Cautious or curious. Which are you?

A image taken by Claire at The Do Lectures Festival of AI generated cartoons of a 'superhero puppy'.

This is both a cautionary tale and a tale of curiosity. 

What this isn’t, is a debate on the rights or wrongs of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). There’s been A LOT written about that and I don’t feel qualified to talk about it. Instead this is a narrow aperture of using AI and seeing what it can do.

You’ll notice the photo above of two creatures. On the left is a weird, slightly scary Gothic dog-thing, wearing a twisted superhero outfit. On the right, is a pretty cute puppy, also wearing a red and yellow hero suit. Canine features are discernible: button-brown eyes, floppy ears, paws. 

Chris Branch, Founder and Marketing Director of Seedily, shared this image at the start of his presentation at the DO lectures (read here about DO if you missed that post). He used the two photos to illustrate how fast AI is evolving. 

While he covered AI across all media, he particularly focused on ChatGPT (for text) and Midjourney (for images). 

”This is a decentralised form of creativity,” Chris said. “Your idea can be a single idea and 30 seconds later you have a way to represent that one idea in many ways.”

Reluctantly on the journey

Midjourney, Magazine Cover - the AI art programme. It shows 'MidJourney' in capital letters. The background is a woman's face, pixled and with blue, red and yellow spots.
The Midjourney magazine cover.

Last year, Midjourney, an AI program and platform, made headlines when their free trial version was shut down because of ”extraordinary demand and trial abuse” said founder David Holz. I totally missed it, but deep fake photos of Pope Francis decked in a white puffer jacket and sporting a diamond chain went viral. 

In the words of BBC journalist, Alex Hughes, Midjourney, like other AI art programs “isn’t without its controversies”. However, continues Hughes, it leads in painting and Gothic/sci-fi inspired artwork, as well as regular updates “in techniques and advancements in its training database.”

This is where the puppy comes in. 

Getting the experts in early

During his talk Chris Branch said that the first 20,000 users of Midjourney were art directors from around the world – all part of the ‘training database’. He explained that the same prompt – along the lines of ‘puppy dressed as a superhero’ – was used in June 2022 and a year later, in June 2023. 

As you can see. The results are exponentially different. 

A year after testing and learning, harnessing global expert feedback, refining the technology, the AI-generated puppy image is transformed. 

No wonder there are likely to be new jobs coming, titled ‘Prompt engineer’. 

Rabbit wearing pom-pom-toque and red-white-sequined-christmas-scarf, in the snow, art in the style of jon klassen and atey ghailan.
The prompt: rabbit wearing pom-pom-toque and red-white-sequined-christmas-scarf, in the snow, art in the style of Jon Klassen and Atey Ghailan.
AI Generated pictures displayed on a projector screen. Left: headphones, a boy, Spider Man mask, football boots, The Joker at a picnic.
AI generated pictures.

Putting ChatGPT to work

About a year ago, when OpenAI ChatGPT3 launched, I typed in, ‘what is a regenerative business?’ In about 10 seconds it spat out an okay answer: vague, wordy, lacking any specificity. Still, I was impressed how it described an abstract concept. After that I switched off. As a writer, the ethical minefield of AI felt too deep to navigate. 

But I’m a pragmatist. 

So, a few weeks ago I thought it would be fun to experiment. I asked my niece Imogen Scobie, who supports me with social, to attend an online course. Lazy Discipline ChatGPT Edition is run by David Hieatt/DO lectures. Imogen got a first class degree in philosophy and is fascinated by the ethics question of AI.

Here’s the 3-step process Imogen took. 

Step 1: She created what David calls ‘Anchor Notes’ – a document giving the relevant context and prompt. In this case, says Imogen, “I started with a description of who Claire is and what she wants her LinkedIn posts to achieve. Then I wrote a piece of content in Claire’s writing style.” 

Step 2: Then she input that content PLUS an example of somebody else’s writing style. ‘In the style of…’ gives ChatGPT added context and a specific example to work with.

Step 3: Finally, she gave ChatGPT a prompt like: “Write three versions of this in the style of Claire so that it is more engaging and appealing for LinkedIn”. Imogen could then choose which versions she liked. “I also asked ChatGPT to alter the style, tone down the adjectives or make it more appealing to LinkedIn’s algorithm.”. 

While the results were pretty good, we both felt the posts were overwritten. (And btw, we haven’t published them yet. We’ll let you know if we do!)  

Imogen’s 3 top takeaways: 

  1. Use ChatGPT as a tool to make the quality of your copy better. Not as a quick fix. You might not save time, but you will be more efficient at coming up with better ideas… 
  2. “The quality of your questions determines the quality of your life”. Success in using Chat GPT comes down to the context you provide and the prompt you ask it. If you ask ChatGPT an unclear question, you will get a vague response. 
  3. It’s you versus you. Get better at being you, instead of trying to be like everyone else! At the end of the day, ChatGPT cannot write better than you can. 
Taken from the Do Lectures Lazy Discipline, ChatGPT Edition course on AI. Large writing in white with a background of a beach at dusk.

Decentralised creativity

Imogen and I would love to know how you are navigating AI. 

Are you running towards it, or veering away? Are you being honest when you use it (i.e. quite a few people have shared how they write their posts or emails with it). 

Is it a way to become more creative? If you’re experimenting, what are you discovering? 

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

Doing the Do 

The Do Lectures have a global reputation. Rightly so. 

A friend Ruth Kennedy first told me about them. What stayed with me was not what she said but how she talked about her experience. Her energy. 

I started following Do co-founder David Hieatt’s blog, bought some of their books (Do Story by Bobette Buster is a goodie), and had it on my love-to-do-sometime-list. 

Getting there isn’t straightforward. It’s held in a field in south-west Wales. Ireland is closer than London. Even before that, you fill out an application form with questions that made me sweat. The hardest one: draw a doodle of yourself. My attempt is above. 

Immaculate vibes

Like all good festivals, there’s a price tag that goes with it. But this is a festival for the mind — and heart. (Interestingly they flip the events’ business model: participants pay, speakers don’t get paid; the talks are shared for free, with no advertising, to grow the worldwide Do community.) 

“The place had immaculate vibes”, said one Do-er. While it brought out the best in us, it would have been even better with more diversity throughout.  

Still, something extraordinary – and regenerative – can happen when you put one hundred pretty amazing humans in a field for three days; ask speakers to share the essence of who they are (which at times moves you to tears); have intentional provocations and real conversations; curate natural spaces with fire pits, an open-air amphitheatre, a Welsh choir and al fresco dining among the flower beds. 

Not to mention a gin bar and live music acts including a virtuoso sax performance by James Morton who had half of us pumping like pogo-sticks. 

I’m left with clothes smelling of wood smoke, a new yummy network of committed change makers and a brain fizzing with ideas. When my husband Aden picked me up, he summed it up nicely. “You look like your synapses are sparking like a V12 motor, the clean kind, electric-powered.” 

So, this will be the first of a few posts sharing what I heard.

The home of the Do Lectures. A picture taken by Claire of a sunny grassy bank with gentle steps and a grand brick house in the background.
Parcy Pratt Farm - home of Do.
James Morton sax performance with his band at the Do Lectures Festival. Claire's picture shows a group of people sitting around James Morton playing the piano.
James Morton and his band.

When you don’t know: muddle

I’m kicking off with an introduction to Omid Maleka, Explainer-in-chief of Blockchain Technology, who spoke about his journey into crypto… and how: 

“When you don’t know what to do … when we don’t know our story… muddle.”

He explained crypto in a way that I hadn’t previously understood. He held up the first CD he bought when he migrated to America as a teenager. 

“The scarcity of society has been an organising system for ever. Take this CD, if I gave it away, I would feel like I lost something… Now think about streaming. What happens if I share the music file instead?” 

Of course we all know the benefit and convenience of streaming, but we give up something of value. “That’s the trade off.” 

Pictures taken by Claire of slides from Omid Maleka' s presentation on crypto.
A journey into Crypto.
Pictures taken by Claire of slides from Omid Maleka' s presentation on crypto.
What is blockchain?

Reframe value

Omid described the difference between cash (universal, free and private) and Apple Pay (my words here – elitist, costly and monetising our data). 

“Apple Pay. Think how much they own,” said Omid. 

At the heart, he challenged us to reframe value. “Big tech and big banks are stuck in the old paradigm… which is to hoard. Crypto represents a very different story.”

Move faster-er and be braver

The point is this. At Do, everyone was there for change. Whether through our business or ourselves, or for the planet. 

We want to leave the world in a better place. We have no choice but to try. 

As Andy Middleton, MC and Sustainability Catalyst, reminds us on the last day. 

“In the time we’ve been here – the world has had the three hottest days in its history. Don’t go away being optimistic because we are in a s**t place. But go away and be braver.”


Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

Struck down: but not for long

A picture taken by Claire on her visit to the Peak District. The grassy banks and blue but cloud spotted sky are struck either side of the stacked rocks.

One day you’re striding the dales, and the next you can hardly move. That was my experience about 10 days ago. 

I knew they were a lot of flu lurgies around so I thought that’s what I had. It wasn’t until I realised I’d lost my sense of smell that it dawned on me… aargh, the dreaded COVID-19. The test confirmed it. I’d gone from a Novid (someone who’d never had it) to a Covid.

Aside from doing all the things you’re supposed to… resting, ginger honey and lemon for the sore throat, painkillers for the nightmarish headaches… I also read a lot. I tend to have a few books on the boil and all are linked to the theme of regeneration. (Sorry, I just can’t help myself ;)) 

This quiet time also gave me a chance to sift through my notes and interviews I’ve done so far for my book project. I’ve been wanting to distil what I know. It helps me figure stuff out. And I’m hoping it will help pique your curiosity too.   

So, what is regeneration?

Obviously, it’s the opposite of degeneration. That’s about loss. This is about life. 

Its basis is not in the material world of mechanics or engineering – the entropic world. Its roots are in the living world of life – or the negentropic world.

So it reflects what is deeply innate within us. As you read this, the cells of your body are regenerating. The ground beneath your feet is shapeshifting with the processes of millions of microbes. Your gut – or biome – is evolving.


View across the dales, the Peak District. Green grass and ferns stretch into the distance with two ridges visible in the distance.
View across the dales, the Peak District.

But what does this have to do with business?

Regenerative theory and development has taken some of the fundamental principles of living systems theory, together with complexity theory, philosophy, Indigenous cultures, new economics (to name but a few) and aims to put vitality and viability back into the system we all share. 

Simply put, to heal the damage done.

Regeneration: a verb not a noun

Unlike sustainability which tends to focus on metrics and targets. Being regenerative is not an end state. It’s not a noun. It’s a verb — and it’s a principle to live by. 

Former Head of Regenerative Design at the RSA, Josie Warden, puts it like this: Being regenerative is both “a mindset and a way of seeing and being in the world.”

3 questions to alter your perspective:

  1. How is this project/decision contributing to life? 
  2. Who do I want to be in this moment? (I find this question shifts where I put my attention before I meet with a client.) 
  3. How can I best serve the wider system that the person in front of me represents. (This question immediately reminds me of the vast hinterland behind each of us… and gives me a broader perspective than if I just approach the individual.) 

How about you? What systems do you have the opportunity — and the delight — to influence? 

I would love to hear your thoughts. 

A picture of Claire at Avebury Henge before being struck down by Covid. She is wearing a maroon rain jacket and standing with one arm stretched out to touch the rock.
Claire at Avebury Henge before being struck down by Covid.

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

London Calling

Picture of an electric white van decorated with colourful green and blue patterns with the slogan "Soul Food on the Move".

Just landed in London. Doing some exciting work here with my UK client, Selfridges, and speaking about regenerative business models at the flagship event of London Climate Action Week.

Thought I’d share some observations while they are fresh.

1. The EV revolution is fully underway.

So many models. Cool designs. Charging plugs are on lamp posts identified by a blue light. Supermarkets also have rows of charging stations. 

While I know that EVs have issues (their use of rare earth minerals and their end-of-life disposal), the inner city benefits are obvious. Air and noise pollution are down, in part helped by a hefty congestion charge in central London. The ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ currently in place will be expanded London-wide in August to tackle the ‘triple threats of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion.’ This can only be a good thing. 

2. Spring is late.

It’s a month from mid-summer and until today I was still sporting a beanie (woolly hat). Admittedly, Londoners are not … and with the first whiff of summer they are sunbathing in parks. But it’s been a long, cold winter and a wet, cool spring. Wonderfully, this weekend, the sun came out and May Blossom — or Hawthorn — is floating like white clouds along the hedgerows. What will this mean for summer? Hopefully not another scorcher like last year when the celsius topped 40 degrees in the UK. 

3. Worn again launches at selfridges.

Already a world leader in sustainability, Selfridges, the luxury department store has just launched its new creative scheme (see pictures below of their Oxford Street windows.) With its tagline of shopping, swapping, repairing, upcycling, and trading, Worn Again offers customers the chance to rent clothes, swap clothes AND buy pre-loved items from Reselfridges. I love the playfulness in how it does this…  through pop-ups like ‘The Stock Market’ which also has a handbag clinic to give bags a second life.

A picture taken from inside Selfridges in London. Showing a LED sign from the "Worn Again" campaign.
"Worn Again" banners hang boldly in the Oxford Street store.
A picture taken from outside Selfridges in London. A blue model to represent how Selfridges will repurpose old clothes.
All these items are second-hand and will be repurposed after display.
A photo taken from Selfridges on Oxford Street, London. It shows a sign from part of their "Worn Again" scheme - The Stock Market.
This playful approach gives a new meaning to the traditional London stock market.

4. Nature themes and schemes are popping up everywhere.

The big theme at Chelsea Flower Show this year is rewilding and the restorative powers of nature. #NoMowMay has really become a thing… this Plantlife UK initiative urges people NOT to mow their lawns to encourage wildflowers to bloom. Councils are also liberating roadside verges to encourage weeds to grow. The upshot: more food for pollinators like bees and butterflies — desperately needed as the UK has, according to Plantlife UK, ‘lost nearly 97% of flower rich meadows since the 1970’s’. 

A picture of block text on a yellow background that says "The Urban Nature Project". Taken from the Natural History Museum in London.
The signs are unmissable: nature is being welcomed back into urban life.
A picture of text from the London Natural History Museum. It starts with the sentence, "wildlife is in trouble in the UK".
Led by the Natural History Museum, who is partnering with various UK organisations, is this the start of a new urban nature movement?

5. Getting a read on London’s pulse is always tricky…

This time a year ago, the city was just waking up again after the long cold winter of Covid. Now, tourists are coming back, helped by the coronation of King Charles III and Eurovision. But inflation is high, and so are food and energy prices. Rail strikes are ongoing, with nurses and teachers walking out again soon. Footfall is down in the shops and there’s a sense of uncertainty about what lies ahead. 

From a regenerative perspective, what does this mean?

In part, I see it as cultivating the capacity to hold the tensions: staying optimistic about the positive changes already underway and staying the course when we hit the inevitable road bumps. More EVs on the streets are just one part of the massive systemic change facing a city like London. This move to bring back nature in large and small projects gives me hope. There’s also the human side of things: more connection and kindness to each other. How can we all hold a vision for the future we all want to live… while accepting that we can only get there one day at a time? Do share your thoughts. 

Say hello if you’re in London on 27 June.

I’ll be speaking on a panel Exploring Regenerative Business Models and Strategies, with the inspirational Jannine Barron, Regenerative Business Mentoring, and Galahad Clark, MD, Vivo Barefoot. 

13:00 – 13:30 at Reset Connect London, the UK’s largest (free) sustainability ecosystem and green investment event.

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up for this blog.

Systems change – and so can we

A screenshot from the 'Systems do change: Water Resilience in Mexico City' campaign. A colourful drawing of the concept of nature.

Thinking systematically is one of the hardest things I’m learning on my regenerative journey.

But it’s also one of the most needed shifts. 

Being regenerative is about better aligning with the living systems we all rely on… and understanding the impact of our actions on the WHOLE.

Are you a systems-thinker?

I reckon some people are born systems-thinkers. For my husband Aden, it comes naturally. He sees the picture and the pieces within the picture. And then often reconfigures what he sees to give another perspective. 

Aden is a proud Gumbaynggirr man from the mid-north-coast of NSW, Australia. He was brought up by eight mothers and has a vast extended family. 

His Indigenous heritage is part of what gives him a more holistic view on life. His connection to country is deep and strong. His awareness of the unseen as well as the seen — together with his ability to trust his intuition: all contribute to thinking systematically. 

Aden and a 1000-year old eucalypt in Dorrigo, Gumbaynggirr country. A systems-thinker.
Aden and a 1000-year old eucalypt in Dorrigo, Gumbaynggirr country.
Another perspective - it would take 10 people with arms stretched to circle the tree’s girth. A systems-thinker.
Another perspective - it would take 10 people with arms stretched to circle the tree’s girth.

Western thinking and Indigenous relating

Western thinking tends to dissect knowledge and siloes information. 

It is linear. 

Indigenous thinking tends to do the opposite – it connects and focuses on the relationship between people, land, the more-than-human. 

It is circular.

So much to say on this topic, but that’s for another day. (Aden and I are en route to London to spend time with my mum – I’ve just got the one mother! She’s doing well, in her mid-80s.)

Sit back and be inspired

Instead of more chat, I will leave you with this 4-minute video about how systemic change actually looks in a real-world project. 

It’s from a project located in the neighbourhood of Xochimilco in Mexico City – that has both preserved cultural practices AND restored water access in times of crisis — and done so by changing the system. One of the lead project designers was Ben Haggard, from the Regenesis institute in the US — and where I studied regenerative theory and practice. 

It’s an inspiring watch.


P.S If you are a systems-thinker and you have any tips, please share what’s really helped you. 

P.P.S If you’re interested to go deeper with regenerative thinking, enrolment has just opened for this year’s Regenesis TRP practitioner series

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

Stories as intravenous sense-makers

Bangkok city gardeners at work in the Rama IX Park, the largest park in the city.

Writing a new book always comes with a combined feeling of excitement, trepidation and wonder. 

Wonder — because you never know where it is going to lead. 

Every book I’ve written (and I’ve written five now — three non-fiction, two of which were travel memoir, and two fiction) — have taken me in a new direction. 

And my current book project — about regenerative leadership and storytelling — is already doing just that. 

Claire is standing in Waterstones, Oxford. She is smiling as she opens up her book, 'The Pagoda Tree.
Claire in Waterstones, Oxford in 2017, opening a copy of her novel "The Pagoda Tree".
The cover of Claires first book, Last Seen in Lhasa. Next to it is a letter written by her publisher.
Hot off the press: the cover of Claire's first book, "Last Seen in Lhasa".

Are we telling the right stories for right now?

Writing a book is a bridge between where you are and where you want to go. It opens new vistas, connects you (ideally!) with new audiences. And connects me with new meaning. 

I’ve always written as a way to understand and figure stuff out. Stories help you do that. They fast-track you. 

When you communicate data as a story instead of just presenting stats and facts, you create a bridge for data to be understood by the more  emotional side of the brain.

Stories are our intravenous sense-makers. 

Of course they are. We are hard-wired for stories. They are our oldest ways to make meaning out of this complex thing we call life. 

But I reckon we really need to think long and hard about the stories we are telling ourselves right now about our future. About the planet. About our place on the planet. And we need to get on with it… 

From climate change to regeneration

A slide taken from a Regenerative Storytelling workshop. The Image shows the silhouette of a man walking his bicycle across a bridge at dusk.
Like stories - being regenerative takes you on a journey.

I’ve spent the past three years really looking into how the climate narrative is shaped. (Changing the predominant narrative has basically been my research/passion project/awake at 3:00 am focus… I was pretty busy during lockdown.) 

But where I’ve ended up, isn’t where I thought I would. It’s starting from a different premise — from regeneration. 

Currently the way we are positioning the climate narrative is from a place of deficit, of lack, of fear and of scarcity. How often do you hear phrases like “we are fighting the war against climate change” or “we need to mobilise on a war footing” or “it’s up to us to save the planet.” 

In contrast, being regenerative aims to unlock the potential within us to enrich life. Being regenerative is evolutionary… you get there by building capacity. And you do so through understanding and aligning your actions with the bigger living systems within which we all live (and rely on). 

Over time, that helps increase vitality and viability — and you add value to the whole system.

Being a regenerative leader starts small

Getting my head around all of this has taken time. But I remember one of those 3:00 am moments in the weird weeks of early 2020. (It seems like a lifetime ago now… when covid-19 was just making headlines.) 

I came across this great article by Katherine Long and Giles Hutchins – both regenerative pioneers. It resonated then, and still today: 

“Think of yourself as a ‘guerrilla gardener’ seeding new opportunities for regenerative thinking and practise even in small micro-environments. Learn the craft of regenerative leadership wherever the opportunity presents itself, at home, societally as well as at work.“ 

Regen planting: 5 things you can do

  1. Pay attention to where your mind goes when you hear negative news — especially around climate. 
  2. Notice what happens in your body. 
  3. See if you can flip the script. 
  4. Focus on the wonder around you instead. 
  5. Get in touch with your senses: the taste of coffee on your lips, breaking sunlight through clouds, your cat purring at your feet. 

Would love to know how you find ways to seed positive ideas. Share below.

A slide taken from a Regenerative Storytelling workshop. It is a quote from Per Espen Stoknes.
Author Per Espen Stoknes has great insight into addressing stuck climate narratives.

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

Courage to change

Animation from Alsco - A red heart with the text, "Led by Values".

Changing habits of a lifetime as an individual takes commitment. Whether it’s switching from a combustion engine car to who you bank with. Switching takes time — and investment.

These individual changes are important but when we do it as a collective and as a business, WOW. That’s when we can really make a difference. 

But to do things differently – and regeneratively — that takes courage.

An animation from Alsco showing a map of Australia.
Alsco: part of the fabric of Australia (taken from the video animation)

Alsco: a company working to transform and lead their industry

Alsco, the Australian textile, first aid and hygiene company has been in business for 60 years. Recently, they’ve made many changes org-wide. 

These include: 

  • uplifting pay
  • improving safety across their entire business
  • launching their “2030 Successfully Sustainable Strategy”
  • switching to renewables 
  • initiating national and local community partnerships
  • addressing their waste as one of the inaugural partners with BlockTexx which turns textile waste into a resource.

Individually each initiative is important. But combined, they reflect a change in thinking and require a shift in behaviour. From a regenerative perspective this means building capacity — and capability — over the long-term. 

Taking a leap of faith

Just before Christmas, Alsco engaged my company Wordstruck to develop an end-to-end Storytelling program. Their initial goal: to articulate the changes they’ve been making in sustainability. 

“As a company we were doing good things,” says CEO Mark Roberts. “But we didn’t have a clear way to articulate our story.

From the get-go, we could see that their story was about more than sustainability. It needed to connect the dots to reflect the org-wide changes. More than that, it needed to unlock the passion and harness the motivation that Mark and his senior leadership team have “to make a difference”. 

Working with Wordstruck, says Mark, “was a leap of faith. We use consultants strategically and don’t usually invest in this sort of program. But 12 weeks later, we not only had an impactful story, but a suite of assets including a graphic and video animation.”

The Wordstruck way

When we are working with a client, we are always looking for clues. While we start with desk-top research and pour over a company’s strategies, it’s in the interview phase that we start to understand what’s really going on.

Both myself and lead Strategic Storyteller, Sue White, have 50+ years of combined journalism experience (yup! I know).    

We listen for what’s motivating the key influencers; what they care about; why they work as hard as they do. 

This unlocks the emotion in the story. A powerful story requires head and heart.

A quote from Brené Brown, "stories are data with soul". It depicts a black labrador with piercing brown eyes.
One of my favourite quotes to explain storytelling.

Becoming values-led to transform thinking

With Alsco we identified that becoming values-led is integral to their story. This represents a paradigm shift. While they still want to make a profit (and be around for another 60 years), HOW they make profit is changing.  

“This values-led story has transformed thinking in our senior leadership team,” says Mark. But, it’s fair to say, he wasn’t sure how it would land. “I’ll admit, a few members of our team need to be convinced about sustainability.” 

Creating the right conditions

From a regenerative perspective, we are looking to create the optimum conditions for change.

We always co-create programs with our clients. In this case, one thing we did, when designing the storytelling workshop that Wordstruck delivered at Alsco’s national conference, was identify “storytelling champions”. These individuals shared their stories with the whole company. The response was electric. Hearing them seemed to trigger a palpable wave of possibility and motivation to do more.

A picture from the Alsco national conference. The image shows a room full of people sitting at tables in a conference room.
Alsco national conference, March 2023
Wordstruck "Aha" moments from the Alsco national conference.
Alsco national conference, March 2023

“The room was humming and people were engaged,” continues Mark. “There was real enthusiasm and I could see that the team are beginning to understand that Alsco needs to start behaving and acting differently in the marketplace because the world demands it.” He knows there’s a long way to go. “Sometimes, it feels like we are just getting started.” 

But he’s committed for the long-term. He’s a grandfather now, and has another grand-child on the way. “We need to think about our legacy — and what we are leaving future generations. We’ve got to do the right thing.” 

3 Regenerative Learnings 

  1. Shifting to a systemic way of thinking takes time, commitment and courage. 
  2. Identifying key individuals and co-designing a program helps create the optimal conditions for regeneration. 
  3. Motivation is key to both initiating change – while also maintaining the energy (and enthusiasm) required for the road ahead. 

Hi, I’m Claire. Through my business Wordstruck we help companies bring their sustainability strategy to life. As the Founder of Regenerative Storytelling, we’re helping leaders do more for their people, their community and the planet. I publish regular content about storytelling, regenerative leadership and reframing how to address our rapidly heating world. To see more of my content, please sign up – and join the conversation by sharing a comment below.

Responsible investing: your personal lead domino

An image of dominoes falling. A representation of becoming a Regenerative Leader.


Three years ago, as part of my journey to becoming a more responsible business owner I put divestment high on the list. That is, divestment from where I held money either in superannuation/pension and/or investment funds.

It seemed to be the box that never got ticked. Too hard, too complicated, too many forms.

What tipped the balance was finding out that my (now ex-)superannuation fund was in the bottom quartile of Australian funds. Essentially, it was junk.

But knowing who to go to, who to trust, took time. There are lots of conflicting views on what funds really are ethical, which genuinely fit the bill as an ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) fund… and which are actually regenerative (a topic for another day). If you prefer to work with a financial advisor, you also need to do your due diligence on the person, company and the financial products they offer.

At this point please note I am NOT a financial advisor and the views expressed here are entirely my own.


I kept telling myself that there would be a “right time” to do this. But unless you have your finger on the money pulse, it’s hard to know which way the markets will swing. In the end, I switched at a pretty bad time, given the volatility of the markets. All up it took about 4 months, but when I finally signed the last form, I whooped.

Now, when I get my financial updates, I don’t ignore them. I feel good about the fact that my money is being invested in renewable energy generation (solar, wind), social and affordable housing and sustainable infrastructure… among other things

I wish I could say that the returns have been huge. But so far they haven’t. My ethical investor Hope Evans at Simply Ethical Advice keeps reminding me that thinking regeneratively means thinking long-term. And that this is a particularly unpredictable time in global markets.

Responsible Divesting


I appreciate that for anyone who is nearing retirement, making the switch brings complexities as you might not have that luxury to wait. But for those of us who can, taking the time to do the research is the first step. According to the community-led organisation, in the US alone, hundreds of institutions and local governments, plus thousands of individuals, representing over US$1.5 trillion in assets, have pledged to divest from fossil fuels.

I also realise that the topic of money, especially when it’s your own, is emotional. Especially at a time when everyone is being squeezed: inflation is going up, and so are prices.

But there’s something empowering understanding the full impact of knowing how you vote with your money.

Making a real difference

When it comes to making a difference, we might think that the small things matter. But in the scheme of things, the odd takeaway coffee cup is not worth sweating over (nor is stressing if you forget your keep cup next time you order a takeaway coffee.)

Divestment is one of the biggest lead dominoes you can have in your backpocket.

It’s where we invest our cash… and where the companies we work for or buy from, invest their cash that has a bigger impact. But the subject of corporate is for another time.


  1. Visit Bank Green to find out how green your bank is.
  2. Once you have found a more ethical bank option, schedule an appointment to check they will be right for you/your business.
  3. Schedule time in your calendar to do the paperwork… and be prepared to take a leap of faith — but know you are in very good company.

Lastly share this article with someone you care about – who also cares about doing the right thing!

The wood-wide web: How forests can teach us about regeneration

The wood-wide web: How forests can teach us about regeneration

Imagine if your industry was like this. Everyone is connected – not just digitally, but really connected in a way that they care about each other. Some of the big players do more than advise newbies or budding entrepreneurs, they actively help with resources, insight and energy.

In the neighbourhood where these workplaces are located, there’s a central hub. This is like the wellspring of wisdom, creativity and growth. Ideas are exchanged. Strategies are shared. This hub helps everyone in the system thrive. Instead of competition across your industry, there’s genuine co-operation. You’re all working to the same end: to create more life, more vitality. And this co-operation extends beyond the four walls of the office block. It supports the barista in the corner cafe, or the community garden in the central mall.

This isn't fiction

If this sounds like the latest Avatar movie, you aren’t far wrong. In fact, this scenario describes the “wood-wide web” — or how forests and trees communicate with each other.

Canadian scientist, Suzanne Simard, first floated this theory back in 1997. Her initial research headlined in Nature magazine. A fourth-generation forester from British Columbia, Simard had grown up hearing stories of how her grandparents had clear-felled ancient western red cedar forests by hand. The massive logs were hauled out by horses, and then launched down river to be milled as timber. “Grandpa taught me about the quiet and cohesive ways of the woods, and how my family was knit into it,” she says.

The giant stumps of these trees are still visible today in Canada, just like they are in old-growth forests in Australia. When I’m walking in places like Dorrigo National Park, I often think the cuts in the base of the stump are like two haunting eyes. These marks show where two men would stand on a plank of wood as they used axes to manually cut the tree down. It was a painstaking, slow and dangerous process for the men involved (we don’t know, of course, how it was for the trees…) Now, however, an entire forest can be bulldozed in a matter of hours.

Photos below: From Old Treasury Building, Reproduced courtesy of Museums Victoria.

like us - Trees are social and cooperative

I read Simard’s book, Finding the Mother Tree, over Christmas. Even if some of the science went over my head, her story is compelling. But what she shares is even more instructive.

When Simard started work as a forestry ecologist she became fascinated (to the point of obsession) about why some reforested plantations thrived, and others failed. Over decades, through hundreds of painstaking experiments, she helped uncover the existence of the mycorrhizal (fungi) network that connects forests. She also proved that the oldest “mother trees” are like “hubs” that share their excess carbon and nitrogen with understory seedlings. Trees, she says, are “social and cooperative”. They’re connected through underground networks… “with communal lives not that different from our own.”


For decades, Simard was excluded and dismissed by the male-dominated forestry industry. Her research contradicted their exterminate-all-weeds clear-cutting policy. Over time, Simard proved that different species of tree actually support each other – rather than compete. Her work, like that of other scientists, questions the Darwinian theory of evolution and survival of the fittest: which is what capitalism and modern economics is built around. (In an interesting aside she also mentions that Darwin developed his theories at the same time as Adam Smith penned The Wealth of Nations which is still the basis of liberal economics today.)

Inevitably, she does have her detractors. Kathryn Flinn in Scientific American, questions Simard’s anthropomorphism and use of “culturally weighted words” like ‘mother’ to describe the older trees. Flinn also makes the good point that “plants are fundamentally unlike us” and we need to respect those differences.


But, ultimately Simard is working to change centuries of Western colonial thinking that views forests (and everything in them) as resources to plunder. She flips the script. Instead of us saving the forests, she suggests that the forests can save us.

Simply put, she wants us to care. And that’s what regenerative businesses do – in fact, that’s the principle that regeneration is based upon – CARE.

Thoughts? Can you imagine your workplace or industry transforming like this over time?

Photos below: Dorrigo National Park – my arms are stretched around a 1000-year old eucalypt tree.

The wood-wide web: How forests can teach us about regeneration
The wood-wide web: How forests can teach us about regeneration

How 45 minutes can change everything

Climate emergency

Outside my office-studio is a mango tree. She’s pretty old and craggy limbed. Fourteen months ago, her branches were stripped bare.

It was a warm October afternoon. We’d had a few warnings about freak storms. Then a supercell hailstorm hit our beachside suburb on the mid-north coast of NSW. It got so loud I hid under my desk – until I realised water was pouring through the roof in three places. Our nearby shopping centre roof also collapsed as golf ball sized hail pelted down (see 7News below).

It’s the first time I’ve been in an area declared a disaster. And the weirdest thing? When I stepped outside of my studio, I didn’t recognise where I was. In 45 minutes, everything had changed.’

Climate emergency
Climate change
Climate change
Our suburban street had become a snowfield. A neighbour’s son, shirtless and in board shorts, was using a shovel to dig out his dad’s pickup truck from thick ice. The leaves on the trees were shredded. The poor birds. My vege patch was a bunch of sticks. My husband’s car, a right-off. I remember looking around me, and thinking, I don’t know where I am. The locals and shoppers in this 7NEWS report clearly felt something similar. (Although in Aussie style, surfers were soon snowboarding on the nearby Sawtell Beach!)

Welcome to my new newsletter: The Regenerative Leader.

Stories about people + business doing things differently.

It’s taken over a year for everything to get replaced and fixed. Both our roofs have been replaced. And we’re lucky, we were insured. I’ve heard that people sheltering during cyclones feel a similar sort of dislocation – obviously on a more acute, terrifying and catastrophic scale. Those 45 minutes were so disruptive that something shifted inside of me. I’d been making changes in my life and work for at least three years. But this was a catalyst.

In storytelling terms, a lived experience is what I call a “shift moment“. It changes our narrative and how we make meaning of our lives. This is what Regenerative Storytelling can offer. A new language to understand what’s happening and a new way to respond.

I wish it was as easy as flicking a switch.

But it’s not, of course. It’s about incremental changes, internally and externally. In slightly laborious language (which I promise I will limit), it’s about “building capacity”.

This is what you can expect from my Regenerative storytelling newsletter:

Stories that illustrate the small steps (and the occasional leap) to help us all adapt to our rapidly heating world. Stories of leadership in likely and unlikely places. Some might alarm you, others will entertain, inspire and encourage. Together, we are finding a new language for this time.

A couple of weeks ago, a year after the hailstorm, our mango tree suddenly grew leaves. It was almost as if they were sprouting before our eyes. The birds have come back. Birds that we never saw before.

While nature (and us) can regenerate fast… can we do it fast enough?