Erlana Castro and Vanessa Costa
For those who don’t know them yet, the House of Beautiful Business is a global platform and community dedicated to thinking of ways to make humans more human and business more beautiful. “Beautiful business”, according to them, means new structures, language and business practices that are based on emotions, ethics and aesthetics, instead of efficiency, exploration and exponentialism: you can also say that beautiful business is everything that business is mostly not.
By one of those amazing coincidences in life, House of Beautiful Business was born in Barcelona, in February 2017, where they held their first pop-up event (“House Zero”) in an old house in the Gothic Quarter. In the same year, HOBB moved to Lisbon for a second meeting, and is now a platform open to people all over the world.
The House of Beautiful Business held its 2021 event from the 1st to the 26th of November, with lectures taking place in person (in Lisbon) and online in the first 3 days. As an alternative starting point for business in this post-pandemic period, and with the intention of broadening people’s minds, the event was titled “Concrete Love”.
The event itself was a multisensory learning experience that went far beyond the usual business environment. It managed to bring love to the center of the conversation, art as access to our sensibility, philosophy, touch, the connection between individuals, and, obviously, a selection of insights that invited us to abstract and envision new paths for more beautiful businesses.
The first day was an important ‘tuning in’. Through diverse and multisensory stimuli, we were raised to a different level of consciousness about ourselves, in the context of the business world, in this very urgent and unique moment of creative destruction. Some of the main questions posed throughout this day, according to the HOBB report, were:
1.Do you hear me?
2.Do you trust numbers too much?
3.Are you trying to solve quantification with quantification?
4.What if all we’re supposed to do is exist?
5.Do you think about the future a lot?
6.Where is love missing?
7.Is listening a superpower?
8.How do you cultivate empathy?
9.When was the last time you read Rumi?
10.Will new technologies replicate – and even exacerbate – social crises?
11.Are you equally comfortable with “intuitive knowing” as you are with “rational knowing”?
12.Who made the bread you had for breakfast?
13-Will you be able to take some time, even if it is minimal, to pay attention to what happens around you?
On the second day we were able to experience a mobilization force that was installed from the landing of important discussions on technology, organizations and work, business opportunities, and on other possible (desirable) models and narratives from now on:
15.Would it be possible to think of fair algorithms?
16.Are you 70% predictable?
17.Are you ready for an open, decentralised Internet?
18.How high will you be in the metaverse?
19.Are you good at accidental management?
20.If you were a snake, would you bite me?
21.Do you prefer your work desk in a forest or a Hogwarts-style library?
22.Are you worried that Big Techs keep buying properties in the physical world, to keep us online all the time?
23.In the necessary swing of the pendulum, from chaos to order, between generative and regenerative, where are you?
24.Do you see everyone in your company as potential creative contributors?
25.Are you willing to consider how “the colour of the structures of our lives” affects you?
26.Do you think one more new app will save us?
27.What if we thought of children as philosophers?
By day 3, critical thinking was fully activated favouring new creative essays and perspective views. We float and flow with them virtually in reflections and insights!
28.Are you part of the 50% of consumers who no longer believe in brand promises?
29.Are you more focused on being wanted than wanting?
30.Do your eyes say, “You are beautiful”?
31.What can you learn from a disgusting dish sink?
32.Who wants to live forever?
33.Can money love you back?
34.Where will you live in 2030, 2040, 2050?
35.How can organisations exude structural love with their policies and practices?
36.What does your body have to teach you?
37.Are we alone in the universe?
38.Is it too late?
39.Will we ever be the same again?
40.Are you in love?
An unexpected part of the event was a social experience entitled “I Bet You”, with the participation of an 8-year-old child, Maya. In person, live, she challenged all of us who were participating whether in person or online to agree on a single collective climate action within 45 minutes. Unfortunately, we did not reach an effective common action among all, but it was certainly a moment of impactful collective reflection.
At the end of the 3 days, many other questions came up and continue to reverberate among us. But these 40 here are already an excellent start for us to better think about the next steps in building a more beautiful world, in fact.
The next House of Beautiful Business event already has a date, location, and theme. It will take place from the 2nd-5th of June 2023, in Sintra, Portugal. The theme will be The_______ Dream. How are we going to fill that space? What are our dreams for the new year that will start soon? It’s time to reflect and create beautiful businesses in 2023!
Text written in collaboration with Erlana Castro, whom I partnered with in workshops on trends, co-creation and strategies for DoBrasil Live. Erlana is a SXSW Speaker, co-author of Radar Antifragilidade, Creative Strategist, Researcher, Educator, Learning Designer, and Content Curator for ESG. Photos: Instagram and HOOB website