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…

Doing what is right – Pret


Ken Blanchard has a quote: “catch someone doing something right”.

I believe in business as a force for good, and in the righteous flywheel of purpose-lead businesses following the new triple bottom line and so creating profit for impact.

I’ve started writing posts about businesses I see “doing what is right”, most recently Timpson and Stantec.

Today I highlight Pret a Manger. Given the prevalence of their stores in London, I’ve been a frequent customer, yet I was not aware until recently of their focus on doing what is right.

Until, that is, I saw their focus on supporting homeless people.


Diversity + Collaboration = Innovation

Diversity Collaboration GV

Love this image from a recent post by Gaping Void.

Diversity of thought is a topic I am highly passionate about. One of my core values is “Fair” and the conscious and unconscious biases in our world, ranging from race to gender to sexual orientation to religion to nationality and beyond, are all constructs based simply on fear of “others”, of those who are “not like us”. (more…)

Your business must make a profit


Today a post “Profit for Impact“, about the new triple bottom line and showing the following linear formula as iterative, a “righteous flywheel”.

Purpose + People + Planet = Profit

Today I want to emphasise that your business must make a profit. Yes, I may sometimes seem a bit holistic and “out of the box” on this site, yet trust me, I’m a Chartered Accountant who has spent almost his whole career building businesses and building value in businesses for others.

You can have a great sense of Purpose, be good to People and the Planet, but if you don’t make a profit you won’t be able to do much of that and not for long. (more…)

Profit for Impact

TM Profit for Impact Graphic v3_B

In January I wrote: “Purpose, People, Planet. The new triple bottom line.

That article puts forward that it is time for a new triple bottom line, one that creates:

“a “Righteous Flywheel”, where the unerring focus on Purpose+People+Planet as drivers allows the corporation to make Profits, which mean it can then focus more on Purpose+People+Planet and so make more Profit, and so on in a “virtuous circle”.”

It also links to three further articles, each with a case study of a company of scale that has lived this and proven that it creates the righteous flywheel.

At the time of writing, I noted that I’d love to create a graphic to represent this. Well, with the creative skills of Martha Rowe (who has done all the graphic and web design for me for some time), now we have one here. Thank you Martha!

Put as a formula:

Purpose + People + Planet = Profit

However, the formula looks like an endgame of profit, whereas the flywheel graphic highlights that it is a cycle.

I’d love to talk to you about this, and to get more examples of companies operating in this way!

The biggest hidden asset in your business

jack ma trust

Prior to my focus over the last decade on leadership and so people, I spent nearly twenty years focussed on numbers and building value in businesses. A key part of that is assessing the hidden assets in a business, the stuff that isn’t always apparent in the financial statements.

Some of these come from assessing shifts a company can make in strategy, though what drew me towards a focus on people was that so many assets are actually around people, behaviour, culture. However, all too often those hidden assets are not valued and so not brought forth, focussed on, invested in to achieve returns.

Today some simple thoughts on one area that is a major hidden asset that can be realised by any business. (more…)

Foundations: Financial Literacy


This is Dun Carloway, a bronze age fort thought to be built in the first century AD.

It is on the Isle of Lewis, where I spent most of my vacations as a child. Often I played and ran around this structure, then many years later my children did the same.

While the walls have been reduced, most of that was by human hand taking away the stones that made up the walls.

However, it is clear that, at nearly 2000 years old, it is built on firm foundations.

So, whilst I talk often about change, transformation, bravery, stretching and more, in order for any of us or our organisations to embark on such journeys and shifts we must also have firm foundations that support us in our growth and change.

One such area is financial literacy. (more…)

Certain in Uncertainty

In the world of business we live in, so often we are rewarded for certainty, yet sometimes being uncertain and knowing and stating that this is where we are, that can also be of value to our process and our business. We can be:

Certain in Uncertainty.

Today a coaching conversation that led me to this thought to share with you today. (more…)

Ethics and Reputation Management. Hmm.


This week I wrote a short post called “Reputation Hygiene“. It was about simple things like being on time for meetings.

Now, after reading this, in a recent conversation someone made an off the cuff remark about having read my post and that it had them thinking about Reputation Management and Ethics, though it was just a remark, we didn’t get a chance to discuss it.

Now, as an ICAS CA (see “Trust and being an ICAS CA“) and someone to whom ethics are at my core, I have a question I am pondering from that remark. I won’t share my thoughts now as am indeed pondering, but my gut reaction is:

“If you are ethical you don’t need Reputation Management!”

Put another way, if you need to hire someone to do Reputation Management for your business, then perhaps it is time to questions, your culture, values and ethics?




Reputation Hygiene


Recently I was about to have a first meeting with someone.

They were late. When they arrived, they gave no reason.

Thought of the term “reputation hygiene”, as with only a little focus and attention our reputation is maintained and built upon, yet if we allow it to be sullied, it can be difficult to restore.

A few simple tips, then around reputation hygiene:

  1. Be on time. Seriously. Be on time.
  2. Be polite. Always. No exceptions.
  3. Answer emails within one working day.
  4. If you are wrong, apologise. Oh, and ask what you can do to make it right.
  5. Say thank you, and mean it.
  6. Say what you are going to do and do what you are going to say.

I could continue, but you get the gist.

Always fire A**holes

no asshole rule

Last week on Twitter in a discussion around leadership someone mentioned the “no a**hole rule”. Hadn’t specifically heard of it, but will now add this book by Robert Sutton to my reading list.

As someone who lead businesses for years and, over the last decade, coached, mentored and advised others, one of the most frequent questions brought to me runs along the lines of:

“we have this person working for us that is really important to our business, so I can’t afford to fire them, but they are an a**hole, so what should I do?”

Here is the distilled wisdom of decades of experience with such situations.

Always fire A**holes

Fire them, and do it right away.

The long term cost of keeping a toxic individual will always, always outweigh the short term cost of whatever it is you will lose by not having them on the team.

As Netflix put it in their original culture deck from 2009 (a fantastic read, see here): “On a dream team, there are no “brilliant jerks.” The cost to teamwork is just too high

Again and again, I’ve seen this, both the costs that happen when a leader does not act, as well as the long term benefits of acting quickly and decisively.

Oh, and if you are a leader with an a**hole in your business, a brilliant jerk, you are possibly reading this and now justifying why you are keeping them.

If you are clear that they are not someone who used to be great and simply having a rough time and acting oddly, but instead they are, yup, an a**hole, do it. Fire them.

Final thought. If you have this type of person on your team, or perhaps a pattern of them over time, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself and the culture of your business as to how they are attracted, hired, retained. Just a thought.