Ideas – Shaken, Not Stirred


For more than 5 decades, I’ve combined gin, vodka and Lillet Blanc into a cocktail shaker half filled with cracked ice, shaken well, never stirred, then strained into a spiffy glass, garnished with a twist of lemon, and then delightfully consumed with the added benefit of an irresistible drinking companion.

To some, I’m just James, to others, I’m known as Bond, or professionally by my British Government law exemption descriptor of 007.

During my working career, I have morphed in and out of countless bodies, have mastered numerous accents and have successfully portrayed an endless array of trend-setting fashion suit and hair styles. I have encountered many enemies and have strategically defeated evil with good. I have willingly mastered the requisite art of seduction to which I have gleamed many hidden secrets of national and personal importance.

As I sit alone at the bar in a socially acceptable part of London, I look curiously at my half consumed glass and wonder if the act of shaking, and definitely not stirring, is the true source of my non-alcoholic thought innovation? To assist with my serious mental contemplation, I straighten my expensive shirt cufflinks to strategically focus my mind on the origin of my creativity.

I quietly ponder, does the stirring activity yield complete thought homogenisation where the cherished essence of creative individuality quickly ceases to exist? Are these once creative concepts now no longer separate, powerful ideas, but rather just an accumulated entity of yet another cocktail ready to be consumed in a carefree attitude by the common masses?

Could it be that the deliberate act of shaking yields ideas that are refreshingly uncontaminated as discrete thoughts where their flavours are undiluted and full of zing-full concentration to be enjoyed by the experienced consumer?

As the beverage slowly permeated through the essence of my body, I became convinced that I had identified a unique aspect of the origin of innovation. The key is to gather a vast array of individual thoughts and to combine them in proportions where they remain uniquely discernable and do not lose their identity in the process.

For those working in the corporate office, the analogy suggests that you try not to stir all your creative individuals into a common corporate concoction where they lose their potency and marked influence in the organisation. Rather, incorporate them into your culture in a calculated measure where their flavour, intensity and influence is carefully shaken throughout the business in recognisable bursts that are appreciated and imaginatively welcome.

Yep, I think it’s time for another thoughtful drink. Cheers!

Just Let Go of the Handle


Yes, I was getting rather red-faced, and quite ashamedly puffed, as I slowly walked up the steeply inclined hill, dressed in my conservatively fashionable grey striped corporate suit as I struggled to pull my now permanently attached heavy personal load of legacy.

Just then, a woman furnishing a strikingly long blond bouncy pony-tail in a smashing dark blue skirt, and might I say equally impressive matching business jacket, whooshed past me in high heels with a remarkably larger suitcase. I looked in awe at her powerful and decisive walking strides as I tried to fathom out how she managed to do it with such energetic ease!

But my gaze was quickly interrupted by another two sprightly dressed managers running at an even faster pace, both pulling their custom designed Samsonite luggage four-wheelers, each embellished with their own names in large gold font.

Then something happened, I know not why, or how, but that’s irrelevant.

For some unpredictable reason, I’d had enough of this torturous pulling task and quickly made a strategic life-changing decision to let go of my suitcase. A few seconds later, this thought vacuole representing all my personal hang-ups dropped to the footpath with a sound deafening thud.

Everyone around me on the pristinely manicured corporate pathway of business life immediately stopped at this most unexpected strange sight. Many of my work colleagues looked dumbfounded as they tried to comprehend my unforeseen spontaneous action. Those that despised any change in their corporate routine passionately pleaded with me to quickly bend down and pick up my personal baggage, before it was too late to correct. They had obviously assumed that I must have made some unprecedented forgetful error of judgement, or I was suffering the result of various undiagnosed terminal medical conditions.

But it was no mistake.

“Are you OK? How do you feel?”

Questions exploring my sanity repeatedly permeated from all the travellers on the well-worn corporate path. A crowd had now gathered resulting in massive suitcase puller traffic chaos that continued to radiate in an exponentially increasing larger circumference. As the minutes progressed, more and more office workers quickly became entangled in my individual thought encapsulated suitcase stoppage.

Eventually, as my shock subsided, I was able to talk, and the words just naturally came out.

“I feel spiffily brilliant! A mind deadening tumorous weight that has been curiously burdening, and labelling me, for all my working life has now been lifted. More importantly, no longer will I carry the mistakes from my past. From now on, I will start each working day with no encumbrances! I can only urge, and encourage all of you, to join me in experiencing this unique thinking sensation!”

Then to my surprise, one by one, those on the corporate footpath of professional life slowly started unshackling their tightly gripped hands from their own emotional chains of longstanding baggage ownership. A few minutes later, the once neat business path now resembled a crowded luggage carousel at London’s Heathrow airport where a stockpile of randomly placed suitcases littered the path’s perimeter extremities!

The sound of joy, laughter and intoxicating chatter quickly prevailed and reverberated through the surrounding corporate environment as no one elected to pick up their once owned thought baggage.

And so it remained from that eventful day forth.

So next time you travel on business, have a good look at your luggage, and remember with confident assurance that your past has no influence on your future, however, you do need to make the decision to consciously let go of the handle, and never look back.

That Bushy Benefit


At the age of 61, Dame Chloe Smythe DCVO, MP decided it was finally time to retire. She was an acclaimed Scottish politician with a unique personal attribute that was very rare these days in public office, that being, everyone seemed to genuinely like her, and still even more unusual, they actually respected her.

As a lifelong friend of Dame Chloe, I had the privilege and honour of interviewing her in her private Westminster office on her last day as a British politician. She was dressed impeccably in her signature body hugging tartan trousers, complete with white satin long sleeved shirt, as she invited me to sit down in one of her well-worn leather chairs and promptly poured me a large glass of Edradour whisky (neat, no ice, as was her custom).

After some polite warming banter, my friend signalled with the customary tweak of the top undone button on her shirt that she was ready for the interview to commence, to which I took my cue.

“Dame Chloe, the readers of The Times newspaper want to know the core essence of why you are so popular with your political colleagues on both sides of the fence? You appear to have only supporters, no enemies? What is your secret?”

After many hours of polite and honest conversation that enabled the full contents of the bottle of Edradour to be consumed, I was educated on the true source of her niceness. However, the origin was most unexpected. I thought it might have been due to her ever-pleasing manner, her dark blue seductive eyes that neither man, nor woman could resist, but no, it was none of these. So what was it you may ask?

The answer was in her eyebrows. Yes, her eyebrows.

Dame Chloe was a ladies lady. She was not one to trim, nor style the hairs above her eyes; they were allowed to propagate with a growth freedom not normally reserved for a woman. Dame Chloe was also very quick to condemn men for the grooming edict that swayed them to similarly trim their eyebrows.

According to a slightly known study done at Glasgow University in 1923, a soon to be famous Research Psychologist named Dougal Edradour, discovered that eyebrow hairs have an inherent sensory ability that can “read” people’s emotions. However, this capability only works when the other person is in close proximity, and only when the emotion reader’s eyebrows are in a natural, uncorrupted hairy condition. Chloe and Dougal were close whisky drinking colleagues in their student days, hence the connection.

Dame Chloe’s prowess was in being able to utilise her eyebrows to read how her political opponents were feeling, and then to modify her behaviour accordingly. It was no wonder she was so well liked! But, this was no easy feat, particularly as she needed to be in a close eyebrow receptivity distance, to which she used her charms accordingly to masterly effect.

So dear readers of The Times newspaper, the answer is simple. Should you want to improve your empathetic ability with your family and work colleagues, just leave your eyebrows alone, let them flourish to their natural, thick bushiness ability.


The Experience of E-Class Flight

Annex - Grant, Cary (Only Angels Have Wings)_05

Once again, I had to go through the drudgery of booking my Qantas flight QF9 from Melbourne to London. It was a business flight that I reluctantly did every month, I loved it when I arrived at my London destination, but the long flight, well, I despised every torturous hour associated with it.

Owing to the frequency of my travel, the online booking process typically only took me a few minutes to complete. As usual, I entered my well-versed Qantas Frequent Flyer number, but once done, a new and rather unexpected screen mysteriously opened up in my booking. Initially I was a tad flabbergasted, as I was accustomed to seeing the usual cabin selection options of First, Business and the various Economy options. But this time, I was presented with some rather unusual seating option classifications; S, F or E to which I was quite intrigued. Apparently, owing to a combination of my lofty Frequent Flyer status, and my personal profile (possibly also due to my habitual bow-tie wearing fashion statements as professionally noted by the more discerning Qantas flight stewardesses), I had been offered the opportunity to participate in a rather unique test flight to London. I was then provided with an option to proceed, or to go back to the booking screen of normality. I had 30 seconds to make my choice. After a brief microsecond period of some limited superficial in depth thinking, I had quickly made my decision and without any hesitation selected the button marked “Go for it”.

Immediately, I entered a new and differently badged Qantas booking screen and discovered that S = Serious, F = Fun and E = Experience. Without going into all the aircraft cabin classification descriptive paraphernalia, and for the sake of verbal brevity, all you need to know is that I selected E-class (and checked the 12 page disclaimer box to confirm my booking).

A few days later, I arrived at Melbourne airport dressed in the minimalist clothing as prescribed by Qantas for the newly designated E-class traveller. Once checked in by the delightful and somewhat suspiciously and rather endlessly smirking Qantas staff, I was handed my E-class travel kit. In it were some face masked goggles, a tight fitting Qantas embroidered and personally monogrammed rubber suit that made me look like a spiffy surfer, some matching rubber boots, gloves and snug hat (we didn’t need to wear the latter until further advised). I was then ushered into an impressive private Qantas Club Lounge and saw a variety of other cautiously optimistic travellers.

There were those dressed like me, some looking slightly embarrassed as these suits were so body hugging that nothing was left to the imagination. There were others dressed in the traditional long haul international air travel casual attire; apparently these people had booked F-class. There was a small minority dressed in their stock-standard business suits, skirts, and other conservative items; they were obviously the S-class travellers.

A few minutes later we boarded the plane, but I was soon to discover that this was no ordinary Qantas plane, far from it. As I was in E-class, we boarded first as we had to make our way to the rear of the aircraft.

As we walked through the plane, the first thing that was immediately apparent was that the usual row of passenger seats had been removed. In the First/Business class seating location, there was a range of individually placed workstations, desks, sofas-chairs, computer screens, private sleeping booths, showers and a fine dining restaurant. This was S-class and it was designed for the serious business worker!

In the middle section of the plane, F-class resided. Here a vast array of computer games, cinemas, snooker tables, dartboards, massage rooms, spas, saunas and a healthy organic restaurant was located. This was an area that encouraged fun, frivolity and definitely no work. For those passengers that were a little bit overcome with too much excitement, there were large brightly coloured beanbags, lounge chairs and some private sleep booths.

After a few minutes I finally arrived in my designated E-class and was asked to adorn my complete rubber uniform. I, and my fellow apprehensive thrill seekers were then ushered in groups of four into separate doorways that led into a small-enclosed capsule. It was at this stage, as my heart sounded to pound a little too loudly, that I started to question my enthusiasm and whether I had made the right travel choice, but there was no turning back now, particularly as it would take me hours to peel this wetsuit from my body, no, the only choice was to proceed.

In the capsule there were no seats, just a long cushioned black couch and what looked like a surfboard leg rope, but I quickly ascertained that this was actually an oxygen chord that was soon plugged into my goggle facemask by yet another smiling Flight Attendant. I was now starting to sweat quite profusely in my wet suit with some trepidation, particularly as I vividly recalled the long-winded and fine font disclaimer that I had recently signed without reading any of the content.

A few minutes later, I was strapped in with my fellow E-class pioneers and soon felt the immense vibration of the aircraft’s B777 engines permeating through my body as we became airborne. Then it happened.

An almighty noise occurred and my capsule started to quickly separate from the plane, the only link being a metal umbilical chord. To my delight (and horror), the aerodynamic capsule was completely encapsulated with an external wall of highly transparent glass, and a massive array of strategically positioned air vents. I immediately felt the cold icy air gusting ferociously all over my body. Suddenly, the tight straps tying me, and my fellow E-classers, to the couch were released. We were now free flowing and quickly started to body surf the air currents! A sign now appeared on the capsule console saying, “Welcome to E-class”.

After a few hours, I quickly mastered the flying technique and was sought out by other passengers for tips on how to stay aloft without getting that unfashionable, and rather uncomfortable, wind puffed look when a high velocity slip stream entered the wearers protective rubber body suit without formal invitation.

Yes, the time quickly passed as I literally flew to London, and what an experience!

In recognition for my E-class prowess, I have now been issued with a special Qantas Frequent Flyer card, one that provides me with travel privileges that cannot be disclosed so as to avoid envy from other passengers. Would I fly E-class again? No, I’ve moved beyond that, I now fly EE-class, one that is very exclusive.

So next time you fly on business, may I suggest that you try and think that little bit differently with your selected cabin class and airline? And should you get the opportunity to ever travel E-class, most definitely do so as it will be worth it, trust me.

The Mesmeric Corporate Prognosis


My esteemed colleagues, yes, I can sense your excitement and anticipation! But please relax as you need not wait any longer! After years of pain staking personal research sitting in the entrance foyers of the top 100 global companies, I am now pleased to announce that I have discovered the origins of this incapacitating corporate behavioural phenomenon.

This crippling condition that has inhibited the innovative thinking processes of employees for many decades, now has a medical name, that being “Corporate Mesmeric Innovative Retardation”, or CMIR for short. But more importantly, there is an antidote that is quite painless, and one that can be quickly administered to the corporate employee with immediate effect.

How did I discover this condition? Well, the intensive research required a high level of painstaking incognito behaviour on my behalf involving the wearing a beige nondescript suit, together with countless hours reading The Times, The Wall Street Journal and other local newspapers so as to not be noticed by the employees as they entered the corporate office. Unfortunately, I am still scared by the lack of fashion colour and style, but it was a burden that I was willing to bare for the sake of worldly corporate progress, I’m told the nightmares will eventually subside. The upside, is that my knowledge of world affairs, including the stock market, has resulted in various personal financial gains derived from highly profitable share trading, and a vast array of exclusive invitations to attend numerous London and New York high society trivia quizzes where I am deemed the font of all knowledge, and a most prized team member.

So what did the extensive research tell me? Although my study will be printed in next month’s edition of the Harvard Business Review, I’m sure that the HBR Publisher won’t mind me providing you all with a brief overview of my findings.

They key aspect to my world breaking research was the use of eagled-eyed observation. After countless detailed and personally exhaustive people watching experiences, I noticed the behaviour of all employees (particularly the attractive ones) as they entered the corporate office first thing in the morning, and then as they left that evening. The behavioural change in those inflicted employees at some businesses was profound, it was almost as if I was looking at two different people! Prior to them walking into the corporate reception area, they had a happy persona and exhibited all the normal signs of chirpiness, a willingness of thought, and a noticeable desire to learn. But once their foot stepped onto the marble tiled entrance foyer, it was as if an invisible intensely powerful force quickly sucked all the creativity from them, to which an innovative void remained until they departed the building at 5 PM sharp. At 5:01 PM, their creative vacuum was immediately replaced with their original pre-work positive behaviour. Yes, it was truly remarkable observation to behold!

Although quite mystifying, not all corporate businesses had employees that suffered from the dreaded CMIR condition. To understand the cause as to why this unexplained phenomenon may have occurred, I had to dig deeper into the observational evidence and decided to introduce the HR Managers of the companies studied into the rich complexity, and subtle machinations, of my academic research. After numerous soy milk chai lattes, and what seemed like an endless consumption of gluten-free bagels, I came to a momentous and decisive eureka moment. Apparently, the culture of the organization had a direct correlation with the onset of the CMIR. Should the culture be viewed negatively, then a high frequency of CMIR suffers prevailed. The trigger for most employees who had acute CMIR was the initial sighting of the company logo, typically first seen when they entered the company premises in the morning.  On viewing the logo, a negative and mesmeric effect immediately struck down the creatively-fragile employee resulting in a mind destroying innovation purge, luckily this was a reversible retardation that quickly ceased when exiting the building at 5 PM.

Yes, you are correct in assuming that those companies that had a positive and dynamic corporate culture that was well respected, and one that harmoniously and gleefully fitted with the employee’s lifestyle goals, experienced no CMIR sufferers. So the answer is simple. To eradicate any corrosive and long-term damaging CMIR influences in your business, management do need to focus on the right corporate culture to ensure that their business logo immediately inspires your employees when first sighted as they enter your office.

And should you need any assistance in the process, my consulting fees are indeed negotiable (but please, no gluten free bagels).

Taking Your Brand to New Promotional Heights


According to my trusted meteorological iPhone app, the timing looked just right. It was 2:04 PM and by my reckoning, the clouds were at the optimum “Genus Cumulus” appearance so I should achieve the desired picture “hang time distribution” before the visual sight was dispersed by the wind. My calculations indicated that I should have about 10 minutes to brand my customised CV message to the population of New York.

I quickly glanced once again on how my image and brief professional experience synopsis looked on the “LinkedIn Cloud Projector” in preview mode, yes it all looked good. I was hoping that the QR code would come through with the right definitional clarity so potential business prospects could scan my profile details with ease. My only concern was the timing of the 2:05 PM supersonic Virgin Atlantic flight from London to New York as it could cause some cloud turbulence when it commences its gradual decent into JFK airport, but that’s one of the risks associated with personal cloud advertising these days.

OK, it was now time to press the Cloud Projector button and start the process. Immediately a thirty square kilometre coloured, and rather snazzy image of myself was beamed skywards with vibrant intensity. I was also pleased that I had spent the extra dollars on the additional promotional advertising, as suggested by the LinkedIn sales agent, as the large sonic boom with the accompanying missile explosion at 2000 feet above the New York skyline appeared to have caught the upwards attention of the New York crowds particularly nicely.

I smirked with some personal pride as my large handsome face (well, I thought so anyway) beamed across from above, that was, until that pesky Virgin Atlantic flight descended through my left nostril. However, I was relieved, as the QR code seemed to remain intact. For the next few minutes I watched as my portrait hovered quietly above New York until some high level winds decided to take one ear in the direction of Newark, the other towards Brooklyn. A few minutes later I had vanished into the upper atmosphere, except for my left eye, which remained with a look of naughtiness down on the city, then, with a final momentary wink, that also eventually disappeared.

Suddenly, I was awakened from my feeling of self-righteousness by the continual interruption of text messages on my phone. Yep, it appears that the “LinkedIn Cloud Projector” advertisement had worked! However, when the forty-first text message arrived, I was immediately brought back to reality, it was the LinkedIn invoice. Oh well, I suppose that’s the price of corporate fame!

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