argument. How does that make you feel? ***

 

A Letter To Your Boss From The Future

Dear [insert bosses name],

Thank you.

On behalf of the future you, your leadership team, board members, shareholders, current and future employees, customers, competitors and civil society at large...

Thank you.

Your contribution to our organisation, to our industry, to the lives and families of those working for, with, or against us, is unparalleled. The positive impact you've had on countless individuals and communities is immeasurable.

Your leadership proved to be the definitive factor in our company's success. And the profit we made in a sustainable, ethical, inclusive, innovative and human-centric way became the benchmark for what business can be in the future.

Make no mistake, it was you, [insert bosses name], that did this. 

And all on account of one simple action. One unassuming choice. One key decision you made in late February 2017.

By sending [insert your name] to The Business Romantic Event you set in motion a chain of events that transformed the economic landscape, forever. 

Once [insert your name] returned from The Business Romantic Event, your company's competitive advantage was immediate. Their newly acquired approach to HR, OD, Talent Aquisition, Marketing, Employer Branding and Leadership accelerated your company's growth in unimaginable ways. 

Within a few weeks, [insert your name] shifted multiple contexts within your culture. Contexts that better served the emerging world of work. They moved the conversation from engagement to enchantment, from inclusion to intimacy, from systematic to serendipity. They inspired your tribe to build quadruple bottom lines that allowed for, that encouraged, that demanded, beauty as an ROI. 

[Insert your name]'s ideas, insights & ability to implement never before seen strategies spread like wildfire throughout the organisation. Before June 30th, 2017, you were not only positioned as the market leader in your industry but a shining example of what's possible for all business in the emerging economic climate.

And all of this was made possible by you. By one simple choice you made. One innocent idea you had. To send them to The Business Romantic Event.

I'm writing on behalf of the future. I'm writing to ensure you make this decision again. Because the future of all of those listed above depends on it. But this time, we want to go further. This time, sending [insert your name] is only the beginning. This time, to embed the learning, to accelerate the outcomes, it's time to send a team.

A handpicked supergroup of misfits & mavericks, rebels & renegades, outliers and original thinkers that are already walking your company corridors. You know them, you know there's so much more to them, you know that if you could tap even an inch of their potential you'd be unstoppable.

Find them. Unite them. Then send them along with [insert your name] to The Business Romantic Event.

You'll thank you for it at a later now.

Yours in gratitude,

The Future You

Is Your Company Ready For This Conversation?

There's a conversation we need to have.

As individuals and companies,

as leaders, entrepreneurs and communities.

 

It's messy, uncomfortable and ambiguous.

It's delicate, disorientating and dangerous.

 

It asks us to park our position,

jettison our judgement,

and just be with what's there.

be with what's missing,

be with each other.

 

This kind of conversation changes people.

It changes companies and communities,

heals wounds & opens possibilities.

 

This kind of conversation can only be had

in ways that evoke this kind of conversation.

 

For this kind of conversation to take place

the atmosphere around it is just as important 

as the content within it.

 

The people listening are just as important 

as the people speaking.

 

All pretence must perish

in service of the space.

All intent must be to serve

what is waiting

and wanting to emerge.

 

For this kind of conversation to take place

we must feel safe enough to be stretched,

familiar enough to go far-fetched,

comfortable enough that we welcome confrontation,

with opens arms and ears

to find out where the truth is.

 

Cause we all should want the truth.

No matter how ugly.

 

Most companies think they're ready

for this kind of conversation.

They speak as though they want 

this kind of conversation.

They declare that this kind of conversation

will be the panacea to get them

precisely where they want and need to go.

 

But this kind of conversation cannot be controlled.

Cannot be used, exploited, manipulated or cajoled.

This kind of conversation exists beyond strategic timelines,

and the only way to have it is to find a group of people who demand it.

 

People who are willing to give into it,

To trust, to love, to honour it.

Wholeheartedly.

Authentically.

Relentlessly.

 

People, like you.

 

This event, this conversation, this economy, this situation,

cannot be shifted, cannot be changed, cannot be transformed

without you.

 

And you know this.

And you know that I know this.

So now is the time for you to choose.

 

Will you help us

have the conversation

that could save us.

Can Business be Beautiful? Should It?

I have a request,

that doubles as an invitation,

and triples as an opportunity.

 

If you work for an organisation,

or your own hand-made vocation,

but your unique contribution,

exists beyond, 

what’s printed on,

your job description.

 

If the real value that you bring,

cannot be measured by machines,

if who you are, 

stands firm in contrast,

to the status quo in everything,

Then I have a gift for you.

 

A way to find more people like you.

A sacred space to dance & swoon,

with conversations that until now,

have been laughed or locked outside, 

the company boardroom. 

 

We’ve built a temporary home,

for those who seek a way to know,

the best way forward, 

through a time with no clear path.

 

We’ve gathered visionary folks,

who work to keep the world afloat,

who won’t submit, consent or bow,

to half the stuff that’s happening now,

 

Who stand up tall and then stare down,

the divisive, transactional,

reductionist, impersonal,

sanitised and clinical 

approach to work

that the rest of us 

have clearly outgrown.

 

This event is for the people,

who believe business can be beautiful,

who strive for serendipity

design for enterprise artistry,

who encourage those they touch,

to put a little more love,

into the way they make a crust.

 

Because this,

this is our chance,

to bring a little business romance.

 

Will you join us?

Why Romance Will Save Us

Life is inherently romantic.

Rich in sensory experience,

visceral by design,

laced with serendipity,

infused with enchantment.

 

Full of drama that yearns

to be played,

to be felt,

to be given away.

 

Every moment,

every meeting,

every everything.

 

Romantic.

 

Why should work be any different?

 

The drive to optimise every inch

of our workplace experience

is surely done.

 

With scientific eyes,

we've let the natural world,

inspire & inform our business thinking.

 

We've looked deep into the essence of existence,

repurposed the organic blueprint,

for exponentially outstanding results.

 

We've learned that our return,

to who we've always been

is always the best 'innovation'. 

 

But there is more.

There is a final frontier.

And all our worlds are pulling us toward it.

 

It's been the stuff that gets laughed,

or locked out of the boardroom.

It's the stuff that 'sounds great in theory',

but is hard to sell to the stakeholders.

 

It's the stuff that actually makes the difference,

but oh so few of us are willing,

to witness it

to name it,

to own it,

to be it.

 

It's the romance.

 

The beauty of being,

the deliciousness of our days,

the spontaneous flickers of intimacy,

between colleagues,

between strangers.

 

It's everything we are anyway.

Even when we're trying so hard not to be.

 

As our lives become more digital,

more sanitised and impersonal,

as we seek to measure, automate & scale

every whisper of our experience,

something meaningful

yet unquantifiable is lost.

But now,

it's time to bring it back. 

It gives me great pleasure to announce, in partnership with Talking SticksThe Business Romantic 2017 Oz Tour.

A one-day conference for the brave exploring the radical humanisation of the workplace.

Featuring the international best-selling author of The Business Romantic, 3 x time TED speaker & strategic advisor to the world's biggest brands, Tim Leberecht.

Designed for conscious, influential & innovative business leaders looking to build beautiful organisations and create meaningful work.

March 27th 2017, Sydney + March 31st 2017, Melbourne

Click here to get more details, grab your tickets and get excited!

 

A message to The Business Romantic Ticket Holders

You.

Beautiful you.

Courageous, fortuitous, effortless you that has found yourself in possession of a ticket to The Business Romantic Event.

Thank you. We see you. We’re ready for you.

Your ticket guarantees you access to a growing tribe of mavericks & misfits, rebels & renegades, outliers & original thinkers, who are committed to the radical humanisation of the workplace.

Your ticket guarantees you access to deep, emergent & intentional conversations that will soon become foundational for success in the emerging economic climate.

Your ticket guarantees you the opportunity to co-create with a room of conscious, innovative, and influential business leaders looking to build meaningful organisations & create meaningful work.

But with your ticket comes a responsibility, wrapped in an opportunity, baked in an invitation.

Who you are & who you show up as at these events will shape the atmosphere of this experience. Both for you and the others in the room.

There is no right or wrong, no rules or requirements, with how you interact with the space and those within it.

There is simply  an opportunity.

To be aware, to be generous, to be open, to be full of gratitude, to be bold, brave and brilliant, to be unapologetically you, all in service of something greater.

Sure, we’ll be discussing AI, social capital, innovation, culture dynamics, talent acquisition & employer branding, but really we’re just talking about people.

The vast, vibrant and varied spectrum of  the human experience

So keep that in mind as we race toward something different. Something we can choose to make different. Something we can own, embody and implement out there in the market.

This is our chance to dance and the beginning of an underground movement of makers, shakers and risk-takers, committed to making business, a little more beautiful.


*** If you didn't watch the video you would have missed the best bit.***

To help cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude, generosity, and co-creation we're inviting attendees to bring a gift for another attendee. Someone you've never met.

Something you made, or bought, or borrowed. Something meaningful, or playful, or inconsequential. Something beautiful, romantic or enchanting. Something tangible or imaginary or in between.

Something that's come from you.

Remember, this is an invitation, not a request. There is no obligation to bring a gift. No requirement. It is merely an opportunity to lean into romance, step further into self-expression, to consciously and intentionally bring more beauty to the experience.

I dare you.

Why do we need proof?

We all need proof. 
 

Before we work with someone, or attend an event
Before we click on a link, or consume some content.

We read the reviews, we ask around
We do our due diligence to determine
If this right here is worthy
 Of our time
Of our attention
Of our hard earned cash.

There’s nothing outrageously wrong with that
Our time is precious, our lives are important
Our choice of who, to give ourselves to
Shapes the essence of our experience. 

But as the earth is to sky, there is shadow and light
And by holding on so tight to our pretty little lives
We might be giving away more than we realise. 

Let’s say it worked. 
That I believed in what I bought before I bought it
My work is done
Now it’s up to them
To the event, to the content
To the device I paid a hefty little price for. 

Or let’s say I’m still not sold. 
But alas I have been told
I must attend this team event
There is no way to circumvent
So with arms crossed and furrowed brow
I wait impatiently to be wowed
And again, my work is done
It’s up to them.

Either way, I am a passenger. 
Waiting to be driven. 
Waiting to be taught, to be told and to be led. 

Either way, I play no role
Take no responsibility
 For contributing to that which seeks to serve
The softer side of me. 

My expectation of the world
To save me, to entertain me
To fix, shift and change me
Is stopping it from ever happening to me. 

I might’ve bought a ticket
Paid for seats up front or even
Gone as far as finding something that is guaranteed to work. 

 

But then I wait.

 

 

 

 

To be taught, to be told, to be led. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not working. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s their fault. 

I WANT MY MONEY BACK

And I’ll tell everyone how terrible they are.

 

 

 

Waaaaaaaaa

 

 

 

HMPH!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hmm…

 

Maybe proof has less to do
With them and more to do with you

Sure we all want to get value
Get the most out of our buck
Know that they, the ones that sold me
Really do give two f@#ks
But truthfully
You can find a Phd in anything
If you’re willing.

You can learn before, beyond and between
What you paid for.
You can turn a waste of time
Into the moment that defines
Your future life.

 

That’s how powerful you are.

 


If you are willing…

Shift your body side to side of what you’re facing
Move from waiting, to participating
Be a consumer and a contribution
And you’ll amplify and own your own evolution.

From there
The whole wide world becomes every possible solution
And then some.

I love listening to great songwriters
Speaking lightly of their lyrics
Never giving up the meaning
That they found embedded in them

See they’re wise enough
And selfless enough
To leave the meaning
Up to us

Inviting our own heart and mind
To feel, to seek, to connect and find
The authentic subjective significance
Of our own embodied experience

Then the song becomes ours
The meaning we make becomes ours
The action we take becomes ours
We get to own ourselves again

Let us not wait
To be taught, to be told, to be led
Let us learn out loud together
Side by side with every teacher
Build on all that we are given
All we pay for and we sit in
Go beyond the proof
And turn each moment into moments we will remember.

The Art Of Ownership

As leaders it’s vital to keep one eye on your organisation, one eye on the market and a third eye on growing your own leadership capability.

Traditional leadership models and methodologies have served us well but as our economy shifts from industrial to information to experience we need to look further.

One area that has been largely overlooked is the Arts

Art and business have long been at odds. Outside of the creative industries, investing in your imagination has been a hard sell. Especially when measured against leadership qualities like productivity and efficiency. 

But all that is starting to change. According to the Foundation for Young Australians, which looked at the data of over 4.2 million job listings in the last 3 years, any job that listed creativity as an attribute had an average salary boost of $3,129 p.a

Couple that with the World Economic Forum placing Creativity as the 10th most important skill for contemporary leadership in 2015. And even more important, predict it will skyrocket to number 3 by 2020. 

The world has spoken. Creativity is in and Art is a great place to go to get skilled up.

Problem is, learning to play an instrument, or work with watercolour, takes years. But as leaders, we don’t have years. We need to find ways to lead more creatively TODAY and preferably without having to hammer out scales for hours on end. 

Thankfully there is something we can do. And it’s less about learning and all about owning that we already are an Artist.

Truth is, you don’t have to make Art to feel, act and lead like an Artist. Art is largely just an attitude. In the words of a talented young gypsy and acclaimed author of Just Do 5omething, ‘Art is not something you do, but something you are’.

Even more interestingly, just entertaining the idea that you are a ‘Creative type’ you’ll open your mind up to thinking in more creative ways. 

In a recent study called, The Creative Stereotype Effect,researches at the University of Georgia found that thinking of yourself as an Artist (or Creative Stereotype) before being tested resulted in significant increases in divergent thinking. 

By owning your Artistry you allow it to emerge. 

It's kind of like Morpheus beloowing at Neo in the Matrix, 'stop trying to hit me and hit me!'

Perhaps it's time we stopped thinking of ourselves as uncreative, and just owned that we are...

We’ve seen similar cognitive hacks in the way an athlete would mentally rehearse for a big race. By imagining every detail of a successful run they hope to pre-emptively embed the experience of high performance into their neural pathways. 

To be clear, there is no substitute for time and experience. Just like a long marriage, there is a depth to lasting love that can’t be hacked or hurried. For real results in building your Creative Leadership I recommend actively engaging in more Art. 

But in the meantime, when faced with the mayhem of next Monday morning, why not strut into the office like Hendrix and let the voodoo magic of owning your Artistry drive a different & divergent kind of result. 

What's keeping you in 'the box'?

We need our people to 'think outside the box'

I hear this a lot.
I read this a lot.
I get asked by directors & biz owners
to help their people do this a lot.

And so we should.
As experts, executives & entrepreneurs,
as directors, leaders, freelancing creatives, 
There is no greater task,
no greater opportunity,
no greater advantage,
than developing our ability to
'think outside the box'.

But here's the skinny.

Forget about the studies & stats,
the tips and techniques,
the experts with all answers on how to,
'unlock your capacity for innovation'.

Here's the truth of it.
Let's just call it as we see it. 

You're afraid of what I will think,
about what you create.

You're worried that your idea,
might render you obsolete,
to me

You're terrified that if you really revealed
that silly, incomplete, first attempt
at an 'innovation,
I'd laugh,
then pack up all my love,
and leave.

Make no mistake, 
your self-expression is stifled,
your creativity is clogged,
your ability to 'think outside the box' is stopped,
because of how you feel
about how I feel
about you. 

But it's okay.
You're not alone in this.
I'm scared to.
Of you.

Of what you'll think of my idea.
Of whether you'll laugh at my two cents.
Of how quickly you'll wind back your love for me,
and give it to someone else
who is better, smarter, cooler,
more creative, more fun,
more everything.

Than me. 

Despite everyone's best efforts,
we can't outrun our humanity,
we still can't hack our biology,
we care an awful lot
about each other's thoughts.

The truth is,
the breakthrough innovations
that will transform your company,
the left field ideas
that will skyrocket your career,
the once in a lifetime opportunities,
that linger in the atmosphere of your life,
are being lost.

And as a result,
everybody loses. 

So what can we do?
The obvious answer is to put some
skin in the game.
To put your hand up and to play, 
say yes to karaoke,
and why not to every opportunity,
that comes your way.

But that might be a stretch,
there's a lot we have suppressed.
We've got some ground to cover,
to recover
all of our liberated selves.

So in the meantime,
try this.

Look for those around you,
who are stepping beyond their known.
Who are inching bit by bit to somewhere unfamiliar.
Listen for those that are trying,
that are somehow finding the courage to play,
even when every cell in their body says
'no farken way!'.

Find those people and LOVE them hard.
Let them know that you see them.
That you are inspired by them.
That who they are and what they're doing is magnificent.
That who they are and what they're doing makes a difference.
That who they are and what they're doing makes it easier for you,
to do the same.

Cause remember, 
in that moment,
they're probably terrified,
of you.

When they share their idea,
however messy and unkempt,
they're on a ledge,
naked and alone,
and the best thing you can do,
is let them know,
how much they move you!

That'll keep the conversation going,
keep the group's ideas flowing,
 keep the vibe alive
for sharing without caring.

And over time,
when you're ready to have a crack,
to throw your hat into the ring
and sing,
those that went before you,
will have your back.