In Owen Eastwood’s book, Belonging, there’s a chapter about the South Africa cricket team after the end of apartheid. It’s worth reading this book for that chapter alone. One result was that they changed their name from the Springboks to the Proteas. But of course, a name change without real change is nothing. Eastwood was there when the real change happened, and it’s spine-tingling.

I say this because there’s a lot of Maori legend and new-agey type stuff early on in the book, Read More

Books | December 2022

Look. Until now I always had to turn the cheese block sideways to grate it, then turn it back to slide it back into the packet. I will now buy this cheese because they’ve solved that tiny problem. It’s not the result of some genius invention or astonishing insight, just simple observation. Little things can make a difference. Read More

Comment | December 2022

The Long Win, by Cath Bishop

The Scout Mindset, by Julia Galef

“Can I give you some feedback?” If those words make your stomach churn, or your heart sink, then Cath Bishop’s book is for you. The Long Win, subtitled The Search for a Better Way to Succeed”, can show us how to make the most of every learning opportunity, so that you can win even when you lose. We see how this can work in sport, Read More

Books | April 2022

This is a story of monumental hubris, greed and failure. The account of how the charismatic founder of WeWork, Adam Neumann, and his wife, Rebekah, drove the business into near-bankruptcy while extracting a billion dollars for themselves is a good read. The greed is not just theirs, though their hypocrisy is at times breath-taking. “We believe in this new Asset Light lifestyle” says Rebekah, after buying a $15m estate in Westchester, New York. This was not their first home; Read More

Books | February 2022

External changes force people to change their habits, presenting both risk and opportunity. Pret A Manger’s monthly coffee subscription was launched in autumn 2020, aimed at restoring footfall post-pandemic. It doesn’t cost much to give hot drinks away; the price is mostly margin. Since the average customer buys five coffees a week, £20 a month for all the drinks you want is great value, and should drive loyalty, re-establishing the coffee habit as a Pret habit. Read More

Comment | January 2022

What went wrong with the new John Lewis home insurance advertisement, withdrawn after three weeks on air following a public outcry? Did the team think they were showing a progressive form of parenting, in which boys can play at being girls or be camp or be anything they like? Brand purpose is a useful concept but this is what it looks like when brands think they are a force for social change, Read More

Comment | November 2021

“If you listen, you learn. If you talk, you don’t.”

John Hurt, actor Read More

Quotes | September 2021

As the trial in the US begins of Elizabeth Holmes, briefly the world’s youngest billionaire, I’m reposting the piece I wrote about her two years ago. Her story starts with the kind of big hairy audacious goal that was lauded by business school gurus twenty years ago. It’s a story of an ambitious upstart challenging entrenched interests with vision and confidence. That all sounds great, so why was it wrong? More to the point, Read More

Comment | September 2021

After the Olympic and Paralympic excitement, there’ll be the usual wave of stories about how we are all inspired by Olympians’ achievements, how you can fulfil your dreams if you only try hard enough, and so on. I’ve seen plenty of inspiring talks, both the sporting type and others. It’s always great fun, and I’ve usually taken something valuable from it. But, in my view, the inspiration from sport is not the simple lesson most often cited by the winners themselves in their moments of joy. Read More

Comment | August 2021

Hate networking? For many people, networking = job-hunting. If that is the only time you do it, then of course it feels like you’re on the back foot, and you’re asking for favours, neither of which feels good. So you get through it, get a job, and disappear into work. Until next time. If you dislike networking, you’ll only do it when you absolutely have to. But that just makes it harder next time. Doubly harder, Read More

Thought leadership | June 2021