Blog

Big Weeks

We all have them. Big weeks. 

Whether it's their workload, or their importance, or both, they're BIG. 

But how to deal with them? 

Let me air some insights I've found on my way, because I've just had a terrific one. A very BIG week indeed.

This was one of the many highlights - 

Meeting a party of entrepreneurs from China, and coaching them about British ways of doing business.

We set them a challenge, using one of the companies from Cambridge Judge Business School as a case study, and wow! 

What energy, talent... Read more

The Hidden Depths

It’s curious how the hidden depths and secret corners are often the most interesting.

And that goes for both human life, and the natural world.            

Witness this - a rarely visited oasis of Cambridge, behind the Fitzwilliam Museum and Peterhouse College, and all the more beautiful for its tranquility in what can be a very busy city.            

I spent a delightful half an hour here on a lunch break this week, and it was wonderfully uplifting.                   ... Read more

The Right Time

It's simple, it's powerful, and it's well worth getting to know if you want to make the most of you precious creativity.

What am I talking about (as you must so often ask, poor, long-suffering reader of my musings)?

I'm talking your peak performance time. 

This is mine. Not the chilly days of the winter, but the mornings, all year around.

I discovered the right time for me years ago, when I began writing novels. 

I was still with the BBC then, as a News Correspondent, which was a busy job to say... Read more

The Power of Pictures

This is a tough sentence for a writer to put on record, but there are times when words just aren't enough. 

In short, some things you simply have to see. 

Think Phan Thi Kim Phuc, often known as the Napalm Girl, running screaming, in one of the most notorious images of the Vietnam War.

No words could truly capture that horror. 

Or, at the other end of the spectrum of emotions, the workmen having lunch on a girder, hundreds of feet above New York, as they built the Rockefeller Centre.

Or Marilyn Monroe, and her skirt blowing up in that... Read more

The Sweet Spot

It's a belief of mine that we all have a sweet spot; a precious place which optimises our creative flows.

For some, it's the great outdoors. Perhaps a walk along a river, through a forest, or on the coast.

Others have more individual, and indeed unusual, sweet spots. 

And here's mine - 

(Why did I get the feeling you'd already guessed what was coming?)

Yes, of course, it's a pub. In this case one of my favourites in Cambridge, the Champ of the Thames, complete with obligatory and delightful pub dog. 

But... Read more

Space, The Creative Frontier

Excuse the title, but I’ve always loved Star Trek.

Why? Much because of the remarkable imagination and talent that went into creating it.

Any show that can stand the test of time like Star Trek, and spawn so many offshoots, has to be worth admiring.

And, indeed, learning from.

What am I talking about now, you may well ask? (A familiar feeling for sufferers of my musings, I suspect.)

I’m talking about space. Not the vast unexplored universes that Kirk and company carouse through, but a more metaphorical space.

The space to be creative.

This... Read more

Monologue Slog, Dialogue Agog

A good friend of mine went on a date with a girl he liked a lot. 

How did it go? I asked him the next day. 

Great, he replied. I told her all about my job, my family, my hobbies, my life, the lot. 

And what did you find out about her? 

Ummmm....

Has she messaged you about getting together again?

That's the funny thing... no. 

I mentioned that story to a group of lovely Scottish Government Civil Servants I was talking to about communications in Edinburgh this week.

The reason? They'd been... Read more

The Iceberg of Life

Don't think me going off into the metaphysical, but there's an iceberg to life which too few people seem to appreciate. 

I was asked this week to do a talk at a school, one of my favourite requests, as it hits right at the heart of my touch-feely doing your bit for the future thing.

(Hence the big smile in this school visit, earlier this month - thanks to all at Hinchingbrooke School for a great afternoon.)

Anyway, for this upcoming talk, I was discussing with the head the best topic to cover. 

... Read more

Write Soon

I was paid an unusual compliment this week. 

Partly because such warm words don't come along that often, but mostly because there's a useful lesson in it, I thought I'd give it a mention. 

The compliment was this - 

I love working with you because you always answer my emails quickly. 

Ok, it wasn't a tribute to my rugged, chiselled good looks, or snappy, sassy dress sense, my elegance or charm, not to mention my talent (unsurprisingly on all counts), but it was informative. 

I asked my colleague what he meant, and he said most people took between a week... Read more

The Big Shift

One thing has really surprised me since I left the BBC.

It's the number of friends and former colleagues who have been in touch, asking for tips on how to successfully make such a big life change. 

Another long standing friend posed that very question this weekend, making the total now seven. And that in only a year and a half.

They're an interesting mix. From doctors, to journalists, civil servants and lawyers. 

And all with that same thought - trying something new in life. 

Would I recommend giving it a go? You bet I would.

How else would I... Read more