Tuesday, April 11, 2017

There’s a brew going down at The Lakes

Part of the Cumbrian food and taste experience, which I wrote about a few weeks ago, is The Lakes Distillery. Interestingly, The Lakes District was once part of Scotland - hence a long association with illicit whiskey distilling! Founder of The Lakes Distillery is Paul Currie who co-founded the widely acclaimed, award winning Arran distillery, and a man who has grown up in and amongst the distilling industry.

After years of searching for the perfect venue, Paul came across some derelict farm buildings from the 1850s near Keswick, and in 2010 his dream started to turn into a reality. Against all odds, this Victorian farm has developed into a world class whisky distillery and visitor centre, with over 100,000 people visiting the facilities each year.

The Lakes Distillery now legally produces whiskey, vodka and the Lakes Gin (it’s best appreciated neat) and keeps waste to a minimum: it recycles water and heat and uses only grain, yeast and water in its process.

The goal is to produce a collection of world class spirits, and is on its way having being names by Timeout as “one of the best new distilleries in the world.” When asked in an interview how a new distillery can win the battle against fierce competition, Paul emphasized that there is nothing more important than quality. “The beautiful surroundings gave us a geographical advantage, helped us to build our brand. But the critical value of our business is always to enhance the quality to the best. Our goal is to make spirits that everyone enjoys, and become a leading brand to spirits fans.”

Cheers to that.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Why are the All Blacks so Good?

I’ve written for NZ Rugby World every month since issue number one, 20 years ago in April 1997 – and I was thumbing through the archives this sunny Saturday morning in Auckland when my copy of the latest, special edition was delivered.

Gregor Paul, editor of the world’s favourite rugby magazine, just published a special edition celebrating 125 years of New Zealand Rugby. He focused on why the All Blacks are so good.

Here in summary are 15 values which help explain the AB’s continuous improvement and sustainable peak performance.

1. Sacrifice
  • Give up things that won’t help you reach the summit.
  • Proves that the goal is worth chasing.
2. Respect
  • The legacy, the team, and the role of every individual.
  • Leave it better than when you found it.
3. Gratitude
  • Pressure is a privilege. Be grateful to have the opportunity to experience it.
4. Acceptance
  • Handle disappointment, man up, and do your job bloody well, whatever it is – for the Team.
5. Speed
  • In the mind. A positive attitude. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.
6. Trust
  • Believe in yourself, your skills, your game-plan, your systems and your mates.
7. Mental Toughness
  • Learn and practice TCUP.
8. Awareness
  • Uphold the higher standards. All the time.
9. Open Mindedness
  • Flexible thinking, responsive to new ideas, relish change.
10. Accountability
  • Everything can be done better. Use examples of the best players making mistakes. Everyone is accountable for the Team’s performance.
11. Dedication
  • Master basic skills.
  • Meet. Beat. Repeat.
12. Leadership
  • Everyone is a leader.
  • First know thyself.
  • Know what you’re doing, why, when and where.
13. Honesty
  • With yourself and your team.
  • Review performance shortfalls brutally and directly.
14. Core Role
  • Do your own job. Trust your mates to do theirs.
15. Continuous Improvement
  • Wake up the next morning and figure out how to improve.
  • Repeat daily.
Let’s see how these stand up to the latest threat – the British and Irish Lions in eight weeks time. Don’t miss the greatest sporting challenge of 2017.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

A Lion has Passed

At 6.30am on a wintry, cold 1989 Toronto morning, two partners of Egon Zehnder knocked on my door. They had been sent by Douglas Myers to find an operator to run the newly merged Lion Nathan NZ conglomerate of beer, soft drinks, supermarkets, hotels, wines and spirits. A few months later I had packed up and left Pepsi Cola Canada to move to the other end of the world to work for the most charismatic, paradoxical, irresistible, revolutionary I would ever meet. A great man. A great New Zealander.

He taught me about daring to dream, about the complexities of people, about driving performance, about winning, and about being a new New Zealander.

I loved him, respected him, admired him, trusted him and was driven by him to Learn, Fail and Fix.

He was caring and demanding in equal parts. He was provocative, brave, controversial, passionate and independent.

A pirate amongst sailors.

He passed today. 78 years young.

A New Zealand Lion.

Sir Douglas Myers. R.I.P.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

I Love Laura

Laura Kimpton is a California-based, American contemporary artist. She is known for her Monumental Word series including installations at Burning Man and now on the rooftop of the James Hotel near my New York home in Tribeca. “LOVE” is right in my wheelhouse. Other words in the series include “BELIEVE”, “LIVE”, “MAGIC” and “DREAM.” Kimpton reportedly liked the juxtaposition of LOVE seen together with the Freedom Tower in an outside location and has said that she sees herself as the messenger of love in a time when there is so much hate in the world. Her website states that “her creativity stems from a desire to question traditional views on social interaction, therefore invoking through her art a reaction from her viewers that ultimately completes her projects. She is continually exploring new mediums in her search for revelatory communication.”

Two more connections I like about Kimpton’s installations. First comes from LA-based New Zealand art critic and journalist Lita Barrie in a Huffington Post essay on the ‘LOVE’ installation at Las Vegas’s Venetian Hotel:

“Hotel art” has a pejorative reputation in the serious art world, considered facile, derivative, and inoffensive decoration bought through commercial art consultants and hyped by PR agencies who are unfamiliar with art history or the aesthetic or philosophic significance of real art collected and curated by scholars for top tier museums and art collectors. But a few hotels have managed to transition beyond this line and acquire serious art to share it with the public.

“Kimpton is fascinating because, as an outsider artist, she refuses to be put in a box or to pander to commercial galleries, or what she calls “an art world run by left-brain people, running a right-brain world.” Her use of sparrows in LOVE came from living in Siena, where sparrows flock in great numbers, and this led to her realization that “you are free to love anything you want - especially yourself.” The word “love” takes on multiple meanings through Kimpton’s use of the cut-out birds, so that “love” is not restricted to just monogamous romantic love, but represents a flight of fantasy into a more universal feeling. Like Alice she riddles the meanings of words, on the “other side” of left brain logic. Although I was apprehensive about viewing “hotel art,” I came away from this experience uplifted. After talking with Kimpton in-depth, I had no doubt that she is an authentic artist.”

And here is the third connection, hotels, of which I know more than a bit as a global resident and consultant:

“Kimpton’s journey began as an insider within the hospitality industry as the daughter of a hotelier, Bill Kimpton, who made his name refurbishing run-down buildings in urban areas and collaborating with innovative chefs like Wolfgang Puck to create exciting hotel restaurants. While Kimpton understands this industry implicitly, thanks to her innovative father, she also comes from a strong art and psychology background, having earned both a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and an MA in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco. Kimpton has worked on the periphery, yet she has also been accepted by the art establishment that collects her work.”

Laura Kimpton’s work is being shown by HG Contemporary on West 23rd Street, New York, starting on May 4th, 2017.

Two thumbs up.

Photo by Peter Ruprecht

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

CricHQ shortlisted for UK Sports Tech Award

CricHQ is the world’s leading data company, with the goal of becoming the world’s leading cricket broadcaster. They have been shortlisted as Best-Integrated Digital Media at the world’s leading sports technology awards, to be announced in London in early May. Over 70 sports from 30 countries were represented from 30 countries.

I took on the role of Chair of CricHQ at the end of 2016, working with founder/CEO Simon Baker and the team to scale the company within the framework of the world’s second largest sport (football being #1). CricHQ currently scores one in every 10 balls played at all levels of organized cricket around the world, including 54 out of 106 national governing bodies, 350 associations, and thousands of leagues, tournaments, clubs and schools.

CricHQ is an exemplar of New Zealand companies winning the world from the edge. Founded and headquartered in Wellington, CricHQ has operations in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States. In February it announced the acquisition of My Action Replay, a Bristol UK company that has perfected low-cost video capture of cricket matches at a very local level – school and club – meaning you can select you son or daughter’s fours and wickets at the press of a mouse.

Cricket is an engrossing, vibrantly exciting game, with enough pauses for reflection on the meaning of life. Until CricHQ, the game was decidedly analog, recorded on paper and consigned to filing boxes. CricHQ’s data and video tools are building a new world for players, fans, parents, administrators, coaches – and importantly, talent spotters. Take India, the world’s second most populated country where cricket is the national passion – spotting talent in all its corners will become possible with CricHQ when it is embraced throughout the country. CricHQ is becoming the lifetime home for players in a statistically-driven game.

See video interview here about my dreams for CricHQ.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Making Happy Choices

Am in Porto, the great river city of Portugal, with two great companies – Sonae, speaking to their 100 top leaders, and Sogrape, the country's leading winemaker, working with their marketing teams on four creative projects.

We’re staying on the River Douro at the Pestana Palacio do Freixo, built in the 18th century by the famous architect Nasoni – beautiful.

A couple of thoughts from our sessions by Rui Patriarca, Sogrape Marketing Director.

You only live once? (YOLO)


You live every day.

You only die once.

Even when happiness forgets about you sometimes, do not forget about happiness.

Making Happy Choices.

Thoughts from a country where Destiny is at the core of its spirit.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Here’s How to Destress

In today’s crazy world, stress levels can go through the roof. 24x7 internet and mobiles, no time for ourselves, ever shortening deadlines, mob rule via Twitter, Facebook mania, bingeing on media, TV, food, not enough time for sleeping, thinking, learning, improving – and it just keeps coming. Unless you take control of your own happiness and do something about it.

I believe in Making Happy Choices and in dealing to stress (and pressure) through positive actions (and mental toughness). There’s lots of work out there on dealing to stress but every programme depends on one thing – You. And your focus, commitment and discipline. GQ ran an article featuring two approaches from a GP and an author that will work – as long as you commit to them and act on them.

From Dr Nick Knight, a GP and PhD in performance physiology and nutrition:
  • Visualisation
  • Breathing meditation
  • Talk to yourself
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Keep a diary
  • Reset achievable goals
  • Take a time out
And from Carl Vernon, author of The Less Stress Lifestyle
  • Take action
  • Avoid toxic people
  • Focus on what you want
  • Be grateful
  • Be true to yourself

Monday, March 20, 2017

If you’re visiting the Lakes this Spring/Summer...

I have a home on the Fells above Grasmere, one of England’s most beautiful villages, on Greenhead Ghyll overlooking the Lion and the Lamb - Helm Crag. We are within 30 – 40 minutes of some of the best food in the UK and if you’re ever in the Lakes, here are some of the best:

Michelin Star Dining:

Forest Side – at the bottom of the road we live in. Fellow Old Lancastrian Andrew Wildsmith, creator of Hipping Hall in Kirby Lonsdale, lured Kevin Tickle from L’Enclume to create a unique forager based dining experience. Eight months after opening, they scored their first Michelin Star.

The Samling – (pictured above) a few miles away, overlooking Lake Windermere has just renovated its kitchen and restaurant – and retained its Star. Home to Renée Zellweger, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on their visits to The Lakes – it’s a must visit. Chef Nick Edgar was Head Chef at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. A heavyweight.

The Gilpin – Barney and Zoë Cunliffe have turned The Gilpin into a magical paradise. They hired Hrishikesh Desai, the winner of Chefs on Trial in 2015 to create two amazing restaurants, Hrishi at Gilpin and Gilpin Spice. Won their first Star last year. A beautiful spot.

My Favorite Three Restaurants:

The Jumble Room – in Grasmere. Opened 21 years ago by Andy and Christine Hill, who still run – and love it. “The very best ingredients, cooked with love and served with pride.” Funky Fun.

The Old Stamp House – in Ambleside. My favourite chef, Ryan Blackburn, and my favorite front-of-house man, his brother Craig. Cumbrian fare at its best. In the old Post Office where Wordsworth worked.

Lake Road Kitchen – 10 yards away from The Old Stamp House in Ambleside. In the Good Food Guide’s Top 50 UK restaurants. Home grown and foraged local produce. Casual. Easy.

Four Great Pubs:

The Drunken Duck – just outside Ambleside. Simply the best.

The Punch Bowl – at Crosthwaite. Arthur Bridgeman Quin presiding – UK Young Chef of the Year. 21 years young!

The Lyth Valley Hotel – just reopened. One to watch.

The Wheatsheaf at Brigsteer – Cumbria’s Pub of the Year.

So take a walk in the Fells – then treat yourself to some warm Cumbrian hospitality and great local food and drink.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spread your #lovein3words

Revlon have done a loving thing. On the Oscars broadcast they launched The Love Project. Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams and Ellen DeGeneres fronted the Love Project ad explaining what love means to them, in the hope of raising money for several charities, in addition to the $1 million Revlon had already pledged.

“The Love Project is the beginning of a social movement which aims to inspire more love, acceptance and caring in the world,” said Carlos Barreto, Revlon SVP Marketing. “At the heart of this campaign is the belief that all people are beautiful and that love can create a better world.”

Thousands of people have tweeted to #lovein3words. Here’s a sampler:

Helping our veterans

Confidence Courage Smiles

Strong Brave Fight

You. Us. Together.

Kindness. Passion. Empathy.

Family. Unity. Blessing.

Redeemed. Brave. Beautiful.

My Silly Boys

Belong Home Us

Show You Care

Grace in Tolerance

Art Music Life

We Not Me

Models of Diversity

Love They Neighbor

Family Above All

Dogs More Dogs

Nice one Revlon. Lovemarks in action.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

“. . . with Heart & Humor”

My friend from yore Robin Dyke, poet and professor from Victoria in British Columbia, came with me to a college talk in a beautiful part of Canada. Here is a guest KRConnect post from Robin. 

Picture this – a school devoted to developing future leaders spread over 300 acres, enclosed by pacific west coast rainforest and edged beside a lake sharing its name and rivaling the beauty of England’s Lake District – here you have Shawnigan Lake School. A school not unfamiliar to being on the edge of its island and continent location and the values driven educational vision successfully pursued for over 100 years.

Enter KR, resplendent in British Lions Scarf sacrament – one intimately familiar with private school life and its challenges to ego and independence, now equipped with a notable internationally spanned career of business leadership (not without controversy) and an openly edged perspective punctuated with disruptive and irresistible ideas - to speak to Shawnigan’s full student body of 500 along with staff. In the school’s Chapel no less. Potentially all the edgy ingredients for a perfect PC storm!

Throughout the forty minutes waves of rapt attention, gasps, wows, laughs and applause. KR at his spiritual and inspirational best. The thank you noting “especially for doing it with heart and humor”. And “we hope you come back soon!” Teenagers in full animation early Monday morning. Unbelievable!

How could this be? By relating his story that he too was in their shoes as a teenager. And more dramatically, the good humored reverence by which he roasted their Headmaster at the outset of his talk instantly signaled he was one of them. The gasps of delight at how connection can be made out of circumstance were made evident. Their attention from this point was bonded. This guy is crazy but I want to be daring like him!

What would I at seventeen want to hear to make me better at being my best – this was at the content center of Kevin’s talk – ten formative messages, well familiar to KR Connect readers:

1. It's a VUCA world

2. Make it Super VUCA!

3. Don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements

4. Have a Personal Purpose

5. Ambition – Belief - Courage


7. Develop Leadership Skills

8. Find a Job that = Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy

9. Fail Fast - Learn Fast – Fix Fast

10. Make Happy Choices

The students ate up the message, stories and examples as Kevin worked through each in order. Of the ten, the simplicity and vitality of number 4 particularly resonated with revelation; one students response: I realized my lack of clarity of my personal purpose was missing in my career and life planning. At this age it doesn’t get more impactful than having an inspirational dream. Apply these! Apply these! a student leader shouted out to the audience in thanking Kevin.

And so as well a lesson for the teacher - in the after talk with individual students there was a double encounter with one. The student had earlier asked Kevin about the boredom of studying economics in preparation for a career in business and what might be of more value. What about gaining work experience as a helpful start Kevin mentored. Later as Kevin was departing the student approached again; Mr. Roberts, do you remember my name? Kevin; I’m sorry I don’t, what is it? Student; Leo, Leo Lee. Next visit or otherwise, Kevin will remember you Leo!

Character and Courage, two of the marker values of Shawnigan Kevin brought to life in Leo along with the many more stories from the Chapel that are now being sung.

Link to view the full presentation on YouTube

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

For F***’s Sake

In 2011 I was giving a keynote speech at a major economics conference in Spain. The country has produced many of the world’s greatest artists – Picasso, Dali, Miro, Goya, Velazquez; it held the World Cup then and has two of the greatest football clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Amancio Ortega Gaona was on his way to becoming the world’s richest person through Zara and the other apparel companies in the Intidex group. But overall, the country had – and still has – more than a few serious economic problems: half the country’s young people are unemployed; regionalism is rife; the two hour lunch; rampant property speculation; rampant tax evasion; the underground economy; being generally unproductive.

But two phenomena struck me more than any other. The first was its plummeting birthrate, well below replacement rate (a country needs a fertility rate of just over two children per woman to fill the spaces left behind by deaths; Spain’s is 1.32).

This fits a global pattern of marriage being in outright decline, advanced age of maternity, declining birth rates, motherhood and homemaking being secondary life objectives, aging populations, the phenomenal growth of solo living, and freakish phenomena such a ‘celibacy syndrome – the flight from human intimacy.’ By 2050 Spain will be a depopulated country dominated by elderly and single people, having lost 5.3 million people, or 11% of the population.

The second and quite tangential observation – stemming from the correlation between church-going and happiness – was that despite being an overwhelmingly Catholic country, only 15% of Spaniards went to church any Sunday.

Thus, a national strategy came to mind: Pray & Procreate. The room of economists looked at me askance, but it turns out my finger was on the pulse of a major issue. Business Insider carried a story this week on 10 countries that desperately want people to have more sex.

“There are few things more important than fertility in determining a nation's future viability,” writes Chris Weller, senior innovation reporter for Business Insider. “Because of certain cultural and economic forces, only about half of the world's 224 countries currently hit replacement fertility,” “For those that don't [including China 1.66 and the USA 1.88], encouraging people to have sex can involve strategies that range from highly explicit to downright bizarre.”

No surprise that Spain was right there among the low libido countries. Finally the nation has woken up to the issue and appointed a special commissioner to devise strategies to reverse the declining birthrate.

Other countries featured in the report were Russia, Japan, Romania, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Denmark.

Business Insider noted that Russia is experiencing a perfect demographic storm. “Men are dying young. HIV/AIDS and alcoholism are crippling the country. And women aren't having babies. The problem got so bad that Russia declared September 12 the official Day of Conception.”

Singapore has the lowest fertility rate in the world, at just 0.81 children per woman. Each year the government spends roughly $1.6 billion on programs to get people to have more sex. The Singaporean government even held National Night, an event sponsored by the breath-mint company Mentos, to encourage couples to "let their patriotism explode."

Other countries have tried incentives – baby bonuses, flexible leave structures, parental leave policies, days off work (the Swedish town of Overtornea has announced a proposal to give the municipality's 550 employees paid time off to “get busy”), parental education programs, three years of baby supplies, even free refrigerators; and disincentives: higher income tax for childless couples, provisions to make divorce nearly impossible, limits on one bedroom apartments.

But you have to hand it to the Danes. Do it for Denmark is the copyline of a promotional campaign to guilt couples into having kids to give their precious mothers a grandchild. The rationale of Spies Rejser, a Danish travel company, is that vacation is the optimal time for “doing it.”

So what to do? Obviously, completely obviously, the focus needs to be on people of child-bearing age. The Rooster’s “9 Brutally Real Reasons Why Millennials Refuse to Have Kids” is not an encouraging start: from “The world kinda sucks now”(1) to “We don't even need a reason; we just don't want them, so stop asking!”(9).

Against this, what to do, especially if your business is selling baby and parenting products and services? The answers are not simple.

1. Think both ends of life. Sweeping demographics mean that the health needs of seniors have a congruency with brands catering for babies. These companies need to segue their product development, manufacturing and marketing to cater for both ends of life.

2. Persist with continuous and messaging. Lack of awareness of this demographic bomb is a contributing factor. China has repealed its One Child policy, and 45% of the 1.31 million new born last year were to single child families (though well short of their 3 million new born target). Few people know depopulation is a problem, so raising awareness of the issue and solutions should be a continuous program for the governments involved. Demographics matter, they always have, and can’t be taken for granted.

3. Policies and Practices are essential. Companies and governments mostly have policies that are supportive of children but for everyone involved it will always be a bit of a struggle because of the pressure of commerce and balancing work and life. Keep working at it, listening and asking what will harmonize all the complexities. And taking action.

4. Focus on families.
Rather than promotional procreation gimmicks, we need to educate society that the greatest experience in life, is love itself, and the greatest expression of love is family. This is a multi-year macro program for governments, companies, brands and people (prospective parents and grandparents). Immigration is a major factor in this strategy and is driving certain government actions.

One thing is clear: the future of the family is a key national strategy for governments. Not power and war. Make love.

Monday, March 6, 2017

In Defense of Teenagers: It’s Not Their Fault

Everything you wanted to know about teenagers but were afraid to ask (apologies to Woody Allen for the steal). Danish researchers from Aarhus University have discovered:
  • Teenagers grow by 8 – 9 cm per year. The reason they can seem gangly and awkward is as they get taller (girls between 12 and 13, boys between 14 and 15) their center of gravity shifts but the brain hasn’t caught up and can’t calculate how to balance its new frame.
  • Seemingly reckless risk-taking is not due to stupidity or willfulness. It’s because the human brain isn’t formed until girls are 20 and boys are 24. And the parts responsible for planning and decision-making are finished last. Teenagers’ risk assessment capabilities are only half built.
  • Teenagers think about sex every six seconds. Their brains are flooded with hormones, oestrogen and testosterone by the gallon! It’s not their fault.
  • Girls do talk more than boys. Girls’ brains are inbuilt with a head-start for language. They talk earlier, have larger vocabularies and use more complex sentences. Because of the way the brain is structure. In girls the part where we produce language has 20% more neutrons than the male; the part where we interpret language is 18% bigger in females.
  • Your teenager is not lazy. Teenagers need 10 hours sleep per day as their brains and bodies grow so quickly.
  • Their brains shut down when you nag them. The areas of the brain that process negative emotion go on full alert, while the areas that allow us to feel other’s emotions deactivate. And teenagers have poor prospective memories – they aren’t very good at holding things in their heads.
  • Teenage “Me, me, me” is not narcissism. It’s because they struggle to recognise emotions in others. They are 20% less accurate in reading fear, shock, anger until age 18 – when their prefrontal brain catches up.
Truly – it’s not their fault!
Image: Shuttestock

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The New England Patriots and Mental Toughness

How did Tom Brady and the New England Patriots comeback after being down 21-3 in the first half, and go on to win 34-28? Every time Tom Brady and coach Bill Bellichick open their mouths, the words “mental toughness” come out. They say it as a given – but what does it actually mean? How does it apply? What are the individual behaviors?

For many years in this column I have touched on mental toughness, frequently in the context of the All Blacks and James Kerr’s foundational book Legacy: What the All Blacks can teach Us about the Business of Life. “Touchdown Tommy” is the Richie McCaw of American football. Brady and McCaw are blood brothers – both captains of the greatest football teams in their respective codes. And it was fitting, I thought, that the winning touchdown by James White in the first ever Super Bowl overtime was done rugby style – a charge at the line, head down, arms out stretched, ball planted over the chalk. American football has a myriad of issues in terms of flow – the game could be called futbol interruptus – such is the lack of flow. One play at a time. Reset. Play again. Reset. Wales went 18 phases in their attack on the English line a few weeks ago. Ergo: make the touchdown an actual touchdown. Simply running across the line is not a touchdown. There are a bunch of dramas in rugby at the try-grounding moment. Just as American football has been learning from rugby about safe ways to tackle, there are many more things to learn.

But I digress. Mental toughness. For the Patriots, a lot of mental toughness is about task organization and individual preparation. Brady’s fastidiousness about mind and body preparation has been well documented. In an ESPN interview, Bellichick says: “Every member of the team has an opportunity to show positive leadership or negative leadership. The question for that person is ‘How are they going to do that? How are they going to control that?’ Positive leadership comes from two things: No. 1, doing your job. If you don’t do your job, I don’t see how you can give any leadership. A lot of people who aren’t very good at doing their job, and who try to give leadership, are just looked at as ‘Look, buddy, why don’t you just do your job? Why don’t we start with that instead of trying to tell everybody else what to do?’ So No. 1 [is] do your job. No. 2 [is] put the team first. If those two things are in place, then that person is going to give positive leadership to the team.”

More later this week about perseverance at any cost; the expectation of winning; and mental conditioning.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Justice is the Translation of Love

One of the great pleasures of American current affairs television is its principled partisanship. Fox is right wing for those who think that way. For a lot of the mostly East Coast-based national media, liberalism remains at its core, which is why Trump chafes so much. An outstanding double-header comes on PBS, with the avuncular Charlie Rose on at 11pm from New York, leading in to Tavis Smiley at midnight from Los Angeles. Tavis is a generous host and he’s in the conversation, not just moderating it. His dialogue with Dick Van Dyke, all of 90 and still brimming, about seeing Mussolini in the cinema newsreels in the 30s intoning “I alone can fix this,” echoes to the present day.

A riveting guest a week or so ago was Michael Eric Dyson, Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, and described as “one of America’s premier public intellectuals.” In his most recent text Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America Dyson argues that if we are to make real racial progress we must face difficult truths, including being honest about how black grievance has been ignored, dismissed, or discounted. With the gifts of a preacher, Dyson said that “Justice is the translation of love. You can’t have love without justice.”

The conversation is a must see. See it here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Manchester McMansion

Manchester is the nearest big city to my Grasmere hideaway. It’s home to my beloved Manchester City and to Lancashire County Cricket Club. The Red Rose County where I was born.

And it’s under attack from two ex Manchester United footballers, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville who, backed by Singaporean and Chinese interests want to build two dung coloured towers of 31 and 21 storeys height, right behind the glorious gothic Grade I listed Town Hall. Two ‘big pointy shiny erections’ full of luxury penthouses, a fancy hotel, flashy bars – towers for Footballers WAGs.

And this £200 million development will lay waste to a police station, a synagogue and a great pub –The Sir Ralph Abercromby, the only remaining building that witnessed the 1819 Peterloo Massacre – a piece of Manchester history that should never be erased.

I hear Manchester’s planning committee will bless this abomination – although 7,000 Mancunians have signed a petition of protest.

A conservation area of local history desecrated.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Risky Business

Is a life without risk worth living? Looking at the recent “adrenaline-themed” issue of lifestyle magazine Kinfolk, I came across a joint interview between sociologists Stephen Lyng and Jeff Ferrell that resonated with me deeply. In their conversation, the two professors talk the reader through the psychology of risk-taking, which they’ve dubbed “edgework,” taking the word from Hunter S. Thompson’s gonzo journalism classic, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

After meeting as graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1970s, the two sociologists and thrill seekers began finding ways to merge their academic work with daredevil pursuits like skydiving and motorcycle racing. In the 40-odd years since, they’ve managed to develop a renowned social theory surrounding “voluntary risk-taking” activities (everything from acts of physical courage such as BASE-jumping to emotionally and intellectually daring deeds like telling your boss to piss off!).

“We learned about edgework from people doing it—we didn’t so much invent the concept as were given the concept by the people who already engaged in it,” Ferrell explains about looking at the concept of thrill-seeking from an academic perspective. “We realized the better our skills got, the more risks we could take and the more adrenaline we could pump into our systems. Theory was living in our bodies as well as our heads, and those motorcycles and the skydiving were literal embodiments of the theories we were coming up with in the library.”

As the two friends, colleagues, and adrenaline junkies make clear, they see a profound connection between risk and living life to one’s fullest, comparing a life without risk to Disneyland. “I love the idea of the consequential edge—it could be your body and your life on the line, or it could be your career, your reputation or your relationship,” Ferrell says. “If there are no consequences at stake, then there’s no possibility of edgework. . . I’ve always been much more afraid of dying of boredom than dying in a motorcycle wreck or jumping off a building.”

All this risky business could have a biological imperative, too. One of my favorite scientific theories comes from Stephen Jay Gould, who suggested that substantive change always happen at the edges, the margins, the fringes of a species. Gould’s theory of “punctuated equilibrium” explains how evolution doesn’t take place on a predictable, linear path but with unpredictable and dramatic bursts coming from the outer reaches of the species. Not incidentally, the edge also explains why New Zealand is the future.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

In Praise of Gut Feeling

Mr. Spock vs. Captain Kirk. Sherlock Holmes vs. Dirty Harry. Obama vs. Trump. Readers of this column over the years have seen me write about IQ vs. EQ, strictly rational decision-making vs. the importance of going with one’s gut, especially when it comes to business.

As if by intuition, flipping through a new favorite publication—Kinfolk, a “slow lifestyle magazine” published in Denmark, printed in Portland, Oregon—I came across a book excerpt about this very phenomenon. In Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (2007, Viking), noted German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer explains the phenomenon of how “following our hunches can help us make better choices than dutifully weighing up the pros and cons.”

Almost everyone has had this experience, where more thinking and information—about that term paper or final exam, that sales brief, that now-or-never decision about one’s love life—can be crippling. Whatever term you choose—going with one’s gut, following a hunch, using the sixth sense—intuition is the handmaiden of rational thought. Without it, no one would ever fall in love, place a bet on a team or a stock, uproot themselves from their home, or consider leaving one job for the next.

In Gut Feelings, Gigerenzer—whose research Malcolm Gladwell used to fuel his book Blink, about the power of snap decisions—shows how our higher-level intelligence frequently works without our conscious thought. He argues that intuition is more than impulse and caprice, however, but follows its own rationale. “There are two ways to understand the nature of gut feelings,” Gigerenzer writes. “One is derived from logical principles and assumes intuition solves a complex problem with a complex strategy. The other involves psychological principles, which bet on simplicity and take advantage of our evolved brain.”

In my experience intuition honors our unconscious lives, and the complexity of a world that is not always governable by logic alone. Intuition is not antithetical to reason, but another form of reasoning. If ever faced with a dilemma whose pros and cons can’t be worked out on a spreadsheet, my advice? Go with your gut.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Crazies Leading in London

London Stock Exchange – March 10 – I’ll be opening the London Leadership Summit for Conqa, a global consulting, event management and sports entertainment organization that focuses within the elite sports industry. My theme – no surprise – Leadership in a Crazy World. My fellow crazies on the speaking roster are as impressive as they are eclectic.

There’s Paddy Upton, one of the most innovative leaders in world cricket. Paddy is head coach of the Delhi Daredevils in India, and the Sydney Thunder, 2016 league winners. He played a pivotal role in leading the Indian Cricket Team to the #1 test team, as well as the world champions in 2011. As the Performance Director of Cricket South Africa, he was a key player in taking Cricket South Africa to the first ever team to hold the number 1 status in all three formats (T20, 50 over & Test). Paddy will provide insight into how he managed to get weak, demotivated and under-performing teams, and turn them around to world-class high achievers. For him, the success is in the culture and he will explain how to get it right.

Tom Bird is author of the best-selling book "Brilliant Selling" and "The Leader's Guide to Presenting." He has spent his entire career in business and sales. His topic is “Influencing,” which he says is a key skill for today's leaders. A recent study showed that we spend on average 23 minutes of every hour trying to influence, but how long have we spent thinking about how we engage with a skill that we are using almost half of our working day applying?”

Lorne Sulcas is seriously crazy. He spent seven years as a game ranger, tracker, observer and photographer on Africa's Big Cats. From the summit blurb: “In the fiercely competitive world, it's eat or be eaten, and only the very best can stay at the top end of the food chain. As apex predators, Africa's Big Three Cats thrive through strategies and behaviors honed over millennia to get exceptional results in a challenging, changing and brutally competitive environments. Lorne will share the powerful similarities between the real and the ‘concrete’ jungles, and how these potent leadership lessons can help you and your organization thrives in the face of change and competition.”

And Gary Noesner deals with crazies. He is a 30 year veteran and former chief negotiator for the FBI. “In high pressure situations, leaders remain calm while everyone around them descends into panic. Many talk of big match temperament (BMT) as if it were a condition you either have or don't have. But what if it was a learnable skill? Gary will teach you how to remain calm, build influence and get on top in high pressure situations.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Reality Check #2: Where the killing comes from

The motivation behind the presidential order to reject people seeking to enter the US from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days was said to be keeping American people from “bad people with bad intentions.” Here are some facts.

Over half the 911 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, which was not subject to the travel ban.

The presence of NRA head Wayne LaPierre sitting next to the President at the White House last week gives me little optimism for sanity on American gun safety.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Reality Check #1: Globaloney

America, it is said, is in a post-truthful state of mind. Anything can be asserted as a fact, especially when the rhetoric is designed to present America as a dystopia overrun with Islamic migrants and Chinese imports. Assumptions are rife and perceptions are warped.

In a Washington Post article Is America enriching the world at its own expense? That’s globaloney, Pankaj Ghemawat and Steven Altman of NYU Stern argue that “the United States is far less buffeted by international trade, immigration and other aspects of globalization than many Americans assume; the whole world is far less globalized than people tend to believe. And policies rooted in overestimating globalization — “globaloney” — could harm the people they purport to protect.”

These three charts go some way to debunking the spittle and paranoia about America being seized by foreign nations. “America First” is doing a pretty good job.

Pankaj Ghemawat is director and Steven Altman is executive director of the Center for the Globalization of Education and Management at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Ghemawat’s latest book is “The Laws of Globalization.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Mental Toughness at the Super Bowl

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots just won their most incredible 5th Super Bowl. Every time Brady and coach Bill Belichick are interviewed they talk about mental toughness. And they showed it coming back from a 25 point deficit to win 34-28. There is more to talk about this in the week ahead, but a moment in time reflection needs to be spent on the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s fair to say that the Brady Bunch rolled them back. The Falcons are a very young team and much will be expected of them in 2017-2018. Especially as their coach coach Dan Quinn revealed that he is hugely inspired by New Zealand’s All Blacks and their “extraordinary legacy.”

“I did read an interesting book last year [James Kerr’s Legacy – 15 Lessons in Leadership] about the New Zealand rugby team, the All Blacks, and the culture they’ve had, the winning they’ve had,” Quinn told reporters as the Falcons prepared for the NFL’s championship game against the Patriots.

“Widely known as the All Blacks, New Zealand’s rugby players have established themselves as one of the most successful teams of all time in any sport, and Quinn has long looked at rugby for extra insight into tackling techniques in the National Football League.

“I’ve studied rugby from tackling and it’s been a driving influence on our leverage tackling, using our shoulder tackle, keeping our head out. So, my interest for rugby was already there.

“And then when I found out more about their (New Zealand rugby) culture, what they stood for, how they had long-term success for years and years, that book of legacy was certainly one that left a big impression on me.”

The All Blacks have won nearly 79 per cent of their 552 Test matches since 1903, significantly higher than South Africa, who have the second-best record, winning 65 per cent of their 464 Tests.

“Someday, I will make that trip over there to see them compete and play,” said Quinn. “That’s how strongly I felt about just reading about them. I haven’t had any interaction with them up to now, but it was definitely a book that captured me.”

Make that visit Dan.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Power of Presence

Technology is embedded in modern living, and these days our magic mobile phones run our lives. This is mostly a good thing, and sometimes a less-than-good thing. The point I hammer home in my latest book 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World and in presentations is to make technology your slave, and not to become its slave. Having TQ (technology quotient) is not about being a nerd or a technophile. It is about knowing what tech is out there, staying on top of it, and bending it to your will in business and in life.

On that note I thoroughly enjoyed a column in the January issue of SportsTravel magazine. It’s by my good friend, sports fanatic Bob Latham, a rugby-playing Texas lawyer. Bob is a former Chairman of the Board at USA Rugby, former member of the United States Olympic Committee board of directors, and is the author of Winners & Losers: Rants, Riffs & Reflections on the World of Sports.

In his column, Bob recounts a tale of misfortune turned into fortune. It’s a witty and prescient tale around how the loss of a phone at the Rio Olympics leads to an epiphany about how live sports should be experienced. The phone was ‘separated’ from Bob, as he describes it, so at various Rio events (and also later on at Wrigley Field during the world series), Bob just sat and watched. Around him in Rio the masses went crazy snapping, tweeting and the rest of it. Alone in the present, iPhone-less, Bob was totally focussed on the moment, engrossed by the competition, and totally present absorbing the action through the lenses of his own eyes. This, of course, is what live sports is all about. A fun article on the best approach to live sports-approaching. Nice score, Bob.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Four Millennial Myths

An 85 page report by Mizuho Securities shines a light on four millennial ‘Assumed Facts’.

1. Myth Millennials have migrated in droves to on-line shopping and live on Amazon.

Fact Millennials still do most of their shopping in physical stores.

Sure, they are tech savvy and frequently shop on-line. But millennials haven’t abandoned stores and shopping malls. They like to touch and feel products before they buy them, and still appreciate the experience of shopping in a store. In fact, millennials still complete 54% of shopping in physical stores, according to the report.

2. Myth Millennials spend more than they earn and are living on credit.

Fact Millennials save more money than the national average.

“Contrary to popular rhetoric regarding a highly challenged consumer who may be burdened with debt and living ‘paycheck to paycheck’, our survey of millennials suggests the majority of the demographic (74% of total responses) saves money every month compared to 26% who do not”, the report says. Millennials allocate about 6.7% of their total budget toward a savings plan of some type (401K, IRA, savings account, etc), according to the study. That’s above the US national savings rate of 5.5% per the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

3. Myth Millennials aren’t interested in buying homes.

Fact Millennials are planning to buy homes.

They are delaying home-buying and marriage and kids, but they are planning to get to those life milestones eventually. When asked what they are saving for, millennials said 1) a house, 2) a car, and 3) retirement.

4. Myth Millennials will never buy cars. They have both feet planted firmly in the Sharing Economy and the rise and rise of Uber.

Fact Millennials aren’t just relying on Uber and Lyft to get around. They are actually buying cars.

Like with home ownership, many millennials have delayed purchasing cars. But car buying among this demographic is rapidly rising and will continue to grow, according to the report. About 64% of millennials plan to buy a car in the next two years, and most of those who don’t plan to buy a car already own one, according to the data. Only 5% of respondents said car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft serve as a replacement for owning a car.

As Don Miguel Ruiz advises in the Four Agreements – Never Assume.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2016 Rocked, 2017 will be Even Better

Some Reasons 2016 Rocked (from a cool list of attributed news story facts published by political economist Angus Hervey on ‘99 Reasons 2016 Was a Good Year’ gathered by the intrepid team at Future Crunch.)
  • Since the year 2000, global malaria deaths have declined by 60%.
  • In 2016, some of the world’s biggest diseases, like colon cancer, dementia and heart disease, started declining in wealthy countries.
  • The number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth has almost halved since 1990.
  • Life expectancy in Africa has increased by 9.4 years since 2000, thanks to improvements in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to ARVs.
  • Mobile phones made significant inroads in the fight against rabies, a disease which kills more people annually than all terrorists combined.
  • Harvard scientists created a new platform for antibiotic discovery that may help solve the crisis of antibiotic resistance.
  • The proportion of older US adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s declined from 11.6% in 2000 to 8.8% in 2012, a decrease of about a million people.
  • 93% of kids around the world learned to read and write this year. That’s the highest proportion in human history. And the gender gap between girls and boys in school narrowed in 2016 too.
  • In 2016, for the first time ever, the amount of money it would take to end poverty dropped below the amount of money spent on foreign aid.
  • World hunger reached its lowest point in 25 years.
  • Homelessness in the United States declined by 35% since 2007, and Los Angeles committed to $1.2 billion to help get more people off the street.
  • 2016 marked the 24th year in a row that teenage pregnancy rates declined in the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The Paris Agreement became the fastest (and largest) United Nations treaty to go from agreement to international law in modern history.
  • Global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels did not grow at all in 2016. It’s the third year in a row emissions have flat lined.
  • In April, the UK’s Chatham House released a report saying “Big Oil is screwed”. In the same month, 25% of European countries announced that they had quit coal.
  • In July, the USA, Mexico and Canada committed to getting 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2025.
  • In October, the International Energy Agency reported that half a million solar panels were installed each day around the world in 2015. It also drastically increased its five year growth forecast for renewables.
  • Following the end of conflict in Colombia in 2016, all of the war in the world is now limited to an arc that contains less than a sixth of the world’s population.
  • In December, four of the world’s biggest cities, Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City, agreed to ban diesel cars from their centres.
  • Sea World agreed to stop breeding captive killer whales.
  • In September, giant pandas became the latest species to be taken off the endangered list.
  • And in 2016, for the first time, we heard that the number of tigers in the wild rose for the first time in 100 years.
The Good News for 2017

This (with a few adjusts) from Nicholas Kristof writing recently and buoyantly in The New York Times on ‘Why 2017 May Be the Best Year Ever’:
  • By some important metrics, 2016 was the best year in the history of humanity. And 2017 will be better still.
  • 250,000 people came out of extreme poverty every day – 91m people p.a. (World Bank). This is a Vietnam-size country every year. And yet polls show that about 9 out of 10 Americans believe that global poverty has worsened or stayed the same.
  • In the early 1980s, more than 40% of all humans were living in extreme poverty. Now fewer than 10% are. By 2030 it looks as if just 3% or 4% will be. We are wiping poverty out.
  • Since 1990, more than 100 million children’s lives have been saved through vaccinations, breast-feeding promotion, diarrhoea treatment and more. A parent is only half as likely today to lose a child, as in 1990.
  • Until the 1960s, a majority of humans had always been illiterate; now, 85% of adults are literate.
  • Today some 18,000 children who in the past would have died of simple diseases will survive, about 300,000 people will gain electricity and a cool 250,000 will graduate from extreme poverty.
That’s better! Radical Optimism Rocks.

Image source: Allegro Music

The Bad News

According to the World Economic Forum, the greatest threats to humanity in 2017 are:
  • Donald Trump (oops – just kidding)
  1. Extreme weather – flash floods, heatwaves and drought. Global warming is real.
  2. Large scale migration.
  3. Deadly terrorist activity.
  4. A devastating natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane.
  5. Massive data theft.
To this I believe you can add:
  • The growing rage of the forgotten middle class and the flight to populism and protectionism (the natural precursor to fascism).
  • A deadly pandemic / virus travelling globally at lightning speed.
  • A lack of moral, purpose-driven leadership at the political level in a growing number of key economies, both developed and developing.
  • The rise and rise of Putin’s single-minded determination to destabilise the West and “recreate the Soviet Empire”.
  • The de-unification of the US as President Trump fails to bring harmony (or at least tolerance) to the Greatest Nation on Earth.
But – there’s a bunch of Good News too – read tomorrow’s blog.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

New York Stand Up

New Yorkers are a tough crowd, right? Straight talkers, business builders, deal makers, fast movers. I had the pleasure of holding the floor for 90 minutes during a dinner speech and Q&A to over 200 members of the Metro New York Young Presidents Organization in the glittering new Onyx Room at the Park Hyatt. The YPO is a global organization comprising some 24,000 business leaders whose firms have a combined turnover of US$6t and 15m employees. I've spoken to YPO chapters before in Tennessee and London; I like their gutsy pragmatism, love of learning, and commitment to peer networking. My topic, no surprise, was 'Leadership in a Crazy World.' My thanks to Peter Markham of TMT Capital for instigating such a lively evening, and YPO Metro New York executive director Meredith Egyes for everything being perfect.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

With Tom Keene on POTUS

My favorite morning hour is with Tom Keene, the rambunctious host of Bloomberg Surveillance. This morning, no surprise, was about the 45th President of the USA. We talked leadership style, conflict as an operating mode, and the potency of language. TV clip here and radio interview here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Mastering this equation leads to a productive business – and life. TQ is your Technology Quotient. Do you use Technology to make your life better and help you perform at peak, or have you been enslaved and imprisoned by your mobile – without knowing it?

The very smart Eddie Jones, England Rugby coach, has enlisted the help of Dr Sherylle Calder to improve the visual awareness and decision making of his squad. Dr Calder has worked with elite athletes across many sports in many countries. She maintains that sports skills are in decline as a direct result of today’s fixation with phones and tablet screens. Over the past three years, studies have shown that we are losing awareness when looking at our phones. (How many times have people texting or staring at their mobiles bumped into you on a busy street?). There are no eye movements; everything is static.

We are aware that kids’ reading skills are deteriorating as they fixate visually on their screens, and now we’re beginning to see adults’ motor skills declining too. We need more tree climbing, more walking on walls, falling off – learning, and less texting.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

5 VUCA Books

Here's a guest KR Connect post from Michael Davies, a Lancaster Royal Grammar School history teacher and winner of the 2015 Mary Soames History Prize by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for his work on competing historical narratives of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Michael is currently on leave from the school working in New York with a software developer on new web/video resources for schools that address the difficulty of teaching the history of the conflict. "People are so afraid of saying the wrong thing that often they say nothing at all. My objective isn't to bring both sides together to create a unified history, but to encourage people to take a peek over the wall and see what the other side is saying." He has secured funding and endorsements from a range of Jewish and Muslim supporters in the UK and the USA to undertake the project. Here's Michael...

Kevin and I were talking about what business leaders could learn from history and he asked me to come up with my five best books as preparation for a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous world.

#1: The Fall of Constantinople by Steven Runciman. The punchline here is that Constantinople (or Byzantium) was besieged and captured by the Ottomans in 1453, but the really interesting story is how did this eastern half of the old Roman Empire last 1000 years. Part of the answer is the rather unfashionable truth that it had a complex bureaucracy and very sophisticated diplomatic service at a time when its enemies were successful warlords, here today and gone tomorrow.

#2: 1929 A Year of Conflict by Hillel Cohen examines the causes of the rioting that broke out in Palestine in 1929, which might seem a rather narrow incident but Cohen's bigger idea is that "all history is constructed" - which is why there's a Jewish version and an Arab version of what happened. What he brilliantly shows us is how those two parallel but competing narratives have been created - useful for anyone who has to weigh up competing arguments and make a decision.

#3: Russian Voices by Tony Parker. In 1990 Parker visited the USSR as it crumbled and interviewed a wide range of ordinary people about their uncertain future. Well, thirty years on we know. Uncertainty created opportunities of enormous wealth to a few who grabbed the chance, but for the great majority they exchanged too much certainty for too little certainty. There are lessons here about managing change.

#4: The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg is her account of her life as an English woman married to a German bringing up three children in Berlin in WWII, and what happens when her husband is arrested by the Gestapo after the July bomb plot. It's about surviving and playing the cards that are dealt you, even if it looks like a losing hand.

#5: Ill Fares the Land by the late great Tony Judt. Published in 2010, this a historically-based argument that the economy should be run for society, not society run for the economy. This truth that resonated this year in the former industrial towns of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Predictions #4: Sporting Victories

  • The Six Nations will be the most hotly contested and unpredictable series of games for years. Four teams can all beat each other (sorry Wales and Italy), England are not quite yet the finished article, Scotland are resurgent, Ireland could go all the way and France, well they’re France.
  • The British and Irish Lions Tour to New Zealand will be the best tour since 1971 when Carwyn James’ heroes won the series vs the All Blacks 2.1. The squad will be strong, the coaches are a formidable experienced crew, and they’ll play for an Inspirational Captain (Rory Best). Against the best team in the world. Mouth watering.
  • 3 Manchester/Liverpool teams will finish in the top 4 of the Premier League… only 1 London team will.
  • Manchester City will win the Premier League and the Champions League (Manchester United certainly won’t).

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2017 Predictions #3: Siriously Alexa

Of all the AI, VR, TMT and HOT innovation acronyms, STI will make the biggest impact. For decades computer scientists have wrestled with perfecting Speech to Instruction (my term) technology – the ability to speak to your device and give it instructions that it understands. Perfection is required. “Now” and No” could be mistaken and the results disastrous. Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa - the star of 2017 CES - are the first in a wave of voice-instructed helping aids that tech is bringing us. More than ever, people will spend more time talking to their devices than to other people.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 Predictions #2: Trump Will Triumph

He won. The transition appointments show his intention for a muscular America, bristling with generals and billionaires: make things happen people. It’s said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. The Donald’s poetry – three word slogans ‘Lock Her Up,’ ‘Build the Wall’ and ‘Drain the Swamp’ got through to three year olds. A commentator noted there are no professors and intellectuals in the cabinet. Precisely. Trump will be unpredictable, surprising, perplexing, dangerous, brutish, but I believe he will initiate a thing or two that will have a lasting and positive impact on America and the world. Henry Kissinger believes Trump will shake things up by asking a lot of unfamiliar questions. Holding office – not campaigning for it –will bring great accountability. He will be judged not on bluster but on performance. And we must give him the opportunity to deliver. Ride ‘em cowboy.

Friday, January 6, 2017

2017 Predictions #1

If you thought last year was crazy, put on your seat belts for 2017. Here are three predictions for the year ahead… and a few sporting hopes.

2016 was about the 3 P’s – Protectionism, Prejudice and Patriotism. It was also the Year of the 4th P… The Populist… and a 5th… Putin. Enough with the P words!

2017 will be a year of fairness, reason and generosity. A year where moderates and optimists regroup. (This is frankly more a wish than a prediction but we live in Hope).

4 predictions: #1 - Britain Won’t Brexit

Not for a while, at least. A CNN poll in mid-December affirmed the original Brexit vote – more Britons want the UK to leave the EU than want to remain. That a simple YES/NO question can result in the cacophony of chaos that is going to ensue in the Cabinet, Parliament, and Whitehall in 2017 and for years hence, is unbelievable. Reducing the future of the UK, Europe and possibly the world to a binary choice seems to have been a ludicrous strategy on the part of David Cameron. More responsibility should have been put on voters to make a more complex decision than YES/NO allowed.

Extricating the UK from the EU is mind-bogglingly complex, and there is collateral damage coming from both uncertainty and seismic financial and logistical events. I look at the EU as a tired bloated institution and understand why people voted to leave, but as a radical optimist – and a globalist – my instinct is to fix things first. I have written before that the only option for Britons to progress during the political and bureaucratic quagmire, is to double-down on personal purpose, business purpose, and national purpose. “Winning the world from the edge” is my New Zealand mantra. And now my British one.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

PT Prophet podcast

Hayden Wilson is an Aussie, based in Melbourne, who has created an influential network of personal trainers and business owners dedicated to fitness. He says that “because the world needs more nice” he created the “be nice” movement – and fittingly, he sent me a nice note inviting me to be on his podcast PTProphet. We had a great hour long talk yesterday and his podcast is posted here. We talked about dreams, purpose, execution, making happy choices, no regrets, making an impact, living in a VUCA world, visualization, being creative. And the machine gun story. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork

January 4 3

I’ve started off with a mistake
but I’ll try to get better
and put the day in good order.

Great advice from one of literary heroes Richard Brautigan, poet, novelist and hitchhiker. I read everything he wrote as I was growing up in the 60’s – weird, crazy, provocative, and wise.

I started the New Year reading one of his lesser known anthologies – ‘Loading Mercury with a Pitchfork’ – a great title for our 2017 VUCA world. I hope your New Year’s Eve felt like this:

They are really having fun
They are really having fun
drinking glasses of wine
and talking about things
that they like

Some other Pitchfork gems

I talked a good hello
but she talked an even
better goodbye

Right Beside The Morning Coffee
If I write this down now,
I will have it in the morning.
The question is: Do I want
to start the day off with this?

and finally

For fear you will be alone
For fear you will be alone
you do so many things
That aren’t you at all.

Here’s to being with friends and family – and making happy choices.

Hello 2017.