My Writing

My Writing

I get my best ideas from listening to people. Fortunately, that’s my job.

I like to say that people are my library, and my daily writing practice is a way to discover what’s in it: new ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little whimsy for good measure.  As your humble librarian I invite you to check out a new idea every day. No late fees ever.


Why don’t our leaders take responsibility?

Take Responsibility

Yesterday a friend and I were musing on Trust, and particularly on why so many political leaders are unwilling to ever admit a mistake, particularly on how they have been handling public health in the pandemic.

If they chose to take responsibility, it would give them a “reset”, an opportunity to rebuild trust where they have lost it.

We had no answers to why they would choose to shirk responsibility over and over, to us it seemed so obvious a thing to do.

However, I do have one or two thoughts on trust, credibility, accountability, responsibility, wrapping up with the fact that the more trust we have the less transparency we need.

No answers as to why so many leaders fail to take responsibility, but, I hope, plenty of reasons for all of us to choose to take actions that build trust in those we care about.


Firing on only two cylinders

Panoz LMP-1 Roadster, powered by a huge 8 cylinders
sPanoz LMP-1 Roadster, powered by a huge 8 cylinder engine

When we “fire on all cylinders” it is a metaphor for everything going smoothly and at full capacity and effort.

When we are “not firing on all cylinders”, then the assumption is that we are under-performing and that is often the case.

However, today I’m going to tell two stories aimed at asking you to consider your own performance, and whether sometimes firing on only as few as two cylinders can actually be really beneficial.


There is no business

There is no business

There is no business. There is nothing to touch, or pick up or to take a selfie with; there is nothing that exists separately that has an opinion or a life of its own. There is just us and the time we spend with each other, thinking about each other, helping each other and the shared experience which then becomes a shared memory.

Paul Gilbert

The quote above is from a piece of exquisite writing by the brilliant Paul Gilbert, musing on a visit to London to meet clients in person for the first time since lockdown, curated in full below.

A short piece, from the heart, with multiple beautiful turns of phrase expressing the heart of humanity in how we interact with each other and share experiences. There is no business.


Your MBTI Career Guide

MBTI Personality Type Funny Career Guide

As with all personality assessments, I take MBTI with a pinch of salt, although the part I do most like as an awareness piece is the spectrum we all fall on from Introvert to Extrovert.

If you know your own MBTI, then what do you think of the career guide above? In terms of sheer amusement, the career choices are brilliant fun. I couldn’t possibly pick a top three, but a sample that made me giggle:

  • Squirrel wrangler
  • Horse cop (the horse, not the cop)
  • An actual walrus

Oh, and here is a solid and easy test at 16personalities for you to take to get your own MBTI, that site also has some slightly less tongue in cheek career types!

As for me, in the more formal categorisation, I fall under the area of “Diplomat” and specifically “Mediator”, which I guess fits given my profession. That said, on the image above, I’m, well, “Unemployable” and in a former life perhaps I was a “Cackling old sea hag”!

Look at a longer timeframe to give a new perspective

Longer timeframe gives new perspective on GBP USD rates over 50 years.
GBP USD rate for the last 50 years

So, just two days ago I wrote: “Stop waiting for the perfect moment“, noting that I had a large sum of money from the sale of a house (in USD) to move to buy a house in the UK (in GBP) and that since the USD arrived in my UK account the rate had moved from 1.23 to 1.28, so “costing” me “a lot of money” by waiting for the perfect moment.

Well, the learning moment continues, as I still haven’t “pulled the trigger” on exchanging my USD to GBP and the rate has continued to move upwards, now at 1.30. Ah well.

Yesterday, though, I was recounting a story to make a point about timeframes altering perspective, a story from fifteen years ago of looking to enable a large tourism resort development in Scotland.


We urgently need a sense of a longer now

Hooked on short term thinking, we urgently need a sense of a longer now. The Good Ancestor

Hooked on short term thinking, we urgently need a sense of a longer now

Roman Krznaric , author of The Good Ancestor

First, thank you to David McWilliams for his interview of Roman Krznaric on his latest weekly podcast, one that has been a regular companion to me on walks during lockdown.

I loved the thought above from Roman in a short video on his website about his new book, The Good Ancestor, one I look forward to reading and promises to be full of ideas and framing for us to look into the future. In this he mentions the idea of “cathedral thinking”, an idea I referenced in an earlier post: “Planting trees you will never see“.

I love to work with #OpenLeaders allying where they are in the present and what they need to both see into the future and to lead others towards it. I look forward to reading Roman’s book and being inspired further around this and in my work for and with others.

Don’t go looking for answers

Looking for answers.

Don’t go looking for answers,

be open to them coming to you

This and numerous other insights came from the fifth (so far) WhatComesNextLive show yesterday with Steve Chapman.

(the reference above is an obscure Wittertainment one and links to both a Keanu Reeves interview and Steve Chapman talking about Quantum Flirting on our show!)

Each show is full on insights, one of my own from talking with Steve was a reinforcement around the power of an “enabling constraint”, linked to which he tends to start each new project, idea or other creative endeavour with the question: “I wonder what would happen if?..”

WhatComesNext.Live definitely took inspiration from listening to and learning from Steve. The show design already contains several enabling constraints and today, after talking to Steve, I added one more:


Stop waiting for the perfect moment

The Perfect Moment
GBP-USD has moved from a low of 1.23 to..over 1.28 in the last month

This is yesterday’s GBP-USD FX chart for the last month. Nearly a month ago I moved the USD proceeds from selling my house in the Cayman Islands to the UK, ready to convert into GBP to buy a house here.

A week or so before that, the GBP-USD rate had dropped to a very attractive 1.23 (the 5 year average is about 1.30), so when the money arrived in my UK account and the rate was 1.25 that day, I thought I’d wait for it to drop back down, looking forward to exchanging to more GBP than I had forecast months before.

Of course, the chart showed what has happened was the opposite, with the rate now up to over 1.28. By waiting for the perfect moment the rate has moved 2.5% against me in less than a month, the financial impact on me is now more than the cost of the car I just bought.

A mentor of mine taught me: “the Universe will keep teaching you the same lesson, in different forms, until you choose to learn it”.

Though I am known for making decisions fast, sometimes I am arrogant enough to think that, by waiting just a little longer, I can make the decision at the perfect moment rather than simply benefitting from action rather than inaction at the right time.

Perhaps at some point, I will learn that perfection is the enemy of progress and simply act when conditions are right and stop waiting for the perfect moment.

Tikkun Olam. How do your actions repair the world?

Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World
Tikkun Olam

Am musing on this Hebrew term, broadly meaning, dating back to some of the most ancient Jewish teachings, any activity that improves the world, bringing it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created.

Specifically, I am musing about the responsibility of each of us, in every action to consider how that activity repairs or improves the world, from the slightest interaction impacting another, to the way we spend money and do business at all levels of scale.

So, in such teachings, while the world is innately good, its creator purposely left room for humanity and each individual human to improve upon their work. Within this, students are taught that all human activities are opportunities to fulfil this mission and that every aspect of a person’s life, even the most seemingly mundane, has purpose and provides an opportunity for tikkun olam.

Ancient teachings of any school, philosophy, religion have similarly grounded principles. Incurable optimist that I am, I do believe what we humans are here to repair the world, to live the principles of Tikkun Olam.

For me, so much of my life and work in the past and present (and into the future) is around business. I truly believe business can be a force for good. If you align with this and would like to explore, contact me, let’s talk about it.

The unit of reading is a chapter

The unit of reading is a chapter, not a book.
Throwback photo to me reading my my hammock in Cayman. A favourite author, with the title a lyric from my favourite musician.

I wish you some happy reading this Sunday, and while you do:

consider that the ‘unit of reading’ is not ‘the book’. It’s the chapter. Books are just convenient ways of keeping chapters around the house in neat bundles.

Nick Parker, in his latest newsletter post: “How to read lots of books

Last Tuesday, my most recent guest on WhatComesNext.Live was Rob Poynton. Rob raved to me about his absolute favourite email newsletter, “That Explains Things” from Nick Parker. The quote above is from the first newsletter from Nick since I signed up.

Suffice to say this one post may be life-changing for me. It may also have value for you.


WhatComesNext.Live – who would you see as a guest?

Next Guest

By now I hope some regular readers have tuned into one or more of our first WhatComesNextLive shows. These half-hour 1:1 conversations do go out live each Tuesday at 17:00 UK time, then are available via the site links as either podcasts or on my YouTube channel.

Feedback from viewers/listeners and guests alike has been that the conversations are rich and full of ideas and insights. I have certainly enjoyed every moment myself and look forward to both the upcoming shows and seeing the show develop over time.

Now, the first nine guests I booked are all people I know well, but, whilst I will keep inviting on guests I know, I’d love to broaden this out to people I have not met, or even never heard of at all. After all, I’m insatiable curious about people and leadership, so love talking to new people.

The experience is so, so easy for the guest, all they do is rock up with the theme “What Comes Next” in mind, then chat with me for thirty minutes.

So, I have an “ask” of you. Who do you know who would make a great guest that you’d love to listen to on a future show and that you can introduce to me and to the idea of the show?

Thank you to all of you reading this for giving this thought, and particularly to those who then go ahead and make introductions.

Dictum Meum Pactum

London Stock Exchange Coat of Arms Dictum Meum Pactum
London Stock Exchange – Coat of Arms

The London Stock Exchange, dating back to 1801, was granted their coat of arms, above, in 1923.

Dictum Meum Pactum.

Meaning?: “My word is my bond”.

I am reminded recently that Scots law is different than English law. One key element is that under Scots law, a verbal contract is legally binding.

Once again: “My word is my bond”.


What can I do to support you to do the best work of your life?

"All I ask is that today, you do the best work of your entire life." - Steve Jobs

Yesterday Oli Barrett asked a question on twitter:

For the full post by Oli, LinkedIn users can see it here.

This brought me back to a quite brilliant question Chip Conley has always asked people who came to work for him.


Understand what you need

Circle: Understand What You Need

Understand what you need.

Yesterday at 4 pm UK time (8 am on the West Coast), as we have done every week since returning from the Modern Elder Academy in April 2018, our cohort from that week met for a “Zoom circle”.

4pm. Every Tuesday. For an hour. A circle simply for each person to share and for everyone to silently sit, to listen, to be present. The circle has met every single week. Yes, each of us misses a week or two from time to time, but the circle has always met each week.