Let’s Make The Future…

Paul Hebert and Doug Shaw…Look Like The Past We Want.

Paul Hebert (that’s him on the left) wrote something on Facebook in the run up to Christmas. I love what he wrote and Paul kindly agreed I could repost it here. Before that…

Thank You

Thanks to each and every one of you who has popped by to read and comment on the blog this year. Thanks to each and every one of you who has shown faith and confidence in me through hiring What Goes Around and investing in Stop Doing Dumb Things. Thanks to each and every one of you who has inspired me. Without people, you’re nothing.

Everything is mixed feelings. So thanks for the anger, thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the hate, thanks for the love.

Happy New Year. 2014 is packed with possibilities, and my hope is that as you discover them – you either act on them, or have the generosity to give them to someone else who will act on them. Proceed until apprehended. Thank you.


When you ask me to share some ideas, or to quote you for some work, please give me feedback. If I’ve made the approach then that’s my choice, my investment. In those instances I’d still appreciate feedback but hey, I started it and you can’t have everything. But if you started it – don’t leave me hanging around, please.

When we work together – please pay me promptly. Me chasing you for money you owe demeans us both. Please don’t make me do that.

When I make a mistake, tell me and give me the chance to put it right. Please.

When someone comes to you with a new idea, when that person is taking a risk – support them. Please.

Don’t be a jerk, at least not too often. Please.

Happy New Year. 2014 is packed with possibilities, and my hope is that as you discover them – you either act on them, or have the generosity to give them to someone else who will act on them. Proceed until apprehended. Please.

Everything I want for Christmas I Can’t Have – by Paul Hebert

My Christmas list is full of things I really, really want but can’t have any more.
I’m not happy with that.

I want…

My kids to be 5 and 7 again so they can do Christmas cookies poorly and still enjoy the process.

To see the kids lose it again when they get that $15 present that absolutely freakin rocks their world (and via their reaction – rocks mine.)

The last 15 years back so I can spend more time with them.

To go back and do more for my wife on Christmas – not spend more- DO more. It really is about the thought.

To reinforce more traditions and be less easy going about letting folks skip out on decorating the tree or the cookies.

To go back and save more money so we could fly home to see our parents (the Grandparents) more often instead of using that as an excuse to stay home.

To decorate the house more – to let the glow of the lights fill not only the yard but my spirit with just a little more holiday cheer.

To have spent more time on charity work than mall shopping.

To be able for my wife to spend Christmas with her parents – she misses them.

To spend more Christmases with my Dad – miss him too.

To go back about 30 years and tell myself to not pick up that cigarette – and I want to go back a year and not be diagnosed with cancer.

I want, I want, I want.
Sounds so selfish doesn’t it?

Compare that to what I have…

A wife who is more a Saint than many who have already been Canonized.

Children that still say they love me at the end of a phone call and still hug me (my 20 year old boy too) when they leave to go back to college.

A house that is warm.

A tree that is decorated.

A wonderfully fattening Christmas dinner in my immediate future.

A CAT scan with the words at the bottom that say… “No evidence of metastatic disease.”

My Mom – my brothers and sisters – my in laws and the nieces and nephews on both sides of the family.

And finally – I have the ability to start doing many of the things I wished I’d had done before.

So… Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this.

Focus on the things you can DO – not the things you haven’t done. That is my Christmas wish this year.

Let’s all be happier, healthier and wiser.

Let’s make the future look like the past we want.

Creative Leadership – Connections Part Three

This is the third and final post drawn from my recent talk and shared experiences around connections and creativity at the Illinois SHRM conference 2013. The first part of this series is about music, vulnerability, diversity and conversations, the second is about transparency and seeing the whole picture, and this third piece is about presence and art.

Be Here Now

We talked about the importance of presence as a way of reinforcing connections, and about that good feeling you get when you know you have the attention of the other person. Someone in the audience referred to this as ‘Be Here Now’, and as we talked through what this meant to people, other words like focus, appreciate and mindful came up in our conversation. We talked about how crappy meetings get in the way of doing good work and we shared a few ideas about how to make crappy meetings better.

Art for Art’s Sake

I spoke briefly about my ongoing artistic endeavours, and how my experiment with painting started purely for enjoyment. And the more I played – with paints, pencils, and inks…

Art for Art's Sake

Art for Work’s Sake

…the more I began to realise that the very act of artistic expression, is a gateway to better work. Importantly, this gateway is open to all, regardless of the level of proficiency. I am not an artist, but I have discovered and am discovering ways of using art both as an individual and in groups with clients, to help with gaining different perspectives, aiding divergent thinking and improving problem solving.

Art for Work's Sake

The form the art takes can vary. Photography, painting, drawing, mark making, sketching, collage, poetry, and adaptation of the work of others (the head shaped example above is cut from a piece of work that CreativeConnection recorded at a previous event we ran together), are all ways of helping you experiment, think more creatively, and find new answers to problems.


The curtain came down on our time together at Illinois with a reminder of the importance of trust, and with that we went our separate ways to make more connections and learn and share more experiences together.

The Trust Overlap

I hope this review of connections and creativity has been useful. If you have any questions – or would like to explore anything I’ve written about in more detail, please get in touch.

Additional Resources

Here are the slides I used for my talk in full

Here is a link to the work on Humanizing Employee Engagement that Paul Hebert shared with us in Illinois. This was my favourite session of the conference, partly because it linked to some of the connections stuff we spoke about, but more importantly, because Paul is a smart guy who thinks a little differently. If you’re not already connected with Paul, hopefully this link will encourage you to do so.

Anchors Away!


The minute you are exposed to a piece of information, the price of a product for example, you are very likely to base your future thinking on that price. Your thinking becomes anchored to what you now know, and as much as you may not like to admit it – there’s not much you can do about this.

The Anchoring Effect

In his book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahnemann talks about the anchoring effect in a number of ways, here’s the essence of one I like:

Two groups of estate agents were asked to assess the value of a house after visiting it and reading some detailed sales blurb, which included an asking price. One group were shown a much larger asking price than the other, and all were asked what would be the lowest price they would be willing to sell the house assuming they owned it.  They were next asked what factors had influenced their decision making. The estate agents maintained that the asking price was not one of these factors, rather that they took pride in ignoring it.

The test results showed they were wrong, and that the anchoring effect (the ratio of the difference between the lower and higher groups of prices expressed as a percentage) was 41%. A group of business school students were also asked to carry out the same task, and whilst the anchoring effect percentage was similar at 48%, a key difference was that the students acknowledged the influence of the starting price on their thinking.

Working Without an Anchor

Earlier this week I was invited to pitch a product idea to a networking group and to get feedback on three things.  The things I chose were:

  • How do I promote this product?
  • How do I improve this product?
  • What is a fair price for the product?

The group listened to me talk for about three minutes and read 200 words of sales blurb I’d put together. They were then invited to scribble down ideas for the first two questions and put them on a wall where we could all read them. I invited everyone to remain silent on their answer to question three, and to write down their suggestion and hand it to me. Why did I do this?

Based on my understanding of the anchoring effect, I was concerned that once someone posted a price on the wall, other people would be influenced by it and indeed, may choose not to contribute an answer. They might have thought – well that’s close enough to what I was thinking so no point in adding to the mix. They might have thought – wow that price is nowhere near my idea I’ll keep quiet, don’t want to embarrass me or Doug. I’ve seen versions of this play out in numerous meetings where a more assertive member of the team will forever put their views forward first, and it dampens and biases the views of others. What I hoped to gain was an unfettered source of independent perspectives. How did we get on?

Suggested Product Prices

I received 18 responses, nearly everyone contributed. The range was considerable, from £25 to £1,500. Five responses landed at £200 and below, six at £500 and above. The average was £414. Clearly I can’t go back in time with this group and redo the test with an anchor price included, but if I could, then based on Kahnemann’s research I’m confident I wouldn’t have gained such useful, unvarnished feedback.

So why does this matter to you?

Well I guess that depends on whether you want to avoid the anchoring effect like I did in the example above, or, put it to another use, perhaps like Chris Brogan does via this interesting blog post written by my smart friend, Paul Hebert. Either way – I think it’s important you are aware of it so that next time you are looking for feedback on an idea or you’re positioning something, you do so a) with the knowledge that you are applying an anchor, or not, and therefore b) that you are aware of the likely bias in the responses you get.

Kudos to my friend Vandy Massey, who suggested the idea to me of working without an anchor.

photo credit