Brexit text with British and Eu flags illustration

I popped home to Monaco this weekend. Great weather, magnificent food; just the place to see out the Brexit storm engulfing Britain.

The Côte d’Azur is its usual sparkling best. The sea temperature is just right – once les petitis ballons have adjusted of course.

And while the guards at the Palais Princier in Monaco are still sticking to their bizarre handover time of 11:55 AM it’s always worth a gander at old Boney’s personal belongings in the Musée des Souvenirs Napoléoniens in the west wing.

Although Brexit will undoubtedly affect me in some shape or form going forward for good or for bad, I’m an EU and Australian citizen and not British, it’s been fascinating to see the fallout from the historic Brexit vote.

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Well well well.  The UK is gearing up to vote leave if the polls and yesterday’s Sun front cover are to be believed.

I’ve been saying all along that Britain will be better off out of Europe.

From a business perspective it’s a no brainer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve nothing against international cooperation.  It’s a good thing.

The UK should and must cooperate with other nations to strengthen trade, security, and so on.

elon1180

Can technology change the world?

Half a century ago we put a man on the moon.  Half a century before that Henry Ford revolutionised the world with the Model T, the first mass produced motor car.  And the Wright brothers took to the air, shrinking the world.

Technology, when I was a kid, was the stuff of dreams.  We devoured stories about inventors, superheroes, and imagined that one day we’d be flying around in jet packs.  Science was what the smart kids studied, and the boffins in lab coats were going to save the world.  We all wanted to be Dr Who.

But something went wrong along the way.

Science seemed to lose its sparkle.  Suddenly the technological marvels were causing more troubles than they solved.  Road deaths.  Health scares.  Cyber crime.  Climate change.

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I was obviously delighted to see Australia performing at this year’s Eurovision.  In fact we nearly won – the wonderful Dami Im was leading the voting for most of the night.

What on earth was Aus doing anyway, performing at the Eurovision?  Shome mishtake shurely?  Well, no.  Australia was invited to enter last year as a one off, to celebrate Eurovision’s mission of ‘building bridges across the world.’  And it went down so well that the committee invited us back a second time round.

But well done Ukraine for pipping everybody else to the post.  And bad luck Britain, although to be fair I don’t think you Pommies were taking it very seriously this year, as usual.

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Apart from the fact that Gatwick Airport is floating on a mega pool of oil (at Horse Hill 1.2 miles away) bold and visionary thinking is urgently required by the UK Government on airport expansion.

Before it’s too late.

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I’m extremely proud that Lenigas Cuba has been announced as one of Britain’s top 100 companies in Mishcon De Reya’s Leap 100 award for high growth companies.

It’s called The Leap after President John F Kennedy announced in 1961 that an American would walk on the moon within a decade.  That audacious ambition was realised in the Summer of 1969 when Neil Armstrong announced “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The award was set up to shine a light on those companies that can demonstrate bold and audacious vision and the ability to make it happen.

Of course it’s a great honour.  In particular it gives recognition the dedicated and hard working team in Cuba, and in London, who have made Lenigas Cuba the dynamic and fast-growing business that it is today.

We’re the first specialist investment company in the world to focus on Cuba. And so far we have invested in five Cuba-based companies.

Lenigas Cuba is interested in tourism, accommodation, infrastructure, transport, commercial and residential property, technology, communications, manufacturing, retail, services, leisure, agricultural and natural resources.  We’ve already done a lot of deals in Cuba and are looking at many more. And there’s no doubt in my mind that as one of the last frontier markets, Cuba’s potential is extraordinary.

But the reason I think The Leap is so important is that it brings together like-minded companies, founders, and CEOs – the very best of British technology, leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Companies totally committed to growth and dynamism.

Leap is a fantastic network and Leap companies are companies to watch.  I shall enjoy getting to know them all during 2016.

 

 

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In case anybody is in any doubt the hero of today’s news from Horse Hill is the incredible oil man, and gentleman, Steve Sanderson.

Steve made this discovery possible and I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.  I’m good at what I do best – taking a project of size, resourcing it, and bringing in the right management.

Steve identified the potential of the Kimmeridge and agreed to front the company in the face of doom-mongers and naysayers.  He stepped up to the plate, first as a consultant, then as CEO, and then Chairman, after I stepped down.

Steve agreed to become Chairman at my request, and in doing so staked his own reputation on Horse Hill coming good.  Today he has been proved right.

So, why did we find the oil and no one else?

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As an entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to risk. In fact, I love it. I actively go looking for it. Because where there’s risk there’s reward. Sometimes massively so. My philosophy has always been to understand the context, mitigate the risk and believe in what you’re doing.

Like 30-year old Alex Honnold. This kid is currently taking the climbing world by storm with his free soloing exploits. No rope, no safety gear. Just a bag of chalk and balls the size of Nebraska.

I was thinking about him whilst watching Forecasting the Future of Entrepreneurship, one of the panel discussions from the Consumer Electronics Show that has just ended in Vegas.

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Last week I laughed out loud listening to the BBC Radio 4 series with the brilliant British comedian David Mitchell. Its subject was whether manners are still important.  It was hilariously funny but tackled a rather important subject.

As a kid growing up in Oz my father made sure we understood that manners meant something.  Rudeness to elder relatives would be met with a wallop.  Quite rightly so.  In those un-PC days, it was not common to have your father dragged into court for giving a kid a damn good hiding for stepping severely out of line.

Twitter

I love social media.  You may have noticed. 

As a businessman my job is to grow successful companies.  And an important part of my job is explaining to the world what my businesses do. Social media is an essential tool for me to engage with customers, staff, suppliers, partners, investors, governments, and the world at large. There are a lot of people selling boot leather on the streets and my job is to rise above the pack and sell my shoes better.

Our businesses do not exist in isolation.  They are part of the real world.  They create jobs, build communities, and drive economic growth.  So its right and proper that businesses explain, and engage with the people whose lives they touch.