Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Fifth Element

I wrote a while ago about meeting the amazing Richard Olivier at an event in Ireland. Richard is Sir Laurence Olivier's son and has used his experience as a theatre director to create the leadership training company Olivier Mythodrama.

Well, this week Richard very kindly invited me on one of their courses 'Leadership Presence: Developing Personal Impact and Peak Performance'.

10 of us took part, most of them top executives from big corporates and government organisations, many of whom had flown in from far flung places - Beijing, Johannesburg, Finland, Northern Ireland - and the event was made all the more special as it was held at Sir Laurence Olivier's family home near Brighton, crammed full of the most fascinating memorabilia not just from his life in the theatre but also the memorabilia of his wife, the actress Joan Plowright.

The course was run by Richard's business partner, the charismatic and profound Nicholas Janni, and was all about understanding your personal impact and ways to improve it. But there was also a strong spiritual element, which was that leadership is also about creating positive change in the world.

One of the most powerful exercises at the end of day 1 was to write a poem about something we felt strongly about and bring it next day to present to the group.

We didn't end day 1 until after dinner at 9.30pm and everyone was exhausted, so I went to bed and sent a message of intent for my poem to be delivered to me. Here's what I woke up with at 5.30am next morning; it is called The Fifth Element:

Our World.
Creaking at the seams.
Much to few
Unfairness reigns.

Cities burn
Markets churn
Mothers crying
Anger rising.
When will we learn?

In love with the tangible
We hold tight and cower
Door shut to the place of infinite grace
Closed off from true power.

Open your mind
Think of a time
When happiness reigned.
Great beauty above
Soft motherly love
Know we must change.

Let go and fall
With faith and grace
Into the space
Of delicious infinity
Where nothing is necessary
And once again
Be whole.

I have to tell you it was difficult for me to actually read my poem to the group such was the emotion it carried for me, and similarly everyone else's poems were incredibly powerful and poignant.

We started the course by making a 2 minute speech to the group, and we ended by making another 2 minute speech. The transition every single participant had made during those two days was simply phenomenal.

I have to say it was one of the most powerful courses I have ever attended in my life.

If you can't attend the course you may want to get hold of the book written by Richard and Nicholas Peak 'Performance Presentations: How to Present with Passion and Purpose' which contains much of the magic.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Why things must change...

My last post generated some interesting comments; here's my take on what's going on.

Mass consumerism is a very recent thing, it started post-war and really gathered momentum in the 1970's - suddenly it seemed you could have anything you wanted, but at a price. People started getting very rich - and as those of you have been rich will know - it is very addictive; you always want more.

So us entrepreneurs found cleverer and cleverer ways to entice you to buy more - brilliant marketing, enticing ads, messages that our product would make you sexier, thinner, more attractive. Fashion cycles accelerated and as soon as you had the latest thing, it wasn't the latest thing anymore - so was given to Oxfam. The world's resources started being consumed at an alarming rate.

And of course people's earnings could not keep up with the rampant demand, so a handy little thing called credit was introduced to enable the whole machine to continue being fed. The economy continued to expand, Gordon Brown crowed about his 'stable economy' and 'record growth' and for a while everything in the garden was very rosy.

But in the gold rush for more business, the financial institutions started getting a little reckless and started lending to people who really, really couldn't afford it. And so the inevitable started - defaults on loans, people posting the keys of their houses back through their bank's letterbox, thousands forced into bankruptcy and thousands more choosing it as an easy option to wipe their debt.

And the cancer of this 'sub-prime' debt spread throughout the banking sector as institutions swapped liabilities, undermining the whole financial system.

Hoping the problems were isolated, bits and pieces of government and institutional intervention followed; Northern Rock, Bradford and Bingley, RBS, Barclays, Merrill Lynch, AIG all bailed out in some shape or form. And now the US suddenly finds $800billion to try to solve the problem once and for all, the stock market shoots up, the traders breathe a sigh of relief - and everyone starts gambling again.

But it's obvious that this rampant consumerism can't continue.

There isn't enough money to feed the monster (especially now people are losing their jobs as well as their homes), there aren't enough resources in the world to feed the monster (especially now people are running scared through global warming), there isn't enough time to feed the monster (people are working harder and faster just to stand still) - and what's more, none of it is making anyone happy.

Plus how many crises and wars can the US rustle up the money for before the country itself becomes bankrupt?

Meantime, there is a growing awareness of the unfairness of a 'many to one' system in which capitalism allows a small number of individuals to share the spoils at the expense of the many billions who live on our planet in poverty, too weak to be able to fight their oppressors.

So, to me, the predicted 'Apocalypse' is not anything about an asteroid colliding with Earth, it is about the necessary breakdown of the current way of working to allow a new world order to come in.

My view is that this new world order will be able to meet every one's needs (not greeds) in a much fairer and collaborative way, in harmony with the planet and one another. Already there is an awakening of the 'collective consciousness' which is calling people towards a more spiritual way of existing.

Our human efforts to change things (what one might call the 'low energy light bulb' approach) are not enough to cut it; when the Universe finally delivers the solution mankind needs (and we are just starting to glimpse the changes now) it will deliver in a spectacularly powerful and infinitely intelligent way.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Apocalypse Now

A few months ago I placed a post about talk of an impending Apocalypse in 2012 and the prediction that preceding this there would be a meltdown in the financial markets...

About the same time I had a meeting with Merrill Lynch on quite a different matter, during which I mentioned the Apocalypse theory - much to the shock and disbelief of those present (who clearly thought I was a nutter!).

Well, yesterday I received an email from one of the guys at Merrills who was at that meeting, to say 'Rachel you were right' - and pointing me to an article in the FT yesterday along similar lines.

It seems that even in the Alpha male world of money, greed and power there are those (the short sellers) whose avarice is now being frowned upon... It is not an external enemy that will destroy the financial markets; it is the beast of greed that will end up consuming itself.

If we are to have a new beginning there first has to be a breaking down of the old structure; in my view we are heading to a world in which there is a much fairer distribution of wealth. A world where we are starting to live in harmony with one another and the planet.

This week's events are just the beginning.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

On Going Vegetarian

DLOG mentioned in his comment to my last post that I was a vegetarian and I was explaining to him when we met over lunch this week how this came about...

Not that I didn't like the taste of meat you understand - there was nothing more delicious to me than a barbecue cooked steak - I was just becoming increasingly uncomfortable about eating an animal that had been killed for my gastronomic pleasure.

Added to this, we live close to the farmers' market in Bakewell (i.e. the place where they trade cattle, sheep, pigs etc), where on market days you can hear the moans of the animals in their pens all day and through the night, waiting to be sold to the highest bidder.

But the final straw was going to one of Mr Badger's friends (also an Alpha Male) for a party where a whole baby pig was being spit roasted, trotters hacked off and eyes still in his little head. Ugghhh!

I've delayed writing this post - so its now been 6 weeks since I stopped eating meat; here are a few observations.

Firstly, from research, the human body only needs 50g of protein a day which is easily obtained from a whole variety of beans, seeds, nuts and vegetables - as well as milk, eggs and cheese. Contrary to popular belief, it's simply not necessary to eat meat.

Secondly, I feel lighter, healthier and fitter, and I've also lost a lot of weight.

Thirdly, that most of the flavour in dishes is actually in the sauce - the meat is just a carrier, so substituting it with potatoes or beans is just (if not more) delicious.

Fourthly, shopping bills are noticeably lower...

Finally, that most restaurants/pubs seem to have a single, gratuitous and usually pretty unimaginative concoction as their vegetarian 'alternative' afterthought. It's pretty disgraceful!

But when a restaurant does vegetarian well it is absolutely delicious - like the meze platter I had at Ozer where DLOG treated me to lunch.

I'm still cooking meat for the family - not eating beef is rather alien to my Yorkshire husband, plus I have 5 growing boys - but at least by having a vegetarian option available at every meal they can now choose whether or not they wish to eat 'dead animal'!

As meat costs spiral I think more and more people are going to realise they simply don't have to eat quite so much meat, if any at all!

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Rachel aka Linda Lucious

Well, today has been interesting to say the least.

Firstly my second lunch with the charming DLOG. Which went to prove there IS such a thing as a free lunch...

Secondly, an evening at the Soho Revue Bar for the launch of the new book The Accidental Pornographer by Gavin Griffiths. I was honoured to have been asked to write the foreword; all guests were given a name badge with their aka ... Of which mine was Linda Lucious! Seriously though, it's a great book, hugely funny and well worth a read.


Tuesday, 9 September 2008

From Strength to Strength

I was incredibly proud to have been invited to the opening of PhotoArtistry's new premises in Northampton last week.

PhotoArtistry is the UK's leading digital print reproduction company and their products are just fantastic.

Here I am with Anne Herbert, founder and CEO - who I have been mentoring for the past year or so - who has done a brilliant job of bringing the company's sales from strength to strength.

It's so wonderful to see entrepreneurs blossom!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Five Magic Words

Well, I am currently preparing for my next Entrepreneurial Masterclass at the British Library Business Centre - 17 entrepreneurs booked this week to take a step back from their business and get clarity about their brand and ways they can potentially market their business more successfully...

It's a very practical course, and one of the exercises I set is to arrive at the 5 words which sum up their brand. For example MAGICAL + CHILDLIKE + FANTASY + KINGDOM + FUN can only be Disney; Disney now 'owns' these words - and that's very powerful from a marketing perspective.

So my question to you this Super Saturday is: What 5 words do you think I have chosen to sum up the 'Rachel Elnaugh' brand?

Closest answer by next Friday (12 September) gets a FREE place on my next Masterclass on 22 January 2009 - worth £495 + VAT.