Sunday, December 26, 2010

When youth have the breath of wisdom

We sometimes forget how wonderful the world of ideas, visions, wishes and smiles can be, and that we only need good-will to realise our innermost wishes. And that a sincere thought and intention can attract everything it needs for realisation.
Let the directness and playfulness of children reopen the door to the world of adventure, hope, manifestation and personal fulfilment. Dan carries these qualities inside. Simply. Openly. Sincerely. And more. He is aware of his joy and lives and shares it unreservedly. Even though he is 13-year old boy. His penetrating, yet slightly distant, gaze can see further and deeper.
Let us end this unique and demanding, yet rich, year on the wings of Dan's energy. Let us start the new year with the purity of children's unrestrained directness and clear thought – a new year, an age and a lifetime. This is Dan's story.

Photo: Dan Poljšak

VB: Who is Dan Poljšak?

DP: I am a rather joyful 13-year-old; a sailor and a constructor, born on Valentine's day.
I live in Škofja Loka, but have had a connection with the sea, and sailing since I was little. I was born into a family of sailors. I enjoy building model sailboats and I love to paint on canvass.

Dan Poljšak:
- Sailor in the "Optimist" class (the Optimist is a small class boat, specifically for children aged 7 to 15; the most broadly used sailboat in the world):
- runner-up at the Italian national championship in 2006;
- twice the Slovenian national champion (2007, 2008) in the category of boys under 12;
- 1st place in the "Cadets" category at the 2007 Touring Trasimeno International Cup;
- member of the Slovenian national team in 2008, 2009 and 2010; competed at the EC's on Lake Garda in 2008 and in Strunjan in 2009;
- Artist:
- individual exposition at his primary school in 2008;
- first prize in the Volvo Ocean Race international contest for his painting of a sailboat of the future (over 100 entries from children from 30 countries; absolute winner in all age categories);
- Constructor:
- design for an antique galleon, and making of models with remote control of steering and sails. The sailboat is made of wood. It is covered with a plastic layer to improve water-tightness. Its buoyancy was tested both in a lake and in the sea;
- design and making of an original pirate schooner of 4,5m in length.
VB: What are your delights, your dreams?
DP: When I was eight, my favourite film was "Bratovščina Sinjega galeba". Afterwards, I wanted to see every film featuring courageous captains and pirates. I would like to be the captain of a ship. Whenever I am at the marina, I watch other sailboats and imagine what my own boat will look like.
Photo: Dan at work

VB: What do you feel when you are creating?
DP: I am in my own world when I'm creating, and I like to have peace and, perhaps, some good music. I prefer Italian singers. When at the seaside, I like to sail with Škrga in the company of my friends, but I don't mind going out alone either. I enjoy my ability to manoeuvre the boat and control all five sails by myself.

ŠKRGA: a sailboat; Dan Poljšak's innovative project; his original pirate schooner of 4,5m in length:
- he first presented his idea at the InCo Conference in Ljubljana, in April 2009. The process of making the sailboat was documented by the national television and used as a pilot for a series entitled " Mladi inovator" (Young Innovator).
- The sailboat is intended as a training boat for children learning sailing skills. When building the boat, the young constructor benefited greatly from the knowledge shared by his father and other professionals and participated in every step of the building process.
- The sailboat has been in the water almost two years and many children have gained new experiences during their sailing adventures.

Photo: Dan's sailboat Škrga

VB: This is quite an expensive hobby. Who helps you with it?

DP: I am grateful to have the support and help of my family whenever my wishes and plans are especially demanding.
It's really great that mom can sometimes get us sponsorship. I got my first Optimist class boat from a sponsor from Italy, which is something I am very proud of. That boat was my luckiest so far. I recently also received a computer and design tools.

VB: What about knowledge?
DP: I learn a lot from my dad and from the professionals who work with us. I get even more information from the Internet and by reading and watching television programmes on sailing. I learn a lot by myself – from my mistakes and discoveries. I also like to spend time with my friends and sail and share ideas with them.
Dan's childhood: He started drawing and constructing interesting compositions of coloured wooden cubes when he was two. He was encouraged in his play and continued to develop his talent. He always wanted to participate in all home repairs and got his first real tool kit (like grown-up handy men) and a wooden workbench for testing his tools when he was four.
The first model he built was a simple copy of the Titanic; afterwards, he started building with Lego cubes.
Initially, he followed existing designs, later he developed his own. He was always including various mechanisms (wheels, hoists, springs, gears and shafts, etc.). Thus, his models came to life with functionality. He also continued drawing and exhibited great talent for spatial representation and multi-dimensionality.
During his first school years, he mainly created sketches, plans and models from Lego cubes, wood, cardboard and natural materials.
He was mainly encouraged by his family, but his kindergarten and school teachers also recognized his talents, especially in arts and technical classes.
VB: How do your schoolmates, friends and teachers feel about your work?
DP: Very differently, but most people at school already know I like sailing. At the end of last school year I invited all my schoolmates and our class teacher on a field trip to my sailing club. Everyone had the opportunity to sail with Škrga. We also visited Piran and had ice cream together. I was happy to show this part of my life to my schoolmates. People in Škofja Loka generally don't know much about sailing.

VB: What sort of a schedule do you keep?
DP: I stay in Škofja Loka during the week, while every weekend, my family goes to the seaside.
Mom says we are leading a slightly nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes we sleep on the boat, and sometimes in Trieste at my nana's.
We spend our days training at the club or competing in regattas in various places. On weekdays, i spend my mornings at school and most of my afternoons building models. Lately, I've also been enjoying painting oil paintings on canvas. My dad and I also go to ki-aikido training.
Through his family's lifestyle, Dan has had a close bond with nature since birth, which has taught him a lot. Every year, he spends months close to the sea and sailboats. This enabled him to learn to observe nature, from the weather to sea water. His view of the world gained a new dimension when he saw what was inside a drop of sea water; he saw crystals that contain energy. In his 1st grade he challenged the traditional division between the animate and inanimate worlds, for he saw water as a living element with a memory of its own. His bond with nature is also driven by this love of the saltern where Dan spends his summer holidays as a child of nature, separated from his computer and TV.
VB: What do you find most difficult? What brings you the greatest joy?
DP: I don't know yet what I find the most difficult. I can't think of a single thing. I am happiest when I receive new materials to create with. The models I would like to build are very expensive, so I often have to wait for several months before I get them. I also enjoy holidays and spending time at the saltern. Especially, when my friends join me on my boat and we go exploring together. This year, my dad allowed me to sail our 13-meter sailboat Sandokan. I greatly enjoyed taking it to the wharf and mooring it by myself.

Photo: Dan is painting

VB: What do you think your life will be like when you grow up?
DP: I am currently living a day at a time and don't make any big plans. Perhaps I will be a ship captain sailing around the world. What I'd like even more, would be to own a 15-meter wooden sailboat. I'm not sure whether I will build my two-mast schooner myself, or not. I will probably buy it second-hand and fix it. I would also like to have a family.

Photo: Dan Poljšak

VB: A question for Dan's mother ... How is your family experiencing Dan's development? What do you usually do?

DP: Our family's bond with the sea and sailing is a way of life. Whenever we have an interesting idea we try to realise it. For example, after several years of effort we finally succeeded to enrich sea water with natural energy using a method unique in Slovenia and in the world. In one of the salt funds at the Sečovlje saltern we are producing special energy salt. We also wrote a book about it, entitled "Energy Captured in a Salt Crystal". In this project, we completed the circle SEA = LIFE = LOVE... Lately, we have been developing shading solutions and technology using "sun sails". Our experience with sailing is very helpful in implementing our idea of "tricking" the sun with the help of the wind. Dan was encouraged to develop his ideas in a similar way since he was little.

VB: How do you manage your finances?
DP: We are usually capable of overcoming obstacles; however, such activities are very demanding financially.
All the materials for creating, the models, all the precious materials and paints …, and especially all the trips to the coast, training, sailing equipment and all trips to distant regattas – are all very expensive. Both children are promising young sportsmen, members of Slovenian national teams, and this is often too much to handle financially. Initially, only Dan was winning trophies; later, he helped with the development of his sister Lara who has already surpassed him with her achievements in sport. Nevertheless, we are happy their efforts and work have been confirmed with results.

Photo: Family portrait

VB: What poses the greatest challenge to your family? What is your greatest satisfaction?
DP: The greatest challenges for our family are maintaining a close bond with each other and nature, yet realising our projects and ideas. We also wish our efforts and activities would provide us with financial independence.
To conclude, here is a holiday greeting from DAN and his family. The words were borrowed from a Slovenian poet, Lili Novy.
"Everyone of us, as if on a boat,
Is sailing an uncharted course;
This moment you should try to hold,
And love whatever else you keep afloat,
as long as the daylight lights your oars."
We wish you a happy and delightful 2011. Vibacom Team. p.s.: We donated our funds for greeting cards and gifts to Dan to help him realise his dreams; thank you for being with us.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethical management has a market value

The conference that was organized by the »Forum on Ethics in Leadership« and held at the European Parliament, impressed me in a significant way. Not only because it dealt with a topic that is nowadays a probable key to the further development of our civilisation, but also because it brought together many thinkers, managers, leaders and young potential from around the globe in search of a new foundation for more ethical development and coexistence on the planet Earth. And especially because it brought together people who are at very different levels of ethical awareness;. in one place, at the same space. With a single purpose: to make a step forward towards global social prosperity, towards a life worthy of human kind and in harmony with the planet Earth.

“World Forum for Ethics in Business (WFEB)”:
• Platform for promotion and protection of an ethical approach to development of companies and corporations.
• Dialogue and cooperation between the private sector, academic circles, government agencies, international organisations, media, spiritual and other non-governmental organisations as well as other stakeholders, based on fairness, basic human values and with the aim of restoring public confidence in the business world.
• Development of responsible business networks based on exchange of views, experience and best practices.
These words might seem too ultuistic, or overambitious to you; you might say they will not earn wages or pay retirement benefits; you might find them inappropriate for this day and age. You may think the priority is to re-establish the economic balance. However, having attended this meeting I am even more firmly convinced there is no way back. We will never re-establish the old economic balance. The old systems are crumbling, and demand new structures. The space is filled with a critical mass indicating the need for change. The only question is, what the next evolutionary stage will bring.

A short summary of the messages of the solemn, serene and poignant Brussels meeting:
• A new social paradigm is necessary and is being formed...
• Changes are taking place at the structural and individual levels
• Global corporations that opted for systematic compliance with ethical principles are more successful
The transformation of business operations towards ethics and sustainable development is implemented through a strong focus of top management and through leadership by example
It is a fact that the current leading economic elite, is losing its structure of power; on one hand this is due to individuals who are increasingly more aware and aggravated, and on the other, due to systematic and persistent global positioning of spiritually broader and stronger structures that do not think about centuries or quarters of the year.

*“We need a new paradigm, a new type of leadership. We must rediscover our responsibility and dignity. This meeting is a small step forward…”
Mr. Nirij Deva, Vice President of the Development Committee in the European Parliament
“Without political will there is no economic growth. Abandoning of ethics leads to arrogance. I am unconvinced that a true will to change the system exists.
My proposal: establish global structures to prevent financial disasters, such as the current one…”
Amb. Jean-Paul Carteron, Chairmen and Founder Crans Montana Forum
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
The key topic of the two-day meeting was ETHICS (which was already highlighted by professor Tadeja Jere Lazanski, PhD, at the 2010 InCo Conference, see, Wednesday, 21 April 2010): the ethics of leaders and individuals who form the new social paradigm, - from ethics, to business, to social and state structures, civil initiatives, and back to ethics. This 5000 year old model of social co-dependency was elaborated on by Sri Sri Ravi Sankar in one of his appearances. Regardless of where in the cycle we participate and raise awareness, we influence all of its parts.

Initially, I found the conference confusing because I was unaware of the difference in understanding of ethics, which is a key social component. However, after the first day I began to realise that the greatest achievement was in bringing together so many different leaders, with diverset views on the essence and significance of ethics, to be sitting together in the same room. The aim was to be heard, to listen and to enable interstructural learning on the path of seeking new foundations and base topics for a modern society. I see the above as the biggest achievement of the meeting.

Signs of rebirth with respect to ethics in the corporate world came from various environments, such as Siemens, Unilever, Egyptian Exchange, Educom Solutinos and similar organisations, who supplement or even base their business models on social responsibility, either due to personal beliefs and a high level of awareness, or simply because they recognise that a business opportunity is paying off.

*“We always have a choice. I am managing a company with a strong foundation of social responsibility. This approach has paid off. The key importance is not in HOW MUCH profit you make, it is HOW you make it. Ethics pays off…” (V.B.: more than 10.000 employees in 27 countries)
Mr.Shantanu Prakash, CEO, Educomp Solutions limited
*“The Egyptian Exchange has implemented an ‘Index of Social Responsibility" for more comprehensive monitoring of companies. Egypt is now negotiating with the World Bank on how to transfer this model to the rest of the world…”
Mr. Mohmound Mohieldin, Managing Director, World Bank
*“Creating value for all links in the value chain has proven to be an excellent business decision. We have measured the carbon footprint of all our products. We have made a shift from value per share to value per shareholder…” (V.B.: this year's corporate award recipient)
Mr.Miguel Veiga-Pestana, Vice-President, Global External Affairs, Unilever
*“The implementation of an ethical business model following the 2006 scandal has paid off considerably. Siemens has never before been as successful as in the post-scandal period. The CEO’s public declaration that Siemens will never again resort to bribery in acquiring business was a key moment. It resonated with all our employees. Our main business focus is on eco-efficiency and social responsibility…”
Mr. Josef Winter, Chief Compliance Officer, Siemens AG
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
The audience exhibited enthusiasm and apprehension twice - when listening to the thoughts of two great men from the international arena who, in addition to the structures and systems of ethics, strongly stressed the role of the individual and the importance of understanding our emotions and actions at the level of personal responsibility. History teaches us that the most ordinary people often take part in the most horrific of crimes. The reason is a lack of understanding of personal responsibility and the consequences of own actions, including the broadest context thereof. Thus, the call for better understanding of our own emotions was correct and justified.

Perhaps the countries where ethics have reached the lowest point are the ones that can contribute most to the shaping of significant changes. Unethical behaviour of global corporations in Africa, Asia and Latin America is the responsibility of everyone who buys their products and thus supports their growth. This is an area where we can take action, while the quarrelsome and corruptible local authorities are perhaps a challenge each country will have to take on internally. This is an opportunity for all of us to understand what we are paying for when we buy products and services, or when we vote.

*“Our lives are directed by our inner worlds. This is the source of our thoughts and activities. Nevertheless, we rarely take time to consider our emotions. Lack of education about our personal emotions leads normal people to commit horrific acts. Crimes are committed by normal people…
Only education and awareness of every individual can lead to better quality of collective consciousness... Young people need role models...”
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, International Association for Human Values,
(leader of the largest non-governmental organisation in the world)
*“Serious problems result from an imbalance between needs and responsibilities. Create leaders who will understand they are leading for the benefit of the society as a whole. We need steps and decisions that will create more happiness and content rather than fear among people…
The emphasis needs to be on the structures rather than individuals … we must always carefully monitor our behaviour and the essence of the structure we are operating in... In criminal organisations people strictly observe the rules; if not, punishment will follow; the rules of the structure itself are very brutal…”
Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
*“In Africa, we have skipped copper wire communication and transferred directly to digital and wireless connections. Perhaps such a leap can be achieved in management style as well... Africa is tired. It is looking for a new paradigm, based on ethics. We rely on our youth…”
Mr. Dale Olujede, CEO and Publisher, Timbuktu Media (the only recipient of the Pulitzer Prize from Africa, this year’s individual award recipient)
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
Let me conclude this summary of thoughts from the 7th International Leadership Symposium on Ethics in Business with a few words from a former astronaut and current chairman of a corporation that develops engines for spacecraft, who said that “humanity probably won’t realise the beauty of Earth and appreciate its wealth until it sees it from another planet”. He also stressed, somberly and very convincingly, that our understanding of ethics starts within the family, i.e. the civil society that influences the values, which influence ethics in business, which influence politics, which influences …

*“Only when human kind moves to other planets will we understand the exceptional gifts of Earth and change it into a cosmic park where people will go on vacation…
Just look at the atmosphere today; over 20,000 objects are floating above us and many of them without a return ticket… Who is responsible for this?
Ethical principles are learned at home … we are bound by strong responsibility to transfer our ethics to our children…”
Dr. Franklin Ramon Chang-Diaz, President and CEO, Ad Rocket Company (7 space flights)
(*) the quotes are my understanding of the speaker's key messages
I hope this issue will help you identify your own ethical grounds and critically review and assess why and how you integrate them in your daily life, work and creativity. I found these two days very helpful. I am grateful to the organisers for the invitation and opportunity to become aware again of my inner beauty, strength and energy for future activities. Once we are able to look back through the prism of the new consciousness we will find many actions, decisions and initiatives of the past difficult to understand. Illegal and criminal behaviour will be subject to the rule of law in each individual country. The rest of us, citizens of our respective countries and inhabitants of Earth, have to decide how to act today and in the next decades and centuries. I know this might seem a bit farsighted, but it is actually very grounded. All social development starts with the decision of an individual. With the first small step that is later given meaning with the mass of the steps that follow in opening up the path for further development. I would like to conclude with a thought that was inspired by an old Chinese proverb: “A vision without action is futile; action without vision is dangerous.” I hope our long-term views will be supported by thoughtful actions and based on ethical principles. Let’s try, they say it’s worth it!