If you were offered the chance to acquire a successful company with £10K in the bank, with 10 years worth of contacts, clients and connections in a jaw droppingly inspiring little black book and the chance to lead and develop it what would you do?
Leap at it? Well now's your chance...
Forget the Dragon's Den; for a socially minded entrepreneur this is a chance to participate in an innovative opportunity to pitch to take over the leadership of an established ethical communications business with a £300k turnover and previous clients including the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and HRH The Prince of Wales.
There must be a catch? Cynic that I am, when Simon Cohen, award winning entrepreneur and the founder of Global Tolerance called me to say he'd decided to give the company away, I immediately thought there must be some massive problem, some unresolved issue which meant that he couldn't carry on at the helm. That, it seems, is not the case. After putting the company (and himself) on a year's sabbatical, and much heart searching, Cohen has simply decided that he's not the guy to take the company forward. He has designed a search process he hopes might become an alternative blueprint for businesses worldwide.
Simon spent his sabbatical year as a family man relishing time with his new daughter, he continued to contribute to the BBC Chris Evans Breakfast Show and moved to Cornwall. His life changed as did his ambition for himself and the company. That's when he phoned the board to announce his decision, time to give someone else the opportunity to take the helm at Global Tolerance, but not in the usual way. Cohen's giving up his company through the process of what he has called an OLE, an 'Open Leadership Exercise'. Don't think 'Apprentice'. This person could be anyone from anywhere in the world and as the new director of Global Tolerance will have the world before him or her.
Could this be the new way out for social entrepreneurs? As far as I'm aware, nothing like this has been done before, it challenges conventional wisdom but in a world where business has taken a bashing over the last few years it's an interesting proposition. Cohen says, he knows he's not the person to grow the company and has been channeling his inner Sting believing that if you love something you should set it free.
Will there be no applicants? Will there be hundreds? That remains to be seen, but the indications are that the response will be considerable. There many people watching to see how successful this trail blazing process is and waiting to find out who will emerge as the new leader... could it be you?
The Global Tolerance Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) started on 24th March, applications open to take Global Tolerance forward, to grow it, to lead it and own it, well 95% of it (Simon will retain 5%). Applications are expected from around the world and will be whittled down over the coming months through a series of interviews, the new owner / director being announced late July 2014. Ellie Stoneley will sit on the final interview panel, alongside experts including Michael Binyon OBE, Leader Writer for The Times and global tolerance Board of Advisors member and Gillian Walnes MBE, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Anne Frank Trust UK.