One Question with Sam

Caught up for coffee with Sam who has recently returned from Hawaii for his summer holiday. So I asked him … “highlight?”

The people. Definitely the people. I just loved spending time with the people, getting to know new people and having the time to listen to their stories. ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata!’ (It’s the people, the people, the people)

Sam did heaps of amazing other things like swimming with Manta Rays at night, but his highlight was people. Sometimes in our busy and task based days we forget that life is about people. He tāngata.

Life is an adventure, and adventure is defined by you.

Cape Reinga
The noise in the back seat calms as Cape Reinga draws near. The squabbling turns to conversation about the lighthouse … the ocean … and the sea. Adventure for our family waits.

Our family value of adventure has drawn us here. A desire to explore and learn and have fun (despite another full day in the car). This particular adventure is also number 2 on my 12list for 2012.

For us, adventure means exploring, its often unusual, typically fun and sometimes hazardous. It often requires courage. Kid sized courage. The kind of courage that pressures parents into new things, because “we value adventure”.

Adventure creates learning.




So go ahead and define your own adventure. Just don’t miss the opportunity to embark on an adventure of your own. Take your family, your friends, or yourself.



Twelve : 12 memorable things for the 12 months of the year 12.

Twelve - Project Leap begins. A photo each day from 1 Jan 12 to 31 Dec 12. 366 photos in total, including the leap day | 1/366

Happy New Year and welcome to the year of 12.

Because it’s the year 12, and because there are 12 months in the year, why not have a 12 list?

A 12 list is kind of like a bucket list but easier, and just for the year. I think the idea beats new years resolutions (although Jim's new years resolution is good).

A 12 list is a list of simple memorable things you want to do this year. Don’t worry about the order, or when you will do them. Just list 12 things, anything, as they come to mind.

Then pick one a month and do it, don’t forget to take your camera to record the memory.

Here is my 12 list:

  1. Have a snow fight with my family
  2. Visit Cape Reinga
  3. Marvel at a sunrise
  4. Catch a fish with Jayden
  5. Take my wife on a picnic (without kids)
  6. Fly again
  7. Have someone I have yet to meet, over for dinner
  8. Visit a good.water project
  9. Catch up with a person I didn’t see last year
  10. Go caving
  11. Have a bbq at the beach
  12. Take my kids to a NZ city they haven’t been to before


‘Twelve’ - Project Leap begins. A photo each day from 1 Jan 12 to 31 Dec 12. 366 photos in total, including the leap day | 1/366



Marketing Spin from Hamilton City Council and Telecom.

Flying Solo 07
Telecom recently sent me a letter. It tells me how good they are for doubling my broadband usage from 20GB to 40GB. They are also putting the price up by $5. Thanks Telecom, you are really nice guys, except for the fact we don’t use 20GB and there is a new plan for 20GB that is $10 less per month.

I feel cheated.

Hamilton City Council sent me a letter telling me the valuation they use for rates are changing. They show me my rates now, and then show me my new rates, with water and rubbish separated. At first glance it looks like a saving, until I read the fine print of the existing rates. They include water and rubbish, so when I add the three up I am worse off.

I feel deceived.

My issue is not so much with the changes, but more importantly it’s with the way it’s communicated.  Why the ‘spin’? Why try to deceive us? Why not be honest?

Telecom really aren’t increasing my broadband because I need it, they are doing it to generate extra revenue. HCC are just playing politics.

Neither wants a relationship with me and therefore I don’t deserve authenticity. If they upset a few people along the way. They don’t care.

A small business like mine can’t behave this way of course. We would lose our customers, and our customers pay our wages.

But, it is a reminder nonetheless to make sure all of our marketing is authentic, and honest, and ultimately treats people, the way we want to be treated.

Lessons from Sixth Grade Soccer

The opposition player intercepts the ball and launches through the gap towards our goal. Screens of “get back there” are heard from the side line as one of our team sprints his little heart out to try and be between the ball and the goal.

His opponent strikes the ball hard, it ricochets off the post, bounces off our player, and scores an own goal.

One of our team steps up and calls his team made an “idiot” for scoring an own goal and I intercede and explain that he had run hard and it was unlucky.

Later I thought about the parallels to other teams.

I thought about how sometimes we can do all the right things, but just be unlucky.

I thought about how often we can get down on someone for a mistake, when it was unintentional and they are just trying their hardest to win.

I thought about how often the people who complain the most, are the ones who left their team member to do it alone. Had they helped the outcome could have been all together different.

I thought about how sixth grade soccer is radically different to competition in the real world. And yet soccer, along with other sports, is where most of us learnt to be in teams.



Throw out the Alarm Clock and grab an Opportunity Clock

In bed, out to the world, in a state of near comatose when suddenly that repulsive noise breaks the silence. The canned music or loud buzzing interrupts our dream, sleep is over, and we are called back to the land of the awake.

The work of the alarm clock is done for another day.

So why is it called an ‘alarm’ clock?

Is a new day really meant to strike such terror into our life that it is cause for ‘alarm’? Are our dreams so good that we need ‘alarm’ to bring us back to reality? Lets change the name of our alarm clock.

Lets call it an OPPORTUNITY clock.

When it awakes us from our slumber, it wakes us to new opportunities.

Opportunities to live. To taste. Listen. Touch. Smell. See.

Opportunities to create new things. To learn new things.  To experience new things.

Opportunities to experience laughter and sadness, fun and pain.

Opportunities to know and be known. To love and be loved. To seek God and experience freedom.

Everyday I have a choice. Start with an ‘alarm’ clock. Or awake to an ‘opportunity’ clock.


nb: I didn't create the term Opportunity Clock, just heard it and build on it.

And you prepare for the worst. And hope for the best.

Airbus A380new
Far above the ocean, an engine bigger than a large car suddenly disintegrates blasting shrapnel and metal in all directions. The shrapnel punches holes in the world’s largest passenger jet's wing, damages flaps, causes fuel to spew from the plane and degrades 2 of the remaining 3 engines.

In quick succession an unprecedented 54 alarms appear in the cockpit of the Qantas A380 on route from Singapore to Sydney.

In an interview on 60 minutes Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny describes the situation and some of his key decisions. Part way through the interview he states, "I thought lets protect this aircraft at the most basic level possible. And that was to position it within gliding range of Singapore. And that’s what we did."

"That’s a big call, gliding an A380", states the interviewer.

I love the captain’s reply. It is simple, striking and relevant to many situations.

"And you prepare for the worst. And hope for the best."

“Prepare for the worst” means I’m not ignoring the gravity of the event I am in. I’m not hoping its something smaller than it is. Preparing for the worst means I am recognizing it for what it is. Preparing for the worst means I am doing everything I can to position myself in a place where I have the best possible chance of recovering.

Prepare means more than just hope. It means action.

“Hope for the best”. Hope is critical, without hope all is lost. Hope enables you to make decisions, to think through events, to believe in yourself and the people around you. Hope, I believe, changes your mental direction.

Preparing for the worst in a bad marriage means admitting it is disintegrating and taking steps to fix it. Then hoping for the best.

Preparing for the worst in business means confronting the brutal reality of the situation and takings steps to recover it. Then allow hope to drive you.

Prepare for the worst in health, with the kids, at your job, in your illness and in relationships. Take steps to recover them. With hope!

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Choosing the long way … just because I can.

Central Plateau
I had been driving for nearly 3 hours when my phone reminded me of the flight I had cancelled from Wellington to Hamilton. I mused at the fact that sometime in the next hour an Air New Zealand Q300 would fly unnoticed above me and deliver its passengers to my destination a full 2 hours before I hoped to arrive.

The sun had gone and darkness ensued, as cruise control limits my climb up to the Central Plateau. Then as I round a corner and head onto the Desert Road I see light. My increased altitude and wide-open spaces, allows me to catch the final stages of the setting sun, for the second time in a day.

I regret not having my real camera and wonder if it is even worth pulling over and taking a photo with my iPhone. Finally, the predisposition driven into me by taking photos everyday for a year, kicks in. I pull over (allowing a car that I had passed to get the better of me) and take this shot.

My drive home from Wellington on a Friday evening reminded me that:

I love driving. The 528 km drive home is still along way short of the 750km I used to drive everyday as a bank courier. I barely notice the 6 hours journey, but put me in a plane 3 hours and I go stir-crazy.

I love taking photos. And I miss the 365 project. I need to carry my real camera more often. This shot of the mountains would have been immeasurably better with my SLR.

I value time too much. At work I make a lot of decisions based on the value of my time. I literally, mentally value an hour at a dollar amount and plan travel based on that. Generally it is good for helping make decisions, but sometimes I need to get over it. Sometimes I value time the wrong way.

To conclude...

Sometimes I need to trade the value of my time for cruise control, wide-open spaces, photos with real cameras and second sun-sets.

Sometimes I need to choose the long journey … just because I can. 


Impatience that leads to frustration!

I was excited at getting home earlier, relaxing and finally ending a long day of travel. I was “lucky” enough to get moved to a flight that was due to leave Wellington an hour earlier than my original flight. I was homeward bound.

As I waited for my boarding call I noticed the “early” flight was delayed.

Then delayed again. And again.

We board, wait for missing passengers and finally we taxi out, then accelerate down the runway. As we get airborne I glance out the window to see my original flight taxiing out. “So much for earlier” I thought. And being the competitive person I am, checked the relative speed of the two aircraft and determined I would still be in 5 minutes earlier.

Not so. The weather started to turn and our pilots weaved around a lightning storm. My “early” flight finally landed 25 minutes AFTER my original flight, which somehow managed to fly directly to Hamilton.

Talk about frustrating.

I got home frustrated, tired and late. Maybe even a little bit grumpy.

The next morning I was following this truck. “Impatience leads to frustration” it inaudibly shouts. I guess it can be easy to be impatient behind a slow truck. The more impatient we become, the more frustrated we become.

Impatience leads to frustration.

Impatience on delayed flights.

Impatience while waiting our turn.

Impatience with your computer, or kids, or wife, or staff.

Impatience then frustration. And frustration causes us to forget just how lucky we are.

Like my trip from Hamilton to Christchurch to Wellington to Hamilton in a day. It’s incredible I can do all that in a day. And I get frustrated because I arrived home 25 minutes late.

I was impatient, then frustrated, for no good reason.


I’d agree with you … but then we would both be wrong!


Just before summer last year I decided to spray my lawns for weeds. I used what I thought was the right spray for the job “Weed Out”. I was wrong. It killed everything (except the patches I missed) and we spent the summer with a dead lawn.

I’ve been wrong before you know. Wrong decisions; wrongly reading people; wrong answers; wrong opinions; and wrong actions. Wrong!

And I will be wrong in the future. I know that, so will you.

But right now, at this very minute, I can’t think of one single thing I am wrong about. Nothing.

In the present we behave like we are right about everything. We believe that everyone else is wrong and we are right. We know we have been wrong before, and will be wrong again. But right now we are right!

Maybe we would do well to remember we could be wrong. Wrong in hundreds or thousands of ways. Maybe if we remember that we could be wrong, maybe it would open our ears and eyes to other views and ideas and ways.

Maybe if we did that, we could become right quicker.

Despite all that, at this moment I am still right about everything I can think of.

You of course have a different view.  And I’d agree with you … but then we’d both be wrong.

Creating original thoughts from stolen colourful ideas


Knowledge and creativity are spinning so fast that it’s hard to know if that latest idea I have is actually mine, or someone else’s.

Its almost as though this latest drop of an idea is merely a colourful addition, to an existing artwork.

After all, is there any such thing as an original idea? Or is that an original thought an extension of someone else’s?

I think that all of our creativity, all of our ideas, all of our experiments, are shaped by someone else.

I think that one creation builds on another. I read something and it steps me toward the next thought. Someone reads my thought and it steps them towards their next creation.

It is as though all of our creativity, the words we use, the art we form, even the devices we make, are shaped by other people.

That’s why I get annoyed when people think they aren’t creative, or worse when people feel like someone has stolen their idea.

Issue 1: To be creative you need to be learning, reading, absorbing from some place other than TV. To many people don't learn and then think they aren't creative. Wrong.

Issue 2: To many people try to protect their ideas and think they are original thought. This stops other people learning and creating something better than your idea. Dumb.


Streetworks: Turning words into action

Streetworks: Turning words into action

Today a heap of people gather to do good for those who are poor and less fortunate and in need of help.

Older people, children, students and families all giving their time for free for their community.

What started as an idea by a few uni students texting each other, ends up with hundreds of people of all ages making a real big difference.

That's proof if you ever needed that the best way to make an idea happen, is to just start doing something.

What are you passionate about?

Balloons over Waikato
I've chatted with Balloonists a few times. As we talk, it becomes evident how much they love Balloons. How passionate they are about them. How they long to be 'up up and away in my beautiful balloon'. Personally I've found ballooning to beautifully boring (its too slow), but I love to hear their conversation. When we talk about ballooning they are altogether different people.

I love to ask people what they are passionate about? It opens the hearts of people. It enables me to listen. To connect.

I love getting past the what our jobs are, or what we are studying, as if that defines us.

I love to hear the words "I'm passionate about..." ... ballooning ... music ... animals ... horses (hard to believe I know) ... travel ... different cultures ... food ... makeup ... children ... God ... family ... motorsport ...

I love the conversation.

Its engaging.

Next time you meet someone, maybe even someone you have known for a long time, why not ask 'what are you passionate about?'

Then sit back. Listen. Engage.

And then, when you least expect it, you may find you meet an entirely different person.

Strengths = Being Good and Passionate

strengths finder.jpg

For some unknown reason I am both cursed and blessed with a natural ability to do accounting. So much so, that some people consider it a strength.

I am blessed because when you run a business it is good to have a firm grasp on the numbers.

Yet I am cursed because I actually really hate doing accounting. Nothing sucks the passion from my veins as quickly as doing accounts.

So is accounting a strength? Just because you are good at something, does that make it something you should do?


I believe strengths, real strengths are the things that you are really good at, and really passionate about.

According to Strengths Finder 2.0 my strengths are Strategic, Ideation, Futuristic, Competition and Self Assurance. And I am actually quite good at these things, just like accounting.

When I am doing them I feel like I have hit my sweat spot. I am passionate about whatever I am applying towards. I am energised.

Your strengths are things you are passionate about and really good at.

Go find them this week.

Work on them.

Nurture them.

It will energise you.