The Bullog – September 2019

Greetings Bullogers!

Truth, these days, seems to often be stranger than fiction.   I’ve always liked this picture of the air display jets and often use it on presentations to corporates. 

“Which is the right direction to be turning, left or right?” I ask. It’s of course a segue into talking about being the odd one out, breaking from the herd and standing up for what you believe in – all the key traits of an intrapreneur.  There is another answer – that they might all be going in the wrong direction!

Which brings me to one of the funniest BBC news articles I’ve read in a long time. It’s about the Swiss air display team who were to do a fly-past over an alpine village to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the death of national hero Oskar Bider, who was the first person to fly over the alps in both directions back in 1913.   By all accounts the fly past was very successful and the smoke streamed from the fighter jet exhausts in the colours of the Swiss flag. An amazing spectacle no doubt.  There was only one slight problem – they flew over the wrong village!  Yes really. Evidently there had been a large marquis set up in a neighbouring village some 6km away for a Yodelling festival and the squadron leader misdirected his display team there by mistake. My mind conjured up vivid images or lots of men in leather shorts singing across the valleys “Yodel – Ay – EEE – Oooooooo….WTF!!!@$&?” , as they ducked for the unexpected fly past.   Well, simple things, simple minds etc, but  it made me laugh. 

Talking to animals…..

Being seen as just a little bit crazy I view as something of a badge of honour.  Just to confirm my ‘crazy’ credentials or in case you were in any doubt, I’ve been talking to animals this month. No, not just Penny the dog – but horses. I was in Reims, France at a reunion of Peter Koenig’s Master class in coaching that I attended two years ago.  We were hosted by my friend Delphine who uses horses as a mirroring device to help identify unconscious character traits in we humans. It was a fascinating experience and these magnificent beasts can tell us a great deal about ourselves that we either don’t know or have actively suppressed.  Some people were a little apprehensive about going into the ring solo with a large horse and described it as a bit scary or threatening.  I found the horse to be somewhat playful and mischievous.  Armchair shrinks can read into that what you will.

Regular readers will recall a trip I made to swim with dolphins in the Red Sea which was described in the November Bullog and was jointly hosted by the very same Delphine and her colleague Yann. She’s doing that again in Sataya, Egypt in November and if you’re interested check out her website, DolphinYou

Delphine is also going to be one of ‘The Avengers’ (my nickname for the trainers and coaches) at the inaugural Business Decelerator pilot or Launch Lab later in November. We are keen to get a few more people to join what will be an amazing event and have extended the 40% discount to Tuesday 1st. If you’re interested or keen to find out more, then why not join our webinar today Monday 30th at 15:00-15:45hrs UK time. 

Joining instructions:

Zoom link.

Meeting ID: 737 418 240

Find your local number here

It’s very short notice I do know, but if you register interest here then we’ll send you the replay.   If you’re interested in joining us in November and want to secure the discount, then best to email me directly ( before end of Tuesday 1st October.

Passing the sniff test

September was a busy month for presentations – no change there you say.  On my way to Paris I stopped off briefly in Vienna to give the Opening Keynote at a volunteering conference run by an Austrian NGO.   I explained that this was almost exactly 20 years since I took the decision to volunteer in Northern Macedonia with VSO and how that had been a life changing experience. 

I also gave a talk to the UK Government’s Department for Intentional Development (DfID) Private Sector team Away Day. I congratulated them on the investment they made into backing an intrapreneur in Vodafone called Nick Hughes who came up with the idea of mobile banking and launched M-PESA back in 2007.  It was a highly controversial use of public funds at the time – £900k of British Taxpayers money no less.  And that was back in the pre-Brexit days when Sterling was worth something (sorry, cheap shot).  In my view it proved to be one of the most impactful uses of aid money by any government anywhere and I see huge potential for public funds to be used to support private intrapreneurs to create public goods. Try saying that after a couple of glasses of Single Malt.

Closer to home I spoke to business students at The School for International Training near Geneva and gave a talk to a strategic planning away day at a large Swiss company called Givaudan. Who you ask? They’re one of the largest manufacturers of flavors and fragrances in the world and even if you’ve never heard of them, there’s a fair chance you’ve tasted something or smelt of something they’ve made in the past 24 hours alone. I learned a staggering fact – every day, Givaudan will touch 70 billion people on the planet. On average, just about everyone will taste or smell 10 things they’ve made, from the mint flavor in your toothpaste to scent of your perfume or aftershave.  That’s what I call reach and I’m really excited to see what a company like that can do when it puts ‘purpose’ at the heart of its strategy.   

Best of Rest

The audio book recording of The Intrapreneur: Confessions of a corporate insurgent continues and I’m about halfway through.  It’s actually quite fun reading your own book into a microphone but very tiring and I’ve never been very good at imitating other people’s accents.   I’ll do my best to have it ready as a virtual stocking filler for Christmas in case you’re short of ideas. 

I was in Bern at the weekend seeing friends and joined 100,000 demonstrators for the Swiss national climate march. I’m acutely aware of the rank hypocrisy of someone like me who flies so much, to join this march. Yet, I still think we need to lobby governments and decision makers to do more.  Much (but not all) of my travel is down to trying to make businesses do more and that’s where I think the major lever of change lies, combined with smart regulation by governments.    I was with my friend Dan Acer who is leading an initiative to get a giant flag with the image of an eye saying “We are Watching” over COP25 Climate Conference in Santiago in December.  The image of the eye will be comprised of thousands of selfies – quite clever. I’d encourage you to support this effort by uploading your selfie (it only takes two minutes) and please do spread the word. 

….and on the personal front

After the horse coaching, I was able to spend a weekend with my nephew Gordon, who joined me in Paris. He’s studying Viola at the Conservatoire in Glasgow and had some time off before returning to his studies.  We saw the sights in glorious sunshine and zoomed around on these little scooters that litter the streets of the City.

Arianna and I took a few days off in Tuscany while en route to Rome for her Niece Beatricia’s Birthday.   We enjoyed the great Tuscan red wine and amazing food and of course Penny loved exploring the countryside. 

That’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here.  Until next month,


* The Bullog  = Bulloch + BlogMake sense?  Not bulldog, nor is it bulls**t although I’ll let you be the judge of that! It’s a brief synopsis on recent articles, events and opinions from my world and the things that have caught my attention over the past few weeks.