Seven stories / quotes – my favourites from the last few years:

Time to read – Three Mince Pies and a lovely chunk of Christmas Cake


“We write to wish you a very happy Christmas and New Year – which will be full of exciting developments for The Atlantic Hotel, the main one of which will be our closure, for six months…”


Part of my e-mail briefing for an after dinner talk:

“I suggest you talk for about fifteen minutes – unless no-one is enjoying it, in which case just sit down.”


(Going into a theatre, I thought Rosalind was just behind me, she wasn’t, it was another lady!)

Me “Do you need to go to the toilet before we sit down”

Her “No, I’m ok thanks”


Me – “Rosalind and I met a very strange couple on the train”

Olivia (our daughter) – “So did they”


Just before I was presenting The Naked Coach event for The London Business Forum, I was having a coffee in a café next door to the venue, with a colleague, Sharon. I left to take a call. Afterwards I returned to the entrance and signalled to Sharon across the crowded café that it was time to go. She mouthed something that I didn’t hear, so I just nodded and said “yes,” thinking that was a good universal response that prevented me having to work my way through all the people. So she got up and we left – as we were about to enter the event, we heard an irate gentleman coming towards us, right in the middle of the CEO’s and HR Director’s attending the event, and he was excited and shouting “Excuse me, excuse me you – yes you – you did not pay for your drinks – yes, you – you not pay – you come back now and pay.”

Sharon had been mouthing “have you paid!”


(Announcement at Woking FC when our opponents were time wasting)

“And the substitution for Dartford took place in the 71st, 72nd and 73rd minutes”


I was facilitating a One Team event on The Wirral, Merseyside. There was one delegate, call him Tom, who said he could not decide what he really wanted to achieve in his personal life. At the start of the second day, Tom was having breakfast at a different table with someone who was not in our group, so I asked one of Tom’s friends “do you know what he really wants in life?” nodding my head towards Tom’s table.

This man glanced around, turned back to me and said “oh, that’s easy – he has a secret ambition to be manager of Everton – he was telling us in the bar last night.”

I was gobsmacked that Tom, who as far as I knew had worked in IT all his life, harboured this secret dream. It also made me think The Formula for Guaranteed Success was about to be fail!

Still, if that’s what he really wants…

(Little did I know that Tom was having breakfast with Andy King, ex Everton player and at the time manager of Swindon Town, who I did not recognise, and when I motioned at Tom’s table, his colleague thought I was asking about Andy King.)

So, when the group reconvened I asked various people for their thoughts, and then came to Tom – as you read this dialogue, which you won’t find in any ‘How to Facilitate’ guide, please remember this was a safe, trusted, private environment.

Me “So, Tom, what do you really really want”

Tom “I am still not entirely sure”

Me “Oh, come on – imagine if you simply could not fail, what would you do?”

He paused, and looked very uncomfortable

Me “Oh, come on Tom, tell us”

After another very awkward silence, he said, “all right…I want to, I need to, make peace with my father.”

Everyone in the team was silent in private admiration at the bravery of what this man had just said.

I was having none of it.

Me “No you don’t”

Tom “What?”

Me “Well, you may want that, but what do you really really want?”

I could feel the room going very cold as people wondered what on earth I was doing. I was calm and confident; I was going to get this man to share this secret, possibly impossible ambition to be manager of a premier football club. Then I would tell him how to do it – this was going to be fun.

Me “It’s alright Tom, some of us have dreams that may appear ridiculous, and that’s ok – just blurt it out Tom.”

Tom “I’ve told you what I want.”

Me “Tom, admit it to everyone in this room, admit it to me, and to yourself, you want to be manager of Everton football club.”

There, I said it.

Tom “No, I don’t”

Me “Yes, you do”

Tom (louder) “No, I don’t”

Long pause – possibly the longest pause I have ever known – I looked at Tom’s colleague, the one who had told me – he looked at me and shook his head!

And what a laugh we all had when the misunderstanding was shared, and Tom did indeed make peace with his father, and Everton appointed someone called David Moyes, instead.

I wish you a lovely Christmas, and in 2013 strive to be one thing above all else – to simply be yourself, because that is all you ever need to be.

David X

PS Back on Monday 7 January 2013

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