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.


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.

Mindset, Youth Sports, Leadership

Chimney Rock, North Carolina, USA

Winter is definitely here in London, and this Caymanian happily skipped his msot recent Sunday morning cycle when it was pouring with rain and 6c as I woke up. As an island boy, also happy for newspaper delivery, so no actual need to leave the cosy comfort of indoors.

As I opened the Sunday Times one of the sections I read was the Style section. No, I am not a fashionista, but the editor, Lorraine Candy,  in and amongst the fashion stuff, consciously features thoughtful articles and interviews each week that are all about uplifting and inspiring women, and each week there is always something in there that inspires me too. This week featured an interview with Dina Asher-Smith, at 22 one of the fastest women in history, yet so much more than that. One particular section of the interview really got me thinking about the power of youth sports for our children and the impact and value this can have for us and our mindset as adults and leaders, in whatever leadership roles we play in life. (more…)

Being comfortable with solitude

Dumbo sunrise

Quite the view, isn’t it?

I recently spent a week back in Cayman, where I had upwards of thirty meetings, talking with well over sixty people, including leading a four-hour session for a team of twenty-two. I worked out that in all that time I had less than two hours at a stretch on my own on any day.

I then flew to New York for three nights, finding myself waking up on my first day to this view and, by dint of serendipity, with no plans at all and with my host not arriving back until the next day.

So, what did I do with that solitude and what can I share about the power of solitude? (more…)

Writing I Love: the longest writing. can be one line

42 Iain

At a sea swim in 2014, aged 16, my son Iain.. or, as I called him after this, “The Answer”..

“What is the answer to life, the universe and everything?” “42” ~ Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I often share on this site under the theme “Writing I Love”. Writing and language can have the power to transport us, as well as to connect us. Sometimes all it takes is one line.

I love the writing of @nayyirahwaheed on Twitter.

Somehow this particular tweet spoke to me, and has me ruminating on single lines that resonate.

On that theme: “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

So, today a selection of single lines today, from thinkers, from movies, from favourite books : (more…)

From Pooh to Cantona

This week I brought you wisdom for Leadership from the sagest of sage bears (apologies to Paddington, who comes a close second), Winnie the Pooh.

Today, I bring you the legend that is Eric Cantona, who I also wrote about recently in: “Ferguson and Cantona – Vulnerability and Strength“.

Yes, Leadership learnings from Eric Cantona. You come here expecting the eclectic, yes?

I’ll share learnings from an article he recently wrote, as well as my own reflections.


How Self-Aware are you?

self awareness archetypes

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change” ~ Suki Laniado Smith

“Leaders who focus on building both internal and external self-awareness…can learn to see themselves more clearly — and reap the many rewards that increased self-knowledge delivers” ~ Dr Tasha Eurich, HBR, January 2018

In January 2018, Harvard Business Review published an article by Dr Tasha Eurich titled: “What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It)

Today a look at the question Tasha poses. (more…)

Changing and challenging perspective

Dumbo sunrise

The view from my friend and host’s loft in Brooklyn a few hours ago, just after sunrise on a cold and crisp 4c / 39f degree morning.

The inspiring view has me musing today on the power of changing and challenging your perspective. (more…)

Sharknado thinking


Sharknado thinking. If that shit can fly, your ideas aren’t crazy enough.

As Steve Jobs famously said, “here’s to the crazy ones”. Trust me, as a leader, you need more crazy ideas in your life, and certainly, your business does.

Get out of the goldfish bowl your swimming on and do some Sharknado Thinking! (more…)

To achieve, be ready to fail


This week I’ve been home in Cayman. Seeing my boys, clients, friends. There are so many wonderful elements of living on that small island of only around 60,000 people, and at the same time, there is an element of “big fish, small pond” mindset, particularly when it comes to sports. Big fish in a small pond. Top in Cayman is often too low a bar to achieve much beyond that, and can, in fact, act as a limiter. It can mean failure on the big stage internationally.

I can understand that happening, but what I do struggle with is people who don’t try. They aren’t ready to fail in order to succeed, so they don’t truly try. That way they have a built-in reason for their being defeated.

Let’s explore that further and look at why that happens and what can be done if one wishes to truly achieve their personal best. (more…)

Watch your language!


When I was a teenager, occasionally at school someone (yes, sometimes that someone was me!) would let slip a swear word in class. The teacher would typically say something like “watch your language!”. Interesting turn of phrase, now I think about it!

Language is really powerful, and awareness around and choice of language can and does make an enormous impact on our communication.

Today a few quick thoughts and ideas. (more…)

Gratitude + Presence


This week I am back in Cayman, with a full week of client meetings, a client workshop, meetings with friends, contacts, and, most of all, my boys.

What occurs to me at this moment is the powerful combination of :

Gratitude + Presence (more…)

What moves you? Writing, sound, pictures?

swimmer headphones

At the Rio 2016 Olympics, swimmers were given free sets of “Beats” headphones. Brilliant product placement, as it had been realised that almost all swimmers like to close themselves off from the world before their race and do so in a cocoon of sound.

Recently I arranged for my two older sons, both veterans of swimming at the Commonwealth Games, to meet the teenage daughter of a friend, a young swimmer who is now very fast for her age nationally. They had a great chat, with one of the biggest sparks of connection coming when they discussed what songs they put on their playlists to listen to before races!

It got me to thinking about how we learn, and also what moves us, speaks to us, inspires us.

All too often we rely too much on only one tool to connect to others, being the written word. This is a hugely deep topic, so today simply a few connected riffs that I hope get you cogitating! (more…)

Thank you for visiting my website

People are my library, my daily writing a way to discover what’s in it: ideas, inspiration, wisdom, and a little fun. As your humble librarian, I invite you to subscribe to check out a digest of daily emails emailed twice each week. No late fees, ever.