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.

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.

Learn how to sprint

A lot of people, especially joggers, are not able to sprint. Like young kids, they just cannot push off hard and their “sprint” is just running with a longer stride. I just read an article from another blogger about how to sprint, which quite frankly was bollocks. It was like telling a golfer the 37 things to concentrate on whilst swinging the club.

You learn sprinting by undertaking specific exercises not by thinking about landing softly or having a certain gait. It is a style that is developed and there are specific exercises that will develop the ability as well as the correct muscles.

So how effective is this?  Playing rugby at 49 years old I can run faster than 20 year old kids in the A team.  Why? technique.  They haven’t got a clue how to run fast.

So here goes!

1st Exercise: High knee running. Over a 20 metre distance take very short strides and lift the knees as high as possible. Aim for at least 40 strides. Repeat this 3 times.

2nd Exercise: Strides. Over a 50m distance go from jogging to longer than normal strides, increasing the speed.

3rd Exercise: Running on the balls of your feet. Similar to striding but focus on landing on the balls of the feet and not heel-toe running. You will probably have to run slower to be able to do this to start with.

4th Exercise: from lying to running. Start in the top of a push-up position, arms locked. Gradually start to cycle your feet underneath you, lightly at first (looks a bit like running in a cartoon as the feet move but you don’t) then apply more pressure with the ball of the foot until you move forward. If you fall flat on your face, don’t worry, just push up ever so slightly. The trick is to keep as low as possible, almost lurching forward. If you just stand up and run then you are doing it wrong. This exercise gives you the correct position for the crouched sprint start. Repeat 6 times, running about 10m each time.

5th Exercise: Bunny jumps. From a crouched position, jump/bound like a bunny with both feet together. This develops a lot of leg strength required for good sprinting. Do about 6 sets of 20m.

6th Exercise: Hills runs. Pick a fairly steep hill and run with longer strides on the balls of the feet for 50m. You should be breathing very heavily at the top. Walk slowly down. Repeat 6 times.

7th Exercise: Leg speed. Stand leaning into a wall supported by your arms. Run with high knees without going forward (there is a wall in the way), focussing on speed of raising the knees.

8th Exercise: video sprints. Get a friend to video you sprinting. This is priceless. Compare yourself to a sprinter with great technique on youtube. Let’s not focus on Usain Bolt’s technique as it is highly unlikely that you have his genetics. So find someone who is roughly your height and your body type. Again, it’s unlikely you have the same physique as some of the top sprinters, however more lightweight sprinters who were excellent in terms of form would be the likes of Colin Jackson. Although a hurdler his form was superb and he was a lightweight.

Once you have practised these speed is developed by practising to run.  Warm up well and do a few of the routines above.  Take the first sprint in a set slightly slower.  You might find that technique disappears quickly, this is due to tiredness.

Typical training sessions for speed – if you do one of these twice a week, within 6 months you will run faster than almost anyone on the park (depending what level you started at).

  • 8 x 60m.  This is a flat out sprint.  Take as much recovery as required.
  • 6 x 150m.  90% full speed. Full recovery.
  • 6 x 200m. Over 200m you should aim for 80% full sprint speed.  Recovery is a slow walk back to the starting point.
  • 6 x 150m with rolling start.  Rather than a standing start, build up speed slower than a full sprinting start.

At the end job, warm down and stretch.  If you have run fast enough and pushed yourself hard enough, you might have a feeling of nausea, tingling in the mouth and teeth, pins and needles in the fingers, dizziness, generally feeling absolutely knackered.  If you can walk away feeling completely ok, you were not sprinting.  After the first full session, the next day you should have a lot of muscle soreness.  Go for a gentle run, get the muscles completely warm and stretch.