Got The Brexit Blues?

Better Together – A Song for Europe is released on iTunes today – grab your copy and let’s see if we can make Theresa May wake up to the fact that we are better off in Europe. It would be nice to make this a Summer hit – can you help by sharing this article, the iTunes link etc.

Click to buy on iTunes

Click to buy on iTunes

Our IN / OUT referendum was confounded by information overload on all sides and lies, with some of the biggest howlers being denied by The Leave Campaign on the actual day of winning (We’d get £350 M per week back for the NHS and that we’d be able to control our borders etc.). As a result we have a Disunited Kingdom. And all of this because one man does not like Brussels:

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We are now just beginning to see the start of the consequences for the UK:

We have begun Quantitative Easing Round III (QE III), a measure which is more usually used in recessions or crises. Put simply, this is rather like the UK having a large credit card, paid for by the masses into the future. Quite plainly living beyond our means and a measure which usually raises inflation when incomes are flat.  The Governor of the Bank of England did not even reach his target for QE III, which speaks volumes about appetites to invest in UK plc. Here is an extract from a new book which explains why QE stores up problems for the majority:

Buying your way out of trouble ... or just storing it up for the children?

Buying your way out of trouble … or just storing it up for our children?

There is already a queue of people asking for bailouts as a result of the ending of European subsidies if we leave.  Farmers are at the head of the queue (although paradoxically many of them voted Leave), EU funding bodies such as Erasmus, The Army are claiming that they have lost nearly £1 billion due to import costs over a weaker pound. It seems that nearly everyone who has a movement will be queuing up for a bailout in the wake of Brexit, when we are about to enter a new era of austerity. The numbers don’t add up and it’s quite likely that this will be reflected in further cuts to services and local government.

The “rapid trade deals” that we were promised have not materialised. Quite to the contrary, estimates suggest we are looking at maybe 10 years minimum to make any sensible deals with larger countries around the world and this will be on their terms, not ours.

Anyway, enough politikking.  On with the music ….

BT2

A Motley Crew – The Brexit Blues Band with the great Bernie Tormé

 

Better Together” was written as a poem by Dave Brooks, who I dubbed “The Poet L’Oreal”. A former MBA student of mine, Dave worked in high finance, writing poems about the human dimension of business in his spare time and we stayed in contact long after the MBA. He sent me the poem and I composed a demo of the song – you can hear the original instrumental track from my basement below:

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.50.54

I invited my friend Paul Crick to join us on keyboards – Paul is a management consultant with IBM who has a vision to help musicians make a living from their music, not just the 5% with record deals and so on.  He describes himself as a music performance coach for music students, semi-pro and pro musicians, helping them tune up your inner game for the performance you want.

I resorted to Facebook to recruit the rest of the band as I had done with my macro-economic anthem “Fiscal Cliff“. The strategy resulted in finding Rhiannon Georgia Daniel, a singer and her partner Al on bass. Rhiannon also does a bit of drumming in her spare time, so the offer of a drum and bass partnership seemed very attractive. There we had it: a full band recruited from the internet, without rehearsal, band politics or any of the usual troubles.

We came together on Saturday August 6th. I always schedule in breakfast as a teambuilding opportunity. After an unhealthy start to the day we hit Bernie Tormé’s studio and in about 3 hours we were done. I’d met Bernie several years back when I stood in on bass guitar for an ex colleague at Pfizer’s recording of a song for his wedding. We got talking and I’ve since recorded there on many occasions and Bernie has performed at corporate events for The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and at a team building event for a train company. Bernie played guitar for Ozzy Osbourne and Ian Gillan amongst others and is one cool cat. he was kind enough to credit me alongside Arthur Brown for some informal coaching / provocation …

Bernie Torme Quote

Check Bernie’s work out by clicking the picture

The man in charge - at Barnroom Studios in Kent

The man in charge – at Barnroom Studios in Kent

Get your copy of Better Together – A Song for Europe and let’s start a positive revolution for reforming our relationship with the EU via the catharsis of the blues …

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Book him for your next interactive motivational keynote or longer masterclass series. His new book with Bloomsbury, entitled “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise” is available direct from the author or via Amazon.

Reasons to be cheerful … about entrepreneurship

2015 looks like it may well be the year where the “two E’s” collide in a positive manner – where Entrepreneurship meets Economics, so that novel ideas and their owners meet with the capital and other resources to ensure that their enterprise becomes more than a “one hit wonder”. Whilst entrepreneurs are compelled to bring new ideas into existence regardless of the economy, it obviously helps if ideas are launched at a time when people and businesses are in the mood and with the means to buy them.such as Anita Roddick, who started The Body Shop next to a funeral parlour in Brighton in 1976, estimated to be one of the best years in the UK in terms of well being.

Anita Roddick planted her seeds for The Body Shop on fertile ground in 1976

Anita Roddick planted her seeds for The Body Shop on fertile ground in 1976

What then makes me suggest that 2015 is going to be a good year for entrepreneurs?

Economics, Economics, Economics

I was speaking with my friend Dr Andrew Sentance on his economic forecast for 2015 recently. A former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee Andrew is currently Senior Economic Adviser for PwC and a member of my band Rock In The City, dedicated to humanising the square mile through rock music. He outlined several reasons to be cheerful:

  1. Economic growth is forecast to be 2.5% in 2015. Andrew suggests that only the US will do better among the G7 economies in the coming year.
  2. Investment is forecast to grow by over 6% in 2015.
  3. Inflation is low and set to fall further. Consumers may gain some much-needed economic relief in terms of prices.
  4. Unemployment is expected to fall to 5.5% by the end of 2015.
  5. Wages growth is picking up – expected to be 2.4% next year. When combined with low inflation, people can expect the first improvements in living standards since the financial crash.
  6. Real household disposable income is forecast to rise by 2.3% in 2015, providing the consumer with some purchasing power for the first time in several years.
The wonderful Stiff Records - an entrepreneurial startup that started in 1976 but ran out of cash eventually ...

The wonderful Stiff Records – an entrepreneurial startup that started in 1976 but ran out of cash eventually …

The one thing we can be sure of is that the future is that it is subject to change. Nonetheless, these predictions do line up to offer hope that we will be gently lifted out of recession for the first time in around 7 years. What then does the improved economic climate offer for the entrepreneur?

Reasons to be cheerful … for Entrepreneurs … 1, 2, 3

  1. If your enterprise is operating in what I call one of the “Brain Based Industries” you are likely to find a fertile climate for growth in 2015. These include biotechnology, nanotechnology, 3D printing and computing development, which shows no sign of having reached a plateau in our imagination of what’s possible.
  2. The service sector and creative industries are also predicted to show significant growth. If you are an entrepreneur with a creative idea or service, which makes people’s lives better in some way, now is a good time to be thinking of starting your business. My long experience of working with creative people reminds me to also say that you must couch your service in terms of simple to understand consumer focused benefits and not. Some creative minds are prone to think that people will beat a path to your door to seek out what you offer, however difficult you make it for them. That is the exception and not the rule.
  3. Finally some traditional industries are also set for growth with good forecasts for the construction industry and consumer goods. We need also to look at ways to innovate in these industries to make sure that our contributions in this area employ sustainable technologies and materials. This is an area where entrepreneurs can play their part.

We must learn to unlearn

It’s been a long haul through the deepest recession for many years and I’m personally hopeful that we will learn from the lessons of economics to create a more sustainable world economy. That’s not simply learning new things, but also unlearning out-dated habits that create boom and bust economies in favour of a more sustainable world. In this context, we finish with a song that Andrew Sentance loves for it’s rather cheeky Ian Dury inspired lyrics about economics and entrepreneurship. I wrote the song as a call to action for a more sustainable world, plus it was a lot of fun to do …

and, of course, one of the inspirations for Andrew’s predictions:

From Competitive Advantage to Collaborative Advantage

The last 100 years of business wisdom in the West has been dominated by the notion of Competitive Advantage, whereby a company or enterprise develops a product or a set of capabilities that confers some kind of unique advantage versus its competitors, ideally over an extended period of time. The concept was championed by Michael Porter via his tomes, “Competitive Advantage” and “The Competitive Advantage of Nations”. Essentially Porter’s theory is Charles Darwin for business people. Here’s an account of our recent evolution from the agrarian through the industrial to the information age.  It is not clear from this infographic whether intelligence has increased …

If Dinosaurs ruled the Earth ...

If Dinosaurs ruled the Earth …

It’s time we moved to the notion of Collaborative Advantage in a joined up world. Innovation is now so complex that it is rare for the capabilities and intelligence required to convert a new idea into a sustainable business, product or service to reside within one individual or discipline. Alongside this, the impact of our actions on the world has become correspondingly greater and we must therefore look to collaboration as a tool if we are to have a chance of making the world a better place.

But, it’s not easy. As with Darwin’s ideas about competition, the human condition tends to place emphasis on looking after number one as a priority, especially when under pressure. So voluntary activity is necessary but not sufficient to achieve the required changes. On the positive side, some companies are taking the lead in setting the conditions where collaboration is seen to be a better option than going it alone:

Unilever are at the forefront of innovation through collaboration, offering incentives for individuals to come up with ingenious ideas. So too are many small entrepreneurial start up businesses, assisted by crowdfunding. It really is possible to be small and global now. I wrote recently about the power of Collaboration for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Entrepreneur blog. Read the piece here at Collaboration and Crowdfunding.

At a personal level, I was recently invited to give a guest keynote and collaborative musical experience at Henley Business School. Collaborating with people and organisations that you don’t own or control is a completely different animal compared with the traditional organisation model and it requires a completely different type of leadership. I am delighted to be associated with an institution that understands the difference and designs it into their Executive Education programmes.

We were blessed to have a guest appearance from Patti Russo, Meatloaf’s long term female singing partner. I’ve been working with Patti to develop the next stage of her career and she kindly agreed to come along as a special guest. Patti is a living, breathing example of someone who has collaborated with some of the biggest egos on Planet Earth. She performs with much of rock’s royalty including Cher, Queen and in the theatre with the LA version of “We Will Rock You”. A magical moment was when we launched into “Dead Ringer for Love” during the live performance part of the evening. The entire audience of leaders stood up to salute her! I was also privileged to do an acoustic “aftershow” with Patti in the bar at Henley, where we performed “You can’t always get what you want” and “I would do anything for love”, which included some great delegate collaboration.

I would do anything for love - with Patti Russo and Masterclass at Henley Business School

I would do anything for love – with Patti Russo and Masterclass at Henley Business School – Click the picture to book Patti for a unique experience

I’m also delighted to have been invited to join a global collaboration with Nadine Hack for a more sustainable business world. Nadine’s contribution to finding joined up solutions to complex world problems is unparalleled and she has started this network to continue and accelerate her work.

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Nadine Hack – Leader of a Global Network for a more sustainable world – click on the picture to find out more

Action Points

  • Competitive Advantage must be matched with Collaborative Advantage
  • Collaboration is easy to say but runs counter to many people’s DNA, so we must work hard at it
  • The internet can facilitate enterprise through collaboration via crowdfunding. See Sir Richard Branson’s articles on Collaboration Virgin.com for more on this
  • Leaders can learn to collaborate if they choose to. Please get in touch with Nadine Hack or myself to discuss collaborative leadership

To finish, here’s a song from Patti that literally sums up idea of being “under pressure”:

Desperately Seeking Bankers Who ROCK

Here’s a piece of recent press attention in The Evening Standard on a project I’m working on with Dr Andrew Sentance, former Monetary Policy Committee member at the Bank of England:

In the City - With Andrew Sentance

In the City – With Andrew Sentance

So, we’re looking out for City business people (Bankers, Tinkers, Tailors and so on -:) who play an instrument and would like to participate in an open mic music jam sessione.  We are also looking for a venue in the City to do this amazing event and anyone who might want to help with lighting, PA and so on.  How will this work I hear you asking?

  • We’ll supply a backline of equipment and some great musicians to support the evening
  • I will be bringing my bass playing friend John Howitt, who is a session musician who has played with Anastasia, Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey and a great drummer.  I’m sure Andrew will also bring some muso friends
  • We will work up a set list of songs that people might like to play in advance but the evening will also be open to more spontaneous contributions.  If individuals want to replace one or more of the backline members that’s fine or they can just add themselves as a soloist
  • We’re looking to do this easily in Spring to give time for a little bit of mental preparation and incubation

Any questions?  Get in touch.  For those about to rock the Bank of England, we salute you!!

In the spirit of the event, here’s one of the contenders for the performance:

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk or +44 (0) 7725 927585.  Check out our online Business and Music programme for FREE via The Music of Business Online.

The bookshelf

Talking with the taxman about economics

I met Billy Bragg the other week. What a great pleasure, having seen him perform many times over the years. Lest we forget, here’s one of his most beautiful love songs:

Billy was talking about the idea of Power and Responsibility at the RSA and I managed to pick a copy of his book “The Progressive Patriot” up whilst swapping it for a copy my book Punk Rock People Management along with a badge and plectrum ( I realise this probably sounds like an “Alan Partridge Tie and Blazer combination pack” as I write the sentence 🙂  Bragg turns up in the chapter on Unions and he seemed pleased to receive a book about a snappier and more authentic approach to HR and business.

progressive_patriot

Check out Bragg’s catalogue of work by clicking the picture

Here’s some of the stand-out takeaways for me:

  • We need much better ways to engage people with decisions that affect them
  • Current ways of voting cause a large proportion of the population to disengage with politics and politicians on all sides
  • The gap between rich and poor has increased exponentially since 1979, independent of which Government has been in power
  • The only thing the 1% fear is the 99% getting organised
  • Social media offers a way to increase meaningful participation in society, but it also presents significant barriers

Here’s the full lecture below, including the question from yours truly.  In private conversation with Billy we discussed the idea that it’s possible to get much greater levels of engagement by posting a cat picture on Facebook than it is a discussion about economics etc. !

Cool for Cats on Facebook

Cool for Cats on Facebook

Bragg’s book The Progressive Patriot is a superb read.  We leave with another piece of his music and my own contribution to the poetry of economics via the video for my song “Fiscal Cliff”:

A great read whichever side you are on ..

A great read whichever side you are on .. Click on the picture to find out more

Police and Thieves

I was ‘officially gobsmacked’ to discover that Digital Frontier – a retailer on Amazon is selling a copy of my first book “Best Practice Creativity” for £3000.  I know postage rates have risen and so on, but that’s nearly 4 pence per word!!! 😉  I also know that some people say my books are really good, but this is just ridiculous!

It's a rip off yeah!  Online retailing at its worst

It’s a rip off yeah! Online retailing at its worst

It raises the interesting point about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on Amazon’s part.  Yes, it’s a free market and all that, but the RRP of the book is £45.00 and Digital Frontier’s price is nearly 100 times the retail price.  If the company concerned are the ‘thieves’ than that makes Amazon the ‘police’, hence the title of this blog.   Surely there should be some checks and balances built into the system?  I’ve had my doubts about Amazon before, when sales of “The Music of Business” mysteriously did not get reported on my royalty statement.  If they are to tolerate 1000% price hikes from people who pay no royalties to the originators of the work, what future does this hold for online trading?  As the market leader, Amazon surely ought to be carrying the CSR ‘torch’ for others to follow.

By the way, I get no royalty from Digital Frontier’s sales 🙂  And I’m selling copies of Best Practice Creativity direct at £25 plus P&P, or you can get the whole ‘box set’ plus one of my ambient music CD’s and a really cool badge for £65 plus P&P.  Drop me a line at peter@humdyn.co.uk for details.

Straight from the source without 1000% price hike

Straight from the source without 1000% price hike

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About the Blogger:  Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching.  Contact via peter@humdyn.co.uk

Sex and Pay and Rock’n’Roll

Introducing Ian Davidson, a compensation and rewards specialist with a difference.  Ian worked on the MBA programme with me some years back and approached me recently for an interview for his own podcast.  This episode contains a number of fascinating insights on rewards and remuneration, which drive the UK’s economic position in the world:

  • Banking remuneration – Comments on the UK banking standards report
  • Executive Pay – discussion on the MM&K survey on Executive Pay
  • Strong Analytics – using and presenting reward data
  • Rewards in the Middle East
  • Oh, and a live interview with me ! 🙂

Here’s Ian’s podcast.  Click on the picture to listen in.

Sex, Reward and Rock'n'Roll

Sex, Reward and Rock’n’Roll – Click to listen

Ian is a commercially astute, passionate, MBA qualified Compensation & Benefits specialist.  With a sustained record of success within financial services over 15 years, Ian is a nationally recognised expert in reward.  He is currently looking for a role in a commercially driven organisation in London and or the South East.  Contact him if you have such a position by e-mail at administrator@mauritius.demon.co.uk

And whilst we’re on finance and reward, here’s the video from Fiscal Cliff, a hard rock anthem about hard times and the hard rock to recovery.  Feel free to share the video, comment on it and download the single, available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play etc..  It will be the first time a hard rock economics anthem has reached the charts !