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.


How do you go from great to elite?

Go from good to great to elite.
Josh Waitzkin, image (c) Creativity Post

You are already “successful”, making a difference through your leadership in and for your business and beyond, but your ambitions are even greater. You wish, as Steve Jobs liked to say, to “make a dent in the universe.”

You want to #BeMoreYou, to see and always reach for your full potential. To do this starts with knowing who you are, a “superpower” for leaders and one that can have you to turn that dent in the universe into a crater.

The opening of BeMoreYou on this site, helping potential clients identify themselves

These words are on the BeMoreYou page on this site. Put another way, I work with already successful people who have already moved from “good to great” and are hungry to move from great to elite so that they can make an even greater impact on the world.

This week I was on a call with one such client who often talks to me to talk through already formed ideas, concepts, projects , strategies. On every occasion what they present is already exceptional, the focus we have is on how to take it up that “notch”, elevate it from great to elite.

In order for me to bring as much value as I can to such conversations, I am a voracious learner, with one person I am studying now being Josh Waitzkin, a truly elite performer who takes a very similar approach to the clients he supports and who I seek to learn from to take what I do up another “notch”. I’ll write more about learnings from Josh, but today a little introduction and a hugely simple yet powerful tip I recommend you action today!


A divine bacon roll

bacon roll
A divine bacon roll, from LeSwine

I am currently learning about Josh Waitzkin, author of “The Art of Learning”, and this quote around one of his learning models (on Stress and Recovery) was powerful:


“Most people in high-stress, decision-making industries are always operating at this kind of simmering six, as opposed to the undulation between deep relaxation and being at a 10.” ~ Josh Waitzkin

courtesy of George Mack from this twitter thread

So, this daily blog is on #OpenLeadership and seeks to support brave leaders in continuous improvement. Part of this is, absolutely, to find balance, to be aware of and to consciously “undulate between deep relaxation and being at a 10”.

Another core element is that of lifelong learning is very disparate fields (something else Waitzkin espouses and models).

So, to the topic of today. No, not a weighty post on leadership, but today, not for the first time, I will continue to share around my lifelong quest for the ultimate bacon roll.

My happy place for some time had been a cafe in the middle of Richmond Park that I would cycle to regularly. However, I am in mourning for the loss of that cafe that made the best bacon roll I’ve ever tasted, as the family gave up their lease in Autumn 2019.

I wrote about what made their bacon rolls magnificent back in May 2018 in “Ikigai and Bacon Rolls“.

Now, as the quest continues, a select group of us, as aficionados of both bacon rolls and bike rides, have a WhatsApp group where we both organise rides and share bacon roll stories (hey, its a niche!).

This week I tried delivery of DIY bacon rolls from the famous LeSwine food van at Spitalfields Market. Since lockdown, they pivoted beautifully to offer DIY kits, delivered nationwide in the UK, for you to create your own LeSwine bacon roll. The idea is simple, the packaging top rate, instructions clear and concise, product top notch. Oh, and the bacon roll was great!

I shared this with the Bacon Roll Ride crew and, absolutely correctly, the response from one was:

“I’m sure the answers to the universe are in a divine bacon roll”

So, I absolutely loved my LeSwine bacon roll and it scores very highly on my ultimate list. Meanwhile, I continue the quest. Please give me your suggestions for the ultimate bacon roll!

The power of a single sentence

Virginia Woolf - single sentence
Courtesy of White Owl on Twitter

I saw this quote on Twitter the other day and replied: “That is beautiful and has so many layers. Thank you.” White Owl then replied: “You’re welcome Tom. I think its beautiful too. The power of a single sentence.

I love brevity. In my work as a Sounding Board to brave leaders, sometimes bravery can mean helping them distil their message to one single sentence.

I am reminded of a post from 2018: “Writing I Love: the longest writing. can be one line“, giving multiple examples of “the power of a single sentence”. One sentence shared in that post that has me ruminating as I write this is a line from Cloud Atlas:

All boundaries are conventions, waiting to be transcended.

We create boundaries in so many ways as humans. In communities, nationalities, ethnicity, sexual orientation. In business there are so often hierarchies, competitors to be defeated, “us” and “them”.

I shall stop here and continue to allow myself to think about powerful single sentences. I’d love to hear of single sentences that you find powerful.

Simple things done well

Skoda Octavia - Simple things done well
Skoda Octavia – “it does what it says on the tin”

Recently, for the first time in several years, I once again became a car owner. Much though I love high performance and sporting cars, this time I was more pragmatic.


The Divided Brain

This weekend the London area is hot, way too hot to use my brain, so I postponed all Friday work to Monday (when it will be moderately cooler!).

For now, sharing with you an RSA Animate video with some core thoughts from the brilliant Iain McGilchrist, author of the seminal tome: “The Master and his Emissary“.

If you are truly interested in how we as humans think and process information, the work of Iain McGilchrist is of huge value and importance.

I also note his part in the interviews in the documentary “InnSaie – to see from the inside out”, a marvellous film I wrote about in this blog.

I share the video and this quote:

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant

Albert Einstein

The gift in seeing what you don’t see

"You can see in others what they don't see in themselves and what the world doesn't see in them. We all have that possibility, that potential, and that promise of seeing beyond the seeming." - Maya Angelou

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

from “To a Louse” by Robert Burns

The power of seeing ourselves objectively is a topic I return to again and again from multiple angles. Today reflecting on two experiences yesterday and on the gift of someone seeing us in ways we can’t see for ourselves.

The first experience was making my very first visit to the office of a client. When asked what I saw (from the appearance, layout and location of the office), my observations about the individual and their business really took my client aback, first giving them pause for several minutes, then for them to say aloud “I had never thought of that” and noting they would really think about what that means and what to do next.

The second experience came a few hours earlier, when a truly amazing specialist in Brand and Positioning got on a video call with me, having first looked at my website. They told me that my home page was “all about you” and they suggested one simple re-ordering of the language that would be far more compelling to my audience.

Gosh. When I talk to clients about their positioning and how to express it on their website, a key message I always give them is that it must be about the potential client (the viewer of the site) and not about them and their business. However, somehow I couldn’t see that in the copy on my own site I was failing to do this myself!

I simply hadn’t seen it, yet when it was pointed out to me it was suddenly obvious.

That experience did feel like a gift to me and I will now work with that person, who will see me objectively then help me edit and re-order my site to focus on the reader far more.

So, others can see what we don’t see for ourselves. Who do you have who can do that for you, who can give you that gift?

What comes After What Comes Next?

after what comes next
Antifragile by Nicholas Nassim Taleb, giving a way to thrive in a world of “The Black Swan“, a book I reference in my blog early on in the pandemic, March 8th 2020, called “Act Now

As readers may know, in addition to daily blogs, I now run a weekly live show and podcast called WhatComesNext.Live. Yesterday I had yet another stimulating conversation with Bruce Peters, my good friend from Rochester, New York. Knowing of the show, Bruce asked me:

What comes AFTER What Comes Next?

This took us into a conversation about what the business world means by the word “Strategy”, then Bruce asked: “what have you learned from this theme of What Comes Next?”

My key learning has been that a theme of far too many leaders who now are thinking too short term in terms of what comes next.

The Pandemic has brutally exposed the cracks and even cavernous ruptures in both society and business for all to see. If we can look longer term at strategy than simply fixing things back the way they were before, then we can look to build an adaptable society, adaptable communities, adaptable businesses that will be, as Taleb puts it, “anti-fragile”, designed for resilience and adaptability, to thrive as the world changes rather than struggle.

Linked to this, I particularly encourage you to tune in to the WhatComesNext.Live show on Tuesday, August 18th with Chris van der Kuyl, a dear friend and absolute visionary force of nature. He now focusses much of his boundless energy and vision on our education system. He sees what comes after what comes next.

Tune in to learn more and, I am certain, you will glean powerful insights to apply in your own life and areas of focus.

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: