Monday, April 30, 2018

Inspiration from The Past (Part II).

On Happiness:
·       Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.  (Aristotle)
·       Happiness depends upon ourselves.  (Aristotle)
·       The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage.  (Thucydides)
·       There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.  (Epictetus)
·       Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not, remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.  (Epicurus)

On Leadership:
·       Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.  (Euripides)
·       He that always gives way to others will end up having no principles of his own.  (Aesop)
·       What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.  (Pericles)

On Peak Performance:
·       Well begun is half done.  (Aristotle)
·       First, have a definite, clear, practical idea; a goal, an objective.  Second have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials and methods.  Third adjust all your means to that end.  (Aristotle)
·       The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory in surmounting it.  (Epicurus)
·       You will never do anything in this world without courage.  It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.  (Aristotle)
·       Success is dependent on effort.  (Sophocles)
·       To find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult.  (Plutarch)

On Listening:
·       Silence at the proper season is wisdom, and better than any speech.  (Plutarch)
·       Wise men speak because they have something to say.  Fools because they have to say something.  (Plato)

On Life:
·       An honest man is always a child.  (Socrates)
·       Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.  (Theophrastus)
·       Our sins are more easily remembered than our good deeds.  (Democritus)
·       Raising children is an uncertain thing, success is reached only after a lifetime of battle and worry.  (Democritus)
·       All religions must be tolerated for every man must get to heaven in his own way.  (Epictetus)
·       One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.  (Plato)
·       Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings.  (Diogenes)


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Inspiration from The Past (Part I).

Am writing this from Porto Heli in the Peloponnese, listening to Leonard Cohen (more on that next week) and studying a wonderful set of photographs of The Acropolis by Marina Vernicos on behalf of CreAid – a non-profit with a humanitarian purpose served through Creativity and Art – and populated by dynamic creative, imaginative, passionate entrepreneurs.

The project MY ACROPOLIS comes complete with many quotes from the Greek Philosophers – which I last visited aged 14 as a Lancaster Royal Grammar School student.  Rereading them, it became obvious that many of my principles and beliefs were based on these philosophies – much to my surprise.  Osmosis is a wonderful concept.  A sampler of these teachings from 496BC to 119AD …

On Love:
·       Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other.  (Euripides)
·       At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.  (Plato)  For Robin.

On Friendship:
·       Of all the things that wisdom provides to make life entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship.  (Epicurus)
·       Be slow to fall into friendship, but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.  (Socrates)
·       I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.  (Plutarch)
·       It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.  (Epicurus)

On Wisdom:
·       Wisdom begins in wonder.  (Socrates)
·       As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.  (Socrates)
·       Men should strive to think much and know little.  (Democritus)
·       To make no mistakes is not in the power of man, but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.  (Plutarch)
·       Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.  (Socrates)
·       The most useful piece of learning for the uses of life is to unlearn what is untrue. (Antisthenes)
·       It takes a wise man to recognise a wise man.  (Xenophanes)

Thank you Jim Bates (LRGS Teacher, RIP April 2018) for opening a young boy’s eyes to the Classics.


Monday, April 23, 2018

A Modest Proposal.

John Wareham is a renaissance man.  An author, a psychologist, a thinker, a doer, an innovator.  I’ve known him as a mentor and friend since 1988.  He gave a speech recently in New Zealand on how we should rethink prisons and prison reform.

1.  Make our prisons government owned enterprises and discard the warehousing model.  Storing and punishing human animals is at best a short term route to immediate profit.  In the long term, it merely produces more criminals.
2.  Treat prisons as income streams not cost centres.  Recognise that the full cost to society of incarceration includes a massive but invisible item; lost tax revenue.
3.  Change the mission to the creation of productive, tax-paying citizens.  Most inmates will be released back into society, so this is the outcome we’d all like—right?
4.  Impart intensive life-changing ideas.  Implant the big, liberating concepts that underlie the mostly invisible social and individual forces that create the special predicament and serial incarceration of the prison inmate.
5.  Imbue returning inmates with skills they can market.  The demand for unskilled labour is effectively exhausted.  Ideally, in the 2016 economy re-entrants need to be capable of creating an income stream, not just hoping to find a job.  To do this, they need to re-enter with a marketable skill and entrepreneurial know-how.
6.  Treat offenders and ex-offenders as assets not liabilities.  The untapped talent of prison inmates is astonishing.  They are an effectively free source of teaching personnel.  The best prison teachers are hard-nosed ex-offenders who have been liberated intellectually and emotionally.  So embrace the Taking Wings mantra, it takes an ex-offender to render an offender an ex.
7.  Increase the return on investment by changing the prison reward system. Benchmark success in terms of taxes paid by returning ex-offenders, and award bonuses to all prison personnel, including inmate teaching staff, in terms of their success in creating tax-paying citizens.

All of the above can be achieved at minimal cost. We already own the prisons, and they are crammed to the bars with raw talent and potential teachers.  It would just take a new way of seeing things.

Attaboy John!!


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What Employees Really Want

Three Facebook leaders, Lori Goler, Janelle Gale and Brynn Harrington (together with Wharton Professor Adam Grant) just published a great article in the Harvard Business Review.

They argue that Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs:
·       basic safety and survival,
·       love and belongingness
·       self-esteem and prestige
·       self-actualisation
has been hard to argue with, but that it could stand some renovation today, given the significant improvement in the workplace with many companies offering not only basic need fulfilment, but aiming and fulfilling every need.

Facebook (whilst facing serious questions and public scrutiny over abuses of user privacy) is recognised as a pretty good place to work (certainly by my son-in-law Mark Rolland who works there and loves the place) and they survey their people twice a year, asking employees what they value most.

At Facebook there are three big motivational buckets.
·       Career – a job with autonomy and growth
·       Community – being part of something meaningful
·       Cause – being part of something bigger than a business – something with Purpose.

I think they’re right.  We built Saatchi & Saatchi on three similar pillars – Responsibility, Learning and Recognition – which, if delivered consistently – resulted in employees feeling Joy.  And happy employees work harder and more productively than unhappy employees (surprise, surprise!).

Check out your work life:
·       Are you receiving Responsibility, Learning and Recognition every day?  From your boss, your subordinates and your peers?
·       Are you delivering Responsibility, Learning and Recognition to everyone you touch?

If so, you’re in a good place.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Premier League Champions!


Friday, April 13, 2018

The Power of Three

As visitors to this parish are aware, I’m a big believer in The Power of Three.  And in this Age of Distraction I’ve been a practitioner of Focus / Commitment / Discipline for many years.

This is the secret to Making Things Happen.  Stay focussed, stay single-minded on task completion and Keep Going.  Not very sexy. Just effective.

And the Biggest Threat to Peak Performance in any business today?  The weapon of Mass Distraction – and simultaneously our greatest enabling ally – the Smart Phone.

Research indicates many of us are distracted nearly 50% of the time.  No wonder we feel so much stress and that our lives are out of balance.

Surveys reveal:
        We check our phones 150 times/day, or every 6 1/2 minutes.
        We spend 2 1/2 hours each day on our phone, in 76 different sessions.
        Millennials spend 1.8 hours of their work-day on social media – whilst at work.
        Productivity is declining.
        Competitiveness is declining.
        Our own sense of achievement is declining.
        Happiness is declining.


Figure out some basic rules and stick to them.  Take control of your phone.  Don’t let it control you.