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.


Guest post: The Wisdom Within a Minute

Wisdom Within a Minute

Today sharing a post from Ed Duggar, a wise human I had the good fortune of meeting last year through “mi hermana”, Rosie von Lila as we all came together in NYC to support one of her “What Comes Now” live events

Ed is deeply passionate about taking his experience and skills in the field of investment capital and demonstrating (as he has, repeatedly, throughout his career) that one can invest capital to scale businesses, gain excellent returns AND address key challenging social and environmental issues AND addressing structural biases that radically limit access to such capital to women, people of colour and other less represented groups.

He and his business partner Julianne Zimmerman follow this purpose and passion through their business, Reinventure Capital. As part of this, they write regular blog posts, and today am sharing a recent post from Ed on “The Wisdom Within a Minute”. To cut to the “punchline” of the story that follows, Ed asks and answers a powerful question:

..if only given a tiny little minute — didn’t choose it, had to use it, must give account if I abused it — but that minute had an eternity of ripple effects within it, what would my decision be?

Perhaps the best answer is the one we knew was right to begin with, when free of considerations of lost favor or personal retribution. Powerful decisions full of values we believe in, that stand the test of the time we live in.

Enjoy the article…


Cayman and Connecting

Connecting in Cayman

So, I’m coming home to Cayman once again for the week of December 9th.

CONNECTING is my Context for this trip (see “Setting your Personal Context“).

I’ll be connecting with my sons and with friends, and with clients for various projects and meetings. Cayman is and always will be home to me, so it is also a general sense of connecting to Cayman, of being and feeling “home”.

I’ll have some space in the diary that week, so if something I’ve written in my daily blogs or #OpenLeadership posts has connected to you, or if you’ve looked at the #BeMoreYou page and would like to meet to explore that with me, email me to set up to meet, or even go virtual and set up a thirty-minute call online.

PS the photo above is theReef resort, part of my life since conception in the late 1990s, and still connected to the people and the place and take “staycations” there with my boys often.

Let’s talk

My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.

I do not agree with what you have to say…

I do not agree with what you have to say…but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

I do not agree with what you have to say…
but I will defend to the death your right to say it

For several years I have gone each year to Kilkenomics, my favourite event of the year. One of the most remarkable things about it is that the panel moderators are professional comedians, who bring their skills in sensing the crowd to how they facilitate conversations, and also are really well briefed, particularly Konstantin Kisin and Colm O’Regan.

However, I had never seen any of the comedians doing a comedy set, until last weekend when I went to watch Konstantin and his show “Orwell that ends well”.

Konstantin went through a media whirlwind late last year, so I have to admit it was with some trepidation I went to his show, as I had a surface concern that his material might offend me.

What happened instead was that, by being open to going to the show and to listen, instead I found the show deeply moving and affecting and reminded me strongly about the power of listening to diverse views, and, above all, to the importance of free speech.


Do you take time to learn leadership skills from athletes?

My question today is not CAN you as a leader take time to learn from athletes, but DO you?

As an ex-athlete as well as friend, father and colleague to a number of elite athletes and leaders involved in supporting elite athletes, the crossover in learning from Athletes to Leaders has always been an obsession of mine.

I read, listen and enquire voraciously both for anecdotal learnings and wisdom as well as deep and evidence-based studies. I then often share these (succinctly) with those clients who use me as their sounding board and library. I then also share much of what I learn in my daily musings here on this site.

However, in my experience supporting Leaders, I rarely find that they do more than booking the occasional keynote “inspirational speaker” talk when looking to learn from Athletes.

For you, then, my encouragement is to go deeper into learning from Athletes for yourself, both for your self-leadership and in leading others.

As a starting point, open the image and read it carefully, then select the top three of the fifteen traits listed, then ask yourself: “what can I do to learn more about this?”

Once you have your three, why not book a call with me and we can talk through them and share learnings?

Let’s talk

My clients say I “see what others don’t see”. Experience for yourself, book your 30-minute call now.

A Cautionary Tale for a Sunday

As the great Ed Percival always taught me: “never make a point without telling a story”.

Today, for your Sunday morning delectation and delight, simply sharing the latest from Tim Harford, a great story-teller in written form (who I first discovered through “The Undercover Economist“.

Tim has just launched a wonderful new podcast called “Cautionary Tales“, each one anchored around a particular true story from history, yet within a relatively short (around half an hour) podcast, full of stories and curiosity around how we humans behave and why.

To me, curiosity is an absolute pre-requisite for the leaders of today and tomorrow, so I encourage you on this Sunday morning to relax, sit back, and enjoy Tim’s latest story-telling, and absorb the points he makes therein.

Knowing yourself

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom - Aristotle Quote

The last few weekends have been, as one says in Britain “full-on” for me, including Kilkenomics , before that Basecamp.London, and just the last two days at Meaning Conference then a workshop led by Nilofer Merchant.

Next weekend I am officiating both days at the amazing International Swimming League event at the London Aquatic Centre, then the following weekend is in the country visiting friends, then the following two weekends will see me back home in Cayman visiting family and friends and working with clients. Those trips back are definitely always “full-on”!

So, this weekend I have virtually no plans, so am writing this a little later than usual on a Saturday morning, sitting in my red checked pyjama trousers, then here I shall remain, quietly, for much of the day.

You see, I’ve known this quiet weekend was in the calendar for some time and consciously have not filled it with meeting friends, with activities. I’m actually quite introverted, so after lots of massively stimulating events and meetings with people in recent weeks, like most introverts, every so often I need to time to recharge by being quietly on my own.

With that, time to make a cup of coffee and pick up a book.

Enjoy your weekend.

The day I had a physical breakdown

physical breakdown

On the evening of December 26th 2010, Christmas festivities were over. I lay back on the couch to watch a movie but soon fell asleep, only to wake up hours later in some of the most agonising pain I’d ever experienced. I literally could not sleep other than propped up on the sofa for nearly a month from that point on!

Having not been to the GP since, well, pretty much “ever”, I called our GP (a family friend) and they had me come in the next day for blood tests. When the tests came back, they sat me down and told me that one of the blood markers was 24 times over the normal level and that this meant a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. As someone who had been an athlete almost all my adult life, this was devastating.

To cut a long story short, luckily, after over two months of enforced rest (and many more medical tests), I was fine. It turned out that I was simply stressed and had been overdoing it, and overdoing it massively.

I’m writing this post as a recent email by Whitney Johnson struck a chord with me, where she said:

I love my work. In fact, that might be an understatement. Because I love it and love the people I work with, I get even more opportunities to work. Imagine my surprise then, when one day a few months ago, I realized, “I am really stressed. Why do I feel this way? I’m not supposed to be stressed. I love my work.”

So, let me tell you why my body literally broke down on Boxing Day 2010.


What does it mean to learn?

What does it mean to learn?

The difference between memorization and learning
In order to learn something, you must understand it. You might become so insightful and facile with the ideas that it appears you’ve memorized them, but that’s just a side effect.

Rote memorization can be done in some fields, and you can even recite what you’ve memorized to someone else who can memorize it. For example: You can’t learn alphabetical order, you can only memorize it.

On the other hand, memorizing anything that you’ll need to build upon, improvise on or improve is foolish. You’ll need to do the work of understanding it instead.

Seth Godin

In my school and university career, I did really well up to a point by “rote learning”, by using memorising and other tools to cram information into my head. However, in my professional education after that (to become a Chartered Accountant), there was progressively more emphasis on understanding a topic, up to the final “TPC” (Test of Professional Competence) exam, which was a full day, “open book” case study.

In short, testing whether or not we were ready to be “competent professionals” was not based on pulling facts or figures from a textbook, but from us being able to show we had gained a deep understanding of what we needed to be a Chartered Accountant, that we had learned.

Moving to another level of learning, that of embodied learning. I wrote a long post recently on this, noting around a learning experience:

I truly felt and still feel it deeply. It is an embodied learning, no words are necessary, it is “in me”.

I am still (and always will be) on a journey to learn new ways to learn. I am, you could say, looking to understand how to learn, and that is, I feel, the essence, seeking to understand is the root of learning. Be curious, be humble, always look to understand more.

What if life could be a Permanent Sabbatical?


noun noun: sabbatical; plural noun: sabbaticals

a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked.

Recently I was at an event and met someone I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. As we enthusiastically greeted each other, they asked: “So, what have you been up to?!”. Wow. So much has happened for/with/to me in the last three years, yet the words that came out of my mouth were: “I guess I’ve been on a quasi-sabbatical”.

On a personal level, friends and family know a lot has changed, including moving to London in mid-2017. On a business level, by nature I am a “business builder”, and through 2016 I was both CEO of a global business coaching company and also leading my own coaching business based in Cayman as part of that overall business. Since mid-2017, though, I’ve shifted focus to working independently and predominantly as a Sounding Board to Leaders. I’ve also committed well over half of my time to NOT being client work, both focussed on learning, partnering on impact projects, as well as mentoring and other ways of supporting others.

Put another way, I’ve been on quasi sabbatical!

Shortly after that conversation, I was chatting to Chip Conley and shared this story with him. The wise and sage friend that he is, after a smile and a laugh at the “quasi-sabbatical” line, he then mused: “what if life could be a permanent sabbatical?”, which got me thinking…..


Kilkenomics: Mission Accomplished

Kilkenomics Cayman Airways

What happens when you set a vision and then a mission for a business and you achieve them? Do you carry on, or do you pause, assess, then create new ones starting from the foundation of where you are now? Or, do you simply carry on without a “reset”, even though the job is complete?

Today a story from a Caribbean airline and lessons that could be learned by my favourite Economics festival.


Kilkenomics: Learning how to know

Colm O’Regan moderating a Kilkenomics panel

Last weekend at Kilkenomics it was, once again, a pleasure to watch Colm O’Regan moderate multiple panels and interview. I’ve written about “yer man” Colm before and the way he fills his role is exemplary and effortless, yet also clearly shows how much time he puts into preparation, to knowing his panellists and their particular expertise and focus before he steps on stage.

In the panel shown above, as he asked Liam Halligan his first question, Liam was a little taken aback and first said: “you know your stuff, don’t you!”.

Colm also ran a conversation with Samantha Power, a high-powered past US diplomat so clearly someone familiar with masterful language, and yet, at one stage as Colm probed her as to how she had grown in her role, he reframed what she had said into something concise.

For today, then, I’ll simply share that phrase and also commend Mr O’Regan for always being curious and always being open to, at higher and higher levels:

Learning how to know

Kilkenomics: Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens

Kilkenomics panel

“Models are useful hypotheses guiding rough maps of the terrain”

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 2008 for models and thinking on a particular field. He has also had a unique platform for an Economics professor in writing a twice-weekly column for the NY Times for twenty years.

This weekend I was privileged to listen to Paul Krugman, Dan Ariely and Yanis Varoufakis, moderated by David McWilliams, muse on “The Life and Death of Economics” at Kilkenomics. As David said in introducing his guests, if he had started with a blank page and though who might he like to have discuss the future of Economics, he could not have picked a better group. In short, these three individuals are absolute rock stars in the field.

Now, if we think about our image of rockstars, we might have expected them to be egocentric, pronouncing with great certainty that their models are the answer, perhaps interrupting the others and arguing and even dismissing their thinking.

And yet, these luminaries were humble, respectful, warm, open, enthusiastic, and certainly enjoying themselves.


We are feeling creatures that think, not thinking creatures that feel

feeling and dance

“Although many of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think.”

Jill Bolte Taylor

Recently I was at an amazing two-day collaborative event, Basecamp.London. Each participant chose a “challenge” to be part of. I chose to be part of the Diversity and Inclusion table.

Little did I know how strongly I would FEEL a massive learning around both Diversity and Inclusion.


Find a Purpose that has you

Purpose and strategic plan

Over the years I have been introduced to many leaders and organisations who have either brought in consultants to help them develop their strategic plan or have done it themselves using an established format. What they have in common is that their (usually long and detailed) Strategic Plan literally and figuratively “sits on the shelf”. They’ve felt frustrated that after all the work done to produce and launch it, people have disengaged and, as a result, it “sits on the shelf”, gathering dust, potential unrealised.

They then talk to a peer or other trusted contact who knows and has worked with me, and that person tells them I can help them unlock that potential. In filling this niche, I’ll highlight three things:

  • Bravery – often the missing link
  • Brevity – getting the essence of their strategy down to “one page”
  • Purpose – Strategy must link to Vision and, critically, to Purpose.

Of these, whilst Bravery and Brevity are key, without a strong link to Purpose that everyone in the organisation feels strongly connected to for the long term, all Strategic Plans will lose momentum.

Today, then sharing a short post from my esteemed and most wise friend Bruce Peters, who sent me this on reading my post yesterday on “Building Bridges for CEOs“.


The Plateau of Latent Potential

Batman making potential possible

In “Always be Batman“, I wrote:

“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born

and the day you find out why.”

So, I’m not Batman, but I do know why I am here. My Purpose is #MakingPotentialPossible. This means I live in this in my work for my clients. Beyond that, similarly minded people are those I connect to most.

One such person is my dear friend Ian Armiger, one of the greatest sports coaches I have ever met. He is all about seeing and realising potential in and for others, particularly swimmers and swim coaches.

This week, while I was at the amazing Basecamp London, Ian send me a simple image, which led me down a rabbit hole to learn more about Atomic Habits and one in particular.


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