And then there are awesome days!

Some days are just awesome.

You know the ones, when you go home from work inspired, buzzing and proud.

Today was one of them.

Anybody that knows me or has read any of my posts will know how much inspiring people, especially the next generation, means to me.

Well, today, I had honour of spending about 2 hours with two members of our local youth council. As part of a local children’s takeover day, we hosted two teenagers.

We spent the time looking at our Children and Young People’s Plan.

We had already involved them in shaping our priorities and actions so today was looking at the next stage.

We were looking at how we should design it –

  • What language we should use?
  • What language we shouldn’t use?
  • How do we get young people to read it and care about it?
  • Do we use photos or cartoon images?
  • What font should we use?
  • How long should it be?
  • How should we word the actions and priorities?

They shaped all of those points.

The next stage

I’m so excited about having the privilege of putting their thoughts, ideas and decision into actions.

I’ll share more when I can.

Some days are awesome.


Photo by Adrian Sava on Unsplash

Reflecting forward

12 months ago today started like a normal Monday morning.

My wife and I were running around getting the kids ready for school.

Due to the extreme levels of anxiety that one of our kids has, it was a stressful, difficult morning getting him out the door and into the car. Once they had gone I left the house to rush for train.

Being January it was cold and a little icy, but I had a train to catch.

So I rushed down the lane in our village and then boom, just like that, I slipped on a patch of ice, a snap and sharp pain later, I broke my leg and ankle.

Well, that changed my whole outlook for the year.

I ended up having to have 3 months away from work.

During that time there was significant changes to my team and the leadership team around me. My challenge of making the most of some changes to our leadership team went out the window.

But I didn’t dwell on the negative – I focused on improving me.

I set up my own company to follow my passion of helping people and organisations transform.

I shared more of my photography.

I created a personal improvement plan to be a better me.

And I created an improvement plan for my team with their direct input (collated virtually via my tools).


During the last 12 months I have made progress on implementing all of these parts.

  • Burning Leaf Creatives has successfully helped more than 8 companies to grow and develop, including 5 new companies set up by an inspirational founder.
  • My photography has gone down well – and I published a book of photos from my village.
  • I feel that I have become a better me – although that’s a harder one to judge myself!

But the team development plan hasn’t really developed.

We had three members of the team leave during the last 12 months for personal reasons. This has made it difficult to implement the changes that I, and the team, identified.

However, today that all changed.

A new beginning

On the anniversary of the break, I have spent most of today onboarding two new members of the team.

And I have been able to recruit them myself – only the third time I have been able to do that.

I have also been solely in charge of their onboarding process, which I have done in my own style.

Onboarding, Michael-style

Both started this morning at 9am.

Both were then taken straight to get their ID badges and security passes.

Both were then shown to their desks which had been cleaned and checked to make sure they work.

Welcome pack cover

And then both were given personalised welcome packs.

The packs, which had a cover similar to this, contained the following essential information:

  • Briefing about who we are and what we do
  • An introduction to the team
  • Structure charts
  • Map of the building
  • ‘You are allowed’ poster
  • Passwords and login details for their accounts
  • Initial priorities and tasks

All of which was customised to them.

Understanding them

About me template

I also enclosed an ‘About me’ sheet to capture details about them to populate our new design manual, which I have recently developed.

Following an hour or two of allowing them to log in to the system, read through their packs and the design manual, I then met with each of them individually to:

  • Get to know them better
  • Talk through their priorities
  • Talk about our culture and working style

And then I asked them to identify their Superpower using the SYPartners tool, which, amazingly, is now available as an app for free via the App Store and Google Play!

I use this information to identify the key strength that they bring into the team so that:

  1. I can ensure that they can use this strength in their day-to-day work so that they feel valued
  2. I can ensure that the team benefits from this strength

Amazingly I was able to guess one of their superpowers and the other one I was very close to guessing. More evidence that I had appointed the right people.

Moving forward

In the afternoon we finished with a new team briefing where we completed our teamsteps tool to help us keep the team aligned, informed and help us measure our progress.

I’ve also re-committed to my leadership intention for 2017 which was to –

“Inspire the soul of each individual in my team”

In 2018 I will.png

Here’s to progress.

unsplash-logoDavid Werbrouck
Continue reading “Reflecting forward”

A review 2017

As we say goodbye to 2017 and usher in 2018, I might not make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to reflect – so, I am going to join those who are reflecting on their year.

By reflecting, which for me is an ongoing activity, I am able to analyse a previous experience and learn about how I can improve my approach and myself – a key element of my WHY.

So, here is a reflection of  my 2017.

My top posts

I’ll start with a review of the performance of this website, after you, you are reading this blog post on my website. 

I set this website up in 2015 as a way of inspiring others by telling my story, my thoughts and sharing things that inspire me.

This year I have had more visitors and views on this site than in previous years. Thank you. Every click, read and visit inspires me and keeps the fire inside of me alight.

My top five most viewed posts and pages were:

  1. Find your superpower
  2. Finding my WHY, the start of my journey of self-discovery
  3. The fire in the sky
  4. A transformation agenda – refocusing who we are
  5. Finding my why, understanding who I am

The majority of views have come via a search engine followed by reader and then social media links.

Through my writing I have helped people find out about the awesome and inspiring work of SYPartners and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why movement.

My non-digital life

Away from this website, 2017 has been quite an eventful year for me.

I’ve blogged previously about some of these challenges, changes and developments, but here’s a summary:

Around all of this has been many moments of joy and happiness, trips to the hospital and care services, sadness and stresses, and memories that will last a life time – for me and those who’s lives I am part of.

The impact of the world on me

2017 has also been an eventful year across the globe.

In the UK we’ve had the terrible events at Glenfell and the terror attacks in London and Manchester. My thoughts are always with those affected. I can’t imagine what they have been through and are going through everyday. The moments will live with those affected for ever and, I hope, will be moments which change our country for the better. No longer should cheaper, less safe materials be used in social housing to save money. Those who cannot afford to purchase or rent a private home should never be put at risk because of money. I hope that Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester response can inspire others in how we as a country, and the whole of mankind, respond to those who target us and want to spread hate.

Talking of those spreading hate.

In the States, the 45th President was inaugurated – and wow, what a year that’s been! As a local government officer I have to be politically neutral so this comment is not a political comment. Its about the President himself. His approach goes against everything I believe in. He’s hateful, divisive and just not a presidential figure. I don’t even know what his policies are because I can’t get past him. Bring back Obama, a proper presidential figure.

Talking of hate…there is North Korea, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Myanmar and numerous attacks by the so called Islamic State across the globe.

In the US there has been more gun crime, but still no new laws on gun control.

Climate change has continued to hit the world hard.

We have seen the deaths of some entertainment greats, no more so, than Sir Bruce Forsyth. May he always sparkle in the stars.

On the plus side, 2018 has brought some positive, awesome moments.

Across the globe human and civil rights have been gaining momentum. Through social media, humankind have been able to come together to continue the #BlackLivesMatter movement, with #TakeAKnee and #BoycottNFL joining the movement.

#MeToo has helped shed a light on the disgusting behaviour of men who have abused their position of trust and/or power.

A 22 year old UK blogger halted spread of global ransomware cyber-attack by accidentally identifying “kill switch”.

The Australian Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, finally.

There’s news that scientists have been able to rebreed sections of the Great Barrier Reef, and the new Amazon headquarters will include space to shelter 200 homeless people.

AIDS is no longer leading cause of death in Africa.

Sir David Attenborough returned to our screens with Blue Planet II.

And back in the UK, the tragedies of Glenfell and the terror attacks in London and Manchester have shown how communities can come together to spread love, positivity and stand up to those who challenge us and our way of lives.

I hope that as we continue to commemorate the First World War Centenary during 2018 we will learn from our past to shape a better future for all.  

Looking forward, my goals for 2018

Yesterday I wrote about my personal goal for 2018 – to learn how to build an app.

I’m also going to continue to grow my own company whilst supporting the new leadership team in my main employment to transform our services for the benefit of the residents who we serve.

I’m also going to continue my journey of self-discovery to find and articulate my WHY.

Finding My Why, an admission

I made a commitment in September to do this openly and honestly through this blog.

I’m well aware that I haven’t stuck to this commitment.

When it came to actually writing the first part – the stories – it was actually harder than I thought.

I’ve spent time thinking about the stories, how I tell them, and the order that I tell them in.

But its been harder than I imagined. That’s why there has been such a delay between sharing my commitment and actually posting the stories.

Writing the stories to help you understand my emotions just with words rather than seeing the spark in my eye, a shift in my body language or an emotional response in my face is difficult.

However, what I actually found harder than I expected though, was publicly sharing these stories. When you do this with a trusted individual as David and Peter suggest, or part of your work tribe, the information shared is only available to those who hear it. And as you’ve picked someone you trust to help you, they are unlikely to share it any wider. However, putting it out via this blog means that everybody can read it – my friends and family, people who may not like me, future employers, the whole world. Honestly, this has scared me a little.

But if I am to live what I think is my WHY, I am going to follow through with my commitment to you all, and to me.

That’s my third goal for 2018.

Here’s to progress.

A new goal – let’s build an app!

This time in 2015 I wrote a blog post which shared my belief in not setting New Year’s Resolutions.

History and experience has taught me that I’m no more likely to stick to a promise because I make it on first day of the year than I am sticking to a promise that I make on the 269th day of the year.

It’s just who I am.

I will stick to a promise I make to myself when I am ready. So, in 2018, I will be continuing with my tradition and making zero New Year’s Resolutions.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t set myself goals.

Instead I do this throughout the year – when I am ready.

For example, last week I made a promise to myself that I will learn how to build an app.

As the founder of a web and brand design studio, designing a website or brand is something that I can do relatively easily; however, I have never built an app before. I’ve never even studied how to start creating an app let alone code an app from scratch.

But I am committed to learning how to do this.

This is my latest goal  – something that will challenge me, stretch my ability and help me learn a new skill. It’s also a way of helping helping me live my personal purpose (or my WHY).

What kind of app am I looking at?

Well, through my company, Burning Leaf Creatives, in 2017 I set up a product arm, Three Smiles.

Three Smiles is focused on crafting personalised resources, tools and advice for children and adults with disabilities and additional needs.

Through my personal experiences and life this is something really close to my heart.

As the parent of three children with disabilities and additional needs this is a personal project which I am delivering with my wife (the real brains behind the project) to:

  • help other parents learn what we have learnt
  • access support that can make a huge difference to their lives
  • use our skills to help transform the lives of these families

We know how much of a strain being a parent of children with disabilities and additional needs can be – and we are committed to making it easier, if that’s possible, for others.

Now back to the app

Over the past few years we have been using an app called Calm Talk with our own children.

We have seen how much of an impact it has on both calming them down and also on helping them communicate with us and others.

All was going swimming until iOS 11 was released – and the app makers haven’t updated their app. Now we have limited access to Calm Talk on the one iPad which we haven’t updated to iOS 11.

There are also some bits of the app which just don’t fit our children or which are missing. This can cause additional stresses, strains and frustrations for our children – the opposite of the apps purpose.

So, I am going to set myself a goal to design, build and launch an app during 2018 that does everything that our boys need.

Through Three Smiles we will then make this available to the wider ‘disability world’.

Here’s to progress!

And wish me luck…

Black Friday, Burning Leaf style

Earlier today I was proud to launch the first Black Friday offering for my company Burning Leaf Creatives.

You can read my post below:

You may have noticed that today is Black Friday.

In case you didn’t know, Black Friday is a major shopping day which originated in the United States. It grew in the States as it is the first day after the last major holiday before Christmas, Thanksgiving, so it marks the unofficial beginning of the Christmas shopping season. Additionally, many employers give their employees the day off as part of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.It has become a huge shopping event which sees people all over the world getting discounted products as retailers slash prices. On Black Friday, shops’ prices plummet for 24 hours in an attempt to get people to buy their goods and services in the run-up to Christmas.

In the UK, Black Friday has grown into something huge over the past few years with more and more companies joining the rush to offer significant savings. In our own e-mail boxes this morning we have seen a range of different savings offered, varying from 20% to 70% off products.

We are proud to announce our Black Friday deal today – 0% off.

That’s right, 0%.

But, why?

Our business model is built on the relationships we form with our customers as we support them to deliver their vision and use their passion to achieve their dreams.

We don’t believe that you can do that through a 24 hour sale.

We believe that sets up the relationship in a different way – expectations and thoughts are focused on the savings we are offering rather than the impact and difference that we can have. This then distracts from the building of our relationship with our customers.

Our approach

Instead, we focus on rewarding the loyalty of customers, on strengthening our relationships with them and on making a positive impact on the world as we provide our services in a humancentric way.

That’s why we offer our customers a discount on any future work they order from us. We also provide a discount to anybody who they personally recommend to us. No caps, no limits.

Its all part of our relational business approach.

The other discounts we offer include:

  • a discount to local organisations who are based within 3 miles of us so that we can help develop and enhance the local economy and so we can have a positive impact on our local community
  • a discount to non-profit making groups, clubs and organisations so that we can support them to have an impact on the world

We have also developed a Corporate Social Responsibility programme to support us to live, breathe and be our WHY.

So, on this Black Friday, please get in touch with us if you would like to take advantage of our 0% off Black Friday deal. Just quote ‘Relationships Over Savings’.

Get in touch

Building the right team

Today starts with an exciting development – I’m finally interviewing for a vacancy that I can fill permanently within my team.

This is only the second time I have been able to decide if someone is the right person for my team.

The first time went really well – you can read through some of my posts from that time – sadly, that employee resigned earlier this week.

They will be missed greatly. They were a huge asset to the team and added so much.

But, I completely understand why they have resigned and wish them all the best for their future.

I am proud to be part of their career and personal development – and I am proud that they were part of my own.

Which brings me back to today.

Today is my opportunity to appoint another person who is the right person for my team.

Fingers crossed it goes as successfully as the last time!

P.S. To the person who has resigned, thank you for everything during the last few years – keep in touch.

Finding my why, understanding who I am

Living and being my WHY is an essential part of who I am, why I get out bed in the morning and why I do what I do. 

To help me articulate my WHY clearer and make sure I accurately understand my WHY, I’ve started to work through the new book from Simon Sinek, David Mead and Peter Docker.

Last week I committed to publicly sharing my journey to Find My Why. This is the second post of my journey.

A key element of understanding your WHY is to understand your history. What has made you the person that you are today. From the moment you were born, you have been shaping your WHY. 

Through a mixture of nature, nurture and personal experiences you shaped who you are. 

And I believe, through a mixture of those elements, together with your DNA and brain development, your WHY has been both shaped by your experiences in addition to it shaping your experiences.

To understand your WHY, David and Peter, the doers with ‘their feet on the ground’ to Simon’s visionary ‘head in the clouds’ approach, argue that you need to understand your history. 

And the best way of doing that is to identify some key stories from your life so far and share them with someone you trust to help you identify themes which will become your WHY and your HOW.

As part of my public journey to Find My Why, I’m going to share my stories with you all.

These will be personal stories which evoke an emotional response in me – they the best type for this activity. Some I am proud about, some not so. Some of them will open up some vulnerabilities in me – but I trust you to use this knowledge about me wisely. Some of them I have shared with others before and some only those really close to me know. 

But for me to do this properly, they need to be added into my journey.  

Later today I am going to spend some time identifying the stories that show who I am – I will then share them with you all.

More tomorrow.

Inspire on!

You can find out more about Find Your Why from Simon’s website,, and download the Find Your Why activity sheets from

Finding my WHY, the start of my journey of self-discovery 

Last week I started reading Find Your Why, the new book and tool from Simon Sinek and his team. 

My WHY, my personal purpose and values, are hugely important to me. I’ve studied my WHY for a long term. I’ve tweaked it over time to articulate in different ways, each time trying to improve it.

But it still isn’t feeling right. 

So, I brought Simon’s new book to go on a self-discovery journey to review and then better articulate my WHY.

Except, I’m going to go on this journey with you all. 

That decision actually come’s from my WHY – as does this blog and my own company, Burning Leaf Creatives.

My WHY at the moment is:

“To help people and organisations transform so that they can become better versions of themselves”

But during my journey I will be reflecting on this, challenging it and refining the wording. 

So, this post is the first of a set. I will honestly and openly share my journey with you all. Hopefully I can inspire you to find your WHY. 

By also going public with this I’m hoping you can hold me to account for it and offer me guidance, challenge and your insights.

Inspire on!

You can find out more about Find Your Why from Simon’s website,, and download the Find Your Why activity sheets from