Entrepreneurship Featured Ideas Public Speaking TED&TEDx

Why “Pre-Events” before TEDx (or other) events ?

Richard Lucas 9th June 2021


I’ve been organizing pre-events  – (events before events) for a decade. This blog post is published on the day of a TEDxWarsaw pre-event.

A couple of weeks ago – the first pre-event not organised by me, took place under the leadership of Martin Venzky-Stalling of TEDxChangMai – who put an team together in a couple of days.

22nd May pre TEDxIdea Challenge event in May 2021

Figure 1 Pre TEDxIdeas event May 2021

Here are some screenshots,

Figure 2  Pre TEDxIdeas event in May 2021

What are Pre Events, and why are they such a good idea?
My Pre Event journey started in 2011. I was preparing to go to my first TED event, TED Global in Scotland.  I knew that I knew nobody. I had no means of reaching or meeting other attendees. I tried via Couchsurfing to find some TED fans in Edinburgh and ended up meeting a couple in a bar. It was better than nothing, but not ideal.

I thought “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a more peaceful time and space to get to know other attendees”. There had to be a better way. and the good news is there is. 

Over the last ten years I’ve been piloting different ways of doing what I call “pre events “ bringing people together before primarily TED and TEDx events in New York, Calgary Rome, Warsaw, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Taipei, and Tel Aviv. I tried and failed to do one before TEDxBrighton in the UK.  I gave a TEDx talk at TEDxShenkarCollege about the idea in 2020. Aaron Sylvan and Jake Voorhees made a film the Pre-Event for TEDFestNYC 2018, and Aaron wrote a blog post here.

Why Pre-events?
Because there just isn’t enough time to meet all the other participants during events as great as TED and TEDx. A lot of the time is taken up with the wonderful talks, and organised activities – and the big networking parties are both intense and noisy. Longer would be better.  The goal of such events has always been to build more community among participants and not just the team, and – when you are from out of town – it’s great to have a place where you can hang out and get to know a few people before things get under way. I’ve learned what works the key components of making a success. Here they are.  

How to do it?

If you want to do a pre-event, you need to get a number of things right. What is most exciting is that often if you are travelling you will be doing things you haven’t done, in a place you haven’t been with people you have never met in person. If you get me involved, you will have one person with experience, but that’s optional.

Purpose – Be sure you know why you are doing it, and what would be a successful outcome.

Collaboration/co-operation with the main event organisers (getting their trust, and blessing, or at least go ahead) You will need their help getting to word out about the pre-event in their communications. 

Venue You need a venue, ideally cheap or free. Co- working spaces, church halls, community centres, libraries, schools. Having someone local who knows what goes on where is great. Look at where local meet-up groups and low budget organisations hold get together already. There are any number of online tools, don’t be pushed into using a tool that is presenter focussed. There are many tools that are much more about making those speaking on a digital stage look great, that don’t give space or tools for interaction between audience members.

Team You need to build a team and nurture them to help with your event.

Figure 3 Pre TEDxWarsaw Event team

If you do it alone you are in danger of being what Derek Sivers calls the  “lone nut”.

Treat all attendees as co organisers

As you communicate with potential participants of your pre-event give plenty of opportunities for those who are signing up to become leaders. As people make suggestions give them ownership of their ideas.

Pre-event sign up form

Promotion, communication and team building

if you can’t get the word out you won’t be able to have a pre-event. Most organisations have a Social Media presence – a Facebook Group, Twitter, sometimes a WhatsApp, and there are mailings and communication by the organisers to their mailing list). Make sure that you get a meeting with the Social Media person of the main event as early as possible, and agree your promotional plan. This can be harder than you expect as the marketing people of the main event may worry that you are somehow competing or distracting from their main focus.

Once you have a venue,  and “buy in” from the organisers you can start promoting, posting systematically in their Social Media about the fact you are having the pre-event, with a link to your Google form where people can sign up and express interest, and doing other promo activities like blog posts, getting those who sign up to post that they are going on their social media, and doing Facebook Lives about the pre-event.  

Remember you need to clearly communicate your “why?” to first time attendees. It is vital to get across why Pre-Events are a good idea to people who haven’t considered them.

As people sign up schedule regular online meetings by video conference for those who are coming to plan the event – this is how you start building a team.  Have the underlying rule: ” Those who suggest activities are expected to lead on delivery.’  
(The “unconference” idea of Open Space Technology events can be very useful. The founders of OST events noticed that the best part of events are the breaks. and organised events as one long structured break.  When planning your pre-event as well as starting with badging, icebreakers and introductions, have the first session as an Open Space where everyone who actually shows up gets to pitch what they want to do during the day.  In fact everyone mostly wants to hang out with each other. Not all attendees are so empowered and some will wait to be told what to do, It is good to have a skeleton plan, to fall back on.

Keep emphasising that the idea that the value of the event is in the attendees, working on the mindset that everyone who comes co creates, that the pre-event is not something that is delivered by you to them as consumers.  and make your event design work for that objective.

The community led culture extends to food and drink breaks, where for example, it may be better to have people make a picnic together (which can be inside if the weather and location doesn’t support going to a nearby park).

Have roles and task for attendees, make sure you know who is responsible for badging, welcoming people as they arrive and have enough activities to carry people along. Make tidying up a collective activity at the end.

Once you have figured out your costs and budget (My pre events have been between free and US$$50) ask people how much they are ready to pay and have a sensitive process where you can grant free places to those who can’t afford it. There will probably be some people who if asked are ready to cover the costs of an attendee who is struggling financially. You can ask me, if you can’t find anyone.   

Have someone take photos, encourage videos, (and make sure you get permission to video and share pics as people sign up).

Have a “code of conduct” – of course you assume that no one will be creepy or worse, but as we all now know, that assumption is not always correct  There is a great “off the shelf” “Code of Conduct” we use at TEDxKazimierz, and you can modify it to your purpose.

Take account of the main event programme and make your pre-event complementary rather than competitive. A great icebreaker question is “why are you going to the main event”  Don’t get big headed or feel superior. Your goal is to enhance not supplant the activities of the main event-  know your place. You are a part of something bigger.     

Remember that people are different and on a spectrum, extroverts will thrive at your pre-event and love them, and they will probably do fine at the main event. Think about and plan for the shy people who don’t know anyone. if you make your pre-event work for them, it will work for everyone.  

After the pre- event is over, make sure you send out a follow up e-mail asking what was good and what could be better. The only way to get better at them is to always be learning.

Call to action

If this idea makes sense, and there is an event more than a few months away, and you like the idea of doing a pre-event -go for it. If you get in touch with me, I may be able to help.

Entrepreneurship Featured Ideas Investing Public Speaking TED&TEDx

Que Sera Sera – plans for 2021

Richard Lucas December 2020


This blog post contains information about what I will be working on in 2021 and beyond, and an invitation to “work with me” if there is a match between what I am doing and what anyone reading this wants to do.

The projects I am working on are in the areas of :

Supporting Entrepreneurship

Community development

TEDx events


Why Que Sera Sera? Why is my plan and this blog post called Que Sera Sera? I often cite Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera” (what will be will be) when teaching “gateway” entrepreneurship workshops. The message of the song, that the big things in life are out of control, is both wrong and depressing, and also potentially inspiring.

Why inspiring? Because, despite the lack of agency in little girl’s question “what will I be?, life does not just happen to people. We have choices.
In entrepreneurship classes, I encourage participants to reflect on the fact that the fewer the entrepreneurial risks they take, the more control they have, at least in the short run. If someone chooses to do nothing, they will succeed. In my “Tough questions from a potential investor” I argue that what really matters about any innovation or new project is what the users and clients of an idea/project think, not how passionate the founder is about it.

The life of the entrepreneur is full of possibility and yet “out of control”. No matter how hard you work and how committed you are, if the market is not interested, you will not succeed.

Que Sera Sera for me next year will be in the hands of others because it depends who decides to work with me on the projects described later in this blog post. I’m putting my future in the hands of others.

I’ve decided to spend more time replicating the ideas and projects I have worked on over the last 30 years into new geographies and sectors. But I’ll be doing that through and with other people, hence the form. But to devote more energy to some projects means spending less on others.

What I’ll be doing less of
I’ve exited some businesses and reduced my engagement with non-profits. I am not longer a shareholder Everuptive Group sp. z o. o., Untitled Kingdom sp. z o. o and Vantage Power Ltd. I stopped teaching at the Tischner Eurporean University, and being a student at University of the People. I’m migrating my Project Kazimierz podcast to the New Books Network, in which I recently became a shareholder. I am stepping back from the leadership of TEDxKazimierz, the end of an eleven year TED and TEDx Journey. I am not investing in new businesses, unless there are very special reasons why I want to. I wrote about the TEDxKazimierz decision in this blog post.

What I am continuing to do?

I will continue to support the businesses I am a shareholder in on an ad hoc basis. Some of them are market leaders, and highly successful businesses. My level of engagement varies, in some cases I’m a former CEO and a key shareholder, in others, my shareholding is tiny and the company gets on fine without me doing much. I continue to supporting entrepreneurship, through NGOs, teaching, podcasting, public speaking and occasionally investing, and to support non- profit projects focussed on community building, and spreading ideas.

How will I be doing it? The projects that I planning to work on are described below. I apply the organisational philosophy of TED to TEDx. This means that I go into action when I have a local leader. As you read this list, I ask you to ponder  “am I interested or do I know someone who might like to explore making something like this happen”. If this answer is yes, please fill in the form or tell the person you know about the opportunity.

The broad areas are:

Supporting Entrepreneurship
Replicating tried and tested low/no cost pro-entrepreneurship meet ups in new cities.

Here are the projects I want to replicate to new cities

Krakow Enterprise Mondays – free events with a strong focus on participant engagement where three entrepreneurs (established, startup and social) give short talks about of about five minutes in length with another five minute for questions. Their talks are to a format answering the four questions: 1 Who am I 2 What does my business do? 3  what lessons have I learned 4 what advice would I give someone (a student) starting out on their entrepreneurial journey.  Each speaker gets an “office hours” table during the networking so that people who want to talk to them afterward the speaker session can easily approach them. There are structured “meet someone new” icebreakers, before, during and after the speaker sessions so that everyone gets to meet plenty of new people. Gatherings last two-three hours, in a venue like a bar which welcomes extra revenue from bar sales on quiet evening (typically Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays) .  Past events are here

Pre the 2020 pandemic these events happened about once a month in University term time, often focussed around  alumni entrepreneurs.. KEM was run by student volunteers and post-grads. I estimate that KEM took about 2-3 hour /month + the event time, it had spread to one other city before the pandemic hit.

Open Coffee Krakow  

As per here and here Free bi-weekly morning meetups since 2012. Open Coffee is a friendly informal networking event for entrepreneurs, professionals, people in the startup community, and students in Krakow. What is the BIG idea? To help people creating useful connections. Everyone is welcome to our meetings, and we especially love first-timers. We want to make sure that if somebody coming from an unsupportive background/ country has the courage to join, they will notice that we are glad they came because we welcome them. Everyone who comes is important and gets 1-2 minutes to present their idea. We usually use this structure, to make it easy for everybody: 1. Who you are 2. What are you doing 3. What you need/are you looking for 4. How you can help others. The host of the meeting usually puts the webpage, linkedin or other info about the person speaking on a screen so everyone there can see who they are. The structured part of the meetup starts at 8:00 sharp and close at 09:00. After the ending of the official program, people stay for as long as they want to talk to follow up one on one with people./projects that interest them the most.
Venue Typically a coworking space    Cost minimal (We had coffee if a sponsor paid for it) Organised & Run by a leader who I recruited. A host is needed. 

Open Coffee High School Edition Similar to Open Coffee – but  run by and for teenagers.
See Magdalena’s TEDxKazimierz talk on the project.
Obviously needs a  leader


To support business and social entrepreneurship among Cambridge University alumni, current students and others.  We organise free (or donation based) meetups in cities where there is a local leader.   If that’s you get in touch.  Format similar to Enterprise Mondays, leverage the Cambridge name to do events with other Ivy League type organisations (Harvard, Oxford etc) but in fact are open to everyone with the right mindset.

One off entrepreneurship workshops and talks, in school, university, accelerator and other settings 
I’ve led 100s of pro-entrepreneurship workshops everywhere from small state and private pre-schools in Poland, through to MBA level face to face and online in the world leading universities and business schools. I’m good at it, enjoy it and believe it is important. My workshops are highly interactive, and I operate on the the “give more/expect more” model. For example I often make participants record video introductions of themselves, before my class starts so I know who I am dealing with and have a class “Live document”.      

Whenever I am planning visits to new places I like to investigate if there are people and organisations that are interested in having me do something like this.  I often am ready do this free of charge and cover my own expenses. If the organisation is for profit and/or usually pays, I charge whatever they normally pay for someone like me. 

Examples are listed here. They include:

leading workshops in business schools,
talks at tech conferences,
classes at summer schools,
hosting events in co-working spaces,
inauguration talk to new students,
TEDx talks,
working at high schools, primary and pre-schools.

The school I was at as a teenager has created a Centre of Entrepreneurship and innovation and are recruiting a director. I’ve written to the person who is involved in the process with suggestions of what I could do to help build and strengthen the entrepreneurial culture of the school.

Entrepreneurship and leadership podcasting

For many years I’ve been interviewing interesting people about entrepreneurship and leadership on the Project Kazimierz podcast

In January 2021 I am started a new channel on Entrepreneurship and Leadership on the New Books Network – the largest non-fiction podcast network in the world, which has more than a million downloads a month.  I’m always on the lookout for new interviewees.  If you know anyone who you think is suitable ask them suggest them to me – I use this form.  NBN was founded by Marshall Poe.

Organisation of one-off meetups to link different communities I am connected to, for example Polish ecosystem in Poland, Cambridge eco-system anywhere in the world, Polish entrepreneurs abroad, random vertical where I have a contact. These take a bit of work but can be valuable.   

Investing in startups/mentoring – I don’t do much of this but on occasion I do.  If people ask me for investments, I  send them this 

If someone wants to work for or with me I encourage them to go fill in the form. One person who filled it in is now CEO of a company I invested in, another is working for and with me on multiple projects.

Apart from pro-entrepreneurship activities, I support several Community building projects, often but not always these have been featured on my TEDxKazimierz stage in the past and now I want to devote myself to helping the ideas grow and develop.

Community Building
There are several types of community building activities/Projects I am either working on or trying to work on

Village in the City 

Village in the City aims to support. sustain and start micro-communities with village like characteristics in cities all over the world.

See Mark McKergow’s TEDxKazimierz talk about the project here

I’m on the Advisory Board of Village in the City, and am helping Mark McKergow grow and help this idea spread. Maybe there is room for a village or two in where you live?

The Chatty Cafes project 

The idea of Chatty Cafes is very simple, having a marked table in a cafe designating it the “Chatter and Natter Table”. People who sit at that table are signalling that they are happy to talk to others in the cafe they don’t know. It is doing well. The founder, Alexandra Hoskyn, was on the TEDxKazimierzWomen stage in 2019 here here…/alexandra_hoskyn_connecting_in_cafes.
Chatty Cafes are a great form of community building. Maybe I could something to help if I am coming to town.

Happy to Chat benches

Happy to Chat benches are benches that have a special sign indicating that people who sit on the bench are happy to chat to strangers. It is the same idea as a Chatter and Natter table but on public benches. This simple idea is described in this TEDxKazimierz by Allison Owen-Jones

I have a vision of a makeover of some public space: to introduce suitable street furniture, a community noticeboard, a happy to chat bench, a chatty cafe in a Village in the City area. Maybe you can label a bench in your area.

Happy to chat benches

Yorkey Dads/Menfulness

Yorkey Dads and Menfulness are mutual support groups set up by men and dads to help each other in an engaging, tolerant and non-judgemental environment.

Once it is legal and safe I want to visit Jack Woodhams and his team in Yorkshire to see if I can help them scale the wonderful projects they have got going.
Jack gave a talk about this on the TEDxKazimierz stage in 2020.

TED/TEDx/TED Circles

TED and TEDx have been a big part of my life for more than a decade. As and when it is possible to travel again, I hope to visit and help with other people’s TEDx-es around the world. Different TEDx-es have different needs, contexts. I do not assume I will always be able to add value. There are three areas where I could help if the local licence holder wants me to.

1 Doing pre events, I’ve done 11 pre-events before TED and TEDx events, in US, Canada, Israel, Poland. Scotland,  South Africa, Taiwan and the USA.  I gave a talk about pre events at TEDxShenkarCollege as per here.

2. Volunteer/audience experience training. I did a workshop at TED Summit in Banff about community building at events, and always made it a key part of the TEDx-es I ran. For TEDxWarsaw and TEDxTarnow I did training for their teams on how to make sure participants were really engaged and feel important.  This blog post explains my approach.

I know that not everyone ‘gets it’, or even wants this approach implemented. I’ve heard from so many people over the years what a difference putting the participant centre stage makes. I’ll continue to evangelise for participant focussed events.

3. Speaker preparation  Depending on the speaker and the topic, I could probably support and coach a speaker or two on content and structure, (not voice, posture, body language). 

My TED profile reveals just how engaged I have been in the TEDx and TED community.

My TED profile

I’ll do my best to support the new leadership of TEDxKazimierz if I can.

I’m going to carry on doing TED Circles with Mel Rosenberg about once a month. TED Circles are a like a book club, based a around TED content.

Doing business
I may be getting involved in a new promising “green” heat battery company which has the potential to greatly reduce the energy needed to heat homes, and usually at least one of my businesses has something to offer in most countries, so I always look out for new opportunities, investments, clients, and people while I am there. Check my Linkedin profile to find almost all the businesses I am engaged in.

Mentoring A few months ago Magdalena Błyskosz asked me to mentor her and we came up with a plan that I would do so with her publishing the results, so that others can benefit from the process. We think it is going well. Once the posts start going online I’ll add a link to it here

Conclusions/Next Steps/Calls to Action
I have never written a blog post like this. I thought that I was going to write a plan, but it has turned into an approach to my future.

As Reid Hoffman (founder of Linkedin) said in his 22d December – Review of 2020 – Masters of Scale podcast – “the upside of entrepreneurship is almost unlimited.” A lot of positive and valuable things can happen as a result of the blog post.

I really do not know what is going to happen – it is exciting – and in the hands of people reading this blog post – who decide to help make one or more of these projects happen.

As those who know me will tell you, I’m pro-active. I won’t be waiting for people to approach me passively but like a head hunter, approaching people who I think are suitable, suggesting pilot projects. Many people will say “no”, or not reply. That doesn’t bother me. I built my businesses because I don’t worry about rejection.

Why you should Embrace Rejection –

My way of finding out if an idea is any good is to try it. That includes this blog post. The same applies to anyone reading this blog post. My calls to action are:

If you are interested in any of these projects, fill in the form, or get in touch directly. If you have any questions, or something is not clear, questions and comments are welcome. If you know someone who might be interested, let them know as well or share this post in whatever way you want.

Que Sera Sera.

Ideas Public Speaking TED&TEDx

The goldmine of “the time before things start”.

Richard Lucas – July 2020


This blog post ends with the transcript of the talk I gave for TEDxShenkarCollege, Israel in May 2020. It provides information about the idea of pre-events, events before events. and putting “the time before things start” to better use. As a result of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic events are subject to a series of questions. Do they still make sense? Are they “worth it”? Are they still feasible? If the raison d’être of events themselves is being questioned, it has an impact on the logic of pre-events. The best way to read this article and blog post is “as if” events are still happening, and they still make sense. Maybe it will make more sense in 2030 than 2022 or 2025.

I created a Linkedin Group and Facebook Page to support pre-events. If you want to do a pre-event, or are just interested, join them. The presentation from a pre event I did in South Africa in 2018 is here. The best way to find out about pre-events is to watch the TEDx talk – I’ll share a link as soon as it is approved by TED, read the transcript or just get in touch with me.

My TEDxShenkarCollege talk transcript

“Imagine that time is being wasted, every day all of the world and there’s a simple way to put it not just to good use, but to great use?

Imagine further that it is your time is being wasted, and that you could do something about it?

The time before things start is being routinely wasted every day all over the world. 

There are simple and powerful ways to put this wasted time to high impact use

by showing up early and knowing what to do.  

Knowing how to turn waste into something of value at zero cost can benefit everyone listening today and many others.  

So how did I become aware of this waste and find a solution.

Let me take you back to Krakow, Poland in 2005 –  I was about to give a guest workshop on entrepreneurship to an MBA class.  I was early (to find the room, check the projector, sound and internet, make sure everything worked.

I hate being late, and in order not to be late I had to be early.

Everything was working, and I was ready, 8 minutes ahead of the scheduled start time.

Some class participants were early and were also waiting. The organiser whispered to me – “we will start a few minutes late, not everyone will be on time”.

I felt a flash of  *anger*  Why? 

I was angry because meetings should never start late.

I was angry with her casual assumption that starting late was “OK”, 

I was angry with the idea that my timekeeping standards were going to be tainted with her lack of professionalism.

And I was angry with the people who were going to be late.

But I thought to myself, “she and the late comers are not to know that I regard lateness as a cardinal sin”. 

so I said in a way that was meant to sound firm but perhaps came across as as passive aggressive, or maybe just aggressive  

“ but that not fair

Its not fair to make the people who are on time wait for the sloppy late-comers.

It’s not fair to me. I’m on time

It’s not right if these MBA students if get the impression that it is OK to be unprofessional.

She took offence, bristled at the implied insults and whispered back

“That’s as maybe, they are not used to it, you can’t do that ”
Now you don’t know me  – I’m an entrepreneur, three time CEO, with perhaps an exaggerated sense of my own self worth.   

I do *not* like being told what I can and can’t do,


we were in front of a class with people watching curiously as the tension between me and the organiser  was visible. Perhaps “Ego” was at stake.  It wasn’t the time for words,  it was the time for action.

I whispered “ you know what I’m going to do, I’m going to start early”.. And before she could react I slowly turned away from her, towards the class, and said.

“While we are waiting for the others let’s get started.  I’m going to ask you to stand up, introduce yourselves, tell us in one minute who you are, what you do, why you are here, and what you want to learn from an entrepreneur like me. Everyone else, pay attention. I may ask you to  assess someone else’s introduction.”

I then pointed at someone  and said “you go first”. She rose somewhat hesitantly to her feet…and started to speak. 

And thus started my journey of getting things going early, before they begin  

A journey that has changed my life and can change yours. 

Because what happened in that MBA class  was a revelation.

The atmosphere changed in seconds. People woke up.  They realised I might pick on them next.  They started paying attention. Some  started thinking about what they would say, others were listening to their classmates, others were worrying how they looked. even checking their hair.

They turned from being passive attendees into active participants, no longer spectators watching a match, but players on the pitch. 

As more students arrived they walked into a class where people were paying attention, alert, where something was going on. 

Also I got a better sense of my audience and their expectations, and the class got to know more about each other.

My host – who had wanted me to start late, realised she had lost, and stalked out the room, offended and angry (I’m not sure she was angry, but I hope so). I had not just started on time, I had discovered something new. I and more importantly the class had won. 

This experience stuck in my mind. Maybe I could start other events early? So a few weeks later,  I was on a panel of business people in front of a larger audience and I did something similar. 5 minutes before the start, everyone was sitting quietly, waiting, and nothing was going on. There were too many people to do introductions one by one so I took a microphone, and said. 

“Please stand up ( I waited til they had stood up) and in the next two minutes,  introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, and explain to each other what you are expecting to get out of this event. “

Now, when 300 people stand up and start talking, it makes a lot of noise. The panel woke up.  The audience had to wake up, Even people who “don’t like icebreakers” didn’t have an option. The impact was similar to back in Krakow. The room sprang to life –  energy, activation and participation erupted,  replacing passivity.  disengagement and boredom.

What did I learn and what can you learn ?

There is always time “before things start”. It’s valuable, and usually wasted.  And putting it to the right use can be as easy and low cost as in these two examples. 

But there is a similar and bigger problem  – with a higher payback if you can solve it.

Imagine you are travelling to an event or conference where you expect and want to meet new people with whom you share a common, maybe even a burning interest or passion. Meeting other attendees may be a major reason for going to the event in the first place.  But this event is in a different country or town to the one you live in. To be on time you will need to be early, not just 10 minutes early, but arriving in town the night before.

Instead of the 5 minutes before things start.  we now are looking at the whole evening the day before.

When I went to my first TED event, TED Global in 2011, I knew nobody, and had no means of reaching any other attendees.  I found some TED fans in Edinburgh via Couchsurfing and I met them in a bar. But they were not going to the main TED event. Nice though they were, I would have preferred to have met other TED attendees. 

Once the event started there wasn’t enough time to meet everyone. Even though I am sociable and self-confident,  receptions and parties where there are over a 1000 people in the room and you know nobody are a bit intimidating.

I pondered and thought  

The time before events could be better used too, just like the time before lectures and workshops – Wouldn’t it be great if there was a more peaceful time and space to get together with other participants before events start, If I can do it with Couchsurfers surely it’s possible with other attendees”

I decided that there must be, and it turns out that there is.

Since 2014 I’ve been doing different types of “pre events “- events before events”. I decided that if I was travelling to an event in another country I was going to try to do a pre event.

I’ve organised pre-events all over the world: in Cape Town,  Calgary, Cracow,  Edinburgh, New York,   Rome,  Taipei, and Warsaw and as of yesterday evening I’ve even done a pre-event in the cloud before this TEDx.

I’ve had such positive feedback from the many hundreds of people who have participated. It is not just me who found value in the time before things start. 

If I wasn’t convinced I wouldn’t be giving this talk. 

I won’t go into detailed “how to” of doing a successful pre events, but I will share three key learnings:

Getting the culture right, making them welcoming, inclusive and friendly really matters. It’s like hosting a good party.  For example – at our pre event in New York, we made our picnic together. I don’t care how important we are in our normal lives –  at my pre events we are equal – making the sandwiches, doing the washing up, whatever.   

Making sure your pre-event design works for people who are shy or nervous. If it works for the timid, the bold self confident types will do just fine.

Keeping them low cost or preferably free. To get in, our “door policy” is just a positive attitude. We want everyone with the right mindset to be able to come, no matter how little money they have.

So TEDxShenkar College to close, let me remind you of Why I came here to share this idea with you. 

The time before things start is a potential goldmine of opportunity. 

If you are going to an event, consider doing a pre event. If you take the lead, I will support you, if only I can.  

If you are giving classes or workshops – turn  attendees into participants, and reward those who are punctual or  early through activities like those I have described.

There are millions of classes and events  going on in schools, universities and elsewhere all over the world  every day.  So often the time before they start is wasted.  

My here’s my challenge to TEDxShenkarCollege and the online audience 

Are you going to put these ideas into action? 

Are you going to replace detachment, passivity and boredom with engagement, curiosity and stimulation.

You can, and you should, and if you do, you won‘t regret it. And it’s not just to make your life more useful, enjoyable and valuable – it’s a service for other people as well. I believe it’s an idea worth spreading. ”  

Public Speaking

The Funeral Eulogy to Krystyna Griffith-Jones

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.

Entrepreneurship Ideas Public Speaking

What would you say to your High School Alumni ?

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.

Ideas Public Speaking

Is 2018 the best time to commence your studies/Czy rok 2018 jest najlepszym czasem na rozpoczęcie studiów?

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.
Entrepreneurship Featured Ideas Public Speaking TED&TEDx

Public speaking, hosting and other engagements

Richard Lucas

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

CAMentrepreneurs January 27th 2021

Open Coffee Krakow December

Past events

TEDxKazimierz November

Open Coffee Krakow November

Open Coffee Krakow July 2nd

TED Circles # 11 July 8th

Open Coffee Global online #3 July 27th

TEDxKazimierzSalon- Performances September

CAMentrepreneurs Cambridge 21st October

Open Coffee Global online #2 – with Christopher Cytera 29th June – hosting

TED Circles #10 10th June

Open Coffee Krakow 4th June

TEDxKazimierzSalon – Can online marketing be ethical? 28th May

Open Coffee Global  – looking beyond the crisis 25th May

TEDxShenkarCollege TEDx talk 24th May

The TEDxShenkarCollege  Pre-Event 23rd May

Entrepreneurship during the crisis – CAMentrepreneurs/CUE 13th May

TED Circles #8 – Life at its fullest 6th May

TEDxKazimierzSalon – Entrepreneurship and Leadership 24th April

Asbiro Business School workshop Łódź

 CAMentrepreneurs/CUE meetup hosting Cambridge 4th March

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.

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

Asbiro Warsaw – Introduction to Business from Richard Lucas

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.


Entrepreneurship Ideas Public Speaking

Lessons from Jethro Binns -founder of – world leader in online squash training

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



Entrepreneurship Ideas Public Speaking

Lessons learned from Standup Comedian Russell Hicks

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.
TEDx Shoreditch
John Cage
Louis CK
Bill Burr 
Joe Sinclitico – Karate (Stand Up Comedy)
Pippa Evans and Sunday Assembly
Glengarry Glen Rose
Tim Minchin – UWA
Cal Newport So good they can’t ignore you
How to start movement Derek Sivers Lieutenant


community building Entrepreneurship Ideas Public Speaking

Read, watch and/or listen – resources for would be entrepreneurs at Winchester College

October 2017

I’m doing a workshop at the Winchester College  – the School I attended many years ago  -on the pros and cons of starting a business (compared to a conventional career) and put together a “reading, listening and viewing” list) for the boys.

This list is not complete, but as my father often said “the best is the enemy of the good”. For now it is good enough – a minimum viable list that I would like to share

Mostly free resources for those curious about entrepreneurship


Ashton Kutcher Speech to Teen Choice Awards   He references Steve Jobs, but shares ideas that are more important – namely  – Be really smart, Work hard, Be generous.  If you don’t know about Kutcher’s career outside Hollywood, now is the time to find out.

community building Entrepreneurship Ideas Investing Public Speaking

11 point plan for a killer startup pitch (it’s not a TEDx talk)

Richard Lucas April 2017
I received this e-mail a few weeks ago from the organisers of a business plan pitching competition.

Request for help

“Dear startup pitching competition organiser.
My first reaction is “NOOOOOOOOO”
“I’m too busy. My TEDxKazimierz event is only three weeks away. There is a lot of great advice on how to pitch available on this top secret website here

Having said that it’s good to ask for advice. I shouldn’t be too harsh, I will share my thoughts in a blog post that is available to everyone, based on the hundreds if not thousands of pitches I’ve seen and read and the thousands of hours I’ve devoted to TED and TEDx – in recent years helping many TEDx speakers prepare “the talk of their lives”.

Public Speaking TED&TEDx

How to get a ticket to TEDxKazimierz 2016 – the “audience curation” process – FAQ

As Curator of TEDxKazimierz I know that the process by which we allocate tickets is a source of many questions, much special pleading and miscomprehension. This post explains What we do and why we do it, and gives tips for those who are keen to improve their chances of getting a ticket.

2015 TEDxKazimierz Team on Stage

I regret the fact that not everyone who wants to attend can come. In an ideal world we would have unlimited capacity but our wonderful venue has limited capacity (about 230 seats in all).

We will have a  live stream, and we upload talks onto the TEDx Channel on Youtube.

The idea of audience curation in general is explained in the TEDx Organiser guidelines.
Because we cannot give tickets to everyone we  allocate tickets according to some rules and on the basis of information provided in the application form.   The form is the vital part of our audience curation process – before filling in the form please read these instructions. here is our FAQ
1. Why do I need to apply ?
The TEDxKazimierz team and our speakers have invested a huge amount of time for free to make a wonderful event. We want precious places at the event to go to people who we believe will contribute the most on the day – and do the most with the experience and ideas we give them.  We want people who commit to being positive and making a contribution, who will spread the word about what we do, use the talks and inspiration in their work and community, and who can persuade us that if they make a promise in their application they will keep it.