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.


Coaching – levels of listening

Coaching - levels of listening

Recently I had the pleasure of spending an evening with a group of experienced coaches to explore and share learnings and experiences. As it was the first time this group had met together, understandably it took a little time for the conversation to evolve and deepen.

As the level of conversation deepened, we moved beyond talking about models, methods, frameworks, techniques and into the “what happens beyond” levels of coaching.


How choosing to trust helped make Avis a giant

Ernest Hemingway Quote Avis

A few days ago, a tweet went around that I found striking in how it spoke about the importance of trusting someone you select to do a job.

I’ll share the full story below, for now, my thought is simply that the memo made a powerful statement about trust. I also note that this was back in 1962, when “command and control” as a leadership model was absolutely the way things were done, yet even with this and at a time when Avis was losing money, this was the memo the CEO sent.


Leaders, think of your people as balls of energy

balls of energy

The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another

Imagine all the people you lead as powerful balls of energy and light.

Put them in a room and what would happen?

Picture them bouncing and pinging around the room randomly like some kind of manic video game. Off the walls, ceiling, floor, colliding with each other.

What if, however, you could direct all that energy to one place?


Be world-class. You never know who is watching

world-class open water swim race
Flowers Sea Swim Cayman – one of the world’s top Open Water races

While in Cayman this week, I spent time at an event looking to build awareness and reputation for a burgeoning global industry. As I entered the event, one of the organisers recognised me and came over to chat. I asked them what their goals were from the event and they outlined some impressive ideas around building that industry in Cayman to benefit Caymanian entrepreneurs and to open the eyes of young people and their parents as to new educational and career opportunities.

They did not know that, by chance, I am in the position to easily introduce them to some major global players in that space. At the start of the event then, as a Caymanian, I was excited at the possibilities that could flow from such an introduction.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm quickly dropped, which leads me to talk about this and to reflect on the title of this post.


Omnivalent – what a word!

Omnivalent Dale Carnegie

I’ve been having an amazing week of CONNECTION in Cayman, full of wonderful meetings and time spent with my sons, with friends, clients, contacts. At one lovely lunch, a friend was asking me about what’s next for me in life and work. I tried to find a word to explain how I felt and they share d a word they had been introduced to:


It is in a way opposite to ambivalent. To them, it meant:

“embracing all possibilities”

I loved it, and I add that I am absolutely the opposite of ambivalent, I love life and am excited about the present and the future, and definitely embrace all possibilities.

Yes, I am energised by my Cayman home, always!

Ed Percival and his Cayman legacy

Ed Percival
The late, great Ed Percival

This week in Cayman I find myself musing on Perspectives, on Legacy, on Context, all as I am here with my own Context this week of CONNECTION. After two meetings early in the week with a current client and a past client, I find myself thinking of the legacy of the great Ed Percival on Cayman and how he shifted Perspective and Context for a significant number of Cayman’s leaders.


Context creates clarity and focus

Context creates clarity and focus

This week I had a half-day meeting with a client leadership team in Cayman. With a lot happening for them, they were feeling a little “scattered”. After talking through a download of much of that in some detail, we elevated the conversation and arrived at a Context (and three Themes) to set a focus and direction forwards for them.

Context creates clarity and focus, as well as energised individuals, teams and businesses to take action in an aligned and engaged fashion.

So, how do you arrive at such a Context?


What will your legacy be?


Today’s theme for me from the first day of meetings this week in Cayman.

I started with an early meeting with a client who plans to move to their next exciting career opportunity after years in their current position. Their context for their work with me in their current role as their sounding board and coach has now shifted to helping them leave a strong legacy.

I then met with an inspiring individual who supports individuals and families to create financial freedom, creating space and choice for them. This then creates a financial legacy for families as well as space to choose where they will direct their energy when they are ready to step away from their careers, their businesses.

After that, I had an impromptu and serendipitous meeting with someone who left a strong legacy from their work in Cayman and is now simply enjoying their family in retirement. They are currently in cayman seeing some of their globally spread grandchildren. We met in a coffee shop and reminisced a little going back nearly twenty years. At that time they were principal of the school my children attended and they had a brave vision of expansion for the school.

That school is now nearly double the enrolment it was at the start of that journey. I played my own small part in supporting developing a financial strategy. that saw major construction expansion over the next decade or so That legacy is both visible daily in the buildings of the school, as well as creating an impact on society as more and more of the students have extended their education and moved on to their own adult lives, careers, families and, later, their own legacies.

In just over a week it will be thirty years since I moved to Cayman. It has me musing on my own legacy from all of those decades, as well as what legacy I might wish to leave from the next decades of my life.

Legacy. What might yours be? What choices will and can you make that will impact your future legacy?

Cayman from a new perspective

Cayman Perspective Water

This week I am back in Cayman, my home for more than half of my life, a country that remains my home, though I live in London now.

On my first morning here, staying with friends, we spent hours and hours talking over so many things, as good friends do when they get together after a long time.

What strikes me is that my perspective on Cayman has been altered since moving to London a little over two years ago. Living at a distance, even in this global village that technology gifts us, brings new perspectives.


Climate Crisis. Reduce, Rebel, Now.

Climate Crisis Strike
Great Thunberg outside the Swedish Parliament
starting her school strike, September 2018


One year ago this week Greta Thunberg sat, alone, outside the Swedish parliament, to begin her Climate Crisis strike. One year later, literally millions joined her across the world.

Crisis was the one word to change everything. From Climate Change, to Climate Crisis.


This was the one-word Context developed by a North American client of mine several years ago. They were, at that time, number six in their mature market, yet they chose the word Best.

One word. Always one word. 

Distil your Context to one word and then you can use the Cascading Leadership model (align, engage, enrol) and the entire organisation will get behind that, an immeasurably powerful force.


The power of being positive

positive thinking word cloud

Recently I’ve been reminded about the power of being positive.

I’m definitely energetic and an optimist, two traits I like to think are also grounded in pragmatism, including deep knowledge of business and finance as well as people and behaviour.

Be positive, believe in people, encourage them.

It may seem simple, yet the power of encouragement and acknowledgement is enormous. Take time to make an impact for others in every interaction.

For a longer post with multiple links: “The market for something to believe in is infinite“.

With that, I am off today to Cayman for the week, very much looking forward to meeting a bunch of positive people, being inspired, and hopefully inspiring some too.

Hone your message

hone message

One evening this week I had the privilege as a GlobalScot to attend a “pitch coaching” event in London to support some Scottish businesses in honing their “pitch”, with a specific focus around the London market.

Before we started, I asked them specifically what they were each looking for from the evening. One said that they wanted to be really challenged, to get the hard questions, for us to be tough. Though I typically play the role of coach, listening deeply and quietly, I followed their wishes and gave them a really tough time around their pitch. Talking afterwards, they noted to me that they used to be a national-level boxer, and of the famous Mike Tyson quote: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face”, then that they loved the “punches” they received and now they could go off and hone their message.

It was a great evening and I was truly inspired by both the business owners and my fellow GlobalScots, leading us to agree to do this regularly, to connect with scale-up businesses and look to support them. For Cayman friends, some will remember CAIN, the Cayman Angel Investors Network, where a group of us similarly mentored businesses to hone their message then help them both with investment and growth. Felt good to share that experience to help build something new too.

Oh and the picture? It is of the City of London looking over the Thames beyond HMS Belfast, close to the venue for that evening. I consciously took extra time to walk and meander around the area before the event. So glad I did, as I got to take in the view and take that picture.

Where are you on the spectrum?

visible spectrum

“Where are you on the spectrum?

This could be a question that could spark all kinds of emotive reactions, particularly if the recipient sits in a space of feeling a stigma and block towards talking about anyone or anything that sits outside generalised “norms”. To cut to it, the idea of being “on the spectrum” can be labelled in a negative way towards those with any form of autism, yet another form of “othering” in society.

“Where are you on the spectrum?

Today I ask this provocative question first for us to be aware of our biases (for more on bias and heuristics. see earlier posts here, here and here).

From that awareness around bias towards labelling and “othering, I ask you to then recognise that we often think in binary ways along a myriad of topics, using heuristics (mental shortcuts which inherently contain degrees of bias) to decide that we are either one thing or another, rather than being “somewhere on the spectrum”, not at one end or the other.

The specific topic I’ve chosen to use to examine this today is: “are you entrepreneurial or not?”, answering that binary question with ideas to bring awareness that we all sit somewhere on a spectrum around entrepreneurial mindset, none of us are either entrepreneurial or not.


Prune complexity ruthlessly

simplicity is complexity resolved

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the UK began hearing a hugely high profile constitutional case, streamed live. Such a high profile case also attracts high calibre lawyers to act on behalf of both sides. On the first morning of the case, one of the learned counsels, Lord Pannick QC, attracted much attention and praise for the way in which he presented his argument to the court. I follow various members of the legal profession on twitter, including Sean Jones QC, who tweeted:

“the ability to prune complexity ruthlessly”

Wonderful turn of phrase, sir! In leadership and in all communications, this is critical.

Once you have distilled to simplicity, repetition is also key to landing your message. In “Repeat after me. Repeat your message“, I wrote about how repeating variations on a theme, so today, to highlight why I feel distilling to simplicity is so vital, here are a few variations on today’s theme :

Enjoy, and keep it simple!

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