As we are facing lasting wounds, the arts throw us a lifeline.

Celles de 14 — one of Anselm Kiefer’s six vitrines at the Pantheon in Paris (photo by the author)

This past weekend I visited, for the first time, the inside of the Pantheon in Paris, the French “hall of fame” where some of the nation’s greatest thinkers and leaders are buried and honored. I expected to be awed by the graves and decorum, as well as by Foucault’s pendulum, also on display. But I was completely caught off-guard by the permanent exhibition of works by German artist Anselm Kiefer and French composer Pascal Dusapin. Commissioned by French president Emmanuel Macron, the exhibition premiered during a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2020 that marked writer Maurice Genevoix’s entry into the Pantheon

We need a more literate business world.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

In the business world, the idea of “literacy” is often taken for granted. We like to think we know what we’re looking at, that we’re in touch with our customers, and up-to-date on trends. But we often judge a book by its cover, and that is often not good enough.

Business can be illiterate when it’s all-too-literal. It spawns an incredible number of ideas only to quash most of them in the grinds of a binary bureaucracy that has no tolerance for fiction, even though one could argue that companies (and markets) are essentially stories that come (or at least…

As we gather again, we realize what we missed most is feeling together.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

First things first: the annual gathering of the House of Beautiful Business will return this fall, in Lisbon (“the capital of beautiful business”) and around the world, for five glorious days of CONCRETE LOVE. Please save these dates: Thursday, October 28 — Monday, November 1, 2021 and go to concretelove.house for details on everything there is to know at this point: the program, the themes we want to discuss with you, and the amazing contributors who have confirmed so far.

We realize the privilege of plotting an in-person gathering at this point in time, and clearly, it will not be…

To attract and retain a post-pandemic workforce, nomadism must transcend lifestyle to become an organizational quality.

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.com

Now that the vaccination campaigns, in developed nations at least, are gaining speed, we, the privileged ones, are erasing the pandemic like a bad memory, shaking it off our clothes and bodies and souls like the flu. Despite all the talk about a great reset, we are more or less returning to our pre-pandemic lives. For those of us lucky enough to contemplate it, the new normal is the old normal. We want our life back as it was, with one notable exception: work.

For unprecedented flexibility in organizing our work is the one newfound freedom in the lockdown that…

Some thoughts about business as parenting.

An entrepreneur and mother of a seven-year-old son once told me something she admitted she would never share publicly: “My company is my second child.”

“I know this may sound frivolous if not unacceptable,” she explained, “not just because of gender expectations, but because it may seem naïve to equate actual human life with an organization. But I’m beginning to embrace this as my truth, and split my time accordingly between my two children.”

Being a founder and father myself, I can relate to this. My company is my second child, too. I have created it, and now it has…

Instead of better listeners, we must become more intentional speakers.

Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

“Everything that needed to be said was said, but no one was listening, so it needs to be said again,” the French writer André Gide once observed.

For decades, business literature has been replete with calls to elevate listening skills. From “Chief Listening Officers” to the Listen-Thinking methodology of the startup Tirezio, a plethora of solutions for deeper, more empathetic, and more active listening to the voices of customers, employees, and colleagues has been met with high demand. Books like Susan Cain’s seminal Quiet or David Rock’s Quiet Leadership have popularized listening as the secret sauce in a “world that…

The map of moral leadership at work has been redrawn.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Basecamp was one of those companies known for “getting it.” It had long prided itself on being a unique moral and strategic voice among same-same tech with a keen ear for customer and employee needs. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the two founders, were seen as progressive voices on the future of work, and their 2010 book Re:Work tore apart stubborn productivity myths and made a case for company cultures neither driven by bureaucratic rigamarole nor workaholism. “It doesn’t have to be crazy at work,” they claimed, and to date, Basecamp seemed to exemplify their credo. …

The Super League fiasco might present a chance to make football beautiful again.

Photo by Klemens Köpfle on Unsplash

One is hard-pressed to think of an uglier nemesis of beautiful business than the idea of the European Super League that collapsed after backlash from fans, coaches, players, even governments. It would have effectively locked the richest football (soccer) clubs into perpetual games with one another and scuttled the competition of talent as we know it.

In the wake of the protests, all six English clubs withdrew their participation, with some of them — Manchester United and Arsenal — apologizing to fans (in fact, even the leading bank behind the effort, JP Morgan, apologized). …

Where does your brand fit?

This seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building, also called the “Basket Building,” designed for the Longaberger company in Newark, Ohio, is considered one of the, if not the ugliest building in the world. Is it also unlovable? Photo: The Architect’s Newspaper

Beauty and love — the relationship between the two has been the cause of much passionate philosophical debate (and even war).

Urbanism professor Michael Benedikt created a 2 x 2 matrix illustrating the continuum from “lovable beauty” to “unlovable beauty,” and from “lovable ugliness” to “unlovable ugliness.”

What are their cultural implications for business?

Photo: Archives Yves Klein

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are the latest craze of the crypto economy — but unlike previous hypes, e.g. Bitcoin, they appear to be moving into the mainstream much faster.

They are exciting, game-changing, empowering. They are the latest example of group-think, the new bragging rights of the wealthy.

They finally give creators and artists the chance to reap the fair financial benefits from their work. They are a new asset class virtually incomprehensible for the non-digerati-non-financerati, further widening social inequality.

They will help us find new ways of value creation that might make our economies more sustainable. …

Tim Leberecht

Co-founder and co-CEO of the House of Beautiful Business; author of “The Business Romantic” and “The End of Winning”

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