Authenticity only comes with work and time!

Authenticity only comes with work and time!

Earlier this month Cadbury launched a chocolate bar that will end world racism!  Yes, you read that right! It will end racism!  Only it won’t!  It’s a stupid idea and just another example of a brand jumping on a band wagon to sell us something we really didn’t know we needed, because, well, we didn’t need it.

The social sphere saw right through it though with tweets like:

Consumers are not stupid, but this idea is, for a couple off reasons (and I can’t believe no one at Cadbury or the agency that produced this realised it would go horribly wrong – hubris and arrogance perhaps, but that’s a whole other post):

  1. Firstly, It belittles racism as a token issue with a token solution, rather than an endemic struggle that has been raging for years and sees no sign of being solved soon. (I’m not an expect on the history and the impacts of racism, being a white, middle class westerner, so I will leave these discussions to more informed and intelligent people than me!).
  2. The second reason, this was a bad idea is that the massive lack of authenticity in the product is blindingly obvious.  Cadbury’s cares nothing about communities or racism, it cares about profit. If it did care, it would probably pay it’s fair share of taxes.

Cadbury did once care about these things. When the company started and as it grew, George and Richard Cadbury created a thriving community and generously rewarded their workers.

But not these days. Not since it was bought out by Mondelez International.

It’s this authenticity, or lack of it, that I want to address today. 

You see, if Patagonia, the clothing company, used it’s love of the environment and sustainability to launch products, we would accept that, because they have clear brand values that they have consistently lived out through the way they behave, so it would be authentic and believable. 

Cadbury’s commitment to unity, not so much. 

What about your organisation? How do you create and maintain that authenticity in your communication without just ‘woke-washing’ and jumping on the latest issue bang wagon to sell crap to people that they don’t need? Because if it’s the later you will be called out. Social media will take you to the mat!

Well, being authentic is actually quite simple, but unfortunately not easy to implement. It’s easy to understand, but very difficult to get right, which is why we see responses like this one to badly thought through campaigns on a weekly basis.

Being authentic takes two things. Firstly, you need to be clear about your purpose and then create systems to ensure the relevant behaviours and values are consistently lived out. Simple!

  1. Spend time deliberately defining your purpose and the values, so everyone is clear on what you’re trying to build. Don’t just give this lip service and pump out the first thing you think of. Know it inside out. Repeat it often and in lots of places.  It should be the heart beat of the organisation.
  2. Examine and if necessary rewrite the processes and procedures that run your organisation. Make sure everything you do reinforces and reflects the purpose you’ve defined.

Get this right and it will be easier to truly live out your authentic self, like Patagonia. It will be really obvious when you deviate from this authentic self, like Cadbury. If you don’t spot it the rest of the world will and let you know loud and publicly!

Do you know your organisations purpose? Does your organisation truly live up to this purpose?

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Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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How important is your goal?

How important is your goal?

In the Midlands there is a toll road. A motorway that charges £6.40 to skip the traffic. £6.40 to by-pass 27 miles of heavily congested M6 motorway around Birmingham. Over 50,000 vehicles use the road every week day.

What would make you take the toll road? What would make you turn off the M6 and pay the price for skipping the traffic?

Would you pay to get home on a Sunday night? Would you pay to get to a holiday destination for a week away? Would you pay to get to hospital and see a dying relative before they passed away?

The same thinking applies to your goals and dreams. Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to do what needs to be done? Are you willing to overcome the status quo, step out of your comfort zone and do the work – pay the toll – to reach your goals? How important are your goals, really?

If you want to see your dreams become a reality, you have to put in the hours, do the hard work and pay the price. If your not prepared to do the hard work then you won’t make it and really have to ask how important is the goal to you. Is it really worth paying for?

It’s simple. If you want something, you have to pay the toll. You have to do what Trent Shelton calls toll action – do the work that others are not willing to do.

Decide today, are you willing to pay the toll? If not find another dream!

What would make you take the toll road? How big does the destination need to be that you choose to pay the price?

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It all comes down to people!

It all comes down to people!

Thought for the day:

People are just trying to get through life with the most peace and joy and enrichment and least stress, pain and anguish. Rich, poor; young, old; black, white, Asian – everyone just wants to feel good and valuable and meaningful, we just have different ideas about what will accomplish that and how to go about it.

Benjamin Drury – The Culture Guy

What makes you happy? What do you want your life to look like to accomplish this idea of satisfaction and joy.

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What are you giving back?

What are you giving back?

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Keep on moving!

Keep on moving!

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The Law of compounded marginal gains!

The Law of compounded marginal gains!

The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together…

Dave Brailsford

The meteoric rise of British Cycling over the last 20 years is the story of legend. Before 2012 a British cyclist had never won the Tour de France. Since then they have one six out of seven. Prior to the Beijing Olympic in 2008 Britain had one a single team Gold medal back in the London games of 1908. Since Beijing the team now has an additional 23 Golds.

That is some “marginal” gain.

But according the man largely responsible for masterminding this turn around, that is exactly what it was lots of marginal gains added together and compounded over time creates a huge impact in overall performance. And if you keep doing it day after day, training session after training session, year after year, then the effect is exponential.

By using this principle, British cycling went from the back of the field to the most successful cycling dynasty in history.

What about your organisation? What ten things could you improve by 1% in your organisation?

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Leading = Service not power!

Leading = Service not power!

Leadership is simple.

Your job as a leader is not to be ‘in charge’, but to be ‘in service’. If you are leading a team, your role is to create an environment where people in that team can perform their best work. Your job is to make sure that everyone in that team has everything they need to bring their best work to bear on the problems and tasks in front of them.

You are not there to control people but to free them to do a job that they really want to do.

A leader is not ‘in charge’, but ‘in service’!

Benjamin Drury

And if you have to control them to get them to do the job, then either A) it’s the wrong job for them and they need moving on, or B) they don’t feel they have the authority or the space or the environment to do their job well.

And that second reason is something you, as a leader, should be working on.

How do your people feel about their work? Would they do it as well if you weren’t there?

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Life is uncertainty!

Life is uncertainty!

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Comfort does not change us only pressure does!

Comfort does not change us only pressure does!

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Don’t underestimate the power of the small things!

Don’t underestimate the power of the small things!

Everyone is looking for big change and big results.  The markets want big growth and big gains. Founders and leaders want big action and big impact.  

In searching for the big we are in danger of forgetting the impact of the small incremental changes.  We are danger of looking for big wins, the silver bullet, the ultimate action and missing the small changes we can make today right now, that will eventually lead to those big wins.

Take Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors.  One of the things she did when she took over at the top of GM was to rewrite the dress code policy.  It doesn’t sound like much and on the face of it, it seems like an odd place to start, but what she did with it was a brilliant demonstration in emotional leadership.

She threw out the old ten page policy and replaced it with just two words, “Dress appropriately”.  Wow.  That is simple. Unfortunately she had some push back from her HR team and her senior managers, but she listened to their concerns and pressed them on why the policy wasn’t enough.  Eventually, they agreed that they would be able to work it out and moved forward.


What I realized is that you really need to make sure your managers are empowered—because if they cannot handle ‘dress appropriately,’ what other decisions can they handle? And I realized that often, if you have a lot of overly prescriptive policies and procedures, people will live down to them, But if you let people own policies themselves—especially at the first level of people supervision—it helps develop them. It was an eye-opening experience, but I now know that these small little things changed our culture powerfully. They weren’t the only factor, but they contributed significantly.

Mary Barra – CEO of GM

The thing about this change in a simple policy at GM is that it didn’t just improve the dress code, but it unlocked potential in people, because it demonstrated and told them they were allowed to think. It told them that they could do more than just follow orders and stick to the hierarchy.

It gave them not only responsibility to do their job, but also the authority. And that not only changed their dress code, it changed the company mindset and unlocked the hidden assets in the workforce.

It was a simple, seemingly small change with with huge knock on consequences.

What small changes can you make this week that would have a profound impact on how people in your organisation saw themselves and their role?

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Just get up again!

Just get up again!

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Get started now!

Get started now!

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Today is the day!

Today is the day!

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Do you truly want questions?

Do you truly want questions?

Questions are a tool of a true leader.

Not your questions to other people. (Although asking questions is a useful and necessary tool.) True level five leaders encourage, invite and genuinely desire questions for the people they leader, their peers and the people they report to.

I’m not talking about just asking for any questions as a cursory action at the end of a meeting to appear accessible, but everyone knows you don’t really mean it. I am referring to the desire to really put your thinking and your decisions to the test. The necessity to put your head above the parapet and examine truly allow others to examine your thinking. The kind of questions that really dig and show up any flaws or blind spots in your plans. Questions that may actually highlight mistakes and hold a mirror up to your knowledge and abilities.

“No man really becomes a fool until he stops asking questions.”

Charles P. Steinmetz

The best leaders not only accept questions, but actively invite questions because they truly want to put thinking and ideas to review and pressure and peer assessment.

True leaders, the ones that make a difference, the ones we look up to do not fear questions. True leaders know that allowing others to question us is how we improve our decisions, our actions, ourselves.

To get better at what you do seek out questions from others.

How to you go about validating your thinking?

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Happiness is success

Happiness is success

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The certainty of uncertainty!

The certainty of uncertainty!

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Take Action!

Take Action!

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Just start!

Just start!

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Leadership Lessons The Trillion Dollar Coach.

Leadership Lessons The Trillion Dollar Coach.

Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, recently contributed to a book on leadership lessons from Bill Campbell.

Bill Campbell was reknowned in Silicon Valley. He played key roles in the growth of several of now major players in tech world. Companies like Google, Apple, and Intuit. He fostered deep relationships with Silicon Valley visionaries, including Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt. In addition, this business genius mentored dozens of other important leaders on both coasts, from entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to educators to football players, leaving behind a legacy of growing companies, successful people, respect, friendship, and love after his death in 2016.

He has helped created trillions of dollars in revenue coaching some of the brightest people in the industry.

The new book has just been released (April 2019), but Eric Schmidt has created a quick 36 page slide deck with some of the key lessons.

This is the full slide deck.

[slideshare id=140939671&doc=trilliondollarcoachslideshare-190415231411]

And you can also pick up a copy of the book on Amazon. Enjoy!

What tips and lessons would you share with someone leading an early stage start up?

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There is power inside you!

There is power inside you!

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How does failure handle you?

How does failure handle you?

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Tomorrow is whatever you want!

Tomorrow is whatever you want!

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Fail more

Fail more

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Start now!

Start now!

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Be focussed!

Be focussed!

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Get started already.

Get started already.

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Work hard and fail

Work hard and fail

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Learn from the best and then do your own thing!

Learn from the best and then do your own thing!

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Listen to yourself!

Listen to yourself!

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No More Fear!

No More Fear!

Everyone has dreams, creativity, under used talent, unfulfilled potential beyond what other (and even they themselves) can see.

You have life busting inside of you to get out.  You have things on your heart to do, that you wish you had the time or resources to do.    But you’re too busy; or it’s not the right time; or you don’t have the resources; or you sacred!

What happens if you fail? 

It’s time to end that fear.  It’s time to dream big and act!  It’s time to step up, step out and be the best YOU you can be.

We all have a passion and a purpose in life.  You know, the work that we do that energises us; the things we can spend hours on and it feels like minutes; work that has us in the zone, in the flow, in our sweet spot.  Work that we wish we could do forever. Our calling if you will.  A raison d’etre.  Something that gets you out of bed with a spring in your step and a smile on your face!

Let’s do that every day!  Let’s stopping dreaming and start living the dream!

But there’s a problem!

Unfortunately, from a young age we are conditioned to constrain ourselves; to limit our thinking; to protect ourselves from failure; to confine our dreams to only that which we can see as possible.  Our parents do it to protect us.  The education system does it to conform us.  Our friends do it so they don’t have to compare themselves to us, the world changers!

From every side we are told to dream small, aim low, live the mediocre life.

People are terrified of failure.  Programmed to steer clear of the unknown.  They would rather stay still, than face uncertainty.  But the only way to live the life you want is to face that uncertainty, step up to the plate, step out of your comfort zone and do the hard thing, the scary thing!

So, I’m here to tell you YOU CAN.  You should.  And you need to.  Other people need you to. I’m here to help you say, “NO MORE FEAR!”  Or as Richard Bransons puts it, “Screw It. Let’s Do It!” 

There may be trouble ahead!

Be warned, it won’t be easy, and there will be tough days ahead, but it will be an adventure.  Discovering and living your purpose will be the hardest thing you will do in life.  It won’t be without pain, but it will be worth it.  There will be failures and fanfares.  There will be triumphs and tears.  There will be ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ and ’round and rounds’.  It will be a journey of excitement, frustration, exhilaration and joy.  But it will be your life, on your terms with your rules. And it will be the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Before you set off on this new adventure, stop for a moment.  You have a tough choice to make.  A real decision.

You’re here reading this, so I suspect you’ve already made your choice, but I can’t let you continue unless I’m sure you know what you’re up against.  Unless you can fully appreciate some of the emotions and the pain that you will have to contend with on this journey.

You see, when it comes to fulfilling your potential, achieving all you can and be the best version of you, there are two paths people take and only one will get you to where you want to go and being forewarned is being forearmed.

You can choose arrogance, fear and paralysis.  Or you can choose acceptance, focus and action.

Arrogance, fear and paralysis

When I was a teenager I was fast.  Very fast.  At the age of 15 I was undefeated at under 20s in the 800 metres.  At sixteen years old I was racing nineteen year olds and beating them.  Easily.  By quite a margin. I ran a personal best 1 m 55s and I was the county champion.  I was destined for great things.  I could have been a contender!

But this is not a boast.  This is a cautionary tale.

You’ve never seen on your television at a major sporting event.  You’ve never seen me in a GB vest on the start line. You’ve never heard my name in connection with athletics.  I’ve never even attended the Olympics as a spectator, let alone a competitor.  As sad as it is, my sicteen year old self was the pinnacle of my achievements in sport. I never lived up to my potential. I never realised my dream.  I never got off my backside and stepped into what could have been! It was all downhill after sixteen.

I’m sure my story is not unique. I’m not the only one who was almost great!  What happened to me happens to millions of people.  Huge talent, massive potential, no execution. Arrogance and distraction kicks in and takes over and stops the success train in its tracks.

You see, I got a small measure of success and I enjoyed it. A bit too much. I got some praise and plaudits and started to believe I was gifted, a natural talent, the next Steve Prefontaine.  I listened to applause and got dizzy and got lazy.  I decided my talent was ingrained.  I was chosen but the Gods.  It was fate and I was so good that I didn’t need to work hard to be brilliant.  I just was brilliant. (Which is strange because I had worked immensely hard, unswervingly for two years, running three to four miles a day every single day, to deliver what I had already achieved!)

Then fear kicked in and I started to panic! What if I don’t continue to win?  What if I start to loose races?  What if someone comes along that’s better than me, faster than me?  What does that say about my talent?  I think I’m the best, but if I get beaten then…well then I can’t be!  To get beaten is to prove that I’m not brilliant.  I’m not the natural talent I thought I was. The gods had chosen someone else and not me!  If I get beaten what does that make me?

I was paralysed with fear and stopped trying.  I stopped training.  I stopped putting in the effort, then I could hold onto the mistaken belief that I was the greatest, but I just didn’t want to!  I could have been the best in the world, but I didn’t need to prove it to anyone. 

In truth, I could never have been a champion, because so much of winning is in the mind and I didn’t have the right mindset.  I was arrogant and fearful and stuck!

I had what Dr. Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset. 

A fixed mindset is the belief that talent is inherent.  It just is.  You’re either talented or your not.  Wins, successes, achievements all demonstrate the fact that you are gifted, brilliant, a prodigy. The trouble is once you’ve had some measure of success, it becomes harder and harder to continue.  It becomes more stressful to operate at higher levels, because if you fail, if you lose, it demonstrates that you are not talented, you are not gifted and your whole identity is threatened.

And so people freeze.  They fear the next step and they implode, never to reach the promised potential.  Arrogance followed by fear followed by paralysis.

That’s not where you want to be, and it’s not where you’re going!  You’re going to choose option ‘B’, door number 2, the path less travelled.

Acceptance, focus and action

The alternative to my experience is far more rewarding.  The alternative involves you making it! “Top of the world, Ma!”  It results in you setting your face like a flint and pressing on.  It involves hard work and commitment, but it involves you living out your purpose.

To truly live out your purpose you need to accept two things: 1) you have a big dream that you must be determined to reach and 2) you are not there yet and will have to grow and improve – ALWAYS!

It is all about what Dr Dweck calls the growth mindset – the opposite of a fixed mindset.  The growth mindset is the belief that neither success nor failure is the end, merely part of the journey.  Growth mindset people believe that you win or you learn and when you learn you grow and get better and next time you win (or you learn) and round you go until you do win and you win big!  You win huge!  You win on the world stage.

If you can accept that you CAN make it, but you haven’t yet; if you can believe you’ll get there eventually, but you need to train and work hard, if you can not worry about losing, but only about whether you’re better today than you were yesterday, “if you can keep your head when all about are losing theirs” then you will reach the promised land.  You will do more than you thought possible.

Now get off your backside and get going!

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Set your own standard.

Set your own standard.

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Don’t let other people limit you.

Don’t let other people limit you.

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Do the common thing, uncommonly well!

Do the common thing, uncommonly well!

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It starts in the mind

It starts in the mind

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How to make the perfect cup of tea!

How to make the perfect cup of tea!

Starting the day right is so important.

Starting the day well can make all the difference to how the rest of the day goes. That’s why so many successful people have specific morning routines. (https://brandongaille.com/16-morning-routines-of-billionaires/).

For me it can mean the difference between getting through a busy day unscathed or floundering through chaos and lack of productivity. When I start right, almost invariably the rest of the day goes well.

And being British, when I start with tea, all is well with the world! So, every morning I get up and make a pot of tea. A perfect pot of tea.

Every morning I get up, while everyone else in the house is still asleep and the house is silent. The world is silent. So I make tea and steal some time to myself to think, to dream, to plan, before the chaos of school uniform and school lunch and school run begins.

The first cup of tea out of the pot first thing in the morning is perfect. Perfect because of the peace and quiet, perfect because of the moment to stop and reflect, and perfect because of the tea itself. The perfect blend of different teas, brewed for just the right amount of time and poured over milk – no sugar!

And that’s what I want to share with you: my perfect tea recipe.

  1. Boil the kettle with 1.2 litres of water.
  2. Add three tea bags to medium size tea pot – two Earl Grey and one Assam. (Clipper Earl Grey and Co-op Assam are my brands of choice, but I encourage you to experiment. It took me a few years to find the exact right combination.)
  3. Once the water has boiled, leave it for 60 seconds then pour it into the pot slowly.
  4. Cover the teapot to keep it warm and leave to brew for 4-6 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea.
  5. Pour into a china cup over a small amount of milk.
  6. Sit back, enjoy the silence and enjoy the perfect cup of tea.
  7. Go on have a second cup. You deserve it!

And there you have it the recipe for the perfect cup(s) of tea and the perfect morning from my point of view.

What’s your perfect morning ritual?

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Failure is a stepping stone.

Failure is a stepping stone.

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Without failure you wouldn’t be able to walk.

Without failure you wouldn’t be able to walk.

Babies learn to walk by giving it a go and falling over.  The first thing they do after they stand up to walk is fall over and fail.  Lots!

And when a baby tries to walk for the first time, the one thing we never hear parents say is,

“Well that was rubbish.  You are really no good at walking.  Walking is not something you can do.  You’re not gifted in that way.  Just sit down and do something else instead!”

We don’t admonish babies for getting up and trying walking. We don’t tell them it’s not for them when they fall over.  We get excited about what could happen if they keep trying.  We encourage them and we smile and cheer them on willing them to take just one more step, to try one more time, knowing that eventually, almost inevitably they will take two steps, then three then wobble from one leg to the other until they walk.

We don’t belittle them, admonish them and laugh at them for their failure. We see beyond their failure to the success that will come.

Why don’t we treat other attempts and failures the same? Why don’t we cheer people on instead of putting them down?  Why don’t we encourage instead of admonish? Why don’t we get excited about what could happen?  Excited about their inevitable success?

How much better would life be if we treated all attempts at something new the same way we do a baby’s first steps?

And you know what?  I can walk brilliantly now. I’m world class at it. I can do it without even thinking.

What if we had the same approach to everything in life? How much more could people achieve?

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Our limit is out doubts.

Our limit is out doubts.

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Don’t let others decide what you believe!

Don’t let others decide what you believe!

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Excitement vs Fear…

Excitement vs Fear…

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Here’s to the dreamers…

Here’s to the dreamers…

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Together – Stop Hating

Together – Stop Hating

Like a phone network with a single phone, on our own we are meaningless. There is no point. But together with others, in relationship, we gain our meaning, our purpose, our life.

As a global people, our thinking and our hearts need to move from “I am everything, they are nothing” to “I am nothing, WE are everything!”

I am only truly who I am meant to be when I am that in relationship with others.

Stop hating, start connecting!

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All progress is uncomfortable!

All progress is uncomfortable!

All progress is uncomfortable!

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Heroes of Culture: George Cadbury

Heroes of Culture: George Cadbury

George and Richard Cadbury believed in company culture way back at the end of the 19th century when they took over their father’s chocolate business. A culture where everyone thrives in work and life whatever their position.

At the time Cadbury’s Chocolate was a small business in the heart of England, but it didn’t remain small for long.  George and Richard had other ideas, and they set about crafting their grand vision. 

They not only improved worker conditions, during a time when workers had very few rights, but they actually built an entire town in Bournville (UK) to ensure their workers had suitable accommodation and a safe, healthy place to live. They built sports clubs to allow their employees to remain fit and well and give them opportunities to socialise.  They were groundbreaking with their employee benefits, giving employees a cash gift to start a pension in 1906. They provided funding to ensure some form of education for every employee under the age of eighteen, more than one hundred years before the compulsory school leaving age in England was raised to eighteen.

George Cadbury had a belief about the good that business could and should do.

“Nearly all my money is invested in businesses in which I believe I can truly say the first thought is the welfare of the workpeople employed.”

George Cadbury

Are you building a business? Then be more like George and build a culture where people thrive!

What do think about Kraft taking over Cadbury? How will it change George’s company and values?

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Good is the enemy of great!

Good is the enemy of great!

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Be undeniably good

Be undeniably good

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Success is an art

Success is an art

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Success never goes on sale!

Success never goes on sale!

Success costs and it never goes on sale!

You can pay the price now and reap the rewards or you can choose the cheaper path, the easier life, the effortless existence and get what you’ve always got. Nothing will change. You won’t reach your goal – unless your goal is mediocrity, but let’s face it, who gets up in the morning wanting just to be mediocre, average, middle of the road.

It’s just like going shopping (pre-internet). You make your list of what you want. You figure out what you have to do and where you need to go to find it. Then you actually get off your backside and go get it.

Once you’ve found it, you have to pay for it. You actually have to put your hand in your pocket and part with some hard earned cash. You have to decide whether what you’re buying is worth it. You have to choose to spend the money or not.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”

John D. Rockefeller

Success is no different. You decide what you want and if you really want it, you have to pay for it with time, effort, pain and emotion. You have to do the hard work or choose not to.

You have to sacrifice something. You can sacrifice comfort and ease now for success later. You can sacrifice future success for comfort and ease now.

It’s your choice. What are you going to choose?

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Walk the walk…

Walk the walk…

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