Thursday, May 30, 2019

A Star is Born (II)

As Michelin would say, here’s a place that’s worth going out of your way for.  The thriving Simon Rogan led Lake District Dining Revolution – led by The Lake Road Kitchen and the Old Stamp House – now has a third leg.  Wabi Sabi (a Japanese expression meaning Nothing is Perfect, Nothing is Permanent, Nothing is Completed).  A form of Kaizen – continuous improvement.

So meet a new Culinary Star – BING (and his wife Cara).

A dreamer, an artist, a scientist, a magician, a chef, an innovator, a creator, and a graduate of Lancaster University!!!!

His restaurant has no windows, hardly any tables (12 seatings per night), no staff except the two owners, no razzamatazz, no precedent.  Japanese flavours, Lakeland produce, simple presentation, complex taste, art and science – Japanese food has never tasted so ‘accessible’, so ‘local’ and so real.

Bing is humble, passionate, focussed, disciplined and committed.  And he delivers a beautiful game (if Pep Guardiola were a chef, he’d be Bing!).

Give Wabi Sabi a go – it’s worth the drive!!


Monday, May 27, 2019

The Game They Play in Heaven (Part III)

A couple of days ago I wrote about how many things in Rugby haven’t changed or have progressed since I wrote my first column in NZ Rugby World magazine in 1997.  Today I want to refer to two issues I didn’t cover then and which are both very threatening.

Two huge social issues have dominated the worlds of Sport and Rugby this month.

Religion and Racism.

One of the most exciting players in world Rugby, Israel Folau, promised sinners an eternity in hell – targeting drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves and atheists.  This created a furore in social media throughout the world, and his employers, Rugby Australia, confirmed they intended to terminate his contract for breaching his contractual social media guidelines.

The line driving the most comment is point number 2 (homosexuals) which is the latest in a number of anti-gay attacks from Folau along the lines of ‘hell awaits gay people unless they repent’.

A fellow Tongan Christian and all round good bloke (who certainly has enjoyed a beer or two), England No. 8 Billy Vunipola has joined the debate by liking Folau’s original Tweet and stating (in a more measured tone) his fundamental belief in the natural procreation based unity of male and female.

What a storm this has created.

Rugby is a sport where diversity, inclusion and tolerance have always been core to its growth, and its popularity.

I hope the governing bodies do not take the easy, obvious way out and simply lash out and punish the two men involved.  Instead I hope they seek to listen, understand, and then work with all constituents so those involved can come to a more rational, more open, more modern, more global and more tolerant understanding of the issues – and their roles as public figures.

Humanity, patience, forgiveness and a commitment to find a way forward (from all parties) is what is needed to protect the values of our great game – not just dark threats, immediate retribution and hardening of positions.  Education as well as punishment is the way forward.

And in the midst of all this, the whole racism issue is escalating in Football, and Rugby could be next.  Supporter abuse towards players of colour is on the rise in Football club grounds everywhere and in international stadia too.  Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has been forthright in his anti-racism stance and has been supported internationally by the public, players and the media.  But the abuse continues.  More and more supporters are subjecting black players to the worse kind of abuse.

This is a societal problem, not just a Football issue, in many European countries and the recent rise in popularity of nationalism politics has exacerbated the problem.  Nations will have to tackle it.

My particular concern here is Rugby related.  I am worried that if racism does raise its ugly head – if players are abused for the colour of their skin, then it will be cancerous for our open, inclusive, global game – which is open to all shapes, sizes, genders and races.

So, keep your eyes open.

Be on full alert.



Friday, May 24, 2019

Playing Hooky

Am in NYC all week and I snuck off work to trek up to 92nd St and 5th – to The Jewish Museum (my first ever hooky day at any museum!!!) – to see a fantastic three floor exhibition featuring 40 artists’ commissions on Leonard Cohen.  (A hero I’ve written about a few times previously here.)  Four hours spent soaking up his words, songs, poems, thoughts – with “cheerfulness” inevitably breaking through.

I spent 56 glorious minutes living in George Fok’s amazing portrait of Leonard (Passing Through), using live footage beamed on to three walls of the Gallery with amazing sound.

See if you can steal a couple of hours – even if you play hooky.  It will be worth it.

Showing through September 8.

         There is a crack in everything
         That’s how the light gets in.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Game They Play in Heaven (Part II)

I’ve been writing a column for NZ Rugby World since its debut in April 1997 as NZ Rugby Monthly.  My two-page article was entitled “All’s not well in the North”.

I was bemoaning the moribund style of play in the Northern Hemisphere and suggesting a 10-point plan to get the game back on its feet, including:

1)   The Unions must secure control of the players,

2)   A meaningful, top-class Northern Club competition must be developed,

3)   Unions need to limit the number of foreign players,

4)   The Rugby season should be switched to the Northern Hemisphere Summer,

5)   Italy should be admitted to the Five Nations,

6)   NZ coaches should go across to lift standards.

What happened?

1)   Ireland led the way and it shows as they are ranked Two in the world today.

2)   The Heineken Cup is a great tournament.

3)   Fail.

4)   Rugby League got in ahead of us.

5)   Done.  Now we need promotion / relegation to encourage Georgia, Germany, Spain, Russia and Portugal.

6)   Done.  Henry, Hansen, Schmidt, Cotter etc etc etc.

(I also suggested – Inga Tuigamala’s two sons should be given English passports to lift England’s 2015 RWC prospect, Will Carling should marry Jonah / Christian Cullen’s sister and father two pacey Backs – to take care of RWC 2019, Steinlager should sponsor England – mother’s milk to great Rugby players, and all Northern Hemisphere refs should spend two years in NZ to understand ruck/maul/tackle laws.)

None of these radical ideas took hold (!!!), but other initiatives – mainly tv money driven – have come to pass and we are looking at a world in 2019 where England, Ireland and Wales are ranked ahead of all Southern Hemisphere nations (except New Zealand of course).

How has this come about?

1)   Nearly all the top coaches are from the Southern Hemisphere – Eddie Jones, Joe Schmidt, John Mitchell, Warren Gatland, Vern Cotter, Scott Johnson etc.

2)   All Northern teams have Southern Hemisphere players qualified by residence – Kiwis, South Africans, Aussies, Samoans, Tongans and Fijians abound … despite the incessant, historical (hysterical ?) whining of Stephen Jones about our Island players.

3)   Ex All Blacks have gone across at the end of their careers and raised standards of game management, handling skills and mental toughness across the board.

4)   England has woken up – and is finally adding some creativity to its muscular Forward power.  Owen Farrell at 10 is a warrior, May, Daly and Nowell / Watson are an All Black-like Back 3 – and Itoje and Sinckler are fast becoming world-class.

5)   Wales has invested in youth, pace and belief.  Ireland has Joe Schmidt, Andy Farrell, Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray – and Scotland has given the reins to Gregor Townsend, who thinks different.

So, we have a world game again – and a Rugby World Cup to be played on neutral territory.

I haven’t been as excited as this in the 22 years I’ve been writing about our Beautiful Game.


Monday, May 20, 2019

The Game They Play in Heaven (Part I)

I’ve played rugby since I was 11 years old and loved it from the moment the Under 13’s coach threw a strange oval shaped ball to me.

I fell in love with the New Zealand All Blacks when they played in the North of England in 1963/64 and our coach took us to the game to watch and learn.

I’ve played rugby wherever I lived – in the UK, France, Morocco, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

I’ve coached, been an administrator (in New Zealand and the USA) and made lifelong friends all over the world through this beautiful game, the game they play in Heaven.

This is a big year for the game.  A Rugby World Cup in Japan in October/November with the reigning Champions (the All Blacks) to face powerful threats from Wales, Ireland, England, South Africa and maybe even Australia and Scotland.

So rugby lovers, the next two posts are for you.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Manchester City - FA Cup Winners!

Manchester City: 6 / Watford: 0

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Throwback Thursday III (from 20 December 2012): Win More With Less

One thing that has really stood out for me this year is how much people are getting “lost in the unnecessary”. Established companies try to cover as many bases as they can out of fear of getting overtaken by smaller businesses that claim to be more “agile”. More data means thicker and more complex reports that are less inspiring to read. People are sharing more online but not in proportion to the amount of new ideas we should be creating.

Steve Jobs once said that “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do”. He would ask his top 100 people for 10 things they needed to do and then once the list was made tell them they could only do 3.

A.G. Lafley once told me “the important thing about a change programme is knowing what not to change”. Deciding what to eliminate not only helps you focus on what’s important, it also forces you to create a better product. Jeff Bezos has done it by working to “eliminate all the gatekeepers” that has been a barrier between consumers and suppliers.

Focusing on the important, not the urgent, will ensure that you do things right. And if you fail, you’ll be able to fix it faster too.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A Star is Born (I)

Since I joined Wigan Athletics’ Board a month ago, we have played five matches – won three, drawn two, lost zero and moved up the table from 22nd to 18th (and safety from relegation).  As I told the Board, it’s amazing what a new Director can do!!!!

But really, the most important factor was a 19 year old young player on loan from Chelsea – Reece James – our player of the season.  A powerful full-back, mid-fielder – he just oozes class.  A natural leader and all-round good bloke.  He’s back at Chelsea now after a season in the Championship where he showed he can handle any situation – coolly, correctly and creatively.

He's unlikely to ever play in the Championship again.  He’s destined for the Premier League next season and full England honours shortly after that.

Keep an eye out for him.  He’s the Real Deal.

We are privileged to have known him.


Monday, May 13, 2019

Winning in The Fourth Revolution (Part III)

To recap, here are the skills the World Economic Forum believes are vital to succeed as our virtual and physical worlds collide and the new winners emerge.

Top Ten Skills:

        2015                                        2020

1.     Complex Problem Solving            Complex Problem Solving

2.     Co-ordinating with others            Critical Thinking

3.     People Management                    Creativity

4.     Critical Thinking                         People Management

5.     Negotiation                                Consulting with others

6.     Quality Control                           Emotional Intelligence

7.     Service Orientation                     Decision Making

8.     Decision Making                         Service Orientation

9.     Active Listening                          Negotiation

10.   Creativity                                  Cognitive Flexibility

And here’s my list designed to stimulate growth and success in our Crazy World.

Top Ten VUCA Skills 2019 – 2021:

1.      Creativity

2.      Active Listening

3.      Inspirational Leadership

4.      Mental Toughness

5.      Emotional Intelligence

6.      Complex Problem Solving

7.      Executional Excellence

8.      Personal Technology Mastery

9.      Customer Focus

10.     Partnership Building

From the top, here’s some insight into the choices – all of which are part of my book (64 Shots, Leadership in a Crazy World) and the Peak Performance Leadership programmes I run in Grasmere and Carefree, Arizona.

1)     Creativity.

     Accelerating up the W.E.F. lists from 10 to 3, it’ll come as no surprise to those who know me that it’s no. 1 in my top 10.  I am driven by my belief in the Unreasonable Power of Creativity.  With the avalanche of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, workers will have to become more creative to survive.  Robots may help us get faster but they are not remotely as creative as humans. 

2)     Active Listing.

     The W.E.F. has dropped it from their top 10 – at exactly the wrong time.  No-one is listening.  Politicians listen to no-one.  The media isn’t listening to good sense / principles.  Businessmen don’t listen (hello Philip Green, Mike Ashby and co).  And we don’t learn to listen.  Companies focus on building selling skills, presentation skills, negotiation skills – but don’t train Active Listening skills.  Tom Peters believes investing in Active Listening delivers the highest R.O.I. of any training programme.  It’s part of the Masterclasses I run and I agree with him.  So it’s no. 2 on my list.  The Maori in New Zealand advise:

Titiro     Whakarongo    Kōrero

Look      Listen             Speak

3)     The W.E.F.’s People Management is not ambitious enough.  It’s a tablestake Managers Do Things Right.  (We need this, but it’s bread and butter – not a top 10 skill.)  Leaders Do the Right Things.  Inspirational Leaders are at a premium in every field.  They inspire everyone they touch to be the best they can be in pursuit of the Company’s Purpose.  They don’t just get things done.  They make things happen.  And above all, they create other leaders.  A real hard to find skill.

4)     Mental Toughness.

     Always finding a way to win.  Keeping a Blue Head in a pressure situation, not a Red one.  Not becoming HOT (Heated, Overwhelmed, Tense) under pressure, but moving quickly from Chaos to Clarity and Action.  A trainable skill.

The rest of my top 10 list should be self-explanatory – apart perhaps from no. 8 – Personal Technology Mastery.  All I ask here is – Does that weapon of mass distraction (your mobile phone) dictate your day – or do you bend it to your will?

The average person looks at their phone over 100 times a day and (scientifically proven) is distracted an average of three minutes per ‘look’!  300 minutes or five hours wasted in a day.  Think how much more effective and happier we’d be if we could kick this addiction and take back our time.

1)   Do you take your phone into your bedroom every night?

2)   Do you look at your screen immediately you wake?

3)   Do you take your phone out to dinner?

4)   Is your phone constantly in your view or within hand’s reach?

You know who you are.