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.


The Distributed Trust revolution

In our UNTHINKABLE era,  #Open Leadership is the way forward for leading through such radical disruption, as we are not living in an era of incremental change, it is and will be revolutionary.

How revolutionary ?

From thought leader Rachel Botsman, the most beautifully concise expression of the Distributed Trust revolution to come :

“So an idea that intrigued me, and I’d like you to consider, is whether we can better understand major waves of disruption and change in individuals in society through the lens of trust. Well, it turns out that trust has only evolved in three significant chapters throughout the course of human history: local, institutional and what we’re now entering, distributed.

This is really, really big.  (more…)

Even thought leaders can’t keep up

speed of change

In recent articles I’ve focussed on DISTRIBUTED TRUST.

As a term, it is currently mostly applied at a technical level, and mostly to areas such as Blockchain and FinTech etc.

Distributed Trust is going to be so much bigger, see my recent post for some cogitations on what it could mean. Take a picture of your passport, it will be a historical piece well within our lifetimes.

The speed our world moves at means that we cannot possibly lead by staying up to date with content changes, even at the level of conceptual or even detailed level of understanding of areas like blockchain technology.

Such technologies create great leaps for us and catalyse further change. What the speed of change in our era means, though, is that they are coming closer and closer together and to lead, to stay ahead of what is current, to be a thought leader, means to stay in context.

Now, at this stage I wish to recognise a thought leader around Distributed Trust and also to share something she shared that is a very direct reminder of how fast the world moves, even for thought leaders. (more…)

Love, trust and Distributed Trust

I am hugely excited for the future of our world.

Yes, we live in UNTHINKABLE time and the speed of change renders the way we historically have learned and lead obsolete.

However, the answer is in moving to lead from our emotions and from a place of trust (contextually, from a place of LOVE), as opposed to leading from intellect, knowledge, control, scarcity, competition (ie from a place of FEAR). Put that way, I hope you are excited about the future too ! (more…)

Distributed Trust in the UNTHINKABLE age

As regular readers know, I’m obsessed with the idea that #OpenLeadership is a radical approach that can make a massive difference for humanity and our planet in this UNTHINKABLE age that we live in.

Change is SO rapid that we cannot have the answers, yet we aren’t yet acting in recognition of this.

Recently I wrote a post “What a fool believes about Bitcoin“. Yes, it primarily focussed on the bitcoin bubble and psychology of the “greater fool theory, but I also said :

“I do actually believe that Blockchain in 2017 is at just such a moment as Netscape and the “WWW” was in 1994. Distributed trust is going to change our world, and at such a speed we cannot even imagine.

Let me run you through a line of thinking. (more…)

Why humans will always stay ahead of AI

“May you live in interesting times” 

A little research attributes this to Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936, soon before his brother was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and had to do the best with the tools he had to politically address the challenge that was Adolf Hitler. Suffice to say that he had limited success, as his brother had somehow unconsciously predicted with what has since been embellished to be called “the Chinese curse”.

So, we definitely now live in interesting times. Things are changing faster than ever and we won’t be able to cope at all with current leadership models. (more…)

Forget knowledge, simply lead

Moore’s Law (simplified) states that computer processing power doubles every 18 months.

Gordon Moore was one of the founders of Intel and he posited this back in 1965. It is quite stunning that is has continued to hold for over 50 years. I was born in 1965 and had the great good fortune of having a father who spent his whole career in the computer industry, so I got to see and play with computers from a young age and experience first hand the “wow” of every change in computing power.

The smart phones we now use have WAY MORE computing power than computers did when the first smartphone came out around a decade ago.

Now, I now put it to you that as technology at such power has become so all pervasive in our lives, Moore’s Law applies EVERYWHERE in our lives. (more…)

Zen and teaching your son to drive

When I turned 17, I excitedly got my “L” plates and attached them to my Dad’s car and asked him to take me for a driving lesson on the quite and straight country road close to our house in the Borders of Scotland.

As I tried to master applying some throttle to keep the revolutions up while gently engaging the clutch, I stalled the engine and the car jerked forwards. Embarrassing but not unexpected.

“Try it again”, my father said gently.

Stalled it.


Stalled it


My father was patient, but even Job would not have had sufficient patience once this happened about 20 times or so. Zen he was not, in that moment. (more…)

Story time. The hat that caused chaos


photo : Cayman Compass

Chaos ? A hat ? Yes, a hat. Not even a hat, a latex swim cap.

Trouble, you say, what do you mean trouble ?

Chaos ! International incident ! (well, nearly 🙂 )

Pull up a chair, I’m going to share a story in writing I’ve told many times. Perhaps it has evolved in the telling to a legend, I’ll leave that for you to say. (more…)

Captain Kel – Seize the Day


Kel THompson and Steven Coe

Cayman Airways pilots Kel Thompson and Steven Coe

In writing another article on “Leadership lessons from a Swim Referee” i was reminded of something a mentor and dear friend often said to me. Captain Kel Thompson described being a commercial pilot as “endless hours of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror“.

Recently I wrote about “Response-ability“, talking about whether we are able to respond in the moments of truth, or do we simply react ? (more…)

Leadership lessons from a Swim Referee

Olympic pool.jpeg

This past weekend I had the privilege of being  “on deck” as a Referee as I spent a day at the Olympic Pool in London, an architectural marvel and a centrepiece of London 2012. My first time in the building and first time as a swim Referee in the UK. Many thanks to the swim community here for welcoming me.

After the day, with my focus on writing and sharing, I reflected on what leadership lessons can be gleaned.

I do feel that leadership is part innate, but it can be taught. A third layer is that we all have leadership within us, so with self-knowledge we can be open to learn. So, let me talk through leadership in swimming as a Referee, the “CEO” of a swim meet, and let’s see what lessons pop out as I write. (more…)

Are you a Ford or a Ferrari ?

I love to support and to work with people who are “Ferraris”. Read on, and if you recognise yourself here, I’d love to talk to you and support your journey. This can start with a call, a cup of coffee, and out of this I know we will connect you to something in and for you on your journey.

So, are you a Ford or a Ferrari ? Both are cars with merits, but why would you use a Ferrari to do the work of a Ford ? You could drive to work, drive around in traffic, run an errand, do anything routine in a Ferrari, but it is meant for, born for, yearns for more. A Ferrari can drive slowly, it can carry you from A to B, but is that realising the potential of such a magnificent car ?

To me the greatest Ferraris all have V12 engines, and there is nothing like the sound of a finely tuned V12 in full song with all 12 cylinders in harmony being used to the full.

In my experience, these are three main types of “Ferraris” in human form. (more…)

Investing in time to make an impact

Recently I wrote about a quote from a report on CEOs that said :

Leaders of industry [are] extremely bad at thinking”

Today I was speaking with a friend who I regard as one of the most brilliant thinkers I have ever met, and who has massive untapped potential to change the world. Big words, yes, and that person IS that amazing.

And yet… that person told me they don’t have enough time to read. If they don’t have time to read, how much time do they have to think ? What new thoughts are they having and where are they coming from ? (more…)

Not all those who wander are lost

A few days ago it was Halloween and I found myself on a long walk home from a meeting somewhere new to me. I was on a long call with a friend and so didn’t check google maps on my phone.

I found myself a little off with my innate compass, ending up walking through a park, then down by the river, across a beautifully lit bridge, and finally, as it was early evening on Halloween, through a residential area with loads of parents and young children in costume wandering around having a great time.

It reminded me of the line from a poem :

“Not all those who wander are lost” ~ JRR Tolkien


To burn out or to fade away ?

In a recent post Ok is not ok, I noted that Neil Young said : “It’s better to burn out, Than to fade away” and Kurt Cobain included that in his suicide note.

Today I was reminded of the late, great Bill Hicks. Absolutely not politically correct (so be warned if you google him), he was a genius of a comedian and thinker, who died at 32 and, over 20 years later, the memory of his work is etched into the memories of so many.

As Tom Waits described him : “Bill Hicks – blowtorch, excavator, truthsayer, and brain specialist. He will correct your vision. Other will drive on the road he built”

Others will drive on the road he built. Amen. (more…)

Keeper of the Vision

I’m about to give you the sum total of all my learning on leadership from many decades of devoted work, research, curiousity etc

Want the secret to great leadership ?

The role of a leader is a one line job description :

Keeper of the Vision

That is it. Simple.

Nothing you do is more important. Everything else is meaningless without this. (more…)

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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.