New artwork ready for albums and single

I’m delighted to share the artwork for my next release. They are from a series of photos by a talented photographer called Alexander Savin. He captured the scenes of an Extinction Rebellion event in London, and some of the wonderful shots will be used in my album artwork

Alexander’s Flickr page link is

I’m a Fraud! – recognising and dealing with Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome image - Hide by Lee ThatcherHave you ever worried that you’re not good enough? Are your achievements down to luck and you’re just waiting to be found out as a fraud? Have you recently been promoted, and are struggling to shake the feeling that you’re not operating at the required level?

If so, don’t worry. You are not alone. You might be suffering from Impostor Syndrome.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

The phenomenon called “Impostor Syndrome” was coined in 1978[1] and it is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of Impostor Phenomenon in their lives[2].

For sufferers this can result in working long hours, and putting down successes and achievements to luck or the kindness of others. In extreme cases it can become a vicious circle which can lead to burn-out and stress.

My personal experience with Impostor Syndrome

I experienced Impostor Syndrome when I was promoted internally to become Head of Transformation for TUI Destination Service. I went from having a small UK-based team to a large multidisciplinary team based across the globe. I was suddenly on the Senior Leadership Team with far more experienced colleagues (as I saw it).

For me, this manifested in fear that my boss (who had placed his trust in my ability) would be let down, and ultimately that I would be ‘discovered as a fraud’ in some horribly public manner.

Neither happened. You know why?

1) I was good enough – and had earned my opportunity
2) Most of my new peers felt the same way!

And this was a key learn. We’re all winging it to some degree.

Observations and ideas to work on

I’ve observed this in colleagues and members of my team. One example springs to mind of a recently-promoted colleague who made a mistake in their day-job. The impact of the mistake was very small, as they fixed the problem themselves prior to their key stakeholder noticing.

However the impact on confidence was large. Much larger than I would expect for an error so small. I was concerned that this confidence-knock could lead to my colleague pulling back and not getting the most out of the role.

We discussed the issue, and I was reminded of the Newly Promoted Oli back in 2015. It was a really good conversation, and it has given me a number of ideas on how to deal with this issue.

  1. Recognise that you are facing Impostor Syndrome
  2. Talk to someone you trust about your fears
  3. Itemise the issues you are most worried about – and come up with a plan for them
  4. Have a process to deal with flare ups – perhaps line someone up who can listen when you are struggling and provide an objective view

This is not an exhaustive list, and I’m sure there are people better-placed to provide insight on this issue. However I am a strong believer in sharing thoughts and experiences with the hope that this may help some who are struggling with the same issue.

So next time you are struggling with Impostor Syndrome – remember that you are not alone.


[1] – Clance, P.R.; Imes, S.A. (1978). “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention”. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice. 15 (3): 241–247. doi:10.1037/h0086006.

[2] Sakulku, Jaruwan (2011). “The Impostor Phenomenon” (PDF). International Journal of Behavioral Science. 6 (1): 73–92.

Watch out for bad KPIs

Bus Stop Board

Metrics are everywhere these days. Data is a way of life, and we expect to get it! But what happens when it’s used badly?

I recently took a trip to London with my son, and was waiting at a bus stop to catch a number 10. I noticed that the bus stop gave me the amount of time I would need to wait. Great KPI! I only have to wait 2 minutes for the next number 10.

But then 2 minutes came and went.

And another 2 minutes.

Then another 10 minutes.

Finally, the bus showed up 15 minutes later than the board had suggested. How could the computer have got it so wrong?

We need valuable information

The information I was reviewing at this London bus stop was not valuable. It gave me false information – which could not be relied on. How many times have you seen data or information in your organisation which has a similar profile. How many times have you made decisions on bad KPIs such as this, which have caused you and your organisation issues?

Be bold. If you are responsible for producing data or information, make sure it is valuable and correct. If it is not, stop doing it.

Find the right metric

I have a theory about the bus data.

The buses are all fitted with GPS systems, so the central computer always knows where they are in London. Therefore the computer know how far away the bus is from each stop on the route (distance).

The system then uses the average speed of a london bus is used to convert distance into time (time = distance / speed). So when I’m sitting in Oxford Circus with my son (probably the slowest road in London), this formula is far too ambitious. In other areas with faster roads, perhaps the buses arrive sooner.

So what is the right metric? I would give the customers the distance of the next bus, in kilometres or miles. So for example, rather than seeing 2 mins, you would see 0.4km. As I sit at the bus stop, I feel comforted that a bus is coming, although I can see that the road is very very slow. As the distance reduces, I get a feel of when the bus is coming, which is never wrong. This is a valuable metric which keeps my expectations managed.

Applying this

If you reflect on this example, and apply it to your organisation, can you think of any similar examples?

As a finance reporting professional, I feel that often too much focus is placed on EBITA variances to the month, or year to date. These historic figures only tell you what happened, not what is going to happen.

My favourite KPI is distance to go (DTG) Vs. prior year. This shows you the future remaining months in your EBITA forecast, Vs. the same period in the prior year. Even in rapidly changing businesses I find this KPI gives me really strong insight into the likelihood of what we think is going to happen. It also highlights errors in forecasting, or ‘sandbagging’ (hiding of upsides from prior months in the final month).

Do you have any examples that spring to mind?

4 things to consider about Justin Gatlin

Justin Gatlin winning 100m 2017

Ok, so drug cheating is wrong. Athletics has been marred by drug cheats for as long as we can remember.

And now Justin Gatlin has beaten Usain Bolt in the 2017 World Athletics Championships, it gives us all a cathartic excuse for some drug-cheat-bashing.

But this episode has left me feeling quite empty, and quite sorry for Mr Gatlin. I hate cheats as much as the next guy, but the vitriolic reaction to his win surely is wrong too?

So here are my four thoughts to consider regarding Justin Gatlin, and I would welcome your thoughts and opinions…

The media love to create a villain

The newspapers and broadcasters are always looking for an angle, and simply could not resist the ‘good Vs evil’ tagline of Bolt Vs. Gatlin.

Both men have committed their lives to running fast, and are damn good at it. Both have a lot to contribute to the world in terms of elite performance.

Neither have hurt anyone, or committed any crime that any normal person would recognise.

To sum this up, have a look at this headline from the telegraph:

“Usain Bolt beaten in last solo race as drug cheat Justin Gatlin gatecrashes world number 1”

Wow. That’s pretty emotive. To me this gives a view that Bolt’s destiny was stolen by an evil cheater. Do you think that’s fair?

Most of us don’t know the facts

Are you aware of what Justin Gatlin was banned for? If you are, then you are perfectly entitled to whatever view you have formed.

If you are not aware of what he did, then can you really feel confident in the “drug cheat” label? I found the following link very helpful in drilling into the detail of Justin Gatlin.

Have a read, and then see if your opinion stays as it is 😉

Demonising Justin Gatlin

I’m as guilty as the next person in leaping to opinions based on headlines and opinions. Gatlin’s win has reminded me that it’s worth looking deeper into the detail when it comes to making my own opinions.

Do you believe in rehabilitation?

Justin Gatlin’s last offence was in 2006. 11 years have passed. Is he not rehabilitated?

If you committed any of the following crimes in the UK you would be released from prison after 10 years, society believing you to be rehabilitated.

  1. Possession of firearm with intent to cause fear of violence
  2. Administering poison etc. so as to endanger life
  3. Cruelty to persons under 16.

Does the same not hold true for athletes? 11 years of clean competing? How do you feel about this?

Doesn’t everyone deserve respect?

In my opinion, the booing of Justin Gatlin was wrong. He deserves respect.

Same goes for David Beckham following his red card in World Cup 1998. Someone hanged an effigy for goodness sake.

I worry that in this post-truth world where online trolls anonymously abuse others that we are losing respect for one another. It has become the norm to disrespect others.

I believe we need to challenge disrespect whenever we encounter it. Don’t get caught up in the crowd, or follow the easy path.

Everyone deserves respect.

Any thoughts or challenges, please share them below.

Why eating pie makes you do better at work

PIE – Performance, Image, Exposure

OK, so it’s not about eating pie.

P-I-E stands for:

  • Performance
  • Image
  • Exposure

In 1996, an author called Harvey Coleman came up with this model to give a clear and actionable view on how to get ahead at work. This was first brought to my attention by Nick Clench – an executive coach (check him out, he’s awesome.)

P – Performance – 10%

“Doing your job well only gets you 10% of the way there”

How many times have you heard someone complain about not getting recognition for what they achieve at work? As a manager/leader, I hear this quite a lot.

Whilst it may seem fundamentally unfair, it is true. You need to think beyond your performance in your job if you want to get ahead.

However, you might notice the way I’ve built the pyramid above (hint hint Maslow’s Heirachy) with performance sitting as the foundation stone. This is by design, as you must ensure that you are performing in your role, otherwise the other areas of focus will not mean anything.

I – Image – 30%

“Your image helps you to differentiate yourself”

I like to think of this as your personal brand. This is how you differentiate yourself from the competition. This is what makes people think of you when they think about your business area.

It’s quite difficult to define how to improve this, but I’ve always preferred people with a positive mental attitude, who lead with solutions, who take ownership, who offer support and challenge.

So I would take a moment and think about how your personal brand comes across. Be honest with yourself, and look for ways you could improve it. Some ideas:

  • Positivity UP – negativity – DOWN
  • Look for and provide pragmatic solutions
  • Show a geniune interest in other people
  • Be credible and consistent, however show flexibility

Exposure – 60%

“Are you known, are you seen, are you sponsored?”

The big one. If you believe Mr Coleman, this is where you should really be spending your time. Who knows you, and what you do? Does your boss know what you do? Does their boss know you and what you do? Do others inside and outside your organisation know anything about you?

If you answer no to these questions, then it’s probably time for a fresh approach. Without colleagues knowing who you are, you have limited chance to maximise any opportunities that might be available.

Why not try the following:

  • Volunteer for stuff
  • Work on an elevator pitch for when you find yourself next to the CEO in a coffee queue
  • Find a senior mentor
  • And finally – get out there!

I hope this has been useful, let me know if you have any thoughts or challenges to this approach.

5 reasons why Brexit might not have such a massive impact on your life

I’m an optimistic guy, so here are my 5 reasons why the Brexit vote might not have such a massive impact.

If you agree with me, then please share on social media with your buddies…

What does a vote “Leave” actually mean

We voted to leave the EU. 

Not to reduce migration, not to increase sovereignty, not to stop wasting money (£350m per week) on EU government departments. We didn’t elect Boris Johnson or Nigel Farage into power. 

If we leave the EU, the referendum result will have been actioned. That is all that has been asked for. The levels of migration or sovereignty were not part of the vote.

So aside from the trade deal, not much necessarily needs to change.

Unchanged fundamentals

We still have the same number of businesses, delivering the same goods and services to customers in the UK, the EU, and elsewhere. The quality of these businesses (good or bad) has not been impacted by the vote.

We still have the same number of schools, hospitals, fire stations and police cars as we did pre-Brexit. We still need all these organisations, who provide jobs for UK citizens. 

Britain is still Britain under the bonnet. The deficit is as big as it was yesterday. The England football team are probably going to go out of a major tournament on penalties…

Likely deal with EU on similar terms?

You might have read my blog on the relative size of our export and import markets, but if you haven’t, then it explains how roughly 50% of all imports and exports comes from, and goes to the EU respectively.

The size of trade between Britain and the EU means a deal will be struck for the benefit of both sides. German and French companies will want to sell cars to UK customers. UK financial service organisations want to trade with EU customers.

From what I’ve heard, the terms of the trade deal may well end up looking similar to the pre-Brexit deal (freedom of movement and trade).

If this is the case, then we’re in a similar place we were before…

Market adjustments are short term

Everyone is rightly worried about the value of sterling, and the impact on the FTSE. A devalued pound means we pay more at the pump for petrol, and the cost of our imported products go up. This can lead to cost inflation, with no offsetting salary inflation (ie less cash in the bank at the end of the month).

However, these adjustments are paper based adjustments, based on perceived risk and value. Part of the reason for the mini-crash was an expectation of a remain vote, which led to strengthening of the currency and commodities pre-vote, which obviously reversed after the leave vote was delivered.

The short term market adjustments will (in my opinion) reverse over time, as they are generally based on the underlying fundamentals of an economy or market.

It could take ages to agree a new deal

The new deal with the EU could take years to iron out. During this time we are still a member of the EU, so actually nothing will change.

Yesterday I wrote a blog about the need for calm in the aftermath of the vote to leave. In my opinion we should take our time and not rush to any decisions or strategic plans.

In summary

So you could say that not much has changed. The result feels seismic, but if you look a little closer there is definitely room for a little cautious optimism for those who voted remain, even though we are going to leave.

And whatever happens, good luck!