Passion Capital by Paul Alofs – book review


 Passion Capital
  We have heard it from motivational speakers – don't consider the money – do what  you love and what excites you and money will follow. How this is to be accomplished is seldom outlined, leaving the audience to think – Oh yes, that's alright for YOU. Now, Paul Alofs, CEO of the highly ranked Princess Margaret cancer hospital confirms that advice and takes you one step further. He shows you how.

We all know about financial capital but Alofs posits that the most important ingredient in the success of a business, organizaion or effort is not the money invested, but the creativity invested by the pariticipants: passion capital. He tells us that there are seven principles which are necessary and the basis for passion capital. They are creed, culture, courage (to take risks) brand, resources, strategy  and persistence. The spark that ignites the fuel of these seven principles is passion, but without the seven elements, passion may burn our. An enterprise underpinned by these elements has passion capital.

Alofs goes on to investigate each of the principles in depth, using ample case studies, and wonder of wonders, many of them Canadian. Canadians can immediately identify with many of the stories, some of which hit the news. In indicating how resources can be squandered, he uses the example of  the Montreal psychiatrist Dr. Heinz Lehmann who discovered that the drug chlorprozamine could bring people out of a catatonic state. Lehmann himself knew that he had discovered a treatment for symptoms but not a cure. The patients were still sick. Others, though, convinced that a cure for mental illness had been found, seized on his success to start deinstitutionalizing mental patients in the United States. The move was a disaster. Lehmann was undermined and his important discovery distorted patient care. He had made his discovery with a huge patient load and few resources, but the government with its vast financial means, failed to properly follow up.

In the chapter on strategy, he reminds us of the London Life ad campaign "Freedom 55" with which we are all familiar, but he then goes on to point out that lack of planning and strategy has left the majority of boomers utterly unprepared for retirement. Thirty-two percent said that they planned to win a lottery to finance retirement.

Finally, Alofs uses  hockey teams to make his point about management and leadership. The essence of management is to create impact and value, he says. He pits the Toronto Maple Leafs, once a star team, which has not won a Stanley Cup in 44 years, against the Montreal Canadiens who exemplify the seven principles of passion capital. The Canadiens have one of the best records in hockey, winning 12 Stanley Cups in 50 years. Harold Ballard is the culprit in the case of the Maple Leafs. He cared less about hockey than the income it could bring and about power. He was stubborn and intransigent, preferring to bleed the team and hire and fire at will rather than to strategize to field a winning team.

Alofs makes a compelling case, showing how even without resources, an enterprise of great value can be created, as in the case of Craig Keilburger, who at the age of 12 created Free the Children, to stop child slavery and labour in the developing world. Free the Children, 17 years later, has built more than 500 schools, and has projects going in 45 developing countries.