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.


Can you stand to wait?

Can you stand to wait?
The Peninsula at Grand Harbour – for sale

Today musing on patience and waiting, both personally and for business.

“It’s waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait.”

Charlie Munger

“Time is a friend to a good business and the enemy of the poor business”

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street

Both of these quotes come from a Farnam Street post on the wisdom of Charlie Munger. My thoughts are first on a personal level, then for business


Capture it on one page

Capture it on one page
Good to Great Visual Synopsis by Dani Saveker

Over many years of facilitating leadership team meetings for clients, I’ve evolved a “less is more” process where the end result is captured on one page, even sometimes as succinct as one word.

In: “Take the time to write less” I referenced this type of work, then closed with: “What would be possible for you if you took the time to go deeply enough into learning and research on a topic that you could then write less about it?

This then leads me back to the one-page Visual Synopsis work by Dani Saveker.


How are you Brave-ing?


This week I joined the amazing Steve Chapman and his dog Poppy for a brainstorming walk in the woods. The topic I was picking Steve’s brain on was the idea of Bravery, a theme I come back to again and again in my writing (simply search this site for the word “brave” and there are many posts!), plus I work with brave and transformative leaders, so hey, going to be a focus for me always!

Steve is quite brilliant at provoking thought in different directions, and on this occasion, he mused around “what if we consider brave as a verb? We are all “brave-ing all the time”.


Stop arguing with Zombies

arguing with Zombies
Ready with beer for Paul Krugman at Tortoise

Yesterday I wrote: “We’ve always done it this way“, what I call “the six most dangerous words in business”, where I talked about how stuck we can be in the familiar, despite the evidence. Yesterday evening I went to a wonderful Tortoise “Think-In” to listen and learn from a “proper economist” (the man has a Nobel Prize), Paul Krugman. Surprisingly, I learned about Zombies.


We’ve always done it this way

“We’ve always done it this way”

I refer to this phrase as “the six most dangerous words in business”

It is amazing how hard and fast patterns of behaviour can be and how difficult people, organisations, industries can find it to think differently, no matter how obvious it can be.

Would you prefer an 11% return on investment or a 32% one?

Today simply sharing a powerful infographic that truly makes the case, from Reinventure Capital, powerful in that it also shows how many people spurn an obvious and compelling opportunity because it doesn’t fit into their comfortable patterns.


Is it true that: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”?

Commuters and Quiet Desperation
Commuters at Waterloo station. Happy, or resigned?

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” – Thoreau

This quote has always been powerful for me in checking in with myself (and clients, friends, family) as to how “in balance” I feel. Early in my journey of daily writing on this site, in “Doing from Being” I mused:

“we can choose to focus on being present to the moments and to sensing “who am I being?” in everything we do. From this, the self-awareness and self-knowledge grow, and from that one can make choices of what to “do”.

So, perhaps we don’t lead lives of “quiet desperation”, but it is important for each of us to “check-in” on whether we feel resigned, our senses dulled, and the impact this may have on us and those around us.

However, it appears that “quiet desperation” is far more commonplace than we imagine, as starkly highlighted in a powerful article by Matt Rudd in the Sunday Times in December 2018, called: “Why aren’t successful, middle-aged fathers happy?“, as well as add a few thoughts of my own.


In all seriousness-ness


A few weeks ago I was in conversation, where, as my friends know, I am often really serious. All of a sudden, I somehow started a statement with: “in all seriousness-ness“, which caused the other person to burst into gales of laughter. For the rest of the conversation (and, well, ever since!), that newly invented word can be used to inject levity whenever I get too serious.

I was reminded of this by a post on Wisdom Well recently by Chip Conley that I repost below.

My mind also joined the dots elsewhere, so also sharing some collected thoughts on comedians and how they, too, can manage energy through using levity to remain connected to an audience when they want to make a serious point.

There are times to be serious, and, in all seriousness-ness, times to inject levity!


HSBC – Please DO more

HSBC Andrew Carnegie
“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say.
I just watch what they do”
~ Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie died just over a century ago, after devoting the last two decades or so of his life to giving away his incredible fortune, some $65bn in today’s terms. The phrase above in the photo was the original and is now commonly updated to change “men” to “people”, reflecting societal awareness around gender equity.

I thought of this quote as I readied to write today’s post, which is about watching what one leading company, HSBC, does (or, in fact, doesn’t do) around gender pay equity and so gender pay equality, hence it is with a wry smile that I note the way this quote has morphed from “men” to “people” over time. It changes what the quote says, but now let’s look at that company example.


What is Bravery?

bravery iain jamaica pool

**Yesterday’s post “Inspire Bravery” reminded me of this post from February 2018, which I am sharing again today with two updates to the story begun in the picture above.

We often think of bravery as the stuff of myth and legend, passed down through the ages.

What if, instead, we simply considered bravery to be relative to how it feels to the individual. Take a look at the picture above. Does that boy look brave to you?

More on that later on, but first some stories on bravery in different forms, from leading to rebuilding, to reframing mental health conversations. (more…)

Inspire Bravery

Image from my favourite post on Bravery: “What is Bravery?”
Read right to the end to find out who that brave swimmer is.

This week an experienced and skilled coach and facilitator asked to have a video call with me as they had read some of my posts and wanted to ask for my thoughts on a particular theme, that of BRAVERY.

“O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!”

Translation : “Oh to have the ability to see ourselves as others see us.”

Robert Burns – “To a Louse”

It was fascinating and a pleasure and privilege to have someone ask questions of me to listen and reflect how they saw me and that they saw me as BRAVE. They also reflected in their words and energy that the conversation inspired them to both recognise where they are brave themselves and to bring that even more to their work.

I feel inspired today, then, to share some thoughts on bravery.


I’m running a business here

running a business
A French café, where customers are typically allowed to linger

“I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m running a business here and you’ve been sitting here for two hours. I’m the owner and these staff are expensive, you see”

Owner of a coffee shop/cafe near London this week

The above speech was delivered to me at a café this week. Hmm.


We need to look at success differently

Purpose, People, Planet - Profit for Impact Triple Bottom Line
The new triple bottom line, for more see: “Leading from Purpose

We need to look at success differently

Yancey Strickler, CEO of Kickstarter

I’m #ProudtobeaCA and have always felt the monthly CA Magazine has been a first-rate resource for thought leadership on business and leadership. The latest issue has an interview with Yancey Strickler, CEO of Kickstarter and author of “This could be our future“, where he talks about redefining profit and creating a more generous world, as well as remarking on how accountants can contribute to this in holding leaders accountable to different measures.

This very much aligns with my own “long read” on this from a recent newsletter: “Leading from Purpose

I believe that the 2020s will see the end of the paradigm of the pursuit of profit above the common good. Leaders will gradually be pushed into changing the way they do business.

If you feel you want to actually lead on this rather than follow, that you feel drawn to look at success differently, I’d love to talk to you. Supporting brave and transformative leaders is my work.

I close with this from Yancey Strickler from the CA interview and again ask you, do you wish to lead, or wait to follow?:

I predict a cultural shift will happen: companies and brands will see the greater good in a way their predecessors do not, and it will become the new normal. Eventually, the idea we ever needed to articulate this will seem silly: “You mean companies didn’t always operate this way?”

Yancey Strickler