Anita Roddick has many claims to fame. The one she seems most proud of is being the only international CEO to be tear-gassed and rubber-bulleted during the anti-globalisation protests. Her audience at the London School of Economics Business Society lapped it up, as they did the rest of her 45-minute tirade against unethical business practices.
Ms Roddick has a relentless style but she threw herself on her audience's mercy. 'My slides are really good (they were OK), and so is what I have to say, so please bear with me,' she implored.
Soon she was into anecdote - a sure-fire way of hooking an audience.
'As I was saying to Isabel Allende, immigrants make the best entrepreneurs because they are outsiders.'
Despite making shed-loads of money and being feted as a great British business leader, Roddick is still very much on the outside. Rather than come in, she wants to change how the insiders operate. She pulls no punches, naming names. Aside from what she sees as exploitative footwear and clothing manufacturers ('rather naked than Nike'), she side-swiped all the usual suspects, referring to Exxon Mobil in the worst terms imaginable. Her passion makes her a compelling speaker. Given recent gyrations in the Body Shop share price, Ms Roddick regrets calling those who run such firms 'pinstriped dinosaurs', instead describing them as 'financial fascists'.
Key moment: Photos of missing children on the sides of Body Shop lorries resulted in 70% of them being found.
Key lesson: An anecdote does it every time.
Silver tongue or foot in mouth?
- Khalid Aziz is chairman of spoken communications specialist the Aziz Corporation - www.azizcorp.com.