James Bidwell | Founder of Re_Set and Springwise
Success leaves clues.
Finance Strategists sat down with James Bidwell, founder of Re_Set and Springwise. He shared his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the company, as well as the insight that he gained from running the business.
Who is James Bidwell?
Q: Who are you and what’s your background?
Along with my business partner and wife, Sophie, I am the co-founder of Re_Set, which is a strategy consultancy for disruption, innovation, and sustainability. I am also Chair at Springwise, the innovation intelligence platform, strategic partner at PE firm capitalD, and NED at fast growing, Berlin based Invincible Brands.
All of my business endeavours are focussed on creating a better future for our world; in particular, combatting the climate crisis and using business as a force for good.
Prior to striking out on my own I had a successful career as CMO and CEO in various brands including Disney, Selfridges, Visit London and Anthropologie Europe.
In 2017 I wrote an Amazon bestseller: “Disrupt! 100 Lessons in Business Innovation” which was published by Hodder and Stoughton and has proven a valuable resource in the disruptive times in which we are living.
I also chair the UK steering committee for 1% for the Planet and am active in supporting a number of non-profit activist organisations that are working to protect our planet.
Q: Who has been your biggest influence, and why did they have such a significant effect on you?
My biggest influence, apart from Sophie, is someone who I have not yet met but very much intend to at some stage.
His name is Yvon Chouinard and he is the founder of Patagonia which, in my opinion, is the number one brand in the world and has been for some time. For those who don’t know Patagonia’s mantra is: “we are in business to save our home planet”.
This is a business that transcends the commercial via its powerful purpose. The founder has always been true to his values and his commitment to preserve our environment. He has guided Patagonia to do the right thing at every point – even when they almost went bust by introducing organic cotton. Over time Patagonia has become very successful financially and has also contributed over $89 million to environmental causes via 1% for the Planet.
Chouinard’s book ‘Let My People Go Surfing’, which was written in 2005, is a potent blueprint for management and business.
Patagonia has remained in private ownership and, as with Re_Set, the amazing thing about owning our own business is that we are not accountable to outside shareholders and the ‘money men.’ This means we can focus on doing the right thing for our teams, clients and the planet.
Patagonia and Chouinard have been guiding lights throughout my business journey and have also helped me think about how we live our lives more generally. True inspiration!
Q: Knowing what you know now, what would you have told yourself when you were in your twenties?
I always tell myself in times of stress that the most important thing is “to do the right thing” and to keep going! That is what I have managed to do throughout a career that has seen me work in many different businesses across many countries and has also seen many ups and downs.
“Be more patient” would have been good advice as I was starting out, but my impatience has also led me to many wonderful discoveries!
What I find now is that the extensive learnings and experiences I have gained from many years working has given me fantastic perspective and experience to support Re_Set and Springwise in our mission for positive change.
Hindsight is always useful, but I am much more interested in the future and what it holds for our clients, our team and for humanity as a whole….. how we can create a better future, together.
Q: What is Re_Set and Springwise?
Our companies are Re_Set and Springwise. Re_Set is a strategy consultancy for innovation, sustainability and disruption with the strap line ‘Create a better future. Today.’ which Sophie and I created 3 years ago.
Re_Set works with CEOs and boards of leading global companies to define and understand disruptive forces which are impacting them. We then create a strategy to ensure they thrive and succeed in our uncertain world.
Re_Set client work ranges from developing innovation and growth strategy and governance, strategy for sustainability and the climate crisis, running innovation and transformation programmes, delivering cultural and organizational change, scoping and catalysing digital integration and finally due diligence.
All of this with a clear focus on the excellence of our work, positive impact, and value creation.
We also own Springwise which is a global innovative intelligence platform where we publish the top innovations that really matter to drive positive change every single day. Our audience has grown almost 150% in 2020 as we have become the source for innovation ideas in a COVID world.
Q: What makes your company different from its competitors?
This is very simple: Re_Set stands out because we have an extraordinarily talented team who are all dedicated to delivering excellence at pace for our clients as well as making the world a better place through our work. We have a very strong culture and shared values which not only makes Re_Set a great place to work but also great fun!
Springwise is the only place where you can find thousands of brilliant innovations and innovators from across the world which inspire and surprise on a daily basis.
Re_Set and Springwise are members of 1% for the Planet which means we give 1% of sales to environmental causes. We have also just been certified as a B Corp which means we are accredited across numerous measures to ensure we consider and look after all stakeholders. The B Corp movement was set up to encourage businesses to become a force for good.
This strong sense of purpose combined with our best in class strategy work is what makes us truly stand out from the crowd.
Q: What has the experience of building the business taught you?
First of all, it is easier to say than to do!
Secondly, the importance of hiring, motivating and retaining brilliant people. We are nothing without them and our recruitment process is one of the most rigorous around.
Thirdly, the importance of having a clear and genuine purpose at the heart of the organisation and of backing that up with actions – 1% for the Planet and B Corp are examples of these actions.
Finally, a dose of luck is always useful. The COVID pandemic is truly horrific for so many people and we care deeply about their plight as well as wanting to help as much as we can. At the same time, we need strong businesses and government organisations to reboot our economy – as Churchill said, “Never waste a good crisis”.
Our focus on disruption and the disruption of the business ecosystem, as we know it, over the past few months does put Re_Set in a strong position to work with the leaders of tomorrow to build their businesses and to reset them with a powerful sense of purpose and confidence.
Q: Where do you see things headed for you in the next 5 years?
We will continue to build Re_Set, Springwise and our ecosystem which also includes Capital D, a private equity firm specialising in disruption.
Our mission remains to create a better future, to drive positive change for our clients and for the planet every single day.
I predict that we will do much more work in the areas of sustainability and regeneration. We are already seeing that the smartest companies are focusing on this axis of disruption to reinvent themselves as businesses that have a strong sense of purpose and really care for the planet.
Personally, I will be involved in more work to help the world navigate the catastrophe that is climate change and am looking forward to taking a more activist approach to solve this massive issue. For example, at Springwise we are partnering with Change Now in Paris, the Plastic Odyssey voyage around the world, Business for Nature and are starting to work with the World Economic Forum on their Great Reset theme for Davos 2021.
Every day I look at the extraordinary innovation ideas on Springwise and however negative the broader ‘news’ agenda, I am uplifted and positive that together we can create that better future the world deserves.
Do the Right Thing
Running a business can be very complex and at times, stressful. But just like James Bidwell’s mantra, always choosing to “do the right thing” will surely take you or your business to greater heights.
Tap on the expertise of a financial advisor in Maple Grove, MN to see how else you can do better especially in the area of financial management. If you don’t live locally, please browse through our financial advisor page to see the list of areas we serve.