September 20, 2017

Why I left China

At the end of 2009, I left China in something of a hurry. Let me outline why. One of the companies I’d founded – a chain of language schools, called Kai En – was going bankrupt. The problem came about after the US economy went south and the language school’s client-base dried up. There were […]

From self-belief to self-direction

 In a sense, leaders are in the empowerment business. If you lead a team, you should spend a great deal of your time doing things that empower them. Why? Because people consistently underestimate their capacity to make things happen. They defer instead, to people, events, feelings, or some other excuses. Then, not much happens. The […]

You and your friends and your monkey minds

You have a monkey mind and so does your sister. And your boss. And your neighbor. All of you. Monkey minds. But don’t feel bad. You can’t help it. It’s human nature. Our minds naturally flit from one thing to another, often for no apparent reason. This effect has been compared by wise individuals to […]

Knowing people

    Leaders and managers have to become better students of people and of human nature. We spend our time understanding processes and things rather than on understanding people. ‘People’ is obviously a big subject, but you can narrow it down and start with the things that are relevant to what you want to achieve. […]

Self-direction versus fate

 Most people believe in fate. But with time, the belief submerges and works on them from below the surface. And so, they suffer the destructive consequences without ever realizing it. You can spot a fatalistic worldview. People give up quickly, or never start in the first place. They lack energy and enthusiasm and they wait for life to […]

Shakespeare in war

Wherever your mind goes, the rest of you follows. Shakespeare knew this, and so, apparently did Henry 5th. He crushes the French at Agincourt, despite being absurdly outnumbered and ill-prepared. His rousing, “Once more into the breach” passage is one of his most famous, and not least from a leadership perspective. It reveals something about thoughts […]

Why we fail

 The reason why most people never achieve their greatest ambition is because they don’t know what it is. If you lack focus you will not allocate your mental and emotional resources efficiently. With nothing in particular to aim for, you’ll shift, change, try bit of this, and a bit of that. In the end, there won’t be much to show […]

Lead like a novelist

 I once attended a lecture on how to write a novel. They woman said something like, “Your work must introduce the reader to a world of flesh and blood characters, individuals who face daunting obstacles. These characters should grow from the struggle and triumph in the end”. Too true. That’s certainly how my, erm, novels would […]

The nature of leadership

 If you’re struggling to simplify your life, a quick search can uncover a world of insights, links, people, and solutions. This ability to connect into communities with shared needs and interests means that we get to learn about ourselves in hyper efficient ways that were never possible in the past. You soon realize that you’re not the only one who sees the world in a certain way or struggles with […]

Leadership is for rejects

Leadership evolved out of the things that management rejected. 50 years ago, there were no ‘leaders’ in business. There were ‘administrators’ in gray suits (as in Masters in Business Administration) who spent their time on paperwork and what we would now identify as management.  But the term got old and and practices changed and so we got ‘managers’, then ‘executives’, then ‘C’ people, […]