Thursday, November 14, 2019

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Finally got to watch Tarantino’s 9th movie on the Manchester – Singapore flight.  2 hours, 40 minutes of classic 1960’s movies with an imaginative, fast paced 60’s sound track – think Paul Revere and the Raiders, Feliciano, Vanilla Fudge, Los Bravos.

Kill Bill is my all time Tarantino favourite, but ‘Hollywood’ has passed Pulp Fiction to become Number Two.  It features Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in the two big roles, but has great cameos from Justified’s Tim Olyphant, Homeland’s Damian Lewis (as Steve McQueen) and Al Pacino, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Margot Robbie and Dakota Fanning.

It’s the best way to pass three hours on a plane or a cold winter weekend / evening.  Funny, nostalgic, full of clever 60’s references.  It truly captures the mood of Hollywood and the USA in 1969.

Don’t miss it.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

Learnings from a Bookseller

James Daunt opened his first book shop, Daunt Books, in Marylebone, London in 1990 at just 26 years old.  I’ve been a fan ever since.  He added five more shops in London and became a Lovemark for book lovers.  Almost 10 years ago, James was drafted in as CEO of the mega Waterstones chain which was busy collapsing under on-line Amazon pressure and the death of the mall.

This year the chain – now profitable and growing again, was sold to Elliott Hedge Fund, who then bought Barnes & Noble in the US and asked James to weave his magic.  James’ formula is one I believe relevant to every retail chain, regardless of business.  His five fixes:
Empower booksellers:
Allow them to make decisions in their own shops.  The business model works far better than identikit diktats from an overly zealous head office.
Good books:
Stock titles that people actually want to read – and make sure they have a prominent place as you walk in the door.  Ensure that displays are consistent rather than having books jumbled together.
Impressions count:
A cosy space that encourages browsing is always more appealing than a big-box feel.
Details matter:
Customers may not immediately perceive them but everything – from the space (or lack of) between books to the angle of shelves – plays a part.
It’s not just books:
Think long and hard about which products to sell aside from books: endlessly stacked piles of dross aren’t appealing.  Quality stationery will work better than gimmicky fridge magnets.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The 10 F’s.

Spent the last week or so in the North of England with 35 top Booths Buying Execs and Store Managers.  Booths is a 172 year old Northern Lovemark, famous for its find food and wine, delivered through its 28 stores in Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire with its Warm Northern Welcome.

We were working on Personal Purpose and Personal Leadership before weekending in front of four Rugby powers – The All Blacks, Springboks, England and Wales slugging it out in the Rugby World Cup.  The Final on November 2 saw a repeat of the 2007 Final between South Africa and England – and the result ended the same – a win for the Rainbow Nation.

I watched the game with old school friend Brian Ashton who was England’s Head Coach in 2007 and we spent a fair bit of the weekend talking about the Mysteries of Purpose and Peak Performance.

Brian has been teaching and coaching for 50 years or so and has developed his own list of 10 F’s to keep him focussed, learning and operating at Peak.  They are self-explanatory.  Here they are:

Food (F Number 11!!) for thought.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Foodie Friday – The Stars Come Out in Cumbria

My home county of Cumbria in the UK now has more Michelin starred restaurants than any county outside Greater London.  We have twice as many as London per head of population.

Three Cumbrian restaurants received new Michelin stars in the 2020 Michelin Guide.

My own favourite, Ryan Blackburn’s Old Stamp House in nearby Ambleside, Allium at Askham Hall near Penrith and The Cottage In The Wood near Keswick, all won their first stars.

With eight Michelin stars and seven Michelin starred kitchens, Cumbria is now the UK’s top gastronomic destination outside the capital.

L’Enclume in Cartmel – UK’s top restaurant in The Good Food Guide, retained its two stars, HRiSHi at Gilpin Lodge near Windermere, my next door neighbour Forest Side, and Rogen and Co all retained their stars.

And watch out next year for James Cross’ Lake Rd Kitchen in Ambleside – the Good Food Guide’s top 30 entrant and The Samling – they’ll be next.

And make a note of Bing at Wabi Sabi in Ambleside – one day a Star will be his.


Monday, October 28, 2019

The Power of Three

Today is a black day for New Zealand.

The All Blacks were knocked out of the Rugby World Cup by England.  In the Semi-Final – the worst outcome for any player – so near, yet so far.

I watched the game with three friends and was emotionally in pieces.  I have dual citizenship UK and NZ – both national anthems and countries are important to me.  But in Rugby terms I am an All Blacks fan through and through.  I love their values, their Purpose, their history, their style and the way they approach the Game They Play in Heaven.  I am simultaneously an admirer of England and I respect their power, their attitude and many of their legendary players and coaches.

Today we once again learned the life – and business lesson of The Power of Three.  Humanity has been clinging to The Power of Three since time began – all religions, stories, narratives are driven by The Power of Three mnemonic.  And today was no different.

Starting just before kick-off, The All Blacks settled in for the Haka, England responded by coming together in a V for Victory formation which dwarfed the Haka.  The English faces were fully engaged.  And The Power of Three began.


This was England’s order of the day.

Focus on the mission.  To overcome the AB’s, to dominate every phase, and to surprise and overwhelm.
The Commitment to give everything, every second, every minute, every challenge.
The Discipline to keep going without breaking laws, without second-guessing themselves, without over-reaching.


One country grieves.
One country celebrates.
The Beat Goes On.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Foodie Friday – Wine Dinner in The Peloponnese

A great dinner at Amanzoe, Porto Heli – where Executive Chef Dimitris Melemenis partnered with one of Greece’s most prominent winemakers, Stellios Boutaris, to present a superb evening’s degustation and wine-pairing.

The food was magnificent – Red Mullet Carpaccio with Greek Caviar, Scallops with White and Green Asparagus, Chestnut Risotto and local Lamb topped by pan-seared Buffalo Tenderloins.  Mouth-watering.

The fun part were the wines of Mr Boutaris’ Ktima Kir-Yianni vineyard – 100 year old Family winery upgraded constantly via innovation and investment into Greece’s many grape varieties.

Keep your eye out for their interesting blended, unique dessert wine – Golden Eagle, and a very tidy Red – Diaporos.

Ktima Kir-Yianni is worth a look.

Degustation Menu with Wine Pairing

“Akakies Sparkling” Rose Ktima Kir Yianni
Red Grape with Goat Cheese Cream & Pistachio from Aegina
Ravioli filled with “Arseniko” Cheese from Naxos, Greek Bottarga and Citrus
Traditional “Liopitaki” with “Manaki” Olives & Herbs from our Garden

“L’ esprit du Lac” Ktima Kir Yianni
Red Mullet Carpaccio with Greek Ossetra Caviar
Lime | Raspberry | Rose Pepper

“Droumo” Ktima Kir Yianni
Scallops with White and Green Asparagus
Colorful Bell Peppers Coulis | Rosemary-Basil Olive Oil

“Palpo” Ktima Kir Yianni
Chestnut Risotto with Smoked Black Pig Pancetta from “Olympus” Mountain
Porcini Mushrooms | Chestnut Froth | Thyme Powder

Mandarin Sorbet with Mint and Lemon Balm

“Ramnista” Ktima Kir Yianni
Loin of Lamb from Ermioni in a Roll
Vine Leaf | “Manouri” Cheese/ Dill | Red Grapes | “Ramnista” Wine Jus

“Diaporos” Ktima Kir Yianni
Pan-seared Tenderloin of Buffalo from “Kerkini” Lake
Chicken Liver Parfait | “Kousafi” Compote | Soufflé Potatoes
“Diaporos” Wine Sauce with Honey, Star Anise, Allspice & Pomegranate

“Chrysogerakas” Ktima Kir Yianni
Traditional Homemade “Loukoumades”
Cinnamon Ice Cream

Coffee or Tea with Greek Mignardises