Thoughts for the New Year

This year flew by so quickly that I don’t even remember it starting. It was a a great year for TBLI and the Values Investing Community. It seems that the focus has shifted from the why to the how. More and more investors, wealth holders, pension funds, family offices, Next Gen, are discovering that they can use their investments to address social and environmental challenges and achieve a financial return.

We were extremely busy traveling in Europe and Asia, to help expand the values investing community. As a result of all these efforts, we now have two dates for TBLI CONFERENCE. The European Event will be held in Zurich at Volkshaus, June 12-13 and the Asian Event will be held in Singapore at SMU, Nov. 7-8. Save the dates.

Here is a small overview of our travels:

  • Keynote address in Hong Kong at the Asian Family Office Association
  • Extensive presentations in Hong Kong
  • Lectures in Beijing and Shanghai
  • Keynote at Social Investment Forum in Beijing
  • Bangkok presentations on SDG Investing
  • Family Office Event in Dubai
  • World Business Angels Forum Istanbul
  • Dutch Business School Lecture
  • Roadshows in London
  • Roadshows in Stockholm
  • Co-authored Book on ESG Investing published
  • Impact Park Milan Keynote address and Chairing panel
  • Family Office Wiesbaden
  • Keynote Shanghai Asset Allocation
  • Wedding Beirut
  • Chairing session London African SME Conference
  • Chairing Impact Investing Lunch London
  • Keynote Zug Impact Summit
  • Roadshows in Zurich arranging TBLI EUROPE 2019, ZURICH, June 12-13
  • TBLI Inspiration Weekend Scotland
  • TBLI Dinner Paris
  • TBLI Nordic 2019 Stockholm
  • Keynote in Milan for Global Thinking Foundation
  • Chairing PE Afternoon Lunch Zurich
  • Keynote Chantilly Global Youth Forum
  • 3 day road show Singapore arranging partners and date for TBLI ASIA 2019, Nov. 7-8

I need a long sleep. What was inspiring of all these meetings, talks and road shows was the passion, support and enthusiasm that greeted me everywhere. People knew TBLI and responded extremely well to the story and were all very complimentary of our work for the past 25 years. I always say we are an overnight success after a quarter century.

I want to thank Greta Thunberg for saying the Radical Truth at the COP 24 in Katowice, and reminding us that we won’t wait for the policy makers. If you haven’t seen the speech, watch it now. Go Greta!

Great Read for the holidays

This is a great book about the real life experience of living and working in Bhutan over a time period of 25 years. Rieki Crins tells the story of falling in love with the country as a graduate student and coming back many times to establish a hotel school for young Bhutanese. What happened next – see the title. Engaging and full of vivd stories from a time and place that no longer exist.
Order now. Perfect Christmas Gift for you, friend or family.

The Gift that keeps Giving – TBLI Foundation

If you have benefited from the activities of TBLI, I would like you to support the TBLI Foundation by making a contribution to our non-profit entity.   This will allow us to continue our educational outreach and provide scholarships to social entrepreneurs to attend TBLI Conference. For those that need a tax efficient channel (United Kingdom, Hong Kong and the United States) TBLI can offer that through Shared Impact. Thank you.
From the TBLI team, we wish you all an enjoyable, inspiring and prosperous New Year and let’s make 2019 the year where finance shows true leadership in dealing with Climate Change.

Friend leaving and Starting a New Chapter

Today is officially the last day that Iris Bune will be working for TBLI. After 4 years of total commitment, she has decided to move on and pursue her love of Web Development.

When Iris first interviewed, I felt she was perfect for the job of general manager and project manager for TBLI. It didn’t matter what curve ball you through at her, she was always able to bring a sober, simple solution, with a great sense of humour. Iris always looked to streamline, professionalize,  and improve the organisational  elements that go into TBLI   and the TBLI Conference.

She is a gentle giant. Her height and constant interrupting when you talk to her can be intimidating and frustrating, but she is an incredibly sensitive human being. Her passion about social and economic injustice goes further than just clicking like on Facebook. She really cares and most important is totally authentic. There isn’t another person inside. What you see is what you get.

I will miss the persistent interrupting me while talking.  I will miss our weekly update on the latest tv episodes like The Americans,  Breaking Bad, Shameless, American Crime and others. I will miss the laughing faces or lol text messages. I will miss her ability to be professionally critical of a new opportunity, remain totally dispassionate and sober, and  at the same time being able to laugh. Wherever she goes, she will leave a lasting impression. She has clearly left her mark at TBLI. I wish her the best, as she deserves the best. Most of all I will miss her.


Stay in touch. If you ever need anything, just ask.

Big hug.

Your eternal friend.


Eastern Exposure

There is a Thai island in the Gulf of Thailand’, called Koh Chang. Rieki and I visited it for the first time, 23 years ago. There was nothing there when we came. No electricity. No road, just simple huts on the beach and a kerosine lamp for light. The beach was stunning. They didn’t call it White Sands beach for nothing. A real paradise where time just slipped through your hands as sand would. We returned several times over the years. A road was built and an electric cable stretching to the mainland was installed. Development occurred. Hotels, restaurants, massage stores, supermarkets all popped up along the road that was built. Fortunately 3/4 of the island is National Park, so development is limited. In spite of the development, Koh Chang always kept its laid back, slow pace that seem to be moving in slow motion. We always felt at home there and hoped one day to make our presence more semi-permanent.

On a recent return to Koh Chang, we met many a lot of AE’s (authentic eccentrics). All were looking for a quality and not a quantity of life. While we were wandering around the main road, where all activity seemed to happen, I was reminded of an old TV show called Northern Exposure. It was a show about a remote village in Alaska, called Cicely, that attracted all kinds of AE’s. Very entertaining. Deep down, I was alway looking for my Cecily, Alaska. Koh Chang seems to come real close.

There is a cast of characters that were making Koh Chang their home. Mr. Yuji, a Japanese water engineer from Osaka, who started an authentic Japanese restaurant. He always reminded me that the food was “authentic Osaka style”. He showed me the Onsen (thermal bath) that he built in the back using solar heating. The reason he built an Onsen, in a place that often feels like an oven, is that he wanted to relax in a large bath heated to boiling temperature. If most went into the bath, they would shout “ Hey! What do you think I am a tea bag”. He only had 3 tables, because he didn’t want to make his restaurant a business, but a hobby. His restaurant was also home to Mah, his manager who spoke little english and who had no real business to manage, Sakura a playful black labrador and Bamboo a stunning persian cat with a football tshirt supporting Portugal who played with Sakura,

Dave, from Big Sur, ran a restaurant that served the best breakfast and barbecue, I had in years. His body was a wall tapestry of tattoos from famous artists. The name of his place was Annie P. after his girl friend, who every day laid out a food offering to the gods, that was huge. Didn’t realise that the spirits were so hungry. Dave is the philosopher and uber cook, who just wanted to follow his passion: Chilling, cooking and people and get away from the madness that is called America.

We arrived one evening to taste Dave’s pulled pork, which is out of this world,  and met some of the other AE’s that Annie P. attracts. Hans Henrik from Denmark, also moved to Koh Chang and used to work on oil rigs but now works in North Sea putting up massive wind farms, as a crane operator. Rick, who is a handsome Indonesian, and grew up in Santa Barbara, California. He is a pipe fitter doing maintenance at nuclear power plants. Rick is the guy you want to go out with to get into trouble but have fun while you are doing that. Very funny and generous guy, who works 3 months to focus on his main hobby, living.

Just across the road is Khun NOi, a beautiful Thai woman who runs a hydroponics lettuce farm in front of her shop that doubles as  a juice bar. Well maybe not a bar. Maybe more a telephone booth size juice bar. She is fun, funny, kind, and a very good business woman. Totally follows her heart and speak her mind.  She was often complaining about her Austrian partner who she calls a butterfly (chasing women). We got along wonderfully. Next to her is Sylvain, or Sweepie, as the Thai couldn’t pronounce his name. He is a French Rastafarian, and runs with his Thai girl friend a book store and a store dedicated to Bob Marley. Every possible image of Marley was integrated in clothes, socks, towels, etc. It was like being at a football stadium with all the merchandise. Sylvain had such a beautiful aura of happiness about him. It was intoxicating.

Heli, without the copter, is a Swedish single mom who had been living on the island for 20 years. She had been successful with property development and was working on opening a new beach front restaurant. I remember when we were talking about her life there and things she missed from Europe. She would say “I miss nothing. I get home sick for Koh Chang when I visit Trad” Trad is the mainland town where you catch the ferry for the 30 minute journey to Koh Chang. One thing struck me while we were chatting. She was remodelling, and all the builders were busy running power saws, hammering, etc. In spite of the need to get the job done before high season stated, she shouted, take a break so we can chat in peace and enjoy our conversation. Most entrepreneurs would not stop the job to have a conversation with a stranger.

Almost forgot Henk, who started a business making home made kroketten, bitter ballen and frikandel. For those of you unfamiliar with any of these Dutch delicacies, it is an acquired taste. Henk had a very busy job as manager and felt life was not about being exhausted, physically and mentally everyday. There has to be another way and ultimately ended up in Koh Chang.

This menagerie of people whether Thai or expat, all shared a common love of Thailand. All worked to integrate that “je ne sais quoi” that made Thailand unique, into their lives. Not one tried to discourage us from moving to Koh Chang. We were welcome. They saw we had that Koh Chang gene in us.

I nearly forgot the most interesting group. The dogs. There are beautiful street dogs everywhere. They epitomise everything that is magical about Koh Chang. They all seem to have gotten lots of scrapes, bumps, bruises, and all seem to have a weathered face reflecting their character building life. In spite of all these rough experiences, the dogs are not aggressive, at all but unbelievably sweet, gentle, and full of love. Like everyone we met. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that they are all well fed.

Everyone seemed to have found contentment in their lives. That was the common denominator. Whether the massage girls down the road who cracked, stretched and realigned my tired body or the owner of Yes restaurant who loved seeing Rieki’s smile. The all shared love, respect, generosity, friendliness, no rush, and all working to make a life and not only a living. Dying rich was definitely not the goal. All following their passion in a community that was home.

Finally found my Cicely, Alaska.

Looking forward to meeting you and other AE’s at TBLI CONFERENCE EUROPE 2015 in Zurich, Nov. 19-20.

Follow your heart

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Believe it or not in a previous life (1975-1978), I had a carrier on oil rigs. My world wind career had me working offshore and on land in Iran, the North Sea (UK and Norway), France, Texas, Colorado and Oman (actually didn’t start, quit before I was sent there). In less than 2.5 years, I had a meteoric rise in oil and gas exploration, something that I never considered. I went from dishwasher, to roustabout (kind of go for), roughneck (guys who all seem to be missing fingers), derrick man (lonely person at top of oil rig snapping pipes with a rope into place to store them) and finally, Air Drilling Engineer.  This rapid rise surprised me. It wasn’t an inspiring job and as I got to see the environmental destruction we were doing, and the military hierarchy of that company (subsidiary of Schlumberger), further career moves upward were just not appealing.

It always seemed strange that I was sent to Iran to do air drilling, as I was not trained or experienced to do the job (air drilling in fractured formations to find oil or gas). Right place, right time, wrong job. I really enjoyed the theater working with some of the funniest characters, I would ever meet. Will always have great stories to tell and memories upon which to reflect. Some of my former colleagues were fantastic. I remember Jean who was a mechanic and started a goat farm, making cheese. He worked on the rigs to help get his business going and cover his costs, in order to follow his dream. He sent me a care package of wonderful goat cheese. I also learned some of the most obscene French expressions that would make even hardened criminals blush, and I still use them from time to time, as they are visually brilliant.

The CEO offered to fast track my career even more, in order to keep me from leaving. The finances were fine, and I worked 4 weeks on and then got 4 weeks holiday (6 months a year). I didn’t have to worry about anything. When you finished your 12 hour shift,  covered in mud, you dropped your clothes on the ground, and the next day, my room was clean and my work clothes were spotless. We ate wonderful French food, with wine and aperitifs. This was something American rigs wouldn’t allow. I remember having long periods of doing nothing, as we worked only if there was a problem with the drilling. If that happened, we would start up the compressors and perform air drilling. Other times, we would have a great deal of free time on our hands and would go exploring the remote areas of Iran. After 4 weeks of working, I had 4 weeks of holiday and I used that time to travel, which expanded my collection of characters. Yes it was very hard work. Hammering a pipe connection in 48 degrees celsius was very exhausting.

There was, however, something missing, I wasn’t happy or fulfilled and I still needed to find my passion. When I look at some of the photos of working on the rigs, I often think of a tv show called Dirty Jobs hosted by Mike Rowe and the podcast he made about how people doing horrible dirty jobs are financially secure and happy, even though they are not following their passion.

I wanted more. Not more stuff or money. I wanted to be fulfilled. What I am doing now, with TBLI, provides that in abundance. Most important, when I am really doing what fulfils me or am in “The Zone” , it costs me no energy, but actually gives me energy. Oh yeah, I don’t have to work in dangerous situations, like Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) gas explosions, or losing fingers when running pipe back into the well.

Are you following your heart? Try it. You won’t regret it.

Looking forward to meeting you and others who are following their heart at TBLI CONFERENCE EUROPE 2015 in Zurich, Nov. 19-20.


ass painting