Thursday, July 18, 2019

That was the week that was.

Sunday: Acute tendonitis of right Achilles completes first month of six-month rehab.  Working reasonably well, ice, Voltaren anti-inflammatory, plus compression bandage getting the job done.

Monday: Two hours in Zebra Dental Surgery in Grasmere replacing 30-year-old front teeth bridge with a temporary bridge – three front teeth removed.  Blood and thunder.  Kris Kristofferson and Bose headphones get me through.

Monday evening:  First attempt to eat with new bridge.  It fails totally – no front four teeth.  The Werewolf look.  Grandkids thought I’d be cleaning up with the tooth fairy – 4!!

Tuesday mid-day:  Replacement bridge fitted.  Double the cement of yesterday’s.  All good.

Tuesday 2pm:  Take grandchildren to kids farm.  Left leg starts burning – can’t figure out why.

Tuesday 6pm:  Get home, take trousers off and look at leg.  What a horror.  Twice the size of the right leg, mottled in violent purple, crimson from ankle to two inches below knee.  Send photos to Dr Marcus Stone in New Zealand.
Marcus orders me to the A&E clinic.  Nearest one is in Lancaster, one hour away.  Wait there for five hours.  Doctor diagnoses a serious infection which appears to be spreading (especially during the five hours).
Moved into a ward, put on an intravenous antibiotic drip – kept in there all day with four intravenous sessions.  Infection halted in its tracks.  No more expansion.

Wednesday 7.30am – 3pm:  Three doctors on the case with slightly differing theories, until senior consultant decides in favour of infection and cellulitis.  A scan reveals no DVT threat.  Lancaster Royal Infirmary (where I was born) are obviously delighted to have their prodigal son return and suggest I stay another 24 hours to enjoy their intravenous drip and famous NHS cuisine.
I explain my grandkids are waiting for me and I have to leave immediately – now that the penicillin has won Phase I.  I procure seven days oral antibiotics with a commitment to return for an Assessment/Bloods on Friday.
(The fundamental problem with hospitals is they are full of sick people.)
Bad things come in threes.  Looking forward now to some sunshine.

Thursday:  Swelling reducing.  Front teeth still in.  TGIT.


  • Friday 4pm:  Bloods all improving.  Royal Lancaster Infirmary discharged me officially.  Six days antibiotics away from normal.
  • Teeth still in!  Permanent bridge in two weeks time.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Is Your Business Brave?

I’ve been working with a small crew of imaginative, transformational folks for a few years now and they’ve just completed and sharpened their offer – so welcome to RELUCTANTLY BRAVE.

(I recently taped a podcast with their Creative Head which you can see here.)

The Braves offer three services:
1.   Coaching brave leaders to imagine possibilities and catalyse others,
2.   Catalysing brave teams to work inclusively, imaginatively and purposefully,
3.   Building brave brands that are purposeful, authentic and compelling.

Give them a yell if you’re interested.  Contact James on +44-7779-035 988 or

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Are You Spartan?

Growing up in Lancaster, I was lucky enough to get into one of the great Northern schools, Lancaster Royal Grammar.  Praesis ut prosis (lead that you might serve) is engraved in the pub I have in my Grasmere home.  (Well you would, wouldn’t you?!!!!)

I was fortunate to be taught by some inspirational teachers – Doug Cameron, Peter Sampson, Jim Bates – who gave up teaching when he won some lottery money and retreated to North Wales to enjoy the outdoors and Baz Salmon – who introduced me to that great race, the Spartans.

A small City State, who, against all odds, overcame the Establishment (Athens) in the Peloponnesian Wars somewhere around 400BC if my aging memory serves me right.  (Too proud to Google it!!)

Who couldn’t be moved by Leonidas and the 300 at Thermopylae?

Spartan means simple, frugal, austere and self-restrained.  Laconic is derived from the Spartans (their home is modern day Laconia), pithy and concise from these people who prized brevity of speech.

So, are you Spartan?

Spartan Code

1)   A Spartan pushes their mind and body to their limits.

2)   A Spartan masters their emotions.

3)   A Spartan learns continuously.

4)   A Spartan gives generously.

5)   A Spartan leads.

6)   A Spartan stands up for what they believe in, no matter the cost.

7)   A Spartan knows their flaws as well as they know their strengths.

8)   A Spartan proves themselves through actions, not words.

9)   A Spartan lives every day as if it were their last.

Check yourself against this code.  Personally and professionally.  How do you score?  How does your boss do?  Your key team members?

Following this Spartan Code would lead to a successful, competitive and happy company in my view.

And to a great Region / Country.

So, are our political leaders Spartans?

Looking at Corbyn, Farage, Johnson, Gove, Fox, Leadstrom and co – how do they score against these criteria?  One man’s view:

1)   Besides flirting with cocaine and jogging for the cameras, do they really push themselves?  Or do they look lazy to you?

2)   Emotionally are they in control or are they constantly playing to the camera / public perception and hiding how they truly feel?

3)   What have they learned from Brexit in particular?  From the outside it looks like they are all lost and have learned practically nothing about how their constituents, the people, feel – and they are clueless on how to negotiate with the EU.

4)   Fail.

5)   General Norman Schwarzkopf said about Leadership “When given command, take charge and do what’s right”.  Leadership is based on a moral call, and is about making things happen whilst creating other leaders.  This lot?

6)   They are all Flip-Floppers.

7)   I doubt they have this degree of self-reflection and awareness.

8)   Not immediately apparent.

9)   A great piece of advice for you and I – but this bunch just look miserable.



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast

Spoke at two great Unfiltered Live events in Auckland and Christchurch last week.  Great speakers, great format – 20 minutes on three mistakes, the three learnings and the fixes.  Uplifting fun with great advice.

And a great number of mistakes (and learnings!) to choose from.  Rather than go over these, here are the pieces of advice I left the audience with.
1)  -  Don’t take a knife to a gun-fight.
     -  Adapt.  Improvise.  Overcome.
     -  Work harder, smarter, longer.
2)  -  Put all your eggs in one basket, and watch that basket.
     -  Focus.  Commitment.  Discipline.
     -  Be obsessed, or Be Average.
3)  -  Invest in fierce, powerful Financial capability.
     -  Managers are just as important as leaders.
     -  Stars in your eyes, finger on the pulse, feet on the ground.


PS:    And yet another failing – as I jumped (athletically, or so I thought) on to the stage, my Achilles went ‘Pop’ and a burning pain shot up my leg.  I limped through the preso and rushed straight to see George Duncan, All Black muscle/tissue specialist and Dr Marcus Stone – my doctor for 30 years.  Sent for a scan by the two Wise Men.  The good news – no tear, no rupture, no moonboot, no cast.  The bad news – acute tendonitis, six months no exercise, anti-inflammatories, ice, compression bandages, and limping.  Cycling an option ‘soon’, but no up-hill.  Doctor’s advice (Fix Fast!!) – ‘If it hurts, stop’.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Foodie Friday. Hola Mexico City.

Back to one of my favourite venues – Mexico City – for my 9th or 10th gig with my favourite conference organiser, WOBI (World of Business Ideas) at their World Leadership Forum.  I’ve spoken at their sessions in Radio City Music Hall, Sydney, Melbourne, Milan, Madrid, Barcelona, Bogota and Buenos Aires – and will be in Medellin in November.

The topic I focussed on was Creativity – building on Lovemarks and 64 Shots, plus a lot of new work I have been doing with Portuguese wine company Sogrape on building a Creative Culture.

It’s four or five years since I was last in Mexico City and I was blown away by the amazing upsurge in Creativity in one specific area – Cuisine.

Two Mexico City restaurants are in the top 30 of the published this month Best 50 Restaurants in the World, 4 others are in the top 50 in Latin America – and the revolution is being led by 2 local female chefs.  We ate in their restaurants and loved them both.

·        Martha Ortiz owns Dulce Patria in the Las Alcobas boutique hotel.  Modern Mexican cuisine, whimsically prepared and named, 3 ‘inspirational dishes for women’ were amongst the specials – nods to her childhood memories with tacos shaped like butterflies – great cactus sculptures outside the entrance, food prepared as if it were a painting, Mexican heritage, flair and creativity all in one friendly place.

·        Rosetta – with Elena Reygadas at the helm, Italian food with a real Mexican twist in a beautifully simple, old, large house in the Roma neighbourhood.  Simple wooden chairs and tables, indoor trees and plants like an enchanted forest, and some of the best pasta I’ve eaten outside Italy.  The menu changes every day – pappardelle with chicken livers and sage, tagliolini with octopus, and figs with anchovies, yummy.

·        And 4 other must visits:

o    Pujol – voted No. 1 in North America and No. 12 in the world,
o    Quintonil – a top 20 mecca,
o    Maximo Bistrot, and
o    Nico’s 60 years young.

Bravo Creatividad.  Bravo Mexico City’s chefs.


Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Never Out of the Fight

As I despair at political leadership in the US and the UK (all parties!), I am inspired by the US Navy Seal Creed.

It’s a reminder of duty, accountability, loyalty, humility, integrity, resilience, innovation, courage and leadership.

(Should be required reading for all political candidates.)

US Navy SEAL Ethos/Creed
In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.
My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.
I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.
We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.
I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.
We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.
We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.
Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.