Ricky Robinson

Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Be Brave. Stay Relevant.

[vc_section][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1634807289453{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;background-image: url(https://p3c3k3v2.rocketcdn.me/lrmgafrica-cms-25Wr1/uploads/2021/10/BeBraveStay-Relevant_v2_DesktopBanner_1920x520px.png?id=14821) !important;background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_column offset=”vc_hidden-sm vc_hidden-xs” css=”.vc_custom_1607075218625{background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_empty_space height=”50vh”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1612423774552{margin-top: 0px !important;margin-bottom: 0px !important;}” el_id=”Mobile Image”][vc_column offset=”vc_hidden-lg vc_hidden-md” css=”.vc_custom_1607063004687{background-position: center !important;background-repeat: no-repeat !important;background-size: cover !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”14824″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1612425053698{margin-top: 0px !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;background-color: #0a2f67 !important;}” el_id=”Main Title”][vc_column][vc_row_inner el_class=”large-padding-left-100 large-padding-right-100 small-padding-left-0 small-padding-right-0″][vc_column_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”Be Brave. Stay Relevant.” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:65px|text_align:center|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:1.3″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”small-font-50″ link=”url:%23″][vc_custom_heading text=”What Can We Be Brave Enough to Leave Behind?” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:40px|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff|line_height:1.3″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”small-font-30″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section][vc_section][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1627569084709{margin-top: 2vh !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=””][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Breaking new ground often leads to surprising rewards – in our personal and professional lives, and in business. But it isn’t easy to leave behind the familiar. It requires bravery.” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:40px|text_align:left|color:%230a509b|line_height:1.5″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”small-font-30″][vc_custom_heading text=”In a visceral sense, at the birth of a human life, a cord is cut. Our very essence is about having to let go.” font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:40px|text_align:left|color:%230a509b|line_height:1.5″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”small-font-30″][vc_column_text]As we grow in body and mind, an awareness takes hold that this is difficult. Arguably, we have a life-long agenda for growth and development, but the forces that shape our lives often require us to make complex choices. The most difficult ones occur when there is a clash between the safety of what we know – or what we think we know – and the unknowable future of an entirely different route. There’s a gap, a void, between these paths. To step into it requires courage.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”14789″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1634288444521{padding-top: 5vh !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”From black to green” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634290658301{padding-top: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]In the business context, cutting the rope is often not about adaptations, or modifications. Sometimes it is a chasmic leap. And one that is a strategic necessity. 

In 2012, the then state-owned company Danish Oil and Natural Gas A/S, at that point the country’s largest energy company, was jolted by the 90% plunge in the price of natural gas. A new CEO, Henrik Poulsen, resisted the crisis management approach, pushing instead for a transformation – a total overhaul of its core business, from fossil fuels to renewables. 

“We saw the need to build an entirely new company,” says Poulsen, quoted in a 2019 Harvard Business Review article recognising the organisation’s achievements as one of the top-20 business transformations of that decade. In what was regarded at the time as an impossibility, Poulsen led a program of cutting costs from offshore wind production in order to scale the technology. The company’s revenue mix is now at 85% renewables, it has a near one-third share of the global offshore wind market, and its revenues have grown $3 billion since the transformation.

Brave and visionary leadership has been shown to correlate widely with better organisational performance. Still, the leap into a new energy frontier was way ahead of the industry curve, a profound decision – even fairy-tale stuff. Fittingly, the company now has a different name, too: Ørsted, after Hans Christian Ørsted, a 19th-century pioneer of energy science. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Beyond fear” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634290693764{padding-top: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]If you were a mountaineer, no matter how skilled, could you envisage deliberately leaving behind ropes, harnesses, support equipment? 

In 2017 Alex Honnold became the first person to scale, ‘free solo’, the sheer vertical 900m granite rock face of El Capitan in the Yosemite National Park, recognised as the planet’s most difficult rock-climbing challenge, an act of do-or-die. Emily Harrington replicated his achievement, the first woman to do so, in late 2020. 

What may we learn from Honnold’s and Harrington’s incredible accomplishments? We may reflect on the role of self-belief in embracing such a monumental challenge. Harrington, in a subsequent interview, said simply, “We should be less afraid to be afraid.” More elegantly, American writer and humourist Mark Twain offers this applicable, insightful view of bravery… [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not the absence of fear.”” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:center|color:%230a509b|line_height:1.5″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634288602456{padding-top: 2vh !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”14783″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1634290711910{padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Into the unknown” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]In business, there is usually a flag signalling the need for change. A financial loss, for example, is an economic confirmation that something isn’t working. 

But what if there isn’t a clear signal?  Or, it comes only from an intuitive sense? Perhaps these are the situations which require the most courage, because they are barely explainable, even to ourselves. In his poem Finisterre (in the 2012 collection Pilgrim), David Whyte writes that there is …[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”14845″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1634893560853{padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]What Whyte is suggesting is that, when we hit dead ends, it may not be because we can’t find answers, but rather that we’re asking the wrong questions. Perhaps, too, some questions don’t need answers, only explorations of possibilities; he calls them ‘beautiful questions’ – they disrupt our existing thinking and prompt us to hold a more meaningful conversation with ourselves. 

The title of Whyte’s poem is interesting, too. In ancient Rome, Cabo Finisterre, on the western coast of Galicia in Spain, was thought to be the end of the world. It took many centuries for intrepid sailors to truly test the dogma – indeed, only in 1492, when Christopher Columbus headed into the unknown to find a new route to the old eastern world, was the Age of Exploration launched. This was the pull of the urge to discover – but what bravery that must have taken![/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1627569135545{margin-top: 2vh !important;margin-bottom: 2vh !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}” el_class=”gradient” el_id=”gradient row”][vc_column][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=””][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”The courage of convictions” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Pioneering thinking and early adoption of new ideas can be a game changer. Studies on digital adoption, for instance, show that early leaders can harness gains across a range of performance metrics, including operational efficiencies and share price improvements. 

But when circumstances don’t appear to demand it, why does one need to leave things behind? It’s called ‘baggage’ because it ties us down by holding us to the past. We may well need to act or move fast; just as nature abhors a vacuum, so our opportunities can be seized by others.

As soon as we catch a glimpse of one, it may be gone. 

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings had the courage to act on what his analyses – and his instincts – were telling him, by insisting on taking over the CEO role from his founding business partner, Marc Randolph, just two years after the company had been launched in 1997. The two had just rejected Amazon’s offer of $16m for the company. Hastings understood that they were entering a new phase, requiring that old ties be cut and familiar foundations shaken in order to seize the opportunities, and weather the competitive challenges ahead.  

Actually, Netflix is a prime example of regular rejuvenation – of leaving the tried and trusted behind – to stay relevant. Hastings (and Randolph in the company’s early years) blew up their core business model frequently. From DVD sales to rentals; from rentals to subscriptions; expanding subscriptions to an unlimited offering; triggering the idea of binge-viewing by releasing a series in one go; the streaming and content creation changes. And the company has just announced plans to launch video games. 

Perhaps what epitomises staying relevant in business is how the competition is defined – and redefined. So, how does Hastings see Netflix’s competition? “We actually compete with sleep,” he said at an industry summit in 2017. “And we’re winning!”

The company’s history, then, is illustrative of a willingness to forget what worked in the past, and to keep looking – always – to the future.   

Have all, or most, of Hastings’s sometimes radical decisions paid off? You bet: Netflix now has annual revenues of $25 billion, and the company is valued at roughly ten times that. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1627569168546{margin-top: 2vh !important;margin-bottom: 2vh !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=”” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Getting too comfortable?” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]Being successful breeds confidence, in turn often reinforcing and driving further successful actions. But a certain restlessness may be a truer mark of longer-term ambition. The paradox that it may be good to be uncomfortable with comfort leads to what Jim Collins calls productive paranoia, the notion that it’s better to face fears early. Asking “what if?” questions may lead to a radical departure from trusted territory, but it may be the bravest form of preparedness.  

Indeed, perhaps business bravery is more of an acquired, practised skill in handling high-risk decision-making. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“The judgement calls may seem bold – and often they are – but they are born of experience, behind-the-scenes preparation, and considered deliberation.”” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:center|color:%230a509b|line_height:1.5″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634289633082{padding-top: 2vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]These are the sort of leaders who build the muscle of bravery; they ask themselves, more often than most, whether they are being brave enough. [/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”Confronting reality, and changing direction” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634290735239{padding-top: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]Brave leadership sometimes starts with admitting the existence, and depth, of a problem. Inevitably, what follows will be conflictual conversations, and harder decisions – even visionary ones, such as Paul Polman’s volte-face when appointed CEO of Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, Unilever. He decoupled the company’s growth strategies from its environmental footprint, and took a long view on prioritising sustainability and social impact – even, from 2009, refusing to release quarterly earnings guidance and financial reports. 

Essentially, Polman was leaving behind the baggage of Unilever’s 80-year legacy, to start a new one. “We cannot choose between [economic] growth and sustainability — we must have both,” he said at the 2010 launch of Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan.

In their application to business, we’ve seen how brave decisions may involve new initiatives, the willingness to change, disruptively, and move on towards greater relevance. This may require an absolute, counterintuitive focus. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”14784″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1634290755641{padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]In 2015, the CEO of industrial conglomerate General Electric, Jeff Immelt, faced a dilemma, and made an extraordinary call. The GE Capital business unit, despite being non-core to the company’s operations and non-central to its mission, was contributing 80% of the company’s ROI. Budgeting-wise, the division was being allocated resources proportionate to its delivery. This was holding back Immelt’s investment plans for the enterprise’s industrial expansion.  

Contrary to shareholders’ wishes, and at risk of diminishing his own legacy, he decided to divest GE Capital. Leaving behind billions in potential profit from financing-related activities, he opted to focus on the future. On GE’s main reason for existing: to transform industry and to become the world’s premier digital industrial company, according to its vision. “Immelt’s job is indeed about performance, but it is also about getting it without discounting the future. From that perspective, selling GE’s most profitable business unit to protect the sustainability of GE is part of the job. But if that doesn’t take courage, I don’t know what does,” commented business administration professor Juan Pablo Vazquez Sampere. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1627569174438{margin-top: 2vh !important;margin-bottom: 2vh !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}” el_class=”gradient” el_id=”gradient row”][vc_column][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=””][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Less is more – less ego, too” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]One of the main ideas in management and research professor Brené Brown’s book Dare to Lead is that business leaders should let go – of a fair number of things, ego included. Communicating that as leaders we do not have all the answers, and inviting contributions to problem-solving, are displays of vulnerability and a belief in others that can elevate the company’s culture of collaboration, shared mission, and high performance.  

Musical composers understand the value of stepping back. Deliberate pauses, known as tacets, are sometimes stretched into surprising silences, a case of sacrificing notes which would embellish rather than add. What isn’t there highlights the elegance or power of what is. Finnish composer Jean Sibelius must have been tempted to round out the last bars of his Symphony No. 5 with the right notes, but he daringly imposed huge silences. They enrapture, and demand the listener’s attention to the very end. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1627569180905{margin-top: 2vh !important;margin-bottom: 2vh !important;padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=”” content_placement=”middle”][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_custom_heading text=”Personal mistakes, profound growth” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:left|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:40px” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]We could also bear in mind that there are learnings to be gained from failure. When we take a leap, even if we fall short, we are not in the same space. Even in small ways, and perhaps even indiscernible at first, we have developed. In her autobiography, the acclaimed West End, Broadway, Hollywood and radio actress Tallulah Bankhead – famed for her snappy and candid quips – put it like this: “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.”

Cutting the cord: the words seem harsh, because they imply a clear and clean break. But until we can re-imagine our possibilities, we may remain stuck within a force field presented by fate.  Ultimately, at times in our lives we need a wake-up call to remind us that we are masters of our own destinies, provided we can find the courage and determination to shake off, or simply let go, of whatever may be holding us back. [/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”14788″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” css=”.vc_custom_1634290808352{padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;}”][vc_column_text]As we hesitate to leave behind something to which we have been attached, we might do well to remember the encouraging words of CS Lewis …[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:35px|text_align:center|color:%230a509b|line_height:1.5″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1634290458403{padding-top: 2vh !important;}”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” css=”.vc_custom_1634290486640{padding-top: 5vh !important;padding-bottom: 5vh !important;background-color: #0a2f67 !important;}”][vc_column][vc_row_inner el_class=”large-padding-left-100 large-padding-right-100 small-padding-left-0 small-padding-right-0″][vc_column_inner][vc_custom_heading text=”References:” font_container=”tag:div|font_size:30px|text_align:left|color:%23ffffff|line_height:1.3″ use_theme_fonts=”yes” el_class=”small-font-20″ css=”.vc_custom_1611049219637{padding-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text el_class=”list-style-1″ css=”.vc_custom_1634290913823{margin-left: 2vh !important;border-bottom-width: 2vh !important;padding-top: 2vh !important;}”]‘The widening digital divide: How leading companies are thriving in the new reality’, KPMG, 2021, p3[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row thb_full_width=”true” thb_row_padding=”true” thb_column_padding=”true” content_placement=”middle” el_class=”small-flex-100 small-flex-flow-column” css=”.vc_custom_1627477067349{margin-right: 0px !important;margin-left: 0px !important;padding-right: 5vh !important;padding-left: 5vh !important;background-color: #f8f8f8 !important;}” el_id=”end”][vc_column width=”1/2″ el_class=”small-flex-100″][vc_row_inner thb_max_width=”” content_placement=”middle” el_class=”author-block small-flex-100″][vc_column_inner][vc_column_text][rv-post-author][/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″ css=”.vc_custom_1611076224262{background-color: #f8f8f8 !important;}”][vc_custom_heading text=”Share link” font_container=”tag:h3|font_size:30px|text_align:center|color:%2326b1b1|line_height:1.3″ use_theme_fonts=”yes”][thb_share facebook=”true” twitter=”true” pinterest=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” vkontakte=”true” whatsapp=”true” facebook_messenger=”true”][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

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