The Bullog – January 2020

Greetings Bullogers!
Happy New Year.  Correction.  Happy New Decade.
I don’t know about you, but 2019 wasn’t the best of years – I’m sure some of you would be with me on that. The Bullog is (in theory) a-political, even if I’m not, suffice to say that I’m not delighted by the direction my native UK is taking when it comes to Brexit, nor do I believe that there are signs that the political leadership have fully woken up to the climate crisis the world is facing.  That said, there were a lot of positives to draw from 2019 (highlights would certainly include meeting my hero Joseph Jaworski in May and of course the Business Decelerator launch Lab which dominated the November Bullog.  I remain an incurable optimist and think 2020 is going to be a big year.   While speaking of Business Decelerator Labs, we have three new dates for 2020 hot off the press:

  • 5th-9th April 2020
  • 1st-5th June 2020
  • 19th-23rd October 2020

We’re still to confirm prices, but feel free to register interest by emailing or by visiting the website.

2020 – Less Doing, More Being
The beginning of a new year is the time when we all make our resolutions about what we’re going to do or not do. Stop smoking, start exercising, drink less, lose weight – you know, the usual stuff.  My big resolution(s) is not about what I plan to do and instead largely centres around more of nothing….  In the Decelerator we talk about the Japanese concept of “Ma” – it’s a powerful idea that I discovered from the 84 year old artist Peter Seibt  when I attended his Artist?Artist! course in Greece last May – it’s a space for infinite possibilities – the space between the notes to use a musical metaphor.  For me this will be more meditation, a bit more sleep, make the time to read more (like most of us, I have a long backlog of books waiting to be read).  I might even try to be more on time, but I’ve failed that resolution for the past 40 years! Arianna sent me this recent Guardian article called “Beat the clock: the surprising psychology around being perpetually late” which helps me understand why.   Might it be relevant to any of you?

Christmas Dip
Very much in this “Ma” spirit, I did manage to have some time off over the holidays to be with my mum, wee Marj on Bute.  We were joined latterly with my sister and her family (husband Pascal and Fiona and Gordon my nephew and niece).  It was relatively quiet and relaxed and a great opportunity to recharge.

While on Bute, I really enjoyed meeting up with the recent Decelerator Lab alumni from the local island community – or “The Buties” as they became known – and agreed to join them on a morning swim on Christmas day….in the sea!  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky or a ripple on the sea.  It was absolutely stunning and even a few curious seals came and joined us.  Sure, the water was freezing, but oh my God, the dozen of us who swam felt really good afterwards.  What a way to get ready for Christmas dinner.  Our Decelerator appears to have started something that I sense is going to continue within the community.

Magical Merida
Looking back, the main news of the last month of the year was a 10 day trip to Mexico, routing to and from New York where there are always great people to meet.  I was attending the BMW Foundation’s 6th World Responsible Leaders Forum in Merida in the Yucatan.  This event happens every three years and I attended the last one in Munich in 2016.  They tend to be really inspiring events, although personally I think the notion of an “Irresponsible Leaders Forum” sounds a lot more fun.

Merida is a beautiful city which I was visiting for the first time.  We were welcomed by the Governor of the region on the first evening who boasted that statistically Merida was safer than any North American city and even safer than my home city of Geneva, which certainly surprised me.  The rumour is that the drug cartel bosses put all their families there and it’s a no-go area for crime.  Who knows?

Overall, the event itself was fascinating and brought together about 400 people from all around the world.  There was a big focus on connection – connection to each other, connection to nature, to culture and of course to ourselves.  In some ways there were a lot of similarities with what we were doing on Bute with the Decelerator.  For example, there were very few people standing at the front of the room giving sermons on particular topics.  Much of the content was given in optional breakouts and a lot of participant hosted spaces.  Oh and plenty of that “Ma time” that I’ve been talking about.  It wasn’t rushed, not every moment of the day was programmed, there was some “space between the notes” – a pleasant change from the typical seminar or conference.  There was clearly a big focus on location and some of the Haciendas we had as venues were superb.  Kudos to the BMW folks for creating an environment conducive to creativity and wellbeing.

One of the mains reasons I was there is that the BMW Foundation is a big supporter of The League of Intrapreneurs (LOI).   On the day before the main Forum started, The LOI had a one day get together where we planned the year ahead.  It’s such a fabulous community of supportive like-minded individuals and I’d highly commend it to all of you who identify with the notion of being an internal changemaker or intrapreneur. Full disclosure –  I’m on the LOI UK Board of Directors but I’m not on commission!

While in the Yucatan, I had the time to visit the Mayan ruins at Uxmal and a few of us swam in a cenote (underground caves and rivers that the region is famous for). I’d confess the water was a little warmer that the Scottish sea on Christmas day, but both experiences were equally refreshing.

It’s a Mad, Mad, MadWorld
In terms of writing, the holidays meant it was a quieter month, but I was pleased to have my blog “Why businesses should put mind over matter” featured on the MadWorld platform.  Hope some of you might have time to have a quick read.  I make the case that the answer to the burnout epidemic is not easy solutions like fruit on the desk or bar football tables in the canteen which no one has the time to play anyway (and if they do, their card is marked).  Instead, we need a fundamental rethink of why businesses exist, how they operate and who they serve.  It pulls together a lot of my favorite themes around the mental health of the individual versus  the “mental health” of the organization / system, breakthrough innovation and the deceleration required to enable it.

In this vein, I was more than intrigued to read about the prosecution of three bosses of France Telecom – now Orange, following a spate of suicides in the wake of a major corporate restructuring.  Personally, I think this was very significant and could be the thin end of a very thick wedge and legal recognition that some of the aggressive corporate cost cutting we’ve seen over the past few decades has taken its toll.  It’s not acceptable for companies to pollute the environment and if they do, they pay a hefty price.  BP’s experience with the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico is a perfect example.    But when a swathe of downsizing is announced, shareholders cheer without any consideration for the human cost – for the mental health of individuals who lose their jobs and for the wellbeing of their families.  These social costs are often externalised on society and I, for one, believe this is something that will have to change.  No, this is not a bleeding heart plea to ban companies from ever making people redundant.  Instead, I’m arguing that the human cost needs to be factored into such decisions and in how they go about doing it.

….and on the personal front
On the personal front, I’ve already spoken about the Christmas holidays and some time off on Bute. Arianna, Penny the Dog and me had New Year in Geneva and managed to get a bit of time to walk and ski in the mountains.

My nephew Gordon also had his 21st Birthday and I’m pleased to say, has just been given first Viola in the Scottish National Youth Orchestra. A rather nice Birthday present!  Oh and while his proud uncle is bragging, he has been named a mentor with the Nicola Benedetti Foundation coaching orchestras of young musicians. This news clip gives you a feel for just how impactful this can be.  

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.