Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Celebration of Friendship (Part IV)

Good friend and rugby comrade-in-arms Bob Latham of the great state of Texas just finished Robin’s 64 Spurs as the typhoon hit his Tokyo hotel room.  He reminded me of Robin’s poem Friends:

         Friends are chosen

         Some choose you

         But not too many

         True friends are few!


Here’s the rest of the poem.


         Some you made

         When you were small

         Some more recent

         Crossed paths called


         Friends are special

         Bonds so blessed

         How you connected

         Gods need not guess


         Friends are steady

         They are true blue

         No hesitation

         They see you through


         Some may call

         Just in case

         Somehow they sense

         You’re in troubled space


         Friends make time

         Give heart and soul

         No quid pro quo

         Need they hold


         Some don’t call

         Still you’re in sync

         You pick things up

         You link the strength


         Friends challenge

         What you do

         They expect

         Your best from you


         Friends are forgiving

         Always there

         When you’re an a-hole

         They’re still there


         Friends need attention

         Friends need your care

         Their hopes and fears

         Are yours to share


         As a friend

         You too must be

         All and more

         Yours are to you.  


Good on ya' both.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Let’s hear it for Windermere!

I spend my time in the UK in Grasmere, one of the prettiest villages in the UK, in the heart of the Lake District.


A favourite activity is cruising on nearby Lake Windermere.  I recently gave a speech on board to a group from the Institute of Directors.  And this week the pre-eminent operator, Windermere Lake Cruises, was named by the UK’s Annual Visitor Attraction Survey as the 5th most popular paid for visitor attraction in the UK – 1.6 million passenger journeys on the fleet’s 16 vessels.


Well done boys.  (We beat Stonehenge and London Zoo!!!)



Friday, October 11, 2019

Foodie Friday: Don’t blame the dog, Chris.

Caught up with old friends Chris and Gwenan Dee in Manchester (Chris now runs Harrods’ iconic Food Hall – the best in the world – oh, and their 20 in-store restaurants with 150 chefs – plus electronics, toys, soft furnishings …) and we went upstairs to Pep Guardiola’s Tast restaurant.  Catalan food at its best.  Chef Paco Pérez led an adventure into Catalonia – everything is unexpected, surprising, fun and delicious.

Out of your comfort zone and into a world of wonder (just like watching Pep’s Manchester City).  Chef Pérez has seven restaurants and five Michelin Stars – the first two floors of Tast are fun, family and friends, music, joy and upbeat.  On the third floor is a bespoke room – Enxaneta – a culinary journey across Catalonia.  A journey of the senses.  The 15 course Tres de Quinze with unusual/creative wine pairings is so good – our menu follows.

Chris and Gwenan had to leave at course 12 – not for culinary reasons – the alarm had gone off in their home, the police were en route, the neighbours hadn’t got the keys (they were in Chris’ pocket!!) – their dog had set off the sensor; the alarm wouldn’t stop!  Chris blamed the dog, we blamed Chris – and Tast only charged us for three menus not four.  So gracious, so kind – so unusual in today’s world.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Childhood Dream Reignited - Honneur et Fidélité

When I was 30 I read a book by Simon Murray (see above).  I loved it.  It reignited a childhood fantasy.

As a kid I had fantasies about running away and enlisting in the Legion.  I loved the mythology, the kepi, the mystery, the camaraderie, the values, the romance.  I often played the brave (but outnumbered) legionnaire on York Road’s ‘The Tip’ as a nine-year-old surrounded by the screaming dervishes.

Anyway the book gave the legend some more oxygen as a 30-year-old, and now 39 years later the dream has been re-reignited.

Yesterday I visited the headquarters of the Legion and the home of the 1st Battalion in Aubagne, 25 minutes from Marseilles.  We toured the parade ground and the brilliant Museum – partially funded by Simon Murray, who became a brilliant Hong Kong based businessman with Jardine Matheson, Hutchison Whampoa (where he founded Orange), Deutsche Bank and Glencore.

What an idea.  What a history.  What an adventure.

Today the Legion is 9,000 strong – with over 150 nationalities represented – and it’s still tough.

The Code of Honour
1)        Legionnaire, you are a volunteer serving France with honour and fidelity.
2)        Each legionnaire is your brother in arms whatever his nationality, his race or his religion might be. You will demonstrate this by the strict solidarity which links members of the same family.
3)        Respect for traditions, devotion to your leaders, discipline and comradeship are your strengths; courage and loyalty are your virtues.
4)        Proud of your status as Legionnaire, you display this in your always impeccable uniform, your always dignified but modest behaviour, and your clean living quarters.
5)        An elite soldier, you train rigorously, you will maintain your weapon as your most precious possession, and you take constant care of your physical form.
6)        The mission is sacred, you carry it out until the end and, if necessary in the field, at the risk of your life.
7)        In combat, you act without passion and without hate, you respect defeated enemies, and you never abandon your dead, your wounded, nor surrender your arms.

Legio Patria Nostra

Honneur et Fidélité


Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Making Happy Choices

The last three years have been amongst the happiest of my entire career.  After almost 50 years of (mainly enjoyable) working with big companies like Mary Quant, Gillette, Pepsico, Procter & Gamble, Lion Nathan and Saatchi & Saatchi – the last three years have been a revelation.  Working full time on my own business – no Board, no shareholders, no investors – just a tiny group of colleagues and a handful of carefully chosen clients to delight – and most importantly, saying no to 70% of requests / assignments.  Making Happy Choices.

My Personal Purpose is focused on just that.

Making Happy Choices.

Working with people I love, on businesses I like, in places I want to be.

Driven by Ideas, Creativity and a passionate belief in Leadership – making things happen by creating a peak performing culture – what a wonderful life.

So – thank you Fremantle, Sogrape, AIA, Salvatore Ferragamo, Transmed, My Food Bag, Unfiltered NZ, Booths, Herdy, Wigan Athletic and Oxford University.

Here’s to Radical Optimism.  To Making Things Happen.  And Living Life Slow.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Foodie Friday: Probably the best Fish restaurant in the world …

For over 100 years the Passedat family has been combining the art of hospitality and gastronomy on the sea edge in Marseilles - their garden is The Mediterranean.  70 species of fish are brought to them directly by local fishermen and prepared in every way possible – raw, marinated, cooked, dried or matured.  From the Sea Anemone through to Octopus, Southern Fish in a Nordic caravan, Cuttlefish, Red Mullet, Sea Bass and much, much more.

With three Michelin stars for the last 11 years, Le Petit Nice Passedat is a Mediterranean gem.  Instinctive, pure, full of flavour and texture – live life to the max and enjoy the ‘Discover the Sea Menu’ – a 10 stage tasting of the simple and the exotic.

Here’s what we had:

Puligny Chapcanet 2015 Sauzet

Hermit age Chave 2011


Thursday, September 26, 2019

A Celebration of Friendship (Part III)

Eldest son Ben (Head of Talent for international media hot-shop Essence in Singapore) read Robin’s blog last week and sent me a note on what Friendship means to him.  Here are his thoughts.

The value of friendship.
Friendship is more than just the literal meaning.
We need to look deeper and understand, experience what it means.
It’s about the good times and the bad, no judgement.
Caring is reciprocal and done with not ego but with strength and love.
We all have weaknesses, but the value of true friendship is not seeing the problem but the solution.
I am fortunate to have true friends who have been by my side through right and wrong over many years.
I would not be the same person without them. Will Josephson, Dan Spencer and Andrea Ettorre.
A Kiwi, an Aussie and an Italian. And that is the most beautiful thing. They became friends with each other. And see each other without me. The true value of connections.
A cosmopolitan mix, yet we share the same values.
We grow together and we don’t grow alone.
I would not be the person today without these friends.
And I am always forever thankful.
And this is us in 2007, we may look younger but now we are wiser and godparents to each other’s children.
And that’s the power of friendship.
Every day we still stay in touch. The power of digital.
Ben Roberts

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sporting Heaven

Saturday morning in a Manchester heatwave (somewhat of an oxymoron!!) in a great industrial apartment in Native’s newly opened (three days ago) aparthotel, watching the two best rugby teams in the Southern Hemisphere - and maybe the world (we’ll see), duke it out on day two of the Rugby World Cup in Yokohama.  The Springboks were focused, prepared and committed.  As were the All Blacks - who added X factor to the mix and triumphed in an outstanding contest 23 points to 13.

Walked on air to the Etihad, where in the ongoing afternoon bright sunshine, Manchester City bounced back from a poor performance last week vs Norwich, and caned Watford by an amazing 8 goals to nil - and it could easily have been 12.  The capacity crowd sang all afternoon as the Champions of England put Watford (who drew with Arsenal last week) to the sword.  All hail Kevin de Bruyne, David Silva and Bernardo Silva.

To cap it all, Wigan Athletic beat Charlton 2 - nil at home, and move up 3 places to 19th.

A perfect Saturday... now off to Pep Guardiola’s restaurant Tast to celebrate Catalan style.