Songs for a funeral, Judging awards; living with Covid
I judge PWC reporting awards. I podcast with an epidemiologist. I ask what songs for your funeral? I think about death; disability; games and Net-Zero alliances. ThenDoBetter grant to choreo-poet.
This week if you read only one thing it’s UK government epidemiologist Meaghan Kall on COVID (long, vaccine waning) as an endemic disease, disability, and being an epidemiologist.
Tickets are now selling (faster than I expected) for my Thinking Bigly: How We Die. If you want to come in person 26 November do book. Else sign up for the live stream How We Die, Nov 26th, Theatre Deli.
This is my current props list: 12 limes, an old silk knitted tie, made in England (1960s); one jumper, cashmere with holes; one sweatshirt, logo: ThenDoBetter; 24 Wooden Spoons; One Bucket; Exactly Square paper, preferably very large; Various sound recordings; paper for you to write on; flapping paper cranes. Intrigued? Do come.
These are some of the songs you’ve told me would be good for your/my funeral: A Tout Le Monde, Baker Street, Another one bites the dust, Never Gonna Give You Up, My Dingaling, No Rain, My Way, Get up Stand Up, Once in a Life Time, Grenfell Tower, Long Live the Queen.
Let me know what songs you’d want at a funeral? Should I have a funeral party?
Podcasting soon Bec Hill on comedy, Dan Goodley on disability, Zeke Hausfather on climate; Jason Mitchell poetry + investing. Let me know any questions for them.
Applying Nobel Prize thinking to ESG work
My next show: How We Die (Nov 26th, Theatre Deli)
Death songs, play + Bernie de Koven
Me, judging PWC awards
David Finnigan on thinking about a stumble-through
Net-Zero Banking Alliance
Latest micro-grant award
This week I went to an award ceremony hosted by PWC on building public trust and corporate reporting. There is a slim to zero chance I will ever go to the Oscars or Baftas (maybe?!) so perhaps this will be the closest I will ever come.
I was a judge for many of the awards. Looking from the outside, there is a touch of the self-congratulatory aspect to corporate awards. The eco-system of corporate reporting is perhaps not the largest in the corporate world. Like all groups, it feels pleasant to be recognised and to be together. (Aside: perhaps they could have hired a theatre director for an hour. Cut the smoke, why blare such music? What’s going on with the lights…)
Yet, at its core I feel this group to be authentic. Rather than only produce messages to gloss over challenges, I sense a vast majority of corporates are trying hard to explain what value they provide to society, employees, customers and the like. In this small piece of the puzzle, strong corporate reporting helps. They are trying to explain, because at its heart these are major drivers of long-term wealth and prosperity for humanity. 2.5 million+ businesses in the UK (although 1m+ as multi-employee).* 1
The reporting (and awards) extends into charities, and private business, and government organisations and thus extends into the majority of the UK economy. It seems to me to be very easy to bash big business (or even little business) and while there is much to criticise (eg on corruption, environment - the list goes on) there is much positive to also consider.
So I think the motive behind the public trust awards is sincere and useful. I was happy to read what turned out to be probably 100+ corporate annual reports to help judge this.
There has been steady improvement in corporate reporting across all areas perhaps the largest improvement has been on sustainability. Arguably this is still where the largest gap between what society needs over the long-term and where corporates and society are currently heading. Reporting is only one piece, but a necessary piece.
I noted with interest JP Morgan and 6 of the largest Canadian Banks*2 joined the Net Zero Banking Alliance in the last few days. This is spear headed by Mark Carney who continues to try and galvanise the financial sector broadly (although not without controversy).
In any case the commitment is below:
Transition the operational and attributable GHG emissions from their lending and investment portfolios to align with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner.
Within 18 months of joining, set 2030 targets (or sooner) and a 2050 target, with intermediary targets to be set every 5 years from 2030 onwards.
Banks’ first 2030 targets will focus on priority sectors where the bank can have the most significant impact, ie. the most GHG-intensive sectors within their portfolios, with further sector targets to be set within 36 months.
Annually publish absolute emissions and emissions intensity in line with best practice and within a year of setting targets, disclose progress against a board-level reviewed transition strategy setting out proposed actions and climate-related sectoral policies.
Take a robust approach to the role of offsets in transition plans.
I do continue to believe there is a considerable political economy problem highlighted by 30-35% of americans continuing to disbelieve man-made climate change.
On the podcasting front, I had a fascinating chat with Meaghan Kall. We talked about disability and the social determinats of health more than I was expecting and so for close readers this links into much of my conversation with Jonathan Wolff and also with Sally Phillips. I’ve ended up thinking about and exploring disability more than I was expecting to.
Benjamin Yeoh @benyeohbenOur awesome epidemiologist, @kallmemeg Meaghan Kall on podcast 👋 Listen/Read 👉 https://t.co/dyTpIjDVRJ and check out a clip on her #COVID thoughts below. "...a great deal of the poor outcomes we're seeing down to COVID is because people are immune naive..." https://t.co/SvzaHKuZ6R
Her summary on COVID was:
...I think now we're in a vaccine era and I think I could maybe call it post vaccine. Are we there? I think nearly especially for adults. … So my current advice for people is that I believe that coronavirus will become a globally endemic infection. I think that a great deal of the poor outcomes we're seeing down to COVID is because people are immune naive, have been immune naive and have lacked any kind of immune response. And so it's a completely foreign pathogen and then the body reacts. I think, in the presence of some immunity, whether ideally through vaccines, but even if you've been infected before, that gives you immunity, then your chance of having poor outcomes is just much, much, many, many times lower. .......we have to live with it and we have to get on and we can't continue having a myopic focus on a single disease for much longer because other diseases, other conditions, other health problems, other economic problems are also in the mix and need attention as well. … I think we're not going to see the end of coronavirus, I don't think in our lifetime. And I think probably a lot of people are going to be infected more than one time, but going forward, I think the severity will reduce...
(self recommending) but it’s a thoughtful listen. Transcript and video here.
I’ve awarded a ThenDoBetter grant to Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa.
Reclaiming The Dance. In 2017 poetry became my obsession, I wanted to learn as much as possible but due to my disability and neurodiversity (autism, ADHD, dyslexia & LPD) I found poetry quite challenging which often left me feeling disheartened, nonetheless I persevered and forged my own path. One evening in 2018 I decided to explore poems dancing to Janelle Monáe and Jill Scott in the corner of my bedroom. I felt liberated - I began to see poetic form as choreography, my work dramatically improved. Dance became essential to my practice, not only has it enabled me to access language in a unique way, but I recently I discovered the combination of dance and poetry could help me reclaim ancestral voices.
There are no known first-handwritten accounts/ biographies of enslaved women from the African diaspora in Barbados during The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, all documentation on the cultures, artistic expressions and behaviours of enslaved Africans and descendants were collated by colonialists and often vulgarised and associated with obeah (“witchcraft”). …
I continue to explore thinking about death. I thought back to the questions I posed Bernie De Koven. Bernie’s life was dedicated to making play. This has impacted philosophers (see my podcast with Nguyen). I’m thinking of the games Bernie has spread.
Recent death research includes: my conversation with Clare Montagu and hospices, When Breath Becomes Air (Kalanithi), Grief Observed (CS Lewis), Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Being Mortal (Gawande), With the End in Mind (Mannix), How We Die (Nuland), The Way We Die Now (O’Mahony).
Read when I am not particularly facing death, I find it intriguing that the books all argue for very similar ideas and thoughts in particular about how death in Western countries is treated and the (over)medicalisation of death. While, perhaps, one could argue for group-think I believe it’s more plausible these groups of thinkers and doctors are correct. This is something I am exploring in my show.
I wrote this for my LinkedIn. It’s pretty ESG specialist but shows the importance of the regression discontinuity technique.
#Nobel Prize thinking as applied to #ESG. The recent Nobel Prize winners are noted for their development of methods to answer causal questions using observational data. One such method is regression discontinuity. A set of papers by Caroline Flammer et al use this method to provide evidence for causal claims on ESG/CSR.
Flammer and Bansal use a “Regression Discontinuity Design” to look at proxy votes and long-term incentives. They compare proposals that narrowly pass (with 51% of the vote) to those that narrowly fail (with 49% of the vote). Whether you narrowly pass or narrowly fail is essentially random, and uncorrelated with other factors.
This is a natural experiment.
“We examine shareholder proposals on #long‐term executive #compensation that pass or fail by a small margin of votes. The passage of such “close call” proposals is akin to a random assignment of long‐term incentives and hence provides a clean causal estimate. We find that the adoption of such proposals leads to (1) an increase in firm value and operating performance—suggesting that a long‐term orientation is beneficial to companies—and (2) an increase in firms' #investments in long‐term strategies such as innovation and stakeholder relationships."
My some time collaborator David Finnigan has written about how his sees our response to COVID a little like a theatre rehearsal stumble-through which is a thoughtful metaphor.
I’ve been reflecting on how in many ways we are lucky that we had the pandemic now as opposed to the 1980s or 1990s which would have very plausible and potentially an order of magnitude worse.
My friend Hana on designing with only Gen-Z
Please do share or forward the letter and let me know any thoughts you have.
My employer included; https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-banking/commitment/