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.

Enjoy…

Change takes bravery and belief

entrepeneur build plane cliff

A few days ago I shared learnings from Mike Driver in : “Where Entrepreneurialism comes from“. Basically Mike said that it can’t be taught:

““..entrepreneurialism can’t be taught and the library full of books attempting to teach it are a waste of time. Short of travelling back in time and putting your childhood self through some sort of trauma you cannot ‘become’ an entrepreneur.”

This week I find myself working with a client leadership team looking to lead transformative behaviour change in their government department.

What they need, at some level, is entrepreneurial thinking, but if Mike is right (and I do agree with him), what can be done to support them around change? (more…)

Inflation and human psychology

boj inflation

Economics is a notoriously unreliable science for predictions. My take on this is that this is due to Economic forecasting being based partly on empirical numbers (which can be quite well predicted), but also on human behaviour, and there is the rub.

As a favourite saying goes, “business is simple, people are complex”, and human behaviour (aka “consumer sentiment”) drives so much of economic activity.

So, today an example of a central bank looking to influence consumer behaviour around inflation. (more…)

What might you find hidden under your nose?

bioluminescence cayman

Last night was my last evening on this trip to Cayman.

I took my boys on a Bioluminescent Bay tour with Cayman Kayaks.

As you can imagine from the photo above, it is an amazing experience to see the light emanating from micro-organisms as you swish your feet, arms etc through the warm Cayman waters.

What also blew my sons and me away, though, was the location of this amazing natural spectacle in Grand Cayman.

Though these night-time tours are quite a new attraction, this natural phenomenon had been right under our noses all the time. (more…)

Phenomenal Women

Marla

I write this a day earlier than it will post and today is International Women’s Day

Maya Angelou wrote a poem called Phenomenal Woman. Let us honour the phenomenal women in all of our lives.

Today I will highlight one such phenomenal woman, my dear friend Marla, who in 2017 gave the Sir Arthur Lewis memorial lecture, a big stage for a Caribbean economist.

I share with you here a video created and posted for IWD2019 of her opening to that speech, plus the transcript from that.

I remember when I first heard the speech, it gave me goosebumps, the power of the story was so strong, the way Marla honoured her grandmothers. I hope it so inspires you too.

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Are we in a rush?

incomplete church cayman

Sometimes we want it “now!”, other times we are prepared to be patient in building something, whether an actual structure, a business, a culture, whatever it is we are building.

Now, strong intuition and feelings can have that “NOW!” feeling be strong in us, we then look to rush to action, to take advantage of that feeling.

Imagine an entrepreneur who just KNOWS that there is an opportunity they have to take right away. That can bring powerful energy to drive everyone involved forwards to make that vision a reality.

However, such “in a rush” energy does tend to be a relatively short term energy and not sustainable. It is what is called “Startup” energy in a business, it won’t sustain the business for the long run (see my recent post on toxic culture at Revolut, a FinTech business still driving staff really hard years after startup).

So, we know that to bring something sustainable, we may need to be patient and take our time to build a firm foundation.  As I wrote about yesterday, by conscientiously focussing on the elements of that foundation, we can choose to be “building to last”.

So, are we sometimes in a rush? Yes

Can that bring powerful and positive energy? Yes.

Is it also important to build to last and create sustainable energy? Yes.

How can we do both then? Ah, that is a question!

One early morning this week I drove across Grand Cayman, observing changes fast and slow, which had me consider the answer to that. (more…)

Building to last

The Reef

This week I am back in Cayman and, for the first time in a long time, am staying at The Reef Resort, this the view from my room at sunrise as I awake on my first morning here.

It is an odd feeling to be here, not simply Cayman, where I have spent most of my adult life, but to this resort that I have such a long association with, dating back well over twenty years to when it was only an idea. This has me ponder on:

What do we create in our work and do we truly build to last?

(more…)

Where Entrepreneurialism comes from

mike driver

“..entrepreneurialism can’t be taught and the library full of books attempting to teach it are a waste of time. Short of travelling back in time and putting your childhood self through some sort of trauma you cannot ‘become’ an entrepreneur.”

The 17th and closing tweet in a thread posted this week by Mike Driver of Convex.

In short, Mike’s Twitter thread is concise, incisive and brilliant. Yes, it concludes that entrepreneurialism can’t be taught (so don’t bother trying to learn how to be an entrepreneur as an adult), but in his thread, he explains where it comes from.

As I put it in when sharing his thread onwards on Twitter:

“deep thinking around source from evidence in practice, allied to comprehensive and wide-ranging reading around relevant topics. Aligns closely to my own findings with many hundreds of entrepreneurs”

Today I’ll share his tweet thread (presented as a short opinion piece in this post for ease of reading, as well as my thinking around why I use Twitter.

Please read it.

Oh, and if you are thinking of embarking on a course of study on being entrepreneurial, don’t 🙂 (more…)

To see ourselves as others see us

DFW this is water quote

picture credit Sloww.co

Today I am reminded of the difficulty of seeing ourselves how others see us and the power of critical thinking both for that and to truly see and understand others.

These are universal challenges for each of us. For those who lead others, the “self-leadership” part is at the core, then the layers and dimensions simply expand, to the people in our organisation, the values, beliefs and cultures consciously and unconsciously present. The opportunities for understanding and exploring are endless as we then look at societal, systemic, structural issues.

For this reason, we often look to understand such issues through philosophy and also art, including writing.

Today I’ll share teachings from this from two great authors, David Foster Wallace and Robert Burns, I hope this supports you in looking at what you can do to see yourselves as others see you, as well as to look to understand and see others more clearly. (more…)

Revolut and the cost of toxic culture

the fish rots from the head

Earlier this year I wrote “The fish rots from the head“, sharing my experience over the years that toxic culture starts from the top, that:

“People observe their leaders, so no matter how much money is invested by HR and LnD in people, if the leadership are not, well, leading in their behaviours, all of that money invested is wasted. Change must come from the top as well as from all levels within.”

Well, folks, let me introduce you to Nickolay Storonsky, founder and CEO of Revolut, a terrific example and lesson leaders can learn from.

His business has hit the headlines this past week with an exposé from Wired magazine on their hiring practices, but they hit my “rotting fish radar” some time ago by the CEO’s attitude in press interviews. Let’s explore. (more…)

Do you have a pile of books?

Pile of books

Only one part of my current “pile of books” to read

Do you have a “pile of books?”

Mine never seems to get anywhere near “manageable”, as I simply keep buying more and more to read.

This pile is only the ones that are loosely to do with business and leadership, there are also more that are novels, poetry, history and and and… at least twenty books on my coffee table alone.

It is a thing, you know!

I guess I could read some of them before I buy some more, but I typically spend about an hour a day researching and writing for my daily posts, so don’t really seem to read books enough.

I guess I’ll work out a solution, but for now, I am happily sitting with this huge pile of books here.

Perhaps I’ll sign off for today now and read one!

How many blue cars do you see?

xk120 ceg266

When my two oldest sons were very young, one summer we visited great friends in Norway. One day my friend and I took his two sons and mine, all aged between about 3 and 8, for the over two-hour drive from Oslo to their cottage on a lake for an overnight trip.

It was a wonderful trip, but on the way back the boys were bored. My friend asked them to pick a colour. They chose blue. He then asked them to count all the blue cars they saw.

Amazing how many blue cars you see when you are looking for blue cars.

Today a story about the word beautiful as it relates to business and seeing it when you are looking.

Also a thought around the power of having a focus word like Blue, or Beautiful.

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Mark Hollis – Learn how to play one note

Mark hollis

“Before you play two notes, learn how to play one note, y’know? And don’t play one note unless you’ve got a reason to play it.” ~ Mark Hollis

Yesterday Mark Hollis died.

He was the leader of Talk Talk. Their music really touched me in different ways, then he stepped away from music and fame completely, at the top of his game. Last night, then, I spent hours listening to that music to mark his passage.

The quote above also says so much about how he evolved and grew as a musician over time, distilling to essence.

Learn how to play one note.

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