The HR Juggler

Day 2: What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

Posted on: December 2, 2013


Day 2 is brought to you by Peter Cook, author, speaker, blogger and self-confessed provocateur. You can find him on Twitter as @AcademyofRock and over on his website. Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


The discipline of yearly reflection and planning has been a constant since I started running a business in 1994.  I still commit the results to one side of paper, which I show to my wife.  She then ‘corrects’ my ramblings and we move on together! 🙂  In all seriousness, it’s incredibly valuable and has undoubtedly helped me run a business for nearly 20 years, through two recessions. So the opportunity to do this ‘online’ is well worth grasping, as it increases the chances of my looking rather foolish if I get my predictions for 2014 wrong!

Success Stories

After several years of incredibly difficult trading conditions, this year brought some respite in terms of projects and therefore producing a reasonable income to support my family.  The highlights of this were a major piece of innovation consultancy for a large pharmaceutical company in New York.  Two things were great about this.  Firstly we won the business against fierce competition from the market leader in the field and secondly, I was able to include Corporate Artist and all round good egg Simon Heath in the work.  He was an absolute rock’n’roll star in New York, and as I write this, I’m just about to take him off to Amsterdam to handle another summit event around making a European Supply Chain work better.

My normal ‘cycle’ for writing a book is around 5 – 7 years, but that was also broken this year.  I released my 5th book “The Music of Business”, having gained an endorsement for the book from Harvey Goldsmith CBE, the man behind Live Aid.  I was also delighted to be invited to contribute to David D’Souza’s book “Humane Resourced”, which has a forward by Peter Cheese at CIPD and I contributed to a book on storytelling, which is a key modus operandus of my speaking career.  Hard times have clearly been good for my creativity and I’m now trying to fit in the writing of a major tome on innovation and creativity for release in 2014, plus a biography of the strange and wonderful next door neighbour of Peter Cook, no, not me, the comedy genius.

At the pure pleasure level, it has been a year filled with fun for the most part.  I compered and performed at a Charity Event, which raised a tidy sum of money for Demelza House Children’s Hospice, an absolutely vital charity ignored and overlooked by Governments.  I was also invited to jam with a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee at Dr Andrew Sentence’s garden party.  Andrew is an intellectual giant, having challenged various ‘sacred cows’ in terms of monetary policy during tough times.  He has just released his first book on the economy entitled Rediscovering Growth : After The Crisis. It was even more of a surprise that Andrew is an avid rock music fan and musician, with his hugely talented son, Tim.  I was honoured to be asked to perform with him and the band at his garden party in the company of a Bishop and other luminaries.  I hope I did not disgrace myself through nerves! 🙂

Rediscovering Growth – with Dr Andrew Sentence

Rediscovering Growth – with Dr Andrew Sentence

Sticky moments

Recession not only rhymes with depression, it is a key component of what Baroness Susan Greenfield predicts as the fastest growing medical condition in 21st Century Society.  Listening to Ruby Wax talking about depression and mindfulness reminded me of my own vulnerabilities in this area, having suffered from time to time with mild symptoms of depression due my inability to bring in a living wage for my family at times in the recession.  We can’t help our genes and I have a healthy ‘male gene’ of needing to be the breadwinner in the recession.  Although I’ve continued to face plenty of demand, nobody has had the means to pay for my services.  One of the more amusing moments was when someone asked me to travel 500 miles to present at an HR conference.  I asked what the commercial arrangements were to be told “It’s not our policy to pay for speakers”, to which there could only be one reply: “It’s not my policy to come then”.  Meanwhile, none of us get any younger and at 55, I’m acutely aware that new entrants to the market appear young, vibrant, willing to work for nothing and with ‘shiny toys’, which appear to be very attractive when compared with wisdom and experience.  Ah well, we make our choices etc.

In my case, if any minor thing goes wrong, I tend to ruminate upon it, which makes it worse.  Some years ago, I decided that (a) drugs were not the answer for me (b) physical exercise helps a lot – in my case swimming and cycling and (c) the key to good mental health for me is meaningful work, so I set about doing this to address my symptoms.  I’m pleased to say it has worked.  The recession is one thing that has weighed on my mind re my ability to bring in a family income from self-employment when all others are not buying from the market.  My antidote? I wrote a rock song to unleash some of my angst about how we have all contributed in smaller or larger ways to the ‘buy now, pay later society’.  The result?  A pithy and deeply ironic song about economics, banking and shopping called “Fiscal Cliff” which nearly reached the charts.  It was featured in The Evening Standard, City AM, Management Today and soon on the BBC World Service.  We had an absolute hoot recording it, with a Swiss Banker on vocals and a Class A rock God in the form of Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitarist.  Here’s the video, which we made from start to finish in two hours – Not exactly a Hollywood production but great nonetheless.  Feel free to download a copy on iTunes or Google Play for Christmas – All profits will go to Demelza Children’s Hospice.

The Show Must Go On – 2014 Resolutions

In 2013, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps from the depths of recession and achieved an incredible amount, professionally and personally.  I see my job as being one of firstly extending and consolidating this in 2014 as I enter my 20th anniversary of running Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.  For me this means:

Professionally: Continuing to challenge the stereotype that the ‘bigger branded consultancies’ are safer bets for procurement departments to choose.  As I write this, I am on a train to a meeting with Nokia to be followed by the delivery of some bespoke training and development at Lloyds of London.  For me, this means trading from a platform of intelligent content and thoughtful customer focus rather than handing out branded pens and fluffy toys to clients.

Developing the global network – for too many years, people have seen what I do as a one-man business and I admit that my antics with guitars tend to make people think that it is just me.  One sign of breakthrough happened last year when Nadine Hack asked me to collaborate in a piece of global consulting.  This was a true honour – Nadine is recognised as one of the worlds’ most trusted leaders on ethical behaviour in organisations. She has worked with Nelson Mandela, Barak Obama and many of the world’s greatest corporations to change their collective mindsets about ethical and sustainable business strategy and practice.

To complete the research and writing of my 8th book on Business Innovation and Creativity.  This will require the usual ‘get up early, stay up late strategy’ if it is to all be fitted in…

Creativity takes time, most of my best work is done at night …

Creativity takes time, most of my best work is done at night …

Personally:  To find more time for looking after myself.  Yes, this includes cycling when it’s cold and wet!  Damn – I’ve told everyone now, so I’ll have to do it :).  Making time for my son, who is suffering under the weight of constant tests and exams in an education system which now resembles the arrival of The Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at my local school.  And finding time to support my wife as she cares for her mum.

We leave with a reflection and muse on the one of the songs from the album with the same title of this blog piece.  Happy Christmas!

3 Responses to "Day 2: What’s the Story, Morning Glory?"

Top sharing here, Peter, thank you.

Thank you Sukh – Look forward to meeting again in London in 2014

[…] Cook provided post number two. After a bit of a difficult time, Peter is looking forward to brighter times ahead. The rising sun […]

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