Thought Leadership (Around The Bench)

Or ‘One Good Course Deserves Another’

Poducts Of Framing Workshop

Thought Leadership, Returns On Investment, John Betjeman, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden (and an host of artists worthy of review); McKinsey’s Management Consultancy,, the need to ‘draw it first!’ and some wonderful anecdotes about the rich and reputed. These have all been subjects of conversation ‘around the bench’ whilst working with Simon Pell on Gallery133’s Picture Framing Course. Simon, it transpires, is the Pell of ‘Pell and Bales’ fundraisers, the highest value fundraiser the UK has produced, as he points out with justifiable pride, although at pains to distance himself from the present incarnation of the company he sold some years ago but had built from the kitchen table upwards. This chimes strongly with me as we discuss our previous and ongoing business creations, adventures in solo child rearing, several artists and those anecdotes.

Simon came on the Picture Framing Course to help him re-invigorate a modest but interesting collection of assembled artworks, prints and ephemera accumulated whilst running a business, raising children and broadly having some fascinating experiences which I was afforded the pleasure of hearing about over our six days together in the Gallery133 workshop: ‘Bench-talk’ you might say. Our conversation was ‘framed’ – pardon the pun – as I’d been meditating on some enduring themes whilst reflecting on my previous two years of trying to invent and grow Gallery133:

‘What if people could do (or help others to do) stuff they need to do without seeking external ‘funding’ and learn to do this by creating (sharing) wealth  (capacity) instead of emphasising or demonstrating their – or others – disadvantages to ‘get on’?’… (A bit of a mouth-full I know).

’Charity wounds’ goes the maxim and a year battling to invent a business in Yarmouth convinced me of it’s truth. ’’CultureBanking’ is my response to the problems it can proliferate. It wasn’t until I met Simon that I learned what I was doing in the language of the marketeer: Thought Leadership – apparently! This sounds good, I do the web search to see what it could mean for CultureBanking.

Here’s the Wiki reference for anyone who’s interested: It tells us: “The Oxford English Dictionary gives as its first citation for the phrase an 1887 description of Henry Ward Beecher as “one of the great thought-leaders in America.” It was revived or reinvented by marketers in the 1980s. In a 1990 article in the Wall Street Journal Marketing section, Patrick Reilly used the term “thought leader publications” to refer to such magazines as Harper’s”. David Brooks wrote a satirical piece in the New York Times which is also entertaining – here:

It would be edifying to think that I could emulate the proclivities of the pilloried as a:

“ …highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler. Each year, (I would get) to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited.”

Succinctly put. But having spent much of the last 20 years as a single parent living in a string of ‘social houses’ whilst managing on a single person’s state allowance and working in the burgeoning ‘grey economy’, I decide ‘Thought Leadership’ IS for me. At 47, I am due my Gap Yar in South America and my college application definitely should say: “I Went to Panama (Great Yarmouth?) to Teach the Natives About Math (Art) but They Ended Up Teaching Me About Life” !

I do actually have a college application to write. Its for the MA in Creative Entrepreneurship at the University of East Anglia. I was invited to apply by Ian Chance, the course Director who, after our long telephone conversation, and to my great excitement, has some enthusiasm for the idea of ‘CultureBanking’. I’ll let you know what the application says when I’ve written it – wish me luck? Judging by the list of Alumni and guest speakers, I hope to be in good company again.  Thanks Simon.  It was a real pleasure sharing a bench.  Amazing what can come from of an ‘umble picture framing course!