Five Lines

At the slideshow on the last night of one of our residential programmes, participants are asked to sum up their week to their line managers, colleagues, team members, technicians and facilitators.

They have only five sentences to do it, with a suggested structure, and they are encouraged to write it in the form of a five line limerick, poem or song.

The suggested structure is: “I was/wasn’t expecting, I most enjoyed, The thing I found most challenging, My biggest learning point was, In the workplace I am now going to”

The poem below was written by a telecoms apprentice, who has kindly given us permission to share it here. We were impressed with his honestly, his self reflection and his rhyming skills, and all written after a 10 hour mountain day and with only 45 minutes notice!

Hope you enjoy it a much as we did.

Five Lines

I was expecting a challenge, people to be tested, possibly even sick,
I wasn’t expecting a day to feel like a week and yet the the end to come so quick,

I most enjoyed the bonding with my comrades on that ‘stroll’,
The hardest thing for me, I think, was owning less control,

I learnt the power of organisation and communicating needs,
Now at work I’ll focus and question, support to nurture, rise to challenge
Yet fundamentally still be me.

Mock-Assessment Centre Write Up

Late last year we ran a Mock-Assessment Centre for Nottingham University, as an opportunity for their third year physicists to experience the pressures of job-selection in an environment when they could make mistakes and learn from them.

The department wrote up the day in the Nottingham University in-house magazine and published some of our “Top Tips for Assessment Centres” at the same time. [Click the image to read the article in full].

PS. That day also produced my favourite “contraption” we have ever had built as part of a challenge. Can you guess what it does?


Book Review: The Yes Man – Danny Wallace


The Yes Man

Danny Wallace
Publisher: Ebury Press; New edition edition (6 April 2006)
ISBN 978-0091896744 Paperback, 416 pages

Danny Wallace is probably best known for appearing as a slightly mad-cap, very enthusiastic comedian, presenter and guest on various TV programmes. His writing style is not dissimilar tp his stage presence.

Meeting a man on a bus one evening and lamenting the lack of excitement in his life, he is struck by the simplicity of the advice the stranger offers him; “Say ‘Yes’ more”. Taking this advice to heart, he makes a bet with a friend that he will say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that is presented to him in the next six months.

What follows is an amazing journey, both geographical and emotional as he visits people and places he didn’t know existed, runs up huge debts, gets a nursing degree, develops an attachment to a painting of an Alsatian and makes some life changing decisions. He even starts an anti-war group called “Geese for Peace”.

Presented as a light-hearted comedy, the story romps along barely pausing for breath. Some bit are laugh out loud funny, others quite touching and there is a genuine sense of anticipation as the book builds to it’s climax.

However, hidden under the comedy is a deeper layer of thought about making the most of opportunities presented to you and having a more proactive approach to life. Wallace handles these with humour but without dismissing their importance. While unlikely to change your life completely, this book may just cause you to look at it carefully and examine whether you could say ‘Yes’ more.

‘The Yes Man’ at

Other Blogs to Enjoy

Howies Brainfood rss-feed-icon-14x14

Howies not only make really good quality clothing but their blog “Brainfood” is filled with little snippets of information that are both interesting and informative. No long essays, just a drip drip drip of environmentalism, outdoor life, sports and clothing.

The Cleanest Line rss-feed-icon-14x14

Written by the employees, friends and customers of the outdoor clothing company Patagonia. Since it’s employees include Lynn Hill and Yvon Chourinard as well as some leading environmentalists and outdoor writers it is nearly always a great read.

Paul Deegan rss-feed-icon-14x14

Paul Deegan is a mountaineer, presenter and journalist who posts thoughtful views on living and working in the outdoors. He’s also a dreadful skier.

Life in the Vertical rss-feed-icon-14x14

Mark Reeves is a climbing instructor and coach based in North Wales. His blog is frequently badly spelled and some might find his choice of language offensive but it does provide a good insight into making a living in the outdoors.

Kit Up rss-feed-icon-14x14

Inspiration and information can come from the most unlikely source. This blog, subtitled “Warfighters, show us your gear” contains posts about equipment useful to soldiers. Frequently though, soldiers want the same as outdoor people, tough, light, effective gear that does the job. It’s worth keeping an eye on simply to see what our camouflaged brethren are using to do similar things.

Review: Let My People Go Surfing

Let My People Go Surfing
by Yvon Chouinard
The Penguin Press HC
ISBN 978-1594200724

The subtitle of this book is “The education of a reluctant business man” and Yvon Chouinard definitely falls into this category. He practices MBA, or Management by Absence which has meant that everyone in his company has to have a strong idea of what they are trying to achieve. It’s difficult to ask your boss for guidance when he’s halfway up a peak in the Himalaya.

The first half of the book deals with the history of Patagonia, from its start in the back of his truck through to being a multinational equipment and clothing manufacturer.

It should be a tale of how not to do it, with itinerant climbers promoted to senior managers and a staff that has permission to disappear when the surf gets big. However the tale reads as an adventure yarn, with a real feeling of teamwork, tolerance and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. Instead of despairing at the ineptitude of the participants, you realise that this may be an alternative way of doing business.

In the late 80s, Patagonia started struggling and Chouinard realised that they had overreached themselves. When he had to lay of 250 of his workers, he decided that he needed to clarify in his own mind why he was running a business. The book goes on to explain the “philosophies” that were created to guide the company onwards.

The philosophies are like a 50 page mission statement, split into categories like “Product Design” and “Environment” and are there to guide any member of the company in making the best decision for the company. While his goals won’t be applicable to anybody else’s company, the process of setting those goals will be. If you want to see how important the environment is to Patagonia, look at their philosophies. If you want to know how they expect their suppliers to be treated, looking at the philosophies.

Every business person who aspires to create, run or work in a business that isn’t a nine-to-five, cubicle farm, sweatshop should read this book.

Links to buy: Patagonia and