SSE Residential: Day Two (live at Eden!)

A bit of live blogging: I’m sitting at the back at the Eden Project, listening to Tim Smit along with a bunch of SSE Fellows…… goes (see if I can keep up, and apologies if this page gets long):

– starting on importance of networks + being resourceful… (not always the networks of the powerful that can achieve things); different types of alliances and allegiances are important: people more important than money….(“money dulls the senses”)

– aiming to puncture the myth that ‘good luck’ happens to other people; skill in identifying talent + building networks between them….+ the capability for us all to do extraordinary things

– importance of knowing what you don’t know as half the battle; combined with employing people who are better than you…and people who haven’t made any mistakes (who are either lying, or take no risks, or have no idea what to do when the chips are down)

– nice nugget: “losing sharpens up the celebration when things go right”

[warming up to his autobiographical story]

– from dole cheque to a £275,000 royalty cheque as an (extraordinary) turning point: making him think about why he wanted things….or not (only vices are books, wine and crappy cigars)

– importance of being convinced about what you are doing: easier to sell something when you believe in it / are passionate about it

– “instinct as a code of conduct” which revolutionised his life….+ not giving yourself exit strategies (energy wasted on fear and managing risks….rather than just doing it)

– lose your fear of being disliked (without being a bastard)

–  great work is about frankness, people pulling their weight…

–  importance of having your own measure of success….who provides your benchmarks (you should)

–  moving from “busking” (trying to get away with hiding what you don’t know) to simply “trying to be the best you can”;  concentration of intent

–  gone off  beam here: given a pig called Horace, who became desirous, so he bought a pig called Doris….who had a baby called Liquorice [things I didn’t think I’d learn today: “pigs can’t reverse”]

– pigs led to interest in rare-breed animals….which led to interest in land….which led to Lost Gardens of Heligan, and going round that with a machete, and falling in love with plants

– “if you love something, and you’re not a complete freak, other people will love it…which means your only problem is a marketing problem”

– learning by doing, when a TV programme forgot to mention that Heligan wasn’t open yet……which led to people paying to come in and working on the garden (a great business model)

–  openness and engagement with the process was something he brought to Eden + people enjoy an interactive experience (they have actively contributed)

– importance of communication: not just a case of ‘transmitting’ and letting the information go, but about thinking about it from the point of those being ‘transmitted’ at

–  lessons about what really engages children (plants that poison stomachs and turn tongues black)

– importance of storytelling + truthtelling….and cooking the food, and breaking the bread, about the relationship to community and family

– visionary bit was not the actual vision (domes, plants) but to persuade 300 cynical professionals that this was something they could engage with and be part of….and would succeed; building relationships with people and effectively saying “do you want to be the person to say no?”

– there is nothing that people fear more than dying without having achieved anything….

– usefulness of trying to strip away what you know to find solutions and insights (good example of how the Leaning Tower of Pisa was saved); not letting professionals get in the way

–  the classic 3 Smit theories:

– last man standing (if you have charm, and don’t go away, people will pay you money)
– tinkerbell (if enough people believe in something, then it will happen)
– telling future truths (if you commit yourself to something, even if not yet true, you’ll have to do it)

– which is about bravery, and gaining the “courage of pure desperation”; what is the worst thing that can happen? that you end up saying “I wish I had” rather than “I’m glad I did”

–  fire negative people…..but don’t confuse caution with negativity!

– another classic this: accept every 3rd invitation…try and take the ones that aren’t your mates or the big glamorous shtick….judging dog shows or opening old people’s homes….trust your luck and your instinct (story of how speaking at an obscure Somerset event led to Eden getting £12.7m European funding)

– Eden about realising that we are a part of, rather than apart from, nature

– country been led too long by pinstripe suits, and there is nothing “hippy sh*t” about what you, social entrepreneurs, are doing; there is an opportunity potentially opening up

– need to write another story, that is about us owning resources, and becoming a more resilient society…

– need to be good enough to run anything; nothing wrong with profit; “you don’t have to eat gruel!”

–  need a different language to not be guilty about achievement and profit; don’t sell yourself short….

–  monkey business approach to management…ok, I can’t keep up here…. importance of community, of face-to-face…

– all important decisions made over wine under candlelight (whole person comes to the table)

– and finally, bringing people together over samba drums……”when a group of people are doing something together, it is more difficult to go out of time than it is to stay in”….message is about adding up to the sum of your parts, and building momentum through teamwork (something you could have never done on your own)

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One thought on “SSE Residential: Day Two (live at Eden!)

  1. As me old mate Reggie Perrin would say………Take a letter miss Jones oh you already have! Just reading all that stuff reminds me of last year and the fun we had only slightly jealous and hoping all the guys are having fun and not staying up too late !! Keep up the good work guys and see you soon.