Wednesday, July 8, 2020

100 Places for Kids to Tour – Virtually

From Kendall’s favourite Hershey Park to Wet ‘n Wild for Tilly Plum on the Gold Coast, to Cameron’s Disney and Stella/Chloe’s Sentosa S.E.A. Aquarium – here are virtual tours of theme parks, museums, famous landmarks, zoos, sports stadia (no Etihad unfortunately).  Fun.


Monday, July 6, 2020

Rough and Rowdy Ways (II)


Bob Dylan's 39th album makes UK chart history.

Bob Dylan has become the oldest artist to reach number one in the UK charts with an album of new material.

The singer-songwriter's 39th album, Rough And Rowdy Ways, made its debut at the top with 34,000 chart sales, including 29,000 purchased on CD.

At the age of 79, Dylan surpasses Paul Simon, who was 74 when his album Stranger To Stranger went to number one in 2016.

UK albums chart - 26 June 2020:

        Title:                              Artist:
1)     Rough And Rowdy Ways    Bob Dylan
2)     Homegrown                     Neil Young
3)     Chromatica                     Lady Gaga
4)     Divinely Uninspired...        Lewis Capaldi
5)     Fine Line                         Harry Styles
Source: Official Charts Company

Rough And Rowdy Ways is Dylan's first batch of new songs in eight years. It was met with rave reviews last week, with Rolling Stone calling it "one of his most timely albums ever" and The Guardian describing it as "a testament to his eternal greatness".

The record reached number one 56 years after Dylan first topped the charts with his second studio album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.


Friday, July 3, 2020

If You’re Going Through Hell …

Pressure is a privilege – it means you’re striving to lift your game, to take responsibility, to be accountable – to improve.

But if you let this turn to stress, it can all turn to custard – and quickly.

Worry, guilt and regret can all play roles in this move from good pressure to bad stress.

Thinking Correctly Under Pressure (T-Cup) is a skill to be learned and practiced.  Keeping a calm, collected, focused Blue Head beats having a HOT (Heated, Overwhelmed, Tense) head every time.

I spend a fair bit of time coaching Mental Toughness (in life, business and sport) and one of the key success characteristics – especially in today’s increasingly VUCA world – is Resilience.

I have concluded that Resilience is not something you’re born with (or without).  It is the learned ability to follow the US Navy Seal’s doctrine – ADAPT, IMPROVISE, OVERCOME.  An individual’s resilience is developed through personal experience, environment, mentoring, learning and practice.

Our resilience will be tested every day over the next 36 months as we are confronted with problems around Health – physical and mental – Race (BLM), social gap widening between haves and have-nots, lack of purpose-driven political leadership, recession, unemployment and new ways of working.  We will all need to Keep On, Keepin’ On.

Some top-line ideas for you to consider as you build your own resilience.
1)   Practice the help or harm test – in terms of media choices, people choices – are they helping me or harming me?  We need helpers.
2)   If you can change it, change it.  If you can’t, then ignore it, ie control the controllables, manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable.
3)   Build your life on Making Happy Choices.
4)   Be a positive, fearless Optimist – full of hope – and remember – hope is optimism based on facts!
5)   Create a Purpose-on-a Page and live by it.  This is your framework for decision-making.
6)   Help yourself by helping others – nothing makes you stronger.
7)   Stay close to Family, Friends and a Mentor.  None of us is as good as all of us.
8)   Live Life Slow!!

And remember Winston’s advice – If you’re going through Hell, keep going.


Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Desert Viewing

Response to Trudy’s debut blog was overwhelmingly positive with lots of feedback.  I’ve persuaded her to keep going and to share what she’s been watching, including some guilty pleasures.


Catching up on the latest Netflix, iTunes, or Prime Videos during flights was something I had looked forward to.  It was my time to get engrossed in a series with no interruptions.  The enjoyment of bingeing on a good series remains the same, only the venue has changed.  Here are some of my favourites:

Last Tango in Halifax.
A British series that I would highly recommend.  It is the story of Celia and Alan,  now in their seventies, starting their romance that was meant to be when they were teenagers.  Sadly, circumstances never brought them together – until now.  And along with their romance, there is the joining of two families which makes for a very entertaining series.

Killing Eve.
Another British show.  I’ve been a fan of this series – and just finished watching Series Three.  The two stars – Jodie Comer as Villanelle and Sandra Oh as Eve, are brilliant.  Worth watching.

The Crown.
The reign of Queen Elizabeth and the drama of the royal family.  Interesting to watch although not completely accurate.  It makes for good viewing.

Big Little Lies.
A thriller that includes a star cast including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz, Shailene Woodley and Meryl Streep!  Wow!  These women are brought together by sharing a lie, a secret, a murder.  Definitely binge-worthy.

Good Girls.
An easy watching crime/drama series that has a bit of humour.  Two sisters and a friend thought their good ‘heist’ idea would be quick, easy and leave them with the money they all needed.  Wrong.  They find themselves in deep trouble.  And getting deeper with each episode.

Dirty John.
Based on a true crime story about con-man John Meehan (played by Eric Bana).  Successful businesswoman Debra Newell met John through a dating site, manipulated her and married her.  Debra believed only what she wanted to believe – until there was no doubt about who John really was.  Debra’s youngest daughter, Terra, put an end to the nightmare John created for her Mom.  I first saw Dirty John on an episode of Dateline (one of my guilty pleasures).


Monday, June 29, 2020

Got To Try And Stay Positive

Here’s a positive blog from Spencer – half of the dynamic husband and wife team that created a Lovemark in the UK Lake District – Herdy.  I’m privileged to be part of the Herdy gang (flock) and have been impressed with the team’s Survive / Revive / Thrive strategies and execution.

Here – in Spencer’s words – are some points for EWE to consider.

Recently interviewed by a local radio station, I was asked about the lead-up to the reopening of our retail operation in the Lake District. Nine questions, most of which focused on the effects of the last twelve weeks and the on-going worry and paranoia for local business and community. In thick black marker pen I wrote each of the questions as headlines on nine sheets of A4 and laid them out in a long line on our board room table then stared at them for a while. Thoughts ran amok in my head. Things that I’ve read and heard recently. Things like local stakeholders communicating messages such as ‘Together We Stay Apart’. The fact that most people appear, at least, to be watching what the other man does before they make their move. The fact that little or no compassion is recognised and responded to quickly enough about those who’ve just had four walls to stare at, denied air to breath and space to see. I decided to try and flip the negatives into positives.

Covid-19 has affected everyone everywhere - and everything we all do. Naturally we’re all worried. None of us are complacent and we all have to be careful. The stark reality of what our business is facing was measured at the beginning of lockdown. We chose to act fast. Diane and I implemented a survival strategy (with Uncle Kevin’s guidance and beady eye). It wasn’t nice, it wasn’t easy and it included some tough decisions but it worked and we’re ok. Something else happened for Herdy in lockdown. A chance often pushed aside by typical day-in-the-life business. A chance to have a speed date with ourselves and re-understand who we actually are again. To take our thoughts, ideas and operation down the gym. We’re fitter, leaner, sharper. We’ve acted faster. We’ve discovered new audiences and they’ve discovered us.  We’ve reached out to new communities and groups (we’ve made heroes out of some of them). New opportunity has been cracked open out of all this madness. A retained, small, tight-knit (and slightly knackered) creative and communications team have been pumping out positivity across all our digital channels non-stop for the last three months and we’ve received it back in spades. It’s been amazing.

So now we’re in Revival mode. We’ve decided to move early. Be open as soon as we can be. Our shop windows have big Herdy’s saying ‘Welcome Back’ in big speech bubbles. It’s all a bit of a balancing act right now. We’ll have to measure everything week-on-week rather than the usual quarter-on-quarter. There’s stress on the team - doing more with less. The energy and drive we need to keep going isn’t coming from government or assuming things will eventually come round. It’s coming from the support, love and kindness of our fans and followers, old and new and we thank them for that.

Stay on guard. Persevere. Be Persistent. But most of all do things in your business that will fuel positivity.


Friday, June 26, 2020

The Hero’s Journey

Unfiltered’s Master of all Trades and all round good guy, James Rangihika was briefing Jake Millar and I last week on some big meetings Jake has scheduled this week and he referenced The Hero’s Journey.

I hadn’t seen it before – it’s basically every Disney movie – we’re all fascinated by the fall, rise, fall and rise again of the hero.

Thank you James.


Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Times Like These

Times like these
Make me wanna get down on my knees
Pray to heaven someone help us, please
Find our way again
Times like this
When it looks as dark as it can get
I just wanna give it up and quit I remember when

We were marchin' on Washington
Singin' we shall overcome
Had a dream and the dream lives on
But we still got miles to go
In times like these
I look behind us and I can't believe
How far we traveled and the web we weave
Through times like these

Days like this
I can't help but wonder what we missed
Thought we finally had it made now it's
Getting tough again
One fine day
A change 'll come
No matter what they say
We might shed a tear along the way
When we're rememberin'

Gun trucks in the Belfast streets
And the war they swore would never cease
The day they said we would never see
When they set Mandela free
Times like these
Can't see the forest for the trees
Heard it said that love is all you need
In times like these

Times like these
Make me wanna get down on my knees
Pray to heaven someone help us, please
Through times like these

Steve Earle

Monday, June 22, 2020

A Rough and Rowdy Red-Letter Day

Bob Dylan’s first album of original songs in a decade – the 79 year old singer/songwriter (and Nobel Prize winner) reflecting on where he’s been and how much time he has left.

Blues, History, Hymns, Farewells – and The Black Rider.

Today’s social uprising reminds me of the 60’s when His Bobness roared into our psyches.  The Philosopher Pirate – the Perpetual Outlaw.

Keepin’ on, Keepin’ on.


Friday, June 19, 2020

50 Years of Elite Coaching – in a Nutshell

When I was a teenager at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, I was a mad keen cricketer, athlete and rugby player.  Three years ahead of me, in the 1st XV and 1st XI was a nuggety young leader, Brian Ashton, who went on to become a terrific teacher, an international rugby player, a world-changing rugby coach and one of my closest friends.  (As well as being the co-founder and the only other member of our two member elite LRGS Black Sheep Club – three criteria for membership being; expulsion from School, top achievement / world class success in adult life and a place on the School’s Distinguished Alumni Honours Board.)

Brian is a world changing rugby coach – having created great teams in England, Ireland and Italy and having coached at the highest level as Head Coach of England, Ireland and Bath.

He has extended his range over the past decade to include advising several Premier League Football clubs and coaches (including my beloved Man City) and coaching the best young rugby talent in New Zealand and Australia with IRANZ.

He celebrated his 50th year as a coach last week by distilling all his wisdom in a two-page manifesto called The Simplicity of Coaching.

And he’s been kind enough to let me share it here with you.  It’s a book, a Netflix series, a peak performance programme, a life’s work, all in a dozen or so killer sentences.

Mindset: ABC – Ambition, Belief, Courage.
Action Set: CIA – Clarity, Intensity, Accuracy.
Remove these three R words: Regimented, Repetitive, Restrictive.
Promote these five P words: Positive, Proactive, Purposeful, Passionate, Pace.
Activate through five E words: Experiment, Excite, Enable, Empower, Execute.
Promote self-sufficiency through: R.O.L.F. – Responsibility, Ownership, Leadership, Freedom.
Within a 10 F words framework: Framework, Fundamentals, Family, Freedom, Flexibility, Fearless, Futuristic, Fast, Furious, Fun.
Delivered via C.O.P.S. sessions: Confrontational, Opportunistic, Pioneering, Sensational.
Essential in a VUCA World: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous.
We need SUPERVUCA resources: Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy, Amazing.
All underpinned with individual and collective purposes which have: Dream, Spirit, Focus, Beliefs, Character, GIC.
Fired by: Clarity, Simplicity, Aspiration, Inspiration, Timelines.

Keep Going Brian.