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.

On 21st October my training routine will make a radical change


Sunday is the annual 5k race that takes place just before the half marathon in Sant Cugat where we live. The 5k course is fast, starting with a gentle downhill for the first km. The uphill parts are also gentle. Last year, aged 48, I clocked 20m59s in my first ever 5km race. Previously (and we are talking 26 years previously) I was racing over 100, 200 and 400m. A slight pause and a slight change. However I will note that Seb Coe, who was arguably Britain’s best ever middle distance runner prior to Mo Farrar, one the 400m at the British university races a few years before me. So I’m not the first to switch over and have success, although Seb did it slightly earlier in his career and with slightly more success.

Anyway I’m looking forward to the race to see how I compare to last year. Each year it is harder to improve and maintaining the intensity of training is difficult. I have done really well for leg injuries throughout my entire 38 years of running (I only started at 11 years old), however now I find a lot more calf and Achilles soreness and the warm up needs to be ever longer.

So after Sunday the training plan will change. I am feeling pulled in two completely different directions. Ultra-distance and gruelling death race style competitions are very appealing, but I will not dedicate the time to the training at the cost of time with my family. So I’m going to give in to the complete opposite and try to reverse the attrition of muscle and increase sprint training.

At the moment I am 68kg at 15% body fat, that’s 10kg of fat!!!

The goal is to get to 73kg and 12% fat. That’s a drop of 1.5kg of fat and a gain of 6.5kg of muscle.

In old money that means at the moment I am 150lb at 15% body fat, 22.5lb of fat.

The goal is to get to 160lb and 12% fat. That’s a drop of 3lb of fat and a gain of 14lb of muscle.

At the same time I intend to increase sprint speed/stamina. The target is a 200m run in 26 seconds.

Here’s the plan: all weights sessions are 5-7 sets per exercise, 6-8 reps per set. And heavy.

My guess is that after the first 2 weeks I will change this quite a bit, based on feedback from my body! Let me know your thoughts.
Week 1
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Legs Sprints Shoulders Sprints Legs
Chest   Back   Chest
Triceps   Biceps   Triceps
Week 2
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Shoulders Sprints Legs Sprints Shoulders
Back   Chest   Back
Biceps   Triceps   Biceps





What I Learnt Today

What I learnt today: Get it out there fast and learn from feedback.

Never wait until it is 100% perfect to post an article or go-live with something. You will never get there. Perfectionism is always a waste of time. Pareto nailed it with the 80:20 rule.

Go live or post quickly, use the initial feedback to then reshape or guide your product to be better. This is way more efficient.

Tim Ferriss basically uses this method with blog posts, launching late at night, getting the initial feedback from countries ahead in terms of time zones (and civilization if you are thinking Europe, not Australia), and then amend the article to be less offensive when the East Coast of the USA wakes up. Pretty effective and efficient really.

And this technique works for almost everything. The sooner you get other people to review or see what you are doing, the quicker you get feedback so will know if you have it right, you are hitting the mark or you need to rework.

And of course the IT industry has finally caught and introduced no end of variants of methods that move products through the design-code-test process quicker and to get customer feedback earlier into the process, methods such as Scrum and Agile.

We used to have an expression when working in Andersen Consulting – “don’t polish a turd”. Because at the end of the day, it’s still a turd. This was often undertaken with presentations, with people painstakingly amending presentations without adding or changing the meaning at all. A complete waste of time. Read through, spell check, have one dry run, then go.

One other interesting thing I learnt today (about myself) was listening to Jocko on his podcast about writing. When writing his book Jocko Extreme Ownership on Amazon he used to set a target of 1000 words per day, allocate a time, turn off all distractions and JFDI. This is exactly what I do, as I now recognise. Waiting until the creative juices are flowing is a way of putting off getting it done. And it also leads to one very important output. It makes your blog natural, as if you are speaking it. Then when people read it, it is more appealing to them and sounds more natural. Errr, so its more enjoyable.

I also use this approach to creating presentations, which was given to me by my good friend Alberto Sanz (who is now a project manager for Lego – how cool is that!). He once said that when he needed to create a presentation he would sit down and create the entire framework and flow of the slides in 20 minutes. If you cannot do it in one setting, without having to undertake research, you don’t know your subject. Seems fair enough and this technique works. You then need to fill in the details and get it ready for release, but then jump back to the start of this post and be careful you don’t start polishing that turd!!!!!

That’s it for today. Would love to get feedback or here your ideas about how to become more efficient and effective.