Archive for April, 2009

Sustainable Development (SD), Value Creation and the Capital Markets

Following a meeting of the CBBF (Canadian Baha’i Business Forum, Dec 2008) where Dr. Blair W. Feltmate, Director, Sustainable Development, OPG, spoke passionately about the move toward SD (Sustainable Development) as a philosophy for future governance and business management, I knew that as an Executive coach and leadership trainer, I couldn’t ignore the subject of Sustainability with any of my future clients.

As Executive Coaches, we go to our clients with their agenda in mind to help them focus on what’s working for them, what’s not working for them and what they consider to be important development factors for leading their organization forward. But as former executives we also know something about running a business. The senior coaches I work with including my Associates go into organizations with much more than just life coaching skills. They have practical business leadership experience. We do all the standard coaching activities; working with assessment tools, workshop facilitation, assisting in goal setting, helping clear limiting beliefs, assisting in team development, improving relationship skills and developing leadership’s consultation and communication skills. But we also have our own business experience to share and are capable mentors as well as coaches. We utilize the skill of questioning, but we can also provide in-sight and mentoring when it is necessary.

After hearing Dr. Feltmate’s presentation, I realized that not incorporating SD into my skill set and business model would be a disservice to my clients. » Continue reading “Sustainable Development (SD), Value Creation and the Capital Markets”

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Leadership Lessons from CEO of Northwater Capital Management – David Patterson

(Re-published from April 17, 2008)

My recent ventures took be the the annual meeting of the CBBF (Canadian Baha’i Business Forum) where I was previously honoured with the opportunity to serve as a member of the board. The CBBF is an organization which promotes the principles of:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Sustainable Development
  • Gender Equality in the work place
  • Value Based Leadership
  • Ethical business practices
  • Consultative Decision making
  • A New paradigm of work

One of our invited speakers for the CBBF Annual conference was David Patterson, CEO of Northwater Capital Management, an asset management organization with $8.5 Billion under management which specializes in handling large investments such as pensions and utilizes it’s “market neutral fund of hedge funds”.

The conference theme was “Doing Well by Doing Good: an application of Values Based Leadership”.

David was understated and yet inspirational in his presentation and shared a number of concepts that were divergent from standard organizational theory.

He shared the notion that doing good for the whole system (world, community, organization and family) rather than self focus was strongly encouraged in his organization. The fundamentals of his approach – what’s good for the system is good for the individuals in the system and not necessarily the other way around. While it is difficult to accurately articulate his presentation, as much of it was supported by images of the Northwater working environment and it’s employees participating in world supporting and family events, he also based his assumption and methods on the success that his organization has acheived by using this approach.

In addition to the support of world and community, the company encourages open consultation through the elimantion of status based work spaces, even David has the same desk as other employees, and they frequently call random members into consultations to get alternate points of view.

David’s talk should be one of those talks presented at the TED conference where new and inspirational ideas are presented in many fields of endeavor. There are many companies that could benefit from his leadership model.

Garth Schmalenberg
Executive / Relationship Coach

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Town of Caledon “Ontario’s Greenest Town” still?

Canada is an amazingly beautiful country and a place which most Canadians feels extremely lucky to live. We have a relatively strong economy, a stable democracy, many natural resources, clean water, an abundance of energy, a national health care policy and education for everyone. Like every country it has its challenges; a few communities known for crime, indigenous communities which are lacking in essentials such as clean water, suitable housing and local schools. We have people who have somehow fallen out of the social welfare system and into the streets and others who use food-banks and hostiles just to survive. What’s not so evident is that we have a long way to go to become sustainable in our practices. We use far too much of the world’s non-renewable energy, we contribute far too much to climate change on a per capita basis through our carbon emissions and we contribute more to the worlds pollution than we should. Still, when compared to other places in the world, Canada is a wonderful place to live.

Each locality in Canada has its’ own charms and characteristics along with its’ benefits and challenges. I am extremely fortunate to live in Caledon, Ontario, a town of relatively small population on a large north west corner of Toronto. Caledon is a beautiful area. As I look out my office window, I look upon a forested green belt between my home and the sub-division up the hill from me. The air in Caledon is as clean as one can expect for any location in North America close to a major city except perhaps in our very small downtown core along the main highway which suffers from some traffic congestion during rush hour. It’s also quiet in my office except for the odd passing transport truck, aircraft or train. And there are farms, horse ranches, rivers and parks nearby, all within a few miles from my home. Living near a forested area is something I’ve become accustom to, but I always try not to take it for granted. » Continue reading “Town of Caledon “Ontario’s Greenest Town” still?”

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Interviewing CEO’s and Executives on Sustainability success strategies

One of my recent initiatives involves interviewing CEO’s, executives and sustainability officers about sustainability strategies that have worked for their organizations and the challenges they face in making cultural changes.

My goal is to use this blog ( and my leadership development practice to share information with business, organizational and municipal leaders who are concerned with the creating a more sustainable world and more sustainable organizations but who don’t know how to start, or those who are already walking the path but need some guidance and encouragment, (i.e. someone to ”walk with them”) as they begin to make changes and apply innovative new ideas.

Sustainability is about more than just being friendly to our planet. We can be more friendly to our environment just by not driving our cars but we cannot keep our stomachs full and our economy rolling by not driving cars. Sustainability is about taking a pragmatic approach to creating a world that is productive and ever-advancing. In involves creating a world which provides for the needs of all earthly inhabitants now while ensuring that the future is also secure.

My hope is to attract business leaders who are looking for better ways to work which will lead to greater stability and better use of human and material resources while improving their ROI. By working together and sharing ideas, we can improve our businesses, improve our leadership practices, think more creatively about solving challenges, and create progressive business environments which effectively utilize and respect the world’s people and resources.

As I conduct the the interviews with leaders who have developed sustainability strategies my goal is to share both their challenges and successes. After interviews are completed, I will write articles to share this learning and experience with readers and I will invite positive feedback and helpful comments and suggestions.

If you are an Executives, business owner or municipal leader who has taken noteworthy initiatives or if you know someone who has taken actions to benefit the community or the world, please contact us. I hope to speak with as many of you as possible.

For more information on this initiative, please contact me (Garth Schmalenberg) at 416-919-6598.

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G20 Meeting Outcomes

It is gratifying to live in a time where we can witness a gathering of world leaders, sitting down together to speak rationally, listening with maturity to the ideas of others about the situation the world now faces and seeking to come to consensus through consultation. 

Each speaker recognized the contribution of their own nation and the others. Each recognized the need for reaching a united outcome for restoring global confidence. Each acknowledged the complexity and interconnectedness of the economies and the need to use the best ideas regardless of their source.

Mr. Obama’s comments following the meeting demostrated a sense of humility and honor toward the other world powers. Upon being asked what he didn’t get, he declined to name any particular point, rather yeilding to what was agreed upon. He indicated that it would have been an easy discussion if it were only two world powers to make all decisions but recognized that although having 20 nations was more complex, it was “good” that the other world powers had re-built themselves so that they could also contribute to the discussion with legitamacy as co-owners of the world economy. 

Humility is the true sign of leadership and Mr. Obama, in his comments to the press after the conference, demonstrated his humility each time he listened to a press member, thoughtfully reflected on his answer and responded accordingly. Each time, he indicated that the much of the value in the decision was not so much that any of them knew exactly the right solutions, but rather that in agreement they had set the stage to try something out and then learning from their actions. And then if the current actions didn’t work, they would try something else.

Mr Obama was complementary to all the other leaders but his comments towards the Prime Mister of India were particularly gracious.

Prime Mister Brown of the UK likewise commented on the historic achievements of the meeting. And in answer to a question about the potential for introduction of a global currency he was positive in the sense that that he accepted it as a valid idea, but indicated that a detailed proposal for implementing a global currency had not been presented and therefore it was not pursued at this time. 

With the exception of a few minor glitches, such as the photo op missed by Prime Minister Harper, each of the member demostrated respect for the other nations and their respective leaders.

Regardless of whether or not they accomplished as much as would have been desired it was an excellent display of consultative decision making. It had positive outcomes for agreements on banking regulation, IMF funding, agreement on the need to revise IMF approvals, assistance for poor nations, and agreement in principle on supporting green technology.

No doubt there will be naysayers who find fault with the outcome of the G20 meeting, some indicating that the global agreements on regulation have “no teeth” and others that not enough was accomplished and still others that it lacked detail for implementation of some of these conceptual agreements. But from my perspective, it was a true demonstration of statesmanship and a sign of hope for an ailing world.

Do I think the agreements made will turn the economy around? Probably not! The challenges are still immense. Do I think it will contribute to long term stability of the economy? I believe it was a very positive step if for no other reason than it helped to increase understanding between nations.

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Global Economics, the G20 and a call from the past.

While I’m not an economist, I am able to see with my own eyes that one of the causes of poverty in the world is rampant inflation in poor nations. Almost worthless currency deals them a crippling blow on the world stage. They are unable to pay debt or buy the goods and services they desperately need . In addition, declining or increasing currencies often impact the profitability of global companies. And inflation negatively impacts the debt of countries, destroying trust and ultimately threatening liquidity between nations. In this world, there is no one who is unaffected by currency fluctuation.

If we are ever to have a stable, sustainable global economy, we will all need to recognize that the first step is to create a stable foundation of exchange (i.e. the stability of currency). When we think about the strength of United States and of the EU, much of their strength stems from having a common economy, a common agreement on exchange, and a common currency which promotes easily managed trade between states. » Continue reading “Global Economics, the G20 and a call from the past.”

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