It’s a Wonderful Life.

We all feel that we are failures, at sometime in our lives. Things don’t work out, ideas or projects seem to fail in our eyes, or they take a lifetime to come to fruition. During that dark, seemingly hopeless period, it is imperative to keep the faith, eyes on the ball and keep tilling the soil. Shoots ultimately will come out.

Recently, my wife, Rieki,  experienced the ultimate Frank Capra “It’s a wonderful life” moment. My wife started a Hotel School in Bhutan, called the Bongde Institute for Hospitality and Tourism about 2 years ago.  She struggled continuously trying to get the school off the ground in a frontier market, with no funding, no infrastructure, no income, with continuous challenges and obstacles that she needed to overcome. Recently, she finally saw what she had created and what Jimmy Stewart felt like in It’s a Wonderful Life (Experiencing what would have happen if we didn’t exist).

To reward one of her best students, Kinley, Rieki decided to bring her to Amsterdam for an internship at a four star hotel in Amsterdam. This was the first time that Kinley was ever outstide of Bhutan. Kinley started working at the hotel and her work was exceptional. So exceptional, that one day a gentleman who was having a meal there, called her over and inquired about her background. He said “why is it that you are so good at your work in comparison with the rest of the food and beverage staff”. She said “I studied at the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism in Bhutan”. He said “WHAT. I want to meet the person who started that school”. A hotel school that trained its staff well and was based in Bhutan was quite a shock. It turns out that this man was a very successful hotelier, entrepreneur and had a large enterprise owning and operating 5 star hotels in Asia.

Rieki and the Hotelier met and he was overwhelmed by what Rieki had done and was planning to do next. He offered to take interns from her school, send equipment if needed, and wants to discuss collaboration on her hotel school in Bhutan, and potential hotel development in Bhutan. In addition, he was particularly interested in her next project. Building a working hotel school for the Governor of the Karen State in Myanmar to help the 100.000 refugees, and developing a culturally authentic and carbon neutral hospitality sector.

We are all an overnight success when we least expect it. Congrats Rieki and your Learning Exchange Foundation.

Sweden sets goal to phase out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045

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Empty Gestures

I am a huge fan of the tv show Curb Your Enthusiasm. The star and writer, Larry David, is brilliant in his ability to be brutally honest, awkward,  and totally embarrassing with his social dysfunctionality. However, the show makes you laugh, which is essential, these days.  If you never watched it, start today. Every time I am watching a television interview or listening to a podcast interview about something that I find important, I think of Larry David.

Most people being interviewed always say “that is a very good question” even if the question is stupid, useless, empty or just a dead end. What drives me crazy is the standard  one-two punch in responding to the interviewer. First “that is a very good question” then you hear “You know. It is very interesting…”, even if nothing is interesting, which they often prove with their answer. I often think that media advisors or other “experts” on not being authentic, train people with these two repetitive statements. Larry David’s does a brilliant parody on these empty comments.

Let’s  have a real dialogue where people say what they really think and challenge the interviewer in a polite, educational, and engaging way. Empty gestures don’t cut it and just dumbs us down. The stakes are too high and we need to be inspirational, thought provoking and laugh.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Come to TBLI EUROPE 2015, Nov. 19-20 in Zurich. You will  be inspired and have your thoughts challenged, and have a great time.

Guest Post Jochen Wermuth

The first Dow Jones Industrial Index only had steam engine rail companies in it, there were only horses on the roads and horse-whip-makers were great investments. Just a few years later there were no more horses on the road, no rail company in the Dow Jones – a new industrial revolution based on the combustion engine wiped out the old economy companies, with many losers and winners like the Rockefellers and JP Morgans at the time. A similar new industrial revolution is under way now with similarly large risks and opportunities.
With solar power being offered at $4cent/kWh in Austin Texas, a price with which oil could only compete at $7/barrel, the fossil fuel economy is dead. There will be huge changes in the world economy with many losers (the old oil, gas, coal companies and their related industries ) and many winners, the new Rockefellers. We  can stand at the spearhead of this new industrial revolution, allowing us to earn outstanding profits and at the same time generating a sustainable future for our planet.
On the risk side, there will have to be write-offs of $21 trillion in oil, gas and coal reserves by listed companies, as they will no longer be profitable to burn because greater energy efficiency and competition from renewables will drive down long-term fossil fuel prices. This is huge and compares to $15 trillion write-offs in the mortgage bubble.
On the opportunity side, emerging markets still consume 4x as much energy as we do say in Germany or in the EU. Thus bringing state-of-art products there we can make a lot of money and have a huge impact. With solar and wind-power now costing less than power from the grid there are also ample business opportunities across the world. Few have realized this, just as few realized for a long time that smoking was bad for your health…
Great background reading in this regard is the book “My indecent proposal to the German Chancellor” which tells the great success story of a farmer’s boy becoming the owner-manager of a multibillion dollar company in the renewable energy space and sets out the plan for Germany to become 100% renewable powered by 2020. A model for a successful business leader in the new industrial revolution, winning against all odds, and a model for any country in the world (in particular those with more sun) to follow.
As missing this opportunity may not only cost each of us money but could destroy life on our plante, my wife Sasha and I have shared with many of you a hard-copy of the book already. Given continued interest we have gotten the author to make the book available electronically and free of charge for TBLI Blog readers in return for my father having edited and translated it to English.
To download your complimentary copy of the Book in different “eBook” formats for almost any common reading device like Kindle, Tablets ( IOS Android ) or Smartphones, please visit There is also a pdf version for PC-, Mac and Linux Users available. If everything else fails, you can also find an adobe flash based ePaper Version that you can read online with any flash enabled Browser. If you have Problems downloading or opening your copy, please contact helmut.zengerling@wermutham.com.
Please have a look and enjoy!

Jochen Wermuth
Founding Partner and CIO
Wermuth Asset Management GmbH
www.wermutham.com
jwermuth@wermutham.com