Business Wise 2016 (Sydney)

Business Wise 2016 (Sydney)

Spend an afternoon with some of the world’s brightest thinkers exploring how businesses can better bridge the gap between the need for profit and the deeper human and emotional needs of their staff and customers.

How many businesses today really help their customers and staff live more meaningful or fulfilled lives? Businesses promise all kinds of wonderful things to us, whether it’s adventure, status, romance, energy or calm. But it is rare that their products and services fully deliver on these promises. Today’s employees and consumers are increasingly asking big questions about what the good life looks like – and are expecting businesses to have some helpful answers.

So who is getting it right, who is getting it wrong, and what can your business practically do to engage the new wave of consumers and staff demanding more meaningful business practices? How do we apply wisdom in business and together redefine our ideas of success?


Alain de Botton On Psychological Business
Great businesses have successfully aligned the need for profit with the deeper human and emotional needs of their customers and their staff. However, for many businesses this alignment remains elusive. Indeed, how many businesses today can claim to be genuinely helping their customers and staff live more meaningful or fulfilled lives?

Alain will explore the idea that the secret of business success is, to an overwhelming extent, down to good psychology. Business will only ever fulfill its potential when it identifies the psychological needs of their customers, and better supports the emotional development of their staff.

Alain will also explore the reality that to live in the modern world is to live in constant fear of being overtaken by events; that we have missed the party, the innovation, or the technology. Human nature is to yearn for stability, longevity and surety, even as the world races past at a frightening pace. In an increasingly unpredictable and rapidly changing business environment, what wisdom can business draw from timeless works of art, philosophy and culture?

Rachel Botsman On Trust and Collaboration
The 21st century has seen the birth of what has become known as the "collaborative economy". Revolutionary start-ups have rapidly and successfully embraced this movement: Airbnb, Uber, Coursera, Pozible, Airtasker and Transferwise amongst many others. But where does this leave established business and what lessons can we learn?

Rachel will explore how the current and profound disruption in business is in fact grounded in human psychology, as much as it is driven by technological advances. A new understanding of collaboration and the psychology of trust provide critical lessons for established business. Which companies are managing this disruption well, and which are struggling? And what does this transition mean for modern leadership, corporate culture and customer engagement?

Stu Hunter On The Art of Listening
The timeless power of music can restore our attention span and focus, allow us to experience a deeper form of empathy and remind us of the importance of beauty. Stu Hunter and his masterful quartet will explore how music can challenge our understanding of collaboration, improvisation and focus.

In a corporate world that traditionally values extroversion over introversion and confidence over self-reflection, find out what contemporary jazz can teach business about The Art of Listening. Expect a behind the scenes examination of the collaborative musical process, stories of improvisation and a musical feast.

Simon Longstaff On Integrity and Ethics
Modern technology is driving a new wave of openness and transparency in business. As with all significant change, some businesses are proactive and others have their heads in the sand. This new era of transparency is exposing an integrity gap with some major businesses, where the difference between what companies say that they are, and who they actually are, is significant. This can result in customer dissatisfaction, talent retention concerns, and even damaging corporate scandals.

In this context, Simon will explore the interplay between personal ethics and corporate integrity. How are customer and employee expectations of business shifting? How can we better understand the role of ethics and integrity in the workplace, and why is this a critical part of commercial success?

Louise Herron On Leadership
We all know great leaders can change the course of history through their courage, decisiveness and determination. However, it is easy to be confused by the vast amount of contradictory advice out there on what it takes to be a great (or even good) leader. Drawing on her extensive career in business and the arts, Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron will talk about effective leadership, and the crucial ingredients of commitment, clear vision and a good story.


The School of Life is a cultural enterprise that works with individuals and organisations to help them develop the skills and attitudes they need to succeed and grow. We support businesses across Australia and New Zealand in their quest for a high-performing, creative, productive, healthy and psychologically mature culture.



13.00     Doors Open
13.30     Welcome & Introduction
13.40     Alain de Botton On Psychological Business
14.20     Rachel Botsman On Trust and Collaboration
15.00     The Art of Listening with Stu Hunter
15.30     Break
15.40     Simon Longstaff On Integrity and Ethics
16.20     Louise Herron On Leadership
17.00     Panel: Redefining Success in Business
17.30     Close
17.30     Drinks, Conversation and Jazz

Please note that this event will be filmed and photographed.


General Admission:
$350.00 + booking fees

Last minute tickets (from Thu 23 June) will incur a late registration fee:
$400.00 + booking fees


Domain Theatre
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Rd, The Domain 2000
Sydney, Australia


Alain de BottonAlain de Botton was born in Zurich, Switzerland and now lives in London. He is a writer of essayistic books that have been described as a ‘philosophy of everyday life.’ He’s written on love, travel, architecture and literature, including the titles How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Consolations of Philosophy. His books have been bestsellers in 30 countries and his latest, titled How to Think More About Sex was published by Pan Macmillian as part of The School of Life’s series of self-help guides. He is the founder of Living Architecture, a social enterprise that asks top architects to build holiday homes for rental around the UK. He is also the founder and Chairman of The School of Life.


Rachel BotsmanRachel Botsman is a global expert on the power of collaboration and sharing through technology to transform the way we live, work, bank and consume. She defined the theory of the ‘collaborative consumption’, named by TIME as ‘An Idea that Will Change the World’. Her TED talks on the subject have been viewed over two million times. She was named by Fast Company as one of the ‘Most Creative People in Business’ and featured by Monocle as one of the top 20 speakers in the world to have at your conference. Her writings and research have featured in the Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, The Economist, New York Times, The Guardian, The Financial Times, and other publications. She is an associate editor for WIRED UK and has a monthly tech trends column in the Australian Financial Review.


Simon LongstaffSimon Longstaff’s distinguished career includes being named as one of AFR Boss True Leaders for the 21st century, with Carol Schwartz noting; "I don’t know one CEO or chairman in corporate Australia who has not worked with Simon Longstaff". Simon has a PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge University where he lectured and consulted to the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts. He worked in the Northern Territory in the Safety Department of BHP subsidiary, GEMCO before becoming the inaugural Executive Director of The Ethics Centre in 1991. He was also inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics, and serves on a number of boards and committees across a broad spectrum of activities. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum.


Stu HunterA rising star in modern jazz, Australian producer, pianist and composer Stu Hunter made his breakthrough with his lauded album, The Muse (2007), followed by the award-winning sophomore suite, The Gathering (2010) which The Australian declared “a milestone in contemporary jazz”. Hunter’s music has a trace of dynamite smoke about it, such is its passion and smoulder. Besides his own remarkable work, Hunter has made a name behind the scenes accompanying the likes of Passenger, Silverchair and Katie Noonan.


Louise HerronIn August 2012, Louise Herron became the Sydney Opera House’s seventh CEO and the first woman appointed to the position. A lawyer, linguist and corporate advisor, Louise’s three-decade career pre-Opera House spanned senior roles in the law, business and the arts. Louise worked as an investment banker and private equity director with Wentworth Associates, Investec and Carnegie Wylie before co-founding the boutique firm Ironbark Corporate Advisory in 2007. Prior to her secondment to Macquarie Bank in 2000, she was a senior partner at Minter Ellison.

She chaired Belvoir Street Theatre from 2002 to 2012, a period of unprecedented change for the company, and was subsequently appointed chair of the Australian Major Performing Arts Group, which includes the country’s flagship state and federal theatre, dance and opera companies. As CEO of The Opera House, Herron has led the development of the Opera House Renewal Framework to meet the needs and expectations of 21st-century artists, audiences and visitors, cementing the Australian landmark's vital role in the country’s economy and culture.

In Stock


For ticketing enquiries please contact Ellie Harris at

Please note that we are unable to offer refunds or transfers with less than 7 days cancellation notice before the original event date.