Tuesday, May 24, 2016

64 Shots – A Taste

As we gear towards the launch on June 21 of 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World, I’m going to post some extracts and highlights from the book as tasters. I have stood on some mighty shoulders on my own leader’s journey, and today I share some of their wisdom from the text. In order of appearance.

“To lead is to listen, to pay attention to every detail, to decide.”
Shimon Peres

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Peter Drucker

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Winston Churchill

“My army won because they knew what they were fighting for and loved what they knew.”
Oliver Cromwell, British leader, soldier, politician

“Look, don’t see, listen, don’t hear.
The more you engage, the longer you survive.”
Jack Reacher

“Enthusiasm is the emotion that offers us the greatest happiness, the only one that offers it to us, the only one able to sustain human destiny in whatever situation destiny places us.”
Madame de Staël

“I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.”
Spanish Emperor Charles V

"Nothing succeeds like excess."
Oscar Wilde

Monday, May 23, 2016

Meet The Nowhere Man

It takes a lot of time to establish a continuing character kind of fictional hero. One who you feel you know, one you’d like to have a beer with, one you’d trust your life to. Over the past decade or more, I’ve kept company with Gabriel Allon and Jack Reacher – both of whom have new books – The Black Widow coming on July 12, and Night School due November 16. Now there may be a newcomer surfacing.

Brother-in-law Colin introduced me to The Nowhere Man. Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X – a creation of Gregg Hurwitz.

A good man who follows 10 Commandments:
  1. Demand ironclad proof
  2. Master your surroundings
  3. Never make it personal
  4. Question orders
  5. One mission at a time
  6. Always play offense
  7. Never let an innocent die
Let’s see how he develops – and what the other three commandments are.

Image attribute/source: amazonaws.com / Gregg Hurwitz / ytimg.com

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Top new people at top world sports

Sport is now a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Two of the world’s leading sports organizations – World Rugby and Fifa – have new people at the helm, with both appointments coming at a time when sport has never been more popular, or problematic. The challenges range from money – not the lack of it but where it comes from and where it goes – transparency, trust and match integrity through to new formats and player welfare, concussions and anti-doping.

My mate from Lancashire, Bill Beaumont, the former barn-storming and somewhat menacing lock who captained both England to a grand slam and the British Lions to a series win, was elected last week as chairman of World Rugby (formerly the International Rugby Board). There are not a lot of things in business and life that get unanimous backing, but that is what Beaumont received from the voting countries to elevate him to the leadership.

Billy is a Red Rose man through and through; born in Preston, educated in Kirby Lonsdale, with the family textile firm in Chorley a stalwart of Fylde RUFC as player, captain, chairman and Father of England player Josh. Writing in The Guardian, Robert Kitson noted “there is no one on planet rugby who has been trusted with more senior roles as both a player and an official than the 64-year-old Beaumont,” noting his innate rugby knowledge and first-hand awareness of the issues. “His positive relationships with virtually all the sport’s great and good will be a valuable asset.”

Beaumont’s priorities for World Rugby are “continuing to protect players, preserving integrity, enhancing global competition, optimising partnerships and empowering and strengthening unions." Following a wildly successful Rugby World Cup in England in 2015, rugby’s international focus switches to the Olympic sevens tournament in Rio, with the 2019 World Cup in Japan also seen as crucial in terms of promoting the game to new markets. (And a red letter day for USA Rugby at the moment of Bill’s election – with the US being elected as permanent member of the Global Executive Committee… giving the US a voice in the development of the game for the first time.)

In the other football code, for the first time ever a woman and a non-European has been appointed FIFA Secretary General. Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura from Senegal is a 21 year veteran of the United Nations, currently the UN Development Program’s representative in Nigeria, coordinating the activities of 2,000 staff members, and evaluating the security, political and socio-economic situation and trends in Africa’s most populous country. FIFA have sought new perspectives and skills from outside the traditional pool of football managers – a wise move given the turmoil in the sport at the top level. Notes FIFA President Gianni Infantino, “Fatma is a woman with international experience and vision who has worked on some of the most challenging issues of our time. She has a proven ability to build and lead teams, and improve the way organisations perform. Importantly for FIFA, she also understands that transparency and accountability are at the heart of any well-run and responsible organisation.”

Guy Clark, Texas Troubadour (1941-2016)

Andy Murray wrote me today that Guy Clark had passed.

“He's one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith. Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape.“

My friend Robin Dyke introduced me to Guy Clark. Have been playing his Songs & Stories Live album all morning.

“I loved you from the git go
and I’ll love you till I die,
I loved you on the Spanish steps,
the day you said goodbye.”

And I’m with him – and Robin:
“Now, he’s old and gray …
And he’s still jumpin’ off the garage …
All these years the people said, he was actin’ like a kid
He did not know he could not fly
And so he did.”

Sad day but we know where he has gone to carry on -

"When I die, don't bury me
In a box in a cemetary
Out in the garden would be much better
And I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes."

RIP Guy.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

We are the ones we have been waiting for

I am blessed that two parts of the world in which I live – New Zealand and northwest Arizona – have significant indigenous cultures and traditions. Both Maori and Hopi Indian cultures have deep spiritual dimensions associated with the environment, family, life and death. For Maori, the life force is known as Mauri, the essential essence of being, an energy which permeates through all living things. Being Hopi involves a state of total reverence and respect for all things, to be at peace with these things, and to live in accordance with the instructions of Maasaw, the Creator or Caretaker of Earth. The Hopi observe their traditional ceremonies for the benefit of the entire world.

On a wall in my house in Carefree AZ I have a prophesy from the Hopi Elders, purportedly an open letter of advice on how to get through the year 2001. It could not be more prescient in 2016:

To my fellow swimmers:
here is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift,
that there are those who will be afraid,
who will try to hold on to the shore,
they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know that the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore,
push off into the middle of the river,
and keep our heads above water.
And I say see who is there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history we are to take nothing personally,
least of all ourselves, for the moment we do,
our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves.
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
For we are the ones we have been waiting for.

So Act Now!

Image attribute: Brian Joseph

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Talking TED

Speaking in public to an audience is the most terrifying experience many – most – people will have. Yet when you master the skills, have a story worth sharing, and deliver a great performance, the experience can be like skyrockets going off in your mind. The TED movement – originally for Technology, Entertainment and Design – has advanced the art of presentation giving (and receiving) to a widely celebrated art form. TED was founded in 1984 by the garrulous impresario Richard Saul Wurman, and for many years it was the greatest private club in the world. Chris Anderson bought TED in 2001 and threw the doors open. Today TED Talks have been viewed several billion times and the brand has become synonymous with brainy stuff that changes the world and makes it better.

Chris Anderson has just released The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking to help not only TED speakers prepare, but also to help everyone who has had one of those “I’d rather swallow a tarantula than get up in front of a room full of people” moments. Here are his top tips:
  • A speaker’s job is to give, not take
  • Slash back your topics to a single idea and connect every point to that theme
  • Get personal
  • Knowledge can’t be pushed into a brain, it has to be pulled in
  • Start strong, end stronger
  • Everyone can learn to give an effective talk
Plus, I would add: practice. You call know the line about the visitor to Manhattan asking a local how to get to Carnegie Hall, and the local answered “practice practice practice.” A mate did a TEDx talk at the biggest TED event in the world – 2500 people in Auckland NZ. He told me he locked himself in a hotel room for five days, wrote a script, and learnt it line by line, pause by pause, para by para, page by page. Practiced it dozens of time, standing in front of a mirror, with the phone on record mode. He had a skyrocket moment.