About me

Welcome to my blog, a growing and evolving collection of my thoughts, ideas, experiences and suggestions on the work and lifestyle of a CEO working in the not-for-profit sector.

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From top left: With Molly (my dog); The Georgian Ambassador to the UK; Visiting the Chelsea Pensioners; With Dr Frank Thies, Aberdeen University; Dr Mark Downs CEO Royal Society of Biology; At JJ Fox Cigars in St James (Churchill’s Birthday celebration); Escaping at Escape-London having cracked the Di Vinci Code; Bury St Edmunds Christmas Market; With my Fabulous wife 

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The timeless appeal of Filofax

Filofax is a unique element of ‘Englishness’, notwithstanding how incorrect that term may now be in our liberal post-Brexit world. I am not afraid to say I am proud to retain a open respect to my country’s origins and its history and traditions. Culture remains a very important element of our identity and I genuinely fear the implications of that loss of identity to the wider tolerance in our society.

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Managing busyness – look back for inspiration

I have been recently extensively reading on the subject of time management and have come across two quotations, both in excess of 150 years old, which seem as timeless and relevant today as when they were first produced. I believe it was Winston Churchill who once said “to be able to look forward we must first look back”.
The first quote is from Robert E. Lee, a famous general in the Confederate army during the American Civil War. He was quoted as saying “I cannot trust a man to control others, who cannot control himself.”

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Inspect, not expect – a vital leadership lesson

I have been reading William Manchester and Paul Reid’s book ‘Defender of the Realm’ – the final book in the ‘Last Lion’ trilogy biography of Winston Churchill. It is an exhaustively researched and detailed account of Churchill’s life in World War Two. When Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940 he was 65 years old and during the next 5 years of leading the country in war suffered at least 3 heart attacks or minor strokes. He also developed pneumonia twice. Yet he emerged from his exertions in 1945 70 years old, victorious, lived another 20 years and became known as arguably the greatest ever Englishman!

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Building a creative culture

With the increase in popularity, and effectiveness, of ‘working from home’ as a standard operating procedure in many not-for-profit organisations clear instructions from you as the leader are always needed to establish a creative environment. Moreover, my organisation, which has members/impact in 87 countries across the world, often sees my staff travelling and operating in different time zones and often the other side of the world where they need to have the flexibility to make decisions and not waste time.

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At what point in a crisis does a leader have to make the decision to resign?

I can still remember with some vividety the Falklands War of 1982. I was in my very early twenties when it happened. I recall the shock, the chaos, the emerging pride in the armed forces as a task force was assembled with incredible speed, and then the tension of the next few months until the war was over and then a feeling that the United Kingdom had become great again. What I also remember very clearly is the resignation of the Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington, which happened within days of the invasion of the Falkland Islands by Argentina. I have been reflecting on this swift, very high profile, resignation over the past few days, particularly in light of the Grenfell Tower block fire and tragedy.Continue reading “At what point in a crisis does a leader have to make the decision to resign?”

The Power of Collective Responsibility – Trustee Decisions

I recently heard of an interesting situation with a Chair of a Board of Trustees not understanding the concept of collective responsibility. Surely, I asked myself, everyone who serves as a Trustee knows this basic principle – I therefore set out to conduct some simple research by asking colleagues and was surprised to find how many thought collective responsibility was an optional element of decision making!

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Thoughts on achieving more by working less

Whilst preparing my annual report to the board of trustees and referring back to my previous year’s report my first reaction is that I seem to have achieved more in 2016 than I managed in 2015. In some respects this would be a logical outcome based on 2016 being my second full year in this CEO role, and a direct result of becoming more familiar with my tasks. However, my diary tends to tell a different story in that the number of hours I seem to be committing to the task of being CEO has significantly declined.Continue reading “Thoughts on achieving more by working less”

Rake Magazine Review

I must start this post by publicly stating my love of magazines – not the online versions, but the heavy, glossy paper ones.
I enjoy wading through the endless adverts, reading the editorials and then the quick page flick through to obtain a high level overview of the excitement to come. Amongst others I consume Vanity Fair, Tatler, The Chap, Country Life, Cigar Aficionado, GQ, and occasionally Esquire.

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