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.


Leadership – Take action, even put yourself at risk

Bravery in leadership can often mean acting rather than waiting for others. It also has matters of degree in whether or not leadership puts yourself at risk.

Two quotes I have always looked to are :

“Let not any one pacify his conscience by the delusion that he can do no harm if he takes no part, and forms no opinion.

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

~ John Stuart Mill


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Martin Niemoller

So, in the most powerful form, acting is brave if we choose to put ourselves (or in psychological terms, our identity) at risk.

In other forms, there are things we can do that have little or no risk.

Each person has their own way to choose to take action, how much risk they are willing to take. (more…)

Leadership – Repeat ad nauseam


One turn of phrase around telling people something over and over is to say you “repeated ad nauseam”, or literally until you were sick.

One of the simplest to address gaps I see in leaders around engaging their people is to assume they have communicated their message enough.  (more…)

Storytelling : Never make a point…

“Never make a point without telling a story, and never tell a story, without making a point”

~ Ed Percival

Another lesson from the master, Ed Percival.

A hugely important part of leadership is about engaging your people.

People connect to stories, so don’t just give them logic and rationale, tell them stories.

This week I started interviewing leaders from around the world and gathering their leadership lessons for the book I am writing on #OpenLeadership. In each interview, I ask them for stories and have already had the #goosebumps experience in listening to them. (more…)

Coaching Skills – Asking is about Connecting

Today I sit on my terrace early in the morning, preparing in my own way for coaching calls with two new clients from an organisation I am supporting as they bravely transform.

While sitting quietly as I tend to do before such calls, I opened my online notes of “things to read, watch, listen to” when I have this kind of space, somehow serendipitously choosing to watch a TED Talk by Amanda Palmer called “The Art of Asking”

So, a “Tom-ism” is: “A leader is someone others choose to follow”

If you make someone follow you, you are a boss, not a leader. If you ask them to follow you and they choose to, things are very different. In addition, those first followers are truly important, as once they follow you, others join them. The more enthusiastic your followers, the more others follow you, and then you have a movement.

Asking people versus making them is more powerful, but why would people choose to do what you ask? The answer is because you have connected to them and we all crave connection.

Amanda Palmer’s superpower is connecting with people, she has done this her whole life, it is her supreme gift. (more…)

Writing I Love – Self-Awareness and Rumi

The Guest House Rumi

Up until about a month ago, once a week I posted “Writing I Love”, then chose to stop setting a regular schedule for it and simply to allow #Flow, with that last post being one I wrote the day Anthony Bourdain died.

More recently I wrote “Leadership – The impact of beautiful art” which was in part inspired by one beautiful line from David Foster Wallace:

“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for.”

I love to read widely and be inspired by art and writing.

This week I read an article called “A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Awareness” and all of this lead me back to the favourite poem above by Rumi, The Guest House, which speaks to me about the bravery it takes to choose to be the truly open and vulnerable self it takes for self-awareness. (more…)

Bravery – Do one thing every day that scares you

do one thing every day that scares you

Yesterday’s article started with the words:

Are you Brave Enough? 

Bravery is a key word for me…..

This article was linked to HR leaders and being brave and also applies to all of us. Bravery is a key component of leadership, including self-leadership, one I come back to over and over again in my writing.

This reminded me of a phrase that has helped me to keep stretching, keep seeking to grow, evolve, learn:

“Do one thing every day that scares you” (more…)

Leadership – on Patience

A dear friend recently counselled me:

“Patience, my friend, is when nothing happens and you are ok with it.”

I loved this. That friend also noted to me that in so many areas of life (including in my roles with clients as a sounding board, coach etc) I am patience personified, yet I’m a human and we all have our gaps, and in one or two areas of life I can be pretty impatient.

This counsel was and is most valuable, and it also had me think about patience for leaders. (more…)

Leadership – The impact of beautiful art


“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for.”

~ David Foster Wallace

Early morning, awake and reading a lovely book by Matt Haig called “The Humans“. As I read, I am stopped and mesmerised by this beautiful quote in the book from David Foster Wallace.

When “DFW”s masterwork of a novel, “Infinite Jest” came out, the sheer size of the hardback book was epic, yet I voraciously devoured all 577,608 words of it (most works of fiction are well under 100,000 words), mesmerised by the genius of DFW.

Yet, with all of his ability to captivate with a magnum opus, somehow when I read this short sentence it stops me in my tracks. I am not thinking, rationalising, something about it simply stops me in the beauty and depth of expression made so concisely.

What does this say to me about how we humans receive and interpret information?

What can leaders and others who have as their key role to understand, communicate, engage, enrol others learn from such art?


What is a Friend?

what is a friend

A while ago I heard someone coin the term “professional friend”.

I loved the designator “professional friends”, as they aren’t involved in each other’s personal lives, simply have been meeting up for several years each month for a full day as a business owners peer group. Through that experience, they have built close bonds.

This group has a clear sense that they would be there for each other whenever needed, whether that be for investment, support around their business, support personally. They already have, including investing in each other’s businesses when needed.

This makes them friends. The term professional friends came out of a conversation at their annual retreat where they recognised that they aren’t involved in each other’s personal lives at all, they keep it in that context of supporting each other in their roles ad business owners and leaders.

In your work, your business, who are your Professional Friends?

Perhaps first look more at how we define the word Friend? (more…)

Leadership Lessons from Pushing Cars

mg midget

When I was a young Chartered Accountancy student I had an old MG Midget just like this one. A tiny little car (and yes, somehow I fit in it!), it had a faulty starter motor, so I became very familiar with push starting it. As a relatively big and strong guy with a small car, I could do this myself and often had to!

One thing I remember most was that it took a LOT of effort to get the car moving from a standing start, but once it was rolling it was easy to keep going and even to push faster. (more…)

Brevity is the soul of wit

Yesterday’s post, “Beauty in Brevity” mused eclectically on the power of art and prose to communicate to us powerfully and rapidly through being concise.

Today, I turn that focus to messaging in business and leadership.

In many situations, the shorter and simpler the message, the more powerful it is. (more…)