The Changing Tides Of A Growth Mindset And A Global Transformation, with Stuart Green
Published DateAuthorDan Sullivan and Strategic Coach
As a child, Stuart Green was obsessed with what went on under the water. The UK entrepreneur became educated in fisheries, including by immersing himself in various coastal communities. He came to realize that the whole system wasn’t working very well, so he’s spent the past 25 years seeking solutions to the problem. In this episode, Stuart explains the fishing problems the world has and the entrepreneur ideas and mindset he’s using to find solutions.
Here's some of what you'll learn in this episode:
The business complexities that Stuart’s company simplifies for clients.
How the fishing business is about balancing social progress with economics.
The importance of understanding what drives your audience and your stakeholders.
How Stuart came to understand what the business is really about.
Earth isn’t really a planet; it’s a planet ocean.
Most people underestimate the GDP of the world’s oceans.
The GDP of oceans is about $3.1 trillion per annum, which is about 3% of the world’s GDP.
Almost half the people on the planet depend on the oceans for their livelihood.
15% of global protein comes from fish.
Humans need to be incentivized to stop taking the oceans for granted.
Several types of small-scale fishers are always overlooked and rarely given voice.
If you have a grand vision but no metrics, you won’t know where you’re going.
Initiatives created without consulting the community won’t fit.
The real art in a solution is making it appropriate to local needs.
You can take problems and turn them into solutions.
Dan Sullivan: Hi. This is Dan Sullivan, and I'd like to welcome you to the Multiplier Mindset Podcast. Very, very fascinating entrepreneur in Strategic Coach, Stuart Green, who comes from UK, and we have so many interesting entrepreneurs in the Program who are doing such interesting things. And it was a pleasure to get our interview from Stuart because he's in something that I haven't seen before in my almost 50 years of being an entrepreneurial coach, and that is that he's helping fishing villages all over the world. He's got two models that are Coach models that I can relate to his approach, and one of them is The Strategy Circle, which is our very first thinking tool, 1982. So it's into its fifth decade of doing Strategy Circles. And it was created because I began to see that almost all entrepreneurs follow a particular model for themselves just in how they put their own company together, but how they help their clients.
And they get their clients to establish a vision. So, pick a time in the future, could be a year, could be... I like three years for big projects. And you identify exactly what the practical results are. And then once you have the practical results, you put a date on it. And then you drop back and you say, "Now, what are all the obstacles that we're experiencing right now that prevent us from getting there?" And then you take each of the obstacles and you say, "Now, how do we turn this obstacle to transform it? How do we actually transform it into the action that's actually going to bring about the vision?"
And if you look at Strategic Coach and how we've grown, we've created hundreds of other thinking tools. But all of them start with basically the Vision, Opposition, Transformation, Action model. We call it VOTA. And it's the growth formula, it's the creative formula for creating all the tools in Strategic Coach.
Stuart Green: My name's Stuart Green. I'm a marine scientist who has realized that it's not about the science, it's about people. Grew up in the UK, very privileged upbringing, finished my education in fisheries. I was always obsessed with fishing as a child, so I always loved to understand what's going on under the water. After I finished university, I spent a lot of time working in the industry. And I found out that, in some countries of the world, they used dynamite to fish for a living. And I could not get my head around that problem.
So I took a backpack and went to Southeast Asia long before there was telephones or internet or email or so. There was a few guidebooks back then, but basically immersed myself in coastal communities across the Asia Pacific, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, at that time Vietnam, and then never came back until about four years ago.
I luckily landed with the UK's equivalent of the Peace Corps after I'd been in region for a few months and, yeah, have just lived there in small fishing communities across the region for the last 30 years now.
Obsessed with fish as a child, so always fishing. I was a terrible fisher, though. I rarely caught anything, but became obsessed with trying to understand what goes on under the water. So rivers and lakes or the seas, that became a bit of my obsession. I didn't really have too much fun or passion at school. But then at university, under biology, I lucked out and found a fisheries course. That was my fast-forward to really wanting to understand what's going on in fisheries, what's going on in the world, how do we manage this beautiful renewable natural resource that we have.
And then in my last year, I had the pleasure of living with a group of Malaysian students who were at the same university as myself. And they started telling me stories about what's going on in Southeast Asia with fisheries. And I became really stunned that some communities were using trawls. But in particular, dynamite fishing really fixed me. I could not understand the logic, why anyone would use a stick of dynamite to feed their family.
So I worked for a while, got some money, grabbed a backpack, and then went out to find out for myself how this was happening and became accustomed, but began to realize that the problem wasn't about dynamite. It was a whole system that was not working very well. And I spent the next 25 years trying to solve that problem and see how we can really begin to understand the ocean and basic economics and how they all interface with each other.
It's after the second World War, and I'm referring to the Philippines here, but also a little bit to Indonesia. I think Philippines is where dynamite fishing began. After the war in the Pacific, as the U.S. and the alliance moved to other countries, they left a ton of munitions behind. And some of the local communities got a little bit creative with those munitions. And the general feeling or understanding of coastal communities in the region is that a coral reef is actually just a stone. They don't even think it's alive. They thought it's an easy way to capture fish. So they started to throw in dynamite, blasting their habitats, the coral reefs at the same time, and beginning to degrade the resource.
So that's, I think, how dynamite began. And it spread across the whole world. So it's being used in Africa, Madagascar, Indian Ocean, all across the world now, sadly. But what I've realized is, it's not really just about those habitats. It's not just about dynamite fishing. It's basically our relationship with the ocean and really beginning to understand the benefits and the services that we get and working at a much more integrated level, so working with not just local fishers, non-government organizations, but working with local governments, national governments. It's about policy, it's about economics, it's about livelihoods, so really working at that level.
So what we do at BGA is, given our context and understanding of the region, we work with mostly philanthropic organizations. We try and manage that complexity for them and really help them think about what are some of the opportunities that they could invest in to begin to deliver system-wide benefits. And when I say system-wide, that means dealing with the dynamite fishing, but at the same time help making sure communities remain engaged and still have livelihoods contributing to the social progress of the region as well at the same time. So due diligence and sourcing, helping our clients really think through how best to invest.
My analogy for the oceans is that it's the liver, the kidneys, the heart, and the blood of the planet. Probably 70% of the planet is blue, so we are actually not really a planet Earth. We are actually a planet Ocean. GDP of oceans on a whole is about $3.1 trillion per annum, which is about 3% of the world's GDP. So equivalent to the UK's GDP, this is what oceans produce. And that is very much underestimated. And at least three billion people, so almost half the planet, depend on the oceans for their livelihoods, but also for protein. Fish produces 15% of the global protein that comes into our plates. So very, very important and underestimated resource.
So for me, it's about getting all the stakeholders together and getting common direction and vision around understanding what the oceans provide. But it's really about balancing the social progress with the economics and with the ecology. It's not about saving the oceans. The oceans can save themselves. It's about getting the right mix of good economics and good social progress and incentivizing humans to look after and protect the oceans and frankly not take it for granted anymore.
For me, it's about really understanding your audience, understanding your stakeholders, understanding what drives them and what incentivize them, and then pulling that all together and working out some compromises. You're not always going to have all winners, but you also don't want all losers. So it's about coming up with some common ground where everyone are willing to go, and then just moving forward and driving the sector forward as a whole, not just looking after one or two individuals.
But my pet favorite, of course, will be the small scale fishers. So looking after the marginalized, looking after the youth, and looking after the women in particular in the sector, very, very important. They're always overlooked and they rarely given voice.
So a lot of the initiatives [inaudible 00:10:09] brilliant ideas by brilliant people, but they never consulted the community. So when it comes down, it never fits. So for me, our job at BGA is to get in the middle and be a bit of a bridge to make sure what those great visionaries of thinking and what the need is on the ground and connecting those pieces together to make sure everyone is clear.
And it's not about these complicated strategies. It's making things simple, easy, and for me, very, very important, measurable. So we actually have an impact that you can measure over time and you can adjust as you go along. If you're tracking something and you have some indicators, you can see what's happening. If you have a grand vision and no metrics, you won't know where you're heading or where you're going.
In my line of work, there's a lot of people advocating for grand solutions, which are a little bit top down in their approach. They sound great, they work great on paper, but what we've really realized is that it's like a recipe. We have a set series of ingredients for each situation, but some areas like it a little bit more salty. Some areas need a little more garlic. So for us, the real art of the solution is making it appropriate to the local needs.
And while we're talking about solutions, what we've found is there's a lot of obstacles and roadblocks that get in the way. And in our sector as well, sometimes there's some road blockers who almost deliberately get in the way or unintentionally get in the way. For us, it's about really taking that and using those problems, turning that into a solution. So how can we develop and make sure that we've got the voice of those communities from the beginning? Then, we co-create together and build that ownership over the solution rather than, again, just dropping these high level strategies, which are great in theory, but rarely lead to good practice on the ground. So I think that's our vision, is localizing local recipe, making sure everyone likes the taste of the recipe, and then we execute. And you'll have a delicious meal.
One of my biggest challenges was when I arrived in region, first began my obsession with managing the fish, managing the coral reefs, managing the sea grasses and the mangrove. But then, as time went on, I realized it's not about the nature. It's about the people and their interaction with the nature. And so that has taken me a lot of time to really reframe the approach that it's really very human-centric.
But where I'm now challenged and I see the opportunity is, here's the nature piece, here's the people piece, but now how can we build companies and create social enterprises to incentivize those loops together to fill in those gaps and those problems? So that's really my thrust now, and really back now as an entrepreneur is, how can we create ecosystems of entrepreneurs and a safe space for them to engage to create their own solutions that are also economically viable and can sustain the whole system? Because there is no way I and my small team will be able to deliver all these problems.
I guess to be where I really land is, how do we take those recipes and how do we scale them and democratize them in a way so that people can have access to them and everyone can join us in the journey if we are going to look after our 70% of the ocean blue planet? We are on one planet, and it's a blue planet. And so what happens there is affecting all of us, either indirectly or directly. So yes, it's very, very important that we look after this beautiful place that we have at the moment and gives us all this renewable fish, renewable energy, all comes out in the ocean and is our buffer for climate and weather and looks after us.
So yes, for me, it's about flipping problems into solution. I've come across a series of roadblocks, road blockers, and situations, both in my personal life and my career life. Just seeing how you can turn that problem into an opportunity in some form or manner, it takes a bit of thinking and you have to turn it all back to front in so many ways. But it's really applying that. And if I was to call out, one of my biggest learnings from Strategic Coach over the years is really understanding the D.O.S. of my clients and understanding their dangers and what their opportunities are, and really seeing, again, how we can connect our bridge at BGA with their needs to make sure we want them to be happy and delivering their work. And we want the communities to be happy at the other end. So again, us getting in the middle, connecting with those deeds, and then seeing it through to the community. So, understanding what you have control of and what you don't have control of, but then taking those problems and seeing if you can't turn them into solutions, that's been my biggest learning over the years. So when I get stumped, it means I just need to try harder and find a different pathway around. And something normally comes up. Ultimately, it's about balancing economy or the livelihood, and of social progress and ecology, and just hitting that nice little sweet spot in the middle where we look after people, we look after the environment, and we look after the economics and just playing around in that space.
And I'm really excited about the number of different companies and opportunities, especially going into the Indo-Pacific now with a very clear vision around what I'd say is that triple bottom line approach.
And so if that hits alignment, if you are able to get into that nice sweet spot, then we would love to work with you, I think is what I like to say. And always on the lookout for what I'd say unusual suspects and unusual collaborations. I always think I'm a bit blinkered. But if there's any other opportunities to work with different people who have similar vision, even if they're very far away, I've found that connecting, you always find something really interesting in that space. So I think that's it.