Private jets are bad right? Paris gigs are best reached by Eurostar but this particular client is in a hurry and has lined up further events in Germany, Spain, Italy and several other European cities. And he owns two jets so I convince myself just taking the one is being positively ECO.
“Raphael wants to talk to you Tom.”
Raphael Dupont is the European President of an International luxury car, tour bus and jet hire company. I join him at his coffee table near the front of this flying living room.
“So Tom, I’m reading these notes and I’m not quite sure why you’re here. You do some kind of ice-breaker, is that it?”
Raphael has kind eyes and a rich French accent.
“Lorna says you did a good job at the Dublin conference but, to be honest Tom, this agenda is pretty packed already”. He holds up a PowerPoint print out that looks like Einstein wrote it at midnight. “I’ve had this for several days but I only opened it at midnight,” he says conspiratorially, looking over at Lorna’s table.
We have a connection already and I haven’t said a word.
I know a bit about cultural differences so I give Raphael lots of context. I tell him stories from Africa about how I’ve seen the beat bringing tribes together around a common cause, in the spirit of ubuntu.
“Ubuntu, what’s that?” His philosophical mind is intrigued.
“I am because we are”, I say. “Nelson Mandela is often held up as an example of someone who embodies the spirit of ubuntu. I’ve got a video of him talking about it on my laptop. Let me…”
“Just tell me” he says, and I spend the next 15 minutes telling him everything I know. He’s fascinated. His eyes are shining.
“So, if I were to introduce you at the start of each event, and tell the crowd I’d ripped up my script on the plane and I was there not to talk but to listen, in the spirit of ubuntu…” I can see Raphael picturing this in his mind. “Could you then give them an experience of ubuntu in action before we get down to an immediate Q&A?”
“I’d be delighted to” I say.
Raphael opens his beautiful hand-tooled brief case and looks at me with a mixed expression of trepidation and excitement. He takes out his script. “You’re sure about this Tom? If someone Googled it everything you’ve told me about ubuntu is true, yes?”
“I’ve been there, I’ve seen it, I’ve felt it” I say. “If they Google it they’ll find it’s an operating system, which it is”.
He rips his speech in half.
“Ask Lorna to come over will you. This financial report roadshow is about to become a culture change programme.”
He picks up the PowerPoint print out and rips that up too. As the pilot announces we’ll soon be landing in Paris he holds up the pieces smiling, “I’m glad we had this talk Tom. According to this you’re just a drummer”.