• Alpesh Patel

Craft Your Mission Statement For Instant Energy, Focus and Drive


In this interview with Alpesh Patel – Lord Michael Hastings, says you should craft your mission. Create equity in society, Black lives Matter, educate people on finance and be socially upwardly mobile.

Lord Michael Hastings was with the BBC involved in recordings on Westminster politics. He was at ITV as all, TV AM doing education programming there and GMTV as their chief political correspondent.

That gave him a platform to then move into the corporate world. He has worked with Vodafone, British Telecom and KPMG. Representing them on corporate citizenship, worked with the World Economic Forum.

Most importantly, all of those things have been geared towards helping those less fortunate than him. Like people from the BAME community and particularly underprivileged people from the Black community. As we now see with Black Lives Matter, is a problem that continues to this day.

Michael Hastings was determined to be a spokesman for the poor and engage in solutions that liberate the poor back to opportunity, humanity, justice, and freedom.

MCILord Michael I set my mind to be determined to be a spokesman for the poor

Craft Your Mission

Alpesh Patel: Michael, you have excellent credentials but used all those corporate positions to enrich yourself and help others. What was the thinking behind all of this? Why do that?

Speaking for the Poor

Lord Michael Hastings: I was asked at a very tender age of 16, when going to a boarding school in the northwest of England, by my very dear friend. He said to me at the time, “Michael, what will you do with your life?” Now, that’s not a typical question.

Most 16-year-olds ask or answer. But I was asked, and I replied precisely as follows. “I want to speak for the poor, and I want to bend the power of the prosperous to the potential of the poor.”

And I didn’t know what that meant at 16. But I had a deep consciousness about what I’d observed of classically destructive and inequitable poverty that I’d seen in the Caribbean.

I’d come to England to boarding school, but I’d never lost that deep sense of what I’d left behind. I began to travel the world and began to see that actually what I’d seen a little bit of in Jamaica was endemic through most parts of Asia and indeed Sub-Saharan Africa.

I set my mind to be determined to be a spokesman for the poor. And to engage in solutions that liberate the poor back to opportunity, humanity, justice, and freedom.

That’s been the motivating driver of my life. It continues to be to this day. I’ve never let it go, I’ve never lost the motivation, and it is my defining purpose of mine.

Black Lives Matter

Alpesh Patel: Michael, that’s incredibly eloquently put. And we mustn’t, and I know you don’t. But we mustn’t always associate ethnic minorities and what’s happening now with obviously poverty and crime. But it is a major point.

And your proof that it isn’t, just one dimensional, but it is a significant issue. What are some of the solutions we’re going to have to implement? What’s the work you’re doing now to do that? And how might other people get involved to support that larger cause?

Combating Injustice against Black People

Lord Michael: Well, 2020 was marked for all of us around the world by COVID-19. But particularly if you’re a Black, it was also marked very strongly by the killing, the slaughter of George Floyd in the public eye.

If I must say so, the American system’s gross injustice allows the man who killed him to be out on bail. The family who have lost their son and their brother and their father to be languishing in pain.

These protests said that it’s not just about injustice against Black people. Which is evident that there were high police racial injustice levels. The worst countries in the world are Brazil and South Africa.

We have issues here. And what are those issues all about? They’re about the disparity of mindset. It is a continuing perception that if a young boy or girl is Black, they’re coming from not just a place of economic disadvantage. But kind of social disadvantage, a sort of perception disadvantage and a not good enough disadvantage. And that battle continues to this day.

Black Business Association

The Black Business Association will be targeting educational support and investor back up to get more Black business into the arena UK wide

So what do we do about it? Well, I, alongside the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, helped set up the Black Business Association. There’d been an Asian Business Association for 25 years. Quite right.

Now, we have a Black Business Association for 2021. I’ve also worked to set up the Black Institute, which, Alpesh, you’re part of on the advisory board.

Alpesh Patel: Yes indeed.

Mission to Support Black Businesses

Lord Michael : And thank you. That will be targeting educational support and investor back up to get more Black business into the arena UK wide. There is a deeper issue about making sure that we genuinely begin to attack these justice inequities.

The fact that young Black boys are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched on Britain’s streets. They’re going to be four times more likely given a harsher sentence from the courts. Those sentences are average two and a half times longer than somebody from a different ethnic background.

And all of that is what McPherson would have called, right back in the 1980s, institutional racism. And we still have a fight on our hands. We might’ve got it into law, but we’ve got organizations that are in denial about that institutionalism.

Advocate for Equity

So we have to write about those things, advocate about those things, act to change. For me, and I’ll wrap up with this point, the biggest thing we need to do is help young Black men and women get onto the equity ladder.

Being able to build a sound economy for themselves, becoming asset owners, property, and savings, and build their assets to give credibility to the next generation, educating their children, share the wealth, and be part of the broader civil society.

That’s how we’ll bring about greater equity and order. It’s economical; it’s social, it’s legal, it’s judicial. Now, I also have, Alpesh, as I think you know, a huge passion for working with men in prison.

Creating Equity and Order

That’s how we’ll bring about greater equity and order. It’s economical; it’s social, it’s legal, it’s judicial. Now, I also have, Alpesh, as I think you know, a huge passion for working with men in prison.

So we have a lot to do to change attitudes that say that Black people are still less than, not equal to the task. And the only way we’re going to do that, education, skilling, asset development, and opportunity—equity in society.

Alpesh Patel: Michael, again, you put it so perfectly well. And I guess people could look at this, and some could say, oh my God, it’s been going on for so long. And they throw their hands up in the air.

What you prove is that fighting spirit, no, we can make things better. We’re going to make things better, continue that fight, and I think that in itself uplifts people.

You mentioned the Black Business Institute, you said equity, you mentioned that social mobility. Recent research in the US was just how much of the white population during COVID, during 2020, had increased their wealth. Of course, with that comes choice and opportunity.

Where to find investments

The research also found that that wealth had come about from investments. And of course, you can have investments if you’ve got capital.

How do you even get on the ladder? How do we right at the bottom? You’ve worked with schools as well as with prisons. Is there something more that you think corporates can be doing to reach out to those who don’t even have, I mean, the proverbial two pennies to rub together?

Regardless of color, but they don’t have the two pennies to rub together. What can these wealthy corporations that you’ve worked with, what can they do? What more can they do?

Inculcate Better Savings Culture

Lord Michael: We need to encourage and facilitate a better savings culture, enabling asset acquisition. I mean, you’ll know this, Alpesh, from your own ethnic community of which I’m part. It’s a very regular, expected norm to galvanize work together, save hard together, and acquire together.

We need to do that in the Black community. We need to see that joint commitment to positive assets. Now, that will mean building trust between people to see the value of what assets can be as a transfer from one generation to another.

Importance of Financial Education

Lord Michael feels the need far more robust and realistic continuing financial education

We need far more robust and realistic continuing financial education. It is so easy to see people frittering money away on non-essentials, stylistic things that could be saved for long-term essentials, building up the value of a future family. But that’s a mindset challenge.

It will not surprise you that some of the most regular shoppers in London’s most expensive shops come from West Africa. Let’s not name the countries. Let’s be honest about it. Now, that tells you that wealth is possible, but it also means people easily fritter it away.

Change in attitudes required

We need to change our attitudes towards how wealth is acquired. How to develop and save, and the value of assets. Work needs to be done to bring about financial literacy and education – so that people can move money, to make money. Therefore, share money in the wider community and keep it located within communities that need to have that resource circulating.

Asset ownership

Now, all of that is a big education task, but it’s also, and here’s where I lay down a challenge. I do think, if we’re going to get fast movement on asset ownership, in other words, the ability for Black people to acquire reasonable property, I’m not talking about excessive properties.

We’re not talking about palaces and big houses in Mayfair. We’re talking about an ordinary property that would allow people to transfer wealth from one generation to another.

Fair system necessary

That could be a system that is not fair but just, which allows for short-term space where the government helps to get lower deposits required and lower interest rates.

And for a period that allows people to acquire valuable property, much like what happened in the 1980s. But under Margaret Thatcher’s term, council property was allowed to be acquired by their residents at significant cash reductions to allow a property-owning democracy to emerge.

It was an excellent, positive policy that has downsides. It will reduce the numbers of council properties more widely available, but it empowered millions of people to acquire an asset they could transfer. We need to do that again.

Rallying behind your community

Alpesh Patel: I think that’s brilliant. I completely agree with everything you’ve said. Because I’ve seen it myself, you mentioned my community, and there’s more my community can do to reach out to the Black community.

My community I know is, as a whole, direct sections, pretty insular. And insular certainly from the Black community. It’s not so insular from the white community, but it’s undoubtedly insular from the Black community.

And there’s more we can do who, as you said, we’ve certainly worked out some solutions. I mean, I came to the UK around the same time, the immigration happened at pretty much the same time, but we worked out some solutions here and there.

And that issue about property, and you’re absolutely right, it’s the deposits. In the ’80s and ’70s, you could manage the deposits. As a Parliamentarian, are you speaking to people to say, look, there are some government schemes, but they’re not going far enough.

And there is a fair wind behind you now. You’re in that position of power and privilege. What are you doing to move those things along?

Craft your mission for change

Lord Michael: Yes, I am. I’m making the arguments regularly, speaking on debates, and continually interjecting with ministers. We have lots of private, behind the scenes conversations.

As you know, what really goes on in Parliament is not necessarily what’s on the floor of either chamber. It’s what goes on in the corridors of the floor, where decisions really get more effectively taken.

And yes, I’m making those points through the Black Business Association, the Black Business Institute, and in things that I’m writing and communicating.

Mentoring young mentees

I’m also working closely with a significant group of young mentees; I call them brothers and friends, helping them have a much more constructive approach to what they do with resources.

I’m thrilled as I’ve seen them over the last decade become property owners, fathers, get married, have children, take on responsibility, and changing mindsets and attitudes so that they can see what they can transfer on to their children.

And the kind of attitudes they now take towards schooling, education, and realizing that learning is a perpetual experience, not a school thing that you stop at 18 and then you do a bit of university, and that’s it. But a constant learning culture.

Keep learning new skills

We need that because the future skills will be skills to do with analytics and awareness and information and data and knowledge, those skills. I mean, that’s not forgetting the vital needs for healthcare workers and for what we call those essential day-to-day workers of life whom we’ve all come to love and treasure in the last year.

Still, with the new skills of the booming future economy, we need to be a participant in that as Black people as anybody else is. And that requires a learning disposition.

Looking for Entrepreneurs

Alpesh: Patel Michael, what we’ve done, I should let you know, from the Department for International Trade, our global entrepreneur program, which you know I look for entrepreneurs from around the world, but also in the UK, the companies that we’ve been helping, we did, and we’re going to continue doing specific programs for people from Black and ethnic minority.

Although I say ethnic minorities, we say BAME, but you know, I mean, my community does not fit into the same box for a simple reason. We are now at a stage where my community is incredibly privileged.

Reach out to Black Entrepreneurs

So I’m afraid I’m going to put mine to one side because they’re doing all right, thank you very much. But I am reaching out to Black entrepreneurs because it’s the networks. It’s very often the networks and the mentors, and you mentioned mentors. You again, you’re absolutely correct.

And they don’t know, the way I would know, if I wanted to do a business, you know in my community, I can reach out to so many people because you’re just all talking all the time, you’re meeting and all the rest of it. And so what we’re trying to do is expand those networks beyond the usual.

I think that’s the challenge we can put to people who are watching this reach out, whether through LinkedIn, to those you don’t normally do, and looking at mentoring and helping those.

We’ve mainly done the entrepreneurs, like I say, within the Department for International Trade and the Global Entrepreneur Program. Instead of just business as usual, we’re using our position and people like you who bring that to the fore.

Connection to India

But there’s too few like you in your position, and you can magnify your voice in Parliament, which is fantastic. I wanted to ask you one more thing: you mentioned the Indian heritage and, of course, Hastings. Please tell us, share with us the Hastings and India connection.

Lord Michael: Well, it is a well-known, somewhat despairing historical fact that there was, of course, a Lord Hastings, who was a former Viceroy governor of India way back.

That is where some of my lineages are meant to come from. My grandparents, I knew, were of Indian heritage. The lineage of my father who was himself a very fair, straight-haired Indian heritage man. My mother, of course, Panamanian, Caribbean, African. So I’m that sort of a bit of a mix.

Alpesh Patel: You’re the Kamala Harris of the United Kingdom.

Lord Michael: You kind of got in there, on such an auspicious day as we’re recording this. Yes. But one day I want to go to, there is a Hastings Village in Calcutta. Apparently, that’s where the people with whom Warren Hastings had many relations were deposited. So that’s where I come from, apparently, and I’m proud to own it.

Alpesh: Patel And you’re in Parliament. And if I recall my history correctly, Warren Hastings found himself in Parliament, but not for the good works you’re doing.

Lord Michael: No, no, no.

Alpesh Patel: Let’s put it that way, and people can look that up. I know people will find inspiration in everything you’ve said. Any last messages you want to give to everybody reading this article?

Define your purpose

Lord Michael: Well, I would say one concluding thought, which is this. I discovered my mojo, my purpose at 16, and I decided to stick with it for the long course of my life.

And that’s why I’m a vice president of UNICEF, an ambassador for Tearfund, and why I work for Zimbabwe. If you asked me if I’m committed to poverty solutions? Yes, I’m putting my hands to the plow to do it.

Be a purposeful person

You have to have a defined purpose that you choose to make the organizing structure of your life. My concluding thought is make 2021 the year in which you find and define your purpose. It’s got to be a giving away purpose, and then you live by it,. Regardless of whether you’ve got ten, 50 or 80 years left.

Be a purposeful person. And to finish with Nelson Mandela’s great quote, “The purpose of life,” he said, “Is to plant trees in whose shade another generation will enjoy peace.”

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