In this week’s Spotlight, we sit with British entrepreneur Simon Cohen who gained worldwide acclaim when he decide to give away his successful company to devote all his time to raising his new baby. His communications agency, Global Tolerance, was created to spread messages of hope…and for over a decade, Simon travelled the world, representing the Dalai Lama, Gandhi’s grandson, and many of the world’s wisest women, men and children. Simon launched the first ever Open Leadership Exercise (OLE), handing over 95% ownership of Global Tolerance, £10,000 in the bank, a state-of-the-art website, a decade of business contacts, and all the company assets to two amazing ladies! He hopes that business leaders around the world will consider their own version of an OLE as a new type of exit strategy. Find out more at globaltolerance.com
You did a global call for entries for those wanting to take over Global Tolerance. It got lots of press. So how was the audition process? Why Noa and Rosie (selected winners)?
It was an amazing process. I think the most gratifying part of it was receiving the applications from single mums, teenage siblings and even a military leader(!) who felt inspired to apply to run Global Tolerance. I think the Open Leadership Exercise really struck a nerve, and helped show that everyone can be a leader – if only they believe it so.
Noa and Rosie were supposed to be competing finalists. But instead they seemed to be collaborating. There was an instant spark between them. They both have great qualities that I could see would be complementary to each other. Noa’s a global player with a shrewd business brain and digital expertise. Rosie’s an awesome communicator, with a proven ability of securing new business. Together, I knew Global Tolerance would be in safe hands.
What’s new at home?
Well, I am convinced that our baby daughter Seren is some kind of genius, and am frankly disappointed that the letter from Mensa hasn’t come through yet! In all seriousness, she is amazing. I am learning from her every day: how to see the good in all things; how to focus on what’s right in front of me; how to laugh or cry out loud and be proud; how to hug more, love more and be more. I am in awe of her, and so grateful to be able to spend every day with her.
And the love is soon going to be multiplied! My wife Kate is pregnant with our second baby, due in November. We have had warnings from so many people that ‘one is okay, two is chaos’ – but they are the same prophets of doom who warned that we would never sleep again after having a baby. I am ready for the change, and it’s going to be awesome.
My wife Kate is an incredible human being and I watch her in all her feminine beauty glide through motherhood and daily life with her beautiful smile and perspective on life. And she’s completely bonkers as well.
Home is bliss. We’re perched on top of a cliff in Cornwall in the South West of the UK, and feel on top of the world. We know it won’t last (what does?) – but that’s part of what makes it so special.
What does it mean to you to be a Dad?
Being a dad is the closest thing I have experienced to the meaning of life. I have a perpetual feeling of ‘so this is what it’s all about!’ The education, the jobs, the heart-break, the money, the deaths, the joy, the ups and downs – all to pass on the lessons to our children. In short, being a dad means everything to me. It means living my responsibility as a steward, a care-taker for the most precious thing in the world. Such a huge responsibility, but one that I would not change for the world.
Talk to us about your parenting style?
I am my silly self. The great thing about children is they give you permission to be silly – which is awesome seeing as I can be a complete plonker. I spend most of my days singing made-up songs, reading Giraffe’s Can’t Dance (a bit of genius poetry imbued with wisdom for all parents as well as their kids), or going on long walks with Seren on my back (literally, not emotionally).
I learned early on that children mirror adult behaviour. So I try and smile and be positive as much as possible, and Seren seems to be smiling all the time. We try not to raise our voices in front of the baby and always have meal times together as a family. Simple, precious moments worth all the gold in the world.
What’s the one thing you cannot live without as a Dad?
The baby bath (we don’t have an actual bath in our house). Tip for dad’s of newborns: once the baby has had her bath, leave the water inside and pass the baby to mummy / other daddy / the cat. Then put your feet in the baby bath and enjoy a good five minute foot soak. Help get the baby get ready for bed. Repeat daily.
Also, the book Giraffes Can’t Dance – I don’t know what I’d do without Gerald.
And of course, there’s mum. I couldn’t live without her. Not in this way anyway.
I know that’s three things, but allow me to be pedantic. As a parent we’re often told we can only do things one way or maybe another way. But I say throw out the rule book. Go with what feels right – your way.
What does a platform like Hip Daddy (whose mission is to inform, connect and empower Today’s Modern Dad) mean to someone like yourself?
I passionately believe in gender equality and raising up our women as the goddesses they are. But I also believe that men should be empowered to believe that they can care for, love and steward their children with as much compassion, creativity and impact as any woman. If Hip Daddy and other platforms can help in the important process of empowering men to invest in the riches of fatherhood, then it’s an essential tool for our times.
Follow Simon on Twitter here.