Richard Lucas 12th March 2020


This article is about how to manage and be managed when working remotely, both at work and in private life. I’m sharing examples of what I am doing and also some resources.

I run and participate in global and local events, and am used to the challenging process of trying to be effective when working remotely. While I have experience, I don’t see myself as an expert. Leaders such as Michal Sliwinski of Nozbe has written extensively on Remote Working for example here .

You can listen to him on my podcast here

I want to share my perspective, and hope my lessons, experience and advice are useful.

1. Getting used to working remotely is your responsibility.

Whether you are an employee, manager, director, or founder you will need to get more of your stuff done on line and remotely. This is not panic, just a fact.
If this growth rate since 1st March continues there will be a billion cases by 14th May.

You must focus of staying healthy and sane, staying as productive and effective as possible, to support your core commitments to yourself, your family, friends, staff, co-workers, organisations you work for, support or lead. Like everything else there are better and worse ways of getting things done.

Managing your own “Working at Home” processes

  1. Get control of your diary. Time passes whether you manage it or not. Have a prioritised daily “to do or “task” list. Review at the end of the day whether you succeeded in getting done what you wanted to get done. If you don’t know, can’t answer, it wasn’t a good plan, and improve your plan for the next day. If you are failing, work on improving your planning.
  2. Be disciplined: use a diary, know what you are meant to be doing during the day. Set yourself deadlines and keep to them.
  3. Start work at the same time as you would start work if things were normal (or earlier).
  4. Use the time you save by not travelling productively. Ask “what can I learn or read?” or “who can I catch up with? not “What Netflix series can I re-watch?”
  5. Tell family members you live with about your planned home working routines and that you need their support to make them work.
  6. Over communicate with your co-workers and managers. As well as documenting what you have done every day, on a shared online resource like a Google Drive (dropbox, company intranet etc), send an email to your manager letting her or him know what you have done, and talk to them. Make checking in with your boss(es) a daily habit.

Managing other people remotely

The way you manage will be tested. A manager needs the trust of their team, and trust is built through regular contact and two way communication.
1 Over communicate (true for employees, even more true for managers)
A good manager will be in daily contact with her (or his) staff so she knows what their ‘directs’ (people who report to them) have done, are working on, and the challenges they face. In addition to your weekly one on ones, and daily team meetings, which can all be done online, schedule extra calls because of the remote-ness . If you are a manager (but not CEO) you should be in a situation where, when your boss calls you, you will be able to tell them what the status is on all your deliverables up to the end of the previous working day. That means keeping on top of what your directs have done and are working on, reading their reports, talking and listening to them.

If you are a CEO do the same, call your managers, get their reports, discuss with the managers who report to you, attending online meetings and systematically being in touch with selected people further away from you in the Organisation Chart so that you are less distant, rather than more absent. “Show your face” online.

2 Online information sharing Make sure that your team knows where to share information about progress on their projects, tasks and deliverables. Keep track, and make sure everyone updates it and you check. If you sometimes let it slip in the office, now is the time to “pull your socks up”, and be more professional.

3 Introduce “one on ones”
If you are not used to having weekly “one on one” meetings with the people who report to you, use this change as an opportunity to “raise your game”. I wrote this article before listening to this podcast today (17th March). The arguments for having well organised “one on ones” are set out very clearly in the latest podcast here.

One of the world’s leading podcasts on “How to manage

If you are used to a more informal communication style, explain to your team in your first online meeting that you need to formalise processes given the extra challenges of being remote, and to give them the support they need.

3. Relationships. Communication

Face to face is better than phone, and phone is better than email. It’s hard to have long distance relationships, but this will be “the new normal” as you either choose not to, or are unable to, see your family and friends. If you have friends/relatives who are technophobic – now is the time to teach them how to use video conferencing. I taught my 90 year old mother to Facetime two days ago. You can do it. If you have friends who you see from time to time, call them more often. I’ve noticed that I have spent more time on the phone and talking to people remotely than normal. It is an investment in civilisation and staying sane.

4 Experimentation with online events, meetings and meetups
The Coronavirus Covid-19 is becoming the largest pandemic since 1918. There are lots of challenges. As an event organiser I have plenty. I challenge those reading to think about what they can do online. For example:

Family gatherings
I am having an online family gathering this evening. We never did this before but, with two generations, six households, and three countries potentially joining, it may bring us closer than we would have been without this terrible virus.
On line parties – I’ve tried one, and have been invited to another. May be weird, but why not.

Open your mind to experimentation – do pilot online events.

As an entrepreneur I know that the way to make progress is through trial and error. As an event organiser I know how much participants hate “error”. So do pilots. Maybe some of the online events I am doing below won’t work at all or won’t work well. The test of any event is whether you and the other who attend want to do it again. I’m experimenting with online meetings and events of all descriptions. I even started before the virus came into being. Here are some examples

With Mel Rosenberg in Israel I have been piloting online concentric TED Circles –, with two groups linked by video and extra remote people joining. See details of an event here

Two TED Circles: in my house in Poland and in Tel Aviv – online and face to face.

Such meetings facilitate experiences and communication that were previously not possible.

With Open Coffee Krakow we are hosting our first on line event on Thursday 19th March.

The first online Open Coffee Krakow meeting

If you want to join, you can! Just click on the Zoom link You don’t have to be in Krakow. We are trying to make an opportunity out of the problem. We did a pilot event last week to test the technology, streaming the resulting gathering on Facebook Live, reaching an audience of over 1000. There may be even more on Thursday. Following that successful pilot, Kamil from our team made an 8 minute “How to take part ” video showing people how to use Zoom in this way. I made a shorter 3 minute Loom video as well. This is a work in progress,. We see this as an chance to do things we couldn’t do before.

TED and TEDx events

We decided to cancel our 10th March event a few days before we had to.

The cancellation statement

TED have postponed their major event of the year in April and cancelled the satellite TEDFest in New York. For our event, and future events that are no longer possible because of the virus, we are thinking. “What is the best thing to do instead?”

Jay Herratti and Salome Heusel at TED HQ have already organised an online Town Hall with TEDx-ers from all over the world to discuss how we as TEDx-ers should react to the crisis, and what we can do to stay relevant to our local communities.

Making my suggestion about online events to
a 100 plus person video conference hosted by the TEDx team

Jay and Salome were very explicit that we can experiment with online and hybrid online/offline events for the duration of the crisis. We have not yet decided what we are going to do, but for sure we will be piloting different types of events on line.

Teaching I teach entrepreneurship workshops from time to time, and my course a few days ago was cancelled due to the virus, so I decided to to put it on line.

I got positive feedback and proved to myself and others that I can do interactive workshops with a group of people I have never met.


For Cambridge University, in 2016 I founded CAMentrepreneurs, to promote business and social entrepreneurship among alumni, current students and others.

Our official listing on the University website
CAMentrepreneurs planning meeting on Sunday 15th March

I was due to be leading a meetup in New York in April which isn’t going to happen, but during the call above we agreed to investigate doing online meetups in Cambridge, Dubai, London and New York. By the summer I should be quite good at them. What does it mean to have an online meeting in Dubai, when I am in Poland? That is something to discover.

Closing thoughts

There are plenty of other organisations discovering how to manage the process of delivering value online. This a16z podcast describes how they have just put their startup school on line. There is a lot to learn about sustaining community among participants, how they use Slack as well as Zoom, and more.

It takes time, effort, common sense and a willingness to experiment. If you do try, as a result of these examples, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Good luck.

February 2020

If you work on your “Opportunity Readiness” and apply the “Toothbrush Test” you will change your life for the better.

At TEDxTarnow in 2019 I introduced the idea of “Opportunity Readiness” and the “Toothbrush Test”.

“Opportunity Readiness” is the degree to which you are right now open to an opportunity, in the same way that an army fighting unit has to be “battle ready” right now. You never know when the opportunity of your life will present itself, and in the talk I explain how to work on and improve your opportunity readiness.

The Toothbrush Test is a simple idea that you should aim to be happy in your own eyes, at the start and end of each day, as you brush your teeth. Don’t worry about what society things, and other people’s judgements. Your “self assessment” is the ultimate test.

I’m sharing the transcript of my talk below, you can watch the talk here and see the slides I used here.

To change the world – start with yourself | Richard Lucas | TEDxTarnow

“Imagine that you are motivated, hard working and ambitious. Imagine that you want to change the world for the better,  but there’s a problem: you don’t know how to do it  How might that feel?  
I can tell you how it feels and how it felt, that because that was me, as a student in the 1980s, and as a young man in the 1990s. I wanted impact. I wanted legacy, I wanted to change the world, but I didn’t know how to do it.
Instead,  at least in my subconscious, I focussed on trying to impress other people, and to some extent it was successful, it worked. I still remember the buzz when I got a coveted place to study at Cambridge University,  I still remember my few sporting triumphs  playing the traditional English game of cricket.  But I also remember how quickly that feeling passed away and crumbled, as I had to look for the next way to impress other people.  It didn’t last and I had that internal feeling of anxiety.

Why did I come to TEDxTarnow and the wider TEDx audience to tell this story  ?  It’s because I’ve found an approach and a solution to this problem. I wish it had been available to me back then, and I want to share it with you now.

If you are more grounded now than I was back then, you know yourself better than I did, and you have a clear plan, I still think this approach can give you a more peaceful and happy life, and improve your impact and effectiveness.  And if you are like the stereotypical Polish teenager from the 1990s, who was asked  “is it true that the problems of Polish youth are ignorance and apathy, and he replied  “I don’t know and don’t care”. If you are like that, I still think my story can have some benefit for you.

So why did TEDxTarnow invite me onto the stage to tell my story. Let me take you through a little of my history, things that worked out and something that didn’t work out at all.  I came to Poland to live in 1991, and since then I’ve set up 30 businesses, some which are now worth a lot of money. I also put time and energy into supporting business and social entrepreneurship including, as you heard, TEDxKazimierz.  I’ve three wonderful children – all of whom have been involved in their own TEDx projects, entirely independently of me. And last, but by no means least, I have become Polish by my own choice, I have no Polish ancestors. In 2017 I was awarded Polish citizenship,  passing what, for me, was a challenging Polish language test, and so I can say I am very proud to be Polish. “Jestem Polakiem, Jestem bardzo dumyn Polakiem” . 
Thank you or I should say “Dziękuję”

If I look back at the things that worked out, the thing that strikes me now is that many of the projects and ideas that worked for me were not my ideas. I either brought great ideas from the rest of the world to Poland, or I helped Polish people who approached me develop their projects, and I’ve come to realise that impact and legacy doesn’t have to be to do with working on your own ideas and I want you to remember that I’ll come back to that idea later.

But I want to tell you about the biggest failure in my life. In 2003 after years of trying desperately and unsuccessfully trying to hold my marriage together I got divorced. This was definitely the hardest thing in my life. This is not the time or place to go into  the details, but it was the both strongest and weakest thing I ever did.  Strongest because I had to say the un- sayable, to tell my wife, her parents, my parents, and my three small children of my decision, and the Weakest because I simply couldn’t hold it together any more. When you fail so publicly and so completely, it forces you to you re-evaluate the idea of looking good in the eyes of other people.  You have to take on the demon of worrying about society’s opinion, beat the demon and put it behind you.  So then, after I was divorced, I was living alone, apart from the 50% of the time when my children were with me, and I would wake up in a silent, empty bedroom. I am sure you can imagine what that might be like, and over time I developed and recommend what I call the “tooth brush” test. In the morning and in evening you do you teeth looking in the mirror, and this is not a talk about dental hygiene, it is very important to brush your teeth, not just once but twice, but that is not my TEDx talk.  As you look yourself in the mirror, in the morning, you should ask yourself 

”Am I happy with my plan for the day?” and at the end of the day, when you look back   “Did I do the things today that were most worth doing?” and what really matters is not what other people say and other people think. What matters is how you judge your day yourself.  Other people will come and go, but you will always be there.

So you have to do do what matters for you. 

This idea was perfectly illustrated by 10 year old Ishita Katyal when she gave the opening talk at TED in 2016 when she said

Ishata Katyal on the TED stage in 2016

”Instead of asking children what they want to be when they grow up, you should ask them what they want to be now”. (See her whole talk here

Ishita Katyal 

It’s a great instruction, but it can be generalised – it is not just for children who should ask themselves what they should be doing right now.
“I am in the right place right place right now, I know I should be giving this talk at TEDxTarnow.but are you in the right place in the audience or watching on line Is this the right thing for you to be do doing – right now?  The other point that comes through Ishita’s idea is the importance of taking action or doing.
When I was a young man in the 1990s and earlier,  I often had business ideas, that I didn’t put into action, and when I did put them into action, I didn’t know how to make them work effectively.  When my first business SKK started taking off in Poland in the 1990s,  from the outside it seemed that we were doing well, growing, making money with great clients. But I was incredibly stressed because I didn’t have the basic skills of  organisation and management.  I was looking around for a solution and came across a book by Hyrum Smith  “The Ten Natural Laws Successful Time and Life Management” and it kind of saved me. I realised that if you can manage your time you can manage your life.   My talk today isn’t about the importance of being able to organise yourself and your time, and that of other people, but if you want to have legacy and impact  that’s incredibly important. 

Now suppose you agree with me, you get the idea that you shouldn’t worry about other people’s opinions, you get the idea that you should take action towards having a positive impact., but you still don’t know what to do. 
The world’s most successful investor, Warren Buffett, once said

“An idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan”

Warren Buffett

But my story seems to imply something different – because I didn’t come to Poland with a clear plan,. and my successes, and other things that happened were a result of other people coming to me. What I concluded was that I was very lucky. because I was kind of ready for the opportunities.

But you don’t need to be lucky.  You can reduce the role of luck by being ready for opportunities. The army has “battle readiness”- the extent to which fighting unit is ready for war now.  You can be “opportunity ready”,. and I want to talk to you about the idea of  “opportunity readiness” because you never know when opportunity is there and it will come. It might be something gleams in the far left side your field of vision.  If you are not  looking out for it, you will miss it and if you see it and you are not ready –  you can’t take advantage of it.

So how can you get opportunity ready ? Let me explain. I prepared this talk. Are you right now for a great opportunity that might emerge, even today, during the break here at TEDxTarnow, or when you stop watching this talk on line ?  Are there gaps between where you are now, what you think and do, who you spend time with, and how it needs to be to be opportunity ready ?  

The good news is that you can work on getting ready.  I’ll explain how. Think about your physical fitness. It’s obviously great to be in good shape but if you are physically fit, eating well, sleeping well,  looking after yourself, when opportunity comes, you’ll have the stamina and strength to take advantage of it,  (and also you will get in the habit of taking on challenges and dealing with them).

Think  about  your skills and education. Is there a difference between where you are and need to be. There are so many things you can learn that will be make you a better co-founder, a better person to help someone else with their project, a better leader of a new project, and if you take on the challenge of developing yourself, of course you immediately become much more attractive as a potential partner for other people, to have you join them – and also education is fun, and it builds your sense of self-esteem. 

What about your money and finances ? By this I don’t mean “are you rich”,  I mean “are you spending less than you make and avoiding buying things on credit? Because  the more you save, the more you can invest, and the more you can invest, the more you can devote time to your opportunities when they come. And suppose your partner, family and friends admire you for your physical goods, things you consume,  rather than your character,  well that leads to something altogether more serious:

Are your relationships ready for opportunity  ? 

Suppose here at TEDxTarnow you come across a brilliant idea and you go home excited and you tell your partner  – about this idea you want to devote the next six  days, weeks, months or even years of your life to ? Will they support you, or will they be jealous of your time? Are they the sort of person who is a little jealous that you are here today, not with them, and if you are minute late home you’ll be getting a text message – please don’t look at your phone  right now. If you have the sort of  partner who supports you, cherish that partner. you are very lucky,  and if you don’t  – well that’s very sad,  but ask yourself this:

should you be spending your life with someone who is not going support you in your dreams

You have one life, it’s precious.

What about your family and your friends. Are you spending time with the sort of people you will encourage you?  TEDxTarnow, and other TEDx-es, are full of of people who will inspire you and encourage you.  My father when he taught at Oxford University told his students,  “You will learn more from each other than me”.  This can be generalised. Choose who you spend your time with carefully.  

Do you have an  opportunity mindset – is your radar switched on for opportunity? 

Are you spending your time getting new experiences, meeting new people. talking to strangers. exposing yourself to diversity, the more diversity of experience, the more opportunities you will have, and if you come across someone doing something fantastic, consider offering to help them or join ing them – but remember this.

If you offer to join them or to help them ., they might say “no”.  All of the opportunities I’ve had  either resulted from when people approached me, and asked me for help, or more often me going to them and offering – and people do say “no”.

The other side of opportunity is accepting the risk of rejection.

and what about your self awareness? – I told you that when I was younger I didn’t realise I was driven by the need to look good in the eyes of other people. TEDx-ers are driven by the desire to share “ideas worth spreading”.  If that’s what drives you, let that be your thing, but if it isn’t that, get to know yourself, understand what motivates you, and that will truly drive you forward.

So to close, I want to tell you that I have been through the story of a young man who didn’t know how to achieve the impact he wanted, who worked through life trying to look good in the eyes of other people, and now I’ve ended up on stage in front of you today because it is not about me and my ideas, that’s not the route to impact and effectiveness.  It doesn’t mean everything works for me. It doesn’t mean that everything is easy – and believe me (and the other speakers will confirm this – giving a TEDxTarnow talk isn’t an easy thing to do)  but I am at peace. Because am I doing what I believe in and I want to do. If I have a plan – I work on it.  But if I don’t have a plan, I work on my “opportunity readiness” because I know that will bring me closer to my life’s goal of having an impact and making positive change.  

And you don’t  know whether your opportunity will be in five years from now, five  months from now, five days from now or tomorrow. You can do the same as me, you can work on your opportunity readiness. So what does that mean?  I told you already: get into shape, turn your radar on, talk to strangers, offer to get involved, be ready for rejection.  

And don’t do it next week, don’t do it tomorrow. start today.

Richard Lucas
27th January 2020

This was published as a TEDxKazimierz post a few hours ago · 

January 27, 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the largest and deadliest Nazi concentration complex. It i’s an appropriate day to remember and draw attention to Jonathan Ornstein and Robert Desmond’s talk at the first TEDxKazimierz in 2015 about the Ride For The Living (RFTL) 60-mile (97 km) bike ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow. See their TEDxKazimierz talk here

Jonathan and Robert on stage in 2015
Pre event publicity in 2015

Robert’s first Ride is an idea that has grown and developed beyond imagination. It now attracts people from all around the world., determined to remember the victims and celebrate life, proving that the Nazis failed.

The important idea in this talk is that as well as never forgetting the appalling Nazi crimes, the best way to honour the memory of those who died is to rebuild positive Jewish life in Poland and elsewhere. This is the ultimate defeat of Nazi ideology.

I’ve twice done the Ride For The Living and strongly recommend it, in so many ways, as honouring the memory of those who did, raising funds for positive projects for the future, and showing solidarity with those who want to live in a better more positive world. It is an emotionally and physically demanding experience that you cannot forget, meeting people whose relatives were murdered there, and reminding you of what really matters in life.

More information about the Ride For The Living

TEDxKazimierz is not the only TEDx putting important ideas and projects from the Jewish world on the stage. Here are a few I’d like to share.

The JCC Krakow – Jonathan Ornstein at TEDxWarsaw –

Jewish descent on the rise: Rabbi Michael Schudrich at TEDxWarsaw

If not me, then who? Janusz Makuch founder of the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow at TEDxKrakow

There is a wonderful and moving TEDxMidAtlantic Talk by Holocaust survivor Werner Reich “How the Magic of Kindness Sustains Us” you can watch here.

A TEDx talk distributed on

I’d like to give the last word to Norman Davies who published this article in the excellent Notes from Poland website.. Norman is widely recognised in Poland as one of the foremost historians of our country.…/norman-davies-auschwitz-and-t…

It certainly contains “ideas worth spreading”, which is the mission of TED and all TEDx-es. Please feel free to share and/or comment.

Richard Lucas

Richard Lucas January 2020

Introduction and background

The first TEDxKazimierzSalon of 2020 on 28th January is on the topic of New Year Resolutions.

Many of us set goals – personal and professional, either because we have to we or want to, and it does make sense. While a resolution is not exactly the same as a goal they are similar.  I decided to share some insights as I prepare for the event, reviewing TED talks, podcasts and reading to help me decide what talks and activities to share at our TEDxKazimierzSalon

Are S.M.A.R.T. Goals Dumb?
Many of us have heard that goals should be Smart.

S M A R T is an acronym for
Measurable (or was that motivating)
Action orientated (or was that achievable?)
Realistic (or was that relevant, or resourced?)
Time Limited 

Manager Tools, possibly the world’s leading podcast on management with over one million downloads a month (even back in 2016 before the big podcasting boom) claims that “smart goals” are not smart. 

Wall Street Journal about Manager Tools

That the only things that matter about goals is that they should be measurable and have deadlines. Listen the whole podcast here. It is well worth the listen.

A Manager Tools Hall of Fame Podcast

Mark Horstman one of the founders of Manager Tools likes being controversial. In his talk at USI “What You’ve Been Taught About Management is Wrong ” he argues that that if you don’t know the names of the children of the people who report to you, you shouldn’t be a manager. You can only manage people if you know them.

TEDxKazimierz 2018 speaker Piotr Nabielec talked convincingly about the importance of managing your time – he argues your time is more valuable than money. We know that our lives and years are measured in time. 

Piotr Nabielec on the TEDxKazimierz Stage in 2018

Piotr helps people manage their time – I recommend his courses, and time management in general.

At TEDxTarnow in 2019  I shared the idea that even if you have not settled your on life goals, you can still work on what I call “opportunity readiness”. Working on your health and fitness, skills, finances, relationships, and mindset so that when the right moment comes, and you find a purpose or goal you care about, you are prepared and ready for it.

My TEDxTarnow talk

In the BS deep world of Startups there are acronyms like BHAG – big hairy audacious goals – I’m a native speaker of English, reasonably well educated and I just do not understand what this means. I do not think I am alone.
I’m moderately hairy. To be among the market leaders in their chosen markets is a challenging goal for any of my businesses, and in some cases we are or have achieved it, but I would not be impressed if the CEO or others challenged me on the hairiness of our goals. You will be doing me (and others) a favour if you keep your communication simple and easy to understand.

Tim Minchin’s wonderful UWA address (out of which I made a TED-ED flipped video lesson for my entrepreneurship students) includes the wonderful lesson 1 ” “You don’t have to have a dream.”

His humanist values are ones that many could do well to emulate, and if you have yet to discover his talent, you can’t do better than listen to this.

Three Minute Song – Tim Minchin Royal Variety Show

It probably goes without saying but probably what really matters is that quality and value of the goals you set, rather than just the degree to which you achieve them. Our 90 year war hero from TEDxKazimierz 2015 (Theme “Age is no Limit” put it perfectly.

prof. Wojciech Narębski on the TEDxKazimierz stage in 2015

If anyone can share TED talks in the comments below this post that you think we should consider showing, on goal setting, creativity, and a “values based” approach to life and living, that would be much appreciated.

If you want to come to the TEDxKazimierzSalon on 28th January you can fast track your ticket application by filling in this form. or apply the normal way here.

6th January 2020

Richard Lucas

Cover of the Order of Service from the funeral


On Friday 3rd January I was honoured to attend the funeral of Krysia (as I knew her) in the small town in Sherborne in the West of England. I asked her son Michael if I could share the Eulogy he delivered. It follows this introduction.

A letter from the Polish Ambassador to the United Kingdom Arkady Rzegocki was read out:

“It is with profound sadness that I have learned of the death of Krystyna Griffith-Jones, a Polish second world war and Soviet gulag survivor, a veteran of the Polish 2nd Corps and a translator of Polish literature. Her extreme wartime merits and later contributions to Polish culture deserve our highest recognition”

Krysia in 1945

Why do I want to share this Eulogy ? Making the history of those who served in the Anders Army better known has been a primary motivation of my “Wojtek the Soldier Bear” project, which I described at TEDxKrakow here back in 2010. One of my primary motivations to organise my own TEDx event was so that I could allow the then 90 year Wojtek Narębski tell his extraordinary story. You can hear him being interviewed on my podcast here and see him on the TEDxKazimierz stage here. The title of his talk “A life well lived” could equally apply to Krysia, as you will discover from reading her Eulogy.

Narębski’s conclusion for the TEDxKazimierz audience

How you are remembered and remembering Polish history was talked about by a remarkable Englishman Paddy Ney who spoke at TEDxKazimierz in 2018 on “The day before you die – Why doing what really matters is so important“. Paddy is a prominent example of someone like me who has become Polish by choice, rather than birth, He has a large following for his Youtube and other social media content in English and Polish about life in Poland, Polish history and more. I interviewed him here.

And so to Krysia – At the wake following the her funeral, photos and articles about her were shared, including links here and here to a wonderful talk she gave at Sherborne Girls School many years ago.

Michael Griffith-Jones’ Eulogy – who always refers to her as “Mama” delivered the story of her life, and it is a privilege to share it now. I am honoured to have known her.

Krystyna Griffith-Jones, née Broniatowska 1920 – 2019

It has been a delight, and sometimes a revelation, to read so many messages about Mama. I will read from just one, from the Polish Ambassador to London: “It is with profound sadness that I have learned of the death of Krystyna Griffith-Jones, a Polish second world war and Soviet gulag survivor, a veteran of the Polish 2nd Corps and a translator of Polish literature. Her extreme wartime merits and later contributions to Polish culture deserve our highest recognition” I am speaking for Clare and also for our partners, Gill and Alan, and Mara’s granddaughters, Laurie and Lisa, and her great grandchildren, Rianna, Rhys, Matthew and Ella. Mara was their name for Mama.

As many of you have written, she was a remarkable woman. We were blessed to have her as our mother, and as a grandmother and great grandmother. 

We all know very different aspects of Krysia; this congregation represents different areas of Mama’s life, but no one is left to remember her life before 1950. What follows is my understanding of her life, with a strong caveat, which Mama always emphasised – you cannot rely on oral history. This, therefore, is my version of her version of her history, and that used to change from time to time. 

She was born in Łodz, and grew up in Warsaw. Her parents divorced, unusual for a Catholic couple in the 1920s. She lived with her mother; her father remarried and had a son, Adam, who died last year in Poland.

Her mother, Irena Broniatowska, had graduated from Cracow university, rowing for the women’s first 8, at a time when hardly any women in the UK were awarded degrees. She became head of a teacher training college and had interesting views about education, sending Mama to numerous schools.  

At 16, in the days when there were no ski lifts, Mama was Girl Guide skiing champion; she broke innumerable bones – not a cautious skier.

By 17, when she matriculated, she was the only woman on the editorial board of a national magazine with Gustav Herling, Jan Strzelecki and others; she became strongly embedded in the intellectual life in Warsaw. At 17 she tried to enrol to study directing at the Polish drama academy, but Leon Schiller said she was too young.

At 18 she started reading for two degrees simultaneously – law at Warsaw, because her father thought that a sound foundation, and French law through Lille university. In her second year she also finally started at the Polish drama academy; she directed many plays at the student theatre. She was not to finish her education.

In summer 1939, aged 19, she went camping with Gustav and Janek; they could hear guns firing across the German border – practice for what was to come. In late August they returned to Warsaw, and the following month, when Poland was invaded from the West by the Germans, shortly followed by the Soviet Union from the East, she, like masses of young Poles, joined the underground. 

In winter 1939, she was arrested by the Soviets with Gustav, trying to get across the Lithuanian border to get to Paris to join the army there. After a lengthy period of incarceration and much unpleasant interrogation, she was sentenced to 5 years hard labour in the Soviet Gulag, suffering hardships about which she hardly ever spoke. She put down her survival to her youth, her determination, her ability to eat faster than her cell mates, (during our childhood, she would always finish meals long before us), her faith, and the sheepskin coat that the man who had betrayed them gave her in remorse.

Some months after Germany’s attack on Russia in 1941, thousands of Poles, now Soviet allies, were chaotically released by the Soviets to form a Polish army under General Anders.  Not all were released; apart from those kept back by the Soviets, Stalin had had some 12,000 Polish officers shot at Katyn. To become an effective fighting force, the Poles were to join British forces in Persia. Mama had to make her own way through the Caucasus, walking much of the thousands of miles; it took more than six months. Malnutrition had been such that when she arrived in Teheran she could remove and replace each of her teeth in her gums. It says much for the Army Dental Service that she died with many of her own teeth.  

What became the Polish 2nd Corps, under General Anders, was trained by the British in Palestine, Iraq and Egypt. Mama was commissioned; she led a platoon of drivers and canteens serving the troops. 

Sometime during this period she met Pa, Morley Griffith-Jones, who was responsible for liaison between the Poles and the rest of 8th army.

They both served throughout the Italian campaign, including at Monte Cassino, one of the bloodiest battles of the whole war, and the battle of Ancona.  The Polish women served much closer to the front line than their British equivalents; well within reach of the German guns.

While they were still fighting the Germans in Italy, the Polish 2nd Corps, a unit as large as the entire modern British army, discovered that they were no longer fighting for their country – Poland had been given away by Roosevelt and Churchill to appease Stalin. For the same reason, the Poles who had fought alongside the British and other Allies in Italy, and other theatres of war, were not allowed to join the VE parades in London in 1946.

As soon as the war was over, Krysia was given a jeep and driver by Anders to see if she could find members of her family in Germany. She went to many liberated Nazi camps, (there was, of course, no access to the Soviet side) and, after many adventures, found her mother in a Red Cross camp. They had not seen each other for over five years. Irena had been imprisoned by the Nazis for secretly teaching Polish children in an underground school – Poles of course did not need educating in a Nazi world – hence her criminal conviction.

In 1946, still in Italy,  Mama and Pa were engaged. As Pa put it in a letter to his mother, “you will be amazed, perhaps, but I am engaged. Her name is Krysia Broniatowska and I have known her for some two years….   I am strangely happy and nothing can depress me. She is 25 and is now reading history at Rome university. She was in Russia for two years.”

In October they were married in Rome; Pa 6’ 3”  in uniform, and Mama 5’ 0”. No family members were there, but many rather senior officers.

For those of you who did not know him, Pa was a devout Anglican. (My memories of childhood Sundays when at home, were of Clare and Pa walking to the village church, while Mama and I drove to Clitheroe for Catholic mass.) 

In 1947 they came to England, Mama for the first time. She found that Morley’s extended family lived a comfortable Edwardian life, but unlike Pa, had few cultural interests. Her parents in law, like many Britons, found it hard to believe Mama about how ‘Uncle Joe’ had treated her and her countrymen and women. 

They lived in London, where I was born, until 1954. She enrolled as a postgraduate at London university, her fifth major course of study, in a fourth language. She worked at the National Central Library, precursor to the British Library. Mama subsequently worked at several London University libraries.

After the “thaw” in 1956 Mama visited Poland as often as could be afforded. She saw her father for the first time after 16 years.

Clare was born in Lancashire, where we lived for 14 years; Krysia’s mother, who Mama described as her best friend, lived with us until she died in 1971. They moved via Sussex to Somerset in 1971and then to Sherborne.

Mama translated into English a number of plays by Gombrowicz and Mrożek, among others. Some were staged in London and Edinburgh and others recorded on the BBC Home service or Third programme. Pa used to help Mama with English swear words – not an area of expertise for her. She also wrote pieces of theatre criticism for Polish cultural journals.

Mama translated papers for Solidarnosc (Solidarity) before the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Papa died in 1995; Mama continued to play a full part in Sherborne life, whilst retaining her links with family and friends across the world.

Mama has been an active member of this church over 45 years; was a member of a local book group, which she only stopped attending two years ago. She sorted books at Save the Children for some 30 years. She has been actively involved in the Douzelage movement and has many friends in Choyna, Sherborne’s twin town in Western Poland; some are here today. 

Mama’s intellectual curiosity never dimmed – there would be book piles in four languages; when alone, she would spend hours reading; she could remember characters in books she had read as a child in Polish or French. Until a few years ago she took broadsheet newspapers in rotation to have an overall perspective on the news. She attended classes/discussion groups in French and Italian, and twice went on residential courses in Italy in her 80s. Mama travelled with friends and organised groups, spending periods in Venice, Ethiopia, Spain, France and Poland, among others.

She continued to have a close interest in our lives, visiting often, spending time with Clare and Alan in Essex and with us in London, and often with us in France, when we had a house there. 

Mama enjoyed being a grandmother and great grandmother; she was amused as Rhys, now 18, grew taller as she shrank, passing each other on the way – I think he was about 10. Her last semi independent journey was to greet her granddaughter, Laurie’s two day old Ella, in Brighton in summer 2016.

On visits to Eastbury, even when her memory was fading, Mama always wanted to hear what her granddaughters and great grandchildren were doing, and most importantly, what they were interested in. 

She became gentler, and one of the most rewarding aspects of her later life for Clare and me, was the re-emergence of her softer emotional intelligence. As Clare and I sorted her many things, we found Mama had left us notes, some dating from the 1990s, later updated in her unmistakable hand,  expressing her undying love for us. 

She continued independently to visit us in London until a few years ago; she would think nothing of speaking on the phone to friends for half an hour, going to a meeting at the Polish institute, then an exhibition, meeting a friend for lunch, squeezing in another exhibition, perhaps a matinee at the National Theatre, and then meet someone else for tea before returning to us for dinner and, sometimes tactfully, expressing surprise that we had not, yet, seen any of the things she had been to!

Mama had a talent for design that she applied to all her homes. She created or recreated three large gardens and then the courtyard here at Twyford. She was always happy to comment on our gardens, and houses, not always favourably. She would take us to local gardens, always taking lessons from what she saw, and providing great picnics. She always wanted to discuss whatever we had seen, analysing why we liked or disliked it. When NT Live started – she would go toYeovil to see a play at the same time as we in London, and the next day, long discussion on the phone!

Mama had a great capacity for making and keeping friends, of all generations. Over the years many friends of Clare’s and mine have become friends of Mama’s – some of you are here today.

She maintained a very active social life, thinking it perfectly normal into her 90s to have someone stay for the weekend and to have 7 to lunch during the week. Her cooking has always been adventurous – she was amazed at the limitations of English suppliers in her early years in the UK, even after rationing, and was an early fan of Elizabeth David. She won an Evening Standard cooking competition in 1955, where she was described as a “pocket Venus, whose conversation never flagged”.

As one of the many celebrations for her 90th birthday, we took her to Hampton Court for the day, where she had last been with my Godmother, Karla Lanckoronska, many years before; she demonstrated her amazing memory from that visit .  We had envisaged a stroll about, followed by coffee and another meander followed by lunch, a look at something and then tea, but no; Mama steamed on and on with us ‘youngsters’ trailing further and further behind. Her energy, even in her later years, could be quite exhausting.

After a series of falls, Mama moved three years ago into Eastbury House, where she was superbly looked after, practically and emotionally; she continued many of her activities. She only stopped using her computer a couple of years ago. Staff helped her remain stylish in her dress, something that was very important to her. She talked often about facing death, sustained by her faith, and how fortunate she had been in life. She had hated what she called her “unreliability” when she fell or became ill; seeing it as a problem for those around her rather than for herself.

Now she has died, Mama must be one of the very last who served throughout the second world war, in this or any country

We had hoped, and Mama had hoped, to invite you all to Twyford after mass; however, as there are so many of you who wanted to see her off,  we would like you to join us here in the Parish hall after the funeral to celebrate her life. 

Lastly, more from Pa’s 1946 letter introducing Mama to his parents: “She is of rather small height. She has enormous charms and she is highly intelligent, very capable of gaiety and completely incapable of small mindedness or anything but sympathy and understanding and tenderness.”

So ended the Eulogy. A remarkable life, well lived indeed.

November 2019

This is a real question I posed on Linkedin – and copied in below below – as I was going to to talk at a formal dinner in London to alumni of Winchester College, (where I was at school from 1979-84).

Below is a transcript of my speech. – I’m particularly happy to have been able to weave quotations from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Banarama and Shelley’s Ozymandias into the same speech.

(So this was the speech I intended to give. I am sure along the way a few differences crept it. But it’s close to the original.)
The motivations of an entrepreneur

I live in Krakow, Poland where the rush hour traffic is terrible, the Supreme Court is battling with the government, and some of our politicians are hostile to immigrants and the EU…. so I thought “Let’s see how things are in London……  the civilised peace and tranquility of British politics – it’s bound to be better.

As well as being a businessman, I promote and teach entrepreneurship in University and Schools though not at Win Coll (for reasons out of my control). I have a good idea of what talks by entrepreneurs often look like.   Some entrepreneurs just go on about how marvellous they are, and the adventures they’ve had, and how much money they’ve made.

Others more intelligently do a “humble brag” where they give credit to their good fortune, talk about their failures, while quietly drawing attention to their successes wealth and other achievements.  I’m not going to do that- though I will answer questions if you have them.

 I’m going to talk about my motivations, mindset and attitude to legacy and impact, and explain why it might be relevant to you. 

My motivations have changed since I was at Win Coll – initially they were negative motivations and competitive rivalry. I grew up with a sense of genetic destiny and frustration – my parents came from “good families” – My father had been a Scholar in College at Winchester and taught Philosophy at Oxford. His family tree goes back to 1040, including powerful church men such as John Randolph  – Bishop of London, (though he was not an entrepreneurial bishop, the richest man in the land, like William of Wykeham). My mother’s family included her Uncle, another Wykehamist, Air Marshall Lord Portal (who was received Ad Portas), with a statue on the banks of the Thames or her grandfather Frederick Anderson who played football for Scotland, was in charge of Shanghai, and endowed the library at SOAS. But rather than giving me a sense of something to live up to – I noticed that my parents didn’t have enough money for me to live like other Wykehamists seemed to, and home life seemed a struggle for them to put me and my siblings through Winchester, and other private schools. One of my motivations to make money in business was that I didn’t want my life to be a financial struggle like their’s. 

When I was working in consulting after Cambridge, one Sunday morning I looked round the office, and saw men 20, 30 and 40 years older than me – I knew I didn’t want to be where they were in my future life.  Two examples of the power of a negative motivation. 
As Christmas approaches, you will for sure hear the lyrics Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, whether you enjoy them or not,  including  “All of the other Reindeer used to laugh and call him names, they wouldn’t let poor RudolphJoin in any Reindeer games”.  
That has an echo of some of the less happy memories of my time at school.  A favourite cartoon of mine shows a happy looking Rudolph sitting in his armchair,, shotgun by his side, with the heads of Cupid, Comet, Dasher, Dancer, Vixen, Donner and Blitzen mounted on the wall, with the caption “all of the other Reindeers’ used to laugh and call him names”.

Another of my motivations for going into business was the desire to demonstrate that I could be competitively successful and “win” in the game of life. These motivations, may have been powerful but they were mistaken.

This is not to say I regret not shooting my Wykehamical rivals –  I never shot anyone  – but I’ve come to see that it was ultimately futile to let my relative success in the eyes of others, or lack of it,  be a source of satisfaction or happiness. There will always be someone who does better than me, or beats your record.

So if not negative motivations or competitive rivalry then what? Perhaps impact and legacy.  In the Villa Borghese Gardens in Rome there are so many statues you lose count, The more important Italians, Garibaldi, Gallileo have bigger statues, with better views of Rome. But the people after who the statues are named, don’t know and don’t care. I’m reminded of Shelley’s Ozymandias, whose inscription on a shattered pedestal commands

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair”     

But we never know what who this King of Kings was, what his works were, why the mighty should look on them, and why they should despair.
Whatever I or you achieve will one day be lost and forgotten, so perhaps the quest for legacy is just a form of vanity.  Which is not to say that positive impact now is not important. 

When I was at Winchester, in 1982, Banarama and the Fun Boy Three sang almost literally ad nauseum “It ain’t what you do. it’s the way that you do it”.  This now reminds me of our school motto “Manners maketh Man”.  

There is something in this – even if I make a great fortune.  Would I really enjoy the trappings of wealth and luxury if they were built on human suffering, or criminality. They are partially right, the way we do things does matter, but unlike Banarama, I think what you choose to do matters as well as how you do it.

The failures and successes in my business and personal life have led me to the following conclusions about entrepreneurship – bearing in mind that these rules work for me when I broadly feel I’ve probably made “enough” in the way of assets and money. Different people have different senses of “enough”. Entrepreneurs are important and necessary to create wealth, and bring technological progress into the goods, services and societies we live in.   But we entrepreneurs are just as dependent on government and services from others as others are dependend on entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs need accountants, lawyers doctors, and teachers, and good government.   My 30 years in Poland has taught me the value of good government and institutions that I used to take for granted in the UK, especially as in Poland the pace of progress is accelerating not least due to our membership of the Single Market and enthusiastic support for the European Union and by the vast majority of the population.
Entrepreneurship is a mindset where you take responsibility for your own circumstances, and shape the world in which we live.    An entrepreneurial mind set is not the monopoly of entrepreneurs – it potentially available to everyone who chooses to have it. It means being tolerance of change, open to new ideas, ready to risk failure and rejection.

I failed completely to get an entrepreneurship society going for Win Coll Alumni and current students, Even though Eton has one that thrives, and the society I launched for for Cambridge University less than three years ago has managed to have gatherings in Dubai, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, New York, Sidney and Warsaw, and launches in Cambridge later this week. This isn’t the time to highlight the person those who blocked and opposed this at Win Coll, but I don’t think William of Wykeham would have approved. 

The point I do want to make is that is that my biggest impacts in my life so far have been achieved in collaboration with others and almost always working on and developing other people’s ideas. I failed to get Win Coll on board for my idea, and that’s my failure too.  

That is quite humbling.
Impact matters more than legacy, and that often involves me being less involved not more. 

So if it is not about impressing others, not revenge, not legacy, nor ego, being smug and self-satisfied, what motivates me now, and might I recommend to you? After I got divorced in 2003, the scale of that failure put other things into perspective. I had to get used to waking up in a house by myself in the  50% of my life when my children were with their mother. I learned that the person who you should aim to impressed is the one who looks you in the mirror morning and evening when you are doing your teeth. Friends, family & others come and go but you will always be where ever you are. When you do your teeth in the morning, are you happy with the plan you have for your day, and assuming you brush do teeth twice a day when you look back on your day in the evening: are you happy with what you did? It’s that honest self-assessment that really matters. Are you spending your precious life in the best way possible, and if not what are you going to do about it? 
You can reduce the role of luck by being ready for opportunities. The army has “combat readiness inspections”  which assess if the fighting unit is  ready for war now.  I want to argue for working on you “opportunity readiness”,. You should  assess yourself for your  readiness for opportunity,. Why is this important? You never know when your biggest opportunities will come. It may be like something glinting or sparkling on the edge of your field of vision.  If you are looking out for it,  and you are ready –  you can seize the chance, but you can’t if you don’t notice, or you are not ready.  How ready are you right now for a great opportunity that might emerge, even today, during the break  at this dinner? Are there gaps between where you are now, what you think and do, who you spend time with,  and how it needs to be to be opportunity ready ?  You can work on getting ready. 

Starting with your health,  skills and  finances, Are you looking after yourself: diet, fitness and  so on . Are  your skills and education where they need to be to be opportunity ready? Are your finances in order ?  Are you spending less than you make, and avoiding consumption on credit to impress people you don’t even like.

Are your relationships opportunity ready? , will your partner,  husband or wife hold you back or encourage you when opportunity knocks Maybe your partner is supportive, cherish them and if not – I’m really sorry. My father use to  say to new his students at Oxford University where he taught,  “You will learn more from each other than me” This advice is good for life. Choose who you spend your time with carefully.   

Is your mindset “Opportunity Ready “ is your radar switched on?  When you see a problem,  are you curious,  looking for causes, and  solutions?

The bigger the problem,  the bigger the opportunity.   

Do you intentionally expose yourself to new people, activities and ideas, getting out of your familiar environment, talking to strangers, getting out of your comfort zone.  The more diverse your experiences are, the more opportunities you will be exposed to. Most of my biggest opportunities came as a result of me risking rejection when I offered or asked to get involved in other people’s project. and when people approached me, and asked me if I wanted to join their business and/or projects, they risked me saying no to them.  

And in terms of my motivation. I push myself hard,  if I am passing my own toothbrush test, happy with my plan at the beginning of the day, and satisfied with how it went at the end. that’s a success in my own terms, and plenty of motivation to do the same the next day.

Thank you.   
<end of speech>

Those who follow what I say closely will notice some overlap between what I said to the Old Wykehamists and to the audiences of Talk’n Roll and TEDxTarnow. There are are links to those talks (and another) below.

Meanwhile. I’m reflecting on the fact that I’m more known for putting other speakers’ ideas and entrepreneurs on stage, hosting and organising TEDxKazimierz and other events. Except when teaching/talking about entrepreneurship, I’m don’t often share my non-business ideas. Feedback I got from listeners (often positive 🙂 was that they were surprised, saw a different side of me, so … here are three examples of non-business talks from the last year.


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Why you should embrace rejection” at Sabre’s Talk’nRoll conference in Kraków a few weeks ago.

2 TEDxTarnow

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On “What you need to change if you want to change the world” and the concept of “Opportunity Readiness”.

3. Krakow Polytechnic

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Just over a year ago, the inaugural lecture to students starting their Civil Engineering studies at Krakow Polytechnic “Is 2018 is the best time to start being a student?”. (answer, yes, if you know how). This talk was in Polish, and there is a transcript in this blog post.

Call to Action

What would you say to your high school if you have 20 minutes before a decent meal and what would you want/not want to hear from someone else ? Please write in the comments below.

Richard Lucas

1st October 2019

Yesterday evening the British Embassy organised an event in Krakow as part of a road show to inform British Citizens Living in Poland about the implications of a “no deal” Brexit.

The reason for this blog post is that the event was remarkable, unusual, impressive and terrifying. I don’t often go to meetings like this. I’ll describe what happened and give some commentary. The comments are my own.

How the event was described

The atmosphere
A friendly lady ticked us off a list (despite the warming that photo ID would be needed). When I arrived 15 minutes early there were about 30 people in the the room, a number which must have more than doubled by the end. There was no official welcoming, icebreakers (my TEDx eyes scrutinise every event carefully). I found a few familiar faces but most were strangers (I’ve often thought that unlike other national minorities there is no tradition of “the Brits” hanging out together in a place like Kraków. It was the first gathering organised by the British Embassy in Krakow for the British residents here since 1991 (with the exception of another “impact of Brexit” meeting I missed). It was remarkable to see so many completely new faces. The age range was from early 20s to 70s. The meeting started about 10 mins late for no reason that was explained, but it least it started within the appalling “academic quarter” – the idea that it’s “OK” to start meetings up to 15 mins late.

The atmosphere seemed matter of fact, sad and apprehensive to me.

Jason Rheinberg introduced himself, his team, and Polish officials from the relevant government departments including someone from the Border Police (which was thought provoking). My photo of Jason was back lit – there is a better photo of him here.

The officials (British and Polish) in the room were not responsible for the policies they are representing, and so I was planning not to be directly angry with them.

My question about long term post-Brexit visa policies were kicked down the road. I’m very concerned about the cost and uncertainty for Polish family members and employees who want to stay longer than 90 day visits to the UK. The costs are high and the uncertainty troubling:

Example UK visa fees for non EU-countries

There were no answers – “a future Immigration Bill will deal with this”, we were told. ‘This meeting is just about ‘no deal Brexit’ – If there is a deal then there is a much more time.” I don’t think two – three years is long in the context of a planning a career, raising a family or living a life.
I was told
“When the new Immigration Bill is being prepared, a consultative White Paper will be published, where members of the public can make representations. As I don’t have a vote – if I want to reach a politician, I can write to the Home Office.” I’m not convinced that this will make any difference.

It’s not nice to know that the Civil Servants don’t know if it visas will become as hard and expensive for Poles in a few years as it is for Americans now, but I guess that is what is coming.

The oddest part of the meeting was Jason Rheinberg’s description of the political situation in the UK. I was expecting him to represent the government. His Twitter feed has regular retweets of statements by Boris Johnson. I suppose that is part of his job.

As well as speaking about government policy – the Deputy Head of Mission decided to speak for, and interpret the actions and motives of UK Parliament. This is what he had to say about it.

” As you know at the end of that negotiation Teresa May took the package to the British parliament, in fact she took the package to the British Parliament three times and every time parliament rejected that deal. Now there are number of reasons why Parliament did that but it wasn’t because they disagreed with the vast majority of that deal.  Parliament didn’t disagree with the rights it gave EU nationals in the UK or British Nationals in the EU. It didn’t really disagree with the amount of money we agreed to pay the EU for what we owed from our stay. It didn’t disagree with the transitional arrangement – this 18 months where things would essential stay the same. it didn’t really disagree with most of the future framework. Most of this sense of what the future relationship would look like. But one thing they really did not like is the Irish backstop  and you’ll know a lot about this, you’ll have read a lot about it/ But essentially the backstop is a plan B.  It said that if at the end of that transitional agreement December  2020 after we’ed left the EU if even by December 202 we hadn’t agreed a new relationship with the EU  essentially it took longer than we expected that we would fall back into this plan B which kept the UK as a whole within a customs union with the EU and subjecting Northern Ireland to essentially free market or common market rules within the EU. and Parliament said “no” to this. They said “no” essentially because they believed it was taking away too much of British Sovereignty and in particular because you couldn’t get out of the Backstop. in fact it is harder to get out of the backstop  than to get out of the EU because there is no Article 50. The only way to get out of the backstop is if both sides agree to move something else and parliament, or a majority of Parliamentarians felt that that was too much of an improvision?? on British sovereignty and so of course we now have the current government  under Boris Johnston. David Frost our negotiation and his Ministers are in Brussels every day trying to find an alternative to the Backstop. Trying to find another way of protecting the GFA, removing the need for customs check on the Northern Southern Irish border, protecting the European Common Market as another way to the Backstop because they know the Backstop as it currently exists won’t get through the British Parliament.”

I was very surprised. I thought that a lot (maybe even a majority) of MPs were against Brexit completely, and that some of them felt that they should support Brexit out of a sense of democratic duty towards the referendum result. I understand that as a representative of the UK Government he has to say what the the government claims to be true, but particularly at a moment where Parliament and the PM are at loggerheads, it was odd to speak on behalf of deeply divided parliament as if he knew its collective mind and it had a view that could be represented in this way. I thought one of the many problems of Brexit is that there is a majority against all possible versions of it.

Could Parliament could ask Ambassadors to represent it directly (cutting out No 10) ? Of course not. But if diplomats are claiming to speak for Parliament, surely they should take more care with their words, especially at a time like this, when we are weeks away from possible disaster.

As Jonathan Powell – Downing Street chief of staff 1997-07 who was deeply involved in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement put it. in a letter to the Times

 ….If we leave the single market and the customs union, as we will have to for the Canada-style free trade agreement favoured by Boris Johnson, there will have to be a border somewhere. It can be between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK or between the island of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

The DUP has a perfectly legitimate complaint against the border between Northern Ireland and Britain because it undermines its identity. The Irish are rightly never going to agree to a border with the EU. And a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would reopen the issue of identity underpinning the Good Friday agreement. This has been the problem bedevilling the Brexit talks since the start and to suggest that a common agricultural area for the whole of Ireland and some cobbled-together ideas about trusted trader schemes solves it, is nonsense. In truth we are still a long way from a negotiated deal and no one has yet found the magic key to unlock it.”

I understand pro Brexit politicians glossing over this logic, but not professional diplomats., and this problem has not gone away. The underlying reality is that those advocating Brexit were voting against something, not for something. The costs and compromises that the UK would have to make out of the EU to be treated as well as Norway, Canada or Switzerland were not spelled out.

These political comments don’t really matter.

The main focus of the meeting was a wake up call to the looming disruption to “life as usual” that Brexit is going to cause for British people in Poland.

There was a tone of shock and foreboding as officials from the Polish government went through detailed slides addressing the different scenarios that those in the room might be in.
“Access to Health Care ?”- “only if you pay ZUS.?”
“Can you drive on a UK Driving licence?” “Only for six months.
“Will you be able to stay in Schengen for more than 90 days?” only if you register and get a special document”.
I photographed the slides here Just to give a sense of what they were like I am showing you one.

The Police officials were helpful and serious.

What they only partially got across is the the Brits in the room are the lucky ones who are being given extra time – a grace period – to get their affairs in order in the event of a no deal Brexit, and there are routes to Temporary and Permanent Residency rights available for British citizens now in Poland legally that will not be available in the future. It’s going to be much harder for Brits of all ages to come and build their lives here (and vice versa). The amount of worry, strain and concern in tone of questions from the audience was audible.

There was one shocking moment during the meeting when an angry entitled voice from a few rows back called out at one of the Polish Civil Servants
“Why do we have to go through with all this – when in England they (the Poles) have everything done for them by us?”. Although one of the British Embassy people pointed out that these processes were similar to what EU nationals are having to do in the UK, I had a strong sense that the grim symmetry of Brexit is only just dawning on some sections of the British public. I doubt whether the numerous challenges of British citizens in Europe are much reported in Brexit supporting media, though I may be wrong. The more freedoms are removed for EU citizens in the UK the more it is going to restrict British citizens freedoms in the EU.

To conclude

1. The government officials on both sides were courteous and helpful, but the information they were passing on is very bad news for British people with on going interests in Poland and vice versa. The Withdrawal Agreement, if it passes, only delays the moment when freedom of movement ends.

2. Bad though things are, they are going to get worse. UK citizens who have sorted out their legal status in Poland established prior to Brexit day are going to better treated than those who don’t. Bad luck if you have a 15 or 10 year old who might have wanted to look into building a a life here, or you are a 15 year old and you like the idea of travelling and working around the 27 member states. Bad luck if you want to work in multiple EU countries without having to ask permission.

3. Looming is a “legal status” apartheid where Brits who managed to establish themselves legally in Europe before Brexit, or were granted citizenship of an EU country other than the UK will be the lucky ones. Those with British passports only, will have fewer rights and opportunities. There are many citizens of developing countries who are very familiar with the disadvantages of needing visas for living abroad, for travel and work. This is going to be a painful learning experience for many.

If I were just me and my immediately family, I would be more or less “Brexit proof”. I and my children have dual nationality. I’m Polish by choice, not descent, and proud to be part of this great country. I wrote about this here

But I am not just me and my immediate family. It’s going to hurt others more than me but I care about that as well. The impact on our culture, relationships, and identities is going to be profound and that is not to even start on the the damage to the UK’s economy, security and institutions.

I said thank you to the people who organised and spoke at the meeting and I meant it. None the less it was one of the saddest and most depressing meetings I’ve been to in my life.

by Richard Lucas July 2019


I’m bad at doing nothing. I don’t like looking at buildings full of people doing interesting things – I want to be in the building with them! While passing through Gibraltar in late June I met Professor Daniella Tilbury – The Commissioner for Sustainable Development of HM Government of Gibraltar, Honorary Fellow at University of Cambridge. She also leads the Cambridge Alumni Group in Gibraltar.

We talked and brainstormed about the challenges and possibilities of getting a CAMentrepreneurs group going in town. She suggested I write a message for her to share with the twenty-two Cambridge alumni in Gibraltar. It only takes one person (apart from me) to try to a group going, and the outcomes can be spectacular – attracting entrepreneurs who would never have thought that Alumni activities could be about more than watching the boat race, or fund raising.

I realised that my message to Gibraltar alumni would be very similar to that which I would write to Cambridge Alumni anywhere else in the world – (or perhaps for others wanting to do something similar among the alumni of their own place of study other than Cambridge). In other words a message for a wider audience, which is why I am writing this as a blog post (this way of thinking has a history*)

So here goes – if you are not in Gibraltar, imagine Searching for & Replacing “Gibraltar” with the place you are based. It’s a longer message than the one I would have asked Gabriella to send on – as it is for a wider audience,

Message to Gibraltar based Alumni and Gibraltarian diaspora

from Richard Lucas, founder of CAMentrepreneurs, Economics 1985-88, now with 14 companies in Poland. UK, and the US employing about 600 people.

I founded CAMentrepreneurs in 2016 with the aim of changing the way that business and social entrepreneurship is supported and promoted among Cambridge University alumni, current students and others.   I wrote a longer post about the desirability and possibility for a revolution in alumni student relations here.

What is CAMentrepreneurs and what does it do?

CAMentrepreneurs is an officially recognised Alumni Group of Cambridge University to promote business and social entrepreneurship among alumni, current students and others. It’s non-profit and run by volunteers. We organise (usually) free informal meetups of alumni and guests in places where these goals resonate with at least some members of the local community.  We do this in collaboration with existing Cambridge (and often Oxford) alumni groups, and often with other  pro-enterprise organisations (alumni groups from other business schools, Universities, incubators. accelerators, co-working spaces, investment funds, government agencies and the like).  Since our launch in December 2016 we have had 20 odd successful gatherings in Dubai, Edinburgh, London, New York, Sydney and Warsaw, and are planning our launch in Cambridge on 24th October.

We draw on my 10 years of experience as a TEDx Organiser – using TED->TEDx methodology to scale. TEDx is the largest voluntary idea sharing platform on earth – more information here and this global “mega movement” is brilliantly supported by a small team in New York. Like TEDx-es, we only launch in cities where there is at least one suitable person who would like to make it happen.  The first meet up becomes a “test of concept”. I’ve also been deeply involved in building pro-entrepreneurship eco-systems over the last 30 years – and as an entrepreneur I’ve started, and/or invested in and sometime run more than 30 businesses) some of which are now market leaders.

The objectives of CAMentrepreneurs meetups are: 

to provide support, education, inspiration and encouragement in a positive atmosphere for those who attend, no matter where they are on their entrepreneurial journey. It is not a club only for those who have already succeeded in starting their own enterprise, though we celebrate and encourage success.

The longer term vision is to have regular gatherings in major global cities, and perhaps meet once a year and have a local point of contact in smaller cities.  If a CAMentrepeneur from another part for the world was looking to set up an office in Gibraltar – they would have a point of contact who can show them the ropes, make introductions, and vice versa.

Once our Cambridge group is up and running we want to facilitate and enable contacts to explore the possibilities of interacting with the Cambridge eco-system when members of the global CAMentrepreneurs community are in town. We are planning a launch event in the Judge Business School on 24th October – details here

The goals and benefits of meet ups are defined by those who attend based on local needs and preferences:
as simple as basic networking, as varied as:
providing investment opportunities for those with capital
entrepreneurs with sources of capital
staff for businesses with hiring needs
job opportunities for job seekers
potential clients, suppliers and partners for existing businesses.

Can so many things be achieved in a meetup? There are no guarantees. Success depends on leadership, enthusiasm, who shows up, who is committed and lends a hand. My experience as a TEDx Organiser and other voluntary movements shows what is possible at scale. If everyone shows up with attitude that they want to give more than they get, everyone wins. It has never been easier to get together with like minded people. In other walks of life such as Open Source software, and Wikipedia the power and impact of voluntary collaboration is beyond dispute. This can work among Cambridge Alumni too.

But…time is scarce… Why should anyone want to do this? While some of these benefits may emerge out of this initiative it is not guaranteed.

Why bother ?

It is a question of mindset and identity and is hard to quantify in statistical terms. We don’t have a budget to pay for venues, let alone a Monitoring and Evaluation process. Anecdotally there are many examples where people have told me how their lives have been transformed by becoming aware of what an entrepreneurial mindset can bring them and then taking action. There are many practical benefits from mixing people who want to do things with people who have experience, contacts and resources. But ultimately it is a question of identity and purpose. Being at the centre of things, making a difference, and having an impact gives life meaning. It is challenging to do a workshop with some school kids, or mentor someone who can really benefit from your experience and expertise. Through challenges and getting out of comfort zones comes personal development. Along the way you will come across people and opportunities that otherwise would never have crossed your path.

Conclusions and a CTA (call to action)

If you have previously thought “Alumni activities are not for me” because you are busy, working and like to be productive – you may have been right. This is not to say that existing activities: talks by alumni about academic subjects, getting together to watch sporting events and socialising are not valuable. They are. CAMentrepreneurs offers an opportunity to find out if there is a demand and interest for something different. In America, Poland, the UK, the Dubai , and Australia (so far) there is strong evidence that there is a demand, if someone steps forward to take a lead. If you would like to try, or help someone who would, join our Linkedin, and Facebook groups, signing up on our webpage, and most importantly get in touch with me, and we will see what we can do.

Richard Lucas

* Many years ago I wrote a column for a Polish business magazine based on answering questions e-mailed to me. Instead of my content being available for one person only, anyone reading the magazine could benefit. That was one of the motivations for the Project Kazimierz podcast where I often felt that if I was lucky enough to have the chance to talk to someone doing something interesting or impressive, it was worth sharing the conversation with a wider audience/

Richard Lucas

22nd March 2019 (updated 24th)


Open Coffee Wroclaw is launching tomorrow, based on the tried and tested format of Open Coffee Kraków – under the capable leadership of Sun Zhisheng.

I had the idea of sharing the process of getting something new going.

If you are in Wrocław or know anyone who is here 23rd March, do encourage them to come

For non profit activities like CAMentrepreneurs, I use the organisation model of the way that TED supports TEDx, at a much smaller scale.

There has to be a local leader. Zhisheng came from Wrocław to Krakow -> a three-four hour journey a few times to attend and then helped with Open Coffee Krakow. She wanted to do it so we had a local leader.

I explained what needed to be done and that I would help.

Once she found a free venue at a date far enough ahead to give us time to publicize it I knew we could “go live”.

I tapped my local network. Dermot Corr who had organised Tech Saturdays and other events and Michał Kasprzyk the TEDxWrocław leader were particularly helpful.

Zhisheng put a team together. I’ll meet them in about 30 minutes.

I brainstormed the idea with my entrepreneurship students at WSE. One suggested I should have a presentation about what Open Coffee is, which led to a a promo video

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Screenshot-2019-03-22-at-17.25.29-1024x710.png

and Slideshare about why it is important.

I’ve tweeted to the global founders, have been posting on Social media

Will it work ? ike all new projects it has the risk of failure. Success will be a hunger for a second meeting.

I’ll report back afterward

Updated 24th March

We had an informal dinner the evening before 22nd March, and sense of community was formed.
Dermot Corr, Kasia Kasprzyk, Krysztof Nowak Michał Kasprzyk Leszek Orzechowski as well as Sun Zhisheng and myself.

The venue Fabryka Sensu was attractive and opened up on time on 23rd. Technical issues worked, about 25 people came, we started on time and a date for the second meeting was set.Wednesday, April 24, 2019 OpenCoffeeWroclaw#2

See posts from the event here and the Facebook live here

Final thoughts

Open Coffee Wrocław has started stronger than Open Coffee Kraków did. With good support Sun Zhisheng has every chance of getting this back on the map. Big thanks to everyone who came. especially Zhinsheng and her team. Dermot Corr, Krzysztof Nowak Michał Kasprzyk

Each individual was at the event needs to commit to help her.

October 2018

This blog post has the transcript of my Inaugural Lecture at Wydział Inżynierii Lądowej Politechniki Krakowskiej.
The Dean of Krakow Polytechnic’s Department of Civil Engineering  Andrzej Szarata – full Polish title (Dr hab. inż. Andrzej Szarata, prof. PK. Kierownik Zakładu Systemów Komunikacyjnych Dziekan Wydziału Inżynierii Lądowe” asked me to give the inaugural address to new students starting in 2018.


I decided to ask and attempt to answer the question  “Is 2018 the best time to commence your studies/Czy rok 2018 jest najlepszym czasem na rozpoczęcie studiów?”

It’s somewhat stressful for me to deliver a talk in Polish to an audience of 450

                                                                   Just before I was on stage






I asked myself why I was giving the talk and what I wanted to achieve.Many people in the audience (apart from the students) were suit wearing academics and I felt some considerable pressure. They had never had someone like me at an event like this.

                                                                       Polish Formal Academic Dress


You can read the full transcript of what I said, and why (or watch the video) below.

The reason why I wanted to give the talk was to communicate to the new students that they can influence how happy, fulfilled and successful they will be, if they are pro-active and take the initiative in getting involved in things,  decide carefully how they spend their time, who they hang out with and  use technology to fill in gaps and broaden their horizons.

I showed one of my favourite TED talks –  Derek Sivers “How to start a movement. – which I hope sowed seeds of interest in doing a TEDx in the Polytechnic as well as re-enforcing the message I wanted to get across.

I was able to quote my father JR Lucas  who used to tell his new undergraduates  – reading PPE at Oxford University – “you will learn more from each other than from me”.  If you want to hear more of his ideas go here.

Students swear a pledge: to be good students – to do their best and to honour the good name of institution. These ceremonies feel really important to me.

I only had one slide – talks can be better without  powerpoint.

It was an emotionally challenging experience. I felt a real sense of responsibility.. I said to the students  – “the most important person/people to impress are not your professor(s) your parent(s) or your friend(s) – but yourself. Are you happy with the way you spend your day when you look in the mirror before you go to bed? If not, do something about it. ”

Applying that to myself – I was honoured to be invited, and satisfied with how I did.  Feedback as always welcome.





Polish transcript

Wyobraźcie sobie, że jest rok 2050 i jesteście na moim miejscu, udzielając rady studentom o rozpoczęciu studiów.  Co byście powiedzieli?

34 lata temu studiowałem na Uniwersytecie w Cambridge, Polska była krajem komunistycznym. ZSRR wciąż istniał, internet nie istniał, I Najważniejsze, ja nie byłem Polakiem, a teraz jestem

oczywiście  Świat się zmienił i pod wieloma względami, zmienił się na lepsze. Czy teraz jest naprawdę lepiej?

Wielu z Was jest Polakami. Ilu Polaków jest na widowni?

Czy my Polacy, czy jestesmy ludźmi optymistycznymi czy pesymistycznymi?

Polska znana jest z pesymizmu.

“Najlepsze miejsca pracy są za granicą,

najlepsi ludzie opuścili kraj, nasze najlepsze firmy są sprzedawane obcokrajowcom,

mamy straszną historię,

łatwe pieniądze były do zarobienia tylko w latach 90.

Mogłem kupić 100 Bitcoin za $10 każdy… .

Nawet nasz Hymn Narodowy “Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła” nie brzmi optymistycznie.


Ale ja jestem optymistyczny ale rationalny Polakiem. Wiec

O ile Moje pytanie brzmi: “Czy rok 2018 jest najlepszym czasem, aby rozpocząć studia?


Moja odpowiedź brzmi: Tak, o ile chcesz  i wiesz jak.

Dlaczego mnie to Obchodzi?

Prowadzę warsztaty dla studentów nt przedsiębiorczości i bardzo często jestem przerażony ich brakiem świadomości o tym co naprawdę jest ważne i co się w życiu liczy.

Studenci często nie uczą się


aktywności wolontaryjnej,

przejmowania inicjatywy,

przejmowania kontroli nad sposobem spędzania cennego czasu,

bycia aktywnym I decydowania o tym, co robić ze swoim życiem,

Nie pozwól życiu po prostu się przydarzyć.

Przejmij kontrolę nad własnym życiem.

Studia są drogie, a nie mówię tylko o kosztach utrzymania się w Krakowie, ale i również o waszych  zainwestowanym cennych latach życia spędzonych tutaj tutaj

Jako studenci macie większą władzę nad swoim czasem niż gdy byliście domu, czy w szkole, to jak zdecydujecie się spędzać swój czas, jest naprawdę ważne.

Pozwólcie mi wyjaśnić, dlaczego jestem tu na scenie.

Pochodzę z Wielkiej Brytanii, ale od 27 lat mieszkam w Polsce, teraz jestem Polakiem, przedsiębiorcą zatrudniającym około 600 pracowników w Europie, USA i Azji. Wspieram wiele projektów non profit – takich jak TEDxKazimierz, społeczność startupów i globalne inicjatywy wspierające przedsiębiorczość. Uczę (jestem wykładowcą) biznesu i przedsiębiorczości na WSE I w UEK MBA.

Zwróciłem się do PK z pytaniem, jak mogę wesprzeć przedsiębiorczości w PK i zostałem zaproszony do wygłoszenia tego przemówienia.

Jak wykorzystać wasz czas studiów?

Mój ojciec  JR Lucas był nauczycielem filozofii na Uniwersytecie Oksfordzkim, opowiadał swoim studentom podczas pierwszego spotkania

“ Więcej możecie uczyć się od siebie nawzajem niż ode mnie (i od innych profesorów)”


Studenci tutaj w tej sali będziecie się nawzajem stymulować.

Zadawajcie trudne pytania.

Odpowiadanie na nie zmusza do prawdziwego zrozumienia, I głębokiej refleksji.

Ale nie tylko chodzi mi tylko o sferę intelektualną.

Poznaszacie również swój charakter, dobre i złe sposoby zabawy, nauczycie się kwestionować i wzmacniać inne wartości.

Będziecie spotykać osoby z różnych grup społecznych, które pochodzą z różnych środowisk,

odkryjecie, że najlepsi ludzie nie zawsze pochodzą “najlepszych” rodzin.

że trudne warunki otoczenia mogą czasami wzmocnić ludzi.

Być może ciężko było Ci się tu znaleźć.(dostać)

w Krakowie I także w PK są też ludzie z naszych państw sąsiedzkich, których ojczyzna została zaatakowana, albo którzy pochodzą z domów, gdzie rodzice ich maltretowali lub którzy walczą z problemami zdrowotnymi, jakich nie możemy sobie nawet wyobrazić.

Więc mądrze wybierz grupę znajomych. Wybierz starannie osoby, z którymi spędzasz czas. Stajesz się średnią z 5 osób, z którymi spędzasz najwięcej czasu.

  1. Poznaj siebie: Najważniejszą osobą, której chcesz zaimponować, nie są twoi profesorowie, twoi rodzice czy przyjaciele. Czy ty jesteś I będziesz zadowolony z tego, jak spędzasz czas na koniec każdego dnia? Jeśli nie, zrób coś żeby to zmieniać?

Naucz się inteligencji emocjonalnej,


empatii i

zarządzania własnym czasem.

Zrób coś dla innych – zostań wolontariuszem tak jak “imprezuj” i “baw się”. Będziesz miał dużo więcej zabawy i przyjemności w efekcie robienia czegoś w co wierzysz, niż po prostu z chodzenia do baru.

3 Dowiedz się więcej o przywództwie i osobistej skuteczności. Celem mojego wystąpienia jest pomóc wam jako studentom w osiągnięciu większego sukcesu.

Jeśli nauczysz się być aktywnym i robić rzeczy wartościowe, staniesz się 10 lub 50 razy skuteczniejszy i szczęśliwszy w wyniku tego.

4 Jesteś od urodzenia członkiem ery informacji:.

macie lepszy dostęp do wiedzy niż ja miałem, gdy byłem studentem w Cambridge. Jeśli chcesz nauczyć się jakiejś umiejętności lub za jakimś czasie, możesz zacząć już dziś.

Jeśli nie zgadzasz się z nauczycielem, możesz sprawdzić, czy ma racje czy nie on-line.  Jeśli nie lubisz waszego wykładowcy możesz znaleźć kurs online, który bardziej ci się spodoba,. Nauczyciele nie mogą marnować twojego czasu  lub cię ograniczać.

Macie lepszy dostęp do wiedzy niż jakakolwiek generacja w dowolnym momencie w historii świata, to jest niesamowite. Wykorzystajcie to.  Ta wspaniała Politechnika daje dostęp do ekspertów i doświadczeń innych ludzi. Użyj Internetu, aby uzupełnić i doskonalić to, czego się tutaj uczysz. Istnieją fantastyczne zasoby online do poszerzania horyzontów.

5 Bądź proaktywny i ucz przywództwa i przedsiębiorczości.   Pokażę krótki występ TED-a .

Dziekan Szarata zastanawia się nad ideą TEDxPolitechnikaKrakowska.

To skomplikowane być studentem, poszedłeś tutaj też się dobrze bawić, nie chcesz nic przegapić. Trzeba studiować i kształcić się. TEZ

Niezależnie od tego, czy zdecydujesz się zaangażować w działalność Startup Community, TEDx Community, charytatywną, studencką gazetę, klub sportowy, klub gier, nie ma znaczenia w co tak bardzo, jak to by się w “coś” zaangażować,

Jeśli się zaangażujesz, nie bądź tylko beneficjentem, dowiedz się kto jest za co odpowiedzialny i zaoferuj pomoc – jest to forma przywództwa.

Jeśli ktokolwiek tutaj chciałby mojej pomocy: mentoringu lub wsparcia w zakładaniu firm lub w sprawach związanych z TEDx, zapraszam do kontaktu ze mną.

Chętnie pomogę.

Spędźcie tu wspaniały czas w PK. Powodzenia.

English version (not quite what I said – but close enough)

Imagine it is 2050 and you are in my place giving advice to students about to start studying.  What would you say?
32 years ago I was a student  at Cambridge University, Poland was still communist. The USSR still existed and the internet didn’t exist.
The world has changed, and in many ways much for the better.  So are things really better now? Many of you are Polish . How many Poles in the audience?
Poland is known for its pessimism. “the best jobs are abroad, the best people leave, our best companies are sold to foreigners, we have had a truly terrible history, the easy money was to be made in 1990s
even our National Anthem  ” Poland is not yet lost” is the opposite of optimistic.
My question “Is 2018 the best time to start being a student?”
My answer this question is “it can be if you want and you know how”
Why do I care ? because I do workshops for students and again and again I am terrified by their lack of awareness about what really matters.
Learning leadership, volunteering, taking the initiative, taking control of the way you spend your precious time, being pro active. deciding what to do with your life, not letting you life happen to you
it’s  expensive to become a student here, not just the cost of living in Krakow but investing  years of your life in being here.
As students you have more power over your  time than when you lived at home. how you spend your time really matters
Before I how to best take advantage of being a student now  let me explain why I am here on the stage –
I’m from the UK but for the last 27 years I have lived in Poland, I’m Polish, I’m an entrepreneur with around 600 employees in Europe, the USA and Asia. I support many non profit projects – Like TEDxKazimierz, the Startup community and global initiatives to support entrepreneurship. I’m teaching business and entrepreneurhsip in WSE and UEK.
I approached the PK asking if I could support the development of Entrperneurship in PK and was invited to give this talk.
And this is what I want to tell you,
1 “you can learn more from each other than from me (and other professors),.
When my father was Philosophy teaching at Oxford University he used to tell his students in his first tutorial session.
Other students people in the lecture hall will stimulate you to learn more. asking and answering questions, forcing you to really understand.
You will also learn about character, reliabilty, good and bad ways to have fun,
to question some and strengthen other of  your values
you will meet people from different social classes who come from different backgrounds.
you will discover that the best people do not come form the “best” families
that a tough background can in some cases make people stronger and wiser.

You may have struggled hard to get your place here. For sure there are other people in Krakow, whose homeland have been invaded, whose parents have mistreated them, or who are struggling with health problems you can only imagine.

So appreciate your good fortune if you are more fortunate, and be sensitive to the places other students have come from.

Choose your friend group wisely. Choose the people you spend your time with carefully. You become the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
2.Get to know yourself: The most important person to impress is not your professors, your parents or friends At the end of the day, look in the mirror. Are you happy with how you spend your time.  Learn emotional intelligence, self control, empathy. and Time Management. Volunteer to do things as well as “partying and “having fun”/ you will have more fun as a by product of doing things you believe in that just heading for a bar.
3 Learn about leadership and personal effectiveness. The goal of my talk is to help you be more successful as students.  If you learn how to be active and do get worthwhile things done, as well as thinking about them you will become 10 or 50 times effective, and happier asa result
4 You are digital natives. Some of you clashed with you parents or teachers about this technology.  If you want to learn a skill or about sometime. you can start today. It’s only a question of motivation. and if you disagree with your teacher you can fact check, and if they are bad a teaching you can find a course on line doing the sam thing. Your Teachers can no longer BS  limit you.You have better access to knowledge than I had when I was a student at Cambridge. and better access to knowledge than any generation at any time in world history. This wonderful Politechnik gives you access to experts and other people’ experience. use the internet to complement and enhance  what you learn here. There are fantastic resources on line to broadening your horizons.
5 Be proactive and learn about leadership and enterprise.   I’m going to show a short TED talk. Prof Szarata is wondering about the idea of TEDxPolitechnikaKrakowska.
It’s complicated being a student, you went to have fun, you don’t want to miss out. you need to study and learn.
Whether you choose to get involved in the Startup Community, the TEDx Community, charity, a student newspaper,  a sports club. a games club doesn’t matter nearly so much as getting involved in something, If you do get involved don’t just be a beneficiary, find out who is in charge and offer to help – it’s a form of leadership.
If anyone here wants mentoring or support in starting businesses or things to do with TEDx, you are welcome to contact me. I’ll be glad to help.
Enjoy yourselves and have a wonderful time here at PK.

Richard Lucas

July 2018

Years ago I wrote a column for a Startup magazine called “Proseed” Entrepreneurs wrote to me with their problems and I shared my advice. A kind of “Agony Aunt” for startups.


My “agony aunt” Column for Proseed


A few weeks ago a trusted friend introduced me to a team of keen programmers and developers from a high school who were working on an App in the area of fashion AI and tech. I’ll often find time to see people in these circumstances even though those who know me will know that fashion is not one of my strengths. This doesn’t matter much – I almost always give the same advice –  which is to get feedback from customers and users think, not me. 

1 2
May 2018
I’m on my way to – the largest IT event in Central Eastern Europe.
The reason ? I’m giving a talk about the challenges startup businesses have with management – and what founders and investors can about it. I’m also looking forward to seeing Peter Cowley, and his son Alan.

The organisers – who give the strong impression of knowing what they are doing – facilitate business speed dating.


I have received *a lot* of requests for meetings.This blog post is primarily for people who want to meet me.

Normally I refer people to  longer articles I have written saying what I want to know before meeting such as this

Questions From a Potential Investor  

and the somewhat passive aggressive “What do you think of my business idea?”  

For  “Infoshare Speed Dating”, this may be overkill – so this is a simplified process.

If you want to meet me about a business idea, please answer the questions below. For non-business meetings, just let me know in a sentence what it is about (I will probably say yes). Here goes:

1. What problem does your business (idea) solve?
2. Have you got any clients (or commitments to buy) for your product/service? If yes, please name 2-3 people who are either clients or have committed to become clients at the price you intend to charge.  If you think there will be thousands, it should be very easy to find 2-3,
3. What are your unit economics? How much more are you planning to charge clients that your cost of delivering whatever it is you business is providing.
4. How much money do you want, at what valuation?
5. Who is in your team?

If you are not able/willing to provide this level of detail, please describe in not more than three sentences compelling reasons to meet.





March 2018 I came across this interview from 2011 and thought I’d repost it.

PMR was a member of  SIPA – the Specialised Information Provider Association back then. Full credit to Ronn Levine for the interview 

What was your first job out of college and how did you get into this business? 
I set up a business selling “new students in town, start-up kits” for people who were living away from home for the first time. It didn’t work out, and I later got a job in a consulting company in Cambridge. I knew I wanted my own business.

Has there been a defining moment in your career? Perhaps when you knew you were on the right road. 
No. I think getting out of a full-time job when I stopped running PMR in 2007 was a very good move. It gives me more time for the things I am better at—like getting new things going and handing over to better managers than me.

In brief, describe your business/company? 
I have five businesses. 1) PMR is an 80-person strong B-to-B publications company in retail, life sciences, construction and IT with a focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. We consult and do market research in those sectors across the region. 2) SKK – the largest automatic identification company in Poland; 3) ISL – the leading warehouse automation company in Poland; 4) Unicard – the leading plastic cards company; and 5) – one of the largest Central European translation companies. Run by an American.

What are two or three important concepts or rules that have helped you to succeed in business? 
Be good rather than cheap, decentralise decision-making as far as you can provided it’s working, anticipate client needs, create a give-more-get-more culture and fight like a tiger to get the best people.

What is the single-most successful thing that your company is doing now? 
Hiring the best people we can rather than just looking locally.

Do you see a trend or path that you have to lock onto for 2011? 
No, just continue to be prepared to act fast on opportunities that arise from having money and growth in a tough market.

What are the key benefits of SIPA membership for you and your team? 
Being able to find other industry professionals to compare notes with.

Where did you grow up? 
Oxford, U.K. Dad taught philosophy at Merton College.

What college did you attend? Is there a moment from that time that stands out? 
Economics Tripos, University of Cambridge. The buzz of giving successful speeches in the debating society.

Are you married? Do you have children? 
I was married, now divorced; have three great children 14, 12, 10 (girl girl boy) who live with me one week in two. One of the reasons I don’t have a full-time job is so I can look after them properly when they are with me.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life? 
I run a number of voluntary projects…TEDx Conferences, and help with Global Entrepreneurship Week teaching kids about enterprise. It’s more rewarding than a hobby and more fun.

Is there a book you recently read or movie you saw that you would recommend? 
The book would be “The New Cold War: Putin’s Russia and the Threat to the West” by my brother, Edward Lucas—who is the international editor of The Economist. It’s about those in charge of Russia. Peter Weir’s film, “The Way Back,”gives a glimpse of what people in Central Europe experienced at the hands of Soviet communism.

Additional comments? 
I’m an angel investor. If anyone reading this wants to start a business with SIPA member PMR, go here; if for something else, go via I’m also a Couchsurfer, so if you are passing through Krakow, Poland, invite yourself to stay. I’ll accept if circumstances allow it; if not, at least have a drink or meal.


Richard Lucas

February 2020

This is a list of past and events I have or am going to speak at, host and/or organised.  I welcome invitations. Please read this first.

I speak about entrepreneurship, leadership and business. My talks and hosting are interactive,  participant focussed,  high quality and fun.    I’ve written about this here.

My experience at TED events and as a TEDx Curator have helped me understand what truly high class events and talk feel, look and sounds like.

Forthcoming Events

TEDxSchenkerCollege Talk  Tel Aviv Israel 7th May

CAMentrepreneurs Spring meeting New York 25th April

TEDFest NYC Pre Event  Hosting 19th April March

Asbiro Business School workshop Łódź

 CAMentrepreneurs/CUE meetup hosting Cambridge 4th March

Past events

TED CircleHow we Love 5th February, Kraków hosting

January 2020

TEDxKazimierzSalon Krakow – hosting 28th January

Startup Weekend Krakow – Jury 12th January

IT Camp,  Entrepreneurship Workshops  Warsaw 5th January


Krakow Enterprise Mondays Xmas Party and  Quiz 16th December.

TED Circle Krakow (and on line) 11th December

TEDxKazimierzWomen 7th December Krakow, Organising/Hosting

The Chatty Cafe Scheme launch in Poland 5th December, Krakow. organising.

Past Events

Pre TEDxWeekendTaipei meetup/All Hands Taiwan/CAMentrepreneurs Info Meeting 31st October, Taiwan, Organising/Hosting details here

TED Circle Taipei hosting 30th October, Taiwan details here

TED Circle Krakow 26th October hosting details here

CAMentrepreneurs launch 24th October 2019 at Judge Business School, Cambridge (hosting) details here 

Winchester College Alumni Dinner 22nd October London, UK  Speaking

Krakow Enterprise Mondays 21st October, Krakow details here

INNOVATIVE KRAKOW FORUM  October 21st, 2019 hosting panel, details here 

TED. TEDx, TEDx-ers Info Evening 10th October, Kraków, details here

A Fireside Chat with Marek Jankowski – Poland’s leading business podcaster. Krakow 9th October details here 

Lublin Enterprise Mondays launch 7th October, Lublin  (hosting) details here

TEDxWeekendRoma Pre Event 3rd October,  Rome, hosting. TEDxWeekendRoma attendees only

XXXI L.O im. Roman Ingardena  – Kraków. Entrepreneurship Workshop in Polish for High School students. 27th September

Sabre “Talk ‘n Roll” conference 26th September Krakow – speaking. details here

OMGKRK Summer Jam – 23rd August Business Networking Session – hosting  Details here 

Open Coffee Krakow 1st August (hosting)

The Pre-TED Summit Social Gathering Edinburgh, for TEDx-ers participating in the TED Summit. 19th July

TEDxKazimierzSalon plus TEDxKazimierzAdventure: Community Education and Leadership 14-16th June. Hosting.  details here

TEDxTarnow 9th June Speaker details here

Cracow Tech Week – Hosting 23rd May. Fireside Chat with Startup Founders Opportunities And Challenges Of Building A Startup In Krakow.  Details here.

LiGHT – Hosting 13th May Krakow Opera House details   here 

Kraków Enterprise Mondays #24 6th May. Hosting details here

Project Kazimierz Podcast I’ve hosted 86 episodes of this podcast on Innovation and entrepreneurship over the last four years details (and listen)  here.

                              The Project Kazimierz podcast

Open Beer for Entrepreneurs! 30th April Hosting.

TEDxKazimierzLive 27th April – hosting – Kraków.  Details here

Open Coffee Kraków – hosting 25th April: details here

CAMentrepreneurs launch Dubai 17/18th April 2019. Details here

Asbiro – Business Basics, (in Polish) Warsaw 7th April 2019

TEDxKazimierzSalon 27th March 2019 Sport and Society (hosting)

“What, why and how to build a personal brand” Workshop 25th March at  “Start up your Life with SEED” Krakow Technology Park

Webinar: Why is Sales so Hard? with Kimon Fountoukidis & Richard Lucas 14th March, 2019 11:00 EST (17:00 CEST) sign up here  (US$75)

TEDxKazimierzSalon The Art of Entrepreneurship (co hosting) 28th February. 2019

Transcribe-a-thon brought to you by TEDxKazimierz  9th February 2019

OpenCoffeeKRK #180 Thu 8 AM · 7th February 2019

OpenCoffeeKRK #179 Thu 8 AM · 24th January 2019

Volunteer Appreciation TEDxKazimierzAdventure  24th January 2019

OpenCoffeeKRK #178 Thu 8 AM · 10th January 2019

Hosting and Speaking Engagements in 2019
Krakow Enterprise Mondays Xmas Event 17th December TEDxKazimierzWomenKrakow Technology Park  Poland 8th December

Embassy School Krakow Entrepreneurship Course Launch   3rd December 2018

Startup Weekend Krakow. Judge-  2nd December 2018

Edinburgh Business Show, E-Commerce Panel. Edinburgh Scotland 23 Nov 2018

CAMentrepreneurs Event, Speaking and co-hosting Scotland 22nd November 2018

TEDxCapeTown Pre Event 16th November, Cape Town, South Africa

Krakow Enterprise Mondays, University of Agriculture and 5th November

Invested Investor Book launch, Cambridge, UK  18th October

Krakow Enterprise Mondays, University of Economics 15th October

Information meeting about TED, TEDx, TEDxKazimierz with several other  TEDx Organisers 8th October

Inaugural address Politechnika Krakowska Department of Civil Engineering   1st October.

CAMentrepreneurs/Oxbridge Society of Poland Fresher (new student) orientation with the Oxbridge Society of Poland,
the Cambridge University Polish Students Society, and the Oxford University Polish Students Society at Google Campus Warsaw 8th September.

TEDxTarnow – introducing a favourite TED talk 24rd June

TEDxKazimierz Main Event organising/hosting 9th June 2018

Krakow Enterprise Mondays (organising/hosting) in University of Economics 4th June

Light 4.0 in Krakow (hosting a panel) May 23th

Infoshare Gdynia  talk/workshop May 22nd

TEDxKazimierzSalon (organising/co-hosting)  19th May

XIV International MBA Congress in Krakow (panel) 18th May

TEDxKazimierzLive (organising/co-hosting) 28th April

Entrepreneurs Club @JCC Krakow  26th April 

Krakow Enterprise Mondays in the Agricultural University (organising/hosting)  Krakow 23rd April

CAMentrepreneurs New York global Luncheon (speaking, guest) 14th April

TEDFest NYC Pre-event (organising/hosting) 9-10th April

TEDxKazimierzSalon (co-organising) 28th March

TEDxWarsaw Pre Event workshop  on networking 21st March

Krakow Enterprise Mondays (organising/hosting) 12 March

TEDxKazimierzSalon 28th February 2018 

Entrepreneurs Club @JCC Krakow #2   27th February 2018

Spotkanie ASBiRO Kraków z Richardem Lucasem   14th Feb

Startup Weekend Kids Krakow  Jury  4th February

JCC Krakow’s Entrepreneurship Club launch host 30th Jan


PAMI Conference Polish-American Innovation Bridge 2017  host 17-18th November

Zakonu Pijarów High School talk about TED , TEDx and TEDxKazimierz October 26th
Gimnazjum Ziarnko Maku  talk about Wojtek the Soldier Bear, TEDx and enterprise 25th October
Winchester College “Studium” Pluses and minus of going into business Wed 11 Oct
Embassy International School  talk about TED , TEDx and TEDxKazimierz  19 September
TEDxKazimierz events and meet ups since October 2015
CAMentrepreneurs from 12.2016
Krakow Enterprise Mondays 2016-present
Open Coffee Kraków co-host from 2013-present.
Mentor Kraków Wrocław Living Lab February 2017

The Roast of Richard Lucas Kraków Standup Comedy 22nd Jan 2017

Polish Student Societies Leadership Workshop Edinburgh December 2016
Jury at Krakow Smogathon November 2016
Poland 2:0 Summit London October 2016
Workshop for Redlands MBA students in Krakow in October 2016
Community Building Workshop at the TED Summit  Canada June 2016
Pre-TED Summit Event Calgary, Canada co hosted June 2016
Pre-TEDxWarsaw event March 2016 Co-host and organiser
Smart City Panelist, Change Leaders Foundation event, March 2016
Innovators’ Summit #4: Smart City / Smart Living Kraków November 2015

Workshop for Fordham MBA students May 2015
Krakow Innovation Swarm April 2015
Startup Sprint Silver Tsunami April 2014
Innovators’ Summit November 2014
Women’s Entrepreneurship Day November 2014
TechSaturdays Wrocław: October 2014
Startup Sprint E-commerce June 2014

Wojtek the Solider Bear Statue unveiling speech in Park Jordana 18th May 2014
Startup Sprint March 2014
KrakSpot #16 January 2014
Christmas StartUp Mixer December 2013
TEDxKrakówCinema – entrepreneurship December 2013
Robienie interesu życia November 2013
Startup Stage #6 September 2013
Startup Pirates May 2013
BOSS – Festiwal Biznesu April 2013
Startup Stage #3 March 2013
Startup Weekend Krakow February 2013
Entrepreneur from our School November 2011  May 2013

Speaker and Judge at entrepreneurship events at “Gielda Przedsiebiorczosci, ” 2009-2012

TEDxWrocławSalon Speaker
TEDxKraków Speaker October 2010

Global Entrepreneurship Week numerous activities, hosting of School Visits to companies I was involved in 2008
1996 Polish Ministry of Education – business perspectives at Soros Foundation Scholar orientation event I sometimes contribute to events as a panellist and speaker. Based on 30 years experience as an entrepreneur and activist.
Doing Business in Poland event 1995 CBI event in Centre Point, London
Main areas I talk or teach about
entrepreneurship, leadership, investing. Smart cities, technology, startups, Social media, community management, All things TEDx related, Poland, Cambridge (UK)

If you want me to speak at your event, before contacting me, please read this written in someone sarcastic patronising tone of voice.


Richard Lucas

February 2018

I spoke to Harriet  Noble for the Project Kazimierz podcast. I wanted her on the show because I was interested in the cross over between what she does as a job – finding new solutions to the world’s problems,  and what TEDx License Holders do in terms of finding great ideas to put on the TEDx Stage.

Harriet Noble is a radio journalist working for the BBC in London. She started her career on Radio 4’s flagship Today programme, where over the course of 7 years she graduated from work experience girl to Duty Editor. At the beginning of 2017 she moved to World Hacks on the BBC World Service, where she presents, reports and produces. She is also developing other radio projects for the BBC.

Harriet Noble

World Hacks is a weekly radio programme, podcast and digital video platform, leading the BBC’s solutions-focused journalism coverage. Harriet’s work has received positive reviews from The Observer, the Radio Times and others, and been chosen for BBC Radio 4’s Pick of the Wick. She is particularly interested in stories about mental health, families and women’s rights.

World Hacks on the BBC World Service

My main goal in posting is to draw attention to the podcast and share the lessons learned. I asked about the methodology for  finding topics and she told me they have to tick a number of boxes.  These include

1. Being a solution to a problem
2. being innovative /surprising
3. Something new/not something that has had  extensive coverage in the media already.
4.  There should be reliable evidence that the project works and is effective
5. and they like the back story of the person or people behind the project.
The domain areas she is particularly interested in are cities, women’s issues, and mental health and famly,
They often get ideas for their programme from other people’s conferences.
The traffic data is impressive.  Their videos  get about  30 million views, and the podcast gets around  100,000 downloads on iTunes.  (The BBC is a huge web site with, according to Similarweb, about 689 million visits per month).

BBC web traffic

It’s a great programme, and as an experiment, I’ve set up a Fan Club of the show called the  BBC World Hacks discussion and sharing club . The inspiration is the fan club of another BBC radio show here Digital Planet Listeners .   I interviewed the founders of this show Bill Thompson and Gareth Mitchell here  in another Project Kazimierz podcast.

I set up the  Wojtek – the Soldier Bear – Niedźwiedź Żołnierz  group years ago, which led to my TEDxKrakow talk in 2010

Other links that are relevant if you listen to the show are here

World Hacks BBC World Hacks

Improvising Your Way Out of Anxiety 

People Fixing the World Podcast

Why The World Needs Positive News by  Christian de Boisredon
of Spark News

Why we need Constructive Elements in Journalism | Cathrine Gyldensted at TEDxDresden

February 2018

It’s not often I have a world leader on my podcast, but the latest episode of the Project Kazimierz podcast has the founder of the world’s leading on line squash training site.  I’m really proud of having this story on the show. It’s also quite moving, at least to me.

Here is the interview direct from the website –  and on Stitcher  and iTunes

People seem so baffled, doubtful when I tell them I have been learning squash on-line, from the website he founded  but it is really true.  Salman Khan talked on the TED stage about how is relatives preferred the video to him teaching live for their math lessons – so why not Squash?

One of the nice things  about a successful podcast is you can just approach people doing interesting things and talk to them. So I did. home page

About Squashskills states

“We launched SquashSkills in July 2012 and have been amazed by how well the concept has been received. Over the last 3 years our team of coaches has grown significantly and we’re delighted to say that the site is home to 9 former World Number 1’s, all of whom are here to dispense their knowledge to our members in an effort to helping our members become the best players they can be. The new platform offers features and functionality that we could only dream of at the conception of this project. It offers players of all levels and abilities the opportunity to adopt start training more effectively under the guidance of the World’s best players and coaches. We’ve been delighted by the support we’ve had over the last 3 years and feel we have a real part of a community of squash players who all love the game. We look forward to working with our members on improving the platform for many years to come.”

I record the interviews in Skype and then export them to audio as you can see above. I am going to experiment with this on Youtube as well. This is to test how much traffic Youtube could generate.

What I learned from Jethro and Squash Skills.

He started his business with GBP6000 after an inheritance to get him going.

He is very self-aware. both of his mistakes and character.   Gary Vaynerchuk says that’s a vital skill.

He didn’t make a big deal of what must have been a terrible experience, both physically and mentally.  Listen to the podcast to find out more.

You can improve your sport skills on line.

Get clear understandings with your co-founders  (I kind of knew this already) good to be reminded.

He is pretty chilled out – he was organising a music event for more than 2000 people the day after I talked to him.

I really am gunning for him. There is something moving and emotional about his story.  Due to the dramatic event in Egypt – he will never be better than 84th in the world in Squash. but he can run the best squash training site  in the world-  and he is doing it.

He’s a Dan Pink fan –   recognises the importance of Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose Drive by Dan Pink

Good luck Jethro



3rd January 2018
As part of my beginning of year housekeeping I’ve updated my Now page and my About Me.  ‘What’s a “now” page?’ I imagine a number of readers asking. One answer is to go here (that’s passive aggressive Richard speaking).  Another is to visit my Now page on and figure it out. Another is to visit the About on “”.

My Now page on NowNowNow

Another is to visit my “Now” page on here

My “Now” page on

The difference between “Now” and “About” is interesting. For Derek Sivers, whose idea “Now” pages are, and for whose ideas I have a great respect, it’s a time saver. For me, there is a process of “unification”.  It is  easy to give different versions of yourself to different people – not necessarily being dishonest – but just presenting yourself in the best possible light.  I’m not sure what the biggest gaps between my “Now” and my “About” are and will be. They were both written in the last 24 hours. I am going to check up on myself regularly,  look for gaps and try to understand why.

Richard Lucas 13th December 2017

The yearly OMGKRK X-MASSive party is a fixture for the Krakow Startup community.  Our 2017 event is tomorrow 14th December 2017. Details here

This blog post recalls the history of how these huge parties started, and shares some lessons for anyone wanting to organise major events on tiny budgets.


X-MASSive parties built on the existing communities of Hive and MSFBCC.  The smaller Hive Xmas party in 2012 is described here  (with photos here ). This was an experiment I tried with Hive and  MSFBCC to see what was possible.

Hive – founded by Piotr Nedzynski and Ela Madej – was a key part of Kraków’s eco-system’s development and had critical mass even back then. This party was fun – about 100 people came  – and gave a sense of what was possible. A key lesson:

Lesson 1 Work with organisations and people that are well organised and credible.

But it was hard to get the word out. The OMGKRK Facebook Group was small back then (now it has over 5000 people)  and not everyone was on board (or was keen) for larger scale events.

After 2012 I thought there might be room to scale up. I had a plan, partly based on a great TED-ster Derek Sivers’ talk How to Start a Movement.  I knew the event needed followers and momentum –  as Derek Sivers says  “The first follower turns the lone nut into a leader” and I didn’t want to be a lone nut.  A new event – where the participants are part of the product –  requires social engineering.

The plan was simple, and worked so well it is worth sharing. On 23rd November I did a Facebook post suggesting a meeting about organising a repeat party on a much bigger scale.   I tapped my personal network of community leaders and asked them each individually –  in the space of 20 minutes –  to post their support, saying which organisation they represented. The list was :
Marek Przystas Duckie Deck
Adam Filipowski Livetramp
Anthony Carapinha Couchsurfing
Chris Kobylecki Innovation Nest,
Pawel Kontek AIESEC
Marta Ryłko Open Coffee Krakow
Weronika T. Adrian Creative Cracow
Filip Dębowski Hub.raum
Joanna Nowak Startupdigest
David McGirr, Jamie Stokes  Krakow Post
Ola Bienas Colab
Jonathan Ornstein. JCC Krakow

The date was fixed, and everyone in the meeting to greater or lesser degree started promoting it.  This created momentum.

Lesson 2: Create Momementum

Anyone looking at the event with no prior knowledge would see that the representatives of about 3000 people were already on board.  As Derek Sivers says later in the same TED talk, “As more people join in, it become less risky”, and finally, they will be  part of the  “in crowd”  if they hurry –  and left out, if they don’t join in.


Lesson 3. Line up your support before you start.

The event took off like wildfire. 100s of people started signing up. As each milestone of attendees was achieved more buzz was created.


Community members whose first reaction was that “there is no demand for a social event where people are just going to talk to each other” moved to warning me that “events of this size need  a special licence”.  Now it was important to make sure that those who attended enjoyed themselves.

Lesson 4  Ensuring great event experience.

Making sure that those who attend have fun is vital.  I’ve written about making events buzz  extensively elsewhere, and since then done workshops for TED and consulted to other events. and learned a huge amount from my TED and TEDx journey. There are lots of details – but most important was a team of well prepared volunteers to take care of welcoming guests.


X-MASSive volunteers

We also had a  MVE – Minimum viable event – approach.

Lesson 4  Be pragmatic. The best is sometimes the enemy of the good

As more and more organisations joined in our event page began to fill up with logos. Graphic designers were freaking out, but we went ahead anyway.  It was important to see the funny side of small startups with bigger logos than world famous organisations like Google for Entrepreneurs.



The party itself was well documented. There are plenty of photos here and on the event wall.

I am not aware of a post-event appraisal but…. the event has proved sustainable, and is now in it’s 4th year – so I guess that means something. Not everything was perfect. There weren’t enough bar staff and the not everyone agreed about the format.

Giving credit where it was was due was important. I made a slideshare in which I gave the following credits including names  (Ania Filar, Marek Przestaś, Karla Vega) and organisations (with the money they contributed (in złoty) as below

Badges <3 Vocabla

Balloons 400 Presspad

Catering 1000 Growth Republic Untitled Kingdom

Welcome Drinks Colab 700 Google ??

DJ 314 Duckie Deck

Icebreakers <3 Richard Aiesec and Aegee

Photo booth 1500 Innovation Nest

Posters and Graphic design Duckie Deck 584

Prizes ? Google ??

Santa Hats 480 Richard Lucas

Volunteer team. Aiesec and Aegee

web site <3 Aliaksei Kulbei

so the overall costs was less than 4000 zloty  (about US$1000) at the time so, if you see any of these organisations or people, don’t forget to say thanks. If you want to organise a mega event at low budget,  this article gives useful tips, or feel free to get in touch.

Happy X-MASSive 🙂







Richard Lucas
8th November 2017
This blog post is to go with my podcast interview with Russell Hicks – which goes live  today.  There will be the first airing of my new pre-roll,  a new ‘old’ music voice over, and very different content. I was very, very pleased to have Russell on the show and it was a great pleasure to have a long conversation with a comedian whose work I genuinely admire.
So, who is Russell?   Russell Hicks is a successful American Standup Comedian who lives and works mainly in the UK.
I saw him perform at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, and so much enjoyed his shows I tracked him down. I  hope to get him to perform in Poland –  with the support of Krakow Standup Comedy  and Ash Deppeler  who spoke at TEDxKazimierz this year and is the founder of the Krakow Fringe Festival . To make it work will not be easy, but if we pull it off, I’ll be very pleased. We will probably set up a tour with Wrocław, Warsaw, Prague and Berlin, but this is all a year ahead of us now.
If you only do one thing,  enjoy his comedy –  see and listen to his talent here  – after 25 comedians have been booed off the stage,  he manages to bring the baying crowd back- and regain control. More than a million people have enjoyed that Youtube video. There are many more of his videos here    (if you are not into English language Stand Up Comedy, just listen to my interview – interviewing Comedians is an idea I got from Stewart Goldsmith, who was the first Professional Comedian to grace the Project Kazimierz digital stage here). Comedians can be really interesting, even if you don’t like comedy, and usually, (surprise surprise), they are entertaining.
You may well be surprised by what you learn from the podcast. We dive into what Russell knows about Krakow, which leads us to Jaws, not the shark, but the metal toothed giant – from the James Bond films  “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”.  Jaws had a real (fictional) name Zbigniew Krycsiwiki  – and was from Krakow.  (I’m not sure the author spoke Polish).

Zbigniew Krycsiwiki a.k.a. ‘Jaws    – – from Krakow!!

After his failed basketball career, Krycsiwiki was arrested during the (also fictional) 1972 bread riots – and was so badly beaten by the communist secret police in prison that his jaw was smashed beyond repair. Krycsiwiki then escaped –  and after many  operations – his  jaw was restored using steel components – creating the famous razor-sharp teeth.  As Michael Caine might say – not many people know that.

Russell had no idea that Maus was a controversial film in Poland. Poles were represented as pigs. Maus re-enforces the myth of Polish complicity in the holocaust, which is especially bitter when coming from a German artist. But Russell had no idea.

It was only when Russell was 26 that he realised that he was meant to be a Standup Comedian.  It is a magical thing to happen to anyone, to realise why they exist.  As he he got really good at getting people to laugh,  he discovered  he wasn’t enjoying it . He changed his approach, understanding that the only way to do comedy properly is to make sure you enjoys and believe in your own jokes. This means taking serious risks. As the room realises you are taking risks,  the pay off gets bigger – if it works.  If you listen to his podcasts,  which I recommend Off The Grid Podcast with Russell Hicks. Also check out his short “Art for f**cks  sake”  podcast series.

He does what’s going to make him happy on stage – his natural style  – even if it gets nowhere, and people aren’t laughing, he’s still  happy. The fact that he has a paying audience validates his approach – It he didn’t get paid bookings, this position would not hold water (in my view).  He doesn’t want to tell other people how to live, his approach works for him.   He believes that making concessions to the “comedy  industry” is a trap – people who do that can end up bitter. If comedians are really into well prepared written jokes  – if that is their thing – that’s fine, but you have to be yourself and follow your own art form.
He’s a huge TED fan, and I invited him to TEDxShoreditch (but he didn’t come ? ) As a foreigner in Britain he loves London and Britain and regards the anti immigrant attitude as the last gasp of dying generation, in his view young people are much more liberal, open, and accepting of diversity.
Finally, Russell says he wants to be interviewed by Stewart Goldsmith for the Comedian’s Comedian podcast.

I promised him I’d send Stewart a note, and I’m going to.  I hope it works.
That’s all I want to share, below a a wide range of links that will be useful if you want to follow up on podcast topics. I hope you enjoy listening to this podcast as much as I enjoyed doing the interview.

Links. which may not make sense, unless you listen to the podcast.

If you want to get an insight into the way he thinks start with The Sad Clown Paradigm”

If you want to book him his agent is  Delphine at Beyond Compere.
Bill Burr
Joe Sinclitico – Karate (Stand Up Comedy)
Cal Newport So good they can’t ignore you
How to start movement Derek Sivers


by Richard Lucas  1st November 2017

This post is part of a series to go with the Project Kazimierz podcast. This interview is on line here. 

Asaf Navot is the founder of Home Made in London, a fast growing residential property service which is both cheaper and better than existing services.

Prior to founding his startup Asaf did an MBA at Insead, was a consultant with Bain Private Equity Group and Wilson Perumal, and served in the Israeli Armed Services

My goal is to have a post on my blog here  supporting podcast interviews when I have reflections to share – though  these thoughts are mine, not Asaf’s).

                                                                   Skype interview with Asaf

I don’t post video footage of the interviews but when the internet connection is good enough I prefer to video Skype – using Call Recorder software – as communication is better when you can see each other.So what five insights would I particularly especially like to share from this podcast ?

1 The value of military experience in leadership development. I was so wrong about this in the past. It deserves a separate article in the future.
2. The importance of leadership in any business. I discovered this way too late in my life. If you don’t know anything about leadership in startups, click here or ask me to write another blog post.
3. The importance of unit economics. Asaf talked about this at the British Computer Society Cambentrepreneurs Event in London where I met him. It’s so basic and so important. When you acquire a customer, how much money will you be making. The gap between revenue and costs. What I call chapter one of the “Ladybird Book of Business”
4. The value of operational excellence as a competitive advantage. Harvard Business Review were writing about it here   just a few months ago
 It’s important. Forget the Nintendo, beanbags and frisbee. Get things done fast, efficiently, and as well as possible at the lowest cost without compromising on quality and you will win.


5. He has great insights into interviewing and recruitment. You have to listen to hear them all, but I love he explains why it is important to hear who a candidate believes he or she has inspired or influenced.  His approach to people management, one -on-ones and personal development is very aligned with Manager Tools (also run by ex Military people) of which I am a great fan.

Apart from these five points. Asaf shared a new thought or rather piece of advice with me. If someone tells him they are thinking of starting a business, he says

“If you are thinking of starting a business – don’t”

It’s counter intuitive but powerful. What he means is “You should only really start a business if you are so driven by the idea, you can’t stop yourself.”