Category: Corporate Social Responsabilty

An old Greek parable for entrepreneurs

What will you build in your lifetime?

A man had two sons and he assigned each of them to build a house for themselves in a tired old town that showed prospect. It appeared to be a good investment for their future.

The time came for the father to inspect what each son had built.

He visited the first son who built his house on top of the hill overlooking the town below.

When the father started looking throughout the house on the hill, it was evident that this son spared no expense and the architectural detail and materials used was of the highest quality.

The father compliments his son on the building, however the father makes one comment that could be taken as negative. “As I walk through your house appreciating the building, it feels cold and isolated”

The father went on to visit the second son’s house which was apparently built in the township.

As the father and second son walked through the town, a voice from a shop keeper calls out to the son “Please have dinner at my house tonight and bring your father”

… then another shopkeeper calls out “You must have lunch this Saturday at my house, I’d like to introduce your father to my family”

…. voices of strangers called out to the son and the father offering a bed and food or transportation.

The father amused by all the generosity and how sociable everyone was and in particular how much they admired his son.

Then the father asks to see the second son’s house. The son responds, “This is my house, this town. I invested in all the businesses and the people, helping them rebuild their town. They provide food for me, a bed and company.

The father mused by the unexpected answer. Being a wise old man, he responds to his son’s choice of investment. “You have indeed built the most magnificent home rather than choosing to build a house yourself”

Note : My father shared the above parable to me as a young boy and it has always resonated the question “What will I build in my lifetime, a house or a home

~ Dimitri Smilovitis (My father)

The picture was drawn for me to illustrate the parable by my good friend and artist Mark Bruning, look him up on Instagram.

We are weary of your rhetoric

When politicians preachers parents practitioners professionals have no appetite other than the pursuits of power.

You can guarantee they do not have your best interest at heart.

Dethrone them from their lofty towers and let them go hungry for a season.

Bring each and everyone back to the grassroots of empathy and relevance.

Hunger awakens the appetite.

Hunger sharpens the senses.

Hunger brings everything back to what matters most.

My dog has the look I want our leaders to have, following his nose, looking everywhere, making things happen… My dog doesn’t run in packs… he’s a committee of one and stays lean and hungry (I don’t overfeed him as we do the five P’s above)

We are weary of your rhetoric

We are weary of your lazy thinking

We are weary of your false passion

Come back down to where we live and we just may be influenced by your message.

I’m a social capitalist ‘I look to help those that can’t help themselves and agitate those that can’

We are stewards of this world, why do we act like proprietors – We can’t take this stuff with us but we can leave a legacy.

Smart City Perth – Stumbling into purpose

I think we stumble into purpose, I certainly have.  

I had a crazy idea, that I could make a difference within a construction company. After a five year experiment it was evident healthy change happened. I’m convinced we can roll out this crazy idea or as some would call it, a pipe-dream called Smart City Perth

Picture taken the first day I started working within one of Australia’s most progressive construction companies. The Managing Director, Gerry Hanssen of the company gave me two things the day I started.

  1. An opportunity to do what was in my heart to assist in creating a healthy lasting culture and develop next generation leaders
  2. A metaphorical rope, that will hang me if I don’t succeed 

The experiment worked and fortunately I survived. It has however stirred me about the possibilities of creating a wholesome culture across a city. Smart City Perth looks at the most important component of any great idea. How do you help others capture a vision and what will be the effect on the citizens?.

What will our cities look like and feel like by 2050?

Its already proven that we can build the infrastructure that can accommodate millions of people.

I’m confident that technology will meet the requirements of fantastic developments. I’m confident that the pie can get larger to prosper the masses.

My hesitation for any smart city concept is the people factor. Ironically when I investigate Smart Cities or business ideas that scale up, the people are often left behind.

In the last forty years I’ve effectively worked in three industries that has helped my resolute that Smart Cities must be about culture first and the rest will be accommodated.

With twenty five years of service in the not for profit sector developing local faith communities, this has definitely developed an understanding of healthy and unhealthy dynamics of group thought.

No one can escape group thought but we can control the effect and direct it towards building healthy (cities) communities.

Over the last nineteen years I’ve worked in commercial property management, retail and high-rise apartments developments. Having a sustainable business model is imperative.

Smart City Perth will invite those who have a larger than life attitude towards a social consciousness coupled with a business acumen who embrace a rapidly changing world of technology, to be part of the solutions.

Social consciousness alone won’t cut it and economics hasn’t cut it. The two must not be separated, they must become a whole.

Engineers are terrible Shepherds

When designing a Smart City, who brings all the soft sciences together? not Engineers.

Engineers are often brilliant in a silo environment, like mad scientists, they thrive on creating possibilities.

The shepherd (facilitator) isn’t threatened nor absorbed by the process of invention. Shepherds have the ability to bring the team together and keep the overall project on task.

A truly Smart City engages leaders that have a holistic approach to facilitate soul not just infrastructure.

Most current models of greenfield Smart Cities haven’t stood the test of time to measure the harmony of its citizens.

Retrofitting an existing City into a Global Smart City allows for culture to be re-birthed as technology incrementally adds value.

Smart Cities must thread together numerous elements that are mixed with aspects as old as time and new breakthrough technology.

Human beings simply want food, shelter, belonging, meaning, opportunity and to reproduce.

Shepherds are great at facilitating and threading numerous elements together and engineers are brilliant at developing and improving the individual elements. Note also, Shepherds aren’t good at engineering, just to balance my blog. -_-

If the two work together, the sky is the limit.

Creating a Global Smart City, it’s not rocket science.

Make managers squirm at the leadership table

From the Managers table to the Leaders table

I invited potential leaders within a Construction company to the managers table, teaching them management and effectiveness.

I’d pick various managers month to month and we’d go out to breakfast. My hope was to see them transition from management into leadership.

The difference between a manager and a leader is very distinct. Managers manage processes and leaders nurture peoples potential.

A brilliant manager has the ability to burn good people unless they make the leadership transition. Brilliant managers become disengaged if they don’t make the leadership transition.

After several lessons on managing processes well, the results of effectiveness escalated within the company. Many of the managers were lifted to higher roles of responsibility and I felt it was time to invite them to the leadership table.

The leadership table separates potential leaders from those that use their skills just for their own progress.

Many are called few are chosen

I invited approx twelve managers to a breakfast where the cafe overlooked Perth city. This lesson was going to be different to all the other lessons I taught. I knew I’d divide the table in two, those that wanted to continue their journey of self indulgence and those that were interested in a journey of leadership.

I talked about making a difference within the construction industry, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Very heavy topics that needed to be shared with those that oversaw the well-being of hundreds of co-workers.

After the lesson was shared, I asked each one on the table to give $500 towards printing hundreds of HiVis vests and roll out a campaign called ‘run for a friend ;’

While I knew the Construction Boss would’ve paid for it all, I believed it was opportune to teach these managers the value of investing in Social Capital.

The table divided

The moment I challenged them the atmosphere changed dramatically. No longer were we the elite group of managers going off to breakfast once a month. I threw them an opportunity to truly make a difference.

The table was divided in half, arms were folded, faces looked annoyed on one side. On the other side questions were asked “When do you need the money by?”

That morning was very defining and clearly the difference between those that see their life as stewards and those that see themselves as proprietors.

Stewards will always find themselves at the leadership table and proprietors will always burn people for their own end.

I disclosed all the above to the owner of the construction company, Mr Gerry Hanssen before the breakfast and he had a glint in his eye at the thought of leaders being birthed.

Needless to say we achieved our goal, we raised the necessary funds, leaders were birthed and Social Capital was released.

Never be ashamed to challenge talented people to the leadership table. Their talent is a gift and it doesn’t belong to them, it was given to them by God to add value to the world.