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, all centred around the ideas of #OpenLeadership. Enjoy…

The power of an upwards spiral

openness and trust upwards spiral

Trust is at the core of all relationships.

My underlying theme on this site I call #OpenLeadership, as being Open is at the heart of what I see as the new paradigm of Leadership, one of four core attributes detailed on the #BeMoreYou page.

I also love “Virtuous Circles”, my favourite being the one below from Gaping Void and that was the first of many framed prints from Hugh McLeod that filled the walls of our business in Cayman.


So, I love the image above of an Openness and Trust spiral, as a virtuous circle is really a 2D representation of a 3D upwards spiral, where both elements feed each other to higher and higher heights. Trust builds Openness, which builds more Trust, which builds even further Openness etc.

I close with another virtuous circle, that of the “Scale for Impact” model, or “new triple bottom line” where Purpose+People+Planet leads to Profit, which can then be reinvested for Scale to create ever more Impact through that focus on Purpose+People+Planet and so on.

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

Horizontal Leadership

leadership wordle

Sometime over this summer, I will collate some key blog posts and models under a header of #OpenLeadership as a tab on this site. Open Leadership is a move beyond command and control, a move beyond hierarchy.

It is not new, however, it is simply about leading in an inclusive, empowered and trusting way. As an example, a while ago Chip Conley had told me a story of getting together a group of fellow students when he was starting university some nearly 40 years ago.

This week one of those students, a certain Seth Godin, wrote about that moment. He called it Horizontal Leadership.


Business is simple, people are complex

Business is simple: Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. - Confucius

Business is simple, people are complex

This phrase is one I used a lot in working with leaders around transformative change.

Business can be boiled down to numbers, process, metrics, budgets. Business can be complicated, but it can also be understood, so distilled to simplicity.

People, on the other hand, are complex. They cannot be analysed, processed, distilled to simplicity. We are driven first by our feelings, then our thoughts. Sentio Ergo Sum, not Cogito Ergo Sum.

As such, it is highly predictable that the Private Equity business and the Entrepreneurs they invest in so often fail to understand each other.

Today am curating an article by Mike Driver, a polymath by passion, Chairman of Convex Capital his day job, where they “advise entrepreneurs on how to maximise and realise the value of the equity in their business.”

In his article, Mike compares Risk and Uncertainty, also giving incisive commentary as to why professionals in the Private Equity business cannot possibly understand what it feels like to be an Entrepreneur and visa versa.

Over to you, Mike.


I don’t see challenges, I see opportunities


I’m in Grenada on holiday right now. In 2004 they were smashed by the same Hurricane (Ivan) that went on to hit Cayman. Due to natural disasters as well as global geopolitics a key industry (agriculture) took a devastating hit and is still, fifteen years later, recovering.

By first world standards, it is so easy to look at an island nation like this and only see challenges. However, the entrepreneur in me is reminded of a phrase I heard once that inspired me:

I don’t see challenges, I see opportunities

My own twist on a direct translation from the French of the word Entrepreneur is someone who takes an opening.

I see so many openings one can take in Grenada, so a few thoughts today around that to illustrate entrepreneurial mindset. (more…)

Today is a wonderful day to do nothing

Winnie the Pooh - Favorite Day - Do Nothing

A grey and stormy day at one of the most remote hotels I’ve ever stayed at. After breakfast I remark to the owner: “this feels like a wonderful day to do nothing”.

“Isn’t every day a wonderful day to do nothing?”, he replied.

“That sounds like a ‘Winnie the Pooh’ quote“, I said.

We both laughed as I walked off down the hill to the terrace outside my room to read, to doze, and now to write this.

It may not have been a quote from Pooh bear, but it was indeed in that vein.

Also this morning, I was asked, quite philosophically: “who are you?”. After a doze, I thought to myself: “I’m a man who sometimes makes the simple too complex”.

Today is indeed a wonderful day to do nothing, to take Pooh as my role model.

Sometimes I overthink life and what it takes to be happy, fulfilled, contented.

Today. I think I will not think very much, I will simply do nothing.

53 Speed Bumps

speed bumps

It is 45km (28 miles) from the airport in Grenada to the remote and beautiful Petite Anse hotel.

How long would you figure it would take to drive there on the main road around the Caribbean side of this island of 100,000 people?

Perhaps you’d figure there is a highway, so it might take about 45 minutes, as it would do for a similar distance from the airport to the Reef Resort at the far tip of a similarly sized island, Grand Cayman.

No, in Grenada it takes about one and a half hours.

They even have speed bumps on the main road.


Would you rather be a Specialist or a Generalist?

How a generalist triumphs in a specialized world

Summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, so many will be looking for books to read. So, I just found out that David Epstein, author of “The Sports Gene”, which spun the “10,000 hours” theory on its head, has now come out with a brand new book:

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

I haven’t read it as yet, but am clear that I still recommend this book because:

  1. If it by David Epstein it will be valuable to read
  2. I’m definitely a generalist, so I’m biased!

For years I used to say “my specialism is that I’m a generalist”, so I’m intrigued by what Epstein has come up with.

I also seem to have developed a niche in developing senior leaders in central government. Civil Servants are indeed specialists at being generalists, so I hope to pick up some great new learnings to support such clients in the future.

Intelligence is both Fluid and Crystallised

intelligence and professional decline

Over 45? Feeling increasingly irrelevant at work?

I recently read a wonderful long essay in The Atlantic by Arthur Brooks entitled:

“Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think”

Depressed yet?

Well, within this in-depth and thought-provoking article, let me today highlight one area where awareness of what it says may actually give you cause for great optimism.


Just, Simply, Especially?

especially semantics

Today is the fourth anniversary of the passing of Ed Percival, my greatest mentor in life.

Ed taught me so much. As a homage to him, the page on this site focussed on potential clients assessing what they are seeking in a coach and how I work with my clients is called #BeMoreYou.

#BeMoreYou, as a phrase, was the distillation of Ed’s many decades of experience and learning as a coach. I wrote more about this in “Being More“.

One key area of learning from Ed was the power of language.

It is never “just” what you say and how you say it. Sometimes it may be simply what you say, other times especially what you say.

So, today’s post is around that specific thought and those words, and also draws on the wisdom of another sage human, Seth Godin.


How far is far enough?


So this past weekend a friend had asked me to join him for a charity ride in the countryside.

“140km”, he said, “it’ll be no problem”, he said, “not too many hills”, he said.

The longest ride I’d done in several years was less than 45km, but hey, I go to spin class twice a week and do Pilates, so “yes” was my answer. (more…)

Canada, leading on immigration

Canada, leading on immigration

Nav Bhatia, “Superfan” of the NBA winning Toronto Raptors

Recently I was in Canada, including visiting Toronto and eating dinner on King Street the evening after the Raptors won the NBA Title.

I’ve always been fond of Toronto and of Canada, with one of my favourite things being the way they approach immigration as a country.

Canada is showing how to lead on immigration in a way that is positive, affirming, and supports a nation and economy for all of their people. 


What to say or do when we feel provoked?


I struggled to write anything at all today, as right now I feel a sense of true sensory overload.

I’m typically able to hold many thoughts at once as well as process multiple emotions, both as a natural ability and through many years of training and experience as a coach, not to mention being a father of three.

However, sometimes we have these moments where it is all too much to process, so we can go into a kind of “lockdown”, certainly one that can stop me getting into a writing “zone”.

Today then, my apologies, but I can’t write much.

So, what happened to tip me into this sensory overload?

Was it the video of an elected government minister assaulting a woman protester, grabbing her by the throat and marching her out of a black-tie dinner?

Was it that the entire audience simply sat there and said and did nothing at all?

Was it that a large portion of the public and journalists then looked to justify his actions?

Yes, all of those things and more.


Manage your energy, not just your time

Manage Energy, Not Time

So, I sit here at 7pm on Thursday to write the daily blog for Friday at 8am, feeling quite tired after a really active day full of a variety of meetings.

As I am about to write, I get an email reply from someone I’d messaged about a meeting with them for next week that I thought I had confirmed but didn’t see in my diary. They had replied to say that my wonderful EA, Katie, had noted to them that my diary was a little packed that day and that, as it was the day before I go away on a trip, they agreed together to move the call to after that trip.

Perfect timing as a reminder to manage my energy.

If Katie had only focussed on managing my time, she would have put that meeting in the diary, but as she has a higher context of managing my energy, not my time, she didn’t.

Katie’s key role for me is to manage my diary. With that context of managing energy and not time, we took time from the outset and on an ongoing basis for her to understand what works for me in terms of when what and how many meetings to book for me so that I can always have the energy and the right kind of energy for the people I am meeting and talking to.

Hey, I often coach leaders on managing their own energy for their optimum performance and wellbeing, so I do always do the same for myself.

So, today I give thanks to Katie for managing my energy through her awareness and understanding, also for bringing me a reminder that sometimes we don’t know what we need, we need other to see it for us. We can’t see the goldfish bowl we are swimming in!

With all of this pointed out to me, and with it being 7pm at night as I write this, that’s it for today’s post, I’m tired, I need to recharge for tomorrow.

Why don’t scaling companies seek support?

Scaling Companies

This week I met with someone leading a fast-growing network designed to connect scaling companies to people internationally who can help them with introductions, mentoring and more. They have a huge demand from people looking to pay to be in their network to both meet each other and to attend events where businesses come to ask for support in scaling to the next level in whatever city or region the particular event for that network is being held in.

However, it turns out their biggest constraint to growing their network is a lack of scaling businesses asking for support.

This conversation led me to a simple epiphany as to why that is the case.

Why don’t scaling companies seek support?