gt new leader and beneficiary Questions and Answers

Questions about the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) for global tolerance

What's happening?

Who's involved?

About the role

Application process - Who can apply?

Application process - How it works

Key information (links take you to a different page/ website)

Answers about the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) for global tolerance

What's happening?

What's happening?

Simon Cohen, Founder and Managing Director of global tolerance, is launching an Open Leadership Exercise (OLE), to find a new leader and beneficiary for the communications agency with a conscience. Simon will be handing over 95% ownership of the company, £10,000 in the bank, a state-of-the-art website, a decade of business contacts, and all the company assets. Why? For more information, watch Simon's video introduction.


Simon and global tolerance have always embraced unconventional wisdom. From sparking media coverage for Jedi Knights reaching 700 million people for a campaign of Interstellar Tolerance, to spreading positivity through Happy Heroes for the first United Nations International Day of Happiness, global tolerance has been pioneering new ways of working since its inception in 2003.

During the global tolerance sabbatical, Simon decided that it was time for global tolerance to have a new leader and owner. He is at the stage of his life and career where he feels he wants to focus on family, and to explore his own voice as a commentator and writer. Rather than go along with the conventional wisdom of selling off the company, or winding down a successful operation, he wanted to do something that truly serves the vision of global tolerance, and sets out a new path for business and leadership.

Who's decision was this?

While Simon has been in constant touch with members of the Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, this decision was his and his alone. This is the reason that the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) is presented as Simon's initiative for his company as the sole shareholder, rather than a global tolerance campaign per se.

What do the Board and staff think of this move?

It's fair to say there were a few raised eyebrows at first - from one or two Board members, team members. The bank and accountants were less than impressed.

But after talking through the decision with the key members of the global tolerance team, everyone has been wholeheartedly supportive. They get it. Just as they understood that the global tolerance sabbatical was not just a year out, but part of a wider vision for enlightened business and leadership for the 21st century. They understood that the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE), or some other version of it, could be an important contribution and blueprint for the business world.

What is an Open Leadership Exercise (OLE)?

An Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) is an open, positive search process for a company's key shareholders and leaders to transfer ownership and leadership to a new beneficiary.

For global tolerance, the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) is open to individuals, teams, companies of all kinds, as well as the existing global tolerance board and team. The pioneering process will include a combination of social media tests, online applications, Skype interviews, business planning and an evaluation day in Central London. An open, modern approach to corporate search.

Simon will be handing over 95% ownership of the company, £10,000 (approx $16,750 USD) in the bank, a state-of-the-art website, a decade of business contacts, and all the company assets. There are no corporate debtors and the company continues to be profitable, having enjoyed a record revenue year in 2012-2013, before going on a one year sabbatical.

How much is global tolerance worth?

Well, that depends on how you think about value. In 2012-2013 the company turnover was approximately $500,000, and the company has turned a profit almost since day one, from when it was established in 2003. Or, there's always the Mastercard answer: priceless. While the new leader and beneficiary of global tolerance will be trusted to use their stake and leadership in any way they see fit, Simon hopes they will realize the value of global tolerance through building and developing global tolerance for the next decade and beyond. Perhaps, when the company is worth (by purely investor standards) £20m, they would want to implement their own Open Leadership Exercise - that would be something, wouldn't it?!

Why aren't you selling global tolerance instead?

Simon has always had an unconventional approach to business. Rather than go through a traditional acquisition process, he is launching an Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) to introduce a new type of exit strategy, and help change the way we think about business ownership and leadership.

Why now?

The idea came during global tolerance's one year sabbatical. After another record revenue year in 2012-2013, and 10 years at the helm, Simon decided he is not best placed to drive global tolerance forward for the next decade. With a baby girl, a book to complete, and a couple of other projects working from home, it is time for someone else to lead.

Who will the new beneficiary be?

The new beneficiary of global tolerance will be decided through the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE). Read about the application process.

How can it be global tolerance without Simon Cohen leading it?

A great question. Let's find out.

One of global tolerance's core values, humility, means tempering ego with a sense of service.

Simon feels he can no longer give global tolerance the depth, time and attention it warrants. Rather than seeking to fill Simon's shoes, the new leader and beneficiary of global tolerance will make their own mark, and take global tolerance in a direction aligned with their own passions and commitment. There are thousands of entrepreneurs out there capable of making global tolerance a continued success - the Open Leadership Exercise is about trying to find them.

What makes this different to a normal recruitment process?

The Open Leadership Exercise is not the same as simply hiring a new CEO. Sure, there is a search process. But when have you heard of a CEO handing over 95% of their shareholding to the new recruit?

What are the advantages of an Open Leadership Exercise?

  • For the person who implements the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE), it is an exercise of humility and personal integrity, which serves their company's sustainability
  • Attracts new ideas and talent from outside the organisation
  • Inspires the people within the organisation with an opportunity to apply to own and lead it
  • Challenges the conventional wisdom - great for innovation and brand values
  • A rigorous search process helps ensure the right leader is taken on - not just someone with deep pockets
  • Open leadership helps inspire trust - not just within the organisation, but by being open to one and all, it invites people to learn more and experience your brand, and become part of it's story

Has global tolerance returned from sabbatical?

The sabbatical was due to end on 31 March 2014. Simon has decided that global tolerance will remain on sabbatical during the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) process, which is due to be complete in July 2014. Shortly after this point, global tolerance will officially re-open from sabbatical, and begin trading again under it's new beneficiary and leader.


Who's involved?

Who's supporting it?

Simon's Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) for global tolerance is supported by the following partners, who are helping promote the OLE and encourage potential candidates to apply:

1% Club, Action for Happiness, Dalai Lama Fellows, i-genius, Odyssey Networks, and Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN).

If you are happy to share the Open Leadership Exercise with your networks, and would like to be listed as a supporter, please email Simon at Read more about the Supporters and Advisors.

What will happen to the current global tolerance team?

global tolerance went on sabbatical at the end of March 2013. Since then, Simon has consulted with the team to ensure they are fully briefed, and also to invite them to apply for the Open Leadership Exercise if they feel minded to do so. Before the sabbatical, Simon helped to ensure all the team were secure in the next chapter of their professional career. Please see the sabbatical question and answers for more on that.

Simon will sit on the global tolerance Board of Advisors for one year and provide guidance and mentorship to global tolerance's new beneficiary and leader.

Can we still contact/work with global tolerance in 2014?

Part of the search process will include live interviews with organizations who are open to working with global tolerance in 2014. If you would like to join the list of organization interested in collaborating with global tolerance, please email Simon at Alternatively, please be in touch with the new beneficiary and leader of global tolerance in the Summer of 2014.

What will happen to the existing Board of Advisors?

The current Board of Advisors will reflect if and how they wish to support global tolerance's new beneficiary and leader. Equally, the new beneficiary and leader will consider the appropriate governance structure for their vision, and undoubtedly discuss this with all existing supporters.

Simon will sit on the Board of Advisors for a year in order to mentor and guide the new beneficiary and leader, as part of the Open Leadership Exercise (OLE).

What will happen to the global tolerance freelance pool?

The new leader and beneficiary will explore if and how best to utilise the 75 freelancers in 25 countries in the 'gt pool' - global tolerance's international network of communicators with conscience.


About the role

What exactly will the new beneficiary receive?

The successful applicant will become the new Managing Director of global tolerance, receive 95% ownership of the business (Simon Cohen retaining a nominal 5% share), £10,000 cash in the bank, a ready-made website, a substantial business development database, and secured meetings with potential new clients as part of the search process. They will also receive mentoring and training from Simon Cohen and others from global tolerance's extensive network. Simon will sit on the global tolerance Board of Advisors for one year.

How will they live in their first year?

When Simon started global tolerance, he did so with just £200 in the bank. The new candidate will have access to fifty times this amount (£10,000), a decade of business contacts, and an established international reputation for working with the leading social change-makers on the planet. The limited funds available will require an entrepreneurial approach, with shrewd financial planning, but this is much more than a 'start up' opportunity. It's a re-start, with the motor already running.

Will the new leader and beneficiary need to work from London?

No. global tolerance is an international brand and has worked all over the world. The new leader and beneficiary of global tolerance can run the business from wherever they are in the world. However, much of global tolerance's business has been in the UK and US over the last ten years, which is something the new leader and beneficiary should consider.

Will the role be full time?

Simon is looking for someone who will commit the depth, time and attention that global tolerance warrants over the next 10 years and beyond. Having said that, with the limited year 1 funds available, Simon appreciates that you may need to work part-time in the first instance in order to sustain yourself, or find other creative ways of thriving. This should be considered during your application.

Are applicants required to invest their own money / resources in global tolerance?

Applicants may wish to put some of their own money / resources into the company, and this should be included in the written exercise should they reach that stage. This is entirely at the applicant's discretion, according to their vision for the business. We are also mindful that support can be given in different ways, including in-kind support. Those without the means or intention to contribute their own money / resources will not be penalised in any way.

How involved will Simon be as a mentor and Board of Advisors member?

Simon's role will be an advisory and mentorship role for the new leader and beneficiary, not a business development or outreach role. He will have no executive responsibilities. This is part of his exit strategy from global tolerance, not a new way in. The new leader and beneficiary will be expected to reach out to contacts independently, though Simon will be on-hand to support and guide the leader every step of the way during their first year.

Where can I find out more about the role?

Please see the position and person specification.


Application process - Who can apply?

Who can apply?

The application process is open to individuals, groups, charities and companies with a vision for global tolerance and a plan for the mission of communications with conscience. A full position and person specification is available.

Do I need to have specific experience/skills?

Please see the position and person specification.

Is the application process restricted to US/UK residents?

No, applications are invited from people around the world. global tolerance is an international brand, and much of it's business has been in the UK and US over the last ten years, so an understanding of these markets would be beneficial.

Can I tell anyone I have applied for the role?

Yes. We will also treat all applications in confidence. Should you progress in the process, confidential information may be disclosed to you in order to support your interview preparation and ensure you are clear about all elements of the business of global tolerance. Trust will be reciprocated.

What happens to unsuccessful applicants?

Please note that, due to the expected volume of entries, only unsuccessful applicants following Stage 2 will be contacted. Applications for people who reach the latter stages of the process may be passed to the successful applicant for potential future collaboration, unless specifically requested otherwise by the candidate. Confidentiality will be respected at all points in the process.


Application process - How it works

What's involved in the process?

The Open Leadership Exercise (OLE) for global tolerance is a 5 stage process launching on 24 March 2014 and ending on the Evaluation Day on 7 July 2014. The process will involve:

1) A short online form and tweet - Register your interest to be the leader and beneficiary of global tolerance by completing our Entry Form

2) Online application form - Successful applicants from Stage 1 will be asked to fill out an Application Form detailing their employment history and answering questions about their previous experience.

3) 30 minute Skype interviews with Simon Cohen - Successful applicants from Stage 2 will be invited for a 30 minute Skype Interview with Simon Cohen. Applicants submitted to this stage must ensure they are signed up to Skype and equipped with a webcam.

4) Executive Summary business plan exercise - Successful applicants from Stage 3 will be asked to complete a written exercise.

5) In-person Evaluation Day - Successful applicants from Stage 5 will be invited to an Evaluation Day on the HMS President (global tolerance HQ over the last three years) in Central London, where they will be interviewed by Simon Cohen and Advisors.

Timeline - how long will the application process take?

  • Stage one - Monday 24 March - Tuesday 15 April: Entries open
  • Stage two - Thursday 17 April - Monday 28 April: Application Forms
  • Stage three - Tuesday 6 May - Tuesday 20 May: Skype Interviews
  • Stage four - Wednesday 21 May to Friday 13 June: Written exercise
  • Stage five - Monday 7 July: Evaluation Day: 2-6pm local time

The process will run from 24 March 2014 - 7 July 2014, but the time you invest depends entirely on you. The dates have been provided above to give you an idea of the time that you would have for each stage.

The successful applicant will be named following the Evaluation Day in July 2014.

Who are the judges / Advisors?

Simon Cohen will be supported in the search process by a team of Advisors, who will help evaluate the applications. These include:

  • Michael Binyon OBE, Leader Writer for The Times and global tolerance Board of Advisors member
  • Gillian Walnes MBE, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Anne Frank Trust UK
  • Mike Waldron, Managing Director of Inter Pares Associates and global tolerance Board of Advisors member
  • Ellie Stoneley, global tolerance's Board of Directors member.

How will they make their decisions?

Applicants will be assessed according to the compatibility with the position and person specification, as well as their written applications.

Are there any costs involved?

No. If an applicant is invited to attend the Evaluation Day, all travel costs will be reimbursed. No other expenses will be covered by global tolerance, though refreshments will be provided throughout the Evaluation Day.

When can I apply?

Simon is accepting applications from Monday 24 March to Tuesday 15 April via the Entry Form. Only submissions via the entry form will be considered.

What if I've missed the deadline?

Unfortunately, late submissions cannot be accepted.

When will you announce the new leader of global tolerance?

The announcement will follow the Evaluation Day in July.