It’s half past the hour. Damon Leigh has stopped by pur studio today. He has had quite a fascinating life as dairy farmer in Northumberland, futures broker and stockbroker in the City of London, university lecturer & Professor of English in South Korea, Asian researcher, project director for an intranet software firm, strategist at Razorfish and, most recently, management consultant for Ideas Unlimited, consulting to some very large global corporations, often at board level.
“In the middle of diffculty, lies opportunity” – Albert Einstein.
Welcome to our show called "Extraordinary People" where we interview ordinary people who tell their extraordinary stories.
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What is the name of your company and what products or services does it provide?
Damon Leigh: My company is called Morpeth Ltd. (I have the domain booked, but I haven't done anything with it yet!) Morpeth Ltd. is a vehicle for me and my activities, which split into three areas. 1) I write books and articles, mainly on property investing, and mainly for www.propertysecrets.net. 2) I provide business consultancy services as and when required, mainly in the areas of strategy, personal
development, internal communication and change. 3) The company is alsoa vehicle for various property development deals, and handles the letting income from my property investments.
What role do you play in your organization?
Damon Leigh: Every role, pretty much! But mainly I work as an author and management consultant.
As a successful business person, how did you get started?
Damon Leigh: I started on a shoestring when I was still at school, exporting motorcycle accessories to America. I've always had an entrepreneurial streak, but I'm not sure 'successful' is quite fair. Lucky, maybe. By two biggest breaks were getting stupidly well-paid job as a broker in the late Eighties, and getting a stupidly well-paid, ten-month
consultancy contract in 2000.
How did you learn what it takes to succeed?
Damon Leigh: I'll probably need to come back to you on that one. Perhaps in a few years! For now, I'd say self-belief is a big one, plus a deep understanding that material success is a really tiny, almost insignificant sliver of what's really important.
What personal/family activities do you enjoy?
Damon Leigh: Walking in the hills, yoga, qi gong, motorcycling, shamanism, travel.
What experiences in your life have helped you expand who you are as a person?
Damon Leigh: Losing my kid sister in '96 was a big one, and my Dad in 2000, both to cancer. I once did a 36-day fast that changed my outlook somewhat. And now I'm constantly learning from the world around me through the window that my shamanic practices provides.
What are your concerns about the world today?
Damon Leigh: Where do I start?? We heading for more precipices than ever before. Global warming could accelerate and raise sea levels by a metre in the next decade. Easy-to-extract oil is running out, no new finds are being made, and we're already seeing it creep up to $50; it gets really interesting once it passes $100 a barrel. Then there's terrorism, and the way that every move America makes in it's "war on terror' actually makes the underlying problems worse, not better. American imperialism and militarism is a big concern, as is the spread of nuclear and bio-weapons. And the world is running desperately short of clean water. After more than fifty years of rampant capitalism, we still have a third of the worlds population living on less than a dollar a day, and a child dies of hunger every other second. The book has now been written (Our Last Century? by Sir Martin Rees) that concludes that our chances of making it through to 2100 as a species are no better than 50-50.
If you had all the time and all the money you needed, what types of things would you do? Consider money as no object.
Damon Leigh: I'd spend my time embarassing corporates and governments into doing the Right Thing - ecologically and socially.
Are there any tips or advice you would like to offer people?
Damon Leigh: Throw away your TV. Stop buying newspapers. Stop buying the Official Story and THINK FOR YOURSELF!! In terms of work and career, do what's in your heart because you believe in it and you love it. DON'T just work for the next pay packet because that pay packet covers the bills and buys you a few beers. Life is too precious not to live it to the full, the way YOU want to live, not the way some corporate suit wants you to live.
Are people more interesting than product stories?
Damon Leigh: Of course! Products are just stuff. We have way too much stuff in theWest now anyway, and all the advertisers are there for is to sell us more of what we don't need. Get rid of as much stuff from your life as you can. Why focus on working long hours to buy a SUV or a boat when you never see your partner or your kids?
What are your goals and aspirations for the future?
Damon Leigh: To cut down even further on what I own and on how much I consume. To help build a critical mass of enlightened souls on this planet. To see the current paradigm of exploitation of natural and human resources replaced with one that takes full responsibility for each and every action, and takes an active interest in the effects of every action on seven future generations.
What obstacles do you have to overcome to achieve your goals?
Damon Leigh: I need to find a way of getting the message across more widely than I am now, and that typically means not utilising the corporate-owned media channels.
Which people have been role models to you?
Damon Leigh: Terry Pratchet. Neil Crofts. Ghandi. Thich Nhat Hanh.
What are your favorite books, computer programs, or forms of entertainment?
Damon Leigh: Books - The Reaper Man, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, The Illuminati Trilogy, Tuesdays With Morrie. I only use Word on the computer to write, MacMail, and Safari to work on the Internet. I have no TV, but I do have a good DVD setup and like watching good movies.
What time of the day are you at your best?
Damon Leigh: That varies from time to time. It used to be very early in the morning - 5am or so - but lately it's shifted to early evening. That's it! All done spontaneously and from the heart, without too much pondering. Enjoy! And thanks again for offering!