On The Edge is a podcast all about making unexpected connections. It features conversations with people who are living and working on the boundaries of organisations and places, and who see the world a little differently. Hosted by compulsive connector Roland Harwood from Liminal.
#044 Ella Goldner - Venture Builder
In this conversation I connected with Ella Goldner. Ella is a co-founder of Zinc - a fund that backs entrepreneurs, pre-team and pre-idea, to build new tech-enabled & mission-driven commercial ventures. She is also the co-founder of Alma Angels, a network that brings together new and existing angel investors who are committed to actively supporting female founders.
In this conversation we talked about:
The Zinc venture builder missions and how/why the best way to foster entrepreneurship in response to social challenges?
How to mitigate the challenges of co-founder relationships, especially given that some people say that too much or too little co-founder conflict is the #1 cause of start up failure.
A deep dive into the latest Zinc environment mission which just went live - to mobilise the climate innovation ecosystem through cross-sector collaboration and scale up capital, and shifting narrative from climate being (only) a big problem to (also) a huge opportunity.
So I started out by asking her, What is a venture builder mission and who is it for? Enjoy!
"The core components (of Zinc) are; can we get the talent to do that if we give them the right missions, can we build an ecosystem around them, an army of people who care about what they do and help them, and can we make that really powerful by underpinning with good research."
"Every moment you hear the news (about climate) there is a reason to feel despair, so how do you turn that around and remind people of the opportunities and the covid an industry-led vaccine task force is a really good example of how to do that."
"We want (Zinc) to be the best place in the world for anybody who wants to experiment and have impact at scale... if you are really talented and ambitious."
#043 Shiv Malik - Data Unions
“How do you change the system to take longer term decisions without forcing people and using a government to do that, and the answer is you set up cooperatives and mutuals.” Shiv Malik
In this conversation I connected with Shiv Malik who is a technologist, broadcaster, author, former Guardian investigative journalist and co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation think tank. He is also author of several books - The Messenger and Jilted Generation. He joined the Web3 space in 2017 with Golem and then Streamr. In 2021 he co-founded Pool and currently leads the organization on its mission to bring Data Unions to the world and ensure people have control of their data and a genuine stake in the digital economy.
In this conversation we talked about web3 and data unions and why are they are important, building upon his background as an investigative journalist.
"We all need to have that stake in the future and be able to leverage that."
#042 Sonja Blignaut - Crossing Thresholds
In this conversation I connected with Sonja Blignaut.
Originally a meteorologist, Sonja now partners with people who need to navigate, make sense of, and lead in uncertainty. She spans the boundaries of leadership, organisational development & change, strategy, risk, innovation, and marketing. In short, she works wherever there is complexity, which nowadays is more or less everywhere.
Sonja is internationally recognised as an expert on Complexity, the Cynefin Framework, Waysfinding, and Complexity Fitness. She is certified in various individual and systemic coaching methods and a sought-after speaker, with experience at various conferences locally and internationally, including TedX.
In this conversation we talked about crossing thresholds and the skills, capabilities, rituals, and mindsets are required to navigate transitions well?- inspired by this blog post that she shared recently that I’ll link to in the show notes. That post starts with the following quote by John O’Donohue:
“At any time you can ask yourself: At which threshold am I now standing? At this time in my life, what am I leaving? Where am I about to enter? What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold? What gift would enable me to do it?”
So I started out by asking her, at what threshold she is now standing and how it makes her feel? Enjoy!
- The space of not knowing is where the growth happens
- The hardest conversations we are avoiding the most are the ones with ourselves
- The value of rituals in transitions and the need for containment
- How much of my own life am I putting off until someday?
- The time has come to cross - don’t let your life flow by without noticing
#041 Nick Hare - New World O?der
In this conversation I connected with Nick Hare, founder of Aleph Insights - an analytics consultancy that specialises in supporting strategic decision-making for both business and government in defence, security, intelligence and international affairs.
Prior to establishing Aleph Insights, he worked in various roles across the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office and the intelligence community, most recently within Defence Intelligence, where he was responsible for professionalising intelligence analysis."
I first met Nick via an old school friend and have gone on to work with him a few times over the last decade.
In this conversation - recorded on 1st April 2022 - we talked about the current war in Ukraine. In particular we talked about: What can we learn about analysis and decision making from such turbulent times? And is there a new world order emerging, and if so are are some of the possible future scenarios?
So I started out by asking him, how has the war in Ukraine affected him personally, and also whether he agrees that we are past a point of no return? Enjoy!
#040 Jon Alexander - Citizens
In this conversation I connected with Jon Alexander who is the author of a new book called Citizens.
Jon started his career working in the advertising industry, selling some of the world's biggest brands, and winning plenty of awards along the way. Then he realised he was caught up in a story he didn't believe in: The Consumer Story.
So in 2014, Jon co-founded the New Citizenship Project. Their mission was to figure out how to use their skills not just to sell stuff to Consumers, but to involve people in the decisions that affect their lives as Citizens, working with the likes of the Co-op, Body Shop, National Trust, BBC, and European Central Bank.
In this conversation we talked about:
A brief history of humanity from people as subjects to consumers to citizens.
How the citizen story is different to some of the progressive stories and ideas that have preceded it?
How the pandemic has shifted the role and power of people, governments and corporations?
How we can’t have paradigm shift without a paradigm to shift to.
The story of vTaiwan and Taiwan in 2014.
The idea of social acupuncture.
So I started out by asking him, what is the citizen story, and why is it important right now? Enjoy!
Please Note: In this conversation we talked about several examples including Participatory Cities (of which I am a trustee) and Tessy Britton (who I interviewed way back in episode 4 of this podcast) - links above. Also Jon and I were introduced recently thanks to Francine Bennet so many thanks to Fran for the introduction.
#039 Anab Jain - Curating the Future
In this conversation I connected with Anab Jain who is a designer, futurist, filmmaker and educator.
As Co-founder and Director of Superflux - the multi-award winning design agency - they translate future uncertainty into present day choices
Over the last 15 years, Anab has gained international recognition for her work and commentary on design, innovation, emerging technologies and complex futures. She is the recipient of many, many awards.
She has delivered talks and keynotes at several conferences including TED, MIT Media Lab and MOMA’s to name but three.
In addition, Anab was appointed Professor at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 2016, where she leads the Design Investigations (ID2) Program.
In this conversation we talked about how and why we think about the future is all wrong. In particular we talked about:
1. Who or what gives you hope for the future?
2. How do you translate future uncertainty into present day choices?
3. What is human exceptionalism, and why are you calling time on it?
So I started out by asking her, why do you not like to make predictions about the future? Enjoy!