I am tired.

I’m tired, very very tired of trying to build startups.

So very tired of starting from scratch with every idea. Of the hustling and the hacking. 

I’m tired of hearing people saying ‘No’ and the ‘Oh it’s a great idea but..’.

I’m tired of the apathy – of sending 10,000 emails and having only 10% of recipients read them.

Most of all, I’m tired of the conflict in my head. There are so many ideas and the flow is not stopping anytime soon. I want a way to stop having them. The spirit is like a puppy eagerly prodding me to play but the mind and body is knackered.

These ideas, these pursuits, these startups – however exciting they are and however much I think they are useful to the world, they are stealing my time and that is the only thing I cannot replace.

Sure, I take untold pleasure in each new idea – I totally dance with it and am consumed by it. I won’t have it any other way. That itself takes a toll – it’s exhausting. Conjuring up ways this idea could rock and then building it, that is so so tiring!

I want to give up and take a job in a smallish to medium sized human centered company – or at least one where they genuinely pretend to appreciate my being there and pay me enough money to stay.

I’m tired of making decisions. Tired of being the one that worries how the bills will be paid. Tired of living on a shoestring whilst bootstrapping ideas that rock but don’t sell.

I’m tired of feeling alone in this. Tired of confronting my inadequacies everyday, of doing things that scare me. Of being rubbish at a great many things. I’m tired of learning every damn day. Of things being hard.

I hire people and they are wonderful – but we shoulder different burdens. They seem able to leave the work behind when they log off. They are committed to get their bits done and they care that the idea works – I suspect more because we get on well – but yet – I feel alone. They, understandably are concerned about each part they are responsible for, I am accountable for the whole being more than the sum of the parts.

I’m tired of context switching between the things I have to do to fund the things I love doing. The first is enjoyable and somewhat fulfilling and is entirely about the success of other people. The other is an unparalleled rush – a rollercoaster of everything.

I’m so very tired. Do I rest or do I give up? I don’t really know. I hope it passes soon.


Tales from my travels: 50 Bucks!

I’ve met some of the most interesting personalities on planes. Or at airports.

There is something about the transience of travel that seems to bring out a form of casual honesty.

One such encounter was on a flight from Spain to Boston. As we boarded my connecting fight to Boston from JFK, I took my seat by the window and like everyone else seated, waited on others to take theirs.

It’s My Seat

Seated next to me were a Chinese couple – young and obviously very into each other. As we all waited for the rest of the passengers to make their way to their seats, stow their stuff and belt up, this couple canoodled right next to me – all good.

Then a dude comes up to our seat row and begins a most bizarre conversation with the couple -mostly with the lady. It went almost exactly like this:

Dude:  – ‘I think you are in my seat’
Lady  – with the embarrassed smile of someone about to ask a favor of a stranger –  ‘Yes I know, I have a window seat couple of rows up – would you mind swapping so that I can sit with my boyfriend?’
Dude: “Sure no problem – 50 bucks!”
Lady – astounded and confused – “Pardon me?”
Dude – face as straight as laces — “If you want us to swap seats – I’ll need 50 bucks!”

In the meantime, they are holding up the boarding and the usual announcements are interrupting the conversation – but the pressure is on to conclude whatever transaction is emerging. During this time, the couple are speaking to each other rather quickly and in hushed tones in Chinese.

Then the exchange continues.

Dude – “So lady, what do you wanna do – I need to take my seat”
Lady – “Ok  – I’ll pay you $40”

Deal or No Deal

More boarding interruptions and announcements – giving the couple a chance to continue their negotiations – the man is pretty adamant he doesn’t want them to pay.

Lady – “Ok, this is ridiculous. We’re not paying you to swap seats”
Dude – “No problem, please can you get out of my seat so I can sit down”.

At this point the lady gets up, gets her stuff and goes off to take her assigned seat – which was still empty and waiting for her.

This is a lovely spot to end the story. Plenty here to be astounded and ponder over.

The dude sat between me and the man from the Chinese couple whose canoodling was cut short and was clearly not feeling too great about that.
But that is another story.

Photo by MattHurst

Every kid needs to learn to use a toilet brush

I recently showed my son to use a toilet brush to clean up a mess he made.
Of course he turned his nose up and made the face that says ‘this is a shitty job’. It is.

Life is full of shitty jobs –  crappy things that you sometimes have to do as part of the other amazing, interesting things there are to be done.
Some shitty jobs are cleanups of a mess you made.
Some are cleanups of a mess that others make.
Some  jobs are just shitty.

However they come about – there is learning and character growth in this work. It teaches kids to be prepared to do necessary messy jobs and the humility to value all labor – even that of dealing with crappy work.

My life’s work is to bring up my kids to care about the world and to treat everyone with respect by default. The nature of people’s labor has become a way to discriminate and in some cultures – yes you India! –  it has become institutionalized discrimination. I’m against treating people badly because of what work they do and this is a principle I teach my kids.

Helping your kid recognize they made a mess – in my son’s case a rather unsightly cluster splatter – and supporting them to clean it up is an opportunity to help them grow. It is an invitation to  a conversation about who would do it instead and what that would mean. It is a ticket to explore the bigger idea of what it means to be in a family and the distribution of work in a unit that exists together and individual responsibility in that unit.

When I was a kid, someone taught me to use a toilet brush and it helped me value all labor and to be prepared to do even the stinkiest work and not let that work define me as a human being.

Photo by illustir

Love with Dead Things


Our walnut tree gives us lovely walnuts and dead leaves. Both are lovely in different ways.

I actually love sweeping up the leaves, hearing them crunch underfoot and , occasionally, making art with them before they go on to the fire heap to get turned into another form of energy.

The Nature of Crazy

It’s 5:15 AM in Geneva and the train to the airport is getting busy.

Amongst all the bleary eyed travelers is a  seemingly ‘normal’ individual. Rain jacketed, clean shaven and serious looking.

He sits down in the sit adjacent to mine, makes no eye contact and proceeds to read his newspaper.

“Blah blah Federale blah blah” he argues across from me. I look up and now we make eye contact – as in my eyes met his, but all I saw were eyeballs. There was no recognition of connection – as far as I could tell, the lights were on, but no one was home. The argument – as best as I could make it out in French – was fit for the European Parliament. It seemed to be political in nature – he mentions Vladimir Putin and makes some other political references.

This chap was having a full blown emotional political exchange with no one in the carriage that I could see. He got increasingly agitated with his oration. I wish I understood what he was saying. More importantly, I wish I understood how his life, experience, his brain and chemical composition all aligned to bring this guy ranting out a political argument with no one in particular.

Public Reaction

My reaction was “this dude is crazy”. And then I caught myself  analysing both my response and the response of other nearby passengers.

There is a moment in a public space when a member of the group in the space behaves in a way that is not considered ‘normal’. It is an awkward moment. No one wants to engage with the person – either verbally or non-verbally. We look away, we pretend they don’t exist. We hope they will stop being ‘not normal’. As it persists, gazes will find themselves and wry little smiles – acknowledging the awkwardness and recognising another who is trapped in the encounter with mental health.

By and large,  we in European societies – East to West, North to South –  do not know how to treat mental illness. By ‘treat’ I don’t mean medicate or repair. I mean ‘relate to’. I wonder how long this has been like this. Perhaps forever?

I’m Joe Public and so are you. What can we do differently and more humanely relate to people with mental health issues?

Today is #BobMarley's birthday, what is the music of your revolution?

Today is Bob Marley‘s 70th birthday. It got me thinking about music and revolution. I have a favour to ask you, but first…

We are all Children of Revolution

I grew up in Nigeria in the 70s and 80s. This was the best of times and it was the worst of times.

There was a struggle going on. A struggle between the political thought, a struggle between the kleptocrats and everyone else.

Similarly in the UK, another struggle was in flow – between those who wanted to put the national cake in private hands. They largely succeeded and in doing so, they destroyed the social fabric of the working class for generations.

Through all this socio-political revolution was one constant. Music.

For me, the music that plays when I think of Nigeria’s revolutions – past, present and future – is Fela. He foresaw the kleptocracy and the hijacking of democracy. He saw the ‘power show’. He saw the cattle trading of the international political elite and he knew how this was playing out.

When I want to understand the US Civil Rights revolution, I simply listen to Nina Simone. Her music was deep in empathy and communicated so much more of the pain, injustice and hope beyond the words she sang.

When I listen to UB40’s music from the 80s, I get a sense of the disillusionment of the youth of the day – the riots, the joblessness, the conflict with a generation that didn’t understand its children.

What Music Fuels Your Revolution and Your Struggle?

But there are always revolutions going on and there is always music.

Your revolution does not have to be a war or a conflict, but it does have to be a struggle that has significant consequences depending on who triumphs.

It could be Iran, Egypt, the struggle of the indigenous Bolivians. It could be the Occupy Movement. It could be Israel and Palestine, it could be the Western Sahara. It could be anywhere!

It could be a struggle against religion or a political or economic system. Or any system for that matter.

It could be religious music, punk, folk, afrobeat or anything – what did it’s words do for your movement.

The Favour – Join Me In Celebrating The Music of Revolution.

I want to see – in my lifetime – a celebration of this music.

I want to see it spark a reawakening and re-energising of the movements fighting the good fight. I want the struggle – in its new and emerging battle grounds to be renewed  by the timeless messages and power of the words and lives of Bob, Fela, Nina and countless others.

It won’t happen on its own and I can’t do it on my own – so I need your help.

In 2016 , I want to see a stage of this music in festivals across the world. From Glastonbury to Paleo, from Coachella to Midi in China and across all genres. This stage will be an unprecedented mashup of music styles and personalities – united by the thread of social and political catalysis.

Imagine an unprecedented line up of Bob Dylan, the Sex Pistols, Seun Kuti, Femi Futi, UB40, Ziggy, Damien and Stephen Marley, Manu Chao and dozens of others on the same stage – united in the music of protest and telling the story of social change through the power of music.

My hope is that we can get this in to 12 global festivals across the world.

Please help me make this happen.  Do you want to be a part of this? Then tweet, email or ping me on Skype and let’s going. The world needs this.

Photo by monosnaps

Charge Cosby or #STFU.

Spoiler: This is not about Bill Cosby. It is about the usurpation of law to condemn a person by media without legal proof.

I watched the Cosby show as a kid. I – like millions of other young teens – wished he was my dad. But I grew out of that by my late teens for 2 simple reasons.

First – my own dad was actually rather cool. Sure he had his faults but he was my dad and I loved him.

Second – I hate to break it to you but the Cosby Show is only television. It was only actors playing feel-good roles. Make believe – la bloody la la land.

After that Bill Cosby became just another human on this Earth trying to not die.

Over the last few months, allegations – and that is all they are at this time – about sexual assaults and other potential sex crimes now seem rife about  Bill Cosby.

It seems individuals with all kinds of agenda and reasons are calling for Cosby be boycotted, hounded and illegally persecuted.

Now – more than ever – we have to strive to be nations governed by democratic laws. Because without them we have chaos of might over right. Without laws, we have the powerful exploiting the week. I lived through that and it ain’t pretty.

But we have laws so let us use them.

Charge Bill Cosby or shut the fuck up. Go grind your axe where you cut your tree and leave the man be.

The allegations against Cosby are serious – too serious to leave to the media circus. If the charges are true – his victims deserve justice.

If the accusers require anonymity –  the law permits anonymity in many cases – let them seek it.

No one  deserves to be accused of something and thrown to the media whores of popularity and 15 minutes of sensationalism. If you have evidence  – even strong circumstantial evidence – present it, charge him and let him face his accusers in a court. Otherwise shut the fuck up.

Also, silence is not a presumption of guilt. If Cosby keeps quiet – how on Earth does that prove he is guilty?

If Cosby’s accusers are worried about legal bills, let all the people calling for Cosby’s head in the press and social networks put their hands in their pockets and put their money where their venom is. That would make a tidy legal fund. I would contribute to that.

If there is a statute of limitations in the way – use your media force to have it overturned. It is possible.

If found guilty Bill Cosby should face the full brunt of the law, he deserves his name to be dragged into the mud and all his wealth redistributed to any confirmed victims as restitution. His age should not spare him, his disgrace should be total and irredeemable.

If found guilty, he deserves to spend 10 years per proven assault in a maximum security prison with a big horny man named Bubba and no lubricant.

So – stop this circus, charge Cosby or shut the fuck up.

Note: Comments are closed on this post. I don’t want to hear allegations. Charge him or shut the fuck up.


Despair – the place between death and defiance

Imagine you couldn’t swim and you fell into a deep pool.

As you sped down to the bottom — sinking lower and lower, confused and afraid.

Your only hope. To reach the rocky bottom and push back up with everything you’ve got.
To focus all that you are into a single powerful purpose — re-emergence. Your hope is to use the support of the floor to fight against an otherwise sealed fate.

Defiance is the point at which you fight back and rage — with all your might — against death.

If you don’t make it to the bottom, to the your salvation and hope. There is no force to keep you alive. There is only Death.

Death. The end of your dreams and the dreams of others to whom you matter.

Now imagine that this pool is deeper than you somehow expected in your confusion.

You begin to slow down as you reach the bottom.

This place is Despair. It is a place where your fears and worries are at their most terrifying and where you are least capable to do anything about them.

Despair is also a moment in time. It is when you do not know if you will make it to the bottom — to your point of Defiance.

Despair is when Defiance is just as likely to be the next line of your life story as Death.

Featured Image By: db_in_ukCC BY 2.0

My Offer Of Being Helpful A Little Everyday (almost)

What makes the world go around?  I think part of the secret sauce of what makes the world worth enduring is neither money nor fame. I think that it is being helpful to other people – personally and professionally.

One of my life strategies is giving freely what I have to get what I want. I practice this both professionally and personally and it has overwhelmingly been a successful strategy. Living this way has brought me into some pretty interesting collaborations and I’ve met so many beautiful people.

So I want to do more of this.

I have decided to offer time  – one hour a day, 4 days each week – to anyone, from anywhere to explore anything. 



Details of my Offer

  • I shall be using SoHelpful.me to offer this help and it will be free, forever. Book me on my SoHelpful.me page.
  • The slots are 30 minutes long and to make it most accessible there are slots AM and the PM and are typically available Monday-Thursday.
  • The slots are first come/first served and are open to individuals and groups.
  • It is free to book and meet with me during those times. I will never charge for this time, though I reserve the right to cancel it.
  • Even though it is free – I am asking and trusting that people who book me do not undervalue my time by not showing up without notice.
  • Recurring bookings are discouraged because I want as many people to have a chance to get some help. But I may make exceptions.

How Might You Use This

Here are some ideas depending on your context of how you might use this:

  • You’re thinking of starting a Startup – I can help by sharing what I have done and what I am doing – also what I have learnt. Or mostly I can shut up and listen and help you sanity check your approach, devise experiments etc. Let’s see, why not book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page
  • You’re working in a broken company and need to talk to someone who understands – I work in trying to help broken companies fix themselves and help people get more Joy. I can help with strategies to create awareness for change in your company.
  • You are part of an agile team/department/company and would like to get some help about practices, pains etc – I’ve worked with agile teams for over 12 years and coached companies for over 7. I can help development, product  and management people. Maybe I can remote facilitate something, observe and help you improve your process or help with some mini training. Let’s explore –  book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page
  • You are trying to find strategies for enabling conversations in your circles and life – I struggle with this too and I can help with building rapport, asking powerful questions, facilitating large groups and having non-violent communication. Book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page and let’s get the conversation started.
  • You just need someone to talk to who will listen, never judge and will only offer suggestions if you invite them? Let’s do it – book a slot on my SoHelpful.me page

I’m excited about this decision and my offer. It fulfils my need to be helpful and be the shoulders that others might stand upon as they reach for their stars.

I look forward to being so helpful to you on my SoHelpful.me page 

psst… do someone a favour and share this.

Featured Image By: Murray BarnesCC BY 2.0

Joy and Genocide. Happy Birthday to me!

Today is April 7th. It is my birthday.
Today I celebrate making it to 40 years old, when 10.5 million males die – on average – every year before their 40th birthday.

I am also celebrating because my life is pretty much perfect. Almost all my needs are met – save two. That is not bad, I’m a couple of things away from perfection. And one of them is actually not a biggie, plus it is tremendous fun trying to get it.

My life is near perfect because I’m pretty fit and healthy and generally feel great.

I’m genuinely happy with here I am – joyful in fact.


My Joy comes from spending my life around my wife – Katharine – and my boys – Ruben and Haydn – in whose love, playfulness and curious wonder I delight.

My Joy is multiplied when I think of my daughters – Erin and Brianna – who have been through so much that was not of their choosing,  yet emerge as these strong, intelligent and beautiful human beings who feel and care so deeply and love so unreservedly.

My Joy comes from our little village in Andalusia, Spain – with 300 days of gorgeous sunshine and surrounded by beautiful people who understand that life is better when it is simpler.

And my joy just got boosted with Maya – our new puppy, who was abandoned and destined to be destroyed. Instead she is our family and we are hers.

When I look over the last 35 years – I cannot remember much before that – I see beauty and strength in the people and the events of the past – even those that would otherwise be ugly incidents.

I see the soul light and hear the heart song of my friends and my family, whose lives I am so proud to have been a part of.

I see my mum – Harinder – who is truly incomparable to anyone who has ever lived and possibly ever live.

Harinder – whose passion for humanity, justice and fairness extends far beyond her family and lays unshakeable foundations for magnificence in all those who know her.

Harinder – who redefines ‘family’ to mean the World and by doing so, widens the circle of love for her and her children immeasurably.

I also see my dad – Hartley – who only now – 23 years after his death, do I begin to understand deeply who he was, what he endured and how – despite everything – remained such a beautiful soul and who I will miss forever.

I take Joy from my memories.

Wherever the winds of time take us, I never forget that once we laughed and danced together – like children – unafraid and as though no one was watching.


Twenty years ago today, a country went mad as though possessed by forces bent on brutal genocide.

Twenty years ago today, began 100 days of slaughter. Over 800,000 men, women and children were slaughtered by their friends, teachers, neighbours, adoptive family, priests and protectors.

My birthday is forever connected with the Rwandan genocide and I’m OK with that because the World needs a reminder that unless we actively work to turn our differences into our collective advantage then we are doomed to repeat the violence of Rwanda, Serbia and all those bloody chapters in our story.

The question is what we do with that reminder?

At the heart of genocide is difference and the dehumanisation of people based on a perverted perception of  differences. But genocide is only one outcome from differences.

Everyday, millions of people – like you and me – can make a choice to acknowledge and celebrate our differences and make them work for us.  How might we get more people to make those choices?

Please make my day.

The last missing bit of my perfect life – the reason Joy cannot ever be total, is something outside my control. But I can do something towards getting it. I can make a simple invitation.

Please will you be willing to find someone today – a friend or stranger – and ask them as sincerely as you can:

What are you needing, right now?

Wait, let them speak without interruption, listen and help them share it with you.
Then do whatever you can can to meet as much of that need as you can.

That would make my day.

Happy Birthday to me. Thank You.