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.


What will you do differently in 2020?

Doing things differently: Albert Einstein. I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.

What will you do differently in 2020? Today I’ll help you muse on that, hoping to inspire your innate curiosity for self and your business.

As we come to the end of the year, rather than wait until January to think about this, I recommend you start thinking about this now. Take some quiet time to consider this before you take a break over the holiday season, then allow it to sit mulling in your subconscious until you are ready to bring it forth again.

I’ll write around New Year’s Day (as I did last year) about how to create this as a simple one-page contextual strategy for the year but for now, two simple thoughts to help you “cogitate”, on a) pausing to assess, b) innovating and iterating your business, c) the power of being curious when it comes to willingness and desire to change.


Fear and Presence

Fear and Presence

What are you afraid of, and what does it mean for how Present you can be if you are Fearful versus without fear?

Warning, going deep with this post! Please bear with me, I hope the “payoff” at the end is of value to you.

Jerry Colonna, Non-Attachment and Fear

This week I’ve come to the full realisation that I am without fear of that deepest of fears and that this means for me that I am more present to each moment than I have ever been.

**Edit: thanks to Dave Stewart of Fresh Air Leadership for challenging me on this post. One thing I wish to give more clarity on is that to feel without fear could be read to be without hope, to be detached from the world. It could also be read to mean that I feel somehow invulnerable, “bulletproof”. I want to be clear that I am absolutely passionate about life, as well as feeling open and vulnerable at this stage of life far more than ever. It is, however, being open to all that life brings that, for me, has evolved me to this place of “without fear”. I hope that is useful to explain!

For this recent epiphany, I give thanks to Jerry Colonna, a beautiful human and master coach, who I met this week at a talk where he spoke about being a “Better Human, Better Leader“. One theme that Jerry reminded me of ashe spoke was the Buddhist concept of “non-attachment”, which, as a coach, is a constant reminder to be “unattached to the outcome” for my clients. Jerry was also asked about Fear.

In how Jerry spoke of non-attachment and working with fear, I came to a realisation of being without fear.

Allow me to explain.


Better Human, Better Leader

Better Human, Better Leader

Yesterday evening I had the great pleasure of being at an intimate gathering at the H Club to hear from Jerry Colonna, hosted by Ian Sanders.

I’ve written about Jerry before in “That’s a great question“, so it was a privilege and pleasure to meet him in person (as I’ve often noted, a key reason I moved to London was that so many great thinkers, writers, speakers come through London regularly).

Jerry is a truly exceptional leadership coach and someone I have already learned much from. I look forward to diving into his book “Reboot – Leadership and the Art of Growing Up” over the holidays.

For now, a few key takeaways from the event last night:

  • Better Human, Better Leader.
  • It is hugely powerful when we feel the workplace embraces us bringing our whole selves to work, including accepting and embracing that sometimes we all struggle.
  • On the contrary, when we feel forced to always put on and wear a mask, we face huge personal dissonance. This is when companies complain that there are issues with trust in the organisation.
  • This does not mean turning meetings into therapy sessions, but it does mean meeting someone who is struggling with simple human care, understanding and acknowledgement.
  • Be human by being open, vulnerable and supportive of your people. Vulnerability allied to the confidence that we will get through and find answers together, this is strength in leadership.

Thank you for your inspiring presence and teaching, Jerry.

What do you believe about money?

All money is a matter of belief. Adam Smith

Among the most common themes that I find come up for leaders is their beliefs around money.

Today sharing a twitter thread from a man who I first talked to about this topic when we met on snowshoes on a mountain in the Alps. Tom Nixon is a wise man in many ways, his work and study of the topic of money of high value to follow. Tom works to support founders and their organisations. I find that the founders of early-stage growth companies can be significantly impacted by money beliefs, so working with Tom is really supportive for leaders of such early-stage businesses.

I’ve “unrolled” the thread beyond the “more” link for you to read in full. It is full of nuggets of wisdom. For now, this is worth musing on:

Money has no fundamental nature, good or bad. It has no will to do good or bad. It is neutral. Money works like a mirror. It reflects parts of yourself that you want, and parts of yourself you try to suppress.


Want to meet? Let’s walk.

Meet and Walk

Today I arrived back in London early morning on an overnight flight from Cayman. It was a beautiful and sunny winter’s day.

I’d arranged to meet up with someone, they then had to be somewhere else in town for their next meet up. We made the most of the day by taking time for a long walk between the two places, then I left them to it and headed back home.

A lovely way to spend time and reminded me of the power of walking meetings.


Gratitude + Presence = Inspiration

Inspiration and Gratitude
Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void

This morning as I am about to leave Cayman, I am sitting to write today’s post and the word Gratitude comes to me, allied to being Present.

I then searched my site for those terms and found a post called “Gratitude+Presence” from, similarly, another trip to Cayman.

In that post I wrote about that partial “Emotional Equation” of “Gratitude+Presence”:

I do love Emotional Equations, yet for now, I can’t come up with a “= ?” for the other side of that equation.

Today, I feel to complete it.


What if you made your Vision your Present?


Think for a moment about your Vision for yourself, your business or organisation.

For those with a focus on the UK, where the General Election just happened, perhaps you may be reflecting on your own Vision for country, economy, society.

Now, these all typically have in common that they are focussed on the future. What if, though, you considered that your Vision is in the present, is now, today and everyday?

I sat recently with a leadership team who felt that they didn’t have a vision. I’ve been working with this client for many years and, as I listened deeply to them, a thought occurred to me. They are already living it now.


Is it time for you to “GSD”?

Keep Calm and GSD

A good friend of mine has spent their life making sure they had everything in their head all the time at any time. As you can imagine, their recent discovery of a personal productivity tool that works for them has been transformational. The tool they use is very popular and been around for two decades or so, called “GTD” or “Getting Things Done“.

In short, rather than filling one’s brain with “to do” lists and more, find a way to get that out of your head to leave space for creativity and productive thought. For me, I use Evernote for that as well as mindset management so my mind is (generally!) clear for my best work and thinking.

Now, another friend (and also a client with a wide and varied number of business areas to consider) has been spending time with me aligning on their focus going into 2020. Part of this at this particular phase for the business is to move from thinking and talking to plans, action, accountability.

They already are highly productive, so this is far less about written plans and productivity methods, but time to enter not into the GTD mode, but the GSD mode, elevating to the GSD mindset that is so appropriate for them at this time.

What is GSD? Global Somali Diaspora? Global Schools of Design? Gibraltar Social Democrats? Nope, simply:

Get S**t Done

You haven’t watched The Princess Bride? Inconceivable!

The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!

Today a light-hearted post spurred by an otherwise highly rounded individual who, it turns out, has never watched The Princess Bride. Inconceivable! When you have some time to relax over the coming holiday season, please do yourself an immense favour and watch it.

Oh, and the all-time most searched and viewed post on this site is: “Inigo Montoya – Masterclass on introducing yourself“, featuring particularly famous lines from the movie. Meeting someone this week, we shared our mutual dislike of “networking events”. Next time that I go to one I shall introduce myself as “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya” and see if this elicits a reply of the next two lines of his introduction. If they don’t, I shall politely bid them adieu. After all, I love movies, my tribe are those who also do.

Holstee: Life is short. Live your dream, and wear your passion.

Holstee: Life is short. Live your dream, and wear your passion

Ten years ago, in their first step as a company, Holstee’s founders, Dave, Mike and Fabian, sat together on the steps of Union Square in New York to write down how they define success. The goal was to create something they could reflect back on if they ever felt stuck or found themselves living according to someone else’s definition of happiness. The result was the Holstee manifesto, which went super-viral.

I love the idea of defining what success is at the very beginning of a company. Steve Jobs said that Apple was here to “put a dent in the universe” in the garage with Steve Wozniak, ie at the very beginning.

I also love supporting leaders and their organisations connect to their Purpose and what it means for everyone in and connected to them and how it can drive success far more effortlessly as it also creates powerful alignment and clarity across the business.

What’s your manifesto, your definition of success?

I leave you with the Holstee manifesto lifestyle video and wording.


Slow down. Happiness is trying to catch you.

Slow down. Happiness is trying to catch you.

Yesterday I woke in the Cayman Islands on a beautiful “Christmas Breeze” morning. However, instead of being truly relaxed, I thought about writing the post for this following day and felt the struggle of coming up with something for that day. Reminds me that the word “essay” is derived from the French “essai”, which can translate to a “trial”, and I couldn’t get focussed on writing this “mini-essay”!

I’m here in Cayman for a week for a visit full of business catch-ups and client work, yet on my first day here I was struggling, trying, to slow down and relax. As I watched my recently retired host slowly and methodically put up his Christmas decorations on the balcony, once again it struck me how difficult it is for us sometimes to slow down, to “let happiness catch us”

Still, by the end of the day, I was sitting with my three sons at Sunset House enjoying the “banter” and a meal on the waterfront. I had slowed down to let happiness catch me, and very few things in this world make me as happy as simply sitting with my boys listening to their chatter, being fully present to that.

Right, writing this on Monday morning Cayman time and now off to this full and active week, and yes, I will still remember to slow down. I leave you with this from Sunday morning.

Always ask “what”, not “any”

what else?

Yesterday I wrote: “Flux and intense curiosity“, linking to an annual post from Tom Whitwell of Flux called “52 things I learned in 2019”. The 52nd and last thing he had learned was:

Asking ‘What questions to do you have for me?’ can be dramatically more effective than ‘Any questions?’ at the end of a talk. (Many more good tips in this thread. [Jacqueline Antonovich]

Yes! Yes! Thrice yes!

Let me share why such a “Yes!” and give some further tips


Flux and intense curiosity

Albert Einstein Curiosity Quote

I am certain that intense curiosity is an essential attribute for #OpenLeadership.

Recently I was pointed towards an amazing annual post by my eclectically brilliant friend Steve Moore. As he put it: “Read Tom’s annual post. You will learn more in the ten minutes it takes than you have all year long. You will learn more in the ten minutes it takes than you have all year long”.

I give you this link to the annual post by Tom Whitwell of Flux, redolent of his own intense curiosity: 52 things I learned in 2019

Oh, and I got to #26 on this curated list, I got a little excited. I’m an investor in this company!:

Gravitricity is a Scottish startup planning to store energy by lifting huge weights up a disused mine shaft when electricity is cheap, dropping them down to generate power when it is expensive. Using a 12,000 tonne weight (roughly the weight of the Eiffel tower), it should be half as expensive as equivalent lithium ion battery. [Jillian Ambrose]

The emergence of the purpose-driven consultant

purpose-driven profit
The new triple bottom line,
see the #OpenLeadership article “Leading from Purpose

..The growing demand for a fairer, more caring form of capitalism has also given rise to a related phenomenon: the emergence of the purpose-driven consultant.

Over recent years, a cottage industry of advisory firms has sprung up, all promising to help companies on this “journey” (a favourite phrase) towards a more purposeful, less profit-centric model of business.

In the spirit of business-as-unusual, their approach is refreshingly unorthodox. “Bold”, “heartfelt” and “emotionally involved” are among the defining characteristics..

Oliver Balch, “Good company: the capitalists putting purpose ahead of profit
The Guardian, 24 November 2019

Count me in as one of those “purpose-driven consultants” supporting brave leaders on that transformative journey to putting purpose ahead of profit.

The opening paragraph of my home page reads (note bold type at the end):

Command-and-control leadership is losing its grip. A new way is emerging: #OpenLeadership, embracing change as constant, encouraging individual thought, relying on intuition more than data, fluidity more than hierarchy, trust more than fear, and putting the common good ahead of profit.

Oh, and as I constantly say, by putting Purpose+People+Planet first, so many businesses show again and again that this leads to Profit, but as an outcome, not as the primary focus.

So, glad to see this movement building momentum, with this latest article in The Guardian (see link by the quote from Oliver’s article) a recent example reporting on this.

One caveat. Beware of what I have termed “Purpose-washing”, there is much “box-ticking” going on, as there is with ESG/CSR/SDG focus already.

Taking the Business Roundtable statement quoted in the article, I’m skeptical about their motives, boxes feel like they are being ticked right now.

So, if you are truly drawn towards a new way of leading, let’s talk. I’ll listen, then I’ll call it as I see it. If you are truly up for this, I’ll be with you every step. If you are not, I’ll tell you that is what I see. Perhaps call it a “Purpose Check”.

Let’s talk

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

Live in the present before making plans for the future

Live in the present before making plans for the future

“..making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present.”

Alan Watts

My life is structured in what is often a seamless blend, so when someone asks me “what do you do?” and they are really asking “what is your job”, whatever answer I give tends to bemuse them. You see, I’m not playing the game of work, life IS the work, to me it is all in flow. Work, life, business, personal. It is all interwoven.

As an example, yesterday I had a sparkling conversation with Steve Chapman, partially captured in “The Power of Not Knowing“, then a meeting around a group I am a volunteer member of representing the Cayman Islands in London. I then went back to my home office for a video call to a client in California, a call that truly crackled and sparkled with energy and through which I wove some thoughts and ideas from meetings earlier that day and also in recent days. In other words, it all flows. As Alan Watts would say, it is all play.

Today, then, I’ll share a talk from the late Alan Watts, who Steve reminded me of when we chatted. Whenever I wish to look to understand what life is all about, Alan Watts is a frequent reference.


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