Health, Wealth and Wisdom

Welcome to October 2022. Many good folks have been asking what I am now doing, and I trust that this release of The Martin Haese Report amongst other things provides some answers.

I’m not quite sure where to start, but it’s fair to say that the last three months have been extraordinary. After three and a bit years with Business SA, I successfully completed my contract as CEO at the end of the financial year where I handed over the reins to Andrew Kay. What a privilege it was to guide, support and advocate for the business community during the global pandemic. A big thank you to the Chair of Business SA Nikki Govan, the Board of Directors, my former team of 60 talented individuals, many valued stakeholders and most importantly, the Chamber of Commerce’s 4,000 members.

Having finished up with Business SA, I made my way to Singapore to visit my wife’s family, reconnect with business associates and meet new ones. All was going to plan until I contracted a roaring fever and a very nasty case of Cellulitis that put me in a Singaporean hospital for a week followed by a long couple of months of recovery. If you, like me, have not heard of Cellulitis, I hope that you never have cause to. In summary, it’s bacterial skin infection and in my case, a serious one.

Returning to Australia to recover from my ailments, this brush with the potential loss of my right leg has had an impact on what I consider is important and how I intend to spend my time and set about designing the future. Although confronting, I like to see the good in everything and this has certainly made me reassess.

Having recovered to the point where walking was no longer painful, Genevieve and I made our way back to Singapore and then on to London where we had planned to tour the UK. Our travels took us to Windsor and while coincidently sitting in the charming Royal Adelaide Hotel we heard the unfortunate news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Royal Adelaide Hotel Windsor, United Kingdom
Royal Adelaide Hotel Windsor, United Kingdom

Our travels then took us to the university town of Oxford in England and to Edinburgh in Scotland where we again coincidently arrived late the night before Her Majesty’s cortege was due to travel along the Royal Mile of Edinburgh with King Charles III and the Royal Family walking behind.

Our accommodation was 200 metres from the Palace of Holyroodhouse gates and once we had made our way through an amoury of security personnel, we had a few hours sleep before joining many others to pay our respects to a dignified lady and much-admired Monarch. To say that this was a truly unforgettable experience would be an understatement.

On a brighter note, as a former Chair of the Bay to Birdwood community event in South Australia, current Chair of the Adelaide Motorsport Festival Advisory Board, an inaugural Board Member of the State Government of South Australia’s new SA Motor Sport Board and a long-time historic motoring enthusiast, I was excited to attend The Goodwood Revival in the UK in September. This was a bucket list item and I hope to visit again. After battling the seemingly endless traffic from London and securing accommodation an hour away from the Goodwood Estate where the event is held, we were more than rewarded for our patience and perseverance.

With 50,000 highly enthusiastic people arriving from across the UK, Europe and beyond, the Goodwood Revival is to be seen to be believed. Since 1998, this event has celebrated and re-enacted the glory days of British motor racing. The event includes racing cars and motorcycles that would have competed during the Goodwood Circuit’s original motorsport heydays of 1948 to 1966. With almost all of the 50,000 attendees dressed in period attire (mostly 1940s), it makes for quite a spectacle.

The Goodwood Revival is unique. While most vintage festivals focus on looking back, this event is trying to move us forward. With a focus in honouring the quality of items and manufacturing practices of the past, this year’s theme was ‘Make Do and Mend’. In a world where too many things are disposable, the Goodwood Revival challenges us to take a cue, recycle more and secure a more sustainable future. I admire the values of this event.

With South Australia’s rich automotive manufacturing heritage, amenable climate, many active car and motorcycle clubs and an attractive historic vehicle registration scheme, I have long believed and advocated that motoring tourism has significant upside unrealised potential. Thankfully, the Malinauskas State Government seems to heartily agree. This is why I have stepped up over many years to contribute significant amounts to own time to help realise this potential, often on a pro bono basis. In addition, with the imminent growth of electric vehicles the automotive industry is undergoing a not so quiet evolution and I want to be a part of it.

The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK
The Goodwood Revival, Goodwood Estate UK

Twenty-four hours later we arrived at JFK in New York City. In my role as Chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Council in South Australia, I was registered to attend Climate Week 2022. Held annually, this is where politicians, policy makers and global business leaders converge to discuss and take action on climate change and explore economic opportunities in the low emissions economy.

Having attended and delivered a keynote speech as Lord Mayor of Adelaide at COP21 in Paris in December 2015 and presented online at Climate Week last year, it was an honour to represent the Premier’s Climate Change Council, Deputy Premier/Minister Dr Susan Close MP and the State Government of South Australia at this conference. With Australia’s Federal Environment Minister Chris Bowen, former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd and former Premier of South Australia Mike Rann all playing prominent roles, our nation and state were well represented.

I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow members on the Premier’s Climate Change Council to strengthen and accelerate South Australia’s national leadership in climate change adaptation and mitigation and enable the further growth of the low emissions economy. I believe that this is the biggest challenge of our time. However, it is also a huge economic opportunity for South Australia and again I want to be a part of it for our great state.

Climate Week Manhattan New York City USA
Climate Week Manhattan New York City USA

As I have shared with you before, I believe in education and its ability to transform lives, including my own. With my insatiable thirst for lifelong learning, I am now studying a Real Estate Diploma, learning Indonesia Bahasa and soon to brush up on my French. This month, I am working with the University of Adelaide and Her Excellency the Governor of South Australia to fulfill my annual obligation on the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee where we carefully review scholarship applications for Oxford University. Having been on this committee for four years, I cannot tell you how much I look forward to this as it always restores my faith in the brilliance of South Australia’s youth.

Not one to rest, I have more exciting projects in store. But more about that another time.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

Principles with life changing benefits

Welcome to June 2022. I’m not sure about you, but I’m finding it difficult to believe that we are almost halfway through this year. Although don’t we say that every year? Either way, it only goes to emphasise how important it is for each of us to live our lives to the very best of our own abilities.

I was recently invited by the University of Adelaide to deliver a graduation address for their graduates on 6 May 2022. I accepted that invitation with gratitude. Having stood in their shoes some years ago, I know what an important moment it was for the graduates. Having worked hard complete their qualification, it was time to pause, reflect, celebrate and acknowledge those who had helped them get there.

In my speech, I share some valuable life lessons that serve me well even today.

With an insatiable thirst for lifelong learning, I believe in education and its ability to transform lives. In the following short video, I discuss the power of reinvention and how our personal comfort zones determine our results, two of the most transformational principles that have guided my life and career. I hope that these principles are just as valuable for you.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

May you live in interesting times

May you live in interesting times

Welcome to 2022. May you live in interesting times. While there is conjecture as who authored this quote, it remains true today.

This edition of the Martin Haese Report explores the relationship between change, evolution and progress and given that these have been the hallmark of the human condition for ages past, let’s first consider what history has taught us. The most tumultuous periods in modern, medieval, and ancient history are filled with upheaval. Ironically, discomfort and disruption have been the catalyst for progress on many of these occasions. Although stories of plague, insurrection and war can provide compelling reading, those living through these momentous events were undoubtedly experiencing considerable trepidation and pain.

It was however those experiences that built resilience, not always by choice but more often by necessity.

As a student of political history, I am fascinated by how nations have evolved. Russia is case in point as one could be excused for thinking that it epitomises the very definition of upheaval and change. With the Tsars ruling Russia from 1547 to 1917, followed by the Russian Republic from 1918, Soviet era from 1922 and the Russian Federation from 1991 until today, the Russian people have defended their homeland from invasion on more than one occasion and have suffered and prospered at the hands of their own leaders. Russia is however only one example of a nation that has been shaped by upheaval, yet has endured and prevailed. There are many others.

French Emperor Napoleon invaded Russia on 24 June 1812. After waiting for a surrender that never came, Napoleon’s starving troops faced the onset of a Russian winter and retreated out of Moscow. There was no victory here for the French, only a devastating long march in perilous conditions.

Two years into this global pandemic there have been few victories either. However, one thing is for sure, we are still living in interesting times. How have you endured and prevailed? How has the uncertainty of the last two years impacted upon you personally? Have you processed the relationship between security and change?

I encourage you to watch this short video which contends that “you need to dispense with the idea that you have any permanent security outside of your ability to content and adapt.” It’s a confronting statement, but nonetheless quite true. As counter intuitive as it sounds, the truth of the matter is that the only real source of security we have is our ability to adapt.

Now that we acknowledge that change is at the core of evolution and progress, let’s consider why.

In his book first published in 1859, On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin wrote that the theory of evolution is the process of natural selection by which nature selects the fittest and best-adapted to reproduce, multiply and survive. While some have debated Darwin’s theories over the years, they are a plausible explanation for explaining that evolution is far from stagnant and that nature, the environment and everything that lives in it are in a fluid, constant state of flux.

Come for a ride with me, my entrepreneurial friends, and let us now look at some developments that will shape 2022 into a year not looked upon with trepidation but with giddy anticipation.

The lessons are learned, it’s now time for implementation.

2020 and 2021 were years of reaction and pivot, years where some innovated and some faded away. Every one of us has done something new, many for the first time. 2022 is the year that we put into practice the lessons learned over the last two years.

By very definition, an entrepreneurs’ glass is always half full and 2022 is a year to dispel the voices trying to sell you on the idea that the glass is half empty. Let’s remember that luck is nothing more than preparation meeting opportunity. The last two years of this pandemic have prepared the entrepreneur, and 2022 is the year to claim your opportunity.

Trends for 2022

Having spent the last couple of weeks reading widely about the most likely business trends for 2022, I credit Bernard Marr, contributor to Forbes, as authoring the following insights. In sharing these with you, I have added my own anecdotes.

Trend 1: Sustainable, resilient operations

“Every organisation must seek to eliminate or reduce the environmental costs of doing business. Decarbonising the supply chain is a sensible place to start, but forward-thinking businesses are looking beyond the supply chain to improve sustainability across all business operations. And of course, sustainability is linked to resilience, as resilience means being able to adapt and survive for the long term. Any business that ignores sustainability is unlikely to do well in this age of conscious consumption.”

As Chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Council, I see firsthand the competitive advantage that South Australia has in climate change adaptation, mitigation, renewable energy and circular economy. However, what is sometimes overlooked by entrepreneurs is the megatrend of the low emissions economy that is being driven by customers, financiers, insurers, policy makers, regulators and governments. This is an opportunity rich environment for entrepreneurs and business owners.

Trend 2: The balance between human workers and intelligent robots

“We now have increasingly capable robots and artificial intelligence systems that can take on tasks that were previously done by humans. This leaves employers with some key questions: how do we find the balance between intelligent machines and human intelligence? What roles should be given over to machines? Which roles are best suited to humans? There’s no doubt that automation will affect every industry, so business leaders must prepare their organisations – and their people – for the changing nature of work.”

Having spent some brief  time in Singapore over Christmas and being served by a robot in a restaurant, I can certainly relate to this. The future has arrived. Are you ready?

Covid has accelerated the use of intelligent and autonomous robots in the workplace.

Trend 3: The shifting talent pool and changing employee experience

“The way we work is evolving, with more younger people entering the workforce, more gig workers, and more remote workers. In their book The Human Cloud, Matthew Mottola and Matthew Coatney argue that traditional full-time employment will be a thing of the past, as organisations shift to hiring people on a contract basis – with those contractors working remotely.”

Trend 4: Flatter, more agile organisations

Traditionally, organisations have been hierarchical and rigid in their structures. But that is changing, as leaders recognise the need for flatter, more agile structures that allow the business to quickly reorganise teams and respond to change. It is also, in part, a response to the changing nature of work, particularly the proliferation of freelance and remote workers. This is the age of flatter organisational structures, which are more like flexible communities rather than a top-down pyramid structure.”

Trend 5: Authenticity

“Today’s consumers are seeking a more meaningful connection with brands. And this need for connection has given rise to authenticity as a business trend in its own right. Authenticity helps to foster human connections – because, as humans, we like to see brands (and business leaders) display important human qualities like honesty, reliability, empathy, compassion, humility, and maybe even a bit of vulnerability and fear. We want brands (and leaders) to care about issues and stand for more than just turning a profit.”

Trend 6: Purposeful business

“Linked to authenticity, this trend is all about ensuring your organisation exists to serve a meaningful purpose – and not just serve up profits to shareholders. Purpose defines why the organisation exists. (Not what the organisation is or what it does or for whom. Therefore, purpose is different to mission and vision.) Importantly, a strong purpose has the promise of transformation or striving for something better – be it a better world, a better way to do something, or whatever is important to your organisation.”

Trend 7: Co-opetition and integration

“We live in a time where pretty much anything can be achieved by outsourcing. The global business world has never been so integrated. And it’s a good job, because the need to work together to solve key business challenges (not to mention humanity’s biggest challenges) is great. Indeed, in the future, it will become increasingly difficult to succeed without close partnerships with other organisations. In practice, this means greater supply chain integration, more data integration and sharing of data between organisations, and even cooperation between competitors.”

I subscribe to this notion as I built my national retail company based on the principle of collaboration, instead of competition. In fact, for fifteen years, I had little idea as to who my competitors were, let alone what they were doing. Instead, we chose who we wanted to collaborate with and ignored the rest. It sounds counter intuitive. However, it freed us up to set our own agenda, and to innovate and collaborate as we saw fit. It enabled us to become an industry leader, not an industry follower. I have no doubt that my business grew to $25m annual sales and challenged so many industry norms as a result of focussing on our own customers, not those of others. Not viewing other industry players as competitors proved to be remarkably liberating.

Trend 8: New forms of funding

“The ways in which companies can generate finance is also changing. New platforms and mechanisms have sprung up to connect businesses with investors and donors – think crowd funding, initial coin offerings (ICOs), tokenisation and special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs). Many of these new methods are driven by the decentralised finance movement, in which financial services like borrowing and trading take place in a peer-to-peer network, via a public decentralised blockchain network.”

When I look back on my time as a national retailer, I clearly recall my mentor telling me that I would never understand the business unless I was financially literate. It was the best advice I ever got.

Knowledge informs action

“In addition to these eight trends from Bernard Marr, there will also be transformative technology trends in 2022 including artificial intelligence and increasing digitisation, which every company must be ready for. Read more about all these and other future trends in Bernard’s new book, Business Trends in Practice: The 25+ Trends That are Redefining Organizations. Packed with real-world examples, it cuts through the hype to present the key trends that will shape the businesses of the future.”

Be inspired and fight for your entrepreneurial vision.

Thank you for reading my blog : The Martin Haese Report.

If you haven’t already joined my network, you can sign up for free. Please do not hesitate to recommend my blog to any of your friends, family or colleagues who share our common interests.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

Climate of Fear or Climate of Opportunity

Climate of Fear or Climate of Opportunity

In my role as CEO of Business SA, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for South Australia, I remain close to those who take calculated risks to better themselves, their organisations, families, employees and South Australia. After the seismic turbulence of the last 18 months, who could blame the owners of many small to medium sized business for thinking about packing it in?
However, have we ever stopped to think what would happen if business owners lost their individual and collective appetite for risk? Have we even dared to quantify the dire economic and social consequences of a scenario where hundreds or even thousands of business owners pulled up stumps because it is simply too difficult to earn a living, let alone build any meaningful wealth? Personally, I don’t even want to consider this scenario as it is not a pretty picture on so many levels.

All I can say is kudos to the business community. You are the true heroes of 2020 and 2021.

So, let’s consider why so many business owners have kept on keeping on, even when things have looked so bleak. In my own experience, it sometimes comes down to a conscious and personal choice about whether to live in a climate of fear or a climate of opportunity. Let’s face it, over the last 18 months, we have all seen examples of both and have probably even experienced both ourselves.

This is not about being Pollyanna and ignoring the sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges of operating a business in a global pandemic with disruptions, lockdowns and restrictions. Quite the opposite. Instead, it’s about being extraordinarily resilient. It’s about having a very different mindset, one that keeps telling you that there is always a way forward no matter how bad things may appear.
Again, kudos to the business community. I am in awe of your strength and fortitude.

If this conversation resonates with you, I now encourage you to think about another seemingly insurmountable challenge. Climate change.
With the recently released United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report stating that planet earth has entered “Code Red for humanity”, we have every reason to be fearful. Very fearful. However, it’s that very fear that will motivate us to act. Also, are we asking ourselves the right questions? Maybe, just maybe, there is an opportunity here.

As a jurisdiction, South Australia has one of highest uptakes of renewable energy on the planet. We are also leaders in everything from container deposit legislation, single use plastics, waste and recycling, battery storage technologies, wind farming, blue carbon innovation, sustainable water management and agricultural practices. We have real opportunities for green minerals, green steel production and green hydrogen, and the State Government has a plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels).

Let’s consider why? Well, that takes me back to South Australia’s entrepreneurial spirit and the creativity and resilience of the business community.

Ahead of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, Business SA will host its very own Climate of Opportunity luncheon in Adelaide to explore the challenges for international trade and growth in the low emissions economy.

Guest speakers will include Hon David Speirs MP (Minister for Environment and Water, South Australia), Steph Lysaght (Consul-General of the UK), Akhil Abraham (Head of Climate Diplomacy at the British High Commission, Canberra) and a panel of South Australian business leaders who will discuss how we can position our businesses for future success in a changing world.

Thank you for reading my blog : The Martin Haese Report.

If you haven’t already joined my network, you can sign up for free. Please do not hesitate to recommend my blog to any of your friends, family or colleagues who share our common interests.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

International Women’s Day

In my role as CEO of Business SA, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for South Australia, and my former roles as the 78th Lord Mayor of Adelaide, General Manager of Rundle Mall and as a national retail entrepreneur with over 200 employees, I have never taken for granted the talent, commitment and contribution of the individuals and teams that I have either employed or worked alongside. The majority of which have been women.

On Tuesday this week, Business SA celebrated International Women’s Day with a 300-person event in Adelaide’s CBD. It is timely to reflect on what this day means and why it is important.

To go back to its earliest days, International Women’s Day was born out of the USA and Europe. The first National Women’s Day was held across the United States on 28 February 1909. In 1910, when the then leader of the Women’s Office of the Social Democratic Party in Germany tabled the idea at the second International Conference of Working Women, a unanimous vote was secured, and the first International Women’s Day was officially celebrated the following year on 19 March 1911. The date was then moved to 8 March in 1913.

Times were certainly different then, including in Australia where it had been only 9 years since the Australian Commonwealth Parliament passed an act enabling women to vote in Federal elections.

How times have changed, and mostly for the better.

International Women’s Day was first held in Europe in 1911
International Women’s Day was first held in Europe in 1911

In local history, Dame Nancy Buttfield became the first SA woman elected to the Federal Parliament in 1955. In 1966, the first woman was sworn in for jury service. In 1969, women were awarded equal pay for the same work as men and on 24 June 2010 Adelaide expat Julia Gillard was sworn in as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia, the first woman to hold the nation’s highest office.

There are so many more examples I could list including my own godmother Dame Roma Mitchell who was Australia’s first female Judge, first female Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, first female Vice Chancellor of an Australian University and the first female Governor anywhere in Australia. Dame Roma was also a strong advocate for social justice who backed her words with action.

Dame Roma Mitchell AC, DBE, CVO, QC (1913 – 2000)
Dame Roma Mitchell AC, DBE, CVO, QC (1913 – 2000)

I now encourage you to consider your own workplace and take some time to appreciate the extraordinary achievements of so many South Australian women, past and present. In fact, dating back to the pioneering days through to today, my wife Genevieve has devoted her energies toward uncovering and sharing the stories of many great South Australian women. These stories have been recorded in HerStory, a project supported by the City of Adelaide and the History Trust of South Australia.

Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide 2014-2018
Genevieve Theseira-Haese, Lady Mayoress of Adelaide 2014-2018

Age and experience are not prerequisites for making a difference in society. With social entrepreneur Isobel Marshall named as Young Australian of the Year for 2021, International Women’s Day takes on extra significance for younger women across our nation. Bravo to Isobel and to her business partner, Eloise Hall.

Isobel Marshall, Young Australian of the Year 2021
Isobel Marshall, Young Australian of the Year 2021

It’s important to remember that although significant progress has been made since 1911, this work is far from over. Equal opportunities are still being fought for in some industries. In many countries, women’s rights are vastly different than our own and in others, almost non-existent.

As a man, I cannot understand on a personal level every struggle that women encounter. However, I can lead by example. As a former business owner, former Lord Mayor of Adelaide and now CEO of Business SA, I value the equal contribution of women in commercial and civic life.

Over 75% of the workforce of my own company were women, I led the first gender balanced Council in the history of the City of Adelaide and Business SA proudly has a 65% female work force. Business SA’s Chair, Nikki Govan, is a strong leader and successful businessperson and many of Business SA’s senior team are qualified, skilled female professionals who add value to the organisation every day.

Business SA team members
Business SA team members

Let’s aspire to a time when a nominated day representing the achievements of women in business may not be entirely necessary, as they will be celebrated every day, with fair conditions, safe working environments and equal pay.

Let’s also aspire to a day where for every single organisation it’s not about filling quotas, it’s instead about filling the organisation with hard working, capable employees that span genders, preferences, ethnicities and religions.

While we work towards these important outcomes, I encourage you to watch the following stories that were shared at Business SA’s International Women’s Day luncheon event held in the SkyCity Ballroom in the City of Adelaide on Tuesday 9 March 2021.

Thank you for reading my Blog : The Martin Haese Report.

If you haven’t already joined my network, you can sign up for free. Please do not hesitate to recommend my blog to any of your friends, family or colleagues who share our common interests.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

Did you find your purpose in 2020?

Did you find your purpose in 2020?

Today, I write to you in my role as CEO of Business SA, the peak body for the business community in South Australia. When 2020 started, never did I imagine that I would be standing on a ladder in Adelaide’s CBD addressing a 150-strong crowd of business owners at breaking point.

In all the twists and turns of 2020, for myself and my team, this was THE defining moment.

It exposed the pure heartache and despair that business owners have endured in the wake of COVID-19.

This show of solidarity from the hospitality sector was raw and emotional. People were open and honest about their fears for the future and in many ways, this was the moment where Business SA, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for South Australia, truly found its PURPOSE.

In terms of Business SA’s role to support business owners, not only in the hospitality sector but right across South Australia, this moment doubled our resolve to support those who take a risk.

It is the risk takers who will ultimately drive our economy forward from this pandemic. Not business associations, not Governments. Entrepreneurs are our largest employer. They are also creators and seekers of opportunity. It is our role to support them through the good times and bad.

This year saw pivoting, resilience and mental health become words that we have become all too familiar with.

However, these words are much more than cliches. They have helped businesses to survive … and, we say to you all, a very big WELL DONE.

As the State’s independent and local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Business SA has played its role in supporting 17 different industry sectors in 2020.

When the Summer bushfires devastated South Australia, Business SA personally contacted and offered support to more than 100 businesses impacted by the fires.

We then “pivoted” ourselves, delivering more than 40 virtual events and webinars throughout the year while our Business Advice Hotline answered 12,800 calls from business owners.

We brought together 50 industry associations to discuss their concerns and ideas to assist economic recovery from COVID-19 and later launched a 9 Point Plan to Skyrocket SA.

We held South Australia’s biggest Mentally Healthy Business Breakfast, which was livestreamed across 10 regions and attended by almost 200 business owners and more than 3,200 people online.

Business SA also advocated consistently to Federal Government, State Government and even Local Governments to fight for more financial support for businesses.

But we know it has been you, the business owner, who has done the heavy lifting this year.

We have stood with you, but you have done the hard work and we thoroughly commend you for it.

We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and success into 2021. We hope you have an opportunity to re-charge over the break and we encourage everyone to buy local this Christmas.

When you support local businesses, you are supporting local jobs. This is something we’ll need more of next year. Also, when you support others, your organisation’s PURPOSE all of a sudden has more clarity and becomes a lot more meaningful.

Thank you for reading my blog : The Martin Haese Report.

If you haven’t already joined my network, you can sign up for free. Please do not hesitate to recommend my blog to any of your friends, family or colleagues who share our common interests.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

Environmental Leadership

ENVIRONMENTAL LEADERSHIP

Welcome to the Martin Haese Report, the sixth in my series of musings on entrepreneurial leadership. With COVID-19 having wreaked havoc across industry sectors around the world and in turn disrupting how many do business, a growing number of people are asking whether it’s time to reconsider the business community’s relationship with the natural environment. I am one of those who believe that it is now timely to discuss how entrepreneurial and environmental leadership intersect.

COP21 Paris 2015
Before we commence, some context that qualifies me to share my thoughts on this topic. In my former role as Lord Mayor of Adelaide, I was invited to attend the United Nations COP21 in Paris in December 2015 where I spoke at several functions including the Sustainable Innovation Forum. It was at COP21 that I grasped the significance and strategic importance of South Australia’s renewable energy leadership and the high regard in which the State is held on the world stage.

It was also in Paris that I signed the Compact of Mayors, met with world leaders who are committed to environmental and economic leadership, and committed to educating myself about climate change adaptation, mitigation, the growth of low emissions industries and the circular economy.

Over the ensuing years as Lord Mayor, I focused my energies on translating South Australia’s renewable energy leadership into practical actions within the City of Adelaide. These included the City of Adelaide’s Carbon Neutral Strategy 2015-2025, the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan 2016-2021, Sustainability Incentives SchemeSolar Savers Adelaide, the roll out of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and many tree planting, waste and water management programs.

In January 2019, South Australian State Minister David Speirs MP appointed me as Chair of the Premier’s Climate Change Council (PCCC) where I have since worked alongside a talented group of fellow Council members to advise and inform the State Government on climate change adaptation, mitigation and the importance of low emissions industries in South Australia.

In September this year, I (virtually) attended a number of sessions at Climate Week 2020 in New York City where I watched HRH Prince Charles’ inspirational address;

Has COVID displaced climate change?
While the global pandemic continues to dominate the headlines, there is a growing anxiety that some other pressing issues are being neglected, most notably climate change. This is a topic that was swept to the top of the national agenda when the drought culminated in last summer’s devastating bushfires, but was quickly set aside with the onset of COVID-19 only three months later.

But rather than despair, I suggest that the pandemic may in fact provide an opportunity to reassess, recalibrate and refocus on climate change issues, as COVID-19 has resulted in many people developing a greater awareness and appreciation for the natural environment.

For many, COVID-19 has forced a rethink about how we consume, where we consume, and who we consume from. This is resulting in a protracted shift towards people wanting to buy from and do business with organisations that either have an environmental sustainability policy (ESP), a goal for carbon neutrality, are actively involved in the circular economy, or have greater transparency about their waste cycle.

Consumer behaviour is changing
Consumer sentiment and behaviour is changing and if businesses don’t respond to the needs of their customers then they are often not in business for much longer. With more organisations putting measures in place that govern how and where they invest, there is a stronger emphasis being placed on whether organisations are making investments into climate aware and climate appropriate companies.

Insurable risk is another key consideration in business decision making, and assessing climate risk is already driving behavioural change within the business community. To illustrate the point, in January 2020, the Vice Chairman of BlackRock discussed their plan to avoid investments with high sustainability-related risk as climate concerns are driving a sweeping change in the way the firm invests and manages its $7 trillion in assets.

An opportunity rich environment
With rapid advances in technology, changing consumer behaviour and new demands being placed upon institutional investors, the low emissions sector is clearly the next big thing. If the steel, plastic, aluminium, cement, food and agriculture sectors were each to adopt circular and low carbon practices, not only would 9 billion tonnes of carbon be saved by 2050, a multi-trillion dollar carbontech sector would be unleashed.

In the following video, I share my thoughts on how climate change and technological innovation are catalysing the growth of low emissions industries and greater innovation within the circular economy.

However, while the economy is clearly important, I caution you against thinking that every climate related problem or opportunity must be considered in pure economic terms. After all, it has been that very thinking that has got into the predicament we currently find ourselves. Sometimes doing the right thing should be justification enough.

Thank you for reading my blog : The Martin Haese Report.

If you haven’t already joined my network, you can sign up for free. Please don’t hesitate to recommend my blog to any of your friends, family or colleagues who share our common interests.

With kind regards,

Martin Haese MBA

Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

A quick lesson about the importance of being agile.

The inter-relationships between creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are already well documented. With organisations operating in such highly competitive environments, creative thinking has become a crucial way to differentiate in a crowded marketplace.

Whether that manifests itself as the next big idea or as an improvement to an existing process, it almost always starts with creative thinking.

It is well documented that in order for an organisation to embrace creative thinking, management must tolerate failure. The old adage of ‘fail small and succeed big’ has never been more true when it comes to the application of creative thinking within organisations.

Welcoming creative thinking within organisations also requires a degree of agility. A few short years ago, I was asked to keynote a musical gala at Adelaide Town Hall. Prior to going on stage, it was brought to my attention that there were slight issues with the schedule as the next artist was caught in traffic and running late. This is how I helped the emcee get everything back on track before I delivered the keynote speech!

Do Social Entrepreneurs create change?

Welcome to the Part Four of a series of musings on entrepreneurship. 

Do social entrepreneurs create change?

In last month’s blog post of The Martin Haese Report where we discussed Disruption, I described the ways that big companies such as Gillette, Michael Hill Jewellers and Nike have used social causes to disrupt their customer base and target Millennial consumers.

However, it should be noted that Millennials are not the only socially conscious generation and many large companies have been supporting worthwhile causes for decades. 

Some of this support has been overt as in the case of Ronald McDonald House and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter in Australia and some of it slips quietly under the radar like Bunning’s support for school gardens as well as community clubs and other causes through their regular sausage sizzles.

What has changed though, is that conscious consumerism, the idea that organisations have a soul and care about something beyond their bottom line, has been elevated up the list of things that customers consider when making their purchasing decisions.

When organisations use social causes as part of their marketing toolkit, we might see ‘buycotts’ and boycotts at the extremities but for the most part, consumers tend toward the responsible centre and an organisation's support for social causes has become a contributing factor to purchasing decisions rather than a deal maker or breaker. 

Having said that, any organisation that adopts a social cause or even a charity as part of their strategy must do so in an authentic way and become genuine champions for that cause.

The public are, quite rightly, unforgiving of lip service and publicly hostile to hypocrisy.

Social Entrepreneurs

Most people associate the term ‘entrepreneur’ with the world of start-ups, business or commerce, but if we go back to the first blog in this series, Are entrepreneurs born or made? I offered that entrepreneurialism is a mindset or modus operandi and entrepreneurs are people who;

1. Create and/or recognise opportunities

2. Assume the responsibility for the risk involved in new ventures, and

3. Have the managerial skills to gather and deploy the required resources

While these skill sets are particularly well suited to the business world, each is also transferable beyond. 

I would argue that social entrepreneurs require another skill, the gift of persuasion, because while entrepreneurs can promise a financial return on investment, social entrepreneurs often deliver less measurable outcomes.

Social entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from NGOs, micro finance, social enterprises, community groups and non-profits through to regular businesses that put social issues at the centre of their offer. In fact, the sector even has a name, as its often referred to as the ‘for purpose sector’. 

NGOs

Oxfam Christmas Catalogue

Oxfam Christmas Catalogue

Non-Government Organisations are some of the most visible socially entrepreneurial organisations and include global names like the Red Cross, Oxfam, Medicine Sans Frontieres, Sea Shepherd, Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Just like any entrepreneur, each of these organisations has a driving purpose or ‘big idea’ that defines their organisation and their every action.

With regard to NGOs, some might argue that the first item on my list of entrepreneurial attributes, ‘Creates and/or recognises opportunities’ might read ‘recognises existing threats or problems’, but it largely depends on how you define ‘opportunities.’ Personally, I have always been inclined to think of opportunities and threats as two sides of the same coin. 

For example, Oxfam’s goal might be to end world poverty which, at first glance, seems like a problem to be solved. However, one of the ways they have gone about this, is by recognising the opportunity to empower small producers in the third world and providing access to western households (via Oxfam shops and a wholesale arm) for their products.

Micro Finance

When I was the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Muhammad Yunus who shared with me his extraordinary story of social entrepreneurship. He signed a copy of his latest book, ‘A World of Three Zeros’ for me. I have read it twice.

Professor Yunus - Grameen Bank

Professor Yunus - Grameen Bank

Professor Yunus began working on what would become Grameen Bank in 1976 in the wake of a devastating famine that struck Bangladesh in 1974. The idea was simple, a community development bank that could make small, low interest loans to impoverished families without collateral. 

His first loan of $27 (USD) was seed funding for a group of 42 families to make products for sale.

Professor Yunus expanded this micro finance concept to villages near the University of Chittagong and gained the support of the national, Bangladesh Bank. 

In 1983, Professor Yunus’ project was granted the status of an independent bank by the Bangladesh government and despite setbacks from natural disasters, it has grown to 2,600 branches, approximately 9.08 million borrowers and an estimated 97% of the borrowers are women. 

Professor Yunus was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 2006. He has written several best-selling books including one called ‘Building Social Business’. I recommend that you read it to further your knowledge on this topic. 

The success of Grameen Bank has inspired and paved the way for similar social enterprises such as Kiva. 

Where Grameen Bank raised funds from donor agencies, the Bangladesh central bank and later by selling bonds, organisations like Kiva raise money through crowdfunding.

Kiva has lent $1.3 billion to 3.3 million entrepreneurs in 78 countries. 

Not for profits

While the term ‘not for profit’ can, for legal and taxation reasons, define various types of organisations, I am using it here to describe charities and social enterprises.

Every charity has been set up for a specific purpose, be it restoring eye sight for children (Sight for All), alleviating poverty (St Vincent de Paul), or funding nurses for breast cancer sufferers (McGrath Foundation) however, the most successful charities use entrepreneurial skills and traits to serve their purpose.

Dr. Peter Pratje - The Orang-utan Project

Dr. Peter Pratje - The Orang-utan Project

For many not for profits, fundraising is an important part of their activities, but it is not always their sole reason for being. Countless organisations need our donations to continue operating, but their goal is behavioural change.

One such organisation is the The Orang-utan Project

The Orang-utan Project does all of the things you might expect of a not for profit dedicated to saving Orang-utans. They call for donations, take bequests and operate tours, provide sanctuary and prepare orang-utans for release into the wild, but all of this is somewhat insignificant to their actual purpose which is to raise consumer awareness of the destructive nature of palm oil production - the very reason they need to do all of those other things. 

It is estimated that 300 football fields of South East Asian rainforest are bulldozed every hour to make way for palm oil plantations – just allow that to sink in for a second.

The resource being gathered and deployed here is not anything as simple as finance or materials, but something much more elusive – the consumer’s conscience.

Given the sheer magnitude of food and consumables that contain palm oil, this is a big issue.  

For profit, social enterprises

The Bread and Butter Project - Tania

The Bread and Butter Project - Tania

For profit, social enterprises often begin as a philanthropic gesture but quickly discover, almost as a bi product, that their purpose and products are profitable

Such was the case with the Bread and Butter Project when Paul Allam convinced his business partner at the Bourke Street Bakery to help him set up Australia’s first social enterprise bakery.

The Bread and Butter Project is a successful, artisanal, wholesale bakery that trains and provides paths to employment for some of Sydney’s most marginalised and underprivileged citizens.

The Bread and Butter Project is able to boast that every one of their graduate bakers, since their launch in 2013, is sustainably employed.  

When your product has a social conscience

I recently listened to an audiobook called “The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don't Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living’ by Sharon Rowe. 

Don’t let the title fool you, there was nothing ‘tiny’ about Sharon’s business, she is the CEO and founder of Eco Bags - the original, reusable shopping bags.

Sharon, a young mother was working at a training company when she founded Eco Bags in 1989. It was a response to two things - the sheer waste of single use shopping bags and her desire to live life and run a business without compromising her lifestyle or the things she believed in.

Her ‘market research’ involved walking the streets of New York and taking note of compliments she received for shopping with reusable string bags.

In her book, she describes how she started by selling reusable Eco Bag shopping bags from a stall at New York’s Earth day celebrations in 1990 and her success there led to more markets before becoming a wholesaler. 

In 2007, reusable shopping bags became subject to the ‘Oprah effect’ when Oprah Winfrey presented Eco Bags to her audience during that year’s Earth Day episode. 

This publicity led to a swift uptake in reusable bags and ultimately bans of single use plastic bags in some states and territories with Eco Bags riding the wave and reporting $16 million USD in annual sales. Coincidently, South Australia, the place that I live in, is also a leader in container deposit legislation and is progressively banning the use of single use plastics for certain applications.  

The ‘tiny’ in the title of her book does not refer to the size of her business but her approach and despite running a global company, she still makes time in her work schedule to swim every day.

The audiobook, written and read by Sharon Rowe, is available to borrow as a free download from the South Australian Public Library Service 

Social entrepreneurs creating employment

Sarah Gun - Founder of GOGO events

At a local level, I enthusiastically mention GOGO Events, an Adelaide based social enterprise that creates and manages magnificent events.

So, what’s the big difference?

GOGO events, founded by Sarah Gun, is an internationally award-winning enterprise that employs marginalised people and provides them with a meaningful path to sustainable and purposeful employment in the hospitality sector.

All of their events, big or small, corporate or community, create a positive social and environmental legacy.

Bravo!

 

Social entrepreneurs and the sharing economy

While organisations such as Airbnb and Uber are often cited as examples of how the sharing economy works, neither of them is, in the strictest sense, a part of the share economy - they are both service model businesses. 

Airbnb hosts rent their properties to guests while passengers pay Uber for their driver to take them somewhere. 

Better examples include Share Waste - an organisation that connects people with excess green waste to people who can convert that green waste into compost or Grow Free an organisation that enables a network of home vegetable gardeners to share excess produce through small carts with other gardeners and the public.

While Share Waste doesn’t say how many contributors they have, their members are well supported online with interactive maps and a smartphone app to connect people while Grow Free has in excess of 170 members carts in its Australian network with a few more springing up in New Zealand and the United States.

5 steps to introduce a socially conscious purpose to your company or brand

  1. Be authentic and select a cause or charity that you and your organisation can genuinely get behind, then make a long term and consistent commitment.
  1. Ensure that the cause is a good fit with your organisation’s values and target market. This extends to making sure that the products you sell are consistent or at the very least, not counterproductive or potentially hypocritical. I’m thinking, in particular, of a large chain of liquor stores in Australia who recently supported Dry July. I am also thinking of recent adverts from the world’s largest cola brand extolling their environmental credentials and hi-lighting their recycling efforts. 
  1. Involve the entire organisation. I know of at least one large company that takes gold coin donations for their casual days. The money is collected and donated to a charity or cause that every employee voted on at the start of the year. Other companies have recruited their customers, giving them an opportunity to decide on which charities they support through a percentage of their purchase.
  1. Understand that supporting a cause is part of your company’s marketing plan then immediately forget it and work generously towards supporting the cause. The general public can easily distinguish between genuine support and when you are just looking for a pat on the back.
  1. Extend your support beyond simply fundraising. Photos of the CEO handing over a novelty size cheque look fantastic on social media but their impact is limited. In my experience, it is better to be involved in many smaller and perhaps more meaningful projects throughout the year than a photo op at the end. That doesn’t mean you can’t promote your involvement, but reliable word of mouth and social media shares are much more valuable and effective than full page newspaper ads.

Social entrepreneurship is evolving and continuing to redefine itself. It is also growing. Cities such as Berlin are fast becoming global hubs for social entrepreneurs. There is also a strong relationship between a city’s start-up scene and the number of social ventures within it. 

While there are a number of similarities shared between commercial entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs, there is one essential difference to consider - social entrepreneurs have the propensity to solve the problems that governments, small business and corporates can’t or won’t … and that makes them increasingly influential within communities.

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Martin Haese MBA

Next blog post: Part Five – Hope for the best and prepare for the worst. What happens when things don’t go to plan?