I was giving a talk at the Impact Summit Zug, recently. The talk went exceptionally well and I got fantastic feedback. One friend, who recently left a major global bank to follow his heart, however, came up to me and said “you should be less cynical”. I thought about that and asked myself (love talking to myself as there are no interruptions) “was I cynical, or critical or negative, or positive or realistic, or just a pain in the ass”. The Dutch word for people like that is “lastig”.
After long reflection, I discovered that how people viewed me was a reflection as to where they were, with acceptance of Impact Investing. If they were authentic and truly committed to ESG and Impact Investing (Sustainable Finance), they found me honest and critical, but realistic and inspiring. If they were struggling with making the transition from “finance first” to “impact first”, then I appeared cynical or negative. Finally, the finance first, second and last group felt I was just a “pain in the ass who didn’t understand finance”.
I think I am all of the above, except I do understand finance. The question is what works in changing attitudes? Telling people that their children are ugly is not a way of winning friends. Agreed. What is the most effective way of convincing institutional investors that Impact Investing offers a wiser and more effective risk/reward by looking at all risks (social, environmental, governance and financial). Isn’t investing that benefits the investor, society and nature in the interests of all. Ultimately Impact is in everyone’s interests. The key is getting that message through. Until I find that magic brain triggering pill to transform the financial sector, immediately, to a more inclusive and value(s) based, I will remain being who I am. Whoever that is?
“Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.”
comI was in NY, with my family, to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday, a bit earlier than her actual birthday. She is quite amazing. Sharp as a tack and living by herself and completely taking care of herself (shopping, cleaning, and cooking) and us, of course. It was wonderful for us all and for Rachel, my mother, it was a mega treat. Thanks mom for everything, you did a great job.
One of the most insightful or special moments was going to the supermarket. We wanted to buy some beer which is a nightmare as there are hundreds of choices. Anyway, we went to the checkout to pay, and the greatest compliment and clear example what is wrong with America happened. I got carded. I said “what do you want? You want to see my ID to prove that I am over 21. Really. I guess all that walking and good food was helping”. Then I thought this absurd carding of someone who is 63 is what you get in rules based society.
Everywhere we went we were confronted with a rules based approach to everything. Restaurants that don’t have waiters but iPads to order and pay. Supposedly efficient but doesn’t give any advice and still asks for a 20% tip. A financial sector that is obsessed with compliance, when the entire financial meltdown was caused by regulated companies. An airport that is completely failing at processing passengers because their systems are about procedures and rules and not about what is sensible. A car service like Uber has no customer service to call. A primitive primary system for electing a President that lasts forever and a nominee can be completely disregarded if a group of super delegates decide. Paper cup holders to prevent people from burning themselves and suing the restaurant. Infrastructure collapsing all around until it actually collapses, then it will be repaired, and on and on and on.
Didn’t anyone hear about common sense. Principles based approach is values driven and sensible. What will work in the most effective way in avoiding problems. being cost effective, dealing with needs and avoiding litigation. Don’t worry, Donald Game of Thrones Trump will build the wall.
Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.
I recently tried to connect two individuals that I knew well. One was an entrepreneur looking to find investors and the other was an financial engineer who offered to help with fund raising. Both intelligent and professional and both seemed to understand what the other wanted. Reality was that after weeks of back and forth of document sharing, and financial requirements explanation, no progress was being made. Then, I realised what was the problem. One was analog and the other was digital. Trying to connect those two types directly without a translator or human converter, would never worked. As soon, as I actively engaged, the communication problems began to be resolved.
I have met digital people who swear that they are out of the box thinkers. As long as the out of the box thinking fits in another box. It might be bigger, but it still has limits. Analog people appear to be flexible but not flexible enough to understand digital thinkers. It is truly fascinating and once you identify these types you can create a bridge and work towards a resolution and a form of collaboration.
Are you digital or analog, to paraphrase an old tv commercial “only your hairdresser knows for sure”?
Watch this great dialogue between Sony Kapoor and Per Bolund, Swedish Minister for Financial Markets and Consumer Affairs about Greening the Finance System. After watching this video, it will become apparent why Stockholm is the logical choice for the next TBLI CONFERENCE.