China’s leading social entrepreneur. A man, motivated by love for his daughter, is setting out to change the world.
8am, Chinatown, Sydney. I am nervous.
Having navigated the overcrowded pavements, honking cars, men pushing barrows of fruit and fowl, and noisy kitchens echoing Mandarin, turning the barrowloads into sumptuous steaming feasts.
I am now sitting in the foyer of a 2-star hotel. I don’t think the concierge speaks English, but he has a warm smile. That’ll do. I am about to have breakfast with a billionaire. I’m nervous. I’ve never met a billionaire before. I had expected 5-star luxury, piped music, a retinue of assistants, plush surrounds. He travels simply, and alone. I am ushered into the dining room, plain laminated table tops, no table cloth, no waiter.
I am here to meet the globally revered Huan Ming, ‘The Sun King’ from China, a world leading pioneer of renewable energy. He has transformed China’s approach to energy consumption. He is considered a genius entrepreneur by many who know him.
Success leaves clues. I am keen to hear his success formula. He comes into the room, sees me, and a cheeky grin springs to his face. He looks at ease with smiling. He is diminutive, and a tad dishevelled. This puts me at ease. His English is broken; grabbing words and twisting them into sentences, that somehow make sense. He comes to Sydney regularly; his daughter studies here. I am struck by his openness, humility and inquisitive nature. He wants to know all about me, loves Maori culture, poking his tongue out to prove his point. We start to talk about his global mission to turn the world toward solar power, and renewable energy sources. A dark cloud descends over him. He becomes distracted, fidgety. It feels like there is now an elephant in the room. As a coach, I cannot resist asking him what is so disconcerting.
“I need help”, he says. “I travel all over the world, attending and speaking at international Summits on Climate Change. I meet leaders, Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, presidents, past presidents, leaders of industry; they all welcome me, and are so excited and shake my hand saying,“Marvellous,marvellous.We’re going to get behind climate change”, and nothing happens. It makes me sad. For ten years it has been this way”.
A sad pause follows.
“Can you help me?”
My brain freezes. I have a private, quavering, moment, ‘Can I help a billionaire?’. I feel a coaching moment descend. I ask, “How long have you been in business?”
“How was the first ten years?”
“It was so easy. So much happened. Everything flowed. There was no struggle. We were all so happy.”
“What were you doing then, that you are not doing now?”
A long, deep pause ensues, followed by a sheepish smile. The dark hovering cloud disappears.
“We worked with pure intent, and with joy in our hearts. Our motto was ‘Blue skies and green fields for our children’. It is what got me out of bed, and allowed me to work very hard, but for the last few years we have been lost in trying to achieve, and change people, and sell our ideas.”
A soft pause follows. In a quiet tone he says, “I am going to return to pure intent”.
His posture shifted, he sat up straight, emboldened – a man restored.
We both shared how it is so easy to get lost in the pursuit of ‘stuff’, and how important it is to come back to what works for you, and effortlessness is a big clue.
We both left smiling.
I am not nervous of billionaires any more.
What is the pure intent behind your work? You might have a billion dollar idea sitting inside you.
Julian Noel, master coach specialising in entrepreneurs, purpose and prosperity. Founder of Shine, where he creates events that showcase entrepreneurs making a difference in the world.
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