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 did I do when it got too hot yesterday?

creative brain hot day
wonderful image (c) MarketingMonks

So, as I write this to post at 8am it is Thursday July 25th at 4pm and 36c.

However, though my post for Thursday July 25th was “Too hot to think“, somehow I found a creative solution to the heat.

I’m sitting here in cool air conditioning in what amounts to a totally private workspace and it is even a cafe serving coffee and protein shakes. I am the only customer from 1:30pm to about 6pm.

Makes me think about creative solutions and where they come from once again.


Too hot to think

too hot

Today at 8 am it is 27c in London and forecast to hit 39c by mid-afternoon.

That is simply too hot. No air conditioning. I can’t think in this heat.

I could make up all kinds of cool metaphors for business and leadership, the beginning of one coming around the combined gas law, that (Pressure * Volume) / Temperature is always constant. I could draw parallels around we could apply terms like Pressure, Volume and Temperature at work to work.

Sorry, I can’t. Too hot.

Today I’ll take the client calls I have overseas (where they aren’t so hot), and otherwise drink lots of water and sit with a fan blasting on me.

Apparently, it will cool off to a balmy 27c tomorrow.

Stay cool, stay hydrated.

Do you shut down your office when it gets too hot?

London trains hot weather

overheated trains in nearly 40c temperatures in London are no fun

Today in London the freakish short heatwave will result in temperatures over 35c, and tomorrow (Thursday 25th) it is forecast to reach nearly 40c. That is 104f in “old money” for my American friends!

That is hot, but in addition over 90% of people who work in London get there by public transport, and for literally millions of them that means going into the London Underground, where temperatures are even higher still!

Oh, and very few London offices have air conditioning, so when they do get to work their is no respite.

So, knowing that temperatures will return to a more palatable 30c or less by Friday, how many employers chose to close their offices today and also tomorrow and either a) tell people to work from home, or b) simply give people two days off.

Very few indeed, yet this makes very little rational sense to me….


Don’t send emails after 5:30 pm

it doesnt have to be crazy at work emails after 5:30 pm

“It doesn’t have to be crazy at work” is a book full of nuggets of wisdom that can change your life and that of those who work with you.

Seriously, every single suggestion they give not only makes sense to me, but I’ve also applied most of them over the years as a business leader and in recommending them to clients for their own businesses and organisations.

Take a look at the first few ideas I’ve recalled from memory from reading the first half of the book today.

If any or all of these resonate for you, apply them. Now.

If you would like to talk over ways to lead on these and ensure smooth implementation, talk to me, I love to support leaders on this type of simple yet transformative change!


Go and learn something totally different

dad skateboarding doing something different

This week a friend and his son are taking beginners skateboarding lessons each day.

Learning something totally different and unrelated to your work or prior skills in life is now recognised by psychologists and neuroscientists to be something that truly fosters creativity and innovation. It literally rewires the brain.

I first thought more about this a year or so ago when Chip Conley spoke of it and how he had decided to learn to surf.


Want to be creative? Walk a different route to work

walk different route to work

“Innovation = doing things differently and doing different things”

I distilled this some years ago into my definition of innovation.

Innovation at work is really “buzzy” these days, with book after book, TED talk after TED talk about how we can be more creative and innovative at work.

One simple suggestion today. Take a different route than the usual one you walk to work each day, then repeat the new route again and again rather than your regular route.


Your mind is like a parachute: If it isn’t open, it doesn’t work


Your mind is like a parachute: If it isn’t open, it doesn’t work.”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut 

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, July 20th, 1969.

It all began with the open mind and huge vision of one man.

On May 25, 1961, President John F Kennedy told Congress that the US “should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

On July 20th, 1969, that vision was realised.

This came only 20 days after the first time any NASA mission had taken someone out of the earth’s atmosphere, and then only for a 15 minute sub-orbital flight.

JFK, however, had the vision to restore confidence in his country that had been dented by the space race and cold war with Russia. He believed that this lunary goal could play a key role in building on the ability of Americans to innovate and achieve. The lunar landing was a massive vision and one that took 400,000 people to achieve, but many historians now look back on it as leading an epochal shift for the USA in the 1960s.

Now you may say you are not JFK, but I challenge you to be your own JFK.


The connectedness of meaning allows ideas to be scaled

Purpose, People, Planet - Profit for Impact Triple Bottom Line Meaning

A line from Nilofer Merchant’s recent LI article: “Don’t Be The Lonely Only” reads:

“when connected people can do what once only large organizations could; the connectedness of meaning allows original ideas to be (a) incubated and (b) scaled.”

The graphic above is my distillation to a model key to #OpenLeadership that I call the new triple bottom line, as I most recently wrote about in: “Make Purpose the first P in your triple bottom line“, noting at the end of that piece:

“It is my consistent experience that the more you focus on Purpose, the easier it is to make a Profit.”


Speak out against intolerance

Martin Luther King Jr Silence Intolerance Quote

Just when we thought the level of intolerance and racism in countries like the US and the UK could not get any worse, over the last few days the US President has not only lowered the bar below where many thought it possible to go in attaching four congresswomen of colour, but he then doubled down on this over the next days and, as I write this, yesterday he addressed a rally and, as he attacked Representative Ilhan Omar once more, the crowd chanted “send her back”.

Meanwhile, the silence from elected politicians is deafening.

A few weeks ago, a cabinet minister in the UK grabbed a woman by the throat and marched her out of a room where she was making a peaceful protest.

After watching the video of that again and again, what chilled me most was that nobody in the room thought to take action against him.

We now live in an environment where people of colour are increasingly scared to be in public transport, or even go to work, where, more than ever, they are told to “go back to where you came from” and even physically bullied and assaulted.

In such an environment, speak out, take action, don’t be silent.

Consider these words:

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Dr. Martin Luther King

Also, from an earlier post:

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

Edmund Burke

A powerful phrase that has been adjusted and repeated for many years as:

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

You are only as good as your people

You are only as good as your people - Chelsea warr

Recently I had a check-in call with a long-time contact who is a shooting star rising up in one of the world’s top financial institutions. This individual is someone I know will be a model of #OpenLeadership for decades to come, they absolutely model the attributes of being Hungry, Humble, Brave and Open that are essential to leading now and into our future. This young leader absolutely gets the power of putting people first in business, and their business is currently investing in them by having them work out of any formal target-driven role for several years as they shift around areas of the global business learning as they go.

I also am working with a client a quarter-century into their career who is about to take a brave leap out of the world of driving to corporate targets as short terms as monthly and often weekly, week in and week out. They have recognised the untapped opportunity for businesses to focus so much more on their people, not just in funding L&D and other programmes, but truly and deeply investing in people as more leaders see that this is where their unerring focus needs to be.

In my own three decades in business, I absolutely see that organisations that truly believe in, trust in and invest in their people are those that do and will thrive into the future.

Those are some thoughts, and I also love the quote from Chelsea Warr:

“You are only as good as your people and you are the greatest asset we have. You are our high-performance system.”

Who is Chelsea Warr?


Guest Post: Your pain and where to put it (to work)


Today a guest post from my friend Christine Locher, fellow coach and all-around learned soul!

A key element of leadership is to stretch and grow (both yourself and your organisation). Sometimes that comes with the risk of failure and so pain.

Today some learnings from Christine on the subject of pain.


Language is powerful – what energy sector are you in?

energy sector

Have you ever said phrases such as?:

“have a safe flight”

“please don’t hesitate to ask”

In an earlier post, “the map is not the territory”, I wrote about the power of language and linked to an in-depth presentation on some of the ideas.

Suffice to say that the first phrase may implant the idea of the flight not being safe (instead, perhaps say “have a good trip”), the second is implicitly asking someone not to ask anything of you.

Today I note a simple change in language around types of energy in that industry and the potentially powerful impact of that simple change.


CASE – Copy and Steal Everything

magpies steal to make their nests

European folklore talks of magpies as birds that steal objects (including, particularly, shiny ones) to make their nests.

Someone with a “Magpie Intellect” tends to be known for having a lot of knowledge that they have acquired by voraciously learning from others. Some magpie intellects then synthesise what they have learned and make those ideas their own, as I wrote about in: “Synthesising ideas – who inspires you?“, using a definition of synthesising: “combining different aspects of your ideas and research and the ideas of others in order to produce new ideas”.

Now, to the acronym “CASE”, which stands for:  “Copy and Steal Everything”

Picasso said (and Steve Jobs quoted him often): “‘Good artists copy; great artists steal”

Bringing the leadership qualities of being Hungry, Humble, Brave and Open to these phrases to define them for leaders:

  • Good leaders copy. They are open and humble to learn from others and utilise what works, not needing to have all the answers themselves
  • Great leaders steal. They are not only open and humble enough to learn from others, but brave and hungry enough to be compelled to make the ideas their own by building upon them, evolving them. Oh, and they also love it when others then “steal” their ideas, as they practice abundance.

Are you a magpie? Do you “CASE”?

Guest Post: Referendum Thoughts (Remastered)

forth crossing brexit referendum

This photo is of the three bridges across the River Forth outside Edinburgh. Furthest away is the seminal Forth (rail) Bridge, nearest is the brand new Queensferry Crossing, which somewhat hides the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964. At that time it was the first bridge of its kind in the UK, the longest outside the USA, and the fourth longest in the world.

My grandfather was a consulting civil engineer on the Forth Road Bridge.

I’m very proud to hail from Scotland, a country that certainly has always felt very different to England politically, particularly at a level of what feels important to Scots around society. In the last few years I see this disparity growing more and more as the values of Scotland and Scots continue to be those of a fair and inclusive society, whilst England feels like it is becoming ever more divided and divisive.

Today a guest post from a friend and fellow pragmatic dreamer, David Ross, otherwise known as @dfr10 on Twitter and the man behind the “up” morning tweets (I sense a new type of book in his future for this “weegie noir” novelist).

David’s post shared here today was originally written after the Brexit referendum three years ago, recently “remastered” for where we are today. I love the way he writes, the way he expresses the Scotland I see and feel, plus hey, we see eye to eye on this.


Want to magically increase your performance? Sleep

eat sleep swim repeat

“Sleep is a natural performance enhancing drug. Tragic how many people think they can get by on 7 hours or less.”  @DHH

My two oldest sons were elite swimmers. As teenagers then university students, it may have seemed to outside observers that they were lazy, as when they weren’t swimming or at lectures they were mostly eating and sleeping.

What may not have been obvious was that eating and sleeping were consciously planned and part of their training regime. Eating and sleeping weren’t what they did when they weren’t training, it was part of the training. When you train well over twenty hours per week and also maintain a high academic workload, fueling and resting are essential.

The younger of these two boys seemed to take this to all new levels. Not only did he typically eat well over 8000 calories per day (that is about 4 times the average adult requirement!), he could also easily sleep 12 or more hours per day. If sleeping were an Olympic sport, he may well have won Cayman’s first medal!

Perhaps inspired by my boys and my own experience as an athlete in the past, I’ve always focussed on human performance and support leaders around this as part of my 1:1 work with clients.

When someone appears tired, unfocussed, demotivated, scattered, very often I’ll ask them (or pick up without having to ask) that they don’t sleep well.

Sleeping is critical for performance, addressing sleep issues is not optional, it is paramount. Perhaps you don’t think you have an issue with sleep, but do you sleep at least 7 hours per night and wake up without an alarm each morning? If not, then I’d say there is real room for improvement.


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