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.


Do work that you’re proud of


“Do work that you’re proud of – work that matters for people who care. It’s all about connection, empathy and making a difference.” ~ Seth Godin

Seth Godin inspired me to post daily. With well over 7,000 daily posts already he has moved way beyond the “marketing guru” identity and his curiosity and vision has taken him into some powerful directions.

My personal favourite book of his is an example of powerful new directions and is called “The Icarus Deception”. Read my piece here for thoughts on the power of getting out of your comfort zone and why, in fact, you simply have to in our world.

Today though, I found that phrase above in a magazine article last week, so let me talk about it a little. (more…)

Diversity of Thought – how much is too much?

Kilkenny 2018

This weekend the annual Kilkenomics economics and comedy festival in the gorgeous tiny city of Kilkenny.

I write this on a Sunday morning musing on diversity of thought and “how much is too much?”.

We learned that Andy Haldane (Chief Economist of the Bank of England) has found that Economist talk and listen less to those outside their profession than any other social science. My own experience is that the lens of traditional economic models places quite some limits on their thinking, though that is the ‘sandbox’ they play in, so I have openly been keen to see different thinkers at the festival.

Yesterday, though (again, as I write this on Sunday morning though), an episode occurred with one show where one person was so, so offensive to many that people got up an left. It has me musing on “how much is too much”, as one particular panellist showed up and expressed extreme views so distasteful that some people got up and left. I stayed, and these are my thoughts and reflections.


Conscious mental exercise


I’ve been carrying an Achilles injury for some time now. Recently I had my first Feldenkrais session.  Since then, my level of consciousness around how I move has elevated to new levels, such that I feel energised as I sense that this will both accelerate the healing of that injury and also build flexibility and strength.

I’ve been a Pilates aficionado for years, as well as done a reasonable amount of Yoga. Both of these inform my posture and movement at all times, ie not only during Pilates training or Yoga classes. Feldenkrais, I sense, will take that to a new level and I look forward to learning more.

So, from that, today my mind turns not only to how we can be conscious as we exercise our body but also how we can choose to run conscious exercises with our mind to stretch and grow that “muscle” too.

Let me start with a story about conscious mental exercise that links to physical exercise, then shift to a purely mental exercise that I feel can then link to asking questions of you the reader as to where you may apply this for yourself.


Not my circus, not my monkey

not my circus not my monkey

Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy

A Polish idiom. Literally, “not my circus, not my monkey”.

At the simplest level, this could be expressed as “not my problem”, which for me can be of value but can also be an abdication of responsibility.

So, let me today give two other layers of depth which may be supportive for leadership and in a responsible fashion. (more…)

Making a positive impact

UK Train Travel

Ed Percival told me once that he actively looked to make a positive impact in every interaction with others.

If he went to a coffee shop he’d look at the name tag of the barista and call them by name as they asked for his name for his coffee cup.

If someone used the typical “how are you?” greeting or to open a conversation, he’d open up the energy of his 6’5″ frame and say something such as “wonderful! If I was any better I’d be you!” and unleash his megawatt smile!

Now the thing about being positive and making a positive difference in every interaction is that it physically changes you. I won’t bore you with the science, please simply trust me on this. Being positive creates physical and other changes linked to exchange of positive energy created by such interactions.

Now, why did I choose that photo above? As a relatively new Londoner, let me explain and bring awareness to our choices in how we act in everyday interactions. (more…)

There I stood on the burning deck

burning deck

“There I stood on the burning deck”. Imagine someone starting a story with those words, would it get your attention?

Stories are so powerful, I encourage all of us to continually develop our story-telling skills. In leadership, the ability to connect to people with stories is one of the most powerful tools and skills we can have.

Today I share learnings from my friend Bob Keiller through reposting a recent article he wrote on story structure, as well as then a nuance to that from my late mentor and guide Ed Percival.


Beautiful Leadership

Alan Moore

Alan Moore of Beautiful Business is a visionary of deep thought, care, intent and passion who is often way ahead of others in his ideas and direction.

I have the great privilege of being at the beginning of supporting him as the “Keeper of the Vision”, a vision of a world of Beautiful Leadership, of Beautiful Business.

A month or two ago I sent someone an email with the subject line “Beautiful Leadership”. They replied right away with:

“Think this is my favourite email title in ages…..X”

I hope this theme of Beautiful Leadership resonates for you too and has you curious to learn more. If so, read on, I’ll share today some of Alan’s recent thoughts as well as to let you how we are beginning this journey. (more…)

Facing the blank page

facing the blank page

Monday morning. My first calls and meetings start in an hour and will continue until late, so I sit here with one task at hand, to write the daily post to go out tomorrow morning.

Normally that feels great, except today, there is a problem.

I have no idea what to write about, I am facing the blank page.

So what to do, not only as a writer but also as a leader when momentum has stalled, when your team is stuck, when you don’t know what to do next?

Join me as I explore these two questions. (more…)

All work and no play…


(c) Florian Radarte

“all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”

also goes along with

“a change is as good as a rest”

I wrote some time ago in “Stop the “Busyness”“:

“Put simply, for leaders, less is more. Simple, yes? But how many of you just skipped over this and then skipped to thinking: “I get that, but I have so much to do, I’m so BUSY !””

Make time to do things outside of your busy work life, it will pay dividends across all areas of life.

I sit writing this early afternoon on a Sunday, as often up against a deadline of meeting my commitment to post daily, as this will go out Monday 8am.

Today a reflection on making time for not only play but commitments outside work, after a fourteen hour day yesterday of work of a different kind. (more…)

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow

the prophet

“And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow”

The last line of “On Marriage” in “The Prophet”

I first heard parts of this masterpiece spoken at the funeral of a friend taken by cancer. I was deeply moved, so later asked the reader who wrote it, then bought the book and have gone back to it often since.

Last week I was in conversation with a friend who leads a business providing truly transformative training to organisations globally around ways for teams to work with ease and flow and so be successful in ways that, once they learn this work they can’t imagine being without it.

One high-level conversation we had about one of their models made me think of this Gibran passage in the context of team performance. (more…)

Patience – Don’t swing at every pitch

Aaron Judge

This is the look of a batter striking out swinging.


This is a picture from the book, “The Science of Hitting” by Ted Williams, where Ted broke the strike zone into 77 baseball-sized circles, colour-coding each one based on where he had the best chance to hit the ball.

He knew his sweet spot and waited patiently.

Ted Williams did not swing at every pitch.

Ted Williams was the last player to bat .400 for a season.

77 years ago.

Today, lessons from Ted Williams and Warren Buffett on patience. (more…)

Kilkenomics 2018 – will anyone challenge traditional economics?


“In the short run, the market is a voting machine but in the long run, it is a weighing machine”

These words are from Benjamin Graham, author of “The Intelligent Investor”, who I referenced just the other day in “Patience, Venture Capital, Buffett and Kipling

The other day I also saw a tweet by my friend, the brilliant and impassioned and purposeful economist Marla Dukharan:

“We are what we measure” is an old adage, so today let me simply reflect on one answer to Marla’s question, anchored by the latest Harvard Business Review report on what they call “The Best-Performing CEOs in the World 2018

Let me also note that it takes a brave leader to buck that status quo. One such CEO (who I won’t name here) in the UK has just been unceremoniously dumped by their organisation for what I believe is the sin of choosing to lead their firm in the direction of being about more than short-term profits for their owners, but instead being of broader worth to their stakeholders and broader society.

If you lead an organisation, please take a look at this analysis below, then consider my closing thoughts and ask yourself how you will measure yourself.


Seth Godin, Stet – Bravery to Let It Stand


Seth Godin inspired me to commit to writing daily over a year ago, something he has done for nearly two decades.

His posts are without images, vary from a few words to much lengthier pieces, some with many links to the work of others, some with none.

Recently he posted a particularly pithy one, so today choosing to simply share a repost to honour Seth and how he inspires me. (more…)

Patience, Venture Capital, Buffett and Kipling

if kiplingTwo weeks or so ago I tweeted this as I saw people look at the stock market drop precipitously.

This week I was in NY and had a meeting set up with someone around my age, yet they cancelled the meeting as things were crazy for them with market volatility and trying to keep their head while their clients were being very demanding.

The first book many people in investment are given to read is “The Intelligent Investor” written by Benjamin Graham many decades ago and yet as relevant today as ever.

Personally, though investing has been a large part of my career (and also supported me in supporting my family), I quite honestly could not tell you what is happening in the markets, I literally haven’t looked at it in several years.

On the other hand, I am fascinated by economics, human behaviours and longer-term shifts, hence my favourite quote is that Graham quote. The weighing machine looks at what Buffett calls intrinsic value.

Another Buffett thought is to imagine you can only make a certain number of deals in your life. If that were true, you’d be very, very patient about your investments. In my experience, the key is in being that selective.

In fact, as I paused drafting this post to go to an evening event, I then went for dinner afterwards with a group. One of them runs an investment fund that works carefully with up to 30-50 companies each year, abundantly offering them guidance and connecting them to what they need, before then investing in only about 4-6 companies each year. Very (very!) unlike the VC / PE world. Unsurprisingly, they build deep and trusting relationships in the broader ecosystem they work in, as well as deep understanding of the companies they invest in. This then results in metrics for investment success as an outcome of that source patience and care that are way beyond almost all funds.

The key, then, is patience, or, as Kipling begins his famous poem “If”

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs” 

If you can be patient, you can be present, selective, trusting, caring. Thousands upon thousands of investors, VCs, funds have capital to invest. If you are one of them, be patient. If you are an investee company, look for those that exude presence and patience.