Sunday, May 31, 2020

America’s Burning

Minneapolis, Washington, Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta and many other US cities are in turmoil as riots explode over the murder of George Floyd.  President Trump is responding in his usual bellicose, bullying, thick-skinned style.  And through the chaos comes one voice of calm, Retired Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, who was the Commander of Joint Task Force Katrina – the 2005 Hurricane that destroyed New Orleans – and was in the hot seat the last time a US President considered shooting his own people.

The Retired General’s language is somewhat salty – but his advice – and his actions – are a lesson for leaders everywhere – and for America today.

It takes a little time to do difficult stuff.
It takes a little longer to do the impossible.



Friday, May 29, 2020

It’s just where you go.

Escapism only – not in the mood for serious business/politics/history stuff?  Here’s what I’m reading:

·       Craig Brown’s One, Two, Three, Four – the chance fusions that made up The Beatles – Fire (John), Water (Paul), Air (George) and Earth (Ringo).  John Updike called The Beatles ‘the sun coming out on Easter morning’.  Great anecdotes.  Stuff I hadn’t seen before.
·       Darren Coffield – Tales from the Colony Room.  Soho’s last Bohemia – 60 years of romance, death, horror, sex, art and lots of alcohol – Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Christine Keeler, Peter O’Toole, Damien Hirst.  Health warning – this book contains strong language, sex, violence and extreme wit.
·       Trains, Jesus, and Murder: The Gospel According to the great Johnny Cash (thank you Robin).
·       The Boy on the Shed – Frank, authentic, darkly funny – a story of love and fate by Paul Ferris – Newcastle United’s youngest ever first teamer – fame, injury, insecurity, disappointment and rebirth.

I’m writing this from our home in Carefree, Arizona where we’ve been spending the lockdown.  “The West is where you go when the land gives out.  It’s where you go to grow up with the country.  It’s where you go to spend your old age.   Or it’s just where you go.” – said Robert Penn Warren.  No-one understands that more than one of my favourite song-writers and singers Tom Russell.  Storyteller, painter, writer and hard liver – check out his Ceremonies of the Horsemen: The Ranch and Reata Essays.

Fiction next week.

Tonight we ride!


Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Lancaster Royal Grammar School Head – Chris Pyne – reminded me yesterday:
“We are all in the same storm, but we are not all in the same boat”.

Which reminded me of August 28, 1963 when I was an impressionable, teenage pupil at LRGS and I heard Martin Luther King speak out:
“We cannot walk alone.  And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.”



Monday, May 25, 2020

The Last Dance

One of the teams we wrote about in our Peak Performance book in 2000 was the Chicago Bulls in the time of Michael Jordan.  During our sessions with the team we asked Michael a question he’d never been asked before – one which was inspired by something Jonah Lomu had told us about himself earlier in our research “Do you hate coming second best to yourself?”.  Jordan was stunned, raised his eyebrows, furrowed his brow and shot back “I don’t mind coming second best to myself – at least I’ve got the first two spots wrapped up”.  We got the message.  Truly great inspirational players have no peers.

And nowhere has this been better captured than in the 10 episode ESPN series, The Last Dance.  A must-see close-up of one of the most competitive, most successful Peak Performers of all time. 


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Unfiltered Livestream with JK

In these tough times, here’s an amazingly frank conversation between All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan and Unfiltered’s prodigy, 24 year old Jake Millar on Mental Health and Wellness – and their own personal struggles – and solutions.  Inspirational.


Monday, May 18, 2020

WOBI – Reconnecting People

I’ve been speaking at WOBI conferences for almost two decades now.  Here’s a two-minute quickie Trudy recorded for them last week (one take on an iPhone as you can tell!!).


Wednesday, May 13, 2020

True Grit

Unfiltered’s Founder/CEO Jake Millar sent me some thoughts on character from Peterson and Seligman’s Character Strengths and Virtues – published, I think, 15 years or so ago.  Seemed particularly helpful and relevant in today’s challenging times.

Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
You notice and value the world’s beauty and people’s skills. You don’t take things for granted.

You act with mental, moral, or physical strength even when you know things are difficult or scary.

You come up with new and original ways to think about and do things.

You like exploration and discovery. You ask lots of questions because you want to learn more about anything and everything.

You approach life with excitement and energy. You energize people around you.

You believe that all people have value. You approach situations with an unbiased mindset and treat everyone with respect.

You forgive those who have done wrong. You accept that people make mistakes.

You are aware of and thankful for good things that happen.

You do not seek the spotlight. You let your actions speak for themselves.

You like to laugh and bring smiles to other people.

You are honest and speak the truth. You present yourself genuinely and sincerely.

You are generous to others and you are never too busy to help out. You enjoy doing good deeds for other people.

You value each member of your group and inspire people to do their best.

You value close relationships with others and being close to people.

Love of Learning
You master new skills and topics on your own or in school.

You like to consider new ideas and try new things. You examine things from all sides and don’t jump to conclusions.

You expect the best from the future and work to achieve it.

You complete what you start despite obstacles. You never give up.

You appreciate that people see things in different ways. You have the ability to understand the world from multiple points of view.

You plan for the future and achieve your goals by making careful everyday choices.

You have beliefs about the meaning of life and your life’s purpose. You seek to be part of something greater than yourself.

You have the ability to control your emotions and behaviors. You think before you act.

Social Intelligence
You are aware of other people’s thoughts and feelings. You understand why they do things.

You work well as a member of a group or team. You are loyal and sacrifice your individual desires for the greater good.


Sunday, May 10, 2020

Save Lives

Veteran Scottish presenter and comedian Grant Stott’s rendition of “That’s Fife!” to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life”, has become a Scottish East Coast party anthem.

He’s now re-worked it again as a song for our Covid-19 times with a new recording, retitling the ditty as “Save Lives”.

With a video shot on the streets of Edinburgh now running on YouTube, the message of the song is a simple one – stay home, help the NHS, and save lives.

Watch it here:


Friday, May 8, 2020

From Skype to Zoom and Back

We are running our businesses, jobs, companies, families and friends on screen now.  My iPad is jammed with FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, Lifesize and Webex.

After all these years I have finally become a Screenager.

As far as meetings go, I’m busy learning how to do it all – the technology, the etiquette, the preparation, the rhythm and beat, the flow and the aftermath.

There are quite a few guides / how to’s out there, so here’s mine – a mixture of my own experience – averaging six hours per day on on-screen, multi-person meetings, and a guide to virtual facilitation by Gwen Stirling-Wilkie.

1)    Remember the Six P’s (Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance):
·         Ensure all participants know how to use the tech.
·         Have a tech rehearsal for any live-streaming.
·         Brief the meeting purpose well in advance.  Be clear.
·         Circulate pre-reads / pre-views in advance.

2)    Make it Count:
·         Open up the call 10 minutes before start to help people settle in.
·         Start with a two – three minute check-in if you have time.
o   How are people feeling – maybe in three words,
o   What’s on peoples’ minds,
o   What’s making you feel happy.
·         Run the meeting for up to an hour.  For workshops keep them at three hours max.
·         Be more direct as a Facilitator – ensure everyone contributes and is heard.

3)    Before you check out:
·         Have everyone wrap up:
o   What did you get out of the meeting?
o   What did you want to say, but didn’t have the chance to?
o   What’s the key thing you’re going to do now?

4)    Making the most out of the meeting:
·         Be on time – five minutes early!
·         Have video on; voice on mute when not speaking.
·         Close down all other disruptive screens.
·         Be concise and clear.  Don’t ramble.

5)    Presenting your best self:
·         Raise your screen to eye-level.
·         Keep your head and shoulders visible on-screen.
·         Be in natural light – no backs to the window though.
·         Check your image out – nothing embarrassing behind you that may appear on screen.
·         Stand Up and Fight.  Look smart, focused and ‘on’.  Dress accordingly.


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Poetry Exchange

I’ve been participating in this project for a couple of weeks now – sending/receiving poems via a chain of people to brighten up the day.

Here’s one home-grown effort I saw:

Being in lockdown is no fun at all
In fact it's a pain in the butt,
People will try all sorts of things,
To try and get out of the rut.

A Mate of mine who lives in New York,
Wants me to write down a verse,
And send it to someone that I've never met,
Which could be the start of a curse.

If you wrote out a list of Poets,
I'd never be on that list,
So I'll put away my pen and paper,
And go and get myself pissed.