Saturday, February 24, 2007

Shackleton's Way

Ernest Shackleton
This Audio Blog (Duration: 4 minutes, 49 seconds) is about a fabulous book I have just finished. Shackleton’s Way is the best book by a mile on leadership I have read so far in over 15 years studying leadership. For anyone interested in Leadership this is a must buy.

MP3 File

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Don Henley rewarded for tireless work

As I have often said on Simplicity Blog I am a 30 year fan of The Eagles.

It was great to read that Don Henley was rewarded last week for his work of a philanthropic nature for the environment for many years in his own quiet way.

Henley was awarded the MusiCares Person of the Year 2007 – click
here for more details

If you want to feel the passion Henley has for the environment listen to The Last Resort – a Henley solo classic in which he displays all his emotion about environmental and justice issues.

Here are the lyrics of The Last Resort but believe me you really have to hear Henley sing it to appreciate the passion – but then I am biased of course.

"The Last Resort"

She came from Providence, the one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang, heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea

She heard about a place, people were smilin'
They spoke about the red man's way, and how they loved the land
They came from everywhere, to the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand, or a place to hide

Down in the crowded bars, out for a good time
Can't wait to tell you all, what it's like up there
They called it paradise, I don't know why
Somebody laid the mountains low, while the town got high

Then the chilly winds blew down
Across the desert
Through the canyons of the coast, to the Malibu
Where the pretty people play,
Hungry for power, to light their neon way
And give them things to do
Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught 'em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes,
And Jesus, people bought 'em

They called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea
You can leave it all behind
And sail to Lahaina, just like the missionaries did,
So many years ago
They even brought a neon sign: "Jesus is coming"
Brought the white man's burden down
Brought the white man's reign

Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
'Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here
We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds,
In the name of destiny and the name of God

And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about what it's like up there
They call it paradise I don't know why
You call someplace paradise, kiss it goodbye

A right Tosser!

At sometine in my life I am sure I have been called a Tosser - even if if not to my face. It was the truth on Tuesday this week - click here for the evidence

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tony Benn in action - not bad for 81 years of age!

Whether or not people agree with what Tony Benn says, even his most outspoken opponents must surely admit that to have as much passion, energy and enthusiasm for a cause at almost 82 years of age is wonderful to behold.

This U-Tube clip of Tony speaking in September 2006 displays his passion.

As I have said many times on Simplicity Blog, Tony Benn is my greatest political hero and I was honoured to have an e mail from him recently. This is what he said:

"Dear Trevor

Having left Parliament to devote more time to politics I am free: Lots of experience and no personal ambition. Can't wait for April 3 2025 when I shall have completed my first hundred years and a new century of work begins"

Please enjoy the video clip and regardless of your political views just admire his gift of oratory.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The David Greeff Beatitudes 2007!

My friend David Greeff has posted such a wonderful comment to the post about the Beatitudes I wanted to publish it as a posting in its own right.

David has produced a 21st Century adaptation of the Beatitudes that we might want to apply in business and work.

As far as I am concerned they are brilliant and I would love to have your comments.

It would make sense to read the original Beatitudes first followed by what I will call from now on the David Greeff Beatitudes 2007!

Fulfilled are those who are not ambitious,
For they will have ultimate success.
Fulfilled are those who admit their wrongs and make amends,
For they shall be forgiven.
Fulfilled are those on the lowest rung,
For they shall have recompense from God.
Fulfilled are those who strive to do the right thing,
Right will indeed come to them.
Fulfilled are those who are fair,
For they shall be treated justly.
Fulfilled are those with clean consciences,
For they shall receive what they deserve.
Fulfilled are the catalysts of harmony,
For they shall be called God’s people.
Fulfilled are those who suffer because they have done the right thing,
For theirs is an unspeakable reward.
Fulfilled are you when you are insulted and mocked, because of association with me (Jesus) and this teaching.
Be deeply and inwardly at peace, for life is infinitely more than the world and work, and everyone who has lived like this for God has experienced the very same.

The Beatitudes

My good friend Troy Worman from the US published the Beatitudes on his excellent Blog Orbit Now at this link

It reminds me how much we can still draw from the greatest book ever written

How wonderful in the modern world we still see this as perhaps the greatest wisdom even though it was preached over 2000 years ago.

The message is as true in business as in our lives – please think about it whether you are or not a Christian.

The Beatitudes

1And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.
2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,

For they shall be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
12Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Customer Care

Some thoughts on Customer Care. This audio blog is 3 minutes and 39 seconds.

The joys (!!?) of learning about cash flow

One of the differences in working for myself and working in a large organisation is the issue of cash flow and payment of invoices.

When I worked as a manager in the NHS I was always very keen to get contractors paid for their services. I had a relationship with all such people who did work for me. Invariably they were small companies – often one person working for themselves.

I realised they could not afford to wait for money.

What I would often do is to personally ring the finance section to arrange early payment of invoices WHICH WAS ALWAYS POSSIBLE DESPITE WHATEVER THE 'PROCEDURE AND SYSTEM' MIGHT HAVE TOLD ME.

Nowadays I am on the ‘other side of the fence’ as a contractor and I submit my invoice once I have completed work.

So far the longest I have had to wait for payment of an invoice is 7 weeks and large organisations always seem to have a minimum of one month before they part with their money.

Interestingly enough small organisations always pay me within three days.

I understand why big organisations have institutional systems that have no sensitivity to the small contractor

Such is life and another example why in my opinion small is beautiful

The bigger the organisation the less in touch with customers or vendors has always been my view and this is brought home much more powerfully in this latest period of my professional life.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Wisdom from Tony Benn

Three wonderful quotes from my favourite politican - former Labour MP Tony Benn - now 81 years old and still going strong.

"The House of Lords is the British Outer Mongolia for retired politicians."

"A faith is something you die for, a doctrine is something you kill for. There is all the difference in the world."

"I'd rather die on my feet making a speech than die of Alzheimer's - and that's what I'm planning to do."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Good to be Back

This is my latest Simplicity Audio Blog with a brief update on where we have been for the last few days; some thoughts about the joys of e-mail and - of course - the prospects for Manchester United this weekend!

This one runs for 3 minutes and 8 seconds.

Happy listening!

MP3 File

Are we failing our children in the UK?

The UK has been accused of failing its children, as it comes bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries. The BBC report of this research can be seen by clicking here

Unicef looked at 40 indicators from the years 2000-2003 including poverty, family relationships, and health. America and Britain finished 20th and 21st respectively in this league table which is surely telling us something very significant about our young people. I think it is telling us something more important about parenting and the education system in the UK.

What do you think?

This is the full league table.

1. Netherlands
2. Sweden
3. Denmark
4. Finland
5. Spain
6. Switzerland
7. Norway
8. Italy
9. Republic of Ireland
10. Belgium
11. Germany
12. Canada
13. Greece
14. Poland
15. Czech Republic
16. France
17. Portugal
18. Austria
19. Hungary
20. United States
21. United Kingdom
Source: Unicef

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Nicky Gumbel on William Wilberforce

Nicky Gumbel - Minister of Holy Trinity, Brompton, London

William Wilberforce (1759 - 1833) - died 3 days after Slavery was finally abolished in Parliament.

We arrived back home in Solihull tonight (Thursday) after a short break in Devon and Cornwall.

It was great to have a bit of a rest and to see friends and family in a lovely part of England. Shame the weather was typically English (much water from the heavens) apart from one day when the sun shone in Plymouth.

Last Sunday Annie and I visited Holy Trinity Brompton in London to hear a wonderful sermon from Nicky Gumbel.

Nicky told us that 2007 is the 200th anniversary of the abolition (1807) of Slave Trade which was largely achieved through the life long and tireless work of a great Briton - William Wilberforce.

Nicky opened his talk with a story that puts the importance of William Wilberforce into perspective. The Archbishop of Canterbury was asked who he felt was the greatest British person of the last one thousand years and the Archbishop replied without hesitating – William Wilberforce

Hearing Nicky talk about Wilberforce made me look up more information about Wilberforce and it seems he was indeed a great man who dedicated his life to abolition of slavery. It seems he could have been Prime Minister but Wilberforce refused to consider that because he wanted to continue the fight for the abolition of slavery.

We have much to thank Wilberforce for as we have moved from that barbaric practice to a modern life. It was therefore surprising to learn from Nicky that slavery is still very much a problem in the year 2007.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Have a good week!

Owing to a busy schedule I won’t be able to post much this coming week on Simplicity Blog and so it will probably be Friday 16th before another post appears.

Here is the latest Audio Blog. This one lasts 3 minutes 21 seconds

MP3 File

Saturday, February 10, 2007

'Let is snow, Let it snow, Let it snow'

We are not used to heavy snowfall.
When it arrives it brings chaos to road and rail travel.
Snow is beautiful - when viewed from inside a warm house.
Annie took these photos to prove we do have snow sometimes.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Gordon Brown and humour

Yesterday I was doing some work in London as one of 35 facilitators running a major conference called. ‘The Skills Challenge: A Public Debate.’

Each of the facilitators had 10 people around a table and we spent the day running a public debate about the challenges faced by the UK economy following the publication in December of the ‘The Leitch Review of Skills’

In 2004 the Chancellor Gordon Brown (pictured) and Secretary of State for Education and Skills Alan Johnson commissioned Lord Sandy Leitch (Chairman of the National Employment Panel and formerly Chief Executive of Zurich Financial Services) to lead an independent review tasked with considering:

“the skills base that the UK should aim to achieve in 2020 to maximise growth, social justice and productivity.”

The review was published in December 2006, and is a comprehensive review of the UK’s long term (adult) skills needs. One of Leitch’s key recommendations is that the UK should

“…commit to becoming a world leader in skills by 2020, benchmarked against the upper quartile of the OECD.”

It was a fascinating day and I learned just how far behind the UK is in the world league table of countries for productivity per employee and skills per employee when compared with the likes of China, India, Japan, America and the Czech Republic.

There must be a major wake up call about improved skills training in the UK otherwise by the year 2020 we will have fallen so far behind that the UK will be an ‘also ran’ in global economies.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gordon Brown the Chancellor of the Exchequer and likely to be our next Prime Minister once Tony Blair steps down later this year.

Mr Brown gave an interesting speech and then sat around various table to talk to members of the public and business representatives.

I had never thought of him as a particularly charismatic man although I have always thought he is an extremely competent politician and has without a doubt been one of the best ever Chancellors.

He did make one interesting comment that produced a few smiles. He explained that on a recent trip to Washington, USA he saw a demonstration of angry banner waving protestors who were opposed to the concept of globalisation.

One of the banners apparently read as follows:

‘Join our world wide campaign against globalisation’

Well I thought it was funny anyway ….

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Minus 9 Degrees C !!!

Annie and I have been up with the lark for the last three weeks for a 7a.m. run for 30 minutes as part of preparing for some forthcoming 5k and 10k charity runs and also to try and lose some weight and improve our fitness. The good news it is working.

Sometimes in the last three weeks the temperatures have been around zero and slipped to sub zero on a coupe of occasions. On one of those mornings we had to run the whole journey holding hands because of the icy conditions underfoot.

This morning it was just too cold at MINUS 9 DEGREES - So we took the ‘soft’ option to go to the gym and run on the treadmill at 7am in the warm.

It was more slippery outside than ever – indeed it was treacherous underfoot.

Holding hands because of ice is one thing but as much as I love her there is no way I can piggy-back Annie all the way.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What is success?

Robbie Williams - successful or not?

This Audio Blog is produced by yet another method – my fourth attempt at various methods. At least I am learning as they say ‘on the job.’ It is fascinating.

This one asks for comments about the meaning of success – enjoy and please let me have your views.

The Audio Blog is 4 minutes and 5 seconds.

MP3 File

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Hero Johnny inspires England!

Johnny Wilkinson - an outstanding England sporting hero at last!
This is my third Audio Blog trial. It is 4 minutes and 10 seconds long

I hope the quality of this recording is better – I have recorded this one through my PC using Skype.

I feel like I want to pursue Audio Blogging as a result of this trial. In future I will aim to publish two Audio Blogs each week to complement my written Simplicity Blog postings.

I mention in the Blog the success of England Rugby Union Team who yesterday beat Scotland and Johnny Wilkinson was the star of a memorable England win.
Click here for more on England's success.

MP3 File

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Thanks for feedback - Learning as I go!

Thanks - I have had some great feedback about my first Audio Blog yesterday and I have tried to take on board all of the constructive comments for this second trial.
This one is 4 minutes 21 seconds. Let me know your feedback.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Does this sound ok?

I am going to try some Audio Blogging - this might be fun! The phone line is not a brilliant connection and you will need the volume well up but hopefully it comes across reasonably clear. I'm sure you will let me know either way! This clip is 3 minutes and 4 seconds long

Four books and more to come ....

Please excuse personal indulgence - just a quick advert for my four books

'The Nine Fruits of Leadership' - click here for details

'I wanna Tell you a Story' - click here for details

'Simplicity is the Key' - click here for details

'Three Amigos with One Message' - click here for details

Thursday, February 01, 2007

All the Prime Ministers Men?

One of my favorite books and the follow up film is 'All the President's Men’

It is the story of the Watergate Scandal in the early 1970’s and the eventual resignation of
President Richard Nixon.

Nixon said he was not fit to be President because he was aware of what was going on regarding cover ups and taping of the opposition Democratic Party headquarters.

Even though he obviously would not have known the intimate details he fell on his own sword because he repeatedly denied any knowledge of what was going on.

Woodward and Bernstein, the two young Washington Post reporters would not give up their hunch that there was a nasty smell about this in the White House and some sort of conspiracy. The President did not know the details but he was the accountable person in the end and when the house of cards fell Nixon took the rap.

I cannot help but feel there are some similarities between that story and the current troubles Tony Blair is at the centre of - click
here for details

He has now been interviewed for a second time regarding this cash for honours question. A serving British Prime Minister has never been questioned by the police before now.

As a life long socialist I was delighted when Tony Blair was elected in 1997 and I still rate the man highly despite his many critics. But I cannot help feeling uneasy about this.

What will happen next?