The House Of Beautiful Business Invites You To ‘Concrete Love’ In Lisbon, Portugal To Reinvent Organizations—And Yourself (Part 1)
The House of Beautiful Business is global think tank and community that brings together business executives and entrepreneurs, creatives and artists, scientists and technologists, policy makers and activists. Their mission: to inspire and equip them to reinvent their organizations—and themselves—so that they can lead the shift from “business-as-usual” to a new form of business that is more imaginative, playful, diverse, inclusive, socially responsible, and ecological. In one word: more beautiful.
Their Concrete Love event will take place in Lisbon, Portugal on Friday Oct 29th.
I caught up with Co-Founder Tim Leberecht to find out more about their journey.
Afdhel Aziz: Tim, welcome. Please explain to us a bit more about what the intriguingly named ‘House of Beautiful Business’ is all about?
Tim Leberecht: Beautiful business is everything business-as-usual is not (yet). It’s our unfilled desires, dreams, and expectations: the idea of a business that lives up to our full humanity and appreciates life and what truly matters in life. A softer, more fluid, more feminine brand of business.
We need beautiful business more than ever since the pandemic has shown us that business-us-usual is no longer working:
- The extraction of natural resources, one of the main pillars of capitalism, has caused the climate emergency.
- The extraction of internal resources has led to a mental health crisis. Anxiety, stress, depression, and burn-out levels are at all-time highs. 44% of workers say they’re exhausted on the job, up from 34% in 2020, and employee burnoutsoared as a result of COVID-19. Younger generations are especially struggling and want their employers to pay more attention to the mental health challenges they face. 70% of millennials and Generation Z consider mental health to be the challenge of the day.
- Trust in business and its leaders is at an all-time low.
- Democracy is in decline, and political polarization at fever pitch, fueled by growing social inequality.
- Add to that the disruption through exponential technology. The advance of AI and robotics, blockchain/decentralized web/NFTs is shifting the conversation from a focus on efficiency and optimization to creativity and generation, opening new possibilities and creating new jobs, but also threatening human labor and agency.
- The bottom line and GDP alone are no longer sufficient metrics when it comes to human and planetary flourishing. We need new indices such as wellbeing, prosperity, or planetary boundaries to measure what truly matters — while allowing ample space for appreciating what must remain immeasurable.
- Efficiency and productivity – which have long been heralded as the cornerstones of successful business – now seem problematic.
- The paradigm of “winning” at the heart of business-as-usual produces too many externalities; in fact, we now realize that if winning is the only option, we risk losing everything.
We can use this critical fork-in-the-road moment and try to return to how things were before COVID, when concepts such as purpose, humane work cultures, sustainability, and social justice were compelling as long as businesses could afford them. Or we can use this moment to double-down on these concepts. We can fundamentally reimagine business, and reinvent the role of business in society: how organizations are run, how we work, and how we lead our lives more beautifully.
We need new north stars, narratives, paradigms, and practices that produce better results but also excitement. They will not come from business books or schools alone, but from economics, tech, science, the humanities, and the arts living together under one roof. Enter the House of Beautiful Business.
Our mission with the House of Beautiful Business is to inspire and equip leaders and professionals to reinvent their organizations — and themselves — so they can lead the shift from “business-as-usual” to a new form of business that is more beautiful.
But not just WHY we gather, but also HOW matters a great deal to us. We believe that transformation on a personal, organizational, and societal level is only possible through shared emotional experiences that push us gently out of our comfort zone and create a safe space for unsafe ideas.
Aziz: I love it! How did this come about? What has been the reaction from your community? Why do they value it?
Leberecht: Till Grusche, my co-founder, and I first met when we became colleagues at the innovation powerhouse frog design, renowned for its work for Apple. Then we became neighbors in San Francisco, tennis partners, and ultimately friends.
Both of us worked as chief marketing officers. Till served as the CMO of a ridesharing startup. I worked as CMO of frog design, and later as CMO of an architecture firm, as well as a global IT outsourcing group.
We both lived and breathed Silicon Valley. We worked on many future-of and strategy projects. We managed partnerships with the World Economic Forum, Singularity University, and others. But we grew increasingly frustrated with these thought leadership communities and the way they thought about business. It seemed too narrow, too conventional, not impactful enough.
So we began to produce our own thinking. I wrote a book, The Business Romantic, that explored the importance of emotional intelligence in business. And then, three ½ years ago, we created our own community and co-founded the House of Beautiful Business.
The House started when we invested our own money to run some events on the sidelines of two of the world’s largest technology trade shows, in Barcelona and Lisbon. All we wanted back then was to create a brave new space for different kinds of conversations about tech, society, and business. We quickly realized that the space we had created resonated with people. They wanted more from business and from life: more honest conversations, a broader range of emotions, more playful experiences.
In 2019, members of our community took the House on the road and began to launch Chambers of Beautiful Business, local communities in more than 30 cities worldwide that offer in-person and online gatherings throughout the year. We also debuted the Beauty Shot newsletter and published the Book of Beautiful Business, followed by the release of The Great Wave playbook, co-created by members of the House community a year later, and special reports on The State of AI as well as The Future of Experiences. In 2020, we hosted more than 50 online Living Room Sessions, free to the public, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We now offer monthly online Living Room Sessions for our members, as well as Resident Circles in which they can deepen the conversation, forge new connections, mentor and advise each other, and collaborate on joint projects (House Work).
All of what we do—the events and experiences, the think tank consulting services, and the membership program—has one shared core: people enter the House and stay because they want inspiration, intelligence, intimacy, and impact. “Out-there ideas” and transformative experiences without being perceived as “woo-woo.” Emotional intelligence, a new sensitivity, a multidisciplinary approach to business.
And if this is something you look for in business, and in life, then the House of Beautiful Business is your house, too.