Pick a goal …

Recently I read an article about some sort of superhuman 50 year old guy with the washboard abs, amazing physique, able to run a marathon in 3 hours blah blah blah.  However the point of the article was that this uber-dude wasn’t able to achieve all of this at the same time.  If he wanted the abs he needed to shed fat, which meant he was less able to do endurance.  If he wanted the beach body he needed to sacrifice distance running.  Now possibly with good nutrition you can do this in your 20s and maybe your 30s, but by 40 this is pushing the limits of the body and at 50 you need to specialise.  Especially as the older you get, the longer you need to recover, so you cannot punish your body as much as you used to.
So this resonated with me a lot.  You cannot have your cake (or the six pack) and eat it at the same time.  For me this used to be the goal of running a 5km race in 20 mins and having the same physique as a 20 year old sprinter.  But given the limiting factors of age, time to work out and the ability of my body to recover post work out something needed to give.
What gives is that you need to work out and stick to one goal, I would say for 6 months.  Otherwise you achieve none of the goals and ultimately feel dissatisfied.
So the message is if you want to run that race, set aside 6 months and focus on it.  If you want to bulk up and have the physique do the same.  But you will need to leave one of the two aside.  That doesn’t mean you drop it completely, but there can only be one focus.

My Mornings

So most people have heard about the miracle morning.  The idea that you get up at 5 am, meditate, work out, plan the day, write your blog, etc, before anyone else gets up.  I always wonder what these people who have families do?  I mean it’s all very well to get up early, but then you need to get to sleep early.  Which may not be possible if you have a spouse and family (assuming you actually want to interact with them).  So eventually or very soon you get very tired.  5 am is too extreme for me.  I need to be awake with family members and not too ratty until 11pm at night, so 5 am is just too early to have sufficient sleep.
My morning plan is like this:
  • The night before make sure i have my sports kit ready
  • Wake at 6am
  • Dressed by 6.05. Leave the house.
  • Either run or workout – see my blog on the weekly routine
  • Finish the routine by 6.50
  • 10 minutes of slow walking, relax, say thank you for the day, bless the day
  • Get back by 7am
  • Protein drink.
  • Shower, dress, get breakfast ready for the family.

Its not the perfect morning as suggested by many, buts it’s good enough to ensure that I am fit and mentally ready for the day AND I can still have a family life.

7 rules of life, modified by coach John Wooden

7 rules of life, modified by coach John Wooden

7 rules of life, modified by coach John Wooden

  1. Be true to yourself. Don’t try to be better than anyone else, try to be the best version of yourself.
  2. Try your hardest and make the most of each day. Be able to look back on each day and say to yourself “I made a difference, I did good”.
  3. Help others. Anyone needs help in understanding this point, you’re are on the wrong page.
  4. Read and learn. More than 140 character tweets. Constantly sharpen the sword.
  5. Develop deep relationships. Take guidance from Obama’s parting speech and develop relationships with human, face to face (a radical concept I know) and not just through social networks.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day. Don’t live on the edge financially. Make sure you can survive a few hiccups.
  7. Pray for guidance and give thanks every day. If you are not religious, contemplate the day, celebrate what you did well, learn from what you could have done differently. Get a mentor.

You have but one path to follow

You have but one path to follow

Japanese proverbs tell us that we each have a unique path to follow.  When we set off in life we don’t normally know what this path will be.  And it’s important to think of this in all aspects of life and not just your professional career – see my blog post The Olympics of Life.  We only get one turn at this path, so it’s important that you give it your best shot.

As it shows in the graphic, the path of life is not always plain sailing.  But the reality is that the path that contains challenges, that tests us, that presents us with unforeseen issues is also the one that brings the most enjoyment and satisfaction.  Its also the one  where we are more likely to experience deeper love, stronger friendships and spiritual fulfillment.

From time to time the more challenging journey will make you feel inadequate, you will want to escape and you will look at other people’s paths with envy.  This is normal.  But ultimately a complete waste of time.  Everyone is different.  Your path is your own.  You must make of it what you can.  This is why so many people who win the lottery are miserable, because they are thrown into a different path and are incapable of changing or adapting.

Again the Japanese proverbs tell us what to do.  Walk.  Place one foot in front of another.  Keep moving.  Take each day at a time, learning from the last, planning the next.  Be ready to capture experiences and take opportunities.  Always try to be a better version of yourself, not someone else, from one day to the next.  But all of this is only possible if you move.  Walk.  Go forwards.  Do.


Leadership in a time of crisis

My talk at the Global Business School, Barcelona.

Link to article

Richard Stokes, Technology Director EMEA at Tech Data, entertained GBSB Bachelor of Business Administration students speaking on leadership in the time of crisis and disaster

Richard Stokes, Technology Director EMEA at Tech Data, entertained Global Business School Barcelona Bachelor of Business Administration students with a thorough presentation on leadership in the time of crisis and disaster on Tuesday 29th November 2016 on the GBSB campus. Covering the impact crisis has on business, how to manage crisis, and understanding what actions can be made to navigate the situation were themes addressed.

With over 25 years in management experience at companies like Accenture, Transcom, and Allen & Overy, from London to Barcelona, Richard Stokes drew upon his wealth of experience to provide a summary of how leaders should activity approach adversity.

A leader can provide added value to a situation or derail it entirely based solely on their approach. This is an outline of how to manage misfortune appropriately in business.

1. Be the Leader: Show Up and Take the Lead
2. Assess the Impact: Get to the Bottom of the Issue
3. Communicate Effectively: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How?
  • You do not need to have all the answers at once.
  • Tell the facts, and communicate the next steps.
  • Understanding the reasons why are not important until after the issue is resolved.
4. Understand Timelines: Communicate Deliverable Objectives and Be Accountable
5. Build the “A” Team
  • In times of crisis everyone is available.
  • The leader does not ask, but rather tells employees politely what needs to be done.
  • Thinking outside-the-box is imperative.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
6. Have a Plan: “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson
  • Having a plan is a great reference tool, but in times of emergency it is best to think proactively, improvising when necessary, to quickly fix the problem.

In search of excellence ….

This is an email I sent to all of my team members today ….


This is the title of a business book from the eighties, before most of you were born, so it might seem out of date! Indeed no one at that time could have imagined the changes in the IT industry and the rise and fall of the some of the companies. The purpose of the book was to document a study that investigated why some businesses were excellent compared to others. They found that excellent businesses had the majority of the 8 themes from the book. (I copied these from a book summary)


  1. A bias for action, active decision making – ‘getting on with it’.
  2. Close to the customer – learning from the people served by the business.
  3. Autonomy and entrepreneurship – fostering innovation and nurturing ‘champions’.
  4. Productivity through people – treating rank and file employees as a source of quality.
  5. Hands-on, value-driven – management philosophy that guides everyday practice – management showing its commitment.
  6. Stick to the knitting – stay with the business that you know.
  7. Simple form, lean staff – some of the best companies have minimal HQ staff.
  8. Simultaneous loose-tight properties – autonomy in shop-floor activities plus centralised values.

I think the IT industry and the world economy have changed so fundamentally in the last 10 years that item number 6 is dead. However I see that all of the other items are still relevant to Tech Data and to ourselves. I also see that with items 7 and 8 we are losing the battle, and this will kill us and our company. I am sure you can all point out some aspect of bureaucracy that makes your daily work harder.

So here is the point of me sending you this email.

  1. We need to pursue excellence in everything that we do.
  2. We need to get on with it and “do”. I would point out the P-V that Kenneth has done as a brilliant example of this. This is a case study in taking initiative to get the job done. This is just one example, there are many more. However there are a lot of examples where we have not got on with it. Look at your own lists of actions and “just do it” (I think someone stole that for their own marketing campaign!).
  3. Be close to your customers and champion your own areas: if I look at many of the major incidents we have had in the past 7 days, we lack the discipline of one person being willing to champion that area – this point goes well beyond our own team, but we have plenty of examples ourselves.
  4. Point 5 is obvious. Everyone in the team contributes and needs to contribute. We are not a big team for the work we do. We need excellence in everyone and we should not put up with low quality from our colleagues. If you see, point it out (not just to me!).
  5. For my part, I will pursue points 7 and 8 and try to remove as many obstacles as I can, so that you can excel.

I would like to receive your comments on how we can improve as a team. In the meantime, keep up the good work and don’t settle for anything less than excellence, either from yourself or others.



Don’t dream or try – avoid getting hurt!

Don’t dream or try – avoid getting hurt!

You have to admire the amazing satire in the text from Disney’s Zootopia.  The lesson is simple, don’t dream, don’t try – then you can never fail and get hurt.  Therefore if you want to shoot for the moon, you have to be prepared to fail and get hurt.  But then as the saying goes, the secret to success is how well you get back up every time you get knocked down.

Stu Hopps: Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy?

Young Judy Hopps: Nope!

Stu Hopps: Well, we gave up on our dreams and we settled, right Bon?

Bonnie Hopps: Oh, yes, that’s right Stu. We settled hard.

Stu Hopps: See? That’s the beauty of complacency, Jude. If you don’t try anything new, you’ll never fail!

Young Judy Hopps: I like trying, actually.

Bonnie Hopps: What your father means, hun, is that it’s gonna be difficult, impossible even, for you to become a police officer.