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.


Beautiful Leadership – Purpose and the Corporation

people planet profit

Graphic highlighting the “triple bottom line” concept of People, Planet, Profit

As regular readers of my daily posts know, I am focussed on #BeautifulLeadership, asking leaders:

“how can your leadership, your business, be more beautiful?”

This immediately brings up the question: “what do you mean by more beautiful?”

My response ?: “great question, what do you think?”

It certainly is an invitation, a provocation to consider how you can do and be more.

Today I will muse on the following statement, one that has already resulted in multiple carefully considered articles in and letters to the FT, and one that I would ask of any leader considering my provocation around being more beautiful in their leadership and with their business.

“Why should the citizens of this world keep companies around whose sole purpose is the enrichment of a few people?”

~ Paul Polman, outgoing CEO of Unilever, asked in Feb 2018 (more…)

Top 5 Posts and searching for themes

top 5

Daily posting here now means there are well over 450 posts on the site.

Each post is already tagged and categorised, but with so many posts, the easiest way to search for terms and themes will be via the search bar, so we’ve upgraded this to a custom google search as this is more effective at mining the over 278,000 words written. (I also notice that my average post is now up from under 500 words to approaching 700.)

We also put a widget on the right-hand side of the page showing the Top 5 posts of all time on the site for you. This widget is a bit “buggy”, so today I’ll share the true top 5 and a couple of personal thoughts around each one.

First, though, muse a little on searching for themes. (more…)

Give handwritten thank you notes

thank you note

In 1989, when I was 24, I moved to the Cayman Islands. Sending faxes and making phones calls was still eye-wateringly expensive, so I sent aerogrammes, short, handwritten letters, to stay in touch with family and friends.

These days the art of a handwritten letter or even note seems very rare, so today a reflection both on the power of receiving a handwritten thank you note, as well as the perhaps surprising power this has for the giver. (more…)

Give people the gift of listening

gift of listening

Recently I wrote: “What is your one-word theme for 2019?“. After writing this, I instinctively offered to a few groups the opportunity for them to have me support individuals with a one hour call to get to their theme, and have since had a number of such calls.

I work as a sounding board for leaders, yet even though a large part of that is about listening and reflecting, somehow these recent calls were a strong reminder to me of the value of truly listening.

Or, as Ed Percival, my greatest mentor, used to say, I give people a “jolly good listening to”. For more on what I’ve learned about what it means to really listen, see my earlier post “Listening – your Superpower“.

Who could you give the gift of listening to today?

Comfortable in your own skin

Steph Curry Underrated

Just over a month ago I wrote first about Steph Curry and his actions to empower girls.

Today I find myself sharing another example of leadership off the court from this athlete, and again from an article he wrote in The Players Tribune, a quite remarkable publication that gives athletes a platform to share, in-depth, their stories.

I’ll share today his most recent example of leadership voiced in the article “Underrated”, but I dug deeper and the phrase I want to highlight from him today is from an earlier article: “I’m a person who is comfortable in his own skin”


Charles Dickens and income inequality


On 10th January I wrote “CEO Pay and Ugly Leadership“, referencing wise thinkers past and present and noting:

“Leadership where CEO pay keeps climbing to ever higher heights while average workers real pay has been dropping in the modern world for some time. Not beautiful. Ugly in fact.”

So a friend who read that post recently sent me show notes from an Old Vic production of  Christmas Carol, so today I share thoughts from Charles Dickens on “fat cat” inequality. Oh, and these date from when? 1843. 175 years ago.

Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose, or the more it changes, the more it is the same thing. (more…)

Billy Connolly – Lessons from a Master

billy connolly made in scotland

BBC just put out two one hour shows called “Billy Connolly Made in Scotland” (link here for those in the UK).

Billy Connolly represents a line in the sand. Comedy in the UK was either before Billy or after Billy. He is, simply, the “Big Yin”.

Today sharing one particular lesson from his mastery that can be applied by leaders managing the energy of their people. (more…)

All things come to those who wait

Today, on a quiet and grey winter Sunday morning, I am taking a “slow day”.

I know myself to be someone instinctive and intuitive, who often moves fast from decision to action, that when I “light the blue touch paper” I move fast and people move fast and act fast in concert with me.

At the same time, lesson after lesson presents to me and to all of us through history that sometimes the truest and best course of action is to be patient.

The trick, then, is to know when to “light the blue touch paper” and when to pause or simply move patiently. (more…)

Exploring Beauty – John O’Donohue

odonohue beauty

Yesterday I wrote: “CEO Pay and Ugly Leadership” in which I shared the words of Alan Moore:

“Beautiful Businesses Leaders respond to a higher order calling of service to a greater good. Their leadership is framed by values and informed by purpose.”

To act on that higher order calling part of that path is to know the difference between Beautiful Leadership and Ugly Leadership. To truly anchor to Beautiful Leadership it is is key simply to Explore Beauty for the beauty’s sake.

Today some of the beautiful thoughts and words of the late John O’Donahue, who truly dedicated his life to the exploration of beauty in thought and deed. (more…)

CEO Pay and Ugly Leadership

bad good-1123013_960_720

“Beautiful Leadership is a choice, so is Ugly Leadership”

I wrote these words recently in: “Be careful of toxic language

Two days  in “Our Clarion Call to Beautiful Leaders and Makers“, I shared Alan Moore’s thoughts on Beauty in Leadership and Business, including:

“Beautiful Businesses Leaders respond to a higher order calling of service to a greater good. Their leadership is framed by values and informed by purpose.”

Yesterday someone asked me if Alan and I were reaching too high to frame up our focus as high as Beautiful Leadership. My answer was simple. “No, we can all be aspiring to be more. Lead more beautifully, build businesses that are more beautiful”.

We know beauty when we see it. We know Beautiful Leadership when we experience it.

Today an example, CEO pay levels, where current models (and they are a choice) are ugly rather than beautiful. For CEOs and other leaders reading this, I ask you to consider your choices and whether you could choose to lead more beautifully. (more…)

Be so good they can’t ignore you

steve martin

Today I’m recommending to you to choose to “be so good they can’t ignore you”, and to back that up by having people in your life, including mentors, that believe in you even more than you believe in yourself

“Be so good they can’t ignore you” ~ Steve Martin

Steve Martin is brilliant. If you don’t know his work, treat yourself to watching any of his brilliant movies across different genres, his sketch show work, his writing (and there is more, much more to him).

Today I’ll share a clip of him giving that famous piece of advice he has repeated over and over, then link to my own thoughts on the power of belief and being supported by those who believe in you. (more…)

Thank you for visiting my website

People are my library, my daily writing a way to discover what’s in it: ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little fun. As your humble librarian, I invite you to subscribe to check out a digest of daily emails emailed twice each week. No late fees, ever.