16 julio 2005


[En el año 2004, el Prof. Jeffrey Pfeffer de la School of Business (Stanford University) fue el primer ponente en la Cátedra Rafael Escolá de Ética Profesional, en la Escuela de Ingenieros TECNUN (Universidad de Navarra) con la lección titulada "How Economic Language and Assumptions Undermine Ethics: Rediscovering Human Values" (cfr. # 102). En este año 2005, uno de los ponentes de la segunda lección conmemorativa ha sido Charles Handy, autor de algunos de los artículos y libros más influyentes de las últimas décadas en el mundo de la empresa. Después de trabajar diez años para la Shell International, Handy estuvo un tiempo en la Sloan School of Management del MIT para preparar, en 1967, los fundamentos de la London Business School. Desde los años 80 se dedica en exclusiva, como freelancer, a la consultoria de empresas y a escribir no sólo sobre el mundo del trabajo sino sobre la sociedad en general. Algunos de los títulos más conocidos son los siguientes: "The Age of Paradox", "Age of Unreason", "Beyond Certainty: The Changing Worlds of Organizations", "The Elephant and the Flea", "Gods of Management: The Changing Work of Organizations", "The Hungry Spirit: Beyond Capitalism: A Quest for Purpose in the Modern World", "Inside Organizations: 21 Ideas for Managers", "21 Ideas for Managers: Practical Wisdom for Managing Your Company and Yourself", "The New Alchemists", "Understanding Organizations", "Waiting for the Mountain to Move: Reflections on Work and Life". El otro ponente de este año ha sido Rafael Termes (cfr. # 192). Ambos textos están publicados en Tecnun Journal num. 2 (Junio 2005). Las fotografías son de Elisabeth Handy.]

#191 ::Varios Categoria-Varios: Etica y Antropologia

por Charles Handy

I feel it a great pleasure and privilege to be here in this lovely city with such lovely weather; a shame we are inside!

I have to tell you that my mother would be very pleased that I am here if she were alive. When I went to University to study Greek and Latin and Philosophy she was a little disappointed, because her father was an engineer. He had actually been responsible for building the lighthouses around the West Coast of Ireland. So if you sail to Europe from America the first light you see would be from a lighthouse built by my grandfather. I think she thought that studying Philosophy was not as high a distinction as building a lighthouse. So she would be pleased to see me if she were alive today, standing in front of engineers and talking about moral things. When I started thinking about this talk, I decided that really the more accurate description would be the moral dilemmas of a modern society, which actually underlie what we mean by success. And so I have identified ten dilemmas, which I am going to share with you this morning.

I call myself a social philosopher. Philosophers are people who ask the difficult questions, and never provide you with the answer; because the answers have to be made not by me or any philosopher, but by you. And if they provide you with the answer, it still is not the right ultimate answer. For instance, if Aristotle —who is in a sense, the philosophers’ philosopher— were here today; and you asked him; “Señor Aristotle, what is the purpose of life?” He would probably say to you: “It is happiness”. But that still leaves a question, what is happiness for you? Actually, it would be a mistranslation of the Greek word that he’d use, eudaimonia, which more accurately translated, means “flourishing”. So the purpose of your life and success in your life is to flourish, but only you can answer what that means for you. I, the philosopher, Aristotle the philosopher, can only insist that you answer the question. I can’t answer it for you. So I have 10 questions for you, and no answers.

What is success today? Only you can answer it, but let me go through what I see as the moral dilemmas of our modern life and work. I have three sets. I have first of all the dilemmas of Capitalism: the big ones. Then I have the dilemmas for a manager. And then I have the dilemmas for you as an individual.

1. These are the big dilemmas of Capitalism

1.1 First moral dilemma of Capitalism:

Adam Smith, in a sense the founding father of capitalist economics, legitimised selfishness in a way. But the people who quote Adam Smith and the Wealth of Nations, his great book, should first of all read his other book, the book he wrote first, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which he said that a successful society needs to have sympathy and care for one’s neighbours. So he wasn’t actually about selfishness. But one bit nobody would have read, at least nobody that I have met would ever have read is something that Adam Smith also said, because he was a wise man: “a profitable speculation is presented as a public good because growth will stimulate demand and everywhere diffuse comfort and improvement. No patriot or man of feeling could therefore oppose it. But the nature of this growth, in opposition, for example, to liberal ideas such as cultivation, is that it is undirected and infinitely self-generating in the endless demand for all the useless things in the world”.

If you go into the average shopping mall or airport shopping area today, Adam Smith you would be horrified at the clutter of useless things we are asked to buy. There is a great problem in economics. If we go on trying to stimulate consumption by manufacturing and selling more useless things, we shall actually run out of desire. We will not want to buy these things. This has already happened in Japan. For the past ten years people have refused to spend more money; they saved it instead, because there was nothing they wanted to buy. The Japanese have invented a word for these useless things. They call them “chindogu”, meaning trivial little things. But my favourite example from Japan were windscreen wipers for your spectacles, in case you go out in the rain; the sort of things you give people in their Christmas stockings; things that you don’t need and really don’t want.

Now I appeal to you as engineers: please, make it your job never to make anything useless. Please, make only useful things. And please, believe in cultivation. Please make your cities beautiful. Please, make things that are beautiful in themselves, that are well designed, that not only work well, but also look good. Things that are pleasant to feel, pleasant to use. Please make no more useless things or the world —the economy— will collapse as we run out of desire. This is a moral choice that you could make. So, Adam Smith, we will try to make sure that your prophecy does not come true.

1.2 Second moral dilemma of Capitalism:

Then we still have to deal with my second moral dilemma and that’s the Paradox of Growth.

It seems to me inevitably true — perhaps “inevitably” is not the right word, but so far, it has proved true— that the faster an economy grows, the bigger grows the gap between the top and the bottom. It’s not that those at the bottom don’t get richer when the economy grows. Everybody gets a little richer. But the richer ones, the top 10%, get much richer than the bottom 10%. And the bottom 10% do not feel richer because we don’t look backwards at what our parents had. We don’t look backwards to five years ago: we look to our neighbours. We see this growing disproportion between the people who earn the money at the top of our organisations, and those at the bottom. Now you are a just society in Spain. But you will know that in America the average salaries of the Chief Executive Officers of the Fortune top one hundred companies is now 450 times bigger than the average wage at the bottom. Plato recommended that that should be 4 times. But of course that was long ago and the world was much smaller. But from 4 to 450, should that be right? So, I appeal to you engineers, ex- engineers, managers, leaders; please restrain yourselves. It does not do you any good. Nobody would admire you for the amount of money you tuck away in your wallets.

Capitalism may actually destroy yourselves if it is seen that the people that are at the top bit make so much more than the people at the bottom. What can you do about it? First of all, I would say: restrain yourselves. In Britain the argument is: we must pay our top executives as much as they pay them in America, because otherwise our top executives will go to America. Well, actually, nobody is asking them to come to America, they are not that good. So this is an excuse. As you know, in our remuneration committees they are always the same people, so if I get 20% more then I give you 20% more. So restrain yourselves, please, if you are at the top.

Secondly, is it moral to pay your taxes? Because governments can do something to make sure that those at the bottom get richer faster than those at the top. Amazingly this has just begun to happen in the last two years in Britain. The bottom 10% have got a little richer quicker than the top 10% —the gap is still enormous— but there’s still a little bit of redistribution going on, and that’s only possible if the people at the top pay their taxes. So don’t get your accountants working too hard. It would be immoral to let them pay your taxes.

Thirdly, if you have more than enough, please use the surplus for the benefit of others. Be philanthropists. Elizabeth my wife and I are conducting research for a new book which is what we call The New Philanthropists: people who are making money young, which is happening in Britain now, and have more money than they need at the age of 40 or 45. Some of them are using that surplus money, and some of their surplus time, to make good causes happen on the world around them; to start things that the government isn’t doing; to fill the gaps in social provision; to actually take up particular causes that are close to their hearts. They are using their entrepreneurial business skills, as well as their money. They are not waiting until they are long past retiring to actually work and share all as they used to do, or engage in what is called post-mortem financial planning: waiting until they are dead to write out cheques. Please, if you have more than enough, do something useful with it, for the good of others.

1.3 Third moral dilemma of Capitalism:

The third great dilemma of capitalism is Karl Marx’s legacy. Karl Max said that the world would be a better place when the workers owned the means of production. Of course, we all know that he meant that they should own the factories and that they should own the shares that own the factories. But that never happened. And probably should never happen. But, if you think about it, the workers now do own the means of production, because the means of production, the assets of any corporation really are here, in the heads and the knowledge and the skills of the people in their organization. You are the means of production in the modern world. Now, this produces an interesting dilemma: who owns you? Is it right that financiers; people who own shares actually own you, the assets of the organization? When people own people we call it slavery. Of course this is mitigated slavery but, nevertheless, I think we are going to see a shift in the balance of power from the people who finance the business to the people who make the business happen and create the real value for that business: the workers, particularly the skilled workers. One other interesting thing is going to happen as a consequence of Karl Marx’s prediction is that some of those people with the skills and with the assets in themselves, in their heads and in their bodies and in their hands would say “why am I selling all my intellectual property to the organization in return for a not very adequate salary?” Aren’t they getting too good a value? Since I have contributed more to the added value of this organization than the financiers and shareholders, shouldn’t I have as much right to the profits and added value of the organization as they do? If they are not going to give me a share of those profits, well then, I think I might walk outside the organization, and actually sell my skills and my talents and my intellectual property back to them from the outside.

That’s what I did when I decided to write a book. It’s not good, as you will know, writing a book unless you have somebody to print it and someone to distribute it and someone to sell it. So I needed an organization. I found one, called Random House, which is the biggest publishing house in the world. It is an elephant. But they don’t employ me. I own my own intellectual property and I have an arrangement with them whereby for every book that they sell I get 10%, a share of the added value. And when you come to think about it, all the intellectual property of Random House, this huge elephant, is outside the organization. None of the authors are employed by the organization. Increasingly I can see architects, lawyers, engineers, doctors, all sorts of people saying “I think I’ll take my skills outside and send them back to you in return for share of the added value”, and they’ve improved. So organizations have a moral dilemma. Do they keep these people inside of them, and try to buy their loyalty for a little money, or do they actually treat them as the real owners of the assets of the organization and give them a share the money? Because if they don’t then they will leave. These will become the affluent successful fleas that I write about in this book, The elephant and the flea. My prediction is that there are going to be more and more fleas in the world. Governments don’t like that, organizations don’t like that, and not every individual would like that because you are swapping freedom and independence for security. At a certain stage in life you would prefer security to freedom, but you are selling your assets cheap if you do. This is the interesting moral dilemma for individuals and for organizations.

2. Dilemmas for Managers:

Let me turn to your dilemmas as a manager, because if you’re not yet a manager I think that you will soon be. Because, as I understand it, the preferred route to management in Spain has always traditionally been through engineering. In Spain, I understand, engineers are highly valued people. In Britain they are just mechanics. In Britain, the preferred route into management, until business schools came along recently, was through accountancy. That’s why my best friends are accountants. They are wonderful people but accountants traditionally look backwards not forward. Accountants traditionally only look at numbers or money and not at people; and accountants don’t like risk. Three things that make them very bad people. So, you are fortunate, in that you have engineers at the top of your organizations whereas we in Britain for a long time only had accountants. Nevertheless, we still have these dilemmas, when you get there, whatever you are, whether an engineer or not.

2.1 First dilemma for Managers:

Jeffrey Pfeffer, St Augustine and George Bernard Shaw. What, you may say, an unlikely trinity is that. But, actually, they are all connected, let me explain. Jeffrey Pfeffer, as those of you who were here last year will remember, said quite correctly that the ends of the operation do not always justify the means. It’s not enough to pursue the right end: you must also have the right values, and do the right things, to get there. He gave lots of nice long words for it, but that was basically what he was saying. You must do right as well as doing it for the right purposes. But actually, it is more important than that. He was saying that making money does not justify anything; you still have to be good while you make money. I think that making money is not an end for an organization. It is the means to something bigger. In an organisation, be it a business or not, we need money. We have to make money and we have to make more money next year than last year in order to grow and in order to survive. But that is not the purpose of the organization, nor should it be the purpose of business. The purpose of business should be bigger. The profit is the means to growth, to survival, to do it better than you have been doing. It is not the end. St Augustine said it was a moral sin to confuse the ends and the means. And that, I think, is what a lot of our business people do, at least in Britain. The profit is the means and not the end. The end should be something bigger. If I can give you a more homely example. We need food to live, but if we reverse it and make the food the object of life. If we live in order to eat —after two days in San Sebastián, I think it will happen— we would get very large, we would become gross. It’s the wrong way round: we eat to live, we don’t live to eat. We make money to do better business. We do not do better business to make money. That is the corruption of capitalism.

George Bernard Shaw wrote: “this is the true joy of life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrappy, the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy …The only real tragedy in life is being used by personally motivated men for purposes that you recognise to be base”. Now, I have to say, it’s a very odd thing, because George Bernard Shaw never went further than the garden shed where he wrote his great plays and he never worked in a business organization. But, nevertheless, what he says rings true in my ears. I have myself seen people working in a business organisation where they feel they are being used by personally motivated people for purposes that they consider base. So, the challenge —the moral challenge—, I think, for any leader in any business is to have a mighty purpose that will motivate and lift everyone up. It becomes what our previous speaker (Rafael Termes) so well said, an intrinsic motivation rather than an extrinsic one. If you look at all the studies of the great groups in the world they didn’t work for money. They worked for a cause. They worked for something they believed in, something they were passionate about. The challenge for leaders, and you will all become leaders, is to create a mighty purpose, to lift your people up and, without that, capitalism becomes a base activity in my view.

2.2 Second dilemma for Managers:

Now, we’ve got number five of my ten dilemmas: Pope Leo X and the doughnut. Again you may think this is an unworthy comparison of the great Renaissance Pope, the Medici. As I understand, Pope Leo X was the first one to publicly promulgate the doctrine of subsidiarity. You are now all familiar with it, of course, and its political use in the European Union. And none of my working friends can spell it or understand it. They call it “subsidiary” and they wonder why I cannot spell it properly. But you will know that Pope Leo X said that it is against right moral order for a higher body to take unto itself responsibilities that properly belong to a lower body. Or the example that he used: it is wrong for the State to do what the family does better. Now I’m not talking politics, I’m not talking about the European Union, or about Spain or the Federation of Spain, I am actually talking about the organization and I translate subsidiarity to be stealing people’s choices is morally wrong.

Let me give you an example. Our daughter, aged 23 some years ago, decided to go into business. She was a masseur at the time. She was very good at making you feel good with your body. And she decided to set up a little business in which she would hire a lot of other masseurs who would go into organizations, particularly banks, and places where people sat at their desks all day long, and rub their shoulders and it would be a fringe benefit, a health benefit from the organization. At one time, she had something like 80 people working for her. As a parent I was very worried about this because, though she was a good masseur, she knew nothing about business or about management but, luckily, she had a father, didn’t she? A father who wrote books about business and management. So maybe she would come and talk to her father. No, nor did she ask for my books. So what does one do? I thought “well, I’m worried, I wonder if she’s got the right insurance policies, I wonder if she’s charging the right rates, I wonder if she’s paying her people properly, I wonder if she knows anything about running a business”. So then I thought “well, I’d better go to her”. But then I drew back, and I said "what if I go to her and try to tell her what to do, she may well say two things: ‘Dad, if you want to run it, why don’t you run it, if you know it so well?’ or she would say: ‘I don’t want to speak to you again, it’s my business’. In other words, I don’t think I would have helped. Then I remembered Pope Leo X and I thought, “If I go and interfere with her business I am stealing her responsibilities, I am stealing her choices”. And I made a rule to myself: I would never give her advice unless she asks for it, which is very difficult to do if you are a worried parent of a 23-year- old daughter, I promise you.

I think a lot of organizations are full of false subsidiarity, of people who are stealing people’s choices. And that is a moral problem, says Pope Leo X. I have to say, a lot of organizations that I know in Britain are full of sin in that sense: a lot of people are being acquitted of their responsibilities. So what do we do about it? Now this is where the doughnut comes in. This is my favourite management theory.

This is an English sort of doughnut; this is the jam in the middle of the outer circle and this is the space in the centre (the inner circle). This is a very respectable way of describing it but it’s very important. Now, this is your job, this is the job for your group. In your job there will be a core (the inner circle), which you have been told to do and, if you don’t do that, you would have failed. In a smart organization you would have some kind of job description or objectives or something: it will be written down; but even if it isn’t you will know what it is, what you’ve got to do or you would have failed. The snag is that even if you do all, you will not have succeeded, because you will have been expected to fill up the rest of your doughnut. The trouble is: no one knows what’s there (the outer area). If they knew what they wanted you to do there, they’d have told you. You have to use your imagination and your initiative: this is your responsibility. And from your outer limits to it, you are expected to fill it, not just to do the job. This is what people like.

I once had a job —I think I recount it in this book (The Elephant and the Flea)— when I was working for Shell, back in London, and it was a very grand title: I was regional coordinator, oil, Mediterranean region, excluding France. I impressed my friends at dinner parties when I was 27 years old. I had three pages of a job description. Those three pages told me everything I had to do. This was the core of my doughnut. Then at the bottom there was a paragraph. “Authorities”, it said, “Authority to initiate expenditure up to a maximum of 10 pounds”. This was the outer area in my doughnut. I did not think they understood me properly. I did not think they were practising subsidiarity. I was bored, I felt cheated, I left. Oh but before I left I had a chance to make sure they noticed me. One of my duties was to take all the requests for capital expenditure from the different countries and forward it to the right committee. One day I got a request from the Italian company to build a new refinery in the Bay of Naples. Now I knew the Bay of Naples, my classical education had imprinted its history on me. For the oil company to build a refinery there would be terrible! But I had no authority to take the decision: ten pounds; and this was going to cost more than ten pounds. But I could do something else. This was long ago, before e-mail. I took the requisition paper, tore it up and put it in the waste bin. After six weeks they thought something had gone wrong with the Italian mail and they sent it again with more copies to everybody and eventually they got the refinery, but for six weeks I delayed. I had negative power, not positive power. If you do not practise subsidiarity in your organization you are not only in sin but you are laying yourself open to other people using their negative power. It’s a moral dilemma.

If you wish to be a successful manager today, practise large doughnuts. And in order for that to happen you have to trust people. You have to rely on their loyalty and that they share your values and that they understand what success means for their organization. If you are a manager or a leader you must communicate all these things and you must be well enough known to them so that they can trust you. You can’t trust them unless they trust you. It’s difficult this subsidiarity thing. Very important, I think.

2.3 Third dilemma for Managers:

The sixth dilemma, the third for the manager. The Sigmoid curve and Rachel Whiteread. Now, this is your responsibility as a manager. This is your organization’s chart. Ok, the times may vary but, basically, in any organization that starts, there would be a dip where you spend more than you get in, by way of returns. In my case, this is the education bit, as it were. And then there is success. I don’t know how long it takes, but one day you and your organization will go down, unless you do something about it. Just doing the same will not work for very long. You have to be different. Otherwise, you die too soon. In your organization and in yourselves, you have to start a second curve. But, the trick is, you have to start it before the first one peaks, because otherwise you won’t have enough resources to start the second curve. If you wait longer, because you are frightened, then you are too late. You won’t have enough money; people would have left. It’s difficult to start later. But how do you know when you are there? Everything is going well; you haven’t seen the curve ahead.

As far as you are concerned this is going to go on forever, in your life or in your organization. So you have to be alert to the fact that at the moment of the greatest success you should be thinking how to be different.

This brings up the challenge that you have as a manager, that of Rachel Whiteread. Rachel is a British sculptor. She does very unusual works of art. This is one of them. Look at it carefully. Can you imagine what it is? What Rachel does is that she fills the spaces that we don’t see with a cement or plastic. What she’s done here, she’s found a staircase and she’s filled the space underneath with cement. Then she’s taken the staircase away. She’s made visible the empty space underneath the staircase. Very odd. Not really a thing of beauty but something that makes you think. I think that this is one of the functions of great art, it makes you think. It might have been beautiful as well but it is important that it makes you think. Why am I showing you this? Because Rachel has found a way of seeing something, of making us see something that wasn’t there. This was empty. She’s made space, emptiness, become visible. Now I am arguing that one of the responsibilities of managers is to keep the organization going forward. One of the responsibilities of an entrepreneur, of a great dean is to glimpse something that isn’t there and fill it.

Recently, I had the great privilege of interviewing Jeff Skoll. He was one of the two people who started eBay. Only 8 years ago, by the way, isn’t that amazing? Jeff was just finishing business school at Stanford University when he met Pierre Omidyar. Pierre Omidyar was a genius with little gadgets, electronic stuff. Pierre said to Jeff: “wouldn’t it be nice if people could buy and sell things on the internet?” And Jeff had just finished business school and said: “that’s a stupid idea” —he was a good business school student. But then he went to work for a newspaper company that wanted him to put some of their paper on the internet. This was back in 1995, ten years ago. And Jeff thought the most obvious thing that you would put on the internet would be the classified advertisements. But when he went to the people in charge of the classified advertisements in the newspaper room, they said: “don’t be ridiculous”. And Jeff thought “if they think it is ridiculous maybe it isn’t”. And he went back to Pierre and he said: “I know it’s not there, and nobody is doing it but I think it is there: Let’s do it!”

As you know it became the fastest growing business in the history of the world: First to reach one billion dollars in sales in under four years. They created a kind of social revolution, only because Jeff —not really Pierre, Pierre was good with the gadgets— saw the business potential. Jeff thought that, basically, people are good and that, provided there is total transparency, they will trust other people to be good and that the best way of establishing meaningful relationships between two adults is to trade. If everybody gets a good deal out of it, you have built a relationship, and the world is a better place. Ah but eBay makes money, but that was not really what they started to do. Jeff had no idea he was going to create the fastest growing business in history. In fact, after five years, he left. He recruited Meg Whitman to run it and said “I am leaving”. Meg said, “How can you leave the most successful business in history just when it is taking off?” “Well, I’ve made more money than I ever needed, I’m bored. I’ve got other things I want to do”. He wasn’t about making money. What I am saying is that he and Pierre, but basically Jeff, saw something that wasn’t there and made it happen.

Now, in a much smaller way, I think it is the job of leaders to glimpse that second curve, to find something that isn’t there and make it happen. That is a moral responsibility because otherwise the organization will die. Organizations are the only things, if you think about it, that could have immortality, that could live for ever, but only if they create endless second curves. And very few do. When Shell had to round up all the publicly owned companies that were more than one hundred years old in the world, a few years back, they found 28. I suppose the Catholic Church is the best example of a lasting organization. My Oxford College is 750 years old, not bad, but most organizations die. They could be immortal. And part of our responsibility, I think, is try and make them so.

3. Dilemmas for the Individuals:

3.1 First dilemma:

Now, finally, we have the dilemmas for the individuals. First one: Delhi, John Mc Laren and Elisabeth my wife. Again, an odd trinity, but let me tell you why they are connected. Elisabeth and I were in Delhi not too long ago, and we went into this little call centre. As we walked into this call centre in Delhi, you see over it, it says AOL and Dell. These are the companies that they worked for. All their customers, basically, are in America. The people in the call centre come to work at 8 o’clock at night because that’s when America is waking up. And they are Indians, they are qualified graduate Indians: a lot of women, and young men. And they come in dressed in their saris, with their nice Indian names and nice Indian voices and within half an hour they have practically become Americans. They wear jeans and T-shirts and they change their names to American names and they start talking with a slight American accent; because if you are an American in Kansas and you are calling a number that you think is in Kansas but actually is in Delhi, you really want to think you are speaking to an American. They are trained to watch American soaps, learn American geography, American words and become Americans. I think this is horrible because here are Indians becoming Americans while they are working in this call centre, and they have to change back to being Indians in their homes. Then I thought: “Aha, aha, when I see people wearing funny clothes when they walk into their office; they actually talk with a different voice and they behave slightly differently. Are you the same person at home and the same person in the office? Do you have the same values when you are a father or a mother or a brother or a sister? Or when you are the boss or the supervisor? Or are you two different people? Who are you? Are you changeable? Do your values change? How many people are you?”

This is John McLaren. You will see three people here. Three different people, but no, they are all John McLaren. John McLaren is a partner in a small tiny boutique investment bank. That’s him in the dark suit at the back of this (Handy is pointing at a picture). But John McLaren is also an enthusiastic amateur musician who actually launched a wonderful world wide competition to pick out the top seven new classical composers around the world once every three years, for a master a prize. But the largest bit of John McLaren is a prize-winning novelist. So they are all John McLaren but they weren’t three years before this picture was taken by Elisabeth. John was working all his time for Deutsche Morgan Grenfell as an investment banker; doing very well, I may say, but his whole life was taken over by Deutsche Morgan Grenfell. Then he decided “there’s more to me than the man in the dark suit. I am also a musician who wants to make a difference in the musical world; I’m also a novelist who wants to write books”. So he left Deutsche Morgan Grenfell and became three different people but still one person. Now the great danger with organizations is that we capture you and we don’t allow you to be fully yourselves. This is why someone like John becomes a flea. He doesn’t have to be a flea. Do you allow people in your organizations to be fully themselves? And who are you really anyway? Which is the bit of you that matters?

This is a self-portrait by Elisabeth my wife of herself. You can see the bit of her that she regards as the most important. This is Elisabeth the photographer. This is Elisabeth the homemaker and this is Elisabeth my manager, agent and office worker, the bit that is a necessity but is not at all important in her self-image of herself.

I would like to challenge you all to compose a photograph of yourselves and parade it around the place so that we really knew who you are, because you are probably three people. And a bit of you is a bit of you that you would rather not be doing, but you have to do because your material needs have to be met. You have to earn some money. But you are lucky if, while you are earning money, you are actually doing what you believe in. This is very important, to do what you really believe in.

3.2 Second dilemma for Individuals:

Next dilemma is Whistler’s mother, Joanna and Jeff Skoll again. You may have seen this portrait, Whistler’s mother. It is a famous painting by Whistler of his mother. She is a precious lady aged, as far as I can calculate, about 61 (in the last century, of course) And that’s indeed how my mother looked when she was 61. A nice lady but slightly, shall we say, old. This is what 61 looks like these days. This is one of a group of 28 women, that Elisabeth and I researched, and she photographed for a book that we called Reinventing Lives: women at 60. What we discovered for a whole generation of women in Britain a few years back, who had married in their twenties, had children and now are 60. In a sense they were relieved: they had no jobs, were retiring, the children had left home, the husbands had been parked and their dog died. They were free, and what did they do? They didn’t sit like Whistler’s mother, and wait to death sitting in an armchair. They started a new life. Somebody founded a restaurant, somebody founded a law firm, somebody had married another man, somebody divorced her husband. They reinvented their lives. They started new lives. Now, these were women at sixty. We now encourage every man we meet aged 58 to read this book, because we discovered that whereas women live for themselves, men on the whole do not. They just slow down. This is very interesting because we now have an extra ten years of life, somehow, this generation. If you are now thinking of retiring at 65 or maybe 62 or maybe you are being very adventurous and wish to retire at 60. You have 20 to 25 years left. Do you want to play golf everyday? This is your chance to have a second chance. In a sense this is your chance for redemption. If you haven’t got your life right the first time, now you can do it.

This is where Jeff Skoll comes in again. Jeff Skoll, he said to me: “you know, when I was 14 my father came home from work (he was a businessman) and he told us that he had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer” (in his forties) And “my father”, he said “was not upset about dying. He was upset because he hadn’t done all the things, in his life, that he had wanted to do”. This is the challenge. So many men I meet and some women, by the time they reach seventy or something, they still haven’t done many of the things they wanted to do in life. And now they are too tired. But we have the trust to make sure that we do not die without having done all the things that we ever dreamt of. I am going to make the pilgrims’ way to Santiago de Compostela. So this is your chance and, if you do not take it, I believe you are immoral, because you are not making the most of your life. It is your chance for redemption.

3.3 Third dilemma for Individuals:

The ninth dilemma is David Charter’s still-life. In this little book that Elisabeth and I are writing about philanthropists, people who have more than enough in middle life and are doing something with it. We asked them to give us, to give Elisabeth, five objects and a flower to describe their values in life: the things that matter to them. She then composes them into a picture of a still-life, after the Dutch paintings of the XVII century. Now this is David Charter’s. I have to explain. This is a photograph of his parents. They were very important in his life and the still are: they gave him his basic you may not be able to make the world or even San Sebastian a very much better place; but my God, you could have a try, and you don’t have to be wonderful. values. These are little bronze casts of his little sons, because his children, the next generation, are very important to him. The lily represents his love for his wife. The pen there represents how he made his money, because he was an investment banker and every time they made a deal in Japan worth many millions, of which he got a share, they gave him a pen, so he has a lot of pens. But the things that intrigued me were this and this. I said to David “what are those?” and he said, “well, these are my mother-in-law’s poker chips and that’s a bottle of the best champagne”, and I said, “a gambler and a drunkard? Not my image of you, David”. He said “no, no: the poker chips, they represent risk”. In everything you do in life, even in financial things, if there is not a risk of failure you haven’t pushed it far enough. You’ve been too comfortable, too safe; you haven’t mixed with all the possibilities. There must be risk in everything you do. Not too much risk, but risk. The fear of failure must be there. Secondly, everything you do must be worthy of public celebration. You must be proud of it when it happens. So risk and public celebration should be a measure of everything you do in life, otherwise you are not living life to the full. It’s a moral problem, I suspect, and success is all about all these things.

3.4 Fourth dilemma for Individuals:

And, finally, another trinity, Marsilio Ficino, Aristotle and Rabbi Susa:
Marsilio Ficino was the tutor to Cossimo de Medici and Lorenzo Medici. They had a little group in Florence in the Renaissance days of the XV century. He was the moral guardian, the guide. They asked him one day: “Marsilio, what is our duty in life?” and he said “it is your duty to bring your soul to light, so that all may see it”. Like all philosophers’ questions, this only begs another question. So “what, they said, is the soul?” “Ah!” he said, and they were expecting, I think, a great religious answer. And he said: “the soul is that which is potentially the greatest thing within you: your unique talent and gift; you must bring that to the light of day”. He would conclude: “that is your duty in life”. In those days: they were rediscovering the Greeks; he may have been reading Aristotle who had said, that the purpose of life is eudaimonia, properly translated as “flourishing”: using your talents to the full. And I’m trying to say to you: you may not be able to change the world; you may not be able to make the world or even San Sebastian a very much better place; but my god, you could have a try, and you don’t have to be wonderful.

You can just remember rabbi Susa. He said in a moment of self- revelation: “God will not ask me when I go to heaven why I was not Moses; he will ask me why I was not Susa”. Our challenge, our moral imperative in life, is to be fully ourselves, not someone else. I spent so much of my life pretending to be someone I wasn’t. In the end the truth is being true to yourself, your full self, your possible selves; and as Keats said: “Truth is beauty” even though you may not look like it, as in my case, “and beauty is truth”. Be yourselves as full as possible: that, in my view, is the new meaning of success in life, and always has been.

Thank you for being so patient with me.

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