Chief Executive Officer
St. George Capital
Accelerating growth and a shortened time frame to achieve important goals is the ultimate outcome."
Chief Executive Officer
St. George Capital
Who Is Chris Lonsdale
You have come here because you want to find out more about who I am. To see my formal resumé, please click here. If you're more interested in the personal story of how I came to be doing this work, read on.
The work I do with individuals and organizations is complex, fascinating and always changing. I feel blessed and lucky to be doing this and I frequently reflect on how this came to be possible. The road has been convoluted with each phase laying the foundation for the next in a logical progression. Looking forward, that's not how it seemed. Looking back, though, all the pieces seem to fit.
The early days
I grew up in Belfast, a small town just 7 miles north of Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. A working class town, the economy was based on two slaughter houses that packed and froze meat for shipping overseas.
As a child, I dreamt of travelling the world, seeing new places and countries. At age 10, I concocted a plan for an expedition to an island off New Zealand's North Island - a speck on the map called "White Island." Friends told me that I would never make it. They were right. The island is volcanic, very active and out of bounds without special permits.
Though still on my list, it doesn't have the same pull. The desire to get there, though, was driven more by a hunger to travel, learn and experience the world.
As a child, I thought deeply about people, communication, and teams. I didn't like rugby, not because of the game, but because the other kids played to be heroes rather than as a team. Team games without teamwork didn't make sense. So for many years I focused on individual sports like squash, judo, and boxing.
My interest in people went beyond the norm. At age 11, I wrote to Russia for information on sleep learning and received a reply - the beginning of my fascination with extraordinary human functioning.
I was also lucky to have a father with a passion for trying new things. Through him I learned to ski, drive jetboats, scuba dive…and much more.
While in my third year of high-school, as I struggled with French, I was lucky enough to become involved with a student exchange program. For two months that year an exchange student from Tahiti lived with me and my family. This was my first real taste of cross cultural communication, and it represented the first few steps on a journey that would lead me to a fundamental rethink of the process of human communication, and the process of language learning.
After two months of a "live-in language laboratory" in my own home, where nasty practical jokes became almost the daily norm, I was beginning to enjoy French. So much so, in fact, that when the end of the year arrived I was lucky enough to become an exchange student myself. That year the summer vacation consisted of a six week trip to Tahiti, living with a French family in their simple villa in the Tahitian highlands. The cross cultural education had started in earnest and, though I didn't realize it at the time, things would never be quite the same.
University and beyond
My interest in people and "peak functioning" led me to take a course in psychology. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, of course, but somehow the whole subject of people fascinated me. Not just people, but the sense I had that people could become more than they were. Even then I didn't want to accept the limits that seemed to be imposed by our beliefs.
Since I wasn't sure about what interested me in psychology I did it all. Social Psychology, Biological Psychology, Psychophysiology, Behavioral Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Perceptual Psychology, Psycholinguistics, and even Mathematical Psychology. And, just to round things out, I took a lot of interest in other topics as well, getting myself into courses in biology, chemistry, and computer programming.
"Off duty" I found myself drawn back to the idea of extraordinary human functioning, and began exploring hypnosis with a group of friends. We didn't have much success and, after many months, interest lapsed. It was only 20 years later that I had learned enough to realize that, at the time, we had been going about it all wrong.
I also reengaged with the Martial Arts, and found myself training intensively in Tae Kwon-do, the Korean art that stresses high, powerful kicks. My circle of friends grew to include a number of Malaysian Chinese students, two of whom were my teachers in Tae Kwon-do. These two teachers ultimately became great, lifelong friends, and we shared many adventures together.
Chan Seng Chee, who is today a very successful businessman running a chain of Martial Arts Gyms in New Zealand, traveled with me around New Zealand for several weeks. It was an incredible trip, the sort that every young person needs at least once in their life.
Driving from place to place in an old truck, we would sleep out under the stars. During the day we would snorkel and spear fish, and we were able to live entirely off just what we could catch from the sea.
Augustine Tan, my other great friend, also traveled around the whole of New Zealand. Taking several weeks after our final exams in our last year of University, we hitch-hiked around New Zealand for several weeks. This was one of many trips and adventures that we took together over those years. Formative years that taught about people, initiative, culture, friendship and many other lessons that have stayed with me even till today.
China bound and the time warp
In my last year of University I was realizing that I had to think about the next step. I was even more fascinated by extraordinary human functioning than I had been several years earlier, and wanted to find out more. I was sure that the standard disciplines of psychology weren't addressing the issues in a way that I thought they needed to be addressed. Armed with this thought, I applied to the University of Wisconsin at Madison and to Harvard University to formally study hypnosis. I was accepted by both, and then life took a strange twist.
I had an itch that needed to be scratched. I had a thirst for adventure that had been with me since childhood and that, in my mind, had never been fully satiated. For instance, I had always wanted to participate in a young person's sailing adventure but was never allowed because my mother had in mind a successful academic career. A strong desire to join the United World College for the last two years of high school education also never materialized.
So here I was at the end of University, hitch hiking around New Zealand with my friend Augustine, thinking about adventure. One day I hit on the idea of riding through China on a motorbike for a couple of years. Somehow it just seemed like a great idea.
Arriving in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, I approached the Chinese embassy and they told me that what I wanted was impossible. When I insisted that there had to be some way, they pointed me though to the New Zealand government which had scholarships available. Six months later I was on my way to China as a New Zealand-China exchange student, beginning what would turn out to be the next phase of what I now realize is a continually unfolding and absolutely fascinating journey.
Upon arrival in China I set my mind on not just learning the language, but on becoming fully proficient in the Chinese Martial Arts. And, I set my mind on getting enrolled at the Beijing Institute of Physical Education to study the Martial Arts full time. I was told, point blank, that what I wanted was not possible. So I began an intense period of petitioning. I wrote to Deng Xiaoping; I engaged Chinese friends with connections; I thought through ways of meeting the needs of the bureaucracy while also getting what I wanted; and I finally gave up. It just wasn't going to happen. Which is when it did.
On the very day that I decided to give up I received the notice that my application was successful. I would get to enroll at the Beijing Institute of Physical education to continue studying Chinese Martial Arts. Another great learning. Never, ever, give up. There is always a chance. And, I was just about to take the first step to learning that there can be a cost to getting what you want.
Almost one year into my training in Chinese Martial Arts, where I pushed myself to the limit, I sustained a knee injury that dashed my hopes of achieving the levels of mastery that I had hoped to attain. The next nine months or more were a totally new kind of journey all together. During this time I learned about the warmth of Chinese people and how far they will go to help a friend in need.
I met many people, all of whom helped me find resources to treat my injury. Some taught me Chinese qigong. Some referred me to doctors they knew on the far side of China. Others put me up in their houses (illegally) while I sought out some of the most famous bone doctors in China. After months of searching, I ended up in Sichuan province for six months. Living in the corner of a hotel room for 4 yuan per day, I truly became part of Chinese culture. I spent every day at the Sichuan Sports College, eating and training with the local team.
At night, I mostly spent time in friends houses. And, for the rest of the time, I was either translating a book of Chinese Folk Tales, or dealing with the endless procession of back packers and travelers who, for some reason, were always given the other two beds in my room. This was, of course, at a time when the hotel was mostly empty.
Ultimately, after three eventful years in China, my visa ran out. My wife-to-be was in Hong Kong, so that's where I went. Arriving with only 100 HK dollars and a few phone numbers in my pocket, I taught English, then worked as a writer and editor for a trade magazine before ending up back in China. I joined Pennzoil as their chief interpreter and dealt with a helicopter crash, as well as translating for geo-physics meetings with Joint Venture parties who were trying to agree new well sites.
The oil business is fickle and, after the third dry well, Pennzoil decided to pack up. I got to experience my first down sizing. I returned to Hong Kong to set up and run a small trading business, and experienced my first business failure. Luckily my network of friends helped out, and I found myself joining Burson-Marsteller, the world's largest public relations agency at the time. I had no idea what public relations was, but I clicked with the boss and solved the immediate crisis about where my next meal was going to come from. During those four years I learned about the marketing and communications business, and also how not to manage. And, somehow I got assigned to the special projects that were on the edge of the business. One of these assignments included coordinating the relationship between joint venture parties (U.K and China) for the Third World Advertising Congress.
The other one, a great life experience, was to be a "complaint collector" at the 1998 Seoul Olympics. I was assigned to the media desk in the media centre for the Olympics, and the task was to record complaints from journalists and report these to the appropriate authorities for action. Of course, the action mostly never came and, along with my colleagues from around the world, I had to face the anger and frustration of journalists who felt we were not listening to them. My first experience of being in a front line service position with no authority or capability to serve. Not desirable.
Environmental days and the big freeze
In the mid 1980s, I became active in the Hong Kong environmental movement and led several initiatives that blocked insensitive "developments" in the territory.
Then, in 1998 in Hong Kong, I met Robert Swan, the polar explorer. Another exciting new life phase was just about to begin. At the time Robert was putting together an expedition to walk from northern Canada to the North Pole with the aim of raising awareness of global warming, ozone depletion and global air pollution. A student expedition was attached to the main expedition.
Originally I had intended him to help with our environmental movement in Hong Kong. He asked me "why have you come to see me?" I found myself answering his question in an extraordinary way.
The words "because I can get you China" somehow found their way out of my mouth. I was as surprised as he was delighted. He shook my hand and said, "you're on." And that was that. I became the representative in Hong Kong to raise funds for the student expedition, and to find both a Hong Kong and a Mainland Chinese student to join the expedition. I faced more than six months of repeated failures and then, just 8 days before the expedition was due to depart I was able to tie down the necessary funding. I was once more reminded that you never, ever give up.
In mid-1989 we all traveled to the Arctic for one month - 22 students from 15 countries and 8 walkers from 7 countries. This was my entry into the deep end of conflict resolution and cross cultural communication.
We undertook many team building exercises and outward bound-type expeditions, pulling sleds loaded with tents and food. And we had to deal with the hot young egos of people from different countries. The learning curve was incredible and provided a foundation of thinking on how to communicate across cultures and change cultures. And how to help people from different backgrounds learn how to take responsibility for their own destiny.
After returning to Hong Kong I was able to get additional funding and put together a slide show and educational program/roadshow on the arctic environment. This was shown to many schools in Hong Kong.
The arctic expedition was followed by another to India, organized by friends. We spent a month in the forests of southern India, riding elephants by day, and camping under the stars at night. The expedition helped raise awareness about forest protection and again was used to create educational programs for use in Hong Kong.
The North Pole and India expeditions were, of course, extracurricular in nature. I put them together and participated while, at the same time, holding down a full time job. Ultimately, however, something had to break. The extracurricular environmental activities ultimately led to a move from public relations into the world of professional environmental protection.
After intensive study in Permaculture (a discipline that uses ecological principles to design sustainable human living environments), I created a company called Permaculture Asia, a non profit making consultancy. This survived for a number of years and did much great work. We were responsible for encouraging several major corporations in Hong Kong to start meaningful environmental protection programs.
It was also another chance to learn some of the hard lessons of business. Ultimately, because of problems with business model, changes in the external environment, and internal misalignment, we closed down the business and I went on to form Chris Lonsdale & Associates.
A new idea takes hold
The expeditions to India and the Arctic, the public relations experience, the cultural and language experience, the environmental activism - all have worked together to create three powerful ideas:
Idea 1: no matter what their background, people can come together and understand each other if they are given the right tools.
Idea 2: people can change in meaningful ways when given the right tools and when supported in the right way.
Idea 3: the world is changing rapidly and tomorrow's challenges will be quite different from those of today. To meet these changes, people must change and must work together with individuals and groups with whom they may have had conflict or rivalry in the past. Ultimately, this gives individuals and organizations the possibility of creating abundance.
With these ideas in place, I began dedicating my life to achieving two aims:
- bringing people together in ways that enables them to create value in the world.
- supporting individuals in making quantum changes that make their lives happier, healthier, wealthier and successful in whatever way.
I began small with team building, and doing a few different types of training and personal coaching. From these humble beginnings, we evolved DNAmä Real-Time-Enablingä and many other unique approaches to help people make the most important transition in history so far.
And the learning continues
Knowledge in today's world is expanding at an ever increasing rate. All I have learned in the past is useful, and simply points the way to what more can be learned. An integral part of what I do is to keep learning new ideas, tools and skills. This provides the foundation to what I do best - serve others and help them achieve their dreams in the most elegant and powerful ways.