What’s To Be Learnt From An Axe?


Forty eight hours back in reality since The Do Lectures and I’m still reeling with excitement and inspiration because of what a wonderful time I had. It’s hard to explain what the experience was like… Four days in a field surrounded by a group of people who are full of good ideas and who make things happen – just wonderful! It’s a rare privilege to spend time with such an inspirational group of people, made even more special by the magnificent location. It wouldn’t be possible to explain all the experiences I had whilst I was down in Wales as there were so many but I’m going to try and share with you some of the moments that were highlights for me. That brings me to the axe…

Gabriel Branby makes axes, but not just any old axes. He makes Gransfors Bruks axes which are probably the best axes in the world. He makes great axes and loves doing it so that’s what he spoke about which seems a simple enough idea. There was more to this than met the eye though -the beauty of Gabriel’s lecture was the way that he used his specialism and the story of his business to frame ideas about values and identity that have a significance which resonates way beyond his work into the wider world. From the moment he started his talk in near perfect English (Gabriel is Swedish) and set his stall as the articulate and sensitive story teller that he is you could tell that this was going to be something special;

“I speak very good English – I understand everything I say,” was his first line and it perfectly broke the ice for what was to follow.

Gabriel’s story was one of knowledge and value and his belief in how important they are in success, backed up with an acute personal belief that what an individual is doing is important and that they understand why they are doing it. An approach to life that we could all learn a lot from. I was  fascinated to hear his take on the idea of a company and the importance that he feels this should play within a community, underlined by a conviction that everything should be done with an eye towards a responsibility to bring something for the next generation.

And Gabriel’s reasoning for developing an axe business that is successful but also responsible and in-tune with the world around it?

“You can lower the price as much as you want but you will never compete with a chainsaw.”

A killer line but having experienced his entrancing storytelling skills, I suspect there is  quite a bit more to his success than this humility suggests. A great man who we can all afford to learn a lot from – magnificent!

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