Friday, 30 January 2009

Optimism and inspiration for a dull day

I’ve recently really got into a new book, which I have been recommending to all the Bloom team (religiously at the start of meetings…), as well as people who have been close to enough to hear me ranting about it. It called The Optimist: One man’s search for the brighter side of life by Laurence Shorter. Just sitting in the Royal Festival Hall yesterday, I was unable to escape the barrage of the news of redundancies falling around London, from headlines on free papers, to colleagues and friends chatting away of how their offspring are finding it hard to settle into a career or the expense of living in overcoming them. It is a gloomy time and Shorter knows it, but that’s what this book attempts to explore in terms of what and who represents optimism and where it’s to be found. By travelling all over the world, Shorter is attempting to find the faces of optimism and offers ‘notes to pessimists’ in which he attempts to change the mindsets of you out there who think that the world might end after you use that last tea-bag. So, are you an optimist?

I think there are lines to be drawn between inspiration and optimism, or what creates energy for us to follow an idea or look forward to finding out more. A recent Presentation Zen post asks this - what inspires you? Here's my list:

Who: People full of energy and drive to fit as much into their day as they can. Even if it means getting up at 6am every morning for a jog!
What: Listening to loud music on my headphones or drumming, by drinking tea or working with people who love going forward.
Where: The Southbank in London, a green space, or New York!
When: When I'm running or I feel something can be done better.
Why: Because I look forward to pushing forward and learning from others.
How: Keep learning and use your strengths.

The photo above is the view from an office Bloom is working in at the moment. A truly inspiring view over the Southbank!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Happy international optimism day!

Happy international optimism day!

Did you know, today is statistically the dullest day of the year, and we can see why when we look outside. Grey skies and rain outside (See picture!), and grey skies and tough times for businesses and spenders all around.

We would love to hear about anything that has changed your view of the day, today or any day you might be reading this. A contagious smile from a random person, your favourite tune on the radio, or just looking forward to that cup of tea when your home again!

Want something to read? I've just ordered 'The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life' by Laurence Shorter.

Looking for something fun to do? Have a little look at this fun online experiment to change the way you see things:,,90r57fvc,00.html

Here's to Spring!

Monday, 12 January 2009

All that jazz

I love Jazz, and when you think of freedom, spontaneity and creativity, then it doesn't get much better. But, when we think of activities that might stifle our creativity and openness, then I'm sure I'm not alone and too far away from this when I mention presentations (which is a skill I'm working on!).

Presentation Zen have recently posted a great blog on the similarities between Jazz and presentations, and highlight 21 points to take from it. Check out the Blog here

1. In structure there is freedom and spontaneity.
2. Restraints and limitations can be great liberators.
3. Don't ever force it; be ever natural.
4. Good intentions are key. Sincerity is king, and yet...
5. It's not about you.
6. Listen more than speak.
7. Speak only when you have something to say, and then in the most economic way possible.
8. Your approach can be direct and subtle at the same time.
9. Fear is natural (and human), but work through it and past it. Don't let fear hold you back.
10. Mistakes are part of it (do not worrying about them).
11. Embrace the power of now, this moment.
12. Technique matters, but it's not the most important element.
13. Make no pretenses; put up no facades.
14. Laugh, smile if you feel like it — why not?
15. Share yourself with others; make a contribution.
16. Simplicity is supremely beautiful, yet difficult to obtain.
17. Emptiness and silence are powerful elements of expression.
18. Remove the clutter, strive for absolute clarity.
19. If you think you have mastered it, you've have already begun your descent.
20. Always be learning. Always be learning. Always be learning.
21. Curiosity is your greatest gift, nurture it (in yourself and in others)

Its tough to remember all of these, but the greats wouldn't be great without them.

Freddie Hubbard 1928 - 2008 (Pictured)

Some Jazz recommendations:

'Loud...Louder...Stop!' - The Neil Cowley Trio.
'Knee-deep in the North Sea' - Portico Quartet.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Ben Zander on passion

This is the video I shared with colleagues at Directgov, to try to bring the value of passion to life. I look forward to helping turn Directgov into a one-buttock organisation....

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Back to basics for Bloom Blog

We had a “thought shower” about our blog yesterday. Tom and I sat in the Royal Festival Hall on a cold and sunny day, watched the Thames slip by and sipped tea to keep ourselves warm. We both love the Presentation Zen and Seth Godin blogs, and Tom (who is cool) likes the Howies blog so we tried to think about what makes them good.

Here’s what we wanted our posts to be:
• Shorter – we thought 350 words for each post, max
• Simpler – each post will be about one idea only
• Personal – we only write about things that are really important to us
• Regular – we’ll post at least once a week
• Visually appealing – every post has a picture
• More interesting – every post must have a story, insights, challenge, anecdote, research, a picture a quote or an exercise at its heart

We hope these principles will make the blog more readable and more interesting – and we hope that it improves our writing too. We’ll be introducing stuff to give away both through the blog and the do keep reading, and happy 2009 to you all.