Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Iron Man comes to The Lakes

Nicky Gray sent me this ( – an emergency jet suit paramedic defying gravity, zipping across the Langdale Pikes in search of a party of walkers simulating a casualty scenario.  Mission accomplished within minutes, not the normal hours.


A tip of the hat to inventor Richard Browning, the Great North Air Ambulance Service, Gravity Industries (and Nicky Gray for sharing).




Monday, September 28, 2020



Last week I spent an hour with OODA CEO Matt Devost – an engaging, upbeat and passionate host (listen to it here: 


OODA – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act – developed by USAF Colonel John Boyd, a tactical response in dog-fights during the Korean War.  A system to operate at a faster tempo than the opposition, generating confusion and disorder amongst your adversaries.


I’m a fan – and follow my own variant, ADE:  Assess, Decide, Execute.





Thursday, September 24, 2020

Ageing – Part VI – Don’t Let the Old Man In

The great Roger Angell (The Summer Game) wrote a beautiful essay on Ageing when he was 93 years old in The New Yorker (February 17, 2014) – it was funny, inspiring and heartbreaking all at the same time.


One humorous piece of advice he shares comes from ‘the most trusted man in America’ – broadcaster Walter Cronkite.


Angell writes “I don’t read Scripture and I cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite’s rules for old men (which he did not deliver over the air!):

-      Never trust a fart.

-      Never pass up a drink.

-      Never ignore an erection.


Timeless(ly politically incorrect!)



Monday, September 21, 2020

Desert Dreaming – Day 180



I arrived on March 15 from the UK, Trudy two days later from New Jersey.


We decided our home, Desert Dream in Carefree Arizona, was the best place to ride out Covid-19 given its remote, secure location, superb climate, access to safe outdoor exercise, proximity of essential medical, food and takeaway dining options, brilliant time zone access to the Americas, Europe and Australasia and excellent communications/technology networks.


It has proven to be the right decision and today we were talking about what we had done during this unprecedented length of time in one place.


We have tried not to waste the crisis and have kept active – emotionally and physically.


We have:

-      Started work on a new guest house for the property (La Casita).

-      Started work on an outdoor, rooftop bar (Tonto’s) – overlooking the desert.

-      Extended our Western/Mexican art collection with some original Tom Russell paintings, two vintage Billy Schenck’s of Western Pop Art, two original Rocio Navarro’s from the Saatchi gallery and more Lone Ranger vintage memorabilia.

-      Built two desert bird sanctuaries (Mexican bird bath, birdfeeders, treat bells) in the courtyard and out back in the desert.

-      Created two new Peak Performance programmes focusing on The New Way Forward which we run four/five times per week with global clients.

-      Rewritten my Personal Purpose to focus on Survive – Revive – Thrive with Family and Friends – as well as work.

-      Trudy has become a Masterchef, creating delicious dishes from around the world (Scampi Milanese, Moroccan Chicken, Shepherds Pie, Fettucine Alfredo, Paella, Vitello Tonnato, Veal Scallopini, Fegato Veneziana), as well as making her own ice-cream (grazie Smeg) and her own French/Cottage Fries.

-      And we’re both looking forward and planning for a brilliant 2021 – once the World Reopens.


Hope you’re all staying safe, keeping busy and dreaming big.




Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Throwback Thursday – Don’t be a Polar Bear


Two years and more ago (June 19 2018) I posted a Viva La Difference blog of a speech I gave to Lancaster University’s Council, outlining 15 ideas to make a difference.


Rereading them last weekend, I thought I might give them another outing.  Here they are.


1)     Be Soft

     Soft is strong.  King Kong (and its director Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings) are big softies.  And a kangaroo can’t jump unless its tail is touching the ground.  The future will belong to soft connections.  Emotion not reason.  Software not hardware.  Soft not hard power.  Soft is transparent.  Soft is enabling.  Soft is flexible.  Soft is inclusive.  Soft is slow Cumbrian food not fast fat food.  (Try Ambleside’s Old Stamp House and The Lakeside Kitchen.)


2)     Be in Spirit

     To be inspired means to be ‘in spirit’.  To be an Inspirational Player, a radical optimist, wherever you stand or fall.  Remember the return of Steve Jobs and Apple’s ‘Think Different’ campaign?  Said Jobs: “That ad was to remind us of who our heroes are and who we are”.  Want to be in spirit?  By the end of this month pass on the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given to 10 people under 20.


3)     Be Sensuous

     Touch.  Sound.  Scent.  Sight.  Taste.  Designing products, services and experiences around the five senses calibrates a better world.  Holistic is the new reality.  In the food business?  Sell all fruit with leaves attached so consumers see it’s fresh.  With all five senses put on high alert, magic happens.


4)     Simply Sustain

     Jeffrey Sachs’ UN Millennium Project Report on poverty is required reading.  An aperture is opening.  A beam of light shines, one energised by low-cost simplicity.  In The Lakes, join the Cumbria Community, donate to the Herdy Fund.  Make a difference to those in need in Cumbria.


5)     Sleep

     Joan Klempner said: “To achieve the impossible dream, try going to sleep”.  With 24/7 lifestyles, we’re getting less and less sleep.  Yet for success, achievement, and happiness, sleep is fundamental.  Now science says our best ideas surface when we drift into sleep.  Anytime sleep is pure competitive advantage.  Walt Disney got it right “If you can dream it, you can do it”.


6)     Go Loglo

     The local/global debate is the soap opera of business.  ‘Should I be thinking local?’  ‘Should I be thinking global?’ … ‘Should I be glocal?’  Start with action in Cumbria, in the local (there are no global consumers!).  Then cross boundaries.  Wherever you are, export is the way to go.  It’s not about thinking.  It’s about acting, and going.  Act local; go global.  Go LoGlo.


7)     Learn to say: ‘ni hao’

     Unlike other Asian countries China was ‘born global’.  The dragon opened up and ventured out simultaneously, putting the globe in a spin.  China is an Aladdin’s Cave for enterprise.  Open it!  Learn to say in Chinese: ‘Hello’, and ‘Welcome to The Lakes’.


8)     Invent and Innovate

     The difference?  World changing.  Arno Penzias, a Nobel Prize winner in Physics, makes the distinction.  An invention is the product of a creative or curious mind.  Born not made.  Innovation changes customers’ lives in some way or the world in which customers experience things – and is something we can learn, practice and do!


9)     Be Irreplaceable and Irresistible

     Hating America while loving all things American is the 21st century paradox says Louis Chunovic.  Wherever you stand (and despite President Trump), America’s innovative spirit remains irresistible and a beacon for modern enterprise.  Make your Business bigger than a Brand.  Create loyalty beyond reason – just as America has.


10) Don’t be a Polar Bear

     Polarisation of values – cultural conflict – is as big an opportunity as a threat.  Businesses that take sides will lose.  Businesses that listen and bring sides together can become Lovemarks.  In the US, stone barricades erected near government buildings post-9/11 have been replaced with stone containers filled with plants.  Lovemarks are part of a human conversation.  They make the world a better place.


11) Join the Consumer Republic

     Manufacturers and retailers now work for consumers, not vice versa.  Technology has given power to consumers.  We’re in the Consumer Republic, at last!  It’s a time of instant connectivity, transparency and accountability.  Message to marketers?  Stimulate me, surprise me, intrigue me, involve me, entertain me, love me, just don’t bore me.


12) Touch Technology

     Smart objects like adidas smart shoe.  Content co-creation like blogging.  Customisation like iTunes.  All are part of this power and control shift to consumers.  Question du jour: does technology make people happy?  No.  Does it make people happier?  Yes.  Let’s get over this one and move on.  It’s technology and happiness.  It’s And/And, not Either/Or.


13) Build it, they will come

     Globally, the supermarket experience is a 20 minute dash through hell.  Radio, lighting and air-con should be done for assault.  The store where lots of purchase decisions are made, is still the biggest opportunity in business today.  Solution?  Drip it with Mystery, Sensuality, Intimacy.  Build a theatre of dreams.  Go to Booths.  Go to Herdy.


14) Build Windmills

     A Boeing 747’s wingspan is longer than the first flight of the Wright brothers.  You can resist change and go backwards or embrace it and go forwards.  When hurricanes come, build windmills!  Pursue failure, you discover your limits when you crash up against them.  When others zig, zag.  Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast.


15) Surprise with the Obvious

     The most popular first name in the world is Muhammad.  No piece of paper can be folded more than seven times.  The stall closest to the door in a bathroom is the cleanest, because it is the least used.  Obvious.  Overlooked.  For cut through innovation, communication, surprise with the obvious.



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Making the World a Better Place


A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a charismatic, passionate sustainability advocate – Sara Bell in Sydney.  Here’s a link to the article:  And I asked her if she would reciprocate by writing a blog for us.  Here it is.  Thanks Sara.





Do we need to sell the idea of solving climate change better?  To traditional environmentalists this seems like an outrageous question.  Seeing the evidence, it’s obvious we need to act.  But this presupposes that human beings are rational, altruistic beings.  Actually, we are much more complicated than that which is what makes us so annoying, frustrating, interesting and inspiring.  All at the same time.  If we are going to successfully unleash the power of seven and a half billion people, our starting point has to be real.  Previous efforts in this field have concentrated on a combination of terrorising us and selling us a lifestyle that is less.  These methods don’t work.  Hope is energising, terror is not.  The trick to selling more through different.


So, what does a lifestyle where we are not screwing up the planet look like?  The pace is slower.  COVID-19 has shown that lots of the work travel many of us have been doing has been unnecessary.  But this lifestyle is slower – but that means more time to develop deeper relationships.  Women turn themselves on by getting dressed up.  It’s an important part of female sexuality.  This is why selling the idea of wearing hemp sacks has failed so miserably.  The reality is we can no longer afford fast fashion but who said this meant we had to give up some of the vital components of desire?


Consumers are now looking at each other and their favourite personalities who have large number of followers on different social media platforms.

This relationship between intended and realised brand associations is a central concept for me.

Symbolic benefits are often related to different needs for social approval or personal expression (Keller, 1993).  They often relate to non-product related attributes and are often connected to status, prestige and exclusivity (Keller, 1993).

One cannot directly observe others’ beliefs, experiences and their opinions, however, one can rely on signals such as facial expressions, statements they make on their online profiles, and consumption patterns in order to interpret these qualities.


Sara Bell