Grey Matter

It's not all black or white

You’re only as good as your last moment

Published on 18/12/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

I was travelling at the weekend and this gave me lots of opportunities to be a customer; at the airport café, at the check in, at the security, in the plane, at passport control, at the car hire desk and so on.

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My imagination is killing me

Published on 05/12/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

Last Friday evening at dusk I had parked my car and was sitting waiting for a friend to join me as arranged.  It was just getting dark and in the near distance was a young man at a bus stop.  I didn’t take much notice of him but he had Adidas trainers (blue with white side stripes), one shoelace undone, black jogging trousers, a T-shirt with a ‘keep calm and be my valentine!’ slogan, his hair was short with deliberate razor marks on the side, it was pretty cold but he had no coat … Again, I didn’t really take much notice.  Then along came a lady with a bag who also stood at the bus stop.  Immediately it struck me that the two of them were standing too close to each other.  The lady had her back to the young man and he seemed to be nervous as he stood close behind her.  His hands twitched in his pockets.

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Emotional lift!

Published on 24/09/2013 by Remi Dumas
#Leadership

Ever been nicely cruising upwards in a lift and when suddenly you stopped between two floors?

Picture this: The lift is tiny, barely room for two; the lift is old, the safety light is dim and gloomy; the iron doors are tightly fitted closed only to let a thin ray of light hint of an unlikely escape…

DON’T PANIC!

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Is your cup half full?

Published on 26/08/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

British people consider that 31% of the UK population are immigrants. The real figure is 13%. Brits consider that 15% of teenage girls fall pregnant under the age of 16. The real figure is 0.6%. They equally have a distorted view of how many people voted at the last election, considering that only 40% voted when the real figure was 63%. 

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What is your favourite colour?

Published on 22/07/2013 by Amrish Pathack
#Leadership

A few years ago, my previous company was confronted with the delicate task of refreshing (read: creating) its brand and the first questions were regarding its main colour.

Naturally everyone had an opinion…one each… Finally, after months of extensive research, meetings and external counselling, it was decided that our brand would be blue. Why? 

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Do people make the difference or is it the environment that we create?

Published on 09/07/2013 by Myriam Healy
#Leadership

13 years ago on a spring day in Paris, location; Stade de France a young, relatively unknown Irishman scored 3 tries ( touching the ball on the ground behind the goal post line) on French home soil giving Ireland their first win in Paris since 1972.

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Tuning in to what people aren't saying

Published on 01/07/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

I once had a team of people arriving for a three day residential workshop. One of the last people to arrive came by motorbike and, strangely, the whole team started a discussion about crash helmets. Normally if you get a group of bikers together they can talk about helmets, sprockets and leathers until boredom sets in but on this occasion the whole team talked about crash helmets with some vigour and detail with everyone involved. 

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The power of a well told lie

Published on 17/06/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

I didn’t learn to swim until I was nineteen years old. At school we had swimming lessons and the Physical Education teacher was a typically jutting-jaw character. On the day of the first lesson he gathered the troop of trembling eleven year olds at the side of the soviet style indoor swimming baths and explained that he had never had a boy who had not learned to swim with him as teacher. He had a 100% record of success. 

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The dangers of skiing

Published on 10/06/2013 by Paul Conway
#Misc.

A few years ago I booked a ski holiday online. Came the day, the whole family got up early, we packed the car, drove to Gatwick, coped with the early morning M25, parked the car and joined the sinuous queues at the airport. With 3 children even an ordinary queue becomes an ordeal of sorts and that day once we arrived at the check in desk the attendant looked puzzled, looked at our booking, tapped his keyboard, called his colleague, tapped again, looked puzzled again, sent us to another desk, more puzzlement, more colleagues, more tapping. Until the Aha! Moment … ‘You’re a month early!’ So we did have a flight and a holiday booked but departing on 17th March rather than 17th February. An easy mistake to make, come on! 

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How far should we fly?

Published on 31/05/2013 by Amrish Pathack
#Aviation

With the end of the commercial supersonic era, the new race is to ultra-long range. The record for the longest commercial route is held by the Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-500 aircraft flying non-stop from New York to Singapore, covering an astonishing distance of 16.600 km in 18h40min. But when devoid of payload, the longest flight recorded is 21,602 km flown non-stop in 22h40min, held by the Boeing 777-200LR. This is 800km beyond the longest route, which is between antipodes (points opposite each other on the earth's surface). It is therefore achievable, although today not economically realistic, to jet from Buenos Aires to Shanghai (19,595 km) or from Madrid to Wellington (19,800 km). 

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Securing your people

Published on 24/05/2013 by Myriam Healy
#Leadership

I had a hugely interesting chat with Matthias, the 13 year old son of my Swedish friend Monica on Skype the other night. He was telling me about his day. He had spent the whole day refereeing Handball matches of younger children. This was a revelation to me that a "kid" could be a Referee. I come from a rugby background where my Dad, brothers and sisters played for years both at youth and adult level before being "able" to do their referring training as adults. 

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Bilabial plosives beat labiodental fricatives anytime!

Published on 24/05/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

The other day I found myself using the words ‘bilabial plosives and labiodental fricatives’. Not the vocabulary I use every day. In fact I have probably not said those words together for about 35 years. But there they were coming out of my brain without any hiccup or delay. Then there’s

  • Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly 

  • He got joo-joo eyeball, he one holy roller 

  • He got hair down to his knee 

  • Got to be a joker he just do what he please

How come I remember these cryptic song lyrics even though I don’t try to do so and I have not heard this song for ages?

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Getting in touch with your inner game at the hairdresser’s

Published on 17/05/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

I had a haircut yesterday and when the barber is trying to strike up a conversation I usually make it very clear that I don’t want to talk because when I go for a haircut I have just 15 precious minutes to look in the mirror and talk to myself. I don’t think about whether I should buy that new mower for the garden or whether I should go on the early flight or the late flight, about the political situation in Syria nor about the demise of handwriting. I just think about me. Which is a bit of a rare occurrence for me and I guess most people. If you don’t need a haircut today then I advise you to go home this evening and dedicate 15 minutes to look into a mirror, look into your own eyes and have a conversation with yourself. You can talk out loud if you like … when I’ve tried this at the hairdressers the barber usually speeds up the operation rather visibly. But you choose. 

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Do not walk on the grass

Published on 26/04/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

As you come off the plane at Gatwick London airport and head through the halls to the passport queue you see a sequence of official posters saying things like:

We do NOT tolerate violence towards airport staff… Abusive behaviour in the passport hall WILL lead to arrest … Violent and abusive language is a crime … Anyone punching a passport official in the face and breaking his glasses will incur the wrath of the world’s major military powers.

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Collective nouns for animals, birds, insects and...managers

Published on 19/04/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

If a group of baboons is called a FLANGE, a group of bacteria is called a COLONY, a group of bears is called a SLEUTH, a group of budgerigars is a called a CHATTER and a group of crabs is called a BUSHEL … then what would you choose as the collective noun for managers in your organisation? 

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Some people can spell ‘banana’ but don’t know when to stop

Published on 12/04/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

In 1978 I met the American beat poet, Robert Creeley. He looked like he had walked off the film set of Once Upon a Time in the West with his dusty hobo jacket, cowboy boots and a ragged old satchel. With his one remaining eye he scanned a notebook (that had just been ridden over by a posse of cattle rustlers) full of handwritten poems and read out what he described as the shortest meaningful poem ever written. He read:

‘If. If’

That was it. The shortest poem.

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It’s a joke! … Get it?

Published on 05/04/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

The absolute grand master at keeping a straight face was the late Mr William Woolrich, my grandad. He didn’t seem to see the need to share anything which was going on inside him. I can tell you that as a teenager I had a strong desire to put a mousetrap in his coat pocket or to quickly set all the clocks in the house five hours forward just to get a reaction from him. The Oscar-winning moment when he kept his poker face despite tremendous odds was when he was being driven around Oulton Park motor race circuit in my dad’s Lotus Cortina. On the long straight doing about 120mph my dad heard a loud BANG! He turned to my passenger grandad (who had not flinched) to see what had happened. ‘It’s just my bottle of lemonade that exploded’ said the grand master of facial stoniness. Given that he was in a car at high speeds and now had a pocketful of glass and lemonade, I have to give him the award for emotional immovability. 

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Looking for perfection

Published on 29/03/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

I have been on a mission to find the perfect performance. I looked for the perfect comedy fall … you had best turn to Buster Keaton for that. The perfect joke ...so much down to personal taste that I can’t offer one perfect example. The perfect bike … but no one else is interested. The perfect chocolate biscuit …too much choice. The perfect handwriting … even the Magna Carta has the medieval equivalent of typex. I wanted to find one single performance that everyone would agree “that’s perfect!”

Not easy. 

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Genetically transmitted ridiculousness

Published on 20/03/2013 by Paul Conway
#Leadership

In a moment of rare intimacy (Ok she’s English) my mum told me the other day that my dad used to send her love letters with little comic cartoon drawings in the side panel of the letter. Sounds sweet. I realised that whenever I write a birthday card, a Get Well Soon card or a note of any sort … don’t forget to buy the cat food on the way home … I find that I have a genetic impulse to add a small cartoon drawing. Now my dad died many years ago and I never saw his love letters but somehow I picked up a biologically transmitted habit of drawing cartons on notes and cards. 

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