Today I arrived back in London early morning on an overnight flight from Cayman. It was a beautiful and sunny winter’s day.
I’d arranged to meet up with someone, they then had to be somewhere else in town for their next meet up. We made the most of the day by taking time for a long walk between the two places, then I left them to it and headed back home.
A lovely way to spend time and reminded me of the power of walking meetings.
Think for a moment about your Vision for yourself, your business or organisation.
For those with a focus on the UK, where the General Election just happened, perhaps you may be reflecting on your own Vision for country, economy, society.
Now, these all typically have in common that they are focussed on the future. What if, though, you considered that your Vision is in the present, is now, today and everyday?
I sat recently with a leadership team who felt that they didn’t have a vision. I’ve been working with this client for many years and, as I listened deeply to them, a thought occurred to me. They are already living it now.
It is time to enter not into the GTD mode, but the GSD mode, elevating to the GSD mindset that is so appropriate for them at this time.
A good friend of mine has spent their life making sure they had everything in their head all the time at any time. As you can imagine, their recent discovery of a personal productivity tool that works for them has been transformational. The tool they use is very popular and been around for two decades or so, called “GTD” or “Getting Things Done“.
In short, rather than filling one’s brain with “to do” lists and more, find a way to get that out of your head to leave space for creativity and productive thought. For me, I use Evernote for that as well as mindset management so my mind is (generally!) clear for my best work and thinking.
Now, another friend (and also a client with a wide and varied number of business areas to consider) has been spending time with me aligning on their focus going into 2020. Part of this at this particular phase for the business is to move from thinking and talking to plans, action, accountability.
They already are highly productive, so this is far less about written plans and productivity methods, but time to enter not into the GTD mode, but the GSD mode, elevating to the GSD mindset that is so appropriate for them at this time.
What is GSD? Global Somali Diaspora? Global Schools of Design? Gibraltar Social Democrats? Nope, simply:
Ten years ago, in their first step as a company, Holstee’s founders, Dave, Mike and Fabian, sat together on the steps of Union Square in New York to write down how they define success. The goal was to create something they could reflect back on if they ever felt stuck or found themselves living according to someone else’s definition of happiness. The result was the Holstee manifesto, which went super-viral.
I love the idea of defining what success is at the very beginning of a company. Steve Jobs said that Apple was here to “put a dent in the universe” in the garage with Steve Wozniak, ie at the very beginning.
I also love supporting leaders and their organisations connect to their Purpose and what it means for everyone in and connected to them and how it can drive success far more effortlessly as it also creates powerful alignment and clarity across the business.
What’s your manifesto, your definition of success?
I leave you with the Holstee manifesto lifestyle video and wording.
I am certain that intense curiosity is an essential attribute for #OpenLeadership.
Recently I was pointed towards an amazing annual post by my eclectically brilliant friend Steve Moore. As he put it: “Read Tom’s annual post. You will learn more in the ten minutes it takes than you have all year long. You will learn more in the ten minutes it takes than you have all year long”.
Oh, and I got to #26 on this curated list, I got a little excited. I’m an investor in this company!:
Gravitricity is a Scottish startup planning to store energy by lifting huge weights up a disused mine shaft when electricity is cheap, dropping them down to generate power when it is expensive. Using a 12,000 tonne weight (roughly the weight of the Eiffel tower), it should be half as expensive as equivalent lithium ion battery. [Jillian Ambrose]
“..making plans for the future is of use only to people who are capable of living completely in the present.”
My life is structured in what is often a seamless blend, so when someone asks me “what do you do?” and they are really asking “what is your job”, whatever answer I give tends to bemuse them. You see, I’m not playing the game of work, life IS the work, to me it is all in flow. Work, life, business, personal. It is all interwoven.
As an example, yesterday I had a sparkling conversation with Steve Chapman, partially captured in “The Power of Not Knowing“, then a meeting around a group I am a volunteer member of representing the Cayman Islands in London. I then went back to my home office for a video call to a client in California, a call that truly crackled and sparkled with energy and through which I wove some thoughts and ideas from meetings earlier that day and also in recent days. In other words, it all flows. As Alan Watts would say, it is all play.
Today, then, I’ll share a talk from the late Alan Watts, who Steve reminded me of when we chatted. Whenever I wish to look to understand what life is all about, Alan Watts is a frequent reference.
On Wednesday, November 27th, I wrote a “long read” called “Transferring Enthusiasm“, the essence of which is that when you have a live audience, to focus not on sharing data, information or knowledge, but simply to transfer your enthusiasm for what you are sharing with your audience.
That same evening, I joined around 20,000 others to watch The Lumineers live in concert. I had recently been introduced to their music by a good friend who is a fan. I arrived that night liking their music and somewhat excited about the concert, but mostly looking forward to sharing an evening with a friend.
I left transformed. Liking had turned to love for their music, but more than that I loved their live performance. They truly transferred their enthusiasm to me, so watch out if you see me soon, I’ll be evangelising for The Lumineers!
So, as a leader, how can you transfer your enthusiasm to others to it propagates and spreads?
I leave you with a video clip of the end of their final number, “Stubborn Love”, the refrain now stuck in my head, an “earworm”. Stubborn my love now will be for The Lumineers!
It is time business to embrace purpose. I’ve focussed for years on the idea that by putting Purpose, People and Planet ahead of Profit, businesses will “Do well by doing good”.
Small may be beautiful in ethical terms, but it’s not ideal for effecting large-scale change. If endemic poverty is ever to be reversed or global heating resolved, then big business also needs to embrace this more inclusive approach to business.
“Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come.”
~ Victor Hugo
I’ve focussed for years on the idea that by putting Purpose, People and Planet ahead of Profit, businesses will “Do well by doing good”. They must always continue to focus on making a Profit in order to Scale their impact, but Profit will be the outcome of this focus, no longer the driver of business.
More and more we are seeing articles like this recent one in the Guardian, as well as the FT leading on this, as shown in how they highlighted this in their sponsorship of the amazing annual Kilkenomics festival.
Today I will unapologetically repeat myself around this topic, as it is not only time business to embrace purpose, but it is now becoming a “hot topic” and I now feel like I’m talking about a mainstream idea, no longer an outlier. So, let’s review.
My “long read” for you yesterday was on: “Transferring Enthusiasm“, inspired by insight from a long conversation with a wise friend. Another wise friend is Chip Conley, author of “Wisdom and Work” and, like my friend who inspired yesterday’s post, is both wise and also deeply curious about wisdom in many forms.
So, what is your own definition? Let’s explore together.
If you wish to attract the best people, opportunities, clients, partners towards you, “be what you wish to attract”.
Yesterday I was officiating at the ISL Swim Meet at one of my favourite buildings, the London Aquatic Centre.
Having arrived several hours early and with a deck pass, I took time to look around the entire set up, then, with the officials toured around in-depth as part of our briefing, I heard and saw even more.
My conclusion? Everything about the setup is totally world-class. I have seen and also been part of events for lots of different pro sports around the world, this is one of the absolute best I have ever seen.
This carries lessons for all of us in how we lead, how we do business, how we live our lives.
Chip Conley often reminds us to learn a new skill every year that has nothing to do with what we do for work. This skill is what we do that is different.
For me, one thing I do that is different is that I have been passionate about being a swimming referee now for many years and always learning more in that field. Also, my most-read article of all time is one that went viral in the swim officials community: “Leadership Lessons from a Swim Referee” and, as the title infers, I find parallels to my work in this role too!
How do you know when something is ready? is done? it is time to stop refining and tweaking?
One of the services I love to provide to clients is to support them around developing their strategy, through which we focus on the story of the vision, what they want to communicate and how to do that.
In contracting for such work, I’m asked two questions: “how long with this take?” and “how much?”.
The answer to the latter is always an easy one to hear, as the investment in Business Strategy Coaching is so much smaller investment and so a far higher ROI than Business Strategy Consulting (see “Business Strategy Coaching – a simple secret“).
The answer to “how long will it take?”, however, often confuses, as the answer is always “until it is ready”.
You see, in coaching a client around their Business Strategy, they always know when it is ready when it is done.
Sometimes it takes quite a while, multiple iterations. However, sometimes it can be quick, they can have a breakthrough and simple know it is done.
In that latter case, however, the instinct of the client is almost always to question themself, to look to keep refining, keep iterating, keep “tweaking”. At that stage, my role is simply to hold them to their “knowing” that it is done, it is ready, to therefore make sure they stop and recognise that.
Today two illustrations of this, one a short post from Seth Godin on “How do you know when it is ready”, the other a story around a musician who created their masterwork, then simply stopped, forever.