IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Tribute to a hero: In memory of Anita Roddick
2. “How on Earth Can We Live Together” Tallberg Forum, Sweden
3. Leading with Soul: The 4th Annual Soul of Business Conference in JHB
4. Chocolate cake with a hero: A young fan meets bestselling children’s author Anthony Horowitz
1. In memory of Anita Roddick
A friend told me years ago that I was past the age when it was appropriate to be starstruck. But starstruck was how I felt when I met Anita Roddick six years ago in Johannesburg. I told her and she understood completely. Not as someone full of her own self-importance but as someone who understood the transformative power of heroes.
When I read her book Body and Soul in the early 80s, she changed how I felt about business forever. Now it’s hip to be socially responsible but when the first Body Shop opened in Brighton in 1976, Anita Roddick launched a revolution in business thinking.
Anita Roddick, Debby and Dunne Edelstein
In 2001 Anita came to South Africa to launch the first Body Shop in this country and to my great delight accepted our invitation to launch QualityLife Company’s Soul of Business Forum. Like everyone else there I was taken with her warmth and accessibility. She poured me coffee rather than the other way around and charmed all who met her with her down to earth but completely intoxicating passion. Everyone who attended the forum still talks about how she interrupted her address in a full auditorium to take a cellphone call from her husband Gordon – in full earshot of the audience.
Earlier this week I was interviewed by a woman’s magazine and one of the questions they asked me was to name a spiritually intelligent leader.
Although she saw herself more as an activist than as a spiritual leader, (in fact she suggested that it would serve us better to talk about the more sober notion of social responsibility than spirituality at work) there’s no doubt that Anita embodied spiritual intelligence. Her bold, radical vision inspired all who met her, she was almost religious in her zeal to make a difference to the world and she had the kind of passion for her life’s work which is best described as a calling.
The woman who was known to call captains of industry ‘dinosaurs in pinstriped suits’ and who was in turn described by them as both frenetic and self-righteous, made us realise that it was possible – and preferable – for compassion and profit to co-exist.
Her untimely death earlier this month (on the anniversary of 9/11) is a loss not just to her family and loved ones, but to the people around the world she has inspired and challenged for the last three decades.
I had hoped that one day she would return to South Africa to address a Soul of Business Conference. In fact the theme of last year’s conference was a tribute to the title of one of her books: Business Unusual. Instead we will all work hard to remember her many social contributions, her courage and her challenge to business as usual:
“I believe it is now more important than ever before for business to assume a moral leadership. The business of business should not be about money, it should be about responsibility. It should be about public good, not private greed,” Anita Roddick in Business Unusual (Thorsons)
2. “How on Earth Can We Live Together”. Feedback from The Tallberg Forum in Sweden
Once again this year I attended the Tallberg Forum, a five-day world leadership conference in Tallberg, Sweden with the theme “How on Earth Can We Live Together”. One of the speakers who received the most acclaim was Queen Rania of Jordan who gave the opening address. Referring to the famous Earthrise photo captured from Apollo 8 in 1968, she says that she wished it was enough to inspire world peace.
Almost four decades later, the dream of world peace is still to be reached she told the audience of over 1000 international attendees. She spoke about how we all need to work harder to see one another’s point of view to appreciate how our varied perspectives colour our sense of reality. “What we need is a different kind of global warming – a global warming of the heart,” she said. With climate change high on the agenda, it was the kind of soundbite which everyone remembered long after she spoke.
More information about some of the people I met in Tallberg will follow in the next QualityLife Company Journal.
3. Leading with Soul: The 4th Annual Soul of Business Conference in JHB
“Business is facing an existential crisis. Its failure to embrace a deeper purpose beyond profit-making has left many people wondering what the point is. In response to the growing sense of despondency, the business community is starting to look at alternatives that uphold truly responsible leadership. The annual Soul of Business conference is the vehicle that drives these conversations into more focused strategies.” Chantel Oosthuysen, writing for Succeed magazine.
In August, we held the 4th Annual Soul of Business Conference at Summer Place.
When we hosted the first conversation about soul in business seven years ago, talking about soul and business in the same sentence was almost anathema. Today there’s a vibrant community of business and thought leaders who are responsible for changing the business landscape.
More information about individual presentations will follow in future issues of this journal.
Look out too for the October issue of Succeed magazine where journalist Chantel Oosthuysen gives her impressions of the Soul of Business conference 2007.
4. My interview with Anthony Horowitz by Adam Edelstein
Anthony Horowitz is the internationally bestselling author of Stormbreaker – the book which has just managed to oust Harry Potter from the top spot in the UK. Adam Edelstein (11 years old) was the youngest journalist to interview Anthony during his visit to SA earlier this year. In addition to sharing chocolate cake with his hero, Adam learned first hand about the importance of doing work you love.
When mom told me I was going to have a private interview with Anthony Horowitz I was amazed. I couldn’t believe I was going to meet the person who had written most of my favourite novels. The Alex Rider series filled with action and suspense. The Five series filled with horror and magic. The books I loved so much. I was expecting a dark grim man with no sense of humour. Well did I get a surprise! Anthony Horowitz is an extremely funny man. He is very tall and is always smiling.
Adam Edelstein with Anthony Horowitz
We met him at the Grace Hotel in Rosebank. There was a cream carpet with golden mirrors, green curtains and beautiful mahogany desks. I first saw him outside the Grace restaurant. He was sitting at a separate section outside where there was one table and one chair. I couldn’t see him at first. He was hidden by the stone railing on the porch. Only when he came down to meet us did I see the tall dark figure wearing sunglasses walking down the steps.
Anthony told us about the ‘telepathy’ of writing and how when someone reads his book that person feels the emotions he felt when he wrote the book. The places Anthony puts in his books like ‘Night Rise’ are real. To research areas in his books he actually goes to the town or city, mountain or forest, to find out what it’s like. In ‘Night Rise’ there is a scene where the main character is in a prison. He says he had to go to the prison to find out what it was like and if he didn’t then he would probably put down what he saw in ‘Prison Break’, a long corridor lined with cells. He says that in fact it is very different.
He says to write is not about the money and if an author writes to make money he will never do truly well. Anthony writes because he enjoys it and he says instead of it being a discipline to sit down and write he finds it hard to not write and to stop writing. He has to remember he has a family and a wife and two kids. He also says you can’t force kids to read or give them books like you would prescribe vitamins. You can’t stop a child from reading. Even if it is a bad book it is still reading and at least it is a step.
When he wrote ‘Stormbreaker’ (the first book in the Alex Rider series) he said he felt a power when he wrote the first lines: “When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news.” He knew that it would be a good book. A bestseller even.
Anthony Horowitz one of my favourite authors is very good friends with Darren Shan another of my favourite authors. In all their books Darren writes he’s more famous then Anthony and in Anthony’s books he writes he’s more famous then Darren!
Anthony told me about his next book called ‘Yassan’ and asked if I thought it would be any good. He gave me some of the details and the basics which summed up most of the info. It sounded great. He also said he would put me in it! He said he didn’t know about my surname but that there was a good chance he would put Adam in the book!
Eight years ago, Debby and Dunne Edelstein founded Qualitylife Company, an alternative school for business. Through workshops, conferences like the annual Soul of Business conference, programmes, conversations and tailor-made interventions, QualityLife Company drives the Soul of Business conversation in SA. The first Soul of Business conference was held in 2004. Today there is a growing number of businesspeople in the country that forms a network of change agents and social entrepreneurs interested in creating new models of business. If you would like to find out more about how to bring soul to the workplace, visit www.qualitylife.co.za, send a blank e-mail or phone 011 880 9749