In Limbo

Imagine you lived in a place for years, had made it your home, raised a family, worked there, paid your taxes only to then be told you are worth no more than a bargaining chip in a political game? This is the world we inhabit in our so-called Great Britain at the moment. I was touched personally at the stories of EU citizens who face continued uncertainty over their future if we decide to leave the European Union. These have been compiled into a wonderful book by Elena Remigi with the help of Véronique Martin and Tim Sykes called In Limbo – Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK. In Limbo tells the human tales of the ground floor impact of our heartless strategies to use our EU citizens as human shields. Heartbreaking insights from people who have been so badly let down by our so-called Government that works for all. I feel ashamed to be called British in the knowledge that our European friends are being used as in this way just to prop up an internal political party squabble.

You might be thinking … “but didn’t Theresa May offer our EU citizens security just the other week?”  On the surface it might look like that.  Look again :

  1. The current “settled status” on offer basically reduces rights of people who have lived, worked and paid taxes in the UK.
  2. EU citizens are not necessarily allowed to stay in the UK if they are married to a British citizen. Just imagine how you would feel if your Government told you that?
  3. Some people say things like “We didn’t mean YOU when we voted to leave.” So who DID you mean when you voted Leave? How do you decide that I can stay but my neighbour can’t?
  4. People also say “Why did not not get citizenship?” Because you need Permanent Residency first, it costs a fortune and many people are happy being an EU citizen.

On a personal level, Brexit has divided my family after I walked out of my own house at a Sunday tea, when my brother in law told me to “get over the referendum”, claiming that there were 2 million rapists waiting to come to the UK from Berlin. He had clearly been brainwashed by our populist media. We have not seen them since … and this division is not going away, despite the nonsense protestations of our political leaders. I was also punched in my local area soon after the referendum so one does not even have to be an EU citizen to face xenophobia from Leave voters. Below are two extracts from In Limbo.

I cried at the dentist’s today. My dentist is lovely and my teeth are OK. I don’t cry easily and it really took me by surprise. But he asked me kindly how I had been since our last appointment six months ago and I told him what Brexit has meant to me and my husband. After thirty years of life in this country and twenty seven years married to a British citizen, I am not entitled to Permanent Residency. This is because I’ve never had the Comprehensive Health Insurance (CSI), illegal according to EU standards, which is only now being imposed as a necessity. I told him about feeling betrayed, let down and abused by the government who did not do the humane and moral thing by us and our families. And who also betrayed and let down the Brits in relationships/marriages with EU citizens as well as the Brits living in the EU, who are now reduced, as we are, to mere bargaining chips. Then suddenly, in the silence of his room, with his kind and bemused eyes on me, lying on the chair as on a psychiatrist’s sofa, I heard my voice break and tears started rolling down my face. I felt mortified but it made me realise the amount of stress and sadness I have been carrying inside for the past eight months. I know that, sadly, my fellow EU citizens here feel exactly the same.

V., France

As an Englishman living in Germany and denied a vote, my perspective is different to that of the Europeans in the UK, but we share similarities all the same. It’s only since I’ve been abroad (and particularly since the dreadful vote of June 23rd) that I have come to fully appreciate just how I was subject to the drip, drip, drip brainwashing as a child and growing up in England. We were the British, victors of WW2 and by default better than everyone else. It was the Great Escape and the Dambusters every holiday on TV. I even read war comics like Victor and Commando where the Germans were the square-jawed aliens uttering robotic sayings like “Achtung, Achtung” and “Surrender, Englischer Schweinhund!” Everything we did had to be slightly different – drive on the left, imperial weights and measures, even ‘Jeux Sans Frontières’ on TV couldn’t be translated literally (it had to be called ‘It’s a Knockout!’ – which made no sense at all). ‘The Continent’ was somewhere away across the water, full of people who were inherently inferior somehow, even if it wasn’t expressed directly in those terms. Somehow, I managed to ditch most of this nonsense baggage I’d been saddled with. Marrying a German and experiencing other Europeans first-hand has taught me the truth of the situation. Empire days are long gone. We need Europe. Forty years of progress are now being thrown away. My sister and my best friend in the UK voted Leave. I don’t recognise the country anymore and don’t want to be associated with it now. I hate what this ridiculous Referendum has done to my country and my relationship with people who are close to me. I truly believe that future generations will condemn this period in our history in the same way that we now look back at the madness of the First World War.

Bower, UK citizen living in Germany

Elena will be present at the No 10 Vigil this Friday 7th July if you would like to meet her and talk with her about the book. I continue to fight for a Better Britain in a Stronger Europe and I hope that these people will get the justice they deserve. Find In Limbo on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle book. Check out the In Limbo Facebook page. As for me, the way forward can be summarised in 6 words starting with a B:

We finish with some punchy satire that sums up the illusions of some people about EU citizens living in the DisUnited Kingdom from 4N Boyz:

******************************************

Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. He also leads the musical direction of the No 10 Vigil, designed to Stop Brexit Dead.  Find out more about his plans finish the job at Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain.

Advertisements

Catch The Rainbow

Ritchie Blackmore … then

I made a rare pilgrimage to the O2 Arena last night to see a life long hero, Mr Ritchie Blackmore.  I say a rare pilgrimage, as I find the sound and vision at the O2 to be generally appalling and I was not disappointed at this concert.  O2 have previously caused my son untold problems over their legendarily bad administration and I freely admit that I therefore have a grudge – see O2 OMG.  That aside, I find the acoustics and size of the O2 quite inconsistent with a live band experience and had previously vowed never to go again after seeing Prince there in 2007.  In this case I felt I had no choice, so I got on my bike and cycled 30 miles for the experience and am overall pleased I went to see a man who remains a major influence on my approach to music and, indeed, my overall attitude to life.

But all is not lost – thanks to the generosity of a fellow traveller we have some better quality sound and visuals from the front of stage. See Rainbow Rising at the O2. But I want to move on to a story, as Ritchie Blackmore was influential in helping me secure my first job offer at Shell ….

Rainbow Rising

I went to a Grammar School, essentially a factory for Oxbridge students.  But I did not want to go to university. My parents were 45 and 67 when I was born and were not especially affluent – my dad was 85 by the time I was 18 and I felt I needed to get a job rather than go to University although there was no pressure from them to do so. Of course, I was completely ostracised by the Grammar School for making such a decision. The so-called “careers master” (also the gym teacher) said “well, laddy, tell me when you have got a job” when I told him I did not want to go to University. So I set about looking for one  …

I was mad about Chemistry and Music as a child. So I applied to the two major employers in the area – Shell and The Wellcome Foundation. I was invited to an entire day of interviews at Shell (who were noted for extremely progressive employment policies at that time). Looking back at the day I was sat before PhD after PhD, who showed me complex chemical reactions on a chalk board and asked how I would solve their greatest problems. Needless to say I doubt I answered any of the questions correctly! When asked about my interests, I recall boring them endlessly about Ritchie Blackmore’s use of medieval “modal scales” as a differentiator in Deep Purple’s music and the 16th Century in general.  In other words, I bored them with my obsession and they theirs. I used to spend hours at the top of the stairs with my record player slowed down to 16 RPM trying to figure out what he was playing … until my mum shouted me to come down and eat my fishfinger sandwiches …

Modal scales and Fish Fingers – the breakfast of champions …

To my surprise I was offered a job at Shell, having bored them rigid with my music obsession and not really been able to operate as a PhD chemist with an A Level, although I eventually took the one at Wellcome (another story). I suspect that they felt my passion for the music and nerdiness. They must have given me the benefit of the doubt that I could actually do the work. Thank goodness that there were no HR people in sight.

Richie Blackmore … now

Back to the concert. For me, Blackmore’s guitar style has matured over the years, with rather more Bach that Screaming Lord Sutch about his performance these days. Many more melodic classical progressions inspired by his love of classical music, rather less random improvisation and brutality. The sound, as I said, was hampered by the size of the venue, which is why I’m so grateful to the man at the front who filmed it. I think The O2 would have helped themselves by training three cameras on the stage and back projecting the results on the screen to give those far away at least some opportunity to see the action, especially given the quality of the visuals for the show. You can find the set list and many of the performances at Rainbow Rising at the O2. A great highlight of the show was “Soldier of Fortune” played on acoustic guitar, although marred by whoops and shouting from the crowd. An added bonus was to see The Sweet, a band who were strongly influenced by Blackmore when they were playing their own songs such as “Sweet FA.” with a wink and a nod to “Hard Lovin’ Man” by Deep Purple. Lest we forget the majesty of Mr Blackmore:

***************************************************

Peter Cook is  a business speaker who blends deep insights on strategy, innovation and business creativity with parallel lessons from music. An author of 7 1/2 books on business. Read his article on Deep Purple and Improvisation and more on Ritchie Blackmore at The Music of Business and Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll.

 

The Sting

I was quite unprepared to see Sting in concert last night and overwhelmed by his superb musicianship, performance and width of his musical canon. I confess I had quite forgotten Gordon Sumner’s songwriting skills.  At the age of 66 his voice, playing and projection were in top form, giving all of us hope that age is no barrier to peak performance.

Perhaps the most poignant thing that connects me to Sting and his music is his solid values of human rights, environmental consciousness and sustainability. I was reminded of this through his lyrics and reconnected to my work for Amnesty International which started in the early 1980’s and which he epitomised through his song “They Dance Alone”. Sadly, Sting’s words remain relevant in these troubled times and I hope that our world leaders listen to him and others at such moments:

Convince an enemy, convince him that he’s wrong
Is to win a bloodless battle where victory is long
A simple act of faith
In reason over might
To blow up his children will only prove him right
History will teach us nothing

Hey Mr. Pinochet
You’ve sown a bitter crop
It’s foreign money that supports you
One day the money’s going to stop
No wages for your torturers
No budget for your guns
Can you think of your own mother
Dancin’ with her invisible son

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

And especially his song for the Mothers of the Disappeared (Desaparecidos). This was Sting’s symbolic gesture of protest against the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, whose regime killed thousands of people between 1973 and 1990 … on first hearing this song many years ago, I wept uncontrollably about the unimaginable grief and strength of these mothers. There are no words that adequately convey the meaning of his song so I will let the song do the work itself:

We live once more in troubled times and it seems that our human race is about to forget its humanity. Our ability to learn from history seems limited. Watch the video, conduct your own research into what lies behind the concert that Sting gave and take action for a more humane society …

To finish, here are a few excerpts from Sting’s recent tour including tributes to David Bowie from his son and Prince – I was privileged to attend this. Big thanks to Debbie Poli, MD of Lapel Pin Badges for this opportunity. Debbie makes all the badges that I wear, including orders for the last David Bowie album, Virgin, Star Wars and my very special Prince love symbol badge.

**********************

Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock and Human Dynamics, offering outstanding keynotes, masterclasses and longer term Business / OD, Coaching and Mentoring. He is author of 7 and a half books on business leadership. Check them out at Amazon.

Do they know it’s Brexit?

11-brexitreactionsAllegedly it’s Christmas and I nearly died laughing at a list of “Brexit Christmas songs” from an un-named source.  He did it as a bit of a joke but got so much grief from some Brexiteers with no sense of humour, so I will not name him here.  I have developed his list into a top 30 all-time Brexit songs. Find my more serious reflections on 2016 and Brexit at “Hatful of Hollow” … anyway, let the chart roll …

  1. Do they know it’s Brexit? – Boris Johnson and the Bandwagon
  2. With or without EU – EU2
  3. Like a prayer (Brexit Means Brexit) – Madonna feat. Mother Theresa (May)
  4. I believe in a thing called Gove – The Darkness feat. Ian Duncan Smith
  5. Road to nowhere – The Talking Heads (Davis, Fox, Johnson, Farage)
  6. Get over it (Brexit mix) – The Eagles
  7. A hard rain’s gonna fall – Bryan Ferry
  8. The immigrant song (we must control our borders) – Led Zeppelin
  9. Freedom (of movement) – Wham!
  10. Poker Face (Brexit Negotiation Dancefloor Remix) – Lady Gaga feat. Mrs Mayhem
  11. Stand and deliver (your passport or your life) – Adam and The Ants
  12. What a waste – Ian Duncan Smith
  13. Last Christmas (you can afford) – Wham!
  14. Would I lie to you? Well, YES, repeatedly – Nigel Farage and The EUrhythmics
  15. (Stuck) In a big country – Nicola Sturgeon
  16. I fought the law and the law won – The Clash feat. Theresa May
  17. Boris the (back) slider – The Who
  18. Nothing compares 2 EU – Sinead O’Connor
  19. Heaven knows I’m miserable now – The Smiths
  20. Highway to Brexit Hell – AC / DC
  21. Mary’s Boy Child (is being deported) – Boney M
  22. You say Brexit, I say Bankrupt, let’s call the whole thing off – Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers
  23. Maggie Mayhem – Rod Stewart
  24. I kissed a European and I liked it – Katy Perry
  25. Keep on Running, Keep on hiding (the truth) – The David Davis Group
  26. I started something I couldn’t finish – The (Ian Duncan) Smiths
  27. The (27) winners take it all – Abba
  28. Anarchy in the EU K – The Sex Pistols
  29. There is power in a (European) Union – Billy Bragg
  30. All by myself – Eric Carmen

And one more bonus track bubbling under by The Beach Buoys

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-23-37-22

Get the whole album for just €7.99 or £27 276.77 due to currency exchange rate movements …

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-11-29-58

… and finally … since Theresa May claimed recently that she was being “instructed by God to implement Brexit” I wrote a prayer for Brexit …

lords-brexit-prayer

*********************

Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. Author of 7 1/2 books on Leadership, Innovation and Creativity. Find his current books on Amazon

Leadership Lessons from Two Virgins

I was approached by David Tait OBE recently to form a speaking partnership. David was with Virgin Atlantic from the very beginning and is acknowledged by Sir Richard Branson as having played a pivotal role in the development of Virgin, marking its progress from an underground office to a global luxury brand.David wrote British Atlantic Airways first business plan, a company that would eventually become Virgin Atlantic. In 1984, Tait became the fledgling airline’s first US employee, reporting directly to Sir Richard Branson. He built and led all the airline’s North American operations including sales, marketing, operations, customer service, finance, IT and HR. He was awarded an OBE in 2001 by Queen Elizabeth II for “services to British aviation in the United States”. Since that time he has worked as a consultant to the airline and travel industry and is a founding partner in the online luxury hotel booking site “Discover Luxury”. David has a veritable treasure trove of stories that offer insights into the ingenious and disruptive strategies of a serial entrepreneur and the Virgin brand. Here are just a few of the stories we share in our work together.

I want to break free … frustration and innovation


In the same way that Sir James Dyson’s breakthrough Dual Cyclone vacuum cleaner was inspired by his frustration with his existing vacuum cleaner, Branson’s decision to start Virgin Atlantic was inspired by a sense of frustration with existing customer service:

“As the head of Virgin Records, Richard Branson was a frequent flier between London and New York. Frustrated by consistently high fares and bad service he was convinced there had to be a better way and so, never one to be hindered by conventional wisdom, decided he would look at starting his own transatlantic airline. He’d learned from his success in the music business that what doesn’t work in theory can sometimes work in practice. But this was different – in a business ruled by Goliaths, starting another airline was a major leap of faith!

But just ‘another airline’ wasn’t what Branson had in mind. With the help of a few former Laker executives and some entertainment industry flair, Virgin crafted a radically different model. Branded Virgin Atlantic Airways – by conservative airline standards a risqué move – the product it offered would be equally disruptive.”

revivals

An obsession with Customer Service – Virgin Upper Class

Being frustrated is insufficient to innovate.  You must go on and do something about it. Some 5127 prototypes later James Dyson produced his first commercially viable Dual Cyclone cleaner. Branson also went past frustration and disrupted the market in a monopoly industry. Find out more about Dyson and Branson in our exclusive interviews with both at “Leading Innovation, Creativity and Enterprise

Screw it, Let’s do it


David recalls the “Screw it, Let’s do it” days of Virgin Atlantic’s maiden flights to New York. One of Richard Branson’s secrets is that he is a master of delegation and that sometimes means he does not always “do the detail”. It turned out that Richard had managed to forget his passport for the first Virgin Atlantic flight to the USA, which technically made him an illegal immigrant! David had to skilfully navigate his way out of the problem …

Brand-son


David also shares insights on how to change the customer experience via the early days of Virgin Atlantic with a fellow alumni of my secondary school, Sir David Frost:

“Those on the inbound trip were party to a flight that could well have made the Guinness World Records book for the most champagne consumed on a single Atlantic crossing.

A smiling David Frost, who was almost a weekly commuter across the Atlantic at the time, told me that it was the first time he’d ever made the entire seven-hour trip standing up with a drink in his hand”.

richard-branson

Sir David Frost R.I.P.

As well as some great storytelling, together David and I offer deep insights and takeaway concepts presented in ways that last forever. My experience of teaching MBA’s over 20 years has shown that we are missing out on the heart and soul of leadership by just teaching dry concepts. The mnemonic MBA should really stand for Much Bigger Amplifiers rather than More Blooming Analysis! We cover subjects such as

  • Disruptive thinking about your business strategy and practices
  • Converting ideas into sustainable innovations
  • Building and rethinking your brand to face a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous)
  • The “anatomy” of Sir Richard Branson : Why he leads the way he does
  • How does Virgin organise its affairs? – Culturally, structurally and in terms of day to day people management
  • Customer Centricity without Customer OCD
  • Leadership for good : Balancing Passion, Purpose and Profit

We finish with the hilarious story of Richard’s entrée into the world of Cola, which resulted in failure:

Cola Wars


“When trying to promote anything in the US one really has to “Go big or go home” – well, we went big! … I drove a vintage Sherman tank down Broadway … heroically smashing through a giant wall of Coke and Pepsi cans.”

Sir Richard Branson

On this occasion Richard’s underlying modus operandi of “playing David to Goliath” did not succeed. Coca Cola engaged their massive distribution machine to ensure there was no room on the shelves for Virgin’s product, Coke was discounted massively and Virgin retired injured. The key point here is the idea that success recipes work for a set of reasons and therefore transplanting a recipe (the David and Goliath approach in this case) does not always work in a new set of circumstances.

Contact me via peter@humdyn.co.uk to book David and myself for that very special event.

With Sir Richard Branson at The Virgin Money Lounge

With Sir Richard Branson at The Virgin Money Lounge

An intimate audience with Jordan Gray

At The Pheasantry in Kings Road, Chelsea - Photo by Rory Gill

Jordan Gray at The Pheasantry in Kings Road, Chelsea – Photo by Rory Gill

A few months back I conducted an intimate interview with Jordan Gray, Star of The Voice and with talents way beyond many artists I’ve ever seen in my life. Singer, songwriter, musician and performer all rolled into one, without any formal training in any of these disciplines. The interview offers transferable insights for anyone seeking to carve out their career as an entrepreneur in any field of endeavour. Jordan talks candidly about her life, learning her craft, managing fame, creativity, staying true to yourself and looking after her brand as a self-made musician and musicpreneur.

We also did a showcase event with Jordan at The Virgin Lounge in London.  Here is a behind the scenes piece of music recorded at Pizza Express Jazz Club in preparation for the Lounge event

Check Jordan’s new album The Baffled King is out on iTunes. Jordan is currently on tour in the UK. Don’t miss a chance to see her perform live whilst you can. She has been described as wistful, whimsical, expressive, eclectic; the sky falls staggeringly short of the true limit for this peculiar pseudonymous superstar.

Filming and production by Rory Gill. Photography by Christina Jansen.

Jordan Gray at the Virgin Money Lounge - click image to listen to her album

Jordan Gray at the Virgin Money Lounge – click image to listen to her album

Come to our next series of free events at the Virgin Money Lounge, featuring Vicky Hamilton, former manager to Guns N’ Roses, Poison and Mötley Crüe. All details at Virgin.

******************************

Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business Development around Strategy, Innovation, Creativity and Change.

Buy Peter’s new book out on innovation and creativity with Bloomsbury. Check out our full development programme for sustainable and profitable innovations.

 

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:

Screen Shot 2016-08-17 at 10.27.23

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 …

*************************

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.