Thursday, 28 June 2007

La Vie en Rose

From the slums of Paris to the limelight of New York, Edith Piaf’s life was a battle to sing and survive, live and love. Raised in poverty, Edith’s magical voice and her passionate romances and friendships with the greatest names of the period - Yves Montand, Jean Cocteau, Charles Aznavour, Marlene Dietrich, Marcel Cerdan and others - made her a star all around the world. But in her audacious attempt to tame her tragic destiny, the Little Sparrow - her nickname - flew so high she could not fail to burn her wings.

 That's the official blurb. Just go and see one of the most incredible female performances for decades. If you want to see what passion looks like - look no further.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Is Paris burning?

This is worth a look - a News Anchor who doesn't agree with the running order and rips up the Paris Hilton story. I would have loved to do the same. Go girl !

Thanks to Jeff Jarvis.

Monday, 25 June 2007

EUDAIMONIA - "creating happiness by doing what you’re best at for the good of others".

“Life is for living. Go find what you’re good at and do more of it for the good of us all ….” Nicki and I concluded after attending a St Nicholas’s Hospice fund raising leadership seminar in Suffolk.

Charles Handy and Richard Olivier took us beyond the breach .....

So what was the over-riding theme that came across? Envisioning the future? Building the team? Finding the strategy? Communicating the strategy? Knowing your customers? No. The over-riding theme was: “Life is for living. Go find what you’re good at and do more of it for the sake of us all, please”. Or, as Aristotle put it way back when, “eudaimonia”.

We’d heard about “eudaimonia” – thanks to our colleague David Criddle whose holding company for his various businesses and investments shares that name. But many people hadn't.

So how was this theme communicated? Powerfully and by stealth.

When Charles Handy took to the stage, we knew what to expect and we were not disappointed. Charles used his new book The New Philanthropists, co-authored with his wife Elizabeth (Charles and Elizabeth pictured above)  whose incredible photographs lead the narrative, to express his perception of the essence of great leadership. So what is that essence and who are these New Philanthropists?

“The secret to great leadership? It’s simple: 1. Know yourself. 2. Know and trust your people. 3. Know what you’re about and make sure your people know what you’re about,” advised Charles warmly, yet with a hint of irony. Irony, not because it isn’t true – it is. Rather because it’s one of those eternal truths that is “easier said than delivered”.

And Charles – what is he about? This is a question he had to ask himself when writing his autobiography. Aristotle had the answer apparently - “eudaimonia”. Translated by many as “happiness”, the true translation of this concept according to Charles is “creating happiness by doing what you’re best at for the good of others.” Makes sense to us.

On hearing the building fill with soulful applause, we turned to each other and asked. “How on Earth do you follow that?” Luckily the next speaker, Richard Olivier, founder of Mythodrama and author of Inspirational leadership, Henry V and the Muse of Fire, knew exactly how.

His passion may also have been ignited thanks to the video St Nicholas’s Hospice showed before setting him loose on us. The overwhelming message we received from this and our various conversations with The Hospice’s staff was:  "HOSPICES ARE ABOUT CARING FOR THE LIVING.”  Living, and how great leaders do work that makes them feel alive, is a theme Richard picked up on later.

Awesome. That’s one word you could use to describe Richard’s performance, Inspiring, magnetic, moving, memorable would be others. Using the plot and some of the Bard’s narrative from Henry V, not only did he take us to the breach once more, he took us beyond.

A former theatre director talking about leadership lessons from Shakespeare’s Henry V. He sent waves of energy, inspiration, charisma and wisdom crashing through the room. He was on fire.

He explained how before opening Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre with Henry V in 1997, he bought in a group of City leaders to do a workshop to analyse which parts were still relevant to leadership today. They concluded “all of it!” He then talked us through the play and its eternal wisdoms.

Picking up on Charles’ theme of “in the service of others” and the difference between inspiration and charisma, he talked about great leaders having the ability to reflect accurately back on their life and to sow the ‘Golden Seed’ Charles had talked about earlier (also known as The Mentor’s Nudge) within others. He talked about being fully alive and connected to your work and how to orient yourself towards the thing that brings you alive and then do it. He showed how Henry V did it and told us how he did it. He talked about vision being about quality not quantity. Mission being measurable but vision being about core inspirational values and he quoted Henry V again to illustrate the difference, tears filling his eyes (and most of the audience’s too).

He concluded that great leadership was about finding your inner sense of purpose and the inner conditions you need to produce inspired work. For him it’s working with wisdom stories and people interested in self-development. He has certainly found his niche.

What about us, what did we get out of it? The gift of humility – here were two masters at work, “spreading the word” and “getting it heard”. They did not simply appeal to the head. They reached out to the heart using words, pictures and performance to captivate us all. As Richard put it “Some people see the light. Some people need to feel the heat”. Our light bulbs were switched on and our internal fires were well and truly stoked. As Mentor Mike Pegg regularly reminds us “it’s not just about the words – it’s about how they’re used to engage the other senses to achieve a goal”.

Consider us well and truly nudged and on fire…

Friday, 22 June 2007

Digigirlz day

WOW! what a day.... 200 teenage (13 - 15 yr old) girls descended upon Microsoft HQ today.

We had a great line up of speakers. We didn't have much time. Everyone spoke for about 5 mins and the girls themselves asked lots of questions about careers and the technology itself. Lots of whooping and hollering just before that when I asked them all to stand up and stay standing if they had, a pc, a mobile, an mp3 player, they were on Facebook, my Space, Bebo or Spaces, they had bought or sold on ebay, had visited second life, had a blog ( yes a few still standing) and had used a wiki. Luckily I didn't have to do the "who knows what RSS stands for?" - but there were 3 girls still standing and that was good enough for me.

The afternoon challenge was for them to create a 2 min ad for either the XBox 360 or the Creative Zen ( Zune not arrived on these shores yet). They were asked to shoot moving pictures and stills, source music and additional visuals and do a final edit on Movie Maker. ( will link to the winning 2 vids in the next few days)

These are the lucky generation of digital natives ( don't like that phrase but seems in common use now). They have never known a world without perpetual connectivity. The photo above is Geek in Disguise Steve Clayton showing the girls just how simple making a movie really is:) Many thanks to all the organisers and especially to Eileen Brown who got me involved.

A high energy - thought provoking (for both teenagers and adults) day. I ended it by asking them to email just one thing they are going to do as a result of the day - again will feedback.

Ahhh - we have so much to learn from the young.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Idea Volcano

 My mate Oli has set up new site called Idea Volcano.

He says it for ideas to be posted that people dont have time to work on - so why not throw them out there and see what happens?

He was interviewed on the Chris Evans radio 2 show today - Chris asked him what was in it for him and did it pull in the women? Oli said he was ok in the women department but that one of the team behind Idea Volcano maybe looking.....any ideas?


Looking forward to Friday when I'm hosting the first Microsoft Digigirlz day.

Just the small matter of 200 ( yes 200!) 13 - 15 year old girls. How exciting eh? We have a great line up and quite a demanding assignment for the afternoon. I for one, am going to learn something .....keep you posted :)

Eileen Brown has her take on it - now SHE has a story to tell....

As a faithful Prius driver for 2 years now - I was attracted to a new scheme that Google is pushing....

RechargeIT is an initiative within's Climate Change Program aimed at accelerating the adoption of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles ("plug-in hybrids") and vehicle-to-grid ("V2G") applications. As a "hybrid" philanthropic venture itself, can apply a broad mix of resources - investments, grants, policy, public engagement - to addressing the climate crisis. 

Check out the video -selling power back to the grid?  All my friends with flashy cars will want one.....ok - so call me an eternal optimist I don't care.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

rethinking the news

Jeff Jarvis reports that the National Union of Journalists in the UK is planning a Europe-wide day of protest against cuts in journalism.

He wonders whom they’ll picket: the Internet? the economy? their readers? reality? He says;

But what are they going to do about it? Perhaps instead they should have a national brainstorming day to find and invent new ways to serve the public in all media. Or perhaps a national training day to show all these keyboard addicts how to use and make audio, video, blogs, wikis, search, social networks, and more. Or I’d like to see a national networked journalism day in which the pros share the tricks of their trade with the public to encourage more and better acts of journalism. Or maybe even a national efficiency day, in which the journalists find cuts that can be made instead of reporting. Or maybe a national entrepreneurial day to find ways to create new sustainable journalistic businesses that will not only pay those journalists but give them a piece of the equity.

Media are changing and so are their business realities. Not much — not anything — one can do about that but find new opportunities and change alongside.

Change is always difficult. It brings to mind a quote attributed to an American Army General who said:

" If you don't like change - you are going like irrelevance even less".

 I love some of Jeff's suggestions. Lets embrace the change and lead the way.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Speaking from the heart

This speech is the best 6 minutes you will spend for a very long time.          A message delivered from the heart. To the UN. From a 12 year old.

I coach execs to "talk from the heart" - some find it very difficult. Maybe its because they choose not to get over excited or passionate about what their product or service can do to help people.

We can learn a great deal from children. Look at the way they talk. Their bodies say the same things their mouths do - they are AUTHENTIC.

Children make great teachers.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Vote "The Members Project"

Got this request from David Catzel following my BBC Click report on social lending. Please support if you can.

Use the leverage of American Express’ “The Members Project” to make a difference.

 "US Student 3rd World Micro Credit Initiative"

Its an opportunity work with US students to do a really good thing that can really make the world a better place ....
A partner and I submitted a US student drive Micro Credit to the American Express "Member's Project" Program Committee where finalists, and ultimately the winning initiative, will be selected based on the voting of other card members. AmEx will donate up to $5,000,000 to the winning cause.

It was approved as Project ID# 4256 and has posted to The Members Project(SM).

I'm asking that you all register online with American Express (Unfortunately AmEx card holders only) by following the link; . Our Program is located under Community Development and is titled: "US Student 3rd World Micro Credit Initiative".
The Idea

Our idea for the program is to educate US students (Youth Awareness) and enlist them to be better Global Citizens. The program revolves around modest cash resources available to young adults that cumulatively can change the lives of 3rd world families and entire communities. The concept that spending $100 on a family dinner doesn’t seem like much to American kids, but, that amount can actually be successfully applied to forever changing the lives of less fortunate people in under developed countries. Our emphasis will be on supporting women,  creating economic impact through highly sustainable means like: computing, mobile phones, crops, fresh water, small businesses etc.
Read more about what we are proposing via our listing … share your voice, vote and please spread this around to all of your trusted contacts and comrades and lets get everyone we know to vote (5 stars of course!).
On July 3, an Advisory Panel will get together with American Express and announce the Top 50 projects.  Then it's all up to you. Over a few rounds of voting, Cardmembers will narrow it down to one winning idea. What will it be? Just about anything's possible.
Remember to spread the word. For every Cardmember that registers, American Express contributes $1 — up to $5 million total.
David Catzel

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Howstuffworks "How Women Work"

This is a very clever site that does what it says on the tin. Tells you how stuff works. I really liked the section marked "How women work".

If you believe what you see on TV, women are inscrutable, conniving, hysterical and apt to change their minds without reason or warning. Some women's magazines perpetuate these stereotypes by offering advice on how to entrap men or keep them guessing. And some of the basic differences between men and women can seem a little confusing, depending on your point of view. So it's not surprising that one of the most requested articles in the history of HowStuffWorks is "How Women Work."

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Seduce your way to a beautiful site

If you want to see the future of innovative web design look no further. Mindflood will quite literally seduce you to let them make you look great. They have just won a "Webby" (web equivalent of the Oscars ).

Take a look - very clever and leaves you wanting even more....

Monday, 4 June 2007

The future of NEWS.....

How to stay relevant in a changing world? With the BBC announcing more job cuts in its news depts - the future of news is closer than we might think. Tip to Blaugh.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Marketing technology to Women's simple


Went to an interesting all female ( well a couple of token males ) evening at a very well known ad agency talking about marketing to women. Lots of chat and light hearted banter. But the essence of what people were saying was, what I have been saying for a couple of years now.....

"Please tell me how this product or service is going to improve my life".

Please make sure it does what it says on the tin. Clear instructions would be nice.

Please give us great design.

And not all of us with breasts want it in pink ( some will and that's ok )

That's it - job done - sold.


I've just bought a great heart rate monitor. Told me it was going to get me fit and lose weight if I worked between 70 and 80% of my maximum heart rate. Told me what my max HR is and how to easily set the alarm on the watch part if I worked too hard or not enough.  Went out on my new bike today and worked perfectly. Not only that, it is so cool that it only has one button - if you want to get time, stop watch and HR - you just bring the watch bit really close to the chest strap and it just changes - you don't touch anything! At the end of your workout it tells you your average HR. Brilliant. Easy. £29. The only thing it doesn't do for you is the exercise. Go buy one today!

Oh - did I mention its blue?

Hoax TV kidney competition

Even I thought the idea of a reality show whereby a terminally ill woman got to choose who she would donate her kidney to - was going too far. In fact,  it was all a hoax to highlight the fact that 200 people in the Netherlands die each year while waiting for a kidney. The average waiting time is more than 4 years.  


Everyone filming the stunt was in on the hoax - but the three "contestants" are indeed all in need of kidneys. Does it matter? NO because no one really got hurt as such and the shortage of kidneys and donors was highlighted. But also YES because it erodes our belief systems about who we can and can't trust. We can trust our friends and family but how much do we trust the world outside of that cosy ring? It makes people more cynical and it's a stunt that can't be pulled too many times. 

Maybe the real winner in publicity terms is Endemol.?

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