Friday, October 14, 2016

The Bard of Hibbing, Minnesota

The Nobel Prize committee surprised the world on October 13, selecting an American author for the first time since Toni Morrison was chosen for the honor in 1993. Contrary to the even money from Ladbrokes—who had Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, or Cormac McCarthy in the heavy contention—the world’s top prize for literature went to none other than Mr. Bob Dylan, the bard of Hibbing, Minnesota.

Sweden got it right: Dylan belongs on our literary Rushmore. Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks, Time Out of Mind, are each rivers as rich, deep, troubling, and timeless as Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Faulkner, and Morrison.

“His example has taught writers of all sorts — not merely poets and novelists—about strategies of both pinpoint clarity and anyone’s-guess free association, of telegraphic brevity and ambiguous, kaleidoscopic moods,” wrote Jon Pareles in an appreciation in The New York Times. “Mr. Dylan’s good stuff, in all its abundance, is the equal — and envy — of countless writers who work strictly on the page. As much as any literary figure to emerge in the 20th century, he has written words that resonate everywhere: quoted by revolutionaries and presidents, hurled by protesters, studied by scholars and taken to heart in countless private moments. . .  The Nobel doesn’t have to certify Mr. Dylan; half a century of literature has already done that.”

It’s long been remarked upon that there’s a Dylan lyric for every occasion. Well, the man Bono once called “our own Willy Shakespeare in a polka-dot shirt” will be taking home Nobel Prize. Ring them bells.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Old Timers

2 of my favorite storytellers have new albums out. Leonard Cohen's "You want it darker" is teasing out on Apple music. Title track is available now…

And John Prine's "For Better or Worse" is the definitive album for aging relationships. Leonard and John have plenty of miles on them (like me) and are still living life, loving life.


Image Attribute/Source: /

Thursday, October 6, 2016

I know this to be true

A new book out in New Zealand which must find its way into your life. I know this to be true features New Zealanders who are living interesting lives, talking about the things they know to be true, the things they believe in, the things they have been taught, and the things they have learned. “Truth beauty wisdom and other stuff that matters.”

Created by publisher Geoff Blackwell, television producer Ric Salizzo and musician Mike Chunn, this book and television project is in support of the Play It Strange Trust, dedicated to cultivating the song-writing talent of young New Zealanders.

Among the 60 contributors are Dave Dobbyn, Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Rhys Darby, John Campbell, Judy Bailey, Gin Wigmore, Brendon McCullum, John Kirwan, Neil Finn, Danielle Cormack, Tiki Taane, Steve Hansen, Al Brown, Valerie Adams, Oscar Kightley, Sophie Pascoe, Beauden Barrett, Lucy Lawless, Colin Meads, Zoë Bell, Alan Gibbs, Jools & Lynda Topp, Pita Sharples, Peter Gordon, Silvia Cartwright, Sean Fitzpatrick, Rena Owen and Mahé Drysdale. And moi.

Shimon Peres RIP

A great leader passed last week. Shimon Peres served as president of Israel, prime minister, two times as minister of defense and three times as foreign minister. A Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was both warrior and dreamer. I was privileged to meet him in Jerusalem in 2010 when Saatchi & Saatchi Israel created the ‘Impossible Brief.’ He offered me 12 leadership lessons, which I included in my book 64 Shots: Leadership in a Crazy World. Pin them to your wall.
  • Leaders must not be afraid of being alone.
  • Leaders must not be afraid of being alone.
  • They must have the courage to be afraid.
  • A leader must decide. He says “yes” or “no.”
  • A leader must pioneer, not rule.
  • A leader is not on the top of his people but ahead of them, in front.
  • Leadership is extremely hard work.
  • When you have chosen a destiny…never give up.
  • Leadership is based on a moral call.
  • It’s not enough to be up to date; you have to be up to tomorrow.
  • To lead is to listen, to pay attention to every detail, to decide.
  • Everything that once was controversial ultimately becomes popular.
Image Credit: Yossi Zamir

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Church Of Reverend Bruce

Got my copy of Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography. Am getting drenched in words, experiences, emotions.

Writing in The Washington Post about a recent Boss concert, scholar Michael Strain says “the truth is that life is grand and life is important. Every day, we are all faced with choosing between angels and demons. For a Catholic like me, the stakes are as high as they come – the product of those countless, daily choices influences where I’ll spend eternity. It is important to be reminded of the majesty, romance and enormity of daily life. One of Springsteen’s great gifts is expressing the epic drama of the mundane in popular art. His concerts are shaped by this gift.

“The reason I keep going back is simple: redemption, the unapologetic embrace of the need for it and the possibility of it. Springsteen’s music looks reality squarely in the face, recognizes that life is cruel and unfair, that this world is fallen, that we are all sinners and that we are all broken, sometimes significantly so. But we are alive. We can get up off the mat. We can defy the world. We can hope. We are not alone. Faith is powerful. Things might be better tomorrow. There’s always another chance, waiting just a bit further down the road.”

Much is being written about this Springsteen opus, many inspired tributes by hard-nosed critics kneeing in reverence in both respect and reverence to the One. Novelist Richard Ford wrote a beautiful closing line in his New York Times Review of Books review: “Seamus Heaney wrote once in a poem that the end of art is peace. But I think he’d have been willing to share the stage with Springsteen, and to admit that sometimes the end of art is also one hell of a legitimately great and soaring noise, a sound you just don’t want to end.”

Image Attribute/Source: /

Sunday, October 2, 2016

20 Shots

It doesn’t get better than being on stage at the Royal Albert Hall. Thanks to my friends at the UK Institute of Directors, I was the keynote speaker at their annual conference. The set from Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour was still rigged as a bevy of business and political leaders ruminated – confidently and optimistically – about post-Brexit Britain. A great day. My brief: 20 Shots in 20 Minutes.

1. We live in a VUCA World
  • Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous
2. Turn the world SUPER VUCA
  • Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy & Astounding
3. It all starts with Purpose

4. Revolution starts with Language

5. Create the Dream

6. Burnish your ABCs
  • Ambition, Belief & Courage
7. Become an Ideas Hothouse


9. Build the Four Pillars
  • Responsibility / Recognition / Learning / Joy
10. Lead with Soft Power

11. Reward Collaborate, Connect & Create

12. Advance True Diversity

13. Fail Fast, Learn Fast, Fix Fast

14. Believe in the Four Agreements (Ruiz)
  • Be Impeccable with your Word
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally
  • Don’t Make Assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best
15. Bleed for the Jersey

16. Live your life in 3D
  • Discipline. Desire. Determination
17. Find your Edge

18. Become a Lovemark

19. Add Mystery, Sensuality & Intimacy

20. Win with Emotion

More to come, particularly on my Purpose for New Britain.

Image Attribute/Source: The IoD /