Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Reading

2 books for summer reading – if you are Sports/Soccer nostalgia buffs.
  • Spirit of ’58 – Evan Marshall – The incredible untold story of Northern Ireland’s greatest football team.
  • When We Were Lions: Euro 96 and the Last British Summer – Paul Rees.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Remo The Merchant Is Back

REMO is back for this third act. From Bondi. If you were wandering up Oxford St in Sydney in the late 80s and 90s, when Oxford St was the most interesting part of Sydney (remember Kinselas when it was running hot at the cabaret), REMO was a compulsory stop. Remo Guiffire was/is one of the world’s eclectic retailers and his store was a treasure trove of interesting stuff, from t-shirts and badges to diaries, calendars, books, cards, gadgets, thoughtful gifts and just simply fun and joyful stuff. Remo was in The Lovemarks Effect book because he so clearly understood Loyalty Beyond Reason. Remo is a thinker, creative leader and senior TEDster with a record as an entrepreneur, retail merchant and brand builder. “Over the years I have done a great deal of thinking about experiences, brands and people; and what it takes to engage and create desire.” REMO spells the last four letters of customer…backwards…that’s Remo for you.

Image attribute/source: / / Remo Giuffre

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Greatest Game

In 1924 in Paris, a rugby team of American college players represented the USA in rugby at the Olympic Games, and against all odds were successful in winning the Gold Medal.

It was a battle initially to convince the U.S. Olympic Committee to compete in rugby, but Australian Danny Carroll who was living in San Francisco after winning double Olympic Gold Medals in Rugby in 1908 as a member of the Australasian team and also in 1920 as a member of the USA team, convinced the USOC to send a team to defend the Rugby Gold Medal. Then French immigration and other officials tried to deny them entrance to France when they arrived at the port, cancelled their hotel reservations and locked them out of the training grounds. As a major rugby playing country and host of the games, France had included rugby as one of the events because they felt they were certain to win the Rugby Gold Medal.

In the event, the American college students overcame all the obstacles put in their way, including openly hostile fans who threatened the safety of American fans, and also the team at the end of the game until they were surrounded and protected by French players and gendarmes and escorted off the field, after the Americans had convincingly defeated France to win the Rugby Gold Medal.

This was a USA international sporting team victory akin to that of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. college ice hockey players at the 1980 Olympics who defeated the seemingly invincible professional Russian Red Army team and then went on to win Olympic Gold and the hearts of all American sports fans.

Rugby has not been included in the Olympic Games since 1924 and after a 92 year absence will reappear this year in Brazil. USA has already qualified in both men’s and women’s rugby, to be one of the 12 top rugby countries competing for Gold, where USA is the defending Rugby Gold Medal holder. Based on their current international performances, each of the Men’s and Women’s teams has a genuine chance of winning a medal.

Rugby is the fastest growing team sport in the U.S. and in November 2014 a sellout crowd of 61,500 watched the USA Eagles play the World Champion New Zealand All Blacks in Chicago at Soldier Field.

In 2016 the USA Eagles were runners-up in the first Annual Americas Rugby Championship after playing Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, and the first fully professional league for rugby in the U.S. will be launched. A 24/7 U.S. rugby cable channel will be up and running in 2016, and in 2018 the Rugby Sevens World Cup is being hosted in San Francisco.

The rugby movie Invictus (Morgan Freeman – Matt Damon), featuring the South African and New Zealand teams at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, was a major box office success in the USA and globally, and a movie is now being made to show the challenges the American college rugby players had to face in 1924 in order to just take the field and then win the epic Gold Medal event.

One of Hollywood’s most successful Writer/Directors, Oscar-nominated Ron Shelton, is writing and directing this project and he has a Who’s Who credit list for sports related films including Bull Durham (Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins), Tin Cup (Kevin Costner, Renee Russo, Don Johnson), White Men Can’t Jump (Wesley Snipes, Woody Harrelson, Rosie Perez), Cobb (Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Wuhl, Lolita Davidovich), Play it to the Bone (Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Tom Sizemore, Lucy Liu), Blue Chips (Nick Nolte, Shaquille O’Neal), The Best of Times (Robin Willians, Kurt Russell) and Jordan Rides the Bus.

The producer is now raising $25 million to cover the production costs for this movie and a full information package is available for review. The first tranche of $350K has been funded to cover the writing of the shooting script and initial location scouting, casting and development expenses.

If you’re interested give my good friend Bill Middleton a yell.

Bill Middleton, President, Corporate Capital Group, Inc.
954 Lexington Ave, Suite 242, New York, NY, 10021
Tel: 212 988 0394,
Fax: 212 658 9300,
Cell: 917 771 8005,

Image attribute/source: 1924 USA Rugby Team /

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Visitamos Los Olivos

A guest blog from Robin Dyke, rugby player, published poet, mentor and Old Friend – on our first visit to The Olive Groves of Andalusia… to the home of my friend of 55 years, judge Phillip Sycamore and Morecambe Grammar School better half, Sandra.

The Players
Andalusia, Spanish: Andalucía, a southwestern European region established as an autonomous community of the Kingdom of Spain; the most populated and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities in Spain.

The olive tree, Olea europaea, an evergreen tree native to the Mediterranean, the source of olive oil a core ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Long considered sacred, the olive over the centuries has been a symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and purity.

Old Friends, they shine like diamonds/Old friends, you can always call/Old friends, Lord, you can’t buy’em/Ya know, it’s old friends after all – Guy Clark.

The Setting
Backdrop the storied historical and cultural ambiance of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. Fill in a series of sierras and rolling hills within the triangled boarders of Granada, Córdoba and Malaga. Dot these southern Andalusia hills with olive trees in checkerboard symmetry as far as the eye can span so they are more numerous than the grains of sand of the Costa Del Sol and you are close to your destination. With the pale turquoise waters of the Embalse de Iznájar, the largest reservoir in the whole of Andalusia, below you, one final upward winding narrow road and Villa “Los Olivos” tranquilly embraces you.

The Experience
The expectation is five days at Los Olivos to be staged all well within the confines of its cool white walls, trellised walkways and patios and inviting pool – all prompts for live life slow lines; relax, connect with the setting, your hosts and fellow guests. And so it was, yet... our gracious hosts in addition to their Villa centred hospitality provided an abundance of exploratory excursions and culinary delights. While strolling visits to small “white towns” and an awe inspiring visit to The Alhambra monument complex in Granada were unexpected highlights, the true delight of Los Olivos was the range of the gastronomical experiences arranged in five acts.
  • Act One – on site, Phillip’s Los Olivos “paella”, a savoury combination of chorizo, pork belly, prawns, chicken, peppers and rice spiced with saffron. Judged fantastico!

  • Act Two – tapes at the Bodegas Castaneda, Granada’s oldest classic tapas bar. Stepping back in standing room only time with the locals at the long dark wood bar, enjoying the flurry of tapas variety, the anchovies on foie gras to die for. Try a taste of the unique ambiance at here.

  • Act Three – dinner down the lane from home at Cortijo La Haza, a generous and wholesome three course home style table d’hotel.

  • Act Four – a winding trip up to the small town of Algarinejo for an astounding fourteen course slow food tasting. A four hour dazzling display of creativity and engaging of all five senses by Chef Jose Caracuel at his Casa Piolas Bar and Restaurant. The servings with elements of cirque du soleil alchemy were truly priceless, ingredients included: stacked olives with olive caviar, jamon and salamis hung from a drift wood clothesline, warm salad with creamy goat cheese, chocolate rounds stuffed with pate and shaved orange rind, mushroom cream soup, smoked eel between crunchy pastry, seared tuna with wasabi, salmon with quince, squid ceviche, sea bass, melt in your mouth pork cheeks, fruit and sherbet in a mist of dry ice! Not to mention a very fine Pago de Los Capellanes 2012 Ribera del Duero.

  • Act Five – the sedate finale, an exquisite formally served dinner at Barceló La Bobadilla, a luxurious resort catering a “natural setting stay in one place retreat” in a stunning combination of buildings, gardens and recreational facilities. A graciously tranquilizing and satisfying dining ending gratefully played out.
Of course, the sacred act of olives shared amidst the on and off stage asides and lines played as they came, unrehearsed in early morning encounters, at pool side, during hora feliz or under the enlightening stars – stitching the unfolding canvas of relationship in a tighter wrap. All the kinship enactment of old friends who are old friends after all.

A grateful curtain call and standing ovation to Los Olivos co-host directors, players and old friends – Sandra and Phillip Sycamore.

Amigos de salida por el momento – continuará

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Good Times

One of my favourite TV shows as a teenager in the 60’s was ‘The Monkees’ which started airing in 1966. Micky Dolenz (Circus Boy), Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones contributed to the zany, upbeat madness – and also produced some classic songs, ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘Pleasant Valley Sunday’, and ‘I’m a Believer’ were all part of my teenage summers in Morecambe. Davy Jones died recently, but a week or so ago The Monkees released their first album in 20 years – Good Times. With songs written by Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge – and classics from earlier times by Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson. Classic summer time music as NYC hits 90° over the weekend and the City empties – great lyrics, great harmonies. Good Times.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

The Pain of Loss

People feel the pain of losses much more than they feel the pleasure of gains. All Black Captain Sean Fitzpatrick has told me many times how the team used the pain of defeat as motivation never to suffer defeat (and that feeling) ever again. Losing is twice as painful as winning is enjoyable… so watch our Presidential Candidates focus on fear of losing something – rather than stressing the positives… a miserable few months lie in store!!!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Greatest

The world lost one of its genuine heroes last week when Muhammad Ali passed away. The greatest boxer the world has ever known was a personal inspiration to me, for reasons that go well beyond his impact on the sport, and I pay tribute to him in my upcoming book, 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World(I have a precious pair of his signed gloves.)

I’ve long believed that revolution begins with language. Change the language and you can change everything. Ali did just that. A grandson of a slave, Cassius Marcellus Clay knew how to use words to change people’s perception. Prior to Clay’s arrival, the image of the black athlete was meek, emasculating, deferential. Not so, for “The Louisville Lip,” who, barely 20, taunted his opponents and the media, inviting all to glory in his youth, his physical beauty, and the indubitable fact that he was, in fact, “the greatest.” (Apart from everything else, Ali just might have been our first great rap artist. Indeed, Ali recorded several records in the early 1960s; his 1964 cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” is not to be missed.)

The champ knew the power of language, of names. Immediately after winning the heavyweight championship from Sonny Liston at the age of 22 (a bout for which Ali was considered a seven-to-one underdog), Ali rejected his “slave name” and converted to the nation of Islam. Like Mark Twain, like Bob Dylan, Ali was a self-invented American who transcended his own origins and created himself, primarily through language.

There would be many battles after Liston: getting stripped of the title for refusing to serve in the Army on the grounds of conscientious objection (“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Vietcong,” Ali famously said); the epic bouts against George Foreman and Joe Frazier that took on the shadings of modern-day myth; the grace with which Ali handled his later battle with Parkinson’s disease, which, in a terrible irony, robbed the great man of the fluency of his speech. 

But in the end, Ali—who at one time was the single most recognizable figure on the planet—was bigger than words, more powerful than fists. As he once said: “Boxing was nothing. It wasn’t important at all. Boxing was just meant as a way to introduce me to the world.” People didn’t know what hit them. They still don’t.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Next James Bond?

Daniel Craig has said No Más – no more 007 – and turned down £68 million for a two movie deal. So save your money guys and watch The Night Manager – the best mini-series of 2016 to date. A John le Carré invention (much deeper than Mr Fleming’s plots and characters). Tom Hiddleston is the perfect Bond for Millennials.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Roger Enrico: Maverick

Roger Enrico has passed away, aged 71. Roger was a marketing legend and a major influence on me, a supporter, and a mentor. I worked for him directly in the late 1980s when I was CEO of Pepsi Canada during the Cola Wars.

Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO, wrote to the PepsiCo family today, saying: “We have lost one of the true legends of our company and our industry. Roger Enrico was, quite simply, one of the most creative marketers of his or any generation. He was a risk-taker, never afraid to challenge the status quo or make bold moves to get ahead. He was tough as nails, always prepared to get the job done and beat the competition. At the same time, he had a true love for our people and a passion for empowering them to reach their full potential. Roger devoted more than 30 years of his life to PepsiCo and his leadership was instrumental in making us the company we are today.”

The picture above of Roger appears in 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World, in a gallery of 64 people who have been inspirations in my life. He was a great man.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

True Grit

Determination. Resolve. Perseverance. Strength of character. Peak Performance. Whatever you want to call it, there’s a brave four-letter word that sums it up: GRIT. It’s not about where you’re from, it’s where you’re going—and how hard you’re willing to dig in to get there. It’s not about IQ, it’s about all the other Qs (... EQ, TQ, BQ, and CQ). Grit is intrinsic to the 10,000 hours principle that Malcolm Gladwell describes in Outliers. Nothing beats hard yards.

Rather than some mysterious X factor, grit is a serious neuroscientific phenomenon. I’ve been following the work of University of Pennsylvania psychologist and MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth since 2009, and tore through her just-published instant bestseller, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, May 3). In this, Duckworth’s first book, the celebrated researcher, professor, and in-demand advisor of sports teams and Fortune 500 CEOs explains how grit is a skill that can be learned and honed, regardless of IQ, innate talent, luck, or life circumstances.

I know this first hand. I didn’t finish high school and left only equipped with a capacity to think big, talk fast, and work hard. As I relate in my upcoming book, 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World (powerHouse Books, June 21), when I first went to mod-London fashion house Mary Quant, my pitch was this: “I’m 19, I speak French and Spanish, and I work really hard. I’m three times smarter than anyone else you’ve got, and whatever you’re paying them, I’ll work for half.” That first interview led to a lifetime education in true grit in the worlds of business, sport, and academia. I’m grateful for Angela Duckworth for putting science to practice—enjoy her great book!

Image attribute/source: / Angela Duckworth /