Secrets and Lies


Here’s a quotation from my favourite author on writing, Robert McKee, ‘You do not hold an audience’s attention by giving it information, but by withholding information. (336)

It’s great, isn’t it?


Someone said to me recently, there’s nothing more predictable than change.

Over the years, I have heard that comment numerous times. I seem to recall it was especially prevalent in the late 1980s when no organisation was spared the experience of being restructured, downsized, decentralised, centralised or separated into profit centres,.


In the Art of War, Sun Tzu says there are five dangerous qualities in a leader. They are: recklessness, cowardice, quick temper, too delicate a sense of honour and compassion (176).

In my time, I have observed many leadership styles. Some I admired and emulated. Others I have tried to avoid. Not because I fancy myself as a leader, but more because those negative qualities are hard to be around. No effort can stop them leaving a mark.

Victory over self

I was introduced to Sun Tzu and the Art of War many years ago by a marketing lecturer. Since then I keep bumping into Sun Tzu as you do when something influences the way you think and view the world.

His book is always on my shelf and I often reach for him when I need reminding of a few fundamental truths. Those truths relate to self-management and strategy.

Description that does not win awards but keeps people reading

 After my last blog, I had a reader come back and say that she did not disagree with what I was saying but she hated that kind of writing and skipped it. She said, ‘give me sparse and prosaic over pretty and poetic’.


I thought it was an excellent point. Of course, I am going to give her a counter argument and she tells me she is looking forward to it. I enjoy challenges like that.


Imagery captures the reader

Imagery is the magic behind a good story. Whether the story is a thriller or literary, the imagery is what takes the reader to the place where the story is unfolding. The reader becomes a spectator, or if done really well, a participant in the story as a third character.

I was reminded of this when I happened to be reading a favourite poem of mine, ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ by T.S. Eliot.

An example of the marvellous imagery throughout this poem is:

For the yellow smoke that slides along the street

Leaders tell stories

The study of the nervous system, neuroscience, provides clues into why storytelling and redefining narratives in our workplace and social situations, works.

Education and Technology


It appears that at times we forget technology is a tool we created. For that reason, it will only ever do what we programme it to do. Some of those things are remarkable and I, for one, love to see how it has changed the world and our capacity to communicate and share ideas. The Style Guide is an amazing example of this. However, it is still only a tool and it will never replace people’s creativity.

Technology, regardless of how sophisticated it becomes will not be able to do the things that are driven by emotional and spontaneous impulses.

What makes books popular?


The First Draft


I have recently read interesting comments about first drafts. I was intrigued by a comment that the writer edited as he or she wrote.

Ernest Hemmingway famously said, ‘the first draft is always shit.’

I’m not sure if the expletive was what made it so memorable but it certainly sums up how one should regard first drafts. Stephen King says he never lets anyone see the first draft of anything he writes. This is saying pretty much what Ernest Hemmingway said. Both are making an important point.


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