Monday, October 30, 2017

People Pointers

“There’s nought as queer as folk,’ is an old phrase from where I hail in the North of England. In the workplace, the glory and terror of this comes to full fruition. Probes like this research by business psychologist Dr Linda Shaw into the different types of personalities are worth a scan, since managing all types of people goes to the nub of emotional intelligence. EQ is the hallmark of tomorrow’s leaders.

My approach has been to stay in the super positive, inspire people to better their best, and cut negativity and cynicism off at the knees (venomous snakes need to be relocated, fast).

For aspiring leaders, here is a positive inflection on each personality in this mighty list of 10:

1. THE GRAFTER: Leonardo da Vinci talked about the urgency of doing.

2. THE CHATTERBOX: President John F. Kennedy on Winston Churchill: “He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.”

3. THE WORKAHOLIC: “Nothing succeeds like excess." Thank you, Oscar Wilde.

4. THE COMEDIAN: “I always realized I wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.” Lily Tomlin

5. THE BIG TALKER: Sales is about relationships, conversations, persistence. Over-promise and over-deliver! “Meet, Beat, Repeat” – Roberto Goizueta

6. THE DELEGATOR: Delegation is a central life skill. RASCI, a superb project management tool, runs on it.

7. THE JUGGLER: Leadership is a synonym for multi-tasking. Think Elon Musk. Electric cars. Self-landing rockets. Tunnels. Mars. And that's just what we know about.

8. THE WALLFLOWER: “The single most significant strategic strength that an organization can have is not a good strategic plan, but a commitment to strategic listening on the part of every member of the organization: strategic listening to frontline employees, strategic listening to vendors, to customers.” Tom Peters

9. THE MICROMANAGER: The last detail matters as much as the big transformational idea, leading you to the next big question. The leadership part comes in knowing when to delegate, when to dive.

10. THE CHARMER: “Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.” Colin Powell

Thursday, October 19, 2017

What Leaders Do

My second post about Canada this week. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke for the nation of Canada which he eulogized one of its most loved musicians Gordon Downie, legendary frontman of rock band Tragically Hip. Gord died aged 53 of brain cancer. He was a hugely recognizable figure his homeland, and was lauded for his thoughtful lyrics, patriotism and philanthropy. An openly emotional and grieving Trudeau said "Gord was my friend and was everyone's friend - it's who he was, our buddy Gord, who loved this country with everything he had. And not just in a nebulous, 'I love Canada' way', he loved every hidden corner, every story, every aspect of this country that he celebrated his whole life - and he wanted to make it better. He knew, as great as we were, we needed to be better than we were. We are less as a country without Gord Downie in it. We all knew it was coming, but we hoped it wasn't.”

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Victoria Canada – Ever Edging Towards Lovability

My friend Robin Dyke, poet, mentor and change agent, ran his west coast Canadian hometown through the 10 attributes of what makes a Lovemark city, outlined in my post a few weeks ago. Here's what he came up with. Having been to Victoria many times,the city gets my endorsement.

KR’s “Lovemark Cities” post had me wondering, how does my hometown, Victoria Canada measure up? On its surface, Victoria has long favored a lovable attraction as the most English-tasting bit of all Canada. So artist and writer Emily Carr, our quaint city’s most famous resident, described the Crown Colony of her childhood. This more English than the English ambiance has perpetrated Victoria’s image since the late 1800’s – high tea at the very English Empress Hotel being the number one visitor attraction for decades.

Today tourism still reigns as primary economic driver yet like the monarchy the purpose it is serving is increasingly questioned. Where’s the vision? Wherein lies our diversity and distinctive edge? The answers are blown about with no coherence to a whole amongst thirteen surrounding and squabbling municipalities. Our lovability and our future left to reaction, as in open allowance to more cruise boat visits.

How far from great and Lovemark city is Victoria? Using KR’s 10-point size up let me score the ways:

Mobility…walk-able, bike paths galore, drop-in by heli-jet or float plane, face grid lock in/out by auto, bridges r not us.

Cultural Joy…predictable as a Tourism Victoria brochure. 2nd Cousin to mainland Vancouver’s vibrant arts

Connectivity…devise distracted pedestrians and drivers attest.

The Food…the outstanding lies not in our Michelin stars but in our food truck fish and chips

The Sea…splendid harbour anchored by wide sweeps of sea and sky

The People…friendly, multicultural, aspiring entrepreneurial. Best Canadian city to be a career woman ranking

The Sport… ’94 Commonwealth Games the last Hurrah! Climate friendly all year sport and wilderness activity for kids and adults

The Music… tourist savvy street performers and fading acts that tour offbeat towns.

The History…a rich heritage of last century details. Comfort with the status present. What future? That’s the rub!

The Grit…at ease in un-gritted comfort.

All adding up to a liveable journey of modest ambition - yet so lacking in lovability imagination and appreciation of the advantage and potential of the edge of geography we inhabit. Becoming irresistible beyond reason to resident or visitor – knock! knock! Deep connection to our edge is calling.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Flashback Friday: Lee Hazlewood: These Boots Were Made For Walking


I bought a bizarre CD six months ago called Cake or Death. It was by a guy I hadn’t heard of for 30 years, Lee Hazlewood. This was the guy who wrote 'Jackson', 'These Boots were Made for Walking', 'Some Velvet Morning' and 'Sugar Town', an outrageously innocent sounding song about dropping acid. Cake or Death is an eccentric album, which is perfect listening when chilling out on a late night plane or when you are in the bath after 24 hours of non-stop, domestic/European hassle.

Lee Hazlewood died last month from cancer, age 78, I think. Hazlewood was an outlaw and a recluse. Having started life as a DJ, he went on to become a producer and gave Wall of Sound legend Phil Spector his start. He discovered Gram Parsons, who met an early end, and recorded an album with Ann Margaret, someone I had a crush on when I was 17 years old.

Hazlewood combined sentiment and humor in a way few writers have ever done. Then he dropped out to hide away in Sweden. I think he ended up in Texas or Las Vegas or somewhere like that. I know I saw a photograph of him on his 78th birthday in a t-shirt announcing “I’m not dead yet”. He and Nancy Sinatra performed 'Jackson' one last time and the curtain came down. Lee Hazlewood died on August 4. A great original.

Image is from a great article by Matthew Fiander at about Lee Hazlewood "Trouble is a Lonesome Town"


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Compelling TV Series to Watch

Am flying between Asia, the Middle East and Europe, so lots of airplane time – time for bingeing on TV dramas. Great writing, great acting, and great production. Take a look at:

Suburra / Rome in 2008. Church, State and organised crime go at it.

Dr Foster / A brilliant BBC One series. Season one was made in 2015, season two debuted last month.

/ If you missed Idris Elba’s gripping performance, binge on the entire three season package. Brilliantly written by Neil Cross, now resident in the World’s Best place to live in – Wellington, New Zealand. And watch out for Neil’s latest – Hard Sun – in production with FremantleMedia right now. Will be epic.

Safe House / An ITV series about a couple turning their remote guest house into a safe house. Shot in The Lakes, close to my Grasmere home.

And new series of Madame Secretary, The Blacklist, Narcos, Blindspot and Series 6 of Homeland.

Escape from Trumptwitter and Harvey Weinstein. Watch great television!


Monday, October 9, 2017

Lovemark Cities

It’s an interesting fact that the cities ranked most liveable are not always the cities that are most loved. Traveller Magazine’s globetrotting backpacker, Ben Groundwater exemplifies that fact with a 10 most lovable cities list. That’s not to say that factors such as crime rate, health system, pollution or the cost of living, which are often used to measure quality of life, don’t have an impact on whether or not a city is widely loved.

Take Rio de Janeiro, which makes Groundwater’s list of most loved cities. It’s a Lovemark. On the most liveable cities index (ranked using data) it didn’t make the top 25. While data determines which cities are most liveable, it’s emotion and personal connection that determines which cities are loved. The strongest relationships run on deep emotional connections. A Lovemark creates Loyalty Beyond Reason.

What makes a great city will be slightly different for each and every one of us. For me it should score in these 10 areas:
  • Mobility…great cities enable you to move about easily…and to get in and out of.
  • Cultural Joy…surprises around every corner, sculpture and art etc…cities need these.
  • Connectivity…great broadband is a table stake. Got to connect.
  • The Food…outstanding eating experiences are integral for any city that wants to become a Lovemark…from Michelin stars to street vendors. 
  • The Sea…to me most great cities are anchored near the sea – you need water to sense beauty and adventure. 
  • The People…friendly, fun, entrepreneurial, multicultural, proud.
  • The Sport…a top class team that fans want to be part of. A movement of aspiration, ambition, and winning…a beacon to youth.
  • The Music…streetbeat poetry and stories all set to the special rhythm of the city (‘Girl from Ipanema’).
  • The History…the connecting of past, present and future.
  • The Grit…down to earth, real humanity…the good, the bad and the ugly.
The journey from good to great, liveability to loveability, is about pouring mystery, sensuality and intimacy into the mix. These are my Lovemark cities…
  • Auckland
  • Sydney
  • Rio de Janeiro 
  • Porto
  • Marseilles
  • Beirut
  • Naples
  • Liverpool
  • Barcelona
  • Cape Town
  • San Francisco
… What are your Lovemark cities?

Monday, October 2, 2017

Schools and the "Creativity Crisis"

Creativity and the role it takes in schools’ curriculums is a topic that divides many, suprisingly. When asked if they would prefer promoting creativity or attending to the "academic basics” in an international study from the Pew Research Institute, only 5 out of 19 countries polled indicated they would prefer a creativity-led approach to learning – (Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Canada). The remaining countries either opted for prioritizing the basics or were undecided.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the traditional education system, the need for the system to change and the introduction of digital technology into the classroom to foster learning and increase engagement. This is only half the bill. Bringing back creativity into classrooms is even more important than introducing technology.

Previously I’ve referred to this as ‘education crisis’. Now schools are also facing what Will Burns, CEO of virtual-ideation firm Ideasicle refers to as "creativity crisis." To solve the problem he suggests reframing how creativity is looked at in schools – from a series of downstream talents like music, theater or visual arts towards a more upstream life-skill “that can be applied to all aspects of a student’s life”. Agreed.

Burns goes on to explain the difference between talent and creativity. Being exposed to music – say playing an instrument for instance – is a talent, which can be used to explore one’s own creativity. That makes sense. Students who don’t display any affinities for what’s traditionally labelled the ‘creative arts’ then are at a disadvantage when it comes to exploring and developing their creativity. In contrast to popular belief this doesn’t mean these students aren’t creative. It just means that they need other tools to discover and develop their own creativity.

It’s like Edward de Bono said: “Creativity is the most important human resource of all.” Many are worried about AI and automation taking over jobs, but only few seem to realize that creativity can help here, too. Human soft skills like creativity, dexterity and empathy cannot be automated as easily as hard skills. Think about it. The one thing that differentiates humans most from AI is the ability to dream new ideas, reverse our thinking, and make new connections.

Without creativity there is no progress. Without schools encouraging creative thinking we will run into some serious problems in the future. I like how Burns puts it: “Outperforming the competition is important, but outthinking them is even more so.”

Image source: Pinterest/Psychology