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.


Slow-motion multitasking


The Gif above is the famous slow-motion walking scene that opens Reservoir Dogs.

To me, this is the single most memorable and seminal moment in a classic movie. The combination of the change of pace allied to the background music is in such contrast to the speed of movement, action, dialogue throughout the whole movie after that point.

This scene comes to mind as an example of both slow motion and a shift to a different style and way of storytelling.

As I write, I sit quietly in my apartment writing for the morning in the middle of a very active month of November and I find myself considering the power of what Tim Harford (author of the Undercover Economist and an FT contributor) calls “slow-motion multitasking”. Today I’ll muse on the power of this concept. (more…)

Tranquility or Adventure?


I write this from a tranquil evening with some of my oldest friends, sitting by the fire in their home after a winter walk in the Aberdeenshire countryside.

Life is an adventure, and at the same time sometimes it is wonderful to balance adventure with tranquility. (more…)

Solitude in Leadership

seeker of silences gibran

As I’ve written about in several of my last few articles, Alan Moore and I have dropped a pebble in a pond around the idea of Beautiful Leadership, now we shall see what ripples form from the beginning of the “Beautiful Gathering” retreat we recently hosted.

That gathering started with an exploration of beauty, then moved to beautiful objects and what it takes to lead beautifully.

From this, today I give you some words from the beautiful poetry of Kahlil Gibran  (more…)

Listening for energy

ting jin

As I write this post, I have just finished a meeting with a client where there was a powerful moment that came from deep listening to what sat behind the words and content of the conversation. It even sat behind the context or source of the issues being discussed. It sat in the deep energy behind this.

Today I’ll say more and give some examples from experience around “Listening for Energy”. (more…)

PUSH and PULL, finding the right balance

push pull

As leaders, sometimes we push ourselves hard. Work hard, be busy, lead by example etc.

We often then push our people to think, decide, do, deliver.

In the #OpenLeadership model, I refer to this as #Warrior mode. It can work for a time yet ultimately depletes others.

Alternatively, we can seek others to feel the pull of our vision and ideas, to be attracted to an idea and bring their own energy, ideas, effort to make that vision a reality.

Life and leadership are not binary, not “either/or”. It is always a matter of balance between push and pull actions and push and pull energies of leadership.

Today some stories and ideas to support you as a leader in considering your own choices around where to find that balance. (more…)

Say it out loud

Taylor TEDx

This photo is of Dr Taylor Burrowes giving her TEDx Talk in Cayman in April 2014.

I thought of Taylor today, somehow inspired by David Ross, a renaissance Kilmarnock man who posts every morning on Twitter as he wakes up about his face, hair and voice.

Today I shared a few of David’s tweets out loud. It made me think of Taylor’s talk and the power that comes when we “say it out loud”. I’ll muse on both of them and then a thought for leaders on “say it out loud”.


Be brave enough to keep it simple

hanshoffman simplify

Lovely piece of wisdom in that quote.

In all of my work as a sounding board to leaders and to teams, I have never (never!) found an occasion where it was important for them to make things more complicated in order to get their message across, to get alignment, agreement, engagement, energy, enthusiasm, motivation etc.

I’ve written on this site many times away simplicity and will do so again today, but today I will focus on why there is demand for specialists like me to support change.

It comes down to one word. Bravery.

Some people are not brave, some people don’t believe they are (but have untapped and powerful depths of courage awaiting being unleashed), some have bravery by the bucketload and simply need it focussed in the right way.

Let us explore some. (more…)

Simple, but not easy


“It’s simple, but not easy”

Yesterday I wrote “To be truly radical is to make hope possible“, and closed that post by saying today I’d write a little about what it takes for radical change.

I love radical change, transformative and brave. Incremental change is important, “marginal gains” and all of that is vital to maintaining forward momentum. However, for me what I love is supporting leaders who are hungry and brave and know deeply that something more radical is needed and that this is their path.

So, when a client asks me for my advice on how to transformationally change their organisation, after I listen, ask questions, then listen some more, I often come up with this statement.

“It’s simple, but not easy” (more…)

To be truly radical is to make hope possible


“to be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing” ~ Raymond Williams

Last week I was at the annual Meaning Conference in Brighton, which has the tagline “Meaning connects and inspires the people who believe in better business.”

At the conference I was reminded of this line.

As Alan Moore and I are working on ideas around “Beautiful Leaders and Makers”, the conference theme around “better business” links closely with our concept of Beautiful Business and Beautiful Leadership.

Perhaps Beautiful Business and Beautiful Leadership are radical notions, and if so, I embrace it and making it beyond possible and real for more and more of us around the world!

Tomorrow I will write a little on what it takes for such radical change.

Simplicity on the other side of complexity


“I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

I was recently asked to contribute to a shared list of beautiful books. As I did so (and I have written reviews of many books in posts on this site), I recognised that, more and more, I love radically distilled writing. One line, even one word. (more…)

My religion is kindness


Yesterday I wrote “Kindness as Leadership” showing the power of kindness and how Fred Rogers brought the chairman of a congressional committee to tears through his calm grace, single-handedly saving funding for public television.

This reminded me of the phrase that the Dalai Lama uses often:

My religion is kindness (more…)

Kindness as Leadership

fred rogers

Yesterday I published “Be Nice“, talking about Jeffrey Sachs and his advice for changing the world. As a leader he has certainly changed the world through his thoughts, actions and choices.

November 13th, two days ago, was “World Kindness Day”, and at one stage that day I sat and read the Sunday Times review of “Won’t you be my neighbour”, a documentary just released about Fred Rogers, one of the kindest humans I’ve ever come across.

Today let me share my thoughts around Mr Rogers and kindness, closing with one of the most powerful appearances at a congressional subcommittee you will ever see.

He exemplified kindness as leadership. (more…)

Be nice

Jeff sachs david mcwilliams2018

“Be nice”

These were the two most powerful words in a one-hour interview last weekend at Kilkenomics where David McWilliams brought Jeffrey Sachs to illuminate and inspire. (more…)