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.


Mystic realism – Shoshin and Business


Shoshin is a Zen Buddhist concept which broadly translates to having a “beginner’s mind”.

This week I was inspired by a conversation with Chip Conley and excited about the future of his initiative around Modern Elders, as also captured here.

In the second article, it quotes from a talk Chip gave:

“LEARNING NEVER ENDS Education is not filling a pail, it is stoking a fire. This is where he talked about being catalytically curious, and taking off the costume of being an expert to start with that beginner’s mind and ask a lot of “why” and “what if” questions”

Now combine that sense of Shoshin with what lies at the centre of Jack Frost (please watch the lovely clip in this post, I don’t want to spoil the “reveal” of what does lie at his centre!)


Smashing Paradigms – Happy Business

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



Online retail is on the march, and any walk around a shopping mall in the USA, UK, Canada and other Western nations will show this in terms of closed stores, reduced footfall. The term “retail apocalypse” was common in 2017, as “bricks and mortar” retail continues to struggle.

Within the retail sector, the area that seems the most archaic and doomed to be engulfed by the march to online retail is absolutely “old school” department stores.

However in amongst all of this is one of the most beloved brands in their country of operation, with hugely loyal staff and customers, and this business continues to thrive.

Their secret?


 The John Lewis Partnership: Since 1929 the purpose of our business has been the happiness of those who work in it. Some things never change.


Movies with Meaning – Carpe Diem!

Weekly series. Please send in your movies via email, twitter etc. Our format:

  • Three movies with meaning (and movies you love and recommend!)
  • One sentence on the core meaning you take from it
  • Send a link to a YouTube clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning

WARNING: Spoilers often included, so if you haven’t seen the movies…

Happy New Year to you.. and the first movie of this list is one of my all-time favourites. I’ve already featured it in an earlier weekly Movies with Meaning post, but this time the focus is timely for the start of the year.  Carpe Diem!


Writing I love – Invictus

This week a poem rather than a book.

At times on my journey in this life I have not felt strong, certain, energetic and aligned. At time I have felt anxious, had bouts of depression, felt worthless. That makes me normal, that makes me human, that makes me alive.

This subject of wellness and mental health is still rarely talked about. I want to single out Matt Haig right now for this. A highly successful author in the UK, Matt is also a passionate advocate for mental health and anxiety in particular, particularly on Twitter, where he can be found here.

When I’ve had tough times, certain music, writing, movies have helped me. One poem that also works whether in a down or up state of mind for me is Invictus, by William Ernest Henley :


New Year – Your “Why” comes before setting goals

why rooted in purpose

Every year so many of us set New Year’s resolutions, a to-do list of HOW we are going to do things differently. As we also know, the vast majority of such resolutions are not carried through. Hmm.

This year, consider reflecting first on WHY you want to make a change. If your WHY is powerful enough, it will carry you through the tough times that you will inevitably face if you seek change.

Let me carry that a little further. When is the last time you really took time at the start of the year to be clear on your “WHY“, what drives you as a human being? Not WHAT you want from life or HOW you intend to get there, but WHY that is important to you?

I wrote on Christmas Day in “Father Christmas asks – What’s your Centre?” about finding your centre, finding your WHY.

One other element to this is to look to understand the WHY of others, and to recognise that your sense of their WHY may not align with their own. To this I give you a parable : (more…)

The Hero’s Journey – be your own hero


In my last article, I wrote about “Emotional Equations – What Makes a Story ?” where someone from the movie industry created an equation that captures the essence of all stories.

This led my thinking to reflection on the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. Campbell refers to this as the monomyth (a term from James Joyce), referencing that this single myth tells the story of thousands of heroes and many of the movies you’ve watched.

Star Wars? George Lucas was absolutely inspired by the hero’s journey… (more…)

Emotional Equations – What makes a Story?

As the world looks for new models beyond linking all activity to monetary value, recently I wrote about Emotional Equations, which connect emotion and energy in measurable ways.

Today, our equation is :

C + (APQ + ED) / S

I learned this one from my friend and collaborator D’Arcy Vane, whose website has the beautiful Intent statement “SHARE KNOWLEDGE. CHANGE LIVES”, and who learned this from his friend Michael Jorgensen, filmmaker and story consultant.

D’Arcy relayed a conversation where Michael wrote the following:


I said: “what is that?”

He said: A Story.

once upon a time

Smashing Paradigms – Stop the “Busyness”

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



My theme for this week in Smashing Paradigms. Stop the madness, stop the “Busyness”!

Consider these two images first


And, for the parents, this one

give our kids us



Emotional Equations – Chip Conley

They say “you are what you measure”, and to add to that I have also posited that we are not simply rational beings, but driven far more by emotion and energy (or e-motion, if you will, energy in motion), as I wrote in “sentio ergo sum“. I also attended the wonderful Kilkenomics festival in November 2017 and observed a theme of the inadequacy and incompleteness of classical economic models that effectively try to boil down everything of “utility” into monetary terms.

So, in coming posts, I will look at various equations that focus on what one of my business heroes wrote about several years ago in looking take meaning from his own suffering. I’m not only inspired by Chip Conley and his idea of Emotional Equations, but also the fact that he was inspired by the book that, above all others, has the most meaning to me.

The story of this starts with :

Despair = Suffering – Meaning (more…)

Movies with Meaning – Christmas and Alan Rickman Edition

Our weekly series. Please send in your movies via email, twitter etc. Our format  :

  • Three movies with meaning
  • One sentence on the core meaning you take from it
  • Send a link to a YouTube clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning

WARNING : Spoilers often included, so if you haven’t seen the movies…

This week as we all look to take some quite time, a relaxed post with movies to watch at Christmas, with catchphrases and memes rather than meanings… just for fun.. inspired by my son’s Home Alone inspired Christmas sweater this year (photo is a model from a website, not my lad!) :


filthy animal sweater

Oh, and more so, each of the last three clips have a catchphrase and a clip as an homage to the late, great Alan Rickman, who features in three of these four Christmas classics. (more…)

Writing I love – Silence in the Age of Noise

Silence in the age of noise

Silence in the Age of Noise (2017)

(originally featured October 28, 2017, reposted here for new readers)

The author once spent fifty days walking solo across Antarctica with no radio and I’m fascinated by his observations on silence.

To me it is far deeper than being in nature, it is about silence within silence. We all have the ability to be silent, be still at any time, to be totally present to each moment. Within such silence there is real power.

So, why don’t we seek silence as the gift that it is ? (more…)

Father Christmas asks – What’s your Centre?

what is your center

Once upon a time, I was part of creating an amazing peer group of leaders who chose to work together for a year intensively for their own growth and development, spread over six intensive retreats each led by world-class practitioners.

In the very first retreat, as the dynamics of the group formed and shaped, it seemed clear that one of the group was a little more sceptical and challenging than others.

During that first retreat, we also spend quite some time examining and exploring the power of knowing our purpose in the world, our intent. Knowing with clarity why we are here in this lifetime on this planet.. is the rocket fuel that can power us!

So, the evening after this retreat, the group was perhaps a little surprised to get an email from our “resident sceptic”, where they shared this video. Under their sometimes rough exterior, they wanted us to know that at their centre…is a heart that is full of WONDER.

I was reminded of this moment just this week, and, led as the conversation from Rise of the Guardians is by Father Christmas… I felt it a perfect share for Christmas Day.

My gift to you.. as someone who’s intent is #MakingPotentialPossible…

What’s your centre?

With love…

A Trust Story – Pindrop

“We want you to trust us, so it makes sense that we choose to trust you”

Let me tell you a story around this phrase that I heard the other day.

Over the last year I had the feeling that my hearing in one ear was not great, so last month I took the plunge, googled, then found a hearing specialist in London.

That specialist was Pindrop Hearing. (more…)

Are you Magnificent, or Quietly Fabulous ?

Quietly fabulous

So today one of the dearest (and magnificent!) people in the world to me sent me this picture, knowing I am struggling a little with a winter cold. A humorous reference to remind me that some days it is ok to slow down and practice self-care.

It got me thinking about how we show up, how we see ourselves, how others see us.

Another recent experience was meeting with someone I know well who was intrigued by my lack of proactive presence around a group and initiative. Their initial sense had been that this meant that I had negative energy and opinion around what was happening.

The key here is that rather than sit with such a judgment, they chose to make the time and effort to connect and then meet up to listen to my thoughts. It turns out they are also an absolute devotee of Stephen Covey, and his “fifth habit” speaks to :

“Listen with the intent to understand, not to reply”

We all greatly valued being listened to, and the person doing the listening heard that my approach to the situation at hand was simply to be neutral towards it (for various reasons they also understood), and that I was not negative in any way.

It was also important for them to understand my reasons for not being my normal self (let’s call it “magnificent”) and dialling that back to “quietly fabulous”.

Further, they also gained clarity in another way. The reason they had initially felt potential negativity was that their prior experience of me was of someone highly proactive in supporting others and initiatives, hence to see me not being that way felt different.

Of course (they also noted), there were others involved who were equally neutral as I at this time who they had not sensed were being negative. Why so? Simply because relative to their normal behaviour, being neutral (as opposed to highly proactive and supportive) is their norm, so as long as keep showing up neutral, there is nothing different.

So, from all of this, it reinforced to me that we may not see others the way they see themselves, so where there is a disconnect from what we expect, there is always value in talking to that person and listening with the intent to understand their perspective.

If they are being quietly fabulous rather than magnificent, look to listen to them to understand why and what is happening for them.

People love to be listened to. I know I do.

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