Who Do You Trust?

Who Do You Trust?

“In a shocking finding, scientist discovered a herd of unicorns living in a remote, previously unexplored valley, in the Andes Mountains. Even more surprising to the researchers was the fact that the unicorns spoke perfect English. The scientist named the population, after their distinctive horn, Ovid’s Unicorn. These four-horned, silver-white unicorns were previously unknown to science.” Read the rest of this remarkable story here. Assuming you read the article, how long was it before you started to smell a rat? To be clear, the first two sentences were written by a human being, the rest was generated by GPT-2, an AI trained on 8 billion webpages. What GPT-2 produces is […]

It’s Not Just A Jacket

It’s Not Just A Jacket

In early October 2019, I was one of the lucky 300 to get one of the Batch No.2 Paynter jackets. It arrived just before Christmas, and has quickly become one of my favourite items of clothing. Anyone who has met me will quickly realise I’m not that interested in ‘fashion’ – but I care deeply about the story behind the clothes I wear. When you order from Paynter, it’s not just a jacket – it’s a journey … they share details of the design process, where the fabric comes from, the factory in Portugal where each jacket is hand made, the illustrator who designs the labels, why they chose the […]

Resolutions v Habits

Resolutions v Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habitWill Durant, American author It’s that time of year when many of us start to feel guilty because we’ve already given up on our New Year’s Resolutions. If that sounds like you, then I have a suggestion – try thinking about establishing new habits, rather than setting bold resolutions. Almost everything we do is a habit. Some of them do us good, like brushing our teeth, and some of them are maybe not so helpful – like having biscuits with every cup of tea you drink (guilty as charged!). Our brain is an incredible thing. Every […]

My Best Reads of 2019

My Best Reads of 2019

In 2019, I again beat my goal of reading a book a week – 64 in total. I try to read a diverse range of material because I believe it’s important to learn from a variety of different sources. Here are my ten favourites, in no particular order… “This Is Marketing” by Seth Godin Quite simply, if you do any marketing at all, I believe this to be essential reading … And as Seth explains, in today’s world, we are all marketing, all the time – whether you call it ‘brand’, ‘reputation’ or something else, every action we take says something about us. What are you saying? “Meaningful Work” by […]

Who Are You Angry With?

Who Are You Angry With?

For many years now, I have been an avid fan and follower of Seth Godin. His books, podcast, and online courses are all excellent, but it is his daily blog that I find provides the most value. (Which is interesting in itself – he gives away his best ideas for free, every day … If you take nothing else from this article, signing up for Seth’s daily updates will make a huge difference to you and your business.) Seth considers himself first and foremost a teacher, and his main area of expertise is marketing – but his ideas are applicable to all areas of life. A recent post called ‘Irritated […]

It’s Never Black and White

It’s Never Black and White

In 1999, I took part in a cycling trip across Cuba. 26 year old me was 100% certain of himself – convinced he knew everything, and that anyone who saw things differently simply needed to be ‘educated’ with the ‘facts’ [as I saw them], and that if those ‘facts’ didn’t change your mind, then you must be an idiot. [Yeah – 26 year old me was a dick.] Anyway – on the bike tour, about 50 strangers met at Heathrow Airport and set off. On our first night in Havana, we were all sat together, laughing and joking, excited about our upcoming adventure. I mentioned to the lady next to […]

Reaction v Response

Reaction v Response

After surviving Nazi concentration camps, Viktor Frankl famously talked about the gap between stimulus and response. What he called “the last of the human freedoms” is our ability to choose our response to any given situation. I recently came across a variation of this idea in an interview with Harvard professor Sheila Heen, an expert on communication and negotiation. She spoke about how the key to managing difficult conversations is understanding that our reaction to what is being said does not necessarily have to dictate our response. When someone criticises us, or accuses us in some way, our first reaction is very often to defend ourselves – to point out […]

Confident Uncertainty

Confident Uncertainty

There is a difference between confidence and certainty. Certainty is when we have 100% confidence – we are utterly convinced that we are right. We’ve done all the research, and all our information is completely correct and undeniable … this 100% confidence shuts down conversation. Certainty closes doors – it stops people disagreeing with you. And it closes you to other – possibly better – options. Confidence is important, otherwise we can just end up procrastinating … but if we want the people around us to be at their best, then we have to give them space to voice their opinions. We all have to be open to the possibility […]

Attention and Optimism

Attention and Optimism

With the growing awareness of the risks around the internet and how much of our attention it is taking, It’s understandable that this is accompanied with deep levels of scepticism and pessimism from many quarters. Data breaches, deep fakes, device addiction and social media abuse are just some of the things that people are rightly worried about. I’m one of the few people I know who is optimistic about how things are progressing. Don’t get me wrong – there are massive problems to be solved, and the fallout will be something our society will be dealing with for years to come. But I also believe there are good reasons to […]

ZigZags and Zebras

ZigZags and Zebras

It’s fair to say that I am addicted to podcasts, and one of my favourites is ZigZag. In the words of host Manoush Zomorodi, it’s about “the changing culture of business and work” – but I’d say there’s a bit more to it than that. There is a business thread that runs through the episodes, but the themes they talk about have much wider applications. Really, it’s a podcast that asks questions about the impact we have on the world. One of my favourite recent episodes was called “An Alternative to Silicon Valley’s ‘Unicorn’ Bullsh*t”. A ‘Unicorn’ is what all investors are looking for – the company – the Facebook, […]