Sunday, September 17, 2017

Winston Churchill: Crazy Times


John Lithgow's Emmy acceptance speech tonight: “First and foremost, I want to thank Winston Churchill. In these crazy times, his life reminds us what courage and leadership in government looks like.”

"A Netflix original drama, The Crown chronicled the life of Queen Elizabeth II (Claire Foy) from the 1940s to modern times. Churchill was a British statesman who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955."

57-0

All Blacks 57, South Africa 0. Oi. Ugh. A few months ago I posted "World Domination: Why are the All Blacks so Good?" On Saturday night at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, they really showed why. Eight tries to zip. The highlights reel demands repeated viewing.








Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Life Lessons Radio Podcast

Rick Tocquigny and I were are P&G at the same time in the late 70s and early 80s though on different continents, and we've crossed paths many times in the past few years at the P&G Alumni Network. Based in Colorado, one of Rick's many hats is host and producer of Life Lessons Radio (2,185 broadcasts in 8 years!). Yesterday we had a 20 minute conversation in which I managed to do something no one has ever done before, which was to place the novels of Ernest Hemingway and Procter & Gamble's famous one-page memo in the same sentence (crisp get-to-the-point writing style). Check out the podcast here, we talked about the fast crazy world in which we live, mentoring, your ABCs (ambition, belief and courage), being digital, and what three authors I would love to have to dinner (Hemingway being one, listen to the podcast for the other two).


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Business Tips From the Movies: Avoiding a Knife in the Back

KRConnect has been running for 10 years now - 2104 posts - so I can now run those "10 Years Ago" posts favored by newspapers. Here goes.

I saw a great movie en route to Seoul last week - Breach. It’s the true story of Robert Hanssen, a FBI double agent. Hanssen was responsible for the deaths of half a dozen American agents, and the cause of untold damage to America’s national security.

The movie has been shot by Billy Ray, almost as a documentary. Ray has described the movie as “a story about lying in the pursuit of truth”. The tension never ebbs and the cold, chilling sets and tone feel totally believable. Even though you know how the story ends, you can still feel yourself being clouded by confusion and doubt.

Anyone in business will recognize and feel for this real life drama where everyday institutional office pressures are overlaid on the stresses of a typical family life. The acting is brilliant. Two primary characters, Hanssen, and FBI rookie, Eric O’Neill, are intriguingly interlinked, taking turns at playing on the insecurities of one another. There is a universal truth that lies at the heart of this movie; people who want to make a difference, and want to be known for something, need to be appreciated. It’s a theme I hold dear, and we must never forget just how important responsibility, learning, recognition and joy are to everyone in the work place. Create this sort of environment in your business and you are unlikely to be betrayed.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Golden Age - Drama on Television

In today’s Golden Age of TV Dramas, here’s what I’ve been watching in 2017.

The Bureau – Series 3
Brilliant, up-to-the-minute Canal+ show based on real life accounts by French spies.

Romanzo Criminale
Crime and passion in the turmoil and turbulence of 1970’s Rome.

Billions – Season 2
Of course you’ve all been watching this tour de force between Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades. We have to wait for 2018 now.

Unforgotten
An ITV series green-lighted by ex Saatchi & Saatchi UK co-CEO Adam Crozier, a BAFTA Best Drama series winner about cold cases being revived and solved.

Line of Duty – Series 4
Another UK crime drama – focusing on the Police Anti-Corruption unit AC12. Complex and riveting.

Fargo – Series 3
Coen Brothers inspired. Noah Hawley created and amazing acting from Ewan McGregor and co. Irresistible.

Taboo
Dark. A journey to the end of the earth and back – London in 1814. Tom Hardy at his best.

The Young Pope
Radical and brave. Jude Law is amazing. Brilliantly conceived and created by Paolo Sorrentino – a FremantleMedia production.

American Gods

Another FremantleMedia piece of irresistible entertainment. Ian McShane in fine form.

Berlin Station
A US drama around leaks, whistle-blowing and political intrigue – Rhys Ifans is magnificent.

Vintage stuff.

KR

Monday, August 28, 2017

Entourage Academy Podcast





















A couple of months ago I had a lively and intense conversation with Secret Entourage founder Pejman Ghadimi about marketing and branding. The result is a 38 minute podcast posted here. With digital and social roaring away, this is quite a different conversation than I would have had a decade or more ago. And with my roles as chairman of three early-stage companies, my perspective is today is a little different from my lifetime of working in and alongside large corporations. We talked about:
  • How I got involved with branding and marketing
  • Everything starts with purpose
  • Why your work purpose and your life purpose need to be integrated
  • The difference between leadership and management
  • What qualities to demonstrate to secure a job
  • How an organization structure needs to be like an amoeba
  • What traditional advertising agencies are under serious threat
  • What's missing from your brand to bring it to the next level
  • The role of marketing has changed to create a movement, not build a brand
  • Lovemarks, and how to create loyalty beyond reason
  • Survival of the fastest
  • All marketing is designed to do one thing: sell more stuff
  • The secrets to successful marketing in today's society
  • The difference between transformational, informational, and disruptive creativity
  • What Amazon does to succeed
Bio of my interviewer, Secret Entourage founder Pejman Ghadimi: a self-made entrepreneur and best-selling book author born in 1982 in the middle of a revolution in Iran, Peham spent the majority of his childhood in France, eventually migrating to the United States in 1997. Raised by a single mother his entire life with very limited resources, Pejman quickly adapted to the idea of being resourceful. Due to lack of finances and the inability to go to college due to family obligations, Pejman chose to start working from a young age and focused his efforts on banking where he built a name for himself very quickly, climbing the ladder all the way to the VP level in a four years without any type of formal education or formalized training. Fast forward three years and Pejman left banking to found three major businesses: VIP Motoring, Secret Consulting, and Secret Entourage (which collectively have grossed over $40M in revenue annually). Pejman shares a unique perspective on success and entrepreneurship; one that involves the birth of innovation through the impact made on others as well as the human connections we create daily backed by years of effective and practical leadership skills. Pejman’s most recent best seller Third Circle Theory focuses on a unique roadmap to achieving a higher level of self-awareness leveraging the power of entrepreneurship.

Pejam says about entrepreneurship: "Creating the life you want takes work, dedication, support, and a whole lot of motivation along the way. This is why we created Secret Entourage, a group of incredibly talented and extraordinary people helping to shape the future of entrepreneurship. Our definition of Entrepreneurship extends far beyond the scope of simply starting a business. It's about vision, creation, and innovation. But it's also about the value it creates for those impacted by it."

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Unfiltered Conference: Team, Culture & Diversity

Unfiltered, the business education video disrupter founded by Jake Millar and which I chair, staged an astoundingly good conference in Auckland in July for 400 participants on the themes of team, culture and diversity.

The outstanding speakers for me were All Blacks World Cup-winning coach Sir Graham Henry and ZURU toy company cofounder, co-CEO Nick Mowbray, and MyFoodBag founder and co-CEO Cecilia Robinson (notice the titles starting with “co” – Kiwis are a collaborative cohort).

The first videos are out, featuring a presentation by New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English, an interview with Cecilia Robinson, and – no pulling of strings – my opening speech to the conference on Leadership in a Crazy World.

A subscription to Unfiltered to see the videos in full is staggeringly good value – sign up for a free trial and pay NZ$14.95 per month thereafter. There are a couple of hundred videos online featuring the wisdom and grit of (mostly) New Zealand entrepreneurs who have pursued their dreams up hill and down dale.

Check it out…Unfiltered - and check out the new U.S. site unfiltered.tv.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

64 Bars

A year ago I published 64 Shots (Leadership in a Crazy World). New Zealand rapper David Dallas is doing 64 Bars. Dreamed up in Auckland in 2015, 64 Bars is an online showcase where handpicked MCs step into the booth and lay down "64 Bars" of straight raps –  four verses without a hook, bridge or break. Styled in the tradition of Sway's 5 Fingers of Death freestyle segment, or Charlie Sloth's Fire In The Booth, it's an outlet for local artists to show and prove their skills for real. Performing under the spotlight they present a short packed set surrounded by an intimate audience – moving the feeling of a crowded street corner cypher into a live scenario.

Last November David Dallas and Red Bull Studios Auckland presented a new season of 64 Bars starring local rappers. Now, Red Bull will take the idea to other cities around the world where they have studios, a long list which includes Berlin, London, LA, New York, Paris and Tokyo (which they did in July).

The set-up is elegantly simple: three MCs, one mic, one studio. The sole idea behind 64 Bars is to have a platform strictly focused on the craft of rapping – not songwriting, or fashion, or marketing. “You've got radio and social media for that other stuff,” says Dallas. “I just wanted this to be a showcase of people's ability to rap.”

"There's a platform for everything else, you can use SoundCloud if you're a good songwriter, if you've got a great aesthetic, there's YouTube, there's all these other things, but for kids that just want to be good at rapping, there wasn't anything –  at least locally –  for that."

I wrote in the introduction to 64 Shots that “64 is a magic number. Remember 1964? It was a landmark year that changed the world in many ways. The Beatles held the top five positions on Billboard, headed by “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Bob Dylan recorded “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” The Rolling Stones released their first album. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Civil Rights Act. Nelson Mandela gave his “I Am Prepared to Die” speech over three hours from the dock before being sentenced to 27 years. Cassius Clay became both heavyweight champion of the world and Muhammad Ali. BASIC computing language was introduced and the computer mouse was invented. Protests began against the Vietnam War. Andy Warhol began his most celebrated period. It turns out that 64 is a super-perfect number. The square root of 64 is the lucky number eight. There are 64 squares on a chessboard, and the Karma Sutra has 64 positions (but you know that!). Sixty-four is the country calling code for New Zealand, my home on the edge of the world. And the title of a famous Lennon and McCartney love song from the greatest album of all time.”

Take it away, David Dallas and 64 Bars.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The Gods Make Bored First Those Whom They Wish To Destroy (But Destruction Is Avoidable)

When I was studying Virgil’s Aeneid at school I came across a line I will never forget – “The Gods first make bored those whom they wish to destroy.” French novelist Victor Hugo made a similar statement in his book Les Misérables: “There is something more terrible than a hell of suffering… A hell of boredom.” Without going into too much detail, the ancient Latin proverb and Hugo both play on the fact that boredom is usually perceived as something negative. That’s still the case today. Think of the importance society places on ‘being busy’. Not having anything to do or feeling bored is often associated with laziness or insignificance.

Being busy and making a difference are not the same. A growing body of research suggests boredom could have positive implications for creativity and productivity. According to psychologists Sandi Mann and Rebekah Cadman from the University of Central Lancashire, “being in a state of boredom encourages you to explore creative outlets because your brain is signaling that your current situation is lacking and you need to push forward.” This figures and could be why we often have great ideas when in meandering mode (taking a shower, going for a walk).

And it’s not just our creativity that can benefit from boredom. According to Andreas Elpidorou, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Louisville, boredom might push us to be more productive. He believes boredom acts as a “regulatory state” that can help motivate us to complete projects. And it puts things we are doing (when not bored) into perspective and makes them seem more significant. Making time to do ‘nothing’ is something some of the world’s successful business leaders already do. Bill Gates is known for scheduling in time just to sit and think for instance.

Take time out, make like a shark and keep moving, and remember Virgil: “Fléctere si néqueo súperos Acheronta movebo  If I cannot move heaven, I will raise hell.”

Illustration from Virgil’s Aeneid. The Dreams of Aeneas. 1829.  Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy Trioson. French 1767-1824. hadrian6.tumblr.com


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

In Praise of Air NZ

Air New Zealand is –  alongside My Food Bag - New Zealand’s premier company. They fly 16 million people a year. That’s a lot of trust. Most of my miles with Air New Zealand have been across the Pacific, from America and Asia, a few hundred times I guess as I have come back home. I loved flying them through the Lions Tour. No fuss. No drama. No bullshit. Just customer-focused, professional, friendly, light touch, and engaging approach to safety (seen their latest video?) but safety nonetheless.

It says a lot for the New Zealand government’s longsighted expertise in ownership and governance of major commercial enterprises that Air New Zealand has thrived (NZ Govt owns 52%). For the past 15 years Air New Zealand has been led by three outstanding CEOs: Sir Ralph Norris, Rob Fyfe, and Christopher Luxon. Each has set a superb cultural context for customer experience, married with outstanding engineering and financial skills needed to steer an organization as complex and safety-conscious as an airline; together with 10,000 brand ambassadors working every day to bring an unselfconscious Kiwi professionalism to their roles in the air and on the ground.

Air New Zealand regularly wins global and regional awards for customer experience, and regularly attracts favorable media attention. Monocle Escapist just wrote about “Easy Flying” as their correspondent hopped around New Zealand on the regional airline network, advocating Air New Zealand “for those of us who value smart service and a sense of humour.”

I have been especially pleased at how Air New Zealand wove the silver fern symbol into their plane livery next to the treasured koru tail piece. Back in 1999 I advocated for this along with my creative colleague Brian Sweeney, we mocked up some black 747s with a giant silver fern – so I have a personal stake in every Air New Zealand plane I board. Read the story here.

The business of hosting guests – New Zealanders and global visitors – has evolved into our largest industry. Gone are the days of tearoom snacks with decrusted white bread sandwiches filled with hundreds and thousands (remember them, in Greymouth a few decades ago!). Air New Zealand sets the standard for the he amalgam of Kiwi attitude of helpfulness and generosity with their incredible food, wine, music and media offerings. I wrote about this 10 years ago here at KRConnect.

I’ve often pushed for New Zealanders to be world-changing over world class. However I don’t really want a world-changing airline, I want it to be world class, and Air New Zealand does it exactly right. Hats off to all 10,000. That’s lot of love.

Monday, August 14, 2017

KR Podcast with Linda Coles "Tell Us A Story"


















Just posted, a 23 minute podcast with Linda Coles, foremost NZ Linkedin influencer (530k followers). We dive into Lovemarks and how they came to be, PepsiCo stories including one that led me to General Norman Schwarzkopf, the future of retail, Jake Millar's visionary business education video channel Unfiltered, and both being from the North of England, we talk local politics.
http://tellusastory.podbean.com/e/kevin-roberts-ex-global-saatchi-and-saatchi-chairman-talks-lovemarks-and-a-lot-more/ 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Name The First Advertising Agency That Comes Into Your Head.

Exactly. Chutzpah & Chutzpah is a history of Saatchi & Saatchi by Richard Myers, Simon Goode and Nick Darke (Michael O’Mara Books, London, 2017). It is an insiders’ story of the first 20 or so years of the most famous advertising agency in history. Chutzpah & Chutzpah is the sixth independently-written book about the agency. It is compelling and irresistible reading. The book is dedicated to founding brothers Charles and Maurice Saatchi, “whose unique talents and chutzpah inspired us to reject mediocrity, to have no fear of being first, to believe that whatever has gone before counts for nothing, and that the unthinkable can be achieved.”

Myers, Goode & Darke (Saatchi originals across creative, management and design respectively) take us on a 195 page ripped and rip-roaring adventure across the founding of the biggest advertising company the world had known, and its subsequent explosiveness.

The agency was, at its core, very British. Literate. Erudite. Funny. Ironic. Sarcastic. Superior. This was 1970; Monty Python, the start of the 747 era, the women’s liberation movement, heavy metal, Richard Branson founding Virgin, BP discovering oil in the North Sea, the death of Jimi Hendrix, the break-up of The Beatles, Nixon’s presidency, Jesus Christ Superstar. Television was the dominant and vital force. Britain was throbbing, and Charles and Maurice Saatchi had a dream and a dare to blow things sky high.

Chutzpah & Chutzpah catches the cultural semiotics that drove a golden era of advertising (alas, before the onslaught of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon, creating trillions of dollars of shareholder value against the meagre mega-millions of advertising holding companies. At least advertising had Lunch). A sampling:
  • Nothing Is Impossible
  • We can achieve anything
  • The biggest risk is not taking risks
  • There are no boundaries, no rules that particularly matter
  • We stand for the single-minded pursuit of creative originality and excellence
  • Come to the edge
  • We are naughty and fearless
  • We are walkers of the walk
  • We have pure determination to win
  • Saatchi people will go to any length, and make any sacrifice, to win new business
  • Never put your best people on new business; put your luckiest
Other phrases the authors assign Saatchi & Saatchi in years 1-20:
  • Self-belief bordering on arrogance
  • Fearlessness, ingenuity, and chutzpah
  • Swashbuckling, shrewd, sensational, surreal
  • Unparalleled household fame
  • Unsurpassed creativity
  • Masters of Illusion
The actor playing Lafayette in the musical Hamilton exclaims in one of the show’s most popular lines, “Immigrants, we get the job done.” Charles Saatchi had the reported chutzpah of, on a slow news day in London, insuring his creative department for one million pounds, a vast sum of money in the early 70s. The Saatchi brothers had global ambition to be the world’s best and biggest, and they cleverly laced this positioning with the original globalization theorist, Harvard economist Theodore Levitt. Chutzpah & Substance. Soon enough Saatchi & Saatchi was doing legendary campaigns for the biggest brands in Britain: British Airways, BP, ICI, BT, British Coal & Gas, Cadbury Schweppes. The history of the Conservative Party assignments – and the future of Britain – resulting in three election-winning performances is well covered by Myers, Goode & Darke. Through its acquisitions the agency gained Procter & Gamble’s coveted business, and won the business of Toyota and Lexus in the U.S. which it has held for three decades. Collectively, the Saatchi & Saatchi agencies represented, supported, led, quarreled with, inspired, and cajoled clients and brands with sales running into a multi-billion dollar stratosphere. Advertising does make the world go round, and while the business of selling with great ideas has been contaminated by data science, a brilliant idea still goes all the way. 15% or more.

Having ambitions for global dominance – meant that the Saatchi & Saatchi Nothing Is Impossible culture had to inculcate worldwide. There was a waiting audience. In New Zealand, for example, a country who until 1972 had called Great Britain “home,” there were a bunch of mavericks – King, Cullinane, Thorp, Grieve, Bradley, Wicksteed – who gave rise to an agency that just so got the Saatchi & Saatchi attitude that they became one of the most celebrated global agencies. And in Italy. In Spain. Argentina. Brazil. Australia. China. Russia. The Saatchi & Saatchi attitude found willing participants.

My own Saatchi & Saatchi journey began at its founding. My first employer, fashion designer Mary Quant, was a founding shareholder in the agency in 1970, and taken by the chutzpah of the Brothers, I pledged to hire the agency without pitch wherever I was in the world in the future – in Geneva, Casablanca, Toronto, Auckland, Sydney. I did this. And one day I was phoned up to save it.

Chutzpah & Chutzpah is a chronicle of 200 firsthand accounts from alumni, of bad behavior and bad language by good people working at the apotheosis of business and creativity. There are a number of piss-ups and punch-ups but throughout the essence of Saatchi & Saatchi’s trajectory was one of “growing phenomenally, making money, creating great award-winning work, doing winning media and helping our clients be massively successful.” Visionary advertisers are acknowledged in Chutzpah, including Lord King of British Airways who was infatuated to the core, and Bob Field of Toyota in New Zealand, the franchise’s leading country per capita, who greenlighted an outrageous idea on the spot. (“Bugger.”)

I have unconditional love for Saatchi & Saatchi. When Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, spoke to Campaign in 2016 about “the reasons why the Saatchi team is going to succeed,” his first reason was “the incredible strength and attractiveness of the brand…we are talking about the most brilliant brand in the world.”

Myers, Goode & Darke recount an early invocation of the Saatchi & Saatchi brand: “The culture has the attitude of a mongrel fighter, a kind of ‘we may be brash outsiders but we’re going to win’ certainty.”

Make things happen.

KR.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Zentivity Calms Stress and Discontent in the Workplace

My cobber in D.C. Leland Schwartz is always onto a good thing. He sent me a just-published book called Zentivity: How to Eliminate Chaos, Stress, and Discontent in Your Workplace by Marianne Clyde which asks: “Why is it that when illness is related to emotional, mental, or relationship factors, are we more likely to hide and deny it, hoping it just goes away? This doesn’t make sense. If we simply addressed the issues up front and learned techniques to help ourselves and our employees overcome them, we would see direct results in enhanced job performance, a more positive outlook, and focused productivity.”

Reports show that 43.8 million Americans suffer from some kind of mental illness. Even more are dealing with difficult emotional difficulties such as divorce, health issues, parenting problems. The impact on the economy is a whopping $225.8 billion a year. The wise employer is one that recognizes the connection between strong mental/emotional health in the workplace and increased productivity, lower costs and stronger bottom line.

Zentivity offers practical, easy-to-implement solutions to help business leaders achieve a level of mental and emotional stability, creating a strong internal locus of control, enabling them to respond wisely and efficiently to stressors and unexpected crises in the workplace.

Based on the practice of 10 Essential Principles, Marianne Clyde, licensed marriage and family therapist, offers leaders a way to strengthen their own sense of well-being and offer support to those they lead. She lays out a step by step guide to develop strong individuals, leading to a stronger team and better productivity.

Learn how to:
  • Get rid of old emotional programs that keep spinning in the back of your consciousness, sabotaging your efforts, and replace them with thoughts and beliefs that work. 
  • Respond instead of react, so there's less to clean up later.
  • Understand how your personal history informs your decisions and opinions, and how to apply that in understanding others.
  • Strengthen your awareness of yourself, others and your surroundings so you can respond in a way that maximizes time and energy.
  • Communicate effectively so you can be heard and respected.
  • Find a way to practice gratitude, respect, non-judgment, forgiveness to maximize your effectiveness.
  • Get grounded through meditation and mindfulness, without losing your edge or taking up too much time.
  • Detach from drama and chaos to keep a clear and balanced perspective.
  • Be the same balanced, healthy person in business and at home.
  • Just breathe.... (and why you should).

Monday, August 7, 2017

Do You Remember?

When was the last time you memorized someone else’s phone number? Drove somewhere without Google Maps turned on? Didn’t use technology to organize your appointments? Technology certainly has made our lives easier – and will continue to do so in the future. In the last few years the way we all recall events and organize our lives has changed drastically. With technology doing so much of our memorizing for us, are we losing or deteriorating our ability to recall information naturally?

In the 1990s Harvard University psychology professor Daniel Schacter discovered that photographs could distort people’s memory and determine which events people remembered and which they forgot. Thinking about social media and the way people today use the different platforms to share photos with their friends this study still carries relevance today.

The device which does most of the ‘reminding’ for us today is the smartphone. There’s even a scientific term for it: “cognitive offloading.” It describes the notion that we save brain space by assigning duties of our brain power onto a device. Two psychologists from the University of Waterloo – Evan Risko and Sam Gilbert – examined existing studies in order to find out what impact cognitive offloading has on our memories and the way we think. Interestingly there are both positive as well as negative consequences.

As pointed out in an article on CBC News, putting information into our phones or computers frees up brain space, which then allows us to think about more complex or more important issues. It makes our brain work more energy-efficient so to speak. But there’s also another side to the argument. Other surveys found that people are getting terrible at remembering things simply because it’s something they’re not attempting to do anymore. In consequence that makes us vulnerable and very dependent on technology. They have a point.

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign confirm that notion. Their findings suggest that an increased dependency on the internet impacts our problem solving abilities, recall and learning negatively.

That certainly provides food for thought. To me it comes down to balance. Technology can make our lives easier, but if you can’t remember your own phone number without looking it up, you are probably overdoing it.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Happiness Without Borders

I‘ve blogged about happiness and personal wellbeing at length. In recent years happiness has gained ground all around the world. There’s World Happiness Day, the World Happiness ReportThe Happy Planet Index and almost ten years ago France followed Bhutan’s example and included happiness as key metric for their country. It’s great to see that happiness is being perceived as more and more important in an otherwise achievement driven world. The “Happiness without Borders” initiative in the UAE is now bringing happiness into corporate culture. As part of the program ‘chief happiness’ and ‘positivity officers’ from various government agencies are providing free consultations and offer interactive workshops to support organizations to “establish a culture of happiness and positivity.” I love it.

Looking at how important happiness can be for our personal wellbeing as well as our performance it makes sense to introduce ‘happiness’ training into organizations. I’m a firm believer in personal wellbeing as key element in peak performance. When you look at rankings of the best companies to work for you will notice they usually have something in common. They are known for making working there fun. And happy companies significantly outperform their peer group. No surprise here.

Happiness does not only affect our mental wellbeing, but also has been found to have a significant effect on physical health – it seems that for some people “subjective well-being can influence health and longevity.”

Pondering this I took to Google and discovered even more interesting studies on happiness. Experts speaking at ‘Happiness and its Causes’ recently held in Sydney, found that while wellbeing and happiness are words that are often used interchangeably they are not the same. Happiness is an ingredient in wellbeing, but you can have wellbeing without happiness. That certainly provides food for thought. Just think about the adage that money doesn’t buy happiness. What it boils down to is a sense of purpose and meaning. And studies confirm that people who are focused on giving back to communities or on personal growth were more likely to be happy than those who weren’t. It makes sense and also applies in business. Purpose is why people work for you, buy from you, stay with you, share you and proliferate you. It really is about making happy choices – both in personal life and in business and enabling others to do the same.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Future of Learning

We are facing a crisis in education. Education simply hasn’t kept up. Teaching methods, teacher training, the stuff we’re learning and the ways we measure success are outdated. This should change. Education matters.

Last week at a PwC conference in New Zealand, Nick Mowbray*, director and president of Zuru, an incredibly successful toy business founded in New Zealand and now based in China, called for an entrepreneurial infusion into education. Looking at Switzerland and the Nordic countries – similar in size to New Zealand, Mowbray said "They have loads of global brands and global companies, and we have very few. I think it's how we can create these global companies, and it starts earlier, with education." Mowbray said digital, social and entrepreneurial skills were the new requirements for success, but many New Zealand children were getting an education "from the past".

"So it's just the basics of how do I make a product, how do I make a service, what is my channel plan, what is my marketing plan, what is my sales plan? All of these basic skills could be taught in school from a young age."

A recent article in Forbes by Daniel Newman looked at six digital trends in classrooms:
  • the introduction of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality, 
  • the move away from BYO device policies, 
  • the redesign of classrooms with help of SMARTboards and SMARTdesks, 
  • the use of artificial intelligence, 
  • personalized learning, and 
  • the gamification of learning. 
There are schools which are already implementing these technologies. Take virtual reality. With the help of different apps teachers are now able to bring the outside world into the classroom. This is where learning becomes immersive, collaborative and fun.

Innovative learning models are the way of the future. Unfiltered, which I chair, is disrupting business education through its video-based programming for getting up-close-and-personal with business leaders.

Already we can see that the use of these modern technologies in education is working. But there’s one very important prerequisite for the success of these programs. Teachers have to embrace it and support it. I like how The Economist phrases it: “Closed-mindedness has no place in the classroom.”

*This is a company boilerplate worth pinning on the wall: Founded in New Zealand in 2004, ZURU has become the fastest growing international toy company in the U.S. market. The company has flourished since its small beginnings in a garage, and the company is now made up of 500 team members building ZURU’s brand across the globe, and employing over 7000 operators. ZURU brands are distributed and marketed in 121 countries. Driven by innovation and marketing, ZURU strives to create a standard of excellence in its product engineering, marketing and distribution practices.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

When Lions Roared

The British & Irish Lions have left New Zealand with a drawn series. Humbug. The All Blacks should have won the final test by 17 points but for blown opportunities. The drawn series was like "kissing your sister"...along the lines of “rugby was the winner on the day.”

As preparation for the tour I read a new book by Tom English and Peter Burns When Lions Roared: The Lions, The All Blacks and the Legendary Tour of 1971, which brings to life one of the greatest stories in rugby history.

“When the enigmatic Welshman Carwyn James was appointed as coach of the side, he faced a gruelling schedule: a twenty-four match slog around New Zealand, which would include a four-Test series against the All Blacks, the best side on the planet.

“No Lions team had ever defeated the All Blacks in a Test series. Since 1904, six Lions sides had travelled to New Zealand and all had returned home with their tails between their legs. But in 1971 a tour party led by John Dawes set out to carve their names into the annals of sporting history with their assault on the great bastion of world rugby.

“Lying in wait for them was team after team of hardened rugby warriors from the length and breadth of New Zealand – grizzled forwards, powerful backs and players capable of footballing magic – and an All Blacks team filled with legends of the game. As the Lions began to light up the rugby fields of New Zealand and the Test series loomed large, it became clear that a clash that would echo through the ages was about to unfold.

When Lions Roared delves to the very heart of that famous summer as Lions, All Blacks and provincial players from New Zealand recount their memories to bring to life one of the most celebrated tours in rugby history – one that changed the game forever and continues to resonate powerfully to this day.”

In addition to the astute commentary from English and Burns, When Lions Roared is largely told from the point of view of the players. From the Lions, the legendary Barry John, Willie John McBride, Gareth Edwards and JPR Williams along with David Duckham, Gerald Davies, Mike Gibson, Gordon Brown, Mervyn Davies, Derek Quinnell, Fergus Slattery, Roy McLoughlin and Ian McLauchlan. From the All Blacks, Colin Meads, Sid Going, Ian Kirkpatrick, Bryan Williams, Bob Burgess, Peter Whiting and Jazz Muller. For any rugby nut of a certain age, these names are burnished in the memory banks of epic contests.

There’s a great 13 minute video of the 1971 tour to accompany the book, including Ian Kirkpatrick’s 60 metre scorching try in the second test, and JPR William’s 40 meter drop goal which sealed the series for the Lions 3-1. They also won all 20 games against New Zealand provincial sides.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Smart Cities for Wellbeing

Technology, data and sensors – the architecture of the Internet of Things – are raising the IQs of cities around the world. They call the emerging sentience a ‘Smart City’. Connect everything and everyone, and the possibilities for efficiency, comfort, fun and human wellbeing go north fast.

There are all kinds of benefits in connecting beings and things, not least: low energy costs and maintenance, on-demand public transport, congestion-free traffic, city-wide Wi-Fi, apps for revealing empty parking spaces, super-fast immigration, poor air-quality alerts, remote air traffic control , solar-powered phone-charging park benches, and cool bike-sharing schemes. Over in Rio de Janeiro, football-loving people in a favela can play the beautiful game into the night through powering lighting with their own footsteps. The floodlights are powered by kinetic tiles under the Astroturf.

The trick, as with all ideas, is to work back from people and not forward through machines, in order to make people’s life better. So fit technology to a problem rather than installing technology for its own sake, protect against hijackers, and work hard to keep Big Brother at bay.

Things don’t truly get smart until a city uses technology to respond to the needs, wants and dreams of its individual people. A smart city makes a commitment to system-level thinking but also it oozes with empathy. The Boston city website curates information through content based on how a resident thinks about an issue, such as moving or owning a car (c.f. organising info by department). Singapore’s elderly people can use a swipe-card at zebra crossings to give them more time to cross.

The power of an idea is intense, just so long as it improves people’s lives. It’s the emotional quotient that counts most, and that comes back to leadership. As American political theorist Benjamin Barber said: “Above all we need smart mayors and smart citizens, not smart cities.”

Image: Pavegen

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Captains of Sporting History

Books about sporting greatness get my attention. The Captain Class: The Hidden Force behind the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker is a standout. Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise. He studied 1,200 teams across 37 sports from the 1880s (some enterprise!), identified the top 16 top performing teams, and then went to work on isolating the secret sauce of their success. There’s an entire pub night argument in this (Real Madrid in the 60s, Australian cricket under Steve Waugh, Australian rugby league under Mel Meninga??). In an article in The Australian, Walker writes:

“No matter the sport, I heard the same handful of explanations: talent, commitment, discipline, coaching, a knack for making decisive plays in the final moments of a tight game. I was struck by the businesslike sameness of these groups and by how nonchalantly their members spoke about winning. It was as if they were part of a machine in which every cog and sprocket functioned ­precisely as intended…But what provides the spark? …When I started out I never expected to reach one emphatic conclusion. So I was shocked and frankly delighted to discover that the world’s most extraordinary sports teams didn’t have many ­propulsive traits in common, they had exactly one. The most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the player who leads it.”

Walker identifies the seven core qualities of this Captain Class—from extreme doggedness and emotional control, to a knack for nonverbal communication, to tactical aggression, and the courage to stand apart.

Walker’s top performing teams and their captains are (in chronological order):

The Collingwood Magpies, Australian Rules Football; Four consecutive grand finals (1927-30); captain Syd Coventry

The New York Yankees, Major League Baseball; Five World Series titles in a row (1949-53); captain Yogi Berra

Hungary, Men’s Football; Lost only twice in 53 matches (1950-55); captain Ferenc Puskás

Montreal Canadiens, National Hockey League; Five straight Stanley Cups (1955-60); captain Maurice Richard

Boston Celtics, National Basketball Association; Eleven championships in 13 seasons (1956-69); captain Bill Russell

Brazil, Men’s Football; Two consecutive World Cups (1958-62); captain Hilderaldo Bellini

Pittsburgh Steelers, National Football League; Won four Super Bowls in six seasons (1974-80); captain Jack Lambert

Soviet Union, Men’s Ice Hockey; Triple world champions; Olympic gold (1980-84); captain Valeri Vasiliev

New Zealand All Blacks, Rugby Union; World Cup; undefeated 49-match run (1986-90); captain Wayne Shelford

Cuba, Women’s Volleyball; Won every major title over 10 years (1991-2000); captain Mireya Luis

Australia, Women’s Field Hockey; Two Olympic golds, two World Cups (1993-2000); captain Rechelle Hawkes

United States, Women’s Football; Olympics, World Cup, 31-match run (1996-99); captain Carla Overbeck

San Antonio Spurs, National Basketball Association; Five NBA titles; 19 straight playoffs (1997-16); captain Tim Duncan

Barcelona, Professional Football; 15 trophies in five seasons (2008-13); captain Carles Puyol

France, Men’s Handball; Back-to-back Olympic gold medals (2008-15); captain Jérôme Fernandez

New Zealand All Blacks, Rugby Union; Consecutive World Cups (2011-15); captain Richie McCaw

My game is Rugby and it’s notable that only the All Blacks get ‘freak’ status twice, with two of the greatest captains to ever wear the black jersey and lead their team into battle (but he missed Sean Fitzpatrick…next edition Sam).

Check the book out for Mr Walker’s seven traits of elite level captains. The clues are there when you take the test. Are you Captain Class Material?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Hear It for Herdy

People in Cumbria have cheered at the awarding of the Lakes District the status of Unesco World Heritage Site, joining iconic locations such as the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef and Grand Canyon as a place of international acclaim. Few people cheered more than my good friends Spencer and Diane Hannah, founders of Herdy.

Commercial designers, Spencer and Diane observed a decade ago that many of the gift products on sale in the Lake District – which attracts 18 million visitors a year – were heritage based. They saw a gap in the market for well-designed contemporary gifts, and started designing unique gifts, accessories and homeware featuring the iconic smiling face of the local and loveable Herdwick sheep. Spencer and Diane worked the business part-time before it boomed following visits to trade fairs.

Today Herdy has four stores – in Grasmere, Hawes, Keswick and Bowness, a thriving retailer network and ecommerce channel, and an inspired sustainability and local reinvestment programme including brand diversification into UK made mattress manufacturing with herdysleep, with its purpose to create a long term, viable commercial use for Herdwick wool.

Herdy were onboard from the get-go in supporting the Lakes District World Heritage application, becoming the Lead Commercial Collaboration Partner representing core values around newness, progression, forward thinking, community and togetherness – and to be the warm, welcoming and friendly face of the bid. “When the UNESCO judging panel visit,” said Spencer at the time, “we want them to see evidence of a truly inspired, united, local community, with a clear identity and a passion for its landscape. The Lake District continues to provide a rich source of inspiration, whether it’s to climb mountains, write poetry, or start a new business.”

In November 2015 the campaign officially launched its commercial collaboration with Herdy, which saw the introduction of a new logo for the campaign titled “United by Herdy.” 2016 included a selection of events promoting the bid and encouraging people to proudly say “I’ve herd” with limited edition tote bags and ‘back the bid’ pin badges and car stickers. 2017 brought a successful outcome, with World Heritage Site status being awarded.

To reprise just why the Lakes District is so special, The Guardian reported that “with its rolling hills, spectacular mountains and stunning lakes, the site not only finds itself in illustrious company, but also becomes the UK’s first national park to be granted the status. The Lakes also boasts sites of historical importance such as King Arthur’s Round Table, said by English Heritage to be a neolithic earthwork henge believed to be the legendary monarch’s jousting arena. The Unesco committee praised the area’s beauty, farming and the inspiration it had provided to artists and writers [including] some of the country’s most beloved writers including Beatrix Potter, who owned Hill Top farm, and the poets William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge and John Ruskin.”

Herdy like to keep it simple. Its philosophy is “Smile at the world and it will smile back. Herdy smiles at you and you smile back.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mumbo Jumbo

I use my fair share of acronyms. ABC. ADE. VUCA. RLRJ. FF/LF/FF*. They are a useful shorthand device, but overdoing acronyms with a generalist audience is a great way to lose them. Talking to a bunch of specialists with their own acronyms is AOK.

Acronyms are good up to a point, jargon less so. Jargon often twists the truth and tends to infect and bloat large business organisations. Before you know it, everyone is jumping through hoops, changing the paradigm, synergising, ideating, and circling back. Stuff is being done, but nothing happens. Next thing, corporate claptrap or ‘management speak’ skews or snows the truth to surreptitiously drive an agenda through at the expense of others.

A long time in business does tend to hone your bullshit detector. Don’t hesitate to call out claptrap in a positive way. The classic everyday waffle comes when someone walks up and says “the reality is”. At this point you can be certain you are not going to hear the reality. You are going to hear their reality, which is light years from the reality. Another good one is “to be honest.’ The outtake is they have been lying to you up until now, or what you are about to hear will really upset you. As Oscar Wilde said, “the pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Most of us stray into the land of porkies and whoppers from time to time – something that starts naturally as kids seeking treats. In business, internally and externally, stay away from gobbledygook. Don’t join in the jargon because today’s always-on audience turns off automatically, and rightly so. Marketers and management consultants are on notice to play their agendas with a straight bat. Mumbo jumbo is easily spotted, easier to share, and most unwelcome. Authenticity is the standard.

*ABC= Ambition Belief Courage
ADE = Assess Decide Execute
VUCA = Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous
RLRJ = Responsibility, Learning, Recognition, Joy
FF/LF/FF = Fail Fast / Learn Fast / Fix Fast

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Gearing for Complexity

“The best managers are happy to hold two or more opposing views on an issue because they know the world is complex. And in business, it’s crucial to be able to react to the world in all its complex and paradoxical glory.” Spot on from one of my old academic acquaintances, Professor Sydney Finkelstein at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald famously put it: "The ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function is the sign of a first-rate intelligence." Over the years, in business, I’ve called this power of paradox And/And. It’s about putting two unlikely ideas together and discounting neither.

Never was this truer because the chaos factor has ramped up across the board. Running a major company or country is quite the challenge these days, one where freight trains come at you out of nowhere. “That’s what I wake up to each morning. I get a thick book full of death, destruction, strife and chaos. That’s what I take with my morning tea.” – said President Obama, in an interview with Vox.

Turmoil is everywhere and impacts everyone. I often get asked how to rev up a start-up business amidst so much chaos. The acceleration point is as paradoxical as the decision points along the way. Don’t run from chaos. Run towards it. Hire a group who can not only manage change and complexity, but who actually enjoy chaos. You can only thrive in chaos if you bloody love it. To avoid being disrupted, point your trouble-makers at killer problems and get out of their way.

ps the image is from kissassfacts.com and their must-check-out article What's the Most Mind-Boggling Paradox You've Heard, they list 20.

Monday, July 17, 2017

AT Kearney’s 2017 Views from the C-Suite

AT Kearney’s Global Business Policy Council has always been a happy landing pad for me. I’ve always found a lot of value in their focus on how businesses can best adapt and evolve in today’s political, economic and technological climates.

Their most recent report, 2017 Views from the C-Suite: Adapting to Disruption, authored by GBPC Chairman Paul Laudicina and MD Erik Petersen, probes how 400 global executives see the current business landscape, and reveals what these leaders see as the challenges and opportunities in today’s world of business.

Unsurprisingly, the report identifies global political uncertainty as the biggest external challenge businesses face:
  • There’s a strong feeling amongst executives that the economic and political fallout from Brexit will grow, and that populist leaders and extremist political parties will continue to gain support in democracies around the world.
  • There was shared concern about trade, with the majority of executives believing global trade and cross-border flows will decline as a result of protectionism.
  • The majority also believed Donald Trump’s policies will do more harm than good to the American economy.
Executives point to the threat of cyberattacks as the biggest challenge to business operations, especially in light of a recent spike of high-profile cyberattacks:
  • 85% of executives believe cyberattacks will become more frequent and costly, and cyberattacks were identified as the top-ranked challenge to business operations.
  • Business model efficiency, skill at adopting new technologies and the ability to innovate were the next three highest ranked challenges to business operations.
While technology disruption is a key challenge, successful adoption of new technologies was the highest ranked opportunity for business operations:
  • Executives were most focused on cloud computing, big data/predictive analysis, and mobile technology as new business technologies.
  • Improving business model efficiency, improving strategic execution and successful innovation were the next highest ranked opportunities.
  • A favourable competitive landscape was the top-ranked external opportunity. However, almost a third of executives also perceived this as a challenge, often because they’re experiencing weak market growth.
  • A strong macroeconomic performance and expanding globalization were also cited as major external opportunities.
I recommend taking a look at the full report, which can be found here https://www.atkearney.com/gbpc/views-from-the-c-suite

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Ecstasy of Emirates Team New Zealand

Last Friday I opened Unfiltered's conference on Team, Culture and Diversity at the Auckland Museum with a presentation on Emirates Team New Zealand's victory in the America's Cup. The talk was the subtitle of my book 64 Shots - "Leadership in a Crazy World." I was involved in several early America's Cup campaigns - as a sponsor through Lion Nathan's brand Steinlager (great to see them still a sponsor), as a board member for one of the campaigns, and as a storyteller for a book I co-wrote called Peak Performance: Business Lessons from the World's Top Sports Organizations, in which Team New Zealand was featured.

Over three decades Team New Zealand has delivered ecstasy and agony in pretty equal measure. In Bermuda 2017 they delivered a SuperVUCA performance  vibrant, unreal, crazy, astounding. In deconstructing their victory, I mapped several correlations with 64 Shots  the power of purpose, the currency of ideas, flow (passion and harmony), mental toughness, inspirational leadership, and my sole algorithm (IQ+EQ+TQ+BQ)CQ. Plus I threw in a twist on the Peter Principle.

The speech is on my Linkedin page, jump over to read it in full and to share, and while there send me an invite to connect.

KR

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Breffni the Lions Fan

My mate from the Hawkes Bay Denis O'Reilly, social activist and essayist, is a great storyteller. Here is a gem from Den ahead of this weekend's giant All Blacks vs the British & Irish Lions test decider...

There was a “comment piece” from Bryan Gould in this week’s NZ Herald (July 5th) holding British rugby journalist Stephen Jones to task over the bile he spills about New Zealanders in general. Gould, who’s British Parliamentary experience has equipped him to understand that each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn't. Jones carries the rugby grief of the land of his fathers on his sleeve, more wails than Wales, so much so that it has come to manifest as a form of Alzheimer’s whereby all he can remember is grudges against the All Blacks.

Gould finishes his excellent article with an indirect admonishment to the acerbic Welsh scribe “And rugby with no help from Stephen Jones will have done what it should be allowed to do – bring people and peoples together”.

So, just last week, the British and Lions Tour brought me and Breffni O’Reilly from Killinkere together. Our lines have not met since October 1875 when my great great grandfather Denis and his wife Margaret and children Mary and James left London for Lyttleton New Zealand on assisted passage.

I’d spotted a story in the NZ Herald some Lions fans heading to Wellington on scooters as a fundraiser for Starship. Winter: State Highway One; Desert Road; Foxton Straights, on a scooter! They must be mad. And so it proved to be. The spokesman for the crew (it seems that this is an intergenerational family feature ) was Breffni O’Reilly. Breffni. We hail from Breffni. I tracked Breffni down left my number. An hour later “Denis?”. “Is that you Breffni?” “Aye it is” “Cuz!”.

We met on the Wellington waterfront last Wednesday. He had some mates: a Scotsman an Englishman and himself an Irishman. It sounded like the start of a joke. I told Breffni and his mates to hop in our truck. I said I’d give them an experience they’d never forget.

“Er, where are we going Denis?” “To a wake Breffni, to a wake”. Indeed, it was the beginning of the tangihana for the late Bruce Stewart, poet, playwright, poacher. I had some brothers with me. All of us had lived together with Bruce at Walton House in Newtown in the mid-1970’s. Bruce was sort of paterfamilias.

At Tapu Te Ranga I told Breffni to stick by me and the other brothers looked after the rest of our visitors. The architecture of the many buildings at Tapu Te Ranga Marae reflect Bruce: barely a straight line to be seen, odd angles, the warp and weft of a hugely creative personality evident everywhere. The old man lay in his waka mate which looked like a fair-sized pontoon. He was always a big man but as age and illness took over that giant frame he swelled horizontally so that his height and width were vaguely proportional.

I sat Breffni next to me on the paepae manuhiri. The welcoming speeches were given and then we visiting mourners replied, Eugene Ryder on behalf of the Black Power, a speaker from Heritage New Zealand and another from the Maori Wardens. I spoke last as part of our unique group. Out of deference to Breffine my waiata was an Irish folksong “Tralee fair Tralee” which ends “I’m a typical Irishman”.

And so, I found, I am. My cuz and I share the same sense of humour, an unquenched thirst, and, it seems the same manic approach to getting results. He left me his football club hoody. On the eve of the last Test I wished him and his boys the best of Irish luck. No need to repeat myself this time. But, yes, Mr Gould, you are right about the purpose of rugby and I’m grateful for it. Go the All Blacks.   
                          

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Stop Wasting Time

61% of working Americans say they don’t have enough time to do the things they want to do. Everyone is always busy, and books on effectiveness, increased personal productivity and time management have been a constant fixture in bestseller lists around the world in the past few years. Maximizing the effectiveness of using our time – quite often to achieve better work/life balance – has become a common theme of the age of now.

When it comes to time management one of the biggest problems seems to be that most people tend to overschedule their time, according to neuroscientist and musician Daniel Levitin. In a short video he provides some tips for managing your time so that you can free your mind for more enjoyable activities. He advises to take the pressure of the mind and put things into the physical world.

One of his strategies to do so is to write all tasks on index cards and shuffle those according to urgency. That helps to prioritize tasks. Levitin also wants you to calendar everything – even if an event is still a year away, schedule it in along with important milestones.

I agree with him – we should all free up time or headspace for things we enjoy. If you’re not into index card writing here are some of my personal tips on time management.

1) Make technology your servant – not vice versa

2) A fast game is a good game – don’t waste time procrastinating

3) Delegate – don’t do stuff you don’t like

4) Don’t worry!

These four tips can help you to free up some of your time and concentrate on things you enjoy doing. The last one – don’t worry – might seem banal to some. But the fact is we all worry too much. A few years ago a study estimated that we spend 6.5 years of our lives worrying. Another study shows that 85% of what we worry about never happens and persistent worrying is unhealthy. It makes you 29% more likely to die of a heart attack and 41% more likely to die of cancer according to stats by Mercer. If that’s not reason enough to stop worrying I don’t know what is. Concentrate on things you love doing, stop wasting time with what you don’t.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Winding Up Wellbeing

I recently wrote about the importance of personal wellbeing in sustainable peak performance. We need to take care of ourselves first before we can fully succeed and take care of other areas of our lives. When it comes to happiness and wellbeing the notion exists that we are happy if negative emotions are absent from our lives. And the other way round. If you’re stressed or anxious, you won’t be feeling happy.

This is where many of us go wrong according to Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at University of Pennsylvania. In our pursuit of happiness, he says, we should stop focusing so much on negative emotions and spending time to eliminate those. Instead it’s more important to actively cultivate wellbeing. I like it.

Seligman suggests four exercises that can help us to readjust our focus when it comes to happiness.

1) Identify your Strengths: When were you at your best? Write it down and think about the strengths you showed in that situation.

2) Find the Good: Each night write down three things that went well that day.

3) Make a Gratitude Visit: Have you thanked people who showed kindness towards you in the past? Think of someone you haven’t thanked, write a letter. If you’re feeling brave, meet that person and tell them.

4) Respond Constructively: That’s a good one. Instead of saying ‘that’s great’ next time somebody shares good news with you, show more enthusiasm. Celebrate others accomplishments. There’s nothing better than sharing a celebration with somebody and some red wine.

I’m a radical optimist – shifting focus towards the positive rather than dwelling on the bad just makes sense. Being an optimist might mean slightly different things to everybody. To me it means to continuously put oneself into a good space, avoiding negative actions, and making happy choices.

Image: Roxana Barnett Pinterest
 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

One for Wellington

I’m in Wellington New Zealand this week for two monster rugby games, the British and Irish Lions versus the Wellington Hurricanes and the All Blacks. Both games are at the stadium affectionately known as the ‘Cake Tin’ – a circular stadium not unlike a colosseum. When full with about 40,000 people, the atmosphere is electric, the energy kinetic. And so it was last night for the Lions-Hurricanes game, the result was a pulsating 31-all draw – and yes, you can call a draw pulsating, especially as the Hurricanes came back from a 23-7 halftime deficit. Saturday night brings on the decisive Lions-All Blacks test.

I’m an Aucklander through and through. It’s a big international city with a magnificent harbour where we’ll be sailing the next America’s Cup thanks to the grit, guts and genius of Team New Zealand. But as the citizens of the windy capital remark, “You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.”

Looks like the world agrees. In May this year New Zealand’s ‘coolest’ little capital was named the most liveable city of the world in a report by Deutsche Bank in Germany – beating Edinburgh, Vienna and Melbourne. Cities were ranked based on indicators like their crime rate, pollution, healthcare options, cost of living, house prices, commuting time and climate. It’s a big win for Wellington. It’s a vibrant place full of innovation. It’s the Hollywood of New Zealand with Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and their band of merry pranksters making Wellington a movie making center of global significance. And not to forget there are few better places for café life.

Wellington generated a lot of positive global press earlier this year when the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency and Workhere New Zealand launched LookSee Wellington - a global recruitment campaign for tech talent. That campaign attracted more than 48,000 applications from all over the globe. The world loves Wellington.

Wellington wasn’t the only NZ city included in the ranking. Auckland came in 13th. Personally I would rank Auckland much higher. Wellington might be New Zealand’s capital, but Auckland is the capital of the world’s edge. With Lorde sitting on top of the Billboard charts and the America’s Cup heading back to Auckland, it feels that wherever you are in New Zealand, the idea of “winning the world from the edge” is pretty darn good this week.