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.


Supporting Entrepreneurs – Mr Jones Watches

**A friend recently reminded me of the power of walking the walk in supporting entrepreneurs. After all, I’m one myself and always have been in different ways. I do support entrepreneurs through my work, through mentoring, through speaking and many other ways. One additional way is to publicise entrepreneurs who offer products and services I love !**

Several years ago I came across a wonderful concept watch from Mr Jones Watches, an homage to the remarkable Graeme Obree, who smashed the one hour record for cycling in a stunning way captured in the film The Flying Scotsman.

That watch, pictured below, was a limited edition, and every hour revealed a fresh word, a context for that hour, a way to remind us to be present to life, to value each hour. (more…)

How you do anything…a Leaders angle

I was reminded by Gaping Void today of this :

GV how you do anything

“How you do anything… is how you do everything”

Or, as a way to observe this in yourself and others, watch how people treat those who they feel don’t matter to them.

When you are in busy public places? do they act in a considerate way to others or just push past in a single-minded fashion?

In a restaurant, how do they treat the staff?

Do they thank the bus driver when they get off the bus?

In general, are they present, observant to other human beings, no matter their station or status?

Now, for leaders, be very wary. (more…)

Voracious learning and #OpenLeadership


As a leader, where do you go for alternative learnings, ideas, thoughts to stretch yourself ? Where do you go beyond your known knowns and known unknowns ?

As for me, I’m intensely curious, a voracious learner.

An example was that yesterday I went to an event hosted by the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, otherwise known as CUSPThe event was an afternoon of panel discussions plus a keynote, titled :


Last November I went to the Kilkenomics Economics and Comedy Festival (written about often on this blog, I loved it.. and the “craic” !).

Both featured brilliant thinkers and both events could not have been more different.

Kilkenomics, at the core, is centred around traditional economic theory and principles, about how can we do capitalism better (to wildly simplify).

The Ethics and Utopias event was, again to simplify, about Sustainable Prosperity, which, as the event notes define: “involves a more wholesale rethinking of the nature of value, human flourishing and our conception of the future“.

In my experience as a leader and working with leaders, I see value in all the arguments made, which for regular readers is unsurprising. I am a ‘recovering’ Chartered Accountant, so get the numbers and economic principles, although on the flipside, I do have some esoteric thoughts, and one note I made during the event was :

“Fascinating conversation about poetic language to express ideas. Sentio ergo sum. Rational language cannot create transcendent shifts of belief.”

I do believe that we need both a foundation of understanding of numbers and core principles, but also that our world has moved to a point of “progress” (quotes intentional) that alternative models are the future.

Oh, and perhaps other than me, the only bridge between these events is Kate Raworth, who also lectured for CUSP recently on her alternative model, Doughnut Economics.

To develop new models for sustainable prosperity not based on “groupthink”, we need really open and brave dialogue. I applaud CUSP for creating this through their “nature of prosperity dialogue” series.

My key learning from this event ? From one of the speakers, Ruth Levitas :

“Utopias give you a space in which you can imagine radically different systems”

Smashing Paradigms – What is Bravery?

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”



bravery iain jamaica pool

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…)

Know Thyself – the story of Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever


Thanks to my friend and Creative Visionary, Maeve Gillies, for sharing this article with me from the NY Times: “Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness

My writing on this site is all focussed to some degree around Leadership. In leading and in working with leaders, I truly believe that among the keys to being an effective leader are attributes such as curiosity, humility, and being on a lifelong quest for self-knowledge.

In the modern world, so much of our time is dedicated to being busy, working hard, and yet no matter how hard we work, it often feels to so many that is is never enough. This from one of the Yale students taking the course :

“In reality, a lot of us are anxious, stressed, unhappy, numb,” said Alannah Maynez, 19, a freshman taking the course. “The fact that a class like this has such large interest speaks to how tired students are of numbing their emotions — both positive and negative — so they can focus on their work, the next step, the next accomplishment.”

Powerful words and such energy and drive was enough for this to be the most subscribed course in the 316-year history of that august institution.

Leaders who choose to work with me quickly get used to me challenging them to do less and be more. To take time out of their busy-ness to create space. Browse this site and you’ll see so many posts around these themes in different ways

.. and yet… for those leading businesses, it may seem counter-intuitive, but the most world-class of leaders have the presence, the empathy, the understanding, that can come only from taking time to, as the ancients in Delphi put it “know thyself”.

Still, don’t take my word for it, trust in the wisdom of the great Calvin & Hobbes.

Movies with Meaning – Eclectic selection

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

The last few posts in this series were themed, this one an eclectic variety !

One a repeat favourite but with a meaning from the master of daily posts, Seth Godin.

The next a hysterically funny clip that also makes a serious point about going beyond limits.

Finally, our third clip this week one of the most powerful and wonderfully constructed movie speeches of all time.


Writing I Love – Coelho on Frankl

Coelho on Frankl

I saw this the other day, a reminder of something I shared on Facebook three years ago.

Two of my absolute favourite books (and my posts about each of them) are :

Coelho encapsulates the wisdom of Frankl beautifully in the image above, and I am also reminded of a very wise man more than 2000 years prior.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ~ Marcus Aurelius



How do you like them (bitcoin) tulips ?

Today is Monday February 12th.

On October 23rd, 2017 I posted “What a Fool Believes about Bitcoin“, at which stage the price of Bitcoin was $5920.

The price then raced up even faster and peaked at around $19200 in mid December.

Today the price is ? …. heck, it jumps around so best to check it realtime, but at the moment this was typed, the rollercoaster was back down to around $7000.

Felt to post this today to continue to again state that Bitcoin per se has no intrinsic value, hence nobody is “investing” in it, instead they are speculating that someone will pay more than them for the BTC they buy.

Roubini on BTC

Nouriel Roubini is known as “Dr Doom”, but he did call the great depression. I remember vividly he and Ian Bremmer coming to Cayman shortly after (and before Cayman had felt caught pneumonia from the global cold of the financial crisis) and they tag-teamed to demolish all optimism.. and we all knew they were right as they said it !

To paraphrase the Matt Damon character in one of my favourite scenes in one of my top ten movies of all time, “How do you like them tulips?”

Two clips for the scene… first the take down….

Then the punchline…

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication


Recently I wrote “If I”d had more time….” around the story :

“On being complemented for writing a erudite, entertaining and educational letter to a national newspaper, Mark Twain said: “Thank you. If I’d had more time I would have written a shorter one.””

Now, I also wrote in that piece about the fact that this was erroneously attributed to Mark Twain, and mused on why these attributions are so readily created to certain people.

The wonderful quote above is attributed to Da Vinci. Once again, no source for this can be found, but hey, I still LOVE the line !

Oh, and another thought from my recent post “Wisdom – what makes a masterpiece?” is that wisdom is “Something that, as soon as you hear it, feels like you always knew it”

I write this having this week spent a day with a wonderful large team who spend their days working on complex issues, researching and reporting them. Often they create reports that are many tens of pages long.

I asked them “what would good look like ?” and they said “no more than three of four pages”. I then asked “what would great look like ?” and the answer was “one page”.

That felt like wisdom to me. So, at the end of six hours together, they aligned around a report for themselves from their day of collaboration and discussion. The length of that report ? One page ?

Purpose, work, gifts, sharing


“The purpose of life is to discover your gift.
The work of life is to develop it.
The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

~ David Viscott

“Our highest purpose is to share knowledge.”

from the Luc Besson movie “Lucy”

What are my Gifts?

Insights, Bravery and Belief.

What is my Purpose?

#ToInspire, through living my gifts in service of others

How do I give my gift away and share knowledge?

In every interaction I seek to help others, and also this is why I write every day.

I hope this stimulates your own thoughts around your Gifts, Purpose and what knowledge you can share.

Smashing Paradigms – Ellen

{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”



Last week in this column I wrote about #TheFutureIsFemale.

Today, a female leader written about by another.

Bravery, integrity and truth are all attributes of a true leader.

I recently read the words of my dear friend Taylor Burrowes, otherwise known as Dr. Babe, and an inspiring brave leader herself, on the impact of Ellen DeGeneres :

“It’s amazing how quickly the public reacts to headlines, and how unceremoniously it rejects someone — but only true graceful warriors can arise to such humble heights! She is magic, in her own right and in her own way — she celebrates life and her god-given talents authentically, embracing the hardships of life (and her crying fans) without letting them break her spirit. Her spirit is joy. I hope Ellen is absorbing the momentous life she has created and that the public doesn’t wait for her passing to truly appreciate the angel of joy and humility that she is, remarkably.”

This video was released to celebrate Ellen’s 60th birthday in January 2018. A wonderful and inspiring watch.

To stay ahead of AI, teach our kids to play sports

Today I was mentoring someone and we talked about what we can do for our children to support them in our fast-changing world where we are so focussed on being busy.

I reflected on the fact that my three boys have all been very focussed on sports as they grew up, and I believe this has served them superbly in teaching them many values, such as grit (passion and perseverance), resilience, team-work and more. This has also brought them rich experiences and they’ve met amazing people from around the world.

A few days ago my friend Patrycja Skurzak (a brilliant coach who specialises in confidence coaching) pointed me towards another element of the speech by Jack Ma at the WEF recently (I wrote about another theme her had in that speech in #TheFutureIsFemale), and he brilliantly targets what fresh ideas and leadership are needed in education, including teaching children sports, music, arts.

First his speech excerpt, then two more thoughts. (more…)

Movies with Meaning – The Meaning of Time – continued

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

Last week I wrote about time.

We never seem to have enough of it. As Leaders, we often spend time rushing around, without time for presence, time to pause, time for silence, for solitude. (These are all recurring subjects on this site, a search on any on those terms will turn up multiple posts).

As this feels like an inexhaustible topic, today we have three more movies with premises that have us consider time. They make us think about:

  1. Are we all connected across time?
  2. What is the value to us of protecting something over time?
  3. Can we experience our whole lifetime in an instant?


Writing I Love – “their finest hour”

we shall fight on the beaches

It is oft said  : “the best predictor of the future is the past

At the current time I am focussing on studying the Roman Stoics of around 2000 years ago. Their teachings are so relevant today and also at any time.

This is a site focussed on leadership. Humility is a key characteristic of being a leader others choose to follow, so let us all have the humility and invest the time to study and learn from the great leaders of our past.

Going back only 78 years, we have one of the greatest orators and leaders of the 20th century, a man who literally changed the course of world history through his insights and, far more, by his bravery in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and almost universal opposition around him. That man is Winston Churchill.


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