David Webster on the power of human centric organisational culture design

Where are you from? Where are you based? Where is your company based?

And then the million-dollar question - Does any of this actually matter?

Today I'm speaking with David Webster, and this is exactly what we'll be talking about. What are people wanting? Where do people want to be? And does that have any impact on how we run a business or how people can do their job?

The power of human-centric organizational culture design.

David was born in Milan, Italy, started his career in advertising in London in 2001, and he’s been living in Singapore since 2008 where he eventually led BBH as APAC MD, and worked with brands such as Nike, Netflix, and Uber.

With a desire to change outdated working practices in the advertising industry and pioneer new, more sustainable ways of working, he co-founded The Carrot Collective in 2020, a global decentralized creative company that has been leading the development of new remote working practices focused on organizational culture and life-work balance.

We’ll be talking about reinventing a 40-year-old industry, across very different parameters.

How they built an organizational culture that is based around people and not places. We talk about the disciplines necessary to build a company that is human-centric.

And then David gets us to reflect on something. As a business owner, who is your customer?

There is a lot here.

So throw on those running shoes or grab that favorite beverage, and here is David.

And if you want to check out David’s TED talk you can find it here.

Please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:04 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving light around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:00:52:17
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 45 of TIE Unearthed. Today we have my old friend David Webster with us and we’re going to be talking about the power of human centric organizations. David was born in Milan, Italy, and started his career in advertising in London in 2001, which is where we worked together at Leo Burnett.l

00:00:53:09 – 00:01:23:02
Philippa White
He’s been living in Singapore since 2008, where he eventually led BBH as APAC, M.D and worked with brands such as Nike, Netflix and Uber, but with a desire to change outdated working practices in the advertising industry and pioneered new, more sustainable ways of working. He co-founded the Carrot Collective in 2020, which is a global, decentralized, creative company that has been leading the development of new remote working practices focused on organizational culture and life work balance.

00:01:23:11 – 00:01:45:24
Philippa White
Today, we talk about why it’s so important to build one’s life around one’s lifestyle and not the other way around. We talk about why this is good for business and how easy it is for companies to start implementing more human centric work practices. It’s such a great chat where we draw on our own personal experiences of the power of this way of thinking and working.

00:01:46:11 – 00:01:56:06
Philippa White
And I’m certain you’ll see why this is the future of business. So sit back, relax, grab the favorite beverage. And here’s David.

00:01:56:13 – 00:02:01:05
Philippa White
David, it is so wonderful to have you with us today. How are you?

00:02:02:01 – 00:02:06:00
David Webster
It’s amazing. Super cool and super nice to see you again after so long.

00:02:06:03 – 00:02:13:05
Philippa White
I know we were just reminiscing that we were accounting at Leo Burnett London in 2002.

00:02:13:17 – 00:02:17:12
David Webster
Yeah, I know. Please don’t remind me. It reminds me of being old.

00:02:18:23 – 00:02:40:13
Philippa White
In the and the beauty of how there was such a beautiful group of people there that we worked with who are now doing such extraordinary things. You will bring it to life in a sec, but it’s just amazing how we’ve all sort of gone from there and we’re all still in touch. And in some ways and connected and it’s wonderful.

00:02:40:13 – 00:02:41:19
David Webster
So parts of the world.

00:02:42:00 – 00:02:46:05
Philippa White
I know. So to that point, tell us, where are you sitting right now?

00:02:46:18 – 00:02:57:10
David Webster
Right. So now currently I’m in Singapore. Okay. And I say currently because I just got back from spending a bit of time in Italy. Yeah, but I can’t be based here for 14 years now.

00:02:57:14 – 00:03:07:02
Philippa White
Well, now it’s dark where I’m in Brazil. For our listeners, as you probably know, it’s about to be 9:00 in the morning my time. It’s pitch black where David is. So what time is it?

00:03:07:08 – 00:03:09:06
David Webster
It’s almost 8 p.m. over here.

00:03:09:06 – 00:03:27:02
Philippa White
God. Yeah. Well, tell our listeners about you. You are also an international kid, and I think it probably helps explain how you’ve even started doing what you’re doing now, having such an international background. But so we can put all of this into perspective. Tell us about you.

00:03:27:12 – 00:03:48:09
David Webster
Yeah. I mean, a third culture kid is probably the best way to describe ourselves, not to to put a label in it. But, you know, I grew up I was born in Italy, Italian mother, English dad, spent ten years in London being in Singapore for 14 years, spent a lot of time, all my school career at international school in Italy as well.

00:03:48:17 – 00:04:01:03
David Webster
So my wife’s joke is that I don’t really speak any language properly because I don’t have the Italian vocabulary anymore. And I speak with a very strong foreign accent. So, yeah, it puts me in an interesting position.

00:04:02:01 – 00:04:03:06
Philippa White
And your wife’s Singaporean?

00:04:03:19 – 00:04:05:10
David Webster
My wife. Is Singapore adopted?

00:04:05:17 – 00:04:11:06
Philippa White
Yeah. Yeah. It’s funny if people ask you where you are from, what’s your response?

00:04:11:12 – 00:04:29:09
David Webster
I know it’s an interesting way and I often get asked the question, especially sort of where’s home? You know, where I’m from. I consider myself very tiny and I was brought up there. I grew up there. That’s where sort of my first few years were about, you know, where is home is a really, really challenged one because Singapore is absolutely home.

00:04:29:14 – 00:04:43:09
David Webster
But like what I was saying, I was in Italy until a few weeks ago and it very much felt like I was home when I was in Milan. So, you know, I guess where home is, where I am at the moment of time with the people I love and around me. Really?

00:04:43:10 – 00:05:09:24
Philippa White
Yeah, totally. I couldn’t agree more. And it’s funny because like you, you don’t look particularly Singaporean. And so that’s when yeah. When, when people do sort of say so where, you know, where is home. I mean it’s not really in Portuguese people say, well say the orange, people say like, where are you from? And I also it’s really hard for me to answer that, but Brazil 100% is home without question.

00:05:10:08 – 00:05:26:24
Philippa White
But, you know, I’m six foot one kind of blond. I don’t, you know, in particularly in the northeast, which is definitely in the south, it’s a little bit more German. So I probably maybe pass as a German. Brazilian maybe. But here I definitely am like a few feet taller than most people.

00:05:26:24 – 00:05:53:22
David Webster
Yeah. And look, I think it’s just really interesting. Country roads, it’s great to start from there because actually, you know, that’s a really, really important thing, you know, for me has always been, which is how is how important is actually geography for it to define who we are and where we are from. And, you know, and actually more and more, you know, people ask us, where are you based and where are you from and where do you work and where is your company based that I go, why does it matter?

00:05:54:06 – 00:06:03:05
David Webster
You know, it really doesn’t matter. And it I think it’s increasingly more insignificant. And I think the last few years, you know, in have really sort of brought up to like.

00:06:03:09 – 00:06:20:04
Philippa White
Totally and I think just which really fits with your values and your mission and what you’re doing, which we’ll get to now. But I think home is where your heart is, where the people are that are close to you, where you feel happy, where you feel at home, where you feel good, where you feel like you’re able to be you.

00:06:20:04 – 00:06:35:07
Philippa White
And that can be anywhere and you can be where that place is doing amazing things. And that could be in the jungle somewhere. It could be, you know. So talk to us about. Exactly. So talk to us about the Carrot Collective, because it’s so exciting.

00:06:35:07 – 00:07:02:15
David Webster
Yeah, for sure. For sure. Look, I mean, I said, you know, I spent 20 years of the best part of 20 years. And there’s the age thing again in advertising in I love to get in industry I genuinely I know it’s not always that was popular thing to say, but which I genuinely loved and grew to love again, you know, and I’ll explain because that’s really important to sort of the story and why and how we got to where we are today, which, you know, for 20 years started in London with you about the same time.

00:07:02:17 – 00:07:29:22
David Webster
Actually, we started eventually moved to Singapore, you know, eventually, you know, went up the career. It was always asked to, you know, the next promotion worked. There was fabulous people at BBH. Eventually, you know, just sort of running the office here as a body. And then I kind of started falling out of love with the industry. And in 2020, I decided to almost exactly two years ago to the day, I decided to leave BBH, to leave the industry actually.

00:07:30:11 – 00:07:57:02
David Webster
And I went to an e-sports start up and I really dabbled in tackle was was sort of was always a space which fascinated me. And what happened was I very quickly started seeing things that I wasn’t seeing when I was in the industry. So this is stepping back from it. I could start seeing not only the things that, you know, I loved about this and I was missing about it, this phenomenal creative energy.

00:07:57:05 – 00:08:18:12
David Webster
But I was also seeing a lot of the problems that led me to leave the industry in a new light and really starting having almost a 30,000 view on the industry going, me maybe, maybe there is a way to change things for the better. Maybe there is a different way of doing things now that I’m not in the weeds, now that I’m not really in it.

00:08:18:19 – 00:08:50:16
David Webster
And that’s really what started the impetus to go well, do I go back into the industry, into a big agency and try to drive change from there or actually a start with a blank canvas and from the bottom up, or start rebuilding a new way of doing things that really, you know, it sounds lost and ambitious, but I’m reinventing a 40 year old industry across very different parameters, not on the surface, but really go deep into the basement and the foundations and see if we can rebuild something from the ground up.

00:08:51:00 – 00:08:55:02
David Webster
That was really sort of what would got us to start the character like this.

00:08:55:21 – 00:09:06:09
Philippa White
And so just in the name is that how did you come up with the name The Carrot Collective? I was curious if if that sort of from the ground up in the ground. Yeah.

00:09:06:23 – 00:09:15:08
David Webster
No, no, but no. But I will use that story because every time people come up with amazing stories, why the Carrot Collective. So I’ll add that to the list.

00:09:15:08 – 00:09:17:08
Philippa White
Yeah, I was going to say it sounded very cynical.

00:09:17:09 – 00:09:25:17
David Webster
Yeah, no, I absolutely look for the truth be told, we were looking for a name and one of my co-founder, Paolo. Brazilian, by the way.

00:09:25:18 – 00:09:26:22
Philippa White
Oh, yeah. So let’s.

00:09:27:19 – 00:09:52:10
David Webster
Follow Filipino. I’ll just say hello. Hi, my most or awesome, awesome, awesome, amazing human beings that I’ve had the privilege to meet in Singapore, actually, you know, he just came back to me with the list of names after a boozy, neither of whom he had with some friends. He was telling them what we were doing. Carrot was one of the names we both and we actually it was a name and the logos, the designed logo.

00:09:52:15 – 00:10:18:08
David Webster
We fell in love with how it looked and how it sounded, and we just wanted something that captured the spirit of openness, of community, of, I guess, distribution. We don’t want to be pigeonholed for where we are today, but actually the sense of community coming together and that’s where collective came about. And the fact that carrot as a word was impossible to trademark or to register a website for.

00:10:18:13 – 00:10:26:02
David Webster
And so that’s why Zeal still came in because Carrot Collective also was taken. So that’s the truth of why we are why we.

00:10:27:06 – 00:10:28:02
Philippa White
Love it for.

00:10:28:02 – 00:10:28:21
David Webster
Transparency.

00:10:28:21 – 00:10:42:05
Philippa White
And transparency. Let’s talk to us about the Carrot Collective and talk to us about maybe what it is first so that our listeners can just sort of understand why you made that move and why you felt it was important to start working the way that you work.

00:10:42:07 – 00:11:07:17
David Webster
Yeah, absolutely. Look, I mean, fundamentally, you know, we are we are a creative agency. We are a creative company. You know, that’s what we are. That’s how, you know, that’s ultimately what we deliver. We deliver creative services for brands as our end customer. I think the most interesting thing and foundationally what’s most different is, is how we operate them and how we sort of retool the the agency model.

00:11:07:23 – 00:11:46:11
David Webster
And that’s really based on two principles which are distributed workforce and decentralized decentralization. And what that simply means is we don’t have any offices by design from day one. We don’t have any bias towards where our talent is based. And we basically build the business around three core disciplines being culture, talent and operations. So very human centered disciplines that are help us build a better distributed workforce as opposed to building the agency around departments, creative and account management, etc..

00:11:46:14 – 00:12:12:23
David Webster
And then again, it sounds perhaps overly simplistic, but what it does, it really changes the way that we think about the business. We think about, you know, who is our customer. That was the first question we asked ourselves when we started the Carrot Collective. You know, who is our customer? It actually our customer is our employees and our collaborators that say that those are the people that we are serving.

00:12:13:02 – 00:12:37:14
David Webster
So with this sort of trifecta of operations, talent and culture, we are serving our employees and our collaborators and our partners better. In turn, that means that we have happier people working with us. We have people who are more content with where they are, who work on their own terms, who get rewarded based on what they value most in life.

00:12:37:14 – 00:12:48:12
David Webster
And that makes them better at doing what they do and in turn serves the brands we work with and the clients work with. And that’s really where I talk about retooling from the ground up.

00:12:48:18 – 00:13:15:23
Philippa White
Yeah, I love that. You know, it’s interesting, one of our advisors is a gentleman called Simon Anholt, so he and he’s also BBH, which is interesting, but he talks a lot about diversity and the power of creativity based on diversity. And it’s interesting because he said, you know, we are defined by our backgrounds. So it’s race, ethnicity, culture, customs, our exposure to life growing up.

00:13:16:11 – 00:13:46:16
Philippa White
And if you’re wanting to solve a problem, any kind of challenge, if the same people are all together solving that problem, it’s obviously not going to be as easy to solve it as if you bring a whole lot of different minds from different backgrounds and different ethnicities and different races and different cultures. Because whatever that challenge is, of course, people will come at it from a completely different point of view, and that creates more creative thinking, that creates more innovation, that helps be better.

00:13:46:22 – 00:14:05:22
Philippa White
And I thought, that’s such a great way of actually looking at the power. It’s just it’s just more competitive to be more diverse and have people from different backgrounds. And I think what you’re talking about is so interesting because you’re kind of blowing up that model of hiring people only from and of course, if you’re in a big center, it’s a lot easier.

00:14:05:22 – 00:14:24:19
Philippa White
So, you know, in London, there’s almost no excuse for not having really diverse teams because there’s a whole lot of people in that center. But if you are based kind of anywhere and you’re able to create a network like what you’re creating and have some of the best people from literally anywhere that’s so competitive.

00:14:24:19 – 00:14:48:06
David Webster
Yeah. And then look, and I think what’s interesting really is and again, I think this is very important even where in terms of where the world is going, but more importantly, what people want. Right. And I think that’s for me is really key to this to the concept also, you know, human centered human centeredness and organizational design and organization for culture design, which is, you know, what do people want?

00:14:48:06 – 00:15:22:08
David Webster
Where do people want to be? And does that in any way have impact on how we run our business or how they can do their job? So, you know, we always joke around that actually the only prerequisite is that you have a functional Internet connection, yawn that where you are in relevance, what language you speak might sometimes have relevance, sometimes not, depending on the kind of role you’re playing within the project, your background, race, etc. are mostly irrelevant in most cases.

00:15:22:14 – 00:15:48:12
David Webster
And so certainly what this does is it almost removes the bias, or at least any excuse for having bias. Ooh, I can’t get a hold of them. Oh, they’re not here. And that’s what’s really, really interesting, because you’re almost you run out of excuses. Why why wouldn’t you have a diverse team? Why wouldn’t you find people based on their capabilities, based on their attitudes, based on their beliefs?

00:15:48:18 – 00:15:51:19
David Webster
Why wouldn’t you? And that becomes really, really interesting and exciting.

00:15:51:19 – 00:16:05:05
Philippa White
So, David, you did a TED Talk recently. I’d like you to bring that to life for people. And I’m curious to know what trends and you’ve talked you’ve obviously touched on them already, but what brought you to do that? Ted Talk.

00:16:05:05 – 00:16:27:10
David Webster
Yeah, for sure. Look, I mean, the anchoring thought of the TED Talk was, I mean, the broader subject, which I’m personally interested in and which, you know, we very much sort of play a part hopefully with the Carrot Collective and this idea of human centric organizational culture design, you know, sort of how do we start building organizational cultures that are based around people and not places?

00:16:27:20 – 00:16:45:20
David Webster
You know, that’s very, very important. I think, you know, just an anecdote on that, just to give them in the context when we say based on people in a place, as you know, one of the most biggest driving forces of organizational culture, I’d say in the in the 2000 in the last 20 years has been sort of the Silicon Valley model.

00:16:46:02 – 00:17:08:10
David Webster
How do you build officers that more and more resemble like homes that provide you with the food where the day care facilities, with schooling facilities, etc.? How do we create that environment that employers don’t want to leave? You know, and that’s a big force to drive organizational culture. What we are seeing now is that we are at the next stage and that next stage is driven by people.

00:17:08:17 – 00:17:41:04
David Webster
It’s driven by people’s needs, it’s driven by people’s values and belief systems and not by physical location or geographic location. So that really is the sort of the bigger context for the talk and in particular for those, again, we’re listening who have listened to it is this concept of life, work balance, the principle of life work balance is very, very simple, which is, you know, how do we create the right conditions in organizations for people to ensure that work is built around one’s life and not the other way around?

00:17:41:04 – 00:18:21:02
David Webster
Right. And therefore, principles of remote working become very important principles of not only gender diversity, but actually when it comes to, you know, the motherhood penalty, for example, you know, there’s some phenomenal data that actually shows that in many countries, not all. Of course. And this particular example is from Denmark, where women who don’t have children, the pay differential with men is very, very, very minimal when after a woman has a child, takes time off and comes back to work, that pay differential goes from 3 to 5% to over 20%.

00:18:21:02 – 00:18:54:04
David Webster
Right? So you start you start realizing that maybe the problem is not gender discrimination. Actually, the problem is that, you know, what I call in overly simplistic terms, out of sight, out of mind, the fact that you are not there, presents in that office, the fact that you haven’t been given the conditions to perform up to your capabilities from elsewhere because you are looking after and as a mother you will know this after kids.

00:18:54:17 – 00:19:22:24
David Webster
It doesn’t mean you can’t do your job because you’ve got two kids at home. It just means that you need to do it differently on your own terms. And I think, you know, and this is the whole point around the study of life work balance and the idea of the TED talk is really that, you know, if we are able to start addressing some of those root causes of the issue, I think we will solve a lot bigger problems that today, you know, we are sort of trying to cure the symptoms as opposed to the root cause of.

00:19:23:06 – 00:19:52:19
Philippa White
Totally and I just I know so many extraordinary women who it’s just it’s a it’s a downward spiral, unfortunately, having children for many people and it shouldn’t be they they have to step out of the workforce then they don’t feel as valued. They are phenomenal individuals who are so unbelievably capable in some of the most intelligent people. I know that because of the system, they haven’t been able to you know, they haven’t been able to juggle it.

00:19:53:00 – 00:20:13:23
Philippa White
Then their self-worth. You know, the conversations I have with some people and I think it’s just extraordinary. How is it that you’re even questioning like you just you’re amazing and then you think of what companies are missing out on. And I think of what I’ve managed to do. It’s not like I am superhuman, but I have managed to have two children.

00:20:14:04 – 00:20:49:11
Philippa White
I’ve managed to run my own business. I’ve managed to do all of that. It’s just I’ve had to do that flexibly and with an Internet connection. And that’s maybe two Internet connections because I live in Brazil and some of the as we know from earlier, start working sometimes. But as long as you are flexible and I think that’s the thing because then that brings back to what you were talking about earlier, having people who are happy and feel comfortable in their own skin and are able to realize what they want to do on their own terms and feel like people see them for the worth, that they have to offer and are doing everything that

00:20:49:11 – 00:20:54:13
Philippa White
they can to make it all possible. You will get so much out of those individuals.

00:20:54:23 – 00:21:17:03
David Webster
You just absolutely, you know, and those operating in all things related to that is what it does. It helps people and makes people operate from a perspective from from a position of strength. You know, it help make sure people are keep building on what their strongest people are and then it’s proven. I mean, it’s not I’ve not making it up here.

00:21:17:03 – 00:21:43:21
David Webster
You know, we get nations like Gallup run tests specifically to identify people’s strength, but it’s proven that you work better. You are happier, you’re more productive. One of our older mentors and founders, you know, Nigel Bogle, always used to talk about this. You know, when he talks about the founding of BBH, paraphrasing him was, you know, if I had to work on my weaknesses, I would never have risen to where it did.

00:21:43:21 – 00:21:59:08
David Webster
But by surrounding myself with people like John Bartlett, John Hegarty and being so complimentary to each other. Yeah. So you’ll operate from a position of strength and created this phenomenal organization. How does that thinking about that at scale is very exciting and super interesting.

00:21:59:11 – 00:22:22:14
Philippa White
So exciting and so interesting. I think this plays into this thought as well. You know, I studied business actually. I didn’t love the business school, but it was a very competitive one. And in Canada, you know, it’s the best business school in Canada and and and at one point I found myself in a classroom where everybody was chanting, the main goal of business is to make money.

00:22:23:14 – 00:22:42:11
Philippa White
And I and I, you know, I was I don’t know how old was I? I was probably, what, 19, I guess. Overall, you are in in university. So I had zero work experience. I wasn’t international kid like you. So I certainly had a perspective perhaps that was a little bit different to people who had only grown up in one place.

00:22:42:11 – 00:23:05:23
Philippa White
So maybe there was a bit more. My family also did not come from the business world. They were all from what I call the helping people industries. So there was a lot of passion, there was a lot of purpose, there was a lot of real desire to challenge the system and make it better. And so when I was looking around, I didn’t know how to explain my feeling of not, you know, a slight disgust to that.

00:23:06:10 – 00:23:26:07
Philippa White
But I did look around thinking this is so crazy. And then obviously, you know, life has moved on and I do what I do. And, you know, I posted about this and you commented you were one of the first people to comment on it. I touched on the importance of questioning. Surely it’s not just about making money. Surely there’s other things too, like purpose or shared value or, you know, employees.

00:23:26:13 – 00:23:36:24
Philippa White
So you commented on this as well. And I just was curious to know, because I know that this is very important to you, too. And I and I know that you have strong opinions on it. So can you talk to our listeners about that?

00:23:37:05 – 00:24:03:13
David Webster
Yeah, for sure. I mean, look, I mean, I think it’s interesting, right, because I absolutely believe that there is nothing wrong with companies or organizations making money. The point for me is that that is absolutely not a the sole purpose of a business. But more importantly, I don’t think profit per say is the objective is not the end goal.

00:24:03:18 – 00:24:32:05
David Webster
It’s a consequence right, of doing something different. And therefore, you know, you have phenomenal phenomena, successful organizations who are doing a lot of good and are making a lot of money. And that’s okay. You know, we shouldn’t be ashamed of putting the two things together. Profit, a broken should absolutely go hand in hand. And it’s quite interesting because what it reminded me of a few things, you know, this is almost a duality of things.

00:24:32:05 – 00:24:37:07
David Webster
This balance is really important. You know, we as an experiential, you’ll know. Good, a nice.

00:24:37:07 – 00:24:38:06
Philippa White
Yes, good a nice.

00:24:38:16 – 00:25:00:10
David Webster
Yeah you know there is it’s the two things are not polar opposites. It’s not a zero sum game here, you know. But also I was reading an article actually this morning from the Harvard Business Review about how to be both an effective leader and a good human, which I thought was fascinating, you know, and I just stumbled upon it by absolute chance.

00:25:00:10 – 00:25:24:08
David Webster
And I thought, you know what, this really resonates today because it comes back to the broader piece, you know? Yes. You know what Unilever is going through at the moment with their stakeholders for taking an actual stance on purpose and social responsibility, etc.. And, you know, the broader topic of, you know, conscious organization, which is a broader and even bigger topic, you know, we can touch upon, is really interesting.

00:25:24:12 – 00:25:47:22
David Webster
The fact that people like Jamie Dimon, of all people, I mean, the CEO and chairman of Jp morgan actually started talking about, you know, end of quote. And because this has stayed with me for since you said this a couple of years ago, actually, that major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term.

00:25:48:03 – 00:26:14:22
David Webster
I mean, this is the CEO of one of the biggest investment banks in the world. I just find that so. But even short term is but actually slightly ignorant and disillusioned to actually think and disrespectful actually towards a bit of human intelligence to think that, well, what’s the purpose of money, you know, if not to fulfill one’s needs and desires, etc.?

00:26:15:03 – 00:26:30:06
David Webster
So it can’t be the purpose in its own right, right? That’s at least you know. And you know, we can go on about this for a long time because I’m I’m hugely passionate about it, mostly because, as I said, I don’t see why the two things can’t coexist and why this is interesting.

00:26:30:06 – 00:26:51:12
Philippa White
I did a podcast, my last podcast actually was with John Alexander, and he also used to be an ad person, ad man at Salon, I think. But anyway, he’s set up the New Citizenship Project and he’s launching his book called Citizens. And his Belief, which I agree with, is for the world to go in the direction that it needs to go in.

00:26:51:12 – 00:27:20:04
Philippa White
We actually need to see customers as citizens, as in they’re not customers. They are part of a community, a part of a greater whole. And employees should also be seen as citizens. They are part of a community that you are creating and you can own that you have to do that together. And if you change that dynamic and change that language and you see people as citizens, you know you’re in it together, that changes the whole dynamic.

00:27:20:04 – 00:27:40:22
Philippa White
And I think it’s interesting when I look at tie, right? So we worked in one way the pandemic hit. We had to completely change the way that we work in order to survive. And a lot of people say, Oh my God, that was incredible. That was unbelievable. And I’m like, Well, not really. I had to, because if I didn’t, it wouldn’t have worked out.

00:27:40:22 – 00:28:01:12
Philippa White
So one of the things is necessity is the mother of invention. But also I have such a it’s a part of me. It’s actually older than my children. So it is my first child. And you need like it needs to succeed. So there’s that purpose and there’s that sort of belief within, you know, created something. I’m part of it.

00:28:01:17 – 00:28:22:06
Philippa White
It has to work. And if you have those two dynamics, one necessity, you feel the need for something to happen. You bought into that, so you need it and then you’ve got that purpose. It’s part of your soul and you’ve got that desire. It just will work out if you can create that dynamic with your staff to have that purpose and feel that necessity.

00:28:22:06 – 00:28:46:06
Philippa White
Within that dynamic, however you’ve created that, then you will have a band of people within your company who want to see things succeed. And if they that that’s just how things work. So if you and that’s, you know, to your point, just about profit and that being the only objective. That’s the only objective for who has the only objective for the owners of the company.

00:28:46:06 – 00:28:50:15
Philippa White
So if people feel that that’s all they’re working towards, obviously they’re not going to be bought into it.

00:28:51:00 – 00:29:08:04
David Webster
Absolutely. And there’s something interesting on that, actually, because and that’s why, you know, you asked that question earlier, which I’m not sure actually directly answered, because I think we’ve got a little something else, which was, you know, one of the things that really sort of inspired me or led to sort of where we are today, the TEDx Talk and where we’re the company.

00:29:08:12 – 00:29:27:06
David Webster
And actually that links to something you just said, which is to the big purpose of profit, to making sure you know you have citizenship, which I really love. I haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode yet, but I will. And and this is actually for me, one of the big influence was actually what’s happening with decentralization and blockchain technology.

00:29:27:09 – 00:30:15:06
David Webster
And let me explain why. Back in 2018, I did a course with MIT on the space, and that’s when I started writing a paper as part of this course, which was, you know, how can decentralization help and blockchain help redistribute value across a talent ecosystem, you know, specifically in the context of creative agencies? And so for me, when I started looking at the principles of, you know, decentralized autonomous organizations in the context of blockchain, for example, actually when you dig really deep what this does, this is technology that enables a lot of the things we’re talking about that I’m sure that facilitates the creation of organizations where stakeholders and stakeholders I mean, employees and customers

00:30:15:06 – 00:30:52:02
David Webster
that are truly feel part of something bigger, not only in in words, but actually in facts. You know, the fact that people are owners of something bigger, people have a vested interest. And I’ve always been a believer that vested interest matters. And people have a vested interest in the success of something that they believe in. This idea of cause related organizations, you know, are fascinating, you know, and I think that’s an area which I think sometimes is a little bit overlooked simply because it is, you know, overcomplicated by the press often.

00:30:52:14 – 00:31:06:15
David Webster
And it’s seen as this big myth. But actually, when you look at the principles of some of the technologies out there, you know, it’s phenomenal what they are enabling us to do. You know, and I would strongly urge anyone to really look into it a little bit deeper. Is it fun?

00:31:06:15 – 00:31:21:24
Philippa White
Interesting. Yeah, really interesting. So we are coming to the end of the podcast, but I do have a couple of questions for you. One, do you have any stories or any companies that you feel are doing this other than the Carrot Collective?

00:31:22:00 – 00:31:24:21
David Webster
Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, there’s the obvious one, you know.

00:31:24:21 – 00:31:26:07
Philippa White
My or that was the word I was looking for.

00:31:26:07 – 00:31:47:04
David Webster
Admire, really. Like there were a couple of, you know, sort of the more maybe obvious names. You know, people like Patagonia, for example, I think is always a fascinating case study. You know, we’re actually we’re starting our B Corp certification process now, which is fascinating. It’s a lot of work, but hopefully that’s my big goal for 2022 to do that.

00:31:47:04 – 00:32:08:13
David Webster
And then Patagonia, the for is one of the example simply because, you know, I’m speaking to people who work there. You know, it’s it’s a human organization. You know, it’s an organization that puts humanity over efficiency. You know, that’s something we didn’t really talk a lot about, but it’s an important principle. You know, we for years we’ve talked about we need to be more efficient.

00:32:08:13 – 00:32:32:09
David Webster
We need to do more with less. Well, y who said that’s the better way of doing things? You know, and I think Patagonia is a great example. The other example I and there aren’t, by the way, many companies that truly believe this I think a lost in itself post rationalization to try and fit in if you want. I think Patagonia truly comes from the right place.

00:32:32:09 – 00:33:07:14
David Webster
I honestly was and I’ll say this in the most genuine way, I’m, I’m sure, hugely impressed many because I’ve worked with them for many years with reading the stands Unilever has taken. I am phenomenally impressed because it’s not easy for an organization of that size. Yeah, and that’s kudos to the senior management and the leadership of the company that is sticking by their guns and I hope they keep sticking by their guns and that, you know, and then recently, actually somewhat you might know, I don’t know, snow or gun, Don BURNETT to London, actually, who’s now the CMO of Nestl√©.

00:33:07:23 – 00:33:42:07
David Webster
Oh, you know, she’s having some great initiatives, at least up towards this direction, really advocating for, you know, greater sustainability, greater human centricity in what Nestl√© will be doing in the future. So I do think, you know, that it’s it’s a movement that’s not going to stop. Yeah. For one reason and it goes back to our purpose and profit because it’s proven over and over again that a company’s driven by purposeful means actually do better.

00:33:42:19 – 00:33:55:11
David Webster
I make more money, make more profit. And you know, and that’s all to me, the Holy Grail. And until we really get to that, you know, I don’t think things will ever change at scale. But I see that happening of these takeaways.

00:33:55:11 – 00:33:57:21
Philippa White
Are there any takeaways that you can leave our listeners with?

00:33:57:21 – 00:34:24:13
David Webster
Yeah, I mean, look, there’s so, so, so much in the Springs to talk about and I’d love to tell people about. I mean, look, for me, the most important thing is actually quite foundational. Going back to the reader, the first thing I mentioned at the beginning, which is there has never I genuinely believe there has never been a better time in the last 50, 60, 70 years to actually drive the kind of change many want to see.

00:34:24:17 – 00:34:45:17
David Webster
Right. I think we are in this very unique moment in time with for respect, with everything that’s been going on and the tragedy that the last two years have been for many. But it’s a unique moment in time where real, real change can happen, you know, and there’s lots of people out there with lots of ideas and lots of things they want to do.

00:34:45:22 – 00:34:57:16
David Webster
My only urge, what I was fortunate to have the people around me to support me in doing that, to just give it a go. Because honestly, there is never honest, never been a better time to succeed.

00:34:57:23 – 00:35:01:01
Philippa White
Jump before you’re ready and just go for it and then follow. Absolutely.

00:35:01:11 – 00:35:08:07
David Webster
Absolutely. You know, and do it now because it’s an incredible time. Yet I really do believe that now.

00:35:08:07 – 00:35:11:13
Philippa White
Was there anything that I haven’t asked you that you’d like to tell our listeners?

00:35:12:04 – 00:35:25:21
David Webster
Oh, God, there’s so many things we can talk about. No, I mean, look, as I said, there’s lots I’d love to talk more about. You know, I love Legos, for example. We can have a conversation for the next 2 hours about Legos.

00:35:26:01 – 00:35:27:20
Philippa White
You do? I forgot that about you.

00:35:27:20 – 00:35:37:13
David Webster
I have a secret art. I’m a secret architect at heart that just didn’t like school enough to become an architect. So I still build Legos to my.

00:35:37:13 – 00:35:56:07
Philippa White
You’ll be happy to know we have you coming to our house. And we had a wooden we’ve got a dark wooden table with a little lip. So it’s a little centimeter higher lip and it’s our Lego Lego table. And we come in and it’s just a hole. And anyone, adults and children, whoever come in and they just start building.

00:35:56:07 – 00:36:04:02
David Webster
Everyone should have a Lego table in their home. That’s the one. Yeah.

00:36:04:02 – 00:36:19:10
Philippa White
Oh, it’s been so great to connect with you. It’s been a really long time, but we do see each other on social media and I love seeing the things that you’re up to. I wish you so much. You know, just positive energy and success with the Carrot Collective.

00:36:19:15 – 00:36:26:21
David Webster
Thank you. Super exciting times. And, you know, and likewise. Thank you for having me on here. It’s super, super fun to catch up again after so long.

00:36:27:00 – 00:36:28:08
Philippa White
Until next time.

00:36:28:08 – 00:36:29:13
David Webster
Absolutely. Thank you.

00:36:29:22 – 00:36:54:02
Philippa White
Thank you.

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