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, all centred around the ideas of #OpenLeadership. Enjoy…

Cogito Ergo Sum, or Sentio Ergo Sum?

Cogito Ergo Sum – I think, therefore I am


Sentio Ergo Sum – I feel therefore I am

Are we rational beings driven by our thoughts, or are we led by our feelings?

If the latter, consider this for a moment. Where in our education system are our children taught to listen to and learn from their feelings? At what age do we, as adults, start to focus on our own self-knowledge and self-awareness?

If we are indeed led by our thinking, then our systems and culture serve us well.

However, stay with me for a few moments, turn your volume up, and enter a short experiment.

I ask you to watch three short scenes and see what you feel after each one.


Avoiding group think – Ipcha Mistabra

Two phrases that have raced towards the top of the jargon list are “Group Think” and “Echo Chamber”

They are so common now I won’t explain, only noting that this will get more and more prevalent, not least because our media / social media platforms are actually designed to surround us with information we already agree with.

This is so pervasive that we witness it in ourselves and in our businesses, so we are often surprised when something happens we didn’t predict.


A leader is someone others choose to follow

A recent post was on “How far is it acceptable to push ?” and reflected on the difference in two teams in pro cycling. One driven by fear and control and “zero tolerance”, another by trust and acceptance and, ultimately, love.

In this I was reminded of the quote from Dr King:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Quote Darkness Leadership Follow

In my life, I have worked for several decades in business, in sports, and in leadership. You want “hard-nosed results” for your business? Higher Revenues? Reduced Expenses? Bigger Profits? Higher Valuation?


Pushing too far, and learning from it!

I’m fascinated by elite performance. Sometimes “pushing” can turn toxic, as I discussed with “how far is it acceptable to push?“, talking about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in pro cycling and the culture around it.

Sometimes, however, we must challenge ourselves to see what our limits are, then learn, both in terms of skills and self-belief, where we can go further.

However, sometimes we go TOO far, so let me tell a few stories that make both points.


How far is it acceptable to push?

I am catalysed to write this by an article by Richard Moore, a journalist and author I hold in high regard, written in advance of a key documentary going out on BBC on November 19, 2017, in which he concludes :

“..questions that are being increasingly asked about elite sport: how far is it acceptable to push; how close to the line do you want to go?”

Take a moment and consider this for your own leadership. Leadership of your business, leadership in your family, leadership of your own self. How far is it acceptable to push? How close to the line do you want to go?


Knowledge, Belief and Leadership

A reminder of the genius of one of the greatest comedy series of all time:

Sir Humphrey: “Have you read the Financial Times this morning?”
Banker: “Never do”
Sir Humphrey: “Well you’re a banker, surely you read the Financial Times?”
Banker: “Can’t understand it, Full of Economic Theory”
Sir Humphrey: “Why do you buy it?”
Banker: “oh, you know, part of the uniform”

This clip illustrates how far and how high a senior executive can climb with limited knowledge and only lots of belief in themselves and their ideas.

Am recently back from Kilkenomics and seeking to distil learnings from so many amazing people, including so many brilliant economists with so much knowledge to share.


Did you hear the one about the funny Economist ?

Did you hear the one about why the Irish Economics professor did not one, but two research studies before publishing his new theory? 

To be sure, to be sure!

Yup, I made that one up. Apologies, couldn’t resist! I’m not an Economist, nor a Comedian (to be sure!), nor am I at all sure how I know what I know (see the previous article on knowledge here).

However, I was at Kilkenomics recently. Having seen the brilliant David McWilliams speak a few years ago in the Cayman Islands, combining great knowledge with humour to land his opinions, I was irresistibly drawn to this festival for many reasons, a key one being to get a sense for how injecting humour would support learning and shifting of opinions among both the panellists and the audience.


How do we know what we know?

At the same time as I arrived in Kilkenny a few days ago for a weekend of Economics geekery at Kilkenomics, I was messaging on Twitter with a brilliant friend of mine to get their ideas on future themes for my writing on this site. They messaged :

write about epistemology?
You don’t write about things you can evidence in a repeatable study
But what you write has value and conveys knowledge
How do you know what you know?
And how do you know that you know it?

I’ve never focussed on Epistemology, nor even studied Philosophy in any depth, but the timing of the idea really switched on my radar as I listened and spoke to the many experts at Kilkenomics, both about what they thought and shared, and also for myself. How do I know what I know?


The Distributed Trust revolution

In our UNTHINKABLE era,  #Open Leadership is the way forward for leading through such radical disruption, as we are not living in an era of incremental change, it is and will be revolutionary.

How revolutionary?

From thought leader Rachel Botsman, the most beautifully concise expression of the Distributed Trust revolution to come:

“So an idea that intrigued me, and I’d like you to consider, is whether we can better understand major waves of disruption and change in individuals in society through the lens of trust. Well, it turns out that trust has only evolved in three significant chapters throughout the course of human history: local, institutional and what we’re now entering, distributed.

This is really, really big. For more, 13″ here :


Even thought leaders can’t keep up

speed of change thought leaders

In recent articles, I’ve focussed on DISTRIBUTED TRUST.

As a term, it is currently mostly applied at a technical level, and mostly to areas such as Blockchain and FinTech etc.

Distributed Trust is going to be so much bigger, see my recent post for some cogitations on what it could mean. Take a picture of your passport, it will be a historical piece well within our lifetimes.

The speed our world moves at means that we cannot possibly lead by staying up to date with content changes, even at the level of conceptual or even detailed level of understanding of areas like blockchain technology.

Such technologies create great leaps for us and catalyse further change. What the speed of change in our era means, though, is that they are coming closer and closer together and to lead, to stay ahead of what is current, to be thought leaders, means to stay in context.

Now, at this stage, I wish to recognise a thought leader around Distributed Trust and also to share something she shared that is a very direct reminder of how fast the world moves, even for thought leaders.


Love, trust and Distributed Trust

I am hugely excited about the future of our world.

Yes, we live in an UNTHINKABLE time and the speed of change renders the way we historically have learned and lead obsolete.

However, the answer is in moving to lead from our emotions and from a place of trust (contextually, from a place of LOVE), as opposed to leading from intellect, knowledge, control, scarcity, competition (ie from a place of FEAR). Put that way, I hope you are excited about the future too!


Distributed Trust in the UNTHINKABLE age

As regular readers know, I’m obsessed with the idea that #OpenLeadership is a radical approach that can make a massive difference for humanity and our planet in this UNTHINKABLE age that we live in.

Change is SO rapid that we cannot have the answers, yet we aren’t yet acting in recognition of this.

Recently I wrote a post “What a fool believes about Bitcoin“. Yes, it primarily focussed on the bitcoin bubble and psychology of the “greater fool theory, but I also said :

“I do actually believe that Blockchain in 2017 is at just such a moment as Netscape and the “WWW” was in 1994. Distributed trust is going to change our world, and at such a speed we cannot even imagine.

Let me run you through a line of thinking.


Why humans will always stay ahead of AI

“May you live in interesting times” 

A little research attributes this to Sir Austen Chamberlain in 1936, soon before his brother was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and had to do the best with the tools he had to politically address the challenge that was Adolf Hitler. Suffice to say that he had limited success, as his brother had somehow unconsciously predicted with what has since been embellished to be called “the Chinese curse”.

So, we definitely now live in interesting times. Things are changing faster than ever and we won’t be able to cope at all with current leadership models.


Forget knowledge, simply lead

Moore’s Law (simplified) states that computer processing power doubles every 18 months.

Gordon Moore was one of the founders of Intel and he posited this back in 1965. It is quite stunning that is has continued to hold for over 50 years. I was born in 1965 and had the great good fortune of having a father who spent his whole career in the computer industry, so I got to see and play with computers from a young age and experience first hand the “wow” of every change in computing power.

The smartphones we now use have WAY MORE computing power than computers did when the first smartphone came out around a decade ago.

Now, I now put it to you that as technology at such power has become so all-pervasive in our lives, Moore’s Law applies EVERYWHERE in our lives.