Friday, August 16, 2019

Foodie Friday – Eating at Pasture

Pasture was recently named Restaurant of the Year by Auckland’s Metro Magazine.

And I agree with them.

We took over the entire restaurant on Wednesday night.  A family get-together – but not as grandiose as it sounds.  There were only six of us (wife, sister and daughter – how spoilt am I?), but the restaurant only has six seats!

Like my favourite Binkleys in Phoenix, Pasture chef Ed Verner is re-imagining the entire restaurant experience – making it an intimate, focused, intense yet relaxed night full of quiet delight.

The six seats are all at the Chef’s counter.  Three chefs serve a tasting menu – no choices, no dietary stuff, just imaginative, wholesome, delicious tasty treats – partnered with unusual, interesting, beverages (sake, beer, wine, cocktail, mead) pairings.

Two seatings per night – 5.45pm and 8.15pm, Wednesday to Saturday.  No frills.  Just excellence.  Doors open at 8.15pm and then you’re off.  Three hours of fun.

The restaurant has its own lounge integrated into the counter/kitchen – decorated like a cross between a Japanese inn, a Scandinavian bolthole and a 50’s New York loft.

Ed works with whole animals, seafood and line-caught fish.  Japanese, Kiwi, Danish, Peruvian – you name it.

Here’s what we ate and drank.

Mushroom & hazelnut
Under the Milky Way / Grandmaster Flash
Build me up buttercup
Kohlrabi, pear, pumpkin seed
Rock Lobster
Zenkuro ‘Junmai’ Queenstown ‘18
Blue Mackerel
Memento Mori ‘Rosso’ Victoria ’17 – Cucumber & white asparagus
Diamond Shell Clams
Wheat & rye sourdough, our aged butter
Three Boys Wheat, Christchurch – Our sourdough ‘beer’
Radishes, beeswax & almond
Supernatural ‘Minus 220’ Hawkes Bay ’18 – Celeriac & pear
Snapper, egg yolk & saffron
Patrick Sulivan ‘Baw Baw Shire’ Chardonnay ’18 – Savagnin & Artichoke
The Pig Crumpet
Peckham’s ‘Western Pathfinder’ Moutere ’18 – Toasted hay
Tomato over embers
Distilled Chilli & Greens – Red capsicum
Aged New Zealand Wagyu
Basket Range ‘Vineyard Blend’ Adelaide Hills ’19 – Blackcurrant
Lobster Head & Mead
Mandarin & fennel pollen
Fermented fig leaf – Mandarin
Meyer Lemon & egg yolk
Hot pokered Bellbird Spring ‘Aeris’ Waipara – Rhubarb & Thyme

We’ll be back when we’re next in Auckland.

Try it out.


Monday, August 12, 2019

See It. Say It. Fix It.

Alan Jones is an outspoken, brave, opinionated, creative Rugby loving Aussie – an all-round ‘big’ bloke who is always interesting.

Former Wallaby Captain Nick Farr-Jones sent me over Alan’s column a couple of weeks ago which contained a helluva lot of sensible advice for the Australian Rugby Union – all of which they will naturally ignore.

He also told the story of another Aussie, Tom Wolff who heads up the Mercedes Motor Sports Programme.  Here’s what Alan said:

“In 2014, Mercedes overtook Red Bull’s four year domination of Formula One racing.

Since then, they’ve won five consecutive doubles, the Drivers’ Championship and the Constructors’ Championship.

That equals the record set by Ferrari in the Michael Schumacher era.

This year they’re racing to break new ground aiming to win a sixth consecutive double and they’re well on track to do that.

The BBC recently spoke to Toto Wolff about his team’s success and, amongst other things, Wolff put it down to using the fear of failure as a motivation.

After difficult races, he talks about learning from failure.

Wolff argued, “The days we fail are the days we learn the most.  You never leave the track with a great victory saying ‘Why did we win?’ but you do leave the track saying ‘Why the hell did we lose ... indeed the diligence of the analysis to leave no stone unturned is much deeper and intense when you’ve lost.  The pain of losing lasts many days, probably until the next race.  And this has kept us going”.

(Aside – All Black Captain Sean Fitzpatrick told me pretty much the same thing about the All Blacks.)

A favourite Wolff saying is “Turn your worst days against your rivals”.

But success at Mercedes is not solely about fearing failure.

Toto Wolff also looks to learn from other successful sporting people and teams.

In fact it appears Mercedes have found inspiration from the winning record of the All Blacks.

They’re now working with a forensic psychiatrist, Ceri Evans who was instrumental in helping the New Zealand Rugby team shake off their World Cup choking habit.

Evans has a mantra he encourages all teams to make part of their culture, “See it, say it, fix it”.

Wolff says, “Encouraging everybody in the organisation to speak up and point out shortcomings and deficits has been instrumental in making us successful”.

He believes the openness and lack of blame culture is a key to keeping the team together.

“We actually encourage people to say their opinion because it’s important for their own development.  We keep our values up very high.  It’s a place where there are no internal politics.  Integrity is most important.  It is an environment where people dare to speak up.”

So it’s no accident that both the All Blacks and the Mercedes Formula One team have made winning an art form.

Both organisations have flourished by getting their workplace environments sorted out.

That’s called culture and the by-product of that culture is winning.”

Well said Alan, Tom and Fitzy.

See It.  Say It.  Fix It.

Fail Fast.  Learn Fast.  Fix Fast.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Foodie Friday – Wabi Sabi Pop-Up

On May 30 I recommended a trip to Wabi Sabi in Ambleside – and we were honoured to have owners/chefs/managers Bing and Cara join us at Beckwood last week.  Our guests were eight global leaders from the world’s most exciting Irresistible Entertainment Company, Fremantle.

Bing produced a stunning evening of Contemporary Imagination cuisine – here’s what he created for us.

sweet potato, quail egg
crispy chicken skin, carrot
Velvet Crab
savoury egg custard
Cumbrae oyster, pickled granny smith
ScoDsh whole langoustine
enoki, laver
Foie Gras
chanterelle, king oyster, shiitake, shimeji
30 days dry aged duck
cavolo nero, spinach, ume
Hogget chump, cumin
Japanese Hida Wagyu A5 (Gifu Prefecture)
sweet soy
blue berry, Nikka Coffey Grain
beetroot, purple carrot, cheese

Living the Dream!


Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rolling Thunder Revue

1975-76 – Dylan, Baez, McGuinn, Joni Mitchell, Ramblin’ Jack unplugged, unleashed and unbelievable.

Scorsese’s brilliant Netflix movie is not a concert film, it’s not a documentary and it’s not a story.

Martin the Maestro has shot it like an epic Dylan song; poetic, rambling, colourful, crazy, connected and disconnected, socially serious, wickedly playful – as Kristofferson says “Partly truth, partly fiction”.

Includes rare footage of the Nobel Laureate still teasing us at 77 years young.

Sit back, enjoy the ride.


Monday, August 5, 2019

A Red Letter Day

July 19 was a red letter day.  Series Three of my favourite Netflix show, La Casa de Papel – Money Heist.  Welcome back The Professor, Nairobi, Tokyo, Rio and (spoiler alert) the charismatic Berlin.  Rio is captured and Tokyo turns to The Professor for help.  The band is back in town.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Monday, July 29, 2019

Learnings from Lancaster

I’ve been working at Lancaster University’s Business School for 10 years now, alongside two inspirational MBA Programme Heads – Chris Saunders and Peter Lenney.

I discuss 64 Shots, Leadership in a Crazy World with the MBA’s as part of Peter’s Mindful Manager Programme.  After three x three hour sessions with the 45 strong cohort, we invite eight of the group to a two-day Masterclass to my Grasmere home, where we focus on Inspirational Leadership, Mental Toughness and Active Listening – mainly through high pressure, fun, fast, interactive role plays.

During dinner the group pitches a bunch of questions.  Here are 16 from last week with my top-line responses.

Q1.  How flexible is the Personal Purpose? What can be changed and how often?

A1.  The Personal Purpose is very flexible.  Review it monthly, change it whenever you feel it needs changing.

Q2.  What exercise/practice do you recommend to enhance our Mental Toughness?

A2.  Remind yourself of Focus, Commitment, Discipline.  Practice Blue Head, TCUP techniques.

Q3.  How do you measure success or failure in leadership?

A3.  By evaluating someone’s track record and every-day performance in their ability to Fail Fast, Learn Fast and Fix Fast.  And then by seeing if they are creating leaders and inspiring peak performance from their teams.

Q4.  How would you explain The Four Agreements to your grandchildren?

A4.  Simply and clearly, using examples from their daily lives – when they are 8 / 9 years old.

Q5.  If you were given super powers for 3 minutes - right now - how would you make use of it?

A5.  The one Super Power I would love is the ability to eradicate a major disease, eg cancer.  And I’d share the ‘secret’ with the world.

Q6.  As a leader, what was your biggest weakness and how did you overcome it during demanding times?

A6.  I gave people too many chances / too much time to overcome weaknesses that they were unable to eradicate.  I learned to make harder calls earlier – so everyone benefitted.

Q7.  Are there any practical tips for making oneself disciplined?

A7.  Yes – write down your goal every day and look at it three times a day.  Share your task with someone close to you and ask them to help you stay on task.

Q8.  I agree that one should not try to please people but how should one be comfortable knowing that someone is not okay or unhappy with us?

A8.  Observe them.  Listen to them (not what they say, but what they mean).  Ask them again.

Q9.  Biggest failure in your career and what you learned?

A9.  See my post on July 9, you’ll see nine lessons from three failures.

Q10. What do you think is the key success factor that got you promoted and became a global CEO?

A10. A combination of Hunger, Work Rate, Creativity, Decision-Making and Leadership/Listening skills.  All founded on the ABC’s (Ambition, Belief, Courage).

Q11. What are the things that you have made it as daily morning and evening routine that you never missed in your entire career and at what age you have formed these routines?

A11. I start the day with my ABC’s on one particular project.  I close the day thinking of three things that made me smile that day.  Around 39.

Q12. When you look back at your career what is one thing you wish you would have learned early in your career?

A12. To become an entrepreneur once I had peaked as a corporate CEO – 15 years ago.

Q13. What was the most crazy thing you have done to deliver your ideas or sell something?

A13. Entered an Analyst’s conference with a lion on a leash.

Q14. What was your key learnings after leaving Saatchi & Saatchi?

A14. Never stay more than seven years in the same job.

Q15. What relevance/importance would you place on deliberately seeking out a leadership mentor and if significantly important how best can one establish such relationships?

A15. Mentors have been important to me.  But I never ‘sought’ one out.  They just happen (if you put yourself out there).  Remember – Luck is what happens when Preparation Meets Opportunity.

Q16. If you were to hire, what quality would you consider irresistible?

A16. I love people with high (IQ+EQ+TQ+BQ)CQ and who are Competitive, Passionate and Restless.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Foodie Friday. Nothing Beats a Decadent Lunch at Home.

I love eating dinners out – and I rarely lunch, but when I do, it’s with family or friends and it’s (as Sally Bowles told us in Cabaret) Divinely Decadent.

Last week we did the business at Beckwood.

The Ensemble:
Joseph Royle:
-    Manchester City, Everton and England Footballer and goal scorer.
-    Manager of Manchester City – taking us from Division 2 to the Premiership, Everton and Ipswich.  Full time Liverpool Wit.
Peter Reid:
-    Cultural Attaché to Huyton (!).
-    Manchester City, Everton, Bolton and England midfield dynamo (and named 4th best player in the world in 1985 just behind Maradona and Platini).
-    Manager of Manchester City, Sunderland and subject of fan chant ‘Cheer up Peter Reid’.
Brian Ashton:
-    Rugby player – Lancashire, the North of England, Barbarians and England.
-    Inspirational, free-thinking coach of Bath, Ireland and England and my co-Chairman of the LRGS Black Sheep Club
Darren Royle:
-    Exec Chairman of Wigan Athletic.
Jonathan Jackson:
-    CEO of Wigan Athletic Football Club.
Dave Bennetts, Barry Parsonage and Eric Rigg:
-    Friends since primary school and companions in arms at Lancaster Royal Grammar School and The Vale of Lune RUFC.

The Programme:
1pm      Drinks in our own Lancastrian pub
3pm      Lunch in the Dining Room, Beckwood
7pm      ‘Name That Tune’ (!) in The Lancastrian pub
10pm     End of Decadent Lunch

The Chef:
Nick Foster – late of The Drunken Duck, now his own boss and private chef in the Lakes and North West Lancashire.  Visit him at
Here are Nick’s sample menus:

All washed down with local beers (Bluebird Bitter, Lancaster Blonde and Lakeland Gold), 1995 Château Montrose, 1990 Château d’Yquem and Sandeman’s 40 year old Tawny.

Cheer Up Peter Reid!!!!