In this exclusive interview series, we speak to David Bailey CBE and Albert Watson (two of the world’s greatest photographers), HRH Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands (Patron of the World Press Photo Competition) and Professor Francis Hodgson (Co-Founder of the Pictet Prize). We discuss the powerful role of photography in culture, arts and communication; and examine the true nature of the photograph, the photographer and- in the process- ourselves.



In this exclusive interview series, we speak to Sir Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group) and Robin Li (Co-Founder, Baidu). We discuss the fundamental nature of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs themselves, and the role of entrepreneurs in society and the economy. We look at the key sources of entrepreneurial ideas, characteristics of successful enterprise and the role of wealth in the entrepreneurial journey. We also look at how entrepreneurship has changed, what the future holds and how entrepreneurs are addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems from poverty and economic crises to climate change and health.

Learning to Be Who We Are

Learning to Be Who We Are

In these exclusive interviews we speak to Marina Abramović (internationally acclaimed performance artist), and Sir Ken Robinson (widely considered to be the world’s foremost expert on creativity, innovation and human resources in education and business). We question the fundamental nature of learning and education and discuss the life long journey of understanding our purpose and who we are.

Entrepreneurship as Experimentation


Each and every year, I have the pleasure of judging at the Rice Business Plan Competition.  Tens of thousands of enterprising students from around the world compete, with a handful making it to the finals in Houston, Texas.   At this incredible event, student entrepreneurs pitch to the crème-de-la-crème of global investment professionals (VC’s, angels, and more) and eventually make it through a series of rounds to a final where they stand to win some serious cash.  In 2014 for example, the overall finalists (in industries ranging from apps to engineering to biotech) shared over US$ 3 million in prize-money.  Over the years, a disproportionately large number of businesses from the competition have gone on to commercialise, raise further rounds of funding and exit- creating significant economic returns.

In a stagnating global economy, entrepreneurial innovation is hugely important, and as a recent Harvard Business School working-paper Entrepreneurship as Experimentation shows; there are many principles we can apply to strengthen high-growth entrepreneurial activities. Continue reading

Theatre, Performance and Society

Theatre, Performance and Society

In this exclusive series of interviews, we speak to four world experts on theatre and performance. Sir Howard Panter (Founder of the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd, Chairman of Rambert Dance Company), Gilles Ste-Croix (co-founder of Cirque du Soleil), Joanna Read (Principal of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art – LAMDA) and James Houghton (Director of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, and Director of New York’s Signature Theatre Company). We discuss the role of theatre and performance in culture, look at the secrets of the performing arts and discuss the future of theatre in the modern world.

Can Prizes Change the World?


An interview with Eileen Bartholemew, Vice President of Prize Development at the X Prize Foundation.

For most of history…” notes Rachael King, “the thrill of solving life’s thorny problems has provided ample incentive for inventors. Yet the promise of fortune and fame doesn’t hurt. Over the past few centuries, governments and private interests have sought to enlist innovators and entrepreneurs against specific challenges by offering prizes with financial bounties.” (Bloomberg Business Week, 2008).

The British Government’s ‘Longitude Prize’ (1714) was responsible for one of the most important navigation tools in history (the precursor to the modern chronometer).  The French Academy of Sciences ‘Alkali Prize’ (1775) created one of the most important industrial-chemical processes of the 19th century and Napoleon’s Food Preservation Prize (1795) created the fundamentals of a food preservation method that is still used today.  Even in more recent history we saw the Orteig Prize (1919) for the first transatlantic flight, which spurred the world travel industry and the multitude of innovation prizes we have today including the Ansari X-Prize which offered US$10 million to the first non-government team to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks (a feat which had taken governments decades and billions of dollars to otherwise achieve).

To learn more about the role of prizes in innovation, I spoke to Eileen Bartholemew – Vice President of Prize Development at the X Prize Foundation who (in their own words) are, “…an innovation engine. A facilitator of exponential change. A catalyst for the benefit of humanity….”  Since their founding in 1995, the X-Prize foundation has facilitated oil recovery cleanup at triple the standard rate. Enabled the creation of a 135 MPGe energy-efficient car. And helped launch a $1.5 billion private space industry.


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Charity, Philanthropy and Society


In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Jeff Raikes (CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Eli Broad (Founder of the Broad Foundations), Sir Ratan Tata (Chairman Emeritus, Tata Group) and Anousheh Ansari (Trustee of the X Prize foundation and title sponsor of the Ansari X Prize). We discuss the fundamental nature of charity and philanthropy- looking at why these phenomena exist together with their role and impact on society. We also talk about their individual journeys in philanthropy, and how their organisations are aiming to tackle some of society’s greatest problems.

The Secrets of Business Planning


An interview with Tim Berry, a world expert on business planning

Plans are the DNA of business, containing all the base information needed to form a strategic framework for the growth, direction and shape of an enterprise.

Whether you are launching a new business, growing an existing enterprise, or even creating a venture within an existing corporation- chances are the first step in your journey will be the business plan.  In fact, for those wishing to raise money (whether it be seed capital, or venture finance) the plan is certainly a pre-requisite.

Studies have shown that “except in a small number of cases, business planning appeared to be positively correlated with business success…” and that  “while analysis cannot say that completing a business plan will lead to success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business pan is also more likely to run a successful business” (Ding & Hursey, 2010)

Much has been written on the business plan, and for many- it seems an almost insurmountable hurdle to write (what they anticipate will be) a thesis length piece on ever minutiae of their idea.  The reality however, is far simpler…

To learn more about the secrets of the business plan, I spoke to Tim Berry.  He is co-founder of Eugene Social,  founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, founder of, and a co-founder of Borland International.  Tim has dedicated his life to business planning. Continue reading

A Look at the World Diamond Market


Guest article written for – the official publication of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at:

Diamond’s are one of the world’s most precious natural resources.  These unique stones are almost as old as the Earth itself, and have become culturally, socially, economically, politically and even  scientifically significant.  Figures from the World Diamond Council state that each year, around US$13 billion of rough-diamonds are mined (65% of which come from Africa).  The diamond value chain (from exploration, to mining, processing and retail) employs over 10 million people around the world, and jewellery sales alone (having grown three-fold in 25 years) are now in excess of US$72 billion per annum.

The diamond industry has always existed in a state of pseudo globalisation.  Over a thousand years ago, diamonds were mined in India, before being cut and polished in Arabia and sold to European aristocracy.  These are stones which have been adored for their rarity and beauty, while being almost universally accepted as portable, untraceable and efficient stores of value.   The diamond ‘industry‘ (at least as we know it today) began 1800’s, when an accidental find of diamonds in South Africa kicked off a mining, exploration and trading boom that led to the existence of one of the most successful and long-lasting cartel’s in economic history- that being the small network of world diamond producers.

The relative opacity and complexity of the diamond market has contributed to a general lack of understanding of its dynamics when, in truth, the modern form of globalisation has introduced competition, transparency and free-market behaviours to this industry.

To learn more about the world diamond market, I spoke to David Prager, Global Head of Corporate Affairs at De Beers Group – a 120 year old firm with revenues of over US$7 billion, and a market share (by value) of over 35% of the world’s rough diamond market. Continue reading

Investing in Travel


Guest article written for – the official publication of the  Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at:

The WTTC note that the travel industries (when taking into account their direct and indirect roles) contribute over 9.1% to world GDP, amounting to over U$6.3 trillion of economic output and sustaining 1 in 12 of all global jobs (around 255 million people).   Looking at the USA alone, travel and tourism amount to over 10% of the country’s GDP, supporting 14.4 million jobs and contributing over $120 billion in tax revenues.

This is a hugely segmented industry which (as Timothy O’Neil-Dunne states), “….inspires because it has a huge emotional component, everybody feels very attached to it.  At the same time, it’s incredibly complex- and full of mind-bogglingly stupid things that make it more complex than it needs to be….”   It is this factor of complexity which translates (to many investors) as being an indication of risk or even a lack of scale opportunities.  In the latter case, looking at just three members of one segment (the Online Travel Agency space) – Priceline (with a market cap of U$32 billion), Expedia (with a market cap of U$8.1 billion) and Tripadvisor (with a market cap of $5.4 billion) – show that this assumption, of a lack of scale, is clearly false.

The fact is, travel is one of the few industries that impacts practically everyone in the world economy.  It’s strange therefore that this is a sector lacking in investment momentum. To learn more about investing in the travel space, I spoke with Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, Managing Partner at T2Impact Ltd, co-Founder of VaultPAD Ventures and one of the original founders of Expedia.  He has published 3 books in Travel Distribution and Aviation. Mr. O’Neil-Dunne is a frequently quoted and a commentator in travel and technical journals and is a permanent advisor to the World Economic Forum.

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