The best story, however, came from the guest speaker Sam Roddick, who grew up in the mother of all kitchen start-ups, The Body Shop. On account of her mum being a teacher, much energy was devoted by the Body Shop into educating and inspiring their customers. The rest is well documented.
Despite her self deprecating protestations about not enjoying public speaking, Sam gave the most stimulating 10 minute business talk I have heard for a long time. She went straight in at the deep end about her activism around sexuality, feminism (her father was a feminist, luckily), exploitation and pornography. Sam then emphasised the need for businesses to indulge in politics.
Wowsers - that struck me as more radical than her famous product line at Coco de Mer. Businesses, especially start-ups, were meant to be all things to all people, politically asinine and sterile of controversy. But then scratch under the surface and most businesses soon show some true colours. Google's 'Don't Be Evil' is a manifesto of sorts. The Rowntree's had Quaker qualities to promote, Jimmy Wales has come out on the right, Meg Whitman on the left.
The cross over from business to politics is as old as both professions, but the idea that a business can have a campaigning, political bent strikes me as risky and radical. I don't mean hug a tree CSR fluff, I mean pushing a controversial agenda.
But why not? If my start up Ginjex has a mission it is to support the hard working self-employed small business people, and that has a plethora of political implications from tax to the EU. I am willing to take on their causes even if that doesn't please everyone all of the time.
Either way I hope the business world throws up more Sam Roddicks and Diana Birds.
Thanks for the invite Diana