The Kitchen

There’s a new kitchen opening up in town.

Some ingredients are grown in-house – simple but juicy tomatoes, colourful bell peppers and a handful of flavourful herbs.

Other items like organic eggs, crunchy kale, and succulent shallots need bringing in from experts. The kitchen has built a small but trusted network of local cultivators to help source these.

Then there are the more exotic ingredients – tantalising, exciting, diverse. They’re coming soon. For now the kitchen focuses on the items it knows best, because it holds a secret.

The magic of this kitchen is its ability can make a few staple ingredients come to life in new ways. 

And besides, this place ain’t like any old kitchen. 

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Battle Scars

Every battle is different, as is each person’s experience of it.

Every battle leaves its scars.

Sometimes the scars are visible, other times they’re not.

The battle may be oppression, or harassment, or abuse.

A battle of love, or loss.

It may be about moving up or moving on.

It could be the battle of starting something new, or going out alone.

Or pushing through, of bottoming out and feeling that searing burn of coming back up for air.

Every battle leaves its scars.

The experience of the battles and the scars we wear say something about what we’ve been through, what we’ve done, what we’ve seen.

Sometimes we hide the scars, no matter if they’re visible to the naked eye.

Sometimes we wear them as a badge of honor. As a way of proving it, or just to say in quiet solidarity – ‘yes, me too’.

Once we have the scars, going out into battle for the second, third or fourth time out feels like it should be easier.

We’ve seen it, we know it, we’ve smelt it, we’ve tasted it. We know how it’ll play out and what we need to do.

But often it’s not easier. Not at all.

The scars can harden us, instill fear, make us shy away.

Even when they’ve healed, what we experienced in those past battles can take us to a place that may have once helped us, but now holds us back.

The battles matter. 

The scars matter. 

But it’s important we acknowledge we may need more than to just let them heal.

We may need something more.

A new view, a new way, a new place, a new friend.

Different battles, different scars, same reasons.

Coaching: Preparing for job interviews

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking at the best of times.

There’s pressure, uncertainty, intensity; it’s a set-piece with a design out of our control.

We often don’t know what to expect from the interview itself. When combined with our pre-conceptions of the company, role and the wider market, as well as how we may be currently feeling about our own situation and abilities, we can easily approach a job interview from a singular viewpoint that’s limited, inflexible, or negative. From this place, we’re far less likely to get any kind of positive outcome.

Coaching can be hugely effective to help us prepare for interviews. 

Here’s one approach.

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How to build your network in a new city, country or culture

12 ways to get going when you find yourself in some place new

Moving around the world to live and work is becoming easier than ever. 

There are numerous factors and trends enabling and fuelling this shift: low-cost airlines, remote work, broader education access, open borders (sometimes…), an increase in sabbaticals, portfolio careers.

Whether you’re going somewhere new for a couple of months, a year or two, or perhaps even the rest of your life, you’re probably going to want to connect with some fellow humans for one reason or another. 

To do that you’re probably going to want to build some relationships and build a network.

Doing this can feel daunting, overwhelming, or downright scary.

Here’s a brief guide to help you navigate the new place you find yourself in.

A couple of notes before we get going:

1. While there are of course now dozens of online platforms to identify and connect with new people across a dizzying array of locations, interest groups and demographics, this guide focuses mainly on ideas to help forge in-person relationships when you’re in a new place.

2. I could have got this up to 20+ ideas, but given my self-enforced ~2200 word limit, 12 is where we’ll stay for now. Part 2 is coming soon.

Without further ado, here we go…

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3 flavours of workshop

The word ‘workshop’ can mean different things to different people.

Not remembering this can result in us being misunderstood. We can end up unwittingly undermining our efforts.

The educator talks about a workshop as a hands-on learning experience. 

The strategist talks about a workshop as a chance to get to an insight.

The operator talks about a workshop as an opportunity for a group to find alignment.

They’re all correct. 

And you may have noticed that all 3 flavours of workshop often share the intentions of the others. Sometimes we may also wear the hats of all 3 of these roles. 

But one of the 3 flavours has to take the lead. We need to know what the workshop is really for. We can mix the other two flavours in too, but really they’re added bonuses – a little bit of extra delight.

It’s worth noting that when done well, each flavour of workshop is designed in a different way and demands a different set of facilitation skills.

If we try and cover all the bases, we’ll probably end up covering none of them. Instead the result can be a confection.

The important ingredients are knowing who the workshop is for, what it’s for, and how we’re going to to get there.

Here are a few of my new workshops – one main flavour, with a few sprinkles as a bonus.

Introducing Coffee Notes: A template for better meetings

A big part of my discovery mission living in a new city was meeting people for coffee. A lot of people, and a lot of coffee.

I quickly realized two things:

  • Several topics and questions came up repeatedly
  • Preparing well led to better outcomes

I started using a simple template to help me prepare.

After a few iterations, I’m sharing it here in case it can help you with your coffee meetings.

It’s currently a Google Doc – nothing snazzy, but it should serve you well nonetheless. As always, I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions – just leave a comment below or send me an email.

Coffee Notes: A template for better meetings


Beyond the 1 hour meeting

The 1 hour slot has long been the default meeting duration – whether team gatherings, introductory coffees, or job interviews.

While the times are indeed a changing, the 1 hour slot is largely still the default setting.

Here’s another method to try when you’re meeting a fellow human being.

20, then 120.

First, 20 minutes – either on a call or in-person. 

Tight and polite, but with enough space for some colour to shine through.

In that time you’ll know if there’s a vibe, a connection, an alignment.

In fact you’ll probably know in way less time than that (come on, tell me you haven’t been on a date where you knew within 30, 10 or even 5 seconds…or I am just vacuous?) [1]

If that interaction feels good, next time forget the 1 hour slot and step it right up to 120. 

2 whole hours blocked off.

I’ve heard people call this “Valuable Slowness”.

It’s time to get to know one other property, beyond the allotted hour.

Time to go on tangents, find otherwise hidden areas of mutual interests.

Get into values, vulnerabilities, needs, wants, what really make each other tick.

The 1-hour slot still works well in many contexts, but in our always-on networked world, it’s worth investing in some valuable slowness.

[1] Pro tip: Within the first few minutes of meeting my wife for the first time I referred to her industry as vacuous (well before finding out what industry she worked in). Possibly a world record for scoring an own goal.

7 Lessons from Jim Collins on The Tim Ferriss Show

“I’m not really a business author; I just happen to have used companies as the method to study human systems because there’s great data.” 

Jim Collins

Jim Collins is an author, teacher and consultant focused on business management and what makes for successful, sustainable company growth.

With over 40 years experience and a number of best selling books, it’s probably not surprising his appearance on Tim Ferriss’ podcast clocks in at well over two hours.

I’d recommend diving into the full episode as there’s lots of good stuff in there, but for an express view here are some of the insights from this episode that I found especially interesting.

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Hit Making: The Generation Game

One of the first things I learned working at a large talent agency was something that helped fuel the success of a significant number of artists who really made it big.

They could appeal to three generations simultaneously, and thus triple their ticket selling potential (in theory at least). 

These artists appeal to all three generations, and often with the following age ranges:

Young people (say 8-15 years old)

Parents (probably around 28 to 40 or so)

Grandparents (50 to 65, sometimes older)

After all, why sell 1 ticket when you could just as easily sell 3?

In music we’ve see it with the likes of Beyonce and Ed Sheeran, in books with Harry Potter, and The Simpsons on TV.

Watching the movie ‘Alita: Battle Angel’ last night reminded me of this phenomena in action. 

It’s a wild ride, with incredible production and tons of novel ideas. It also nods to so many themes that the movie almost collapses under their weight.

Futurism, cyborgs, a dystopian future, our relationship with technology. 

The bad-ass female lead, a bad boy with a heart of gold, fractured families, and forbidden love. 

eSports, animated heroes, our thirst for blood and the adrenaline rush.

Channeling the modern classics – from The Terminator and The Seven Samurai to The Karate Kid [1] and modern day Manga.

The movie almost collapses under their weight, but they’re present for good reason.

It’s why creators of entertainment properties will tap every trope, every available vein – because the prize to win is the generation game.

[1] I’m positive Ed Skrein’s character took huge influence from John Kreese of the infamous Cobra Kai.

Suggestible, Susceptible?

All us humans are suggestible.

Entire industries have been built in part to exploit this trait: advertising, hypnosis, magic.

To one degree or another, most of us know we’re suggestible. 

We’re certainly more suggestible than we’d like to admit (as the likes of Derren Brown [1] have proved time and time again), but we usually have at least a few defence mechanisms to protect ourselves.

And sometimes we’re happy to let ourselves be taken – whether it’s a compelling ad for a holiday, or a magic trick.

What we’re less aware of is being susceptible. 

Like suggestibility, susceptibility is also about being influenced, but it also speaks to vulnerability, even harm.

We can be very susceptible to certain motions and manoeuvres others may make.

At times, being suggestible or even susceptible can be beneficial. 

We can get new and different ideas, gain a new view of a situation, or just go with the flow of the entertaining movie or magic trick.

Other times, it can be dangerous.

Our suggestibility and susceptibility may send us into places we shouldn’t go, that aren’t good for us.

Others may do this unwittingly or with the guile of Machiavelli.

In any case, this is exacerbated when we’re feeling burned out, depressed, anxious, uncertain.

It’s also more likely to happen when we’re bubbling with exuberance at something new and exciting. 

Our defences go down and our radars fall out of sync.

Our decision making abilities waver.

We may be seeking the right path forward, or the right answer. 

Or just any path, or any answer. 

And that’s when we’re most suggestible. And susceptible.

The trick is two fold: first, being aware of how much we’re under the influence of others, and under the influence of ourselves. And then, identifying the biases, contexts and details that may cloud our judgment. 

Of course, this is just a suggestion…

[1] The look on the two victims’ faces at the moment of the reveal is priceless.