Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bring Back Bob.

In January last year I wrote about the new President: “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.”

As to the latter, the blossoming signs of peace over the Korean peninsula appear to be a breakthrough for which President Trump is being touted for the Nobel Peace Prize.  It seems Denis Rodman has played an outsized role, introducing Kim Jong-un to the writings of the Donald (just imagine, Rodman sharing a Nobel would be emblematic of the warped zeitgeist we live in.  I got to know him a little at the Chicago Bulls when I was researching the Peak Performance book).

As to the former – perplexing, dangerous etc, the nomination of the White House doctor Ronny Jackson to be head of the Veterans Administration, seemed to be a somewhat unusual initiative.  If the VA was on the Fortune 500, it would rank as the 6th biggest enterprise in America.  It is an enormously important and complex organisation (the VA trains 70% of the doctors in the country and is the largest employer of nurses in the country), and putting up someone with zero experience of running a large organisation seems to be asking a lot of the good Doctor.

I was drawn to an interview MSNBC diva Rachel Maddow did with former VA head and all round good guy, Bob McDonald.  There are calls to bring him back, which I endorse.  Bob was an Army Ranger, a Captain in the US Army, and went on to a lifelong career at P&G, rising to the CEO role.  Bob was a character out of Central Casting for the VA role.  He was popular with veterans – surely a prerequisite for the leadership role.  There is the stumbling block of privatising the VA – Trump’s backers want this, Bob is opposed which is why it’s unlikely he’ll get the call back.  But America’s veterans would be well served with Bob McDonald back in the VA seat.


Friday, June 8, 2018

It is not the Mountain We Conquer, but Ourselves.

Almost 20 years ago I got to meet and then spend several Saturday mornings with one of the greatest leaders I have ever met, Sir Edmund Hillary.  In January 2000 he was kind enough to write the foreword to the first book I wrote with three colleagues from Waikato University – Peak Performance, Lessons from the World’s Greatest Sporting Teams.

Sir Ed passed away in Auckland on the morning of January 11, 2008.  He would have been 99 years old had he still been with us, and 2019 will be the centenary of his birth.

10 years ago I was invited to become a Governor of the Hillary Summit – a group of people coming together to recognise and support exceptional international leadership in mid-career, those who are in the game and can contribute more with peer support, advice, counsel, leverage and good-will.

We are just voting for the 2018 Hillary Laureate as we speak and it took me back to the mornings I spent in Sir Ed’s home talking to him about his experiences, his ideas and his beliefs.

Here’s an extract from the Hillary Institute’s Annual Report on a great leader.

SIR EDMUND HILLARY personifies essential human qualities of integrity, modesty, determination and service to others born of a life-time of exceptional achievement. He was raised in a quiet country town at the bottom of the world in New Zealand, and this unremarkable schoolboy discovered early a love of mountaineering which ultimately led to his becoming an international legend as the first man to climb Mt. Everest in May 1953 with Tenzing Norgay, Sherpa.
For the last 50 years he not only continued to lead expeditions to the most remote corners of the earth, but perhaps most tellingly, devoted himself to environmental and humanitarian efforts that have made a profound difference to the Sherpa communities where his famous summit climb was achieved.
In 2003 Sir Edmund and Lady June Hillary celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the ascent of Everest in Nepal, with Sherpa friends and the Tenzing family, and in 2005 he formally re-embraced leadership development as the patron of the Excelerator: New Zealand Leadership Institute, and internationally through lending his name to the development of the Hillary Institute and its associated Awards programme.
Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 Sir Edmund was the recipient of numerous international citations including The Order of New Zealand, his country’s highest honour. He has also been awarded nine honorary doctorates and was the author of eight books. In January 2007 Sir Edmund returned to Antarctica for the final time for the 50 years celebration of his establishment of Scott Base for New Zealand. With Sir Ed in honoured attendance Prime Minister Helen Clark (as patron), formally launched The Hillary Institute there on January 22nd.
New Zealanders take great pride in this extraordinary, ordinary man, a world-wide symbol of courage, determination, leadership and humanitarian service. With the centenary of his birth looming in 2019, he will forever be an inspiration to us all.


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Happiness Runs.

Richard Nicholls has just published ’15 Minutes to Happiness’, a book that outlines simple exercises to reduce negativity and increase happiness.

As a radical optimist who’s lived by ‘Make Happy Choices’ for some time now, I think his book is worth a read.  Guilt, worry, regret and stress are part of all our lives, it’s learning how to deal with them, reduce them and ultimately replace them with positive thoughts that make us happier.

An example of one thing he suggests.

Put Yourself First.  This is not selfish.  It is for everyone’s benefit.  A happy you is the you everyone wants to see, and they’ll be happy about that.  If you constantly put others ahead of you, it can lead to lack of self-esteem, stress and fatigue.  Learn to say no.  Check the book out.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Unfiltered Live 3: How to Win in Business Fast (p.m.)

Carla who attended the Unfiltered Live event has worked with me on gigs for the past two decades, she is EVP and GM International at SweeneyVesty. She attended the Unfiltered Live event. Here is the second part of her two-part guest post.

After a quick delicious lunch thanks to ‘Eat My Lunch’ box, we headed into the afternoon session of Unfiltered Live:
A peak performer, builder, exporter and employer of 900 staff globally, Brendan Lindsay founder of Sistema Plastics was an enthralling speaker, he everyone rolling with laughter with his stories and his honest, take-no-prisoners, advice. 

Avoid the drainers. Surround yourself with positive people. Trust your gut, don’t give in. Professionals don’t go to work, they do the work. Go after your dream.

Beware the perfect storm, never overexpose yourself to a position that you can’t afford to lose. Be prepared to commit your entire body and soul. Take ownership of your mistakes. Get to know your staff, don’t give turkeys to taxi drivers (yep!).

Be in front of your customers all the time, 3 ways to do this: email (easy for them to say no), phone (faceless also easy to say no) and in-person (really hard to say no). Always be prepared, every dog has its day.

And I think everyone’s favourite was his tale around “Don’t be a Can’t” and the joys of a Kiwi accent. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it!

Next co-owner and COO Anna Mowbray of Zuru – the 14th biggest toy manufacturer and producer of Bunch O Balloons the number one selling toy for three years in a row in the US. Have laser focus. Be disciplined, how you execute, be focused to win, to be the best. 
Think about R.O.T. – Return On Time. Don’t get trapped. Businesses fail from lack of direction, not lack of focus. Simplify business, remove clutter. Remove complexity of your products and make them intuitive. Think of simplicity of your product, ie Google – is complex but to the user, very simple interface. Rationalise the offer to your customer.

Create meaningful relationships through partnering. Be passionate. Move mountains. Put your best people on the biggest opportunities – not your biggest problems.

Disrupt yourself. Do disruption on stable product lines. If you’re not disrupting, you are being disrupted. If you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete. Hustle, never give up!
Self-confessed data geek with ideas and innovation in her soul, Carmen Vicelich, founder and CEO of Data Insight and Valocity made every one sit up when she put it simply ‘don’t let anyone steal your dream’, keep the fire in your belly. We are all unique and only you know what you know. Take advice but know where you are going. Know your why. At any stage you have the power to decide. 

Always have plan A, B, C. Plan A never survives first contact with the enemy. How do you make your luck? The power of attraction. Always make the boat go faster – but to which island? An athlete can go to the Olympics but without focus can get never get Gold. It’s all about people, solving a unique problem and what’s right for right now! ‘Better’ never stops. Play to strengths.

Surround yourself with winners. If it was easy everyone would be doing it. With data and tech everything is a race – Have to remember your ‘why’. You can have all the success in the world but if you don’t have the important things, what’s it for? Celebrate success along the way, and all the successes in the team.

Shit will happen 100% guaranteed. Focus on solving customer problems, avoid analysis paralysis. Be crystal clear on what problem you solve. There is no best, only better. Surround yourself with winners.

Successful serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur and angel investor Jeremy Cai, 22-year old, was upfront that technology is seductive. It’s not a solution but a means to an end, look for amplification of what you’re doing today. Put people first, not the tech. 

Focus on things you can control. If you choose the wrong market, you can’t change reality.  Advice is cheap to give, but expensive to take

Beware of raising money. It’s your life. If you don’t grow big, you die fast.

Value, pattern recognition (experience) is useful but it can fool you. You might miss something really big.

Follow your heart and head. Make it count. If you look back in 15 years will you be happy?
One of the most dynamic and ambitious entrepreneurs in mobile marketing using blockchain advertising is Brian Wong. He is the author of ‘The Cheat Code’ shortcuts to get a leg up on the competition, garner attention for creative thinkers and their ideas and to accelerate success, the book has been published in 40 countries and 3 languages. This Q&A with Jake involved a nice glass of wine from Villa Maria.  

Brian is driven, his mindset is to always be creative, always moving. Rule 1 – never freak out, it’s not life or death. Best lessons are experiences never expected.

When you are in product market research phase, if there’s too much data on the Internet to tell you if it’s a good idea, it’s already a bad game. Test your ideas with taxi drivers and see if their gut reaction is positive.

Know your superpower, ask your friends and family what you’re good at, what did you find effortless when you were growing up. Don’t try to fix things you’re not good at.

Be able to take no’s. Being afraid of rejection stops you. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position and ask, otherwise they won’t know what to give you. Keep asking, people will eventually break down.

Use your weaknesses and convert into a strength, i.e. looking young can be a good thing because people underestimate you and you can ask anything, people want to impart knowledge.

NZ’s Internet is superfast so go nuts with it. Our whole population is a city in other places, so use your broadband!

How to be legendary? Learn something a little faster than the next guy.

Jake then announced some exciting news that Brian has joined the Unfiltered Board of Directors. 

Founder of her own PR company, innovator and invaluable advisor, Deborah Pead had everyone sitting up listening when she shared her incredible experiences in South Africa, a place where car hijackings happen every 30 minutes. Her work included PR briefs to reinvigorate Johannesburg’s CBD retail after a bomb blast – you do this by creating a ‘bomb sale’ which was highly effective!  

Learn in business to embrace your fear, it can be a powerful motivator and also drive innovation. Use fear as a motivator, not to debilitate. Look for the up side in the middle of every difficulty. When bombs are dropping around you, you need to hustle to find the silver lining.

Don’t be motivated by money. Money is not the proof of success. Deliver excellence, be generous. Products fail due to poor decisions. Reputations are built on actions. Fill your start-up with PR. Invest in PR. PR is rocket fuel for start-ups. You only get to be new once.

Fill your head with brilliance from best:
  • Leaders think and talk about solutions – Cecilia Robinson
  • Never hire an island, success comes from working with collaborating, power of team work – Theresa Gattung
  • Get a proper goal – Geoff Ross
  • Business is like driving a racing car, put your foot flat to the floor at the start, if you need to break, break real fast – Frances Steel
If you feel like you are backed into a corner, ask what the walls are – Sarah Kennedy.
Don’t look for the problem in the opportunity, look for the opportunity in the problem.The last speaker of the day was Linda Jenkinson World Class New Zealander and brilliant entrepreneur with three multi-million dollar companies built and successfully sold, the first Kiwi woman on Nasdaq. Linda hails originally from the Manawatu.  

How do you win in business? The jellybean jar. Jellybeans are the gifts you give to people. In the US you tell people what you’re looking for, what you want people to help you with and they give you jelly beans. It’s the way you help people.

Start thinking about what you can do for others and the entire world would achieve our goals a lot more. Ensure your jellybean jar is not just full, but overflowing. It absolutely works. The universe has the answer.

Play poker. Business is a game, it’s numbers and emotions, the fun of getting it over the line and bluffing. Do it your way, have fun. For Kiwis what is IT you are doing? Find your IT.

Cycle of gratitude, we suck at this as Kiwis. How people feel is important. Take people on your journey. Go exploring. Don’t make assumptions about people. Give back. Buy a jelly bean jar and ask how you can help others.

Congrats to Jake, Yuuki, Kevin, Dom, Matt and the entire Unfiltered Live team who put together such an amazing event! The day was uplifting, optimistic, sometimes brutally honest, provocative, stimulating, and friendly.  I’d do it all again in a heartbeat!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Unfiltered Live 3: How to Win in Business Fast (a.m.)

Carla has worked with me on gigs for the past two decades, she is EVP and GM International at SweeneyVesty. Here is a two-part guest post from Carla who attended the Unfiltered Live event.

Shed 10 on Auckland’s waterfront was the place to be on Tuesday 22 May. Some of New Zealand’s most successful entrepreneurs flew in from all corners of the globe to speak at the third Unfiltered Live event held. Iconic business stars each shared their 5 ideas on how to win in business fast.

The day had an electric atmosphere. It was a rapid fire of intel, insight and inspiration from some of the best business minds in the world. During the breaks, there was 1000 people networking, a productive hum in the air from new connections being forged.  

Here’s some truncated bullets from the morning session of speakers:

Kevin Roberts Chair of Unfiltered and emcee kicked the day off. We live in a VUCA world - Volatile, Complex, Uncertain, Ambiguous – which is daunting for the establishment. 

For entrepreneurs, leaders and optimists everywhere it’s the best time ever to be alive and in business because we live actually in a SUPERVUCA world – Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Astounding. 

Ideas are everything, they are the currency of a SUPERVUCA world. Execute and move from ‘Getting Things Done’ to ‘Making Things Happen’. Recite your ABCs…Ambition, Belief and Courage every morning.

Brilliant global creative and fashion powerhouse Karen Walker encouraged us to get fully immersed, pack our bags and go to where it is happening. Always turn up. Show our ideas. And…you’ll never be ready! Be in the game. 

Work at your luck, work hard for your luck, put yourself in a place where luck can happen. The “supernova” moments in business are fleeting, manage them by being agile and not gripping on too tightly. If you get it right, and collaborate with other businesses, special moments can happen where 1 + 1 = 3.

The idea is everything. We don’t always need to know the detail or the how, those things can happen through great partnership. The stories shared by Karen on her journey and successes were truly inspiring.

Thought leader, disruptor, innovator, and futurist Frances Valintine’s world is digital and we have to think digital first in business and global from day one. It is imperative that we shift digitally. Need foresight and insight. Change makers are coming, they will rewrite the rules. They are from half the world's population who are under 18.

Get out of echo chamber of NZ. Be curious. Go where populations are young. We need to find new forms of protein that are environmental sustainable. As a country we need to be looking forward at how we attract talent. The young aspire to be in tribes to collaborate and share economies. With the intersection of tech and education, if we all live longer from 65 to 95, how are we going to keep learning? Be bold, brilliant and mission driven.

Two time Paralympic Gold medallist and record breaker Liam Malone, was “not born to be a winner” with fibular hemimelia, and at 18 months old he had both legs amputated below the knee. Society may call him disabled, however he had a vision, “I am able”.  

Be the best you can be. To win fast, you have to start fast. Liam gave the best ever description of CRAP: Criticism, Rejection, Assholes & Pressure. Be prepared to fail fast. Take positives out of failure that those who succeeded wouldn’t have noticed.

Have a winning mindset. Within business you have to deal with a lot of change and be in a hyper competitive state, so train your mind. Practice mindfulness, be consistent. Be bold, go the whole way, put your neck out.

23-year old entrepreneur Sharndré Kushor is co-founder of global business Crimson Education, a Westpac Woman of influence and a leader that is doing what all great leaders do, creating other leaders. Her advice is to never stop learning. Find mentors and experts. Mentors are an effective way to learn, they can help you navigate ideas quickly. Always have people around you that are experts. 

Leadership. No one wants to stand on the battlefield alone. Humans make decisions on how they feel. Trust is built in small increments and can be broken easily. Trust account has withdrawals or deposits.

Culture is so important in high growth companies, roles change quickly so you need to have people who can go above and beyond.

Growth. Ask: what would I do if I was not afraid? What impact do I want to make on the world? Don’t benchmark on those around you, forge your own path.

Find your fuel. Need to be self aware, strengths, weaknesses. What makes you tick? Solve problems that fuel you, do something that you think matters. Level up, continuous improvement. Solve the problem.

Before we went to lunch we heard from Florian Renndorfer, MD of BMW NZ who shared BMW’s vision for the future. They are well on the way to an electric fleet. By 2025, BMW will have 25 electric vehicles, two of which were at Shed 10.

BMW and Unfiltered are seeking budding entrepreneurs, start-up businesses or someone with a vision to shape tomorrow’s world. There are amazing prizes. To enter go to

What a morning session!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Unfiltered Live 3

Check out Seven Sharp’s guide to business brilliance after visiting Unfiltered Live on Tuesday.

Monday, May 21, 2018

It’s Good News Week.

Two of my favourite projects, Blackpool Museum and Lake District Tourism have just received £7.3 million from the Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.

Blackpool Museum.  Due to open in 2020, the Museum will display artefacts, music and performances from within Blackpool and partners including the V&A, EMI Group Archive Trust and the British Music Hall Society. The Museum - the biggest new museum development in the North West - is expected to attract almost 300,000 visitors a year and will be developed on the world-famous Golden Mile.  It will aim to engage younger audiences in the history of Blackpool and further strengthen the town’s tourism offer.  It will be creative, interactive, fun and funny!

Lake District. £3.29 million will be invested in a project to strengthen the visitor experience at Windermere Jetty, Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum and Abbot Hall Art Gallery and Museum.  The money will be used to enhance the visitor experience at these attractions, increase accessibility and improve exhibition spaces.  The regeneration project aims to attract nearly 150,000 additional visitors, create 150 permanent jobs and boost cultural tourism to the newly designated World Heritage Site.

The projects will build on the impact of the Great Exhibition of the North, which launches in Newcastle-Gateshead on June 22.  The event is set to be the biggest in England this year and will showcase the best of Northern art, culture and innovation.

Bloody Brilliant!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

12 Records in One Season.

For those of us who were there (1.8 million over the season), we may never see the like again.

Manchester City 2017/2018.  The Record Breakers.
·       Most Premier League points -100.  Beating Liverpool in ’78/’79 (98) and Chelsea in ’04/’05 (95).
·       Most wins – 32.  Spurs 31 in 1960/’61 and Chelsea 30 in 2016/’17.
·       Most goals – 106.  Chelsea in 2009/’10, 103.
·       Least amount of time trailing – 153 minutes.
·       Most away wins – 16.  Chelsea 15 in 2004/’05.
·       Most away points – 50.  Chelsea 48 in 2004/’05.
·       Best goal difference - +79.  Chelsea 2009/’10, +71.
·       Most consecutive wins - +18.  Arsenal +14, 2002.
·       Biggest point gaps to second – 19.  Man Utd +18 in 1999/2000.
·       Most passes attempted in a match – 1,015.  Man City 976 V Everton and Chelsea 2017/18.
·       Most passes completed in a match – 942, 92.8%.  Man City 905 V Everton, 92.7%.
·       Most possession in a game – 82.95%.  Man City 82.28% in 2012 Vs QPR.

Smashed it.

Superbia in Proelio.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Modest Proposal – Part Two.

John Wareham worked with Kenny Johnson – career criminal, career inmate.  Until he met John at Rikers Island where he joined John’s Taking Wings programme.  Five years of classes and Kenny turned into a teacher and guide.  He was tragically felled by a heart attack at age 49.

Crazy for Conspiracies
Excerpt from a poem by Kenny Johnson, which he delivered at protest rally on the steps of the New York State Capitol building, shortly before he died.

You might not agree with me,
say I’m crazy for conspiracies,
but if education’s the key
to what a person needs to be,
why aren’t we building schools
instead of penitentiaries?
Yeah—those concrete cookers breeding villains;
kids come home with stigmatisms,
short on skills and stoicism,
left to cope, with little hope,
and in their palms a wad of rope
to hang themselves,
as tucked into society’s unforgiving shelves
shamed and lost and left to delve
into what they know best
—and you or I could guess, more or less—
what that might be;
drugs and crime and the old paradigm,
of doing time to end up doing more time.


Thursday, May 3, 2018

Finding Leonard.

On September 27 1960, Leonard Cohen bought a house in Hydra for $1,500 using a bequest from his grandmother.  The three-storey, 200-year-old whitewashed building had 5 rooms, a large outdoor terrace, no electricity, no plumbing, no running water.  Leonard lived here for more than 10 years and never sold the house.  It was a place of tranquility, donkeys (even today no cars are allowed on Hydra, voted the most beautiful island in Greece and the 11th most beautiful in the world), the Aegean, wine, songs and creativity.  ‘Bird on the Wire’ and ‘So Long Marianne’ were written here.

I grew up with the legend of Leonard in Hydra, and earlier this week I finally got to experience it at first hand.  His favourite haunts are still there, Roloi Café where his first ‘concert’ took place with only a dozen friends in the audience, and The Pirate Bar (O Peiratis) in the Port.

We trekked up to his house.  (Son Adam just recorded an album there.)  It’s unmarked.  Unspoiled.  And the telegraph pole/wire that inspired ‘Bird on the Wire’ stands tall in the April sunshine.
         “Greece is a good place
         to look at the moon, isn’t it?
         You can read by moonlight
         You can read on the terrace
         You can see a face
         As you saw it when you were young”

Muse Marianne died in Summer 2016 from leukemia, 81 years old.  Leonard wrote her as she lay dying:
         “Well Marianne it’s come to this time when we are really so old and our bodies are falling apart and I think I will follow you very soon.  Know that I am so close behind you that if you stretch out your hand, I think you can reach mine.  And you know that I’ve always loved you for your beauty and your wisdom, but I don’t need to say anything more about that because you know all about that.  But now, I just want to wish you a very good journey.  Goodbye old friend.  Endless love, see you down the road.”

Leonard joined his love less than 100 days later, on November 7, 2016.

His spirit lives on.

Especially in Hydra.
         “Like a bird on the wire,
         Like a drunk in a midnight choir,
         I have tried, in my way, to be free.”