5 Share Friday 16 November 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week – “Not all those who wander are lost” – J. R. R. Tolkien

2. Article I’ve been reading –  Ego is the enemy of good leadership:  It’s a short 5 minute read, pertinent to anyone who works as a lead or has a lead. One sentence I keep pondering on is this one: “Leadership is about people, and people change every day. If we believe we’ve found the universal key to leading people, we’ve just lost it.”

3. What I’m drinking – I’ve been making this quick 5 minute shake in the mornings. It tastes like a caramel smoothie, gives me a natural sugar and protein boost, and is just the ticket before any kind of physical activity:

  • 1 Banana
  • 3 Medjool dates
  • 10 Almonds
  • 200ml Oat milk (or other non dairy)
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed seeds
  • Blend in a blender








4. Getting a different perspective – I found  https://quillette.com/ from a long form article here. There are some fascinating posts by some very smart people. I don’t agree with all viewpoints, yet I do appreciate knowing there are other views out there for pondering. As the website says, Quillette prides itself on publishing ‘dangerous’ ideas other outlets won’t touch, so I expected to see schadenfreude and flaming. What I’ve discovered are well articulated, intellectual thoughts, that are at times controversial. Enjoy!

5. I’ve started a different approach to reading – one I hadn’t considered before, it’s detailed here.  At first It looks counter to conventional wisdom, yet logically it makes sense, so I’m experimenting with it. We’ll see what happens over time and I’m feeling confident already. Try it and see for yourself. A good quote from the text:
“A good shock often helps the brain that has been atrophied by habit.” — Napoleon Hill

Have a great weekend everyone!

The art of less but better

When I was a kid I dreamed of travelling the world and being my own kind of Indiana Jones. I wanted to experience the world and get out of farming land as my only viewpoint.

I was lucky enough to spend much of my twenties hopping around various countries. Sadly not with a whip and quick one liners to disarm any enemies I might have met along the way. But I did wear khakis and a cool hat at times.

What became apparent after anchoring my life and starting a career in the video game industry, was that I could travel and work at the same time.

So as my role expanded and promotions happened, I visited some amazing places, while at the same time staying at terrific hotels. What I didn’t realise was how accustomed I’d get to accommodation like the Four Seasons and Hyatt Regency. I’d become spoilt and was in a bubble. This was especially noticeable when it came to travelling with Microsoft, where being in downtown Seattle or Redmond town center (think the Truman show with music on the streets and free umbrellas for when it rains), was so comfortable, it was easy to forget how privileged I was (and I did).

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.” – Brene Brown

So I initiated life change when an opportunity appeared.

On business trips I no longer get to watch Netflix from a Jacuzzi bath that could fit 4 people (if you’re ever in downtown Seattle and can stay at the Four Seasons I would recommend the experience). It wasn’t just the travel either, I no longer have a home office enabling a private space to work and write. I no longer have a car, one that tells me where to go and has more lights and switches on its dashboard than the original space shuttle. What I do have are the beginnings of a deeper living experience. I’m fitter than I was, my mind is clearer, I’m a calmer person and I really appreciate the smallest of things.

I didn’t consciously choose to change everything, I’d love a home office again and miss it dearly, yet there are pro’s to not having such luxury (like being better able to separate work and home).

It was a joint decision my wife and I made, to change our lives with the opportunity that faced us. We wanted something different, something to take us away from the heavy consumerism and conventional lifestyle. When that opportunity arose we took it.

There are still days where we wonder what we’ve done and what we’ve taken away from our children. These doubts come and go, mainly when talking with friends and seeing what they’re doing back in the UK. But right now we’re on a path, one that’s made us more grateful for what we had, what we have now and whatever we’ll have in the future.

It takes practice and I’ve a long way to go, yet I don’t need certain things anymore and that’s made me a happier person. Change and having less can be good for us all.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy


5 Share Friday 9 November 2018

1. Quote I’m pondering this week “You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” – John Mason

2. Veganism is mainstreamthis long form piece from The Guardian newspaper is a fascinating read about how plant based eating is becoming mainstream. I eat meat & dairy rarely and for me it was a health choice I made years ago, though for many it’s down to allergies or other conditions. The myth of protein from meat being best and calcium from milk is finally being understood as not fact, it’s been a long time coming.

I find plant based eating can also be less time intensive to prepare (if you have the right equipment) and tastier. The Forks over Knives series of books (a documentary found on Netflix too) has terrific recipes if you fancy giving eating vegan a go.

3. Inspiration I’m benefiting from – I’ve been using Happi Cards ,  I’m sharing here as they really do make life more interesting. For instance, last week after breakfast I picked a random one and it turned out to be the inspiration I needed to totally rewrite a piece for my LinkedIn series ‘A Little Guide to a Big Life’

These cards make a wonderful present (my wife bought me mine) and you never know what type of inspiration you might get for the day.

4. Home purchase I’m enjoying – Our cargo or ‘family bike’. The choice to go car free is working out well for us so far. There isn’t a better country than Denmark to ditch your car and use public transport or a bicycle. After much research and testing we chose a Bella Bike. It’s a customisable 3 wheeled bike with rear wheel steering (resulting in more accurate control than conventional 3 wheel bikes). It’s also suitable for when we eventually return to the UK as it’s not as wide as other makes and models.

I met the inventor and creator at his workshop (they’re hand made to order). The design, engineering and fact that it’s locally built and not mass manufactured appealed to us. If you’re after a cargo or family bike, you won’t go far wrong looking at Bella bikes as part of your choice (he delivers internationally).

5. What I’m watching – the final season of House of Cards on Netflix. This whole series has been a roller coaster. At times it’s been so dark I’ve considered not continuing, yet it’s also very captivating . After watching the first season a number of years ago, I was better able to understand office politics in a place where backstabbing and throwing others under the bus was common place. It’s amazing what you can learn from a TV show.

In this season, almost every character is planning to connive against the other to get what they want. I’m hoping we see a satisfying end to the show, one that closes the many story arks and shows us that acting selfishly is not rewarding in the longer term.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Set Your Life on Fire

The happy times I had as a kid were away from our home with my brother in the woods or fields. We lived in the heart of the Cotswolds, with Prince Charles and Princess Diana a few miles away on one side and Princess Anne on the other.

It’s hard to imagine the average kid in the UK having the freedom I had at that age, roaming around for miles, hardly ever in a car and only in front of a screen for a few hours a week. Is that a shame? I think so.

Though looking back I was a bit of a terror. There was the time my brother and I stole an industrial padlock from a local stone quarry, then locked the school gates with it (chaos ensued on the Monday morning).

We spent months stealing unreleased video games from a skip in a business park and selling them.

We set fire to a field full of cow dung, where the blaze got so out of control the local fire brigade had to attend to put it out (for fear of it spreading into the houses close by).

We did things like rolling turnips down a hill to the road below, in order to watch oncoming cars swerve out of the way (and having that backfire when a particularly large one hit a cyclist who promptly went and got the police).

We would take people’s rubbish, like old TVs that were being thrown out and then set fire to them down alley ways, as they made big bangs when parts like capacitors got hot.

Much of this seemed harmless at the time, though what I’ve realised on reflection, is that it stopped when we started hanging out with kids at school who had a more stable home life.

It wasn’t that anyone told us to stop. It was more that we enjoyed being with them and playing games, cycling for miles in the countryside and hanging out for more harmless adventure (like exploring disused airfields or farmland).

So here’s the thing, I hope my 2 sons find friendship at that age like I did. Some of those friends who grounded me are still in my life today. Although I’m in Denmark and don’t see them often, the friendship we have is the type that lasts a lifetime. I’m more grateful for that than almost anything else.

Who you hang out with shapes you. As an adult and as a child.

You can be the best parent in the world, yet if your kid chooses his friends poorly then the chances are they’ll begin to make poor decisions. Give them the tools to choose wisely.

Will Smith puts it better than I can, watch this 1 minute video and see for yourself

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.” – Jalal Ad-Din Rumi