Monday, January 09, 2006

Vacation





Updated with some pics I was able to track down....


I’m just back from a much needed and refreshing vacation in France and Switzerland. I really wish I had a camera because I don’t think my words can do the scenery in both places justice, but they were so picturesque, that most of you probably have the exact images in your mind already.

I spent Christmas in Normandy which still looks pretty much like all the movies about the invasion, just without the war. Everywhere were those small houses with dark wood frames and white plaster that make triangle patterns on all the walls. They had thatched roofs with smoke floating from the chimneys. The country side was rolling green pastures, scattered patches of forest, and narrow winding roads. I went to see the beaches, which was intense – hard to describe the emotions that I felt as I tried to imagine what it must have been like to land there.

My hosts, the Lamberts, were extremely generous, welcoming and hospitable in a way that seemed so effortless that I felt right at home as we did exactly what you’re supposed to do at Christmas: eat, walk, drink, nap, eat, sit by the fire, eat… enough cheese and wine to last me through the year.

After Christmas we went to Gstaad for a week of skiing among Europe’s fanciest. There were some “celebrity” sightings, although I was pretty oblivious to most of them – mostly big names in high fashion from Paris and London. The only two that really meant anything to me were the ‘other’ Paris – Paris Hilton’s ex-finance and Roman Polanski.

The scenery...












The culture...









The crew...









after a rough night at "ZeePalace" - my favorite part of Gstaad...




















The most encouraging part of the trip though was the genuine interest about my studies and sustainability in general from so many of the people that I met. It’s clear that people are becoming aware that there is no other way for the future of business – whether it be the business of investing, fashion, energy, private equity, airplane parts, Asian import, venture capital, radiators, interior design… there was interest from all.

Many already saw the need, and thought the PR benefit could maybe increase some sales and offset some costs. What was great to see was how a quick chat about how a strategic approach for moving towards a defined vision of sustainability can translate into a competitive advantage, really got these sharp minds from a variety of businesses excited and wanting to learn more. Hopefully some of those contacts will lead to some interesting opportunities down the road.

It was such a treat to get out on the slopes as well – some pretty mellow cruisers for the most part, but it felt so good to get some carves in – and altogether with the scenery and especially the crew I was with and the people we met made it just an unforgettable week.

It’s great to be back in K-town though. I’ve moved into a new place with a great crew, which is a treat – we’ve been having a good time collecting some sparse furnishings and getting set up. We kick back into gear on Thursday, when Margot Wallström – Vice President in the European Commission – is coming to speak to us. She’s pretty big time and it is a huge score for us to be worked into her schedule. She has done some impressive work in terms of sustainability, and it will be very interesting to hear about how it is dealing with these issues in the context of high level international politics. I’ll keep you posted… I hope everyone had enjoyable holiday seasons and got to spend some time with loved ones and took some time to remember what it’s really all about! Stay going…