Overnight success after 20 years

I was reflecting on the upcoming TBLI Conference Nordic 2017, and realised that this will be our 20th Anniversary. I couldn’t believe it. Had it been 20 years since we started TBLI, educating asset owner and managers about ESG and Impact Investing? Time really flew. I started to think of what had been accomplished. That was an even bigger eye opener.

This reflection coincided with a road show that I was planning for Copenhagen, so I decided to host a small seminar in Copenhagen at Rainmaking Loft, to discuss 20 years TBLI and what had been accomplished. In preparing, for this seminar, I reflected on what were the major breakthroughs that created the eco-system that we have now and what role did TBLI play in that. It was a great exercise as I forgot how TBLI influenced several important ESG and Impact breakthroughs. In addition,  those attending the seminar enjoyed thoroughly the 3 hour talk. The interaction with the audience was what I really enjoyed. I will definitely use part of that presentation for my opening talk at TBLI Nordic 2017 in Stockholm, Sept 28-29th, as Nasdaq.

We often forget what has worked and the progress we have made. `it. is important to avoid only listening  to headlines of a non-empathetic super power, or out of control climate change. Those stories are true and disturbing, but let’s not forget where we started from 20 years ago, and where are we now. I remember speaking to corporate groups, 20 years ago, who were afraid to hear the TBLI  story or even touch any publication dealing with ESG or Impact. Now everyone wants to join or be part of the ESG/Impact Fitness Club. That is wonderful. Now if we could only get those to actually do the exercises and reveal how much weight they lost.

I guess we are all an overnight success after 20 years. Come join us to celebrate.

Convincing Trump about Impact Investing

I love irresponsible investors and criminals. Not real irresponsible investors and criminals, I mean those that are totally against ESG and Impact Investing. Those that have a clear idea why ESG is a terrible idea and it is a complete waste of time and will always fail. Why do I like this group, because they are the easiest to convince about Sustainable Investing and achieve behavioural change. Remember the financial sector is the most predictable group you will eve encounter.

Recently I was at a conference on ESG investing with mostly mainstream financial alpha males, all totally convinced that they had all the answers. A significant part of the Conference was dedicated to ESG and ESG analysis. At the end of the first day, there was a very nice dinner. Everybody rushed to sit themselves next to the best potential client. I walked slowly and ended up at a big empty table with two men and many empty seats. Next to me was a German, hard core, anti climate change, and sustainable investment. He was very aggressive and didn’t want to be confused with facts or fake news. I thought I was sitting next to Donald Trump, but I wasn’t. My neighbour was actually more educated.  The other dinner guest was an ESG fund manager and a big fan of ESG integration and investment.

Did you ever talk to someone who contradicted and denied whatever you said. If I said, it was raining, he said no it isn’t. It’s cold. No its not. Renewable Energy is terrible. Money wasted. Extra financial investing is stupid. Etc. My German challenge had a family office and managed his own money, and according to him, he didn’t do so well, as he often missed his bench mark. After 1.5 hours of listening to his tirades, fake news, silly remarks and unwillingness to keep an open mind, I used the fool proof convincing method.

I said “Remember this day. March 16th. It might take one hour, one day, one week, one month, 1 year or 2 years or 3 years, but you will ultimately adopt ESG and Impact as a way of managing your money, and you will remember this day and me.” Then I turned to my ESG fund mangers and said to my Trump Surrogate that his firm manages Euros 200 billion, and he has beat his bench mark, regularly,  for his clients using an integrated ESG methodology”. My ESG skeptic looked shocked and his facial colours changed, a small smile forced its way out of his vault like face and asked “could I have your card so we might speak about your ESG services”.

Don’t you love financial alpha males who hate ESG and Impact. I do.

Impact Investing Myanmar

My wife, Dr. Rieki Crins started The Learning Exchange Foundation (LEF). After successfully creating a vocational hotel school in Bhutan, she has been asked, by the Governor, to set up a hotel school for Karen refugee youth in Myawaddy, Karen State, Myanmar.

As you all know, until 2012, there was a bloody civil war in Burma and the ethnic minorities where became victims of this war. For example, the Karen people had to flee to refugee camps. Now there are several of these camps along the Thai border. These camps have been here for 60 years  and  there are more than 100.000 people living in these camp, with  50% under the age of 25. These young people receive education from various NGO’s but the education, and thus diploma, are not recognized by Myanmar and Thailand. These kids are stuck!

Tourism is booming in Myanmar and there is a huge demand for skilled hotel people. Her hybrid hotelschool ( hotel and school) is ideally placed to address the challenges and needs of the Karen people living in these refugee camps.

Please support this important initiative that is working to create a livelihood for 100.000 refugees stuck in these camps .

Karen Hotel Project needs to raise US $ 100.000. 

If you would like to have more information, please contact rieki

Thank you.


TBLI Nordic 2016 Success










Our 32nd TBLI CONFERENCE  was held in Stockholm at Nasdaq, last week and it was definitely one of our best events. I want to thank all the sponsors, speakers, moderators, and staff for making TBLI NORDIC such a joy and inspiration.

This was the first, but definitely not the last time, we held TBLI in Stockholm. I particularly want to thank Nasdaq for hosting us.

If you missed the event, and want to experience some of the visuals, presentations, interviews and blogs, please visit Nordic Knowledge Centre


Hi Robert,

Just wanted to say I am richer for knowing you. Friends are important to me, and you are a friend.
The conference was a huge success from my point of view and from everything I heard others say. Congratulations.
Best, and hugs from Karen,
Arvind Narula
CEO Urmatt

TBLI Trump Award for Ignorance!

Look at this video interview about ESG Investment. Start at 135 seconds,and try not to laugh too loud.

Impact Platform

Impact Investing Platform for Consumers

Rabble is an impact investing platform that connects people with projects that strengthen communities.  Rabble makes it simple and straightforward for people – accredited and non-accredited investors alike – to invest in impactful ventures, real estate, and renewable energy projects.

New Books

Book-Urban Water Security


Am I cynical or critical?

From my last blog post, I got a great deal of feedback and some excellent comments that I wanted to share with you. Thank you to my friends, critics and cynics for sharing. Enjoy.

You are a lovable cynic. Which is odd for someone in a business fundamentally defined by idealism and optimism.

The cynic believes people are motivated purely by self-interest. [Synonyms: Sceptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, scoffer.]

Impact investors are motivated by outer-directedness: acting for honorable or unselfish reasons to achieve civic, social or environmental good. [Antonyms: idealist, optimist.] The cynic doubts their sincerity.

Each of us embodies tendencies of self-interest and outer-directedness.

Perhaps the root of your cynicism is recognizing the overly simplistic black-and-white cynical/idealist framework is inherently inaccurate.

Balance matters in life and balance is elusive. All of us balance tendencies in our behavior and decisions. Impact investors are no different from the rest of us. Their motivations are honorable, but investors are people, and people aren’t at their best when they engage self-destructive behavior.

There is nothing wrong with self-interest. People can help others better after helping themselves. That’s why the airlines tell us before every flight: Put on your oxygen mask before helping others with theirs.

Today, the aspiration of a 100% impact portfolio may be noble but unrealistic given the complex realities of the carbon economy.
Balancing aspiration and realism is an ongoing conversation. Your work is a catalyst to that conversation.

Barry Seiffer

Nice post. The return on rhetoric within the impact space is low… And the traditional finance community continues to misprice risk by 1) valuing liquidity events over actual progress–be it specific impact outcomes or even core operating revenues and 2) not looking at ESG and other sustainability risks meaningfully (or dismissing them…only to get smacked economically on the back end).

But there is a way—risk can be opportunity seeking…take a look at a couple pieces that we have put out on the concept–for corporate operators/enterprises as well as for fiduciaries and investors:
Risk and Opportunity Inc.: Managing Risks As Profitable Opportunities

Let’s connect soon!

Amit Sharma

‘Robert, you are a pain in the ass. I am a pain in the ass. Many of us are a pain in the ass. The vast majority of the financial folks aren’t yet in any way convinced that we are doing a necessary job. Just as we both experienced in recent gatherings even those that create products around renewables, are ego-centric, technology-centric, dollar-centric, financial system-centric. It all has to remain in the same system boundaries, because it’s their system, it’s all they learned, and they don’t see that leaders necessarily create masses of brave followers.

I have spend 5 years now in understanding the human brain, studied Beck/Graves/Wilber’s spiral dynamics, looked at Scharmer’s Theory U, understand Mindfulness…it all boils down to one single thing…the need for systemic change needs to be understood and grab these people by their inner self…one by one…and it’s painful…normally. This is why I co-founded the ThriveAbility Foundation, worked with my colleagues Robin Wood, Bill Baue and Paul van Schaik on the synthesis of sustainability (the original concept), design, innovation and consciousness. We developed the ThriveAbility Journey, the ThriveAbility Roadmap, assessments that help overcome the sustainability context gap, the organizational transformation gap and, finally, the socio-cultural leadership gap. We have calculated True Future Value as an ‚irrestistable‘ way to analyze companies and are about to develop a ThriveAbility Index, based on the three gaps, in order to bring the financial markets back home.

GISR is in the meanwhile covering the continuous improvement needs in the rating, ranking and indexing world, and Reporting 3.0 develops recommendations for standard setters, the accounting profession, data providers and new business model representatives on how to boost their own improvement to make the micro-macro link happen. That is my world, and it needs a systemic approach. There will never ever be sustainability without economic systems boundary change. And as long as that doesn’t change and people are forced to stay within the existing boundaries, especially in the financial market sector, you and I will remain a pain in the ass.’

Thanks for addressing this, and I hope you appreciate my honest response!

Warm regards,

Ralph Thurm


Please join all the sustainable finance thought leaders, cynics, critics and great souls who are gathering in Stockholm on Sept. 20-21 at Nasdaq

TBLI VIP Dinners Stockholm and Amsterdam

As part of our ongoing capacity building work, we recently held our TBLI VIP dinners in Stockholm and Amsterdam. I want to thank all the thought leaders, asset owners and managers who joined us to share experiences and knowledge around ESG & Impact Investing. In particular, I want to thank Janus Capital for hosting the dinners. It was a wonderful and inspiring evening.

I look forward to the next dinners and breaking bread with another group of inspiring people.