Sunday, September 19, 2021

No Time To Die


The new Bond movie finally hits theatres in a couple of weeks – with all kinds of surprises coming our way.


In the midst of the hype I looked back to 1960, when I read my first James Bond paperback – Dr. No.


007 was my first ‘adult’ hero – although he never replaced The Lone Ranger really.  He was just more fashionable!!  I had to ‘grow out’ of The Lone Ranger when I was 13 at Lancaster Royal Grammar School, and Cowboys with Indian side-kicks and moral values were replaced by heroes with those Timeless Teen Male Values of sex (whatever that was), beautiful girls, guns, gadgets, fast cars and elegant fisticuffs.


(The Lone Ranger though has stood the test of time – at least in my heart and my eyes – as you can see from the memorabilia we have here in Desert Dream – complete with our new soon-to-be-finished rooftop bar overlooking the desert – Tonto’s.  And from other KRC blogs – September 12 2019, February 8 2018, July 15 2013, January 1 and 2 2013.)


I saw Dr. No – my first 007 movie – in 1962, followed by From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and I’ve seen every one since.  Like many fans, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig have been my two favourites.


Anyway, this got me thinking about which fictional characters I liked reading about nowadays, so here’s my list of men of action on the printed page – not the silver screen – that I follow today.

  • Gabriel Allon – Daniel Silva’s Sabra intelligence officer – a good man.  20 years, 21 books so far.  The Cellist out now.  The Kill Artist started it all in 2000.
  • Orphan X (Evan Smoak) – Gregg Hurwitz’ loner – recommended to me by my brother-in-law Colin.  Six books so far, number seven Dark Horse out in February next year.
  • James Beck – John Clarkson’s Brooklyn ‘good’ criminal.  Three books so far, latest is Death Comes Due.
  • The Gray Man (Court Gentry) – a legendary ex-CIA operative from Mark Greaney.  10 books so far, number 11 Sierra Six due in February.  The Gray Man movie wrapped in July this year - $200 million budget – Netflix Original due for release Summer next year.  Ryan Gosling is The Gray Man, Chris Evans and (one of my favourites) Billy Bob Thornton in the cast.
  • John Rain – Barry Eisler’s Japanese-American assassin.  10 books, The Killer Collective is the latest.


With honourable mentions to:

  • Jack Reacher of course, mantle now moving from Lee Child to brother Andrew.  Better Off Dead due out on October 26th.
  • Lance Spector – Saul Herzog’s American operative.  Four books so far with number five The Splinter due in February 2022.
  • Marcus Ryker – Joel C. Rosenberg’s all American hero.  Four books so far – The Beirut Protocol is the latest.
  • Scot Harvarth – Brad Thor’s man keeps on going.  26 so far – Black Ice the latest.


Pure Escapism!



Thursday, September 16, 2021

My Favourite Mellow TV Soundtrack


Timeless French, Belgian, Italian, American, Classical tracks from times gone by.


Comforting, emotional, poignant – from Randy Newman and Johann Sebastian Bach, to Benny Goodman, Dalida and The Doors.


Imagine these on a turntable/LP/stylus – old school – and a glass of Calvados/Armagnac – quiet, calm, nostalgic.


Spotify – Professor T (the Belgian version – KRC, August 16th 2021).

Four playlists to choose from – Professor T, Professor T 2021, Professor T seizoen 2, and Professor T seizoen 3.



Monday, September 13, 2021

Reasons To Be Cheerful (II)

Last week I wrote about using the crisis to get your head up, smile, fight back, re-imagine your future and find the silver lining (or at least Thomas the Tank Engine did).

Here are some of the things we tried, enjoyed and learned.

1)    Live Life Longer.
Win back the 18 months the Pandemic took away from us.  Trudy and I committed to change our lifestyle last November.  Our new lifestyle:
  • Fasting – every day – 16-8.  Lunch at 1pm, dinner finished by 9pm.  Massive change in appetite/metabolism.
  • Reduced alcohol intake – 6-1 or 5-2.  No alcohol for five/six days per week, every week.
  • Dietary changes – focused on daily fresh fruits, green vegetables, fish and reduced meat/dairy.
  • Daily exercise – me on my road bike for 45 minutes every day, Trudy on a 20,000 step low-impact bike-ride/walking/swimming programme.
  • Eight hours sleep per night – in bed before 10pm, up before 6am.
  • Keep some Pandemic protocols in place – vaccines, hand sanitisation, masks in confined spaces.  We’ve not had a single cold/cough/fever in 18 months. 
2)   Connect virtually with Family regularly.
Make Zoom work for you.  Fortnightly call with all the kids – we’ve all got time now.  We should never give this up.
3)    Feed your mind, soul, and heart. 
We’ve both read more books this year than in the past three, made more eclectic choices, watched more international TV shows to provide more cultural understanding, listened to new and different music genres – and created more personal playlists.  We’ve visited more art galleries (virtually!) than ever before.  Chicken soup for the soul. 
4)    Re-evaluate your Personal Purpose. 
Revisit your Dream, your Focus, and Key Beliefs.  Look at the world as it is, not as it used to be, and not as you’d like it to be.  Make sure you’ve got the right blend of you, your family, your work (not balance!) and you’re Making Happy Choices.  Life is short as you now know.  Live your best life every day. 
5)    Change it up! 
This year we:
  • Downsized our New Zealand home and switched from a ‘resort’ home to our first ever beach-front apartment.
  • Revamped Desert Dream by adding a Casita for guests, a roof-top bar (Tonto’s) stretching out into the Desert.
  • Changed out the gym in Beckwood (Grasmere) for a lounge-bar as part of our Lancastrian pub.
  • Accelerated our New Jersey Farm project with Mark and Vanessa to create our new Family home. 
6)    Change it up on the work front too.
  • We created and ran seven new leadership programmes for the new VUCA world.
  • Reshaped the focus of the business in terms of customer base, delivery method, bespoke programming and delivering more with less.  Focus – Commitment – Discipline.


Don’t waste the crisis.  You’re never out of the fight.



Thursday, September 9, 2021

Reasons To Be Cheerful (I)


It’s been a challenging 18 months for all of us – and we’ve another few months to come as the battle continues.  But as Thomas the Tank Engine (courtesy of our grandkids) reminds us:


Life is full of surprises, full of ups and downs,

And so to have a silver lining,

first there must be cloud.


There's no sense in worrying if things start going wrong,

Obstacles can all be overcome,

If you never lose hope, you're sure to cope and carry on.


Every cloud is silver-lined, even when it rains,

So don't get too downhearted,

as things are bound to change.

All you've gotta do is wear a smile

and you will find

Your sun will shine.


Next week I’ll share with you how we found some sunshine amid the torrential rains.



Monday, September 6, 2021

The Best Is Yet To Come


Robert Frost and Walt Whitman were early US poets introduced to me at Lancaster Grammar by my influential, innovative, imaginative Enlish teacher – Peter Sampson, as foundational blocks to the Beat Poets and Mersey Sound I loved so much.


Robert Frost lived a fulfilling, creative life but a tragic one in many ways personally.  He lost both his parents at a young age, and outlived four of his six children before losing his wife.  Yet he survived and continued his search for love and laughter.  When asked on his 80th birthday “In all your years and all your travels, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned about life?”.  He gave a simple three word response “It goes on”.


Regardless of the pain we may face, it is always possible that the best is yet to come.



Thursday, September 2, 2021

Foodie Friday – In Praise of Fabio Trabocchi

We were in Washington DC last month and wanted to eat somewhere in Georgetown where we were staying.  We were delighted to see Fiola Mare, part of the Trabocchi group, was 100 yards away on the waterfront.




Fabio is a Michelin chef with his starred Fiola flagship in Washington – his contemporary Fiola Mare lively Italian seafood paradise in Georgetown, a couple of outposts in Miami and Venice, a handmade pasta house and a Spanish tapas/seafood restaurant on the wharf.


Fiola Mare is perfect for lunch or dinner.


Outstanding wine list with a couple of tip top sommeliers, a bubbly Irish Philly raconteur Master Sommelier Dan McDaid with an endless stream of stories and his partner-in-wine Megumi Awaya – a hospitality expert passionate in her love of wine.


We loved the buzz, design, crowd, bar, wine, and food so much, we went there on both our days in Georgetown – once for a decadent four hour lunch and once for a relaxed, happy dinner.  Oysters, Spanish grilled sardines, grilled whole Dover sole – vagabond luxury.


Bravo Signor Fabio and team (with an honorary mention to Faith Serrano, who ‘captained' our on-site service in a human, caring and fun way – Bravo Faith).




PS: And a dessert menu including a Campfire Sundae (toasted marshmallow gelato with caribe chocolate sauce, caramel popcorn, honey cracker and smoked sea salt), plus throwbacks and seasonal specialties – a Grand Chocolate Tower, a selection of ‘wellness’ organic chocolate from Sicily (optimism, beauty, health and youth were the choices) – all washed down with Bacardi’s Facundo private collection rums, rare tequilas/cognacs, rare bourbons, grappa, ports and excellent vin santos).  Vagabond luxury indeed.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Check In With Yourself


Some more great tips from my favourite student doctor – Zachery Dereniowski in Sydney (KR Connect, November 8th, 2020).


If ...

  1. You seem more irritated or reckless than usual, which you know is really out of character ...,
  2. You notice you’re going quieter and starting to withdraw from others ...,
  3. You’re experiencing turbulent change – maybe in employment, income, your personal life ...,
  4. You help others, but appear to be distant, on the outer ... 

... Check in with yourself (and with a loved one) and replace these feelings with a commitment to positivity (KR Connect, May 24th, 2021).


You are more than enough.


Commit to Happiness.


Make Happy Choices.



Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Throwback Thursday – 64 Shots


Here’s another memory from four years ago.  64 Shots is at the core of my work today and is still selling strongly.  And ‘Leadership in a Crazy World’ has never been more important – and more lacking.



64 Shots: “Nuggets of wisdom and inspiration”

December 14, 2017


It’s list time of the year, and it’s nice to be at the top of one. Matt Devost is a technologist, entrepreneur, and international security expert specializing in cybersecurity, counterterrorism, critical infrastructure protection, intelligence, and risk management issues. 


Matt has just done his 2017 book wrap-up. Here’s pretty much what he wrote, lightly truncated.

“In looking at advances in technology over the past year, I’m reminded of the Lenin quote “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

“It seems that to make the most sense of the top security and business trends you need to have a keen eye for advancements in AI, virtual currencies, and other technologies. That perspective has influenced my Top 10 books for 2017. Another influence was my desire to study past innovations and innovators. I found myself too focused on the innovators of my era, and while they are certainly important, I wondered what value might be derived from studying innovators of the near-past.

64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World by Kevin Roberts. My favorite book of the year. It is filled with so many nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that it was also my most highlighted book of the year. Thus far, I’ve gifted over 25 copies to friends and colleagues and have received great feedback from the recipients as well. I’m a firm believer that the right book finds you at the right time and I’m grateful that this book found me.

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper. My best performing asset of 2017 was Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s history is only just being written, but this book provides an accessible look at the story thus far.

Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes by Richard Clarke. An essential look at those analysts and researchers who provided advanced warning of significant global events and the societal, organizational, and leadership barriers the prevented them from being heard. It concludes with some thoughts on how we can identify and act on future warnings and discern realistic predictions from sensational doomsayers.

The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter by David Sax. A fascinating exploration of tension between digital and analogue.

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Provides several case studies of how mavericks persisted and persuaded in large organizations.

You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future by Jonathon Keats. An eclectic inventor of many technologies that were deemed to be the realm of science fiction at the time, his persistent vision of the future is a worthy exploration for those looking to understand our future now.

The Man Who Designed the Future by B. Alexandra Szerlip. As much a look at the emergence of culture as it is a look at innovation.

The Field Researcher’s Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork by David Danelo. David J. Danelo reminds us that all we know about the world shouldn’t be observed via a computer monitor. As Le Carre once penned, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”

Void Star by Zachary Mason. A failed medical trial results in a handful of patients with malfunctioning neurological implants. One of them develops a capability to interface and negotiate with rogue or malfunctioning cooperate AI systems.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. Dealing with issues of biohacking, artificial intelligence, and robotics it uniquely weaves a story largely told from the perspective of autonomous and indentured bots.

Great list. I'm off to Amazon. Thanks Matt.



Monday, August 23, 2021

Butch, Sundance, His Bobness, Joanie and The Prince of Darkness in Arizona


Old mate Bob Latham – sports nut, World Rugby Board member, Chairman of World Rugby Regulations Committee, ex Chairman of USA Rugby, my Vice-Chairman/Consigliere during my eight years as Rugby USA champion, lawman extra-ordinaire, prosecutor in the Great State of Texas, writer, lecturer, teacher and music-man – came out from Dallas to visit with us last weekend.


We talked non-stop for two days, closed Spiga on Friday night (following in Mick Jagger’s footsteps immediately prior to the Pandemic), watched the All Blacks smash Australia until 2am Saturday morning, sang Tom Russell songs and Bruce anthems, re-imagined a 3rd Redford/Newman movie after their two classics, put the world to rights from a Purpose driven leadership perspective, sorted out the next Rugby World Cup tournament and re-imagined the Adjunct Professor’s teaching style/approach.  Not to mention Bob channeling Bob (complete with my prized Dylan hat from the Rolling Thunder tour) and Trudy channeling Joanie Baez in Desert Dream’s early evening.


A reminder of our pre-Pandemic world of friendship, sociability and good times.  And a reminder not to let the old man in!!!


Laissez les bon temps rouler.



Thursday, August 19, 2021

True Grit XI


5’ 6”, 115lbs and 36 years old.  Double Olympic Marathon Gold Medal Winner; world marathon record holder.  First man to run a marathon in under two hours, subject of a book ‘No Human is Limited’ and a two hour Sky documentary ‘The Last Milestone’.  Eliud Kipchoge.


Old school-friend and Master Coach of Sports Coaches Brian Ashton watched the documentary and made a bunch of notes exhibiting Kipchoge’s True Grit, which Brian felt defined this ordinary man and his epic journey.


Here’s what Brian thought we could all learn from Kipchoge’s story – inspirational.


Eliud Kipchoge:

  • Background taught the values of hardship.
  • Have a PURPOSE and DREAM to follow.
  • You must suffer to achieve.
  • ABC mindset leads to a FEARLESS approach.
  • No human is limited except by their mind (RED – BLUE).
  • LOVE conquers all.
  • We all need support.
  • Know yourself – Equity word – Authenticity.
  • Humility is the CORE to dealing with adversity.
  • Live a simple life.
  • Aim for ELITE = unrivalled.
  • Have an underpinning WORK ETHIC.
  • Accept that 100% does not exist.
  • Be happy and positive to remain relaxed and calm.
  • Keep your mind in a state of FREEDOM.
  • Accept and overcome NEGATIVE ENERGY.
  • Control your emotions in tough times.
  • Compete with yourself – no one else.