Tag: Share Learnings

I’m sorry. What I did was wrong…


We’ve all experienced and given a “non-apology” apology.

You know what that feels like to hear and to give. Incomplete or worse. The least apologetic “non-apology” will both try to justify what was said or done with excuses, then say something like “I’m sorry if you were offended”.

No matter how triggered we are, there is never an excuse to say something in reaction to it that offends. It is rare for me to do so, but recently it happened. I said something in reaction to a statement that triggered me. The result of me reacting was that the target of my words was deeply hurt by what I said.

Suffice to say I felt terrible.

I didn’t apologise in the moment as things had become so heated. Instead, I came back the next day to give my apology, ensuring I gave a true apology and not a non-apology.

So, how can we give a true apology? (more…)

Sometimes the question is more important than the answer


The Pontiac Aztek. Still no idea what question this answers.

Have you ever faced a situation where you really don’t know what to do and this has you feel frustrated, or perhaps even overwhelmed, confused?

When that happens, do you feel the need to make a decision quickly, to know what to do, to then act quickly?

It seems to me that in our fast-paced world we are often pressured (and put pressure on ourselves) to think and to act fast.

However, in my experience, sometimes the question is more important than the answer. (more…)

Doing what is right – Pret


Ken Blanchard has a quote: “catch someone doing something right”.

I believe in business as a force for good, and in the righteous flywheel of purpose-lead businesses following the new triple bottom line and so creating profit for impact.

I’ve started writing posts about businesses I see “doing what is right”, most recently Timpson and Stantec.

Today I highlight Pret a Manger. Given the prevalence of their stores in London, I’ve been a frequent customer, yet I was not aware until recently of their focus on doing what is right.

Until, that is, I saw their focus on supporting homeless people.


Your business must make a profit


Yesterday I posted a new graphic I created around the righteous

Today a post “Profit for Impact“, about the new triple bottom line and showing the following linear formula as iterative, a “righteous flywheel”.

Purpose + People + Planet = Profit

Today I want to emphasise that your business must make a profit. Yes, I may sometimes seem a bit holistic and “out of the box” on this site, yet trust me, I’m a Chartered Accountant who has spent almost his whole career building businesses and building value in businesses for others.

You can have a great sense of Purpose, be good to People and the Planet, but if you don’t make a profit you won’t be able to do much of that and not for long. (more…)

Profit for Impact

TM Profit for Impact Graphic v3_B

In January I wrote: “Purpose, People, Planet. The new triple bottom line.

That article puts forward that it is time for a new triple bottom line, one that creates:

“a “Righteous Flywheel”, where the unerring focus on Purpose+People+Planet as drivers allows the corporation to make Profits, which mean it can then focus more on Purpose+People+Planet and so make more Profit, and so on in a “virtuous circle”.”

It also links to three further articles, each with a case study of a company of scale that has lived this and proven that it creates the righteous flywheel.

At the time of writing, I noted that I’d love to create a graphic to represent this. Well, with the creative skills of Martha Rowe (who has done all the graphic and web design for me for some time), now we have one here. Thank you Martha!

Put as a formula:

Purpose + People + Planet = Profit

However, the formula looks like an endgame of profit, whereas the flywheel graphic highlights that it is a cycle.

I’d love to talk to you about this, and to get more examples of companies operating in this way!

The biggest hidden asset in your business

jack ma trust

Prior to my focus over the last decade on leadership and so people, I spent nearly twenty years focussed on numbers and building value in businesses. A key part of that is assessing the hidden assets in a business, the stuff that isn’t always apparent in the financial statements.

Some of these come from assessing shifts a company can make in strategy, though what drew me towards a focus on people was that so many assets are actually around people, behaviour, culture. However, all too often those hidden assets are not valued and so not brought forth, focussed on, invested in to achieve returns.

Today some simple thoughts on one area that is a major hidden asset that can be realised by any business. (more…)

Foundations: Financial Literacy


This is Dun Carloway, a bronze age fort thought to be built in the first century AD.

It is on the Isle of Lewis, where I spent most of my vacations as a child. Often I played and ran around this structure, then many years later my children did the same.

While the walls have been reduced, most of that was by human hand taking away the stones that made up the walls.

However, it is clear that, at nearly 2000 years old, it is built on firm foundations.

So, whilst I talk often about change, transformation, bravery, stretching and more, in order for any of us or our organisations to embark on such journeys and shifts we must also have firm foundations that support us in our growth and change.

One such area is financial literacy. (more…)

Certain in Uncertainty

In the world of business we live in, so often we are rewarded for certainty, yet sometimes being uncertain and knowing and stating that this is where we are, that can also be of value to our process and our business. We can be:

Certain in Uncertainty.

Today a coaching conversation that led me to this thought to share with you today. (more…)

Reputation Hygiene


Recently I was about to have a first meeting with someone.

They were late. When they arrived, they gave no reason.

Thought of the term “reputation hygiene”, as with only a little focus and attention our reputation is maintained and built upon, yet if we allow it to be sullied, it can be difficult to restore.

A few simple tips, then around reputation hygiene:

  1. Be on time. Seriously. Be on time.
  2. Be polite. Always. No exceptions.
  3. Answer emails within one working day.
  4. If you are wrong, apologise. Oh, and ask what you can do to make it right.
  5. Say thank you, and mean it.
  6. Say what you are going to do and do what you are going to say.

I could continue, but you get the gist.

Always fire A**holes

no asshole rule

Last week on Twitter in a discussion around leadership someone mentioned the “no a**hole rule”. Hadn’t specifically heard of it, but will now add this book by Robert Sutton to my reading list.

As someone who lead businesses for years and, over the last decade, coached, mentored and advised others, one of the most frequent questions brought to me runs along the lines of:

“we have this person working for us that is really important to our business, so I can’t afford to fire them, but they are an a**hole, so what should I do?”

Here is the distilled wisdom of decades of experience with such situations.

Always fire A**holes

Fire them, and do it right away.

The long term cost of keeping a toxic individual will always, always outweigh the short term cost of whatever it is you will lose by not having them on the team.

As Netflix put it in their original culture deck from 2009 (a fantastic read, see here): “On a dream team, there are no “brilliant jerks.” The cost to teamwork is just too high

Again and again, I’ve seen this, both the costs that happen when a leader does not act, as well as the long term benefits of acting quickly and decisively.

Oh, and if you are a leader with an a**hole in your business, a brilliant jerk, you are possibly reading this and now justifying why you are keeping them.

If you are clear that they are not someone who used to be great and simply having a rough time and acting oddly, but instead they are, yup, an a**hole, do it. Fire them.

Final thought. If you have this type of person on your team, or perhaps a pattern of them over time, perhaps it is time to challenge yourself and the culture of your business as to how they are attracted, hired, retained. Just a thought.

Toilets and out of date thinking


The photo above is of the beautiful concourse at Kings Cross Railway Station, opened in 2012 as an exquisite redevelopment and enhancement of a railway station originally opened in 1851. I visit this station relatively frequently to both journey to Scotland and to meet those coming to London to visit.

Now, despite the stunning and functional modernity of the building, up until this week it still showed a shining (probably not the right word!) example of six of the most dangerous words in business:

“we’ve always done it this way”

We are all sometimes guilty of this kind of thinking, but if we don’t challenge our assumptions, procedures, methods, decisions (and allow others to challenge us too!), we very much run the risk of our thinking become out of date.

In the case of Network Rail, operators of Kings Cross station, I’d say the example I am about to share was not just a little out of date, but even last century would have been out of date. (more…)

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