Apr
16

40 HP Speed Dating

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. It’s the end of term! Time is short! And so is this week’s 40HP blog piece. The 40HP team have pushed the buttons quite a bit this term. We’ve tried to be provocative and we’ve tried to get people thinking about how they do their roles in a quest to leading a more balanced […]

Apr
09

A Sick Story

By | Blog

Source pxhere.com   In New Zealand, school leaders are allowed to accumulate unused sick days. I’ve got zillions as have plenty of school leaders who have been lucky enough to have avoided a major illness or need for extended leave. Back in the ‘good old days’, it was considered perfectly acceptable to be ‘sick’ for […]

Apr
02

The Management versus Leadership Debate is Dead

By | Blog

. Last time I wrote about how we often over think our roles and that this in turn creates problems that aren’t even there. It was part of a piece about slowing things down, especially at this time of term. Recently I was part of a discussion regarding the dilemma that we all face – […]

Mar
26

The Seductive Trap of the Swivelly Chair

By | Blog

Photo by Christin Hume So you’ve got a fitness device that tells you how many steps you’ve done today. Awesome. But have you got a sitting widget that tells you how long you’ve spent on your principal butt? In fact, have you ever counted? Well maybe it’s time to start. There’s a lot of scientific […]

Mar
19

Time to Keep it Simple

By | Blog

. We’re now well and truly into the busyness of Term. We’ve got seven weeks under our belts, and if you haven’t already hit the “rocky times” of the Term, then chances are you’re about to.  “Rocky times” tend to arrive when people are tired. Patience flows out the door like the outgoing tide, and […]

Mar
12

Pleasing People is a Losing Strategy

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. “You can’t please all the people all the time”. These words are often quoted after a particularly drawn out or stressful event. They are a figurative shrug of the shoulders that signals an end point. But the truth is that for many of us there is a lot of angst that comes before this […]

Mar
05

Pause Breath Smile

By | Blog

Emotions are there to help us understand the stuff we’re going through. But it’s not always helpful. Emotions also help us convey to others what we are feeling. Jacinda Ardern being labeled by the Press as being “angry” about those not sticking to COVID-19 restriction expectations is a classic recent example. Who knows if she […]

Feb
26

What Do You Believe?

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Photo by timJ  The 40 Hour Project is all about making positive change, but often it seems really hard for people to do this. There are factors at play that leave people doing the same old/same old despite the reality that they have many options. There’s definitely the drag of the status quo at play, […]

Feb
19

The Why?

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  . Last week David wrote a great piece on the How being as important as the What. It’s a piece that has resonated with me a lot and is really the core of the Forty Hour Principal Project. To put no finer point to it, it’s the HOW that makes the difference between spending […]

Feb
12

The How matters (at least) as much as The What

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. Right now, there are a whole lot of people just beginning the adventure we call principalship. Maybe you are one of them. When most people start a new job, the thing ‘on top’ is often, “what do I need to do?” This is completely understandable, but ignores the real choices that can be made […]

Feb
05

2021 Loading

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. 21 things to have a decent crack at in 2021: Around the turn of the new year, every new year, there seems to be an inordinate amount of self help lists published. Invariably the number of things on the lists tend to correspond to the amount of years in the new year. For example […]

Dec
11

Drawing a Line Under 2020

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Photo by pan xiaozhen The Forty Hour team are officially declaring 2020 over.  We won’t waste your time reflecting on what has happened since this time in 2019 – suffice to say it was unexpected, unique and life changing. As you go to perhaps the most well-earned Christmas break ever, make sure you give yourself […]

Nov
27

Post-it Notes and Why They Matter

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Photo by Nathália Rosa I like Post-it notes. I like the way they let me capture a task then park it until I’m ready to take action. Way back at the beginning, I had a principal who carried a small notebook in their top jacket pocket. Anytime you started talking to them they took it […]

Nov
20

Making a Difference?

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. When I worked in the Hanmer Springs State Forest in the late 80’s I knew at the end of the day where I had been and what I had done. I could look back at a row of pines and see a line of freshly pruned trees. It was that simple. It was the […]

Nov
13

Last Week Someone Stole My Mailbox

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. Last week someone stole my mailbox. I was driving out the gate on my way to work last Friday and a part of my brain slowly registered something was wrong – my mailbox was gone! It’s the weirdest feeling to suddenly realise a familiar feature of your world has inexplicitly changed. And right behind […]

Jul
17

WELCOME TO THE FORTY HOUR PRINCIPAL BLOG

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You’ve found the Forty Hour Principal blog page and that is a good thing! We’re glad you are here. Our aim is to create conversation about school leadership in an attempt to make the role more sustainable, healthier, and even more fun. We’re positive about our jobs and know that we are privileged to be […]

Dec
04

MY GROWTH MODEL

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. I wonder if, after all the dust has settled, and we take a look back at 2020, that we’ll look back on the year as one of fantastic personal growth. No doubt it’s been a crap year. We’ve all been pushed to the ends of our collective tethers. There have been times when we’ve […]

Nov
06

Not All That Glitters is Gold

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. It’s been a helluva year! Suffice to say 2020 has been a year right out of the box. It’s certainly been full of challenges, frustrations, false dawns and even a bit of heartache. In New Zealand we find ourselves in a position that life is pretty much back to normal, but there’s always an […]

Oct
30

Leading With Fulfilment

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. Leading with fulfilment “Fulfilment is a feeling of satisfaction that you get from doing or achieving something, especially something useful.” – Collins Dictionary This week Steve and I are talking with a group of school leaders in Rolleston (just south of Christchurch). The theme for the discussion is “leading with fulfilment” and I have […]

Oct
23

Solomon’s Paradox

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. There’s something about writing a blog about principalship, and leadership in particular, that gives a certain air of “worldliness” about the writer. It appears that the writer somehow flies above all the crap and has a view of life that soars a number of clicks above the insane level that those who don’t write, […]

Oct
16

Where Does Your Energy Come From?

By | Blog

Photo by Lê Tâ Here in New Zealand we have just launched into Term 4 – traditionally a time of high intensity and looming deadlines. A time when things can get a little bit crazy more often than we would like. So right now is a time when you need to manage your energy. We’ve […]

Oct
09

Alice in Wonderland

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. There are certain times of the day when just about anything can happen, and it most likely will. I call this ‘Alice in Wonderland’ time. These are times when you can easily find yourself figuratively following some furry creature down a rabbit warren with no idea where you’re going or what’s going to happen. […]

Oct
02

Alignment Matters

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Photo by Natalie Daley It’s great that we are in a Term break at last (at least for those of us in NZ). This year is proving to be anything but business as usual and the challenges just keep coming. We’re been operating in a “hoping for the best, but ready for anything” type mode. […]

Sep
25

Barking or Sniffing … keys to communication

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. This term I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about communicating. In particular about how I communicate with my school staff of around forty adults. The most recent staff appraisal of me suggested that communication wasn’t always my strength. A little bit inside me yelled back sarcastically – “give me strength!” Communication of course […]

Sep
18

Asking The Uncomfortable Question

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Photo by David Holifield   You probably know the metaphor of “the carrot and the stick” where a stubborn donkey needs to be encouraged to move. There are two basic options (as donkeys are hard to push around). You can dangle a carrot just in front of its nose and, if hungry, the donkey will […]

Sep
11

WHAT YOU CAN DO TODAY TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR TOMORROW

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Photo by Devon Divine Just like a song, every blog article needs a great line to pull you in right from the start. Something that’ll catch the imagination, and won’t let go.  I’m trying to find something that’ll make the term “psychological detachment” sound enticing and thrilling. Something that’ll get your attention and not let […]

Sep
04

Being Seen as a Person First

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Photo by Markus Spiske   Humanity  When people are giving their all, when the pressure’s on and they are stretched too thinly, that is when it is very easy to be hurt by others.  And there seems to be a lot of educational leaders feeling that hurt at the moment.  These are good people doing their […]

Aug
28

3am

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. You take a look at the bedside clock. It’s glowing 3:00am and, truth be told, you’ve probably been awake for an hour already. There are nigglings, plans, and plain old emotions in the form of concerns rushing around your head.   Your mind is alive with thoughts. Many are worries. You lie there knowing […]

Aug
21

Opportunity

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Photo by Raul Varzar Those of you back in the land of Level 3 lockdown (NZ context) have my utmost sympathy. There’s no easy way to run a school under these conditions and you have a massive task on your hands. Kia kaha – you are in my Level 2 thoughts! This week I’m “piggy […]

Aug
14

Micro Reflection

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. To be honest I wondered if my topic for this week’s article, reflection, was still appropriate now that New Zealand is being re-visited by the COVID-19 virus and parts of our country are in lockdown.   I was going to start off by painting a beautiful picture. You see in South Westland, just near […]

Aug
07

CHOICES AND VOICES

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Photo by Selin Şahin   You probably know the classic “conscience” model of decision making where you have a small Angel on one shoulder and a small Devil on the other. A decision needs to be made and they compete with each other to convince you which path to take. Each takes turns to whisper […]

Jul
31

The Four ‘P’s of Principalship

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  Photo by Loic Leray I’m not really known for my short blog pieces. The last one I wrote ended up as a world record for me in word count! Recently I’ve been enjoying some Seth Godin blogs. He is the total opposite of me. He says the bare minimum, and then leaves. His words […]

Jul
24

TIME IS FINITE, CHOICE IS NOT

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Photo by ASHLEY EDWARDS Time is finite, choice is not . . .   “If you agree that some of your important leadership work is done outside of 9:00AM to 3:00PM, Monday to Friday, why can’t some of your important non-work  activities happen inside of those times?” That’s what I added to the bottom of a post a few weeks […]

Jul
17

THE FORTY HOUR PRINCIPAL

By | Blog

  . “I hadn’t been at my school for very long. It was a country school with a straight road of about 6 km separating it from the edge of town. Perfect running distance to unwind after a hectic day of principalship. I left my car in the carpark and took off down the road. […]

Jul
10

What Are You Looking At?

By | Blog

Today we are sharing an idea that will be familiar to those of you who have read “The Forty Hour Principal”. It’s about positive thought patterns. Photo by NeONBRAND   Archery is a funny sort of sport. You make an immense physical effort but must keep completely steady and minutely controlled throughout. The margins between […]

Jul
03

BEING SLACKER BETTER

By | Blog

English is a notoriously tricky language to navigate. Take a look at this classic sentence describing a panda to see that simple nuances and grammar can dramatically alter the meaning of what you’re trying to say. A Panda eats, shoots, and leaves or A Panda eats shoots, and leaves. (It’s also available in joke form.¹) […]

Jun
26

The Gift

By | Blog

  Photo by Jess Bailey   Simon Sinek, in his 2017 video clip called “Empathy“, makes an important point (among a host of other great thinking) that should resonate with many principals. Firstly; “You’re not in charge, you’re responsible for those who are in your charge.” He likes this point so much that he says […]

Jun
19

Who’s Sitting in the Principal’s Chair?

By | Blog

Have you ever been at your desk, in your car, or in the shower and thought something like; “How did I get to be the principal? This is crazy!” “I hope nobody finds out – I don’t know what to do.” “I can’t believe they appointed me.” If you answer “yes”, it’s a high chance […]

Jun
12

Flattening The Curve

By | Blog

  Sometimes you can look at a problem for a long time and have no idea what the answer is going to be. But sometimes, just sometimes, you get a little glimmer of an idea that ignites a whole tsunami like wave of ideas and solutions. The other day I lucked in. A member of […]

Jun
05

Add The Big Rocks First

By | Blog

    A couple of weeks ago I suggested that unless something was on your calendar it wasn’t very important, and crucially, probably wouldn’t happen. So . . . what is on your calendar? I know you have your next Board meeting, the Monday catch-up with your office team, staff meetings, assemblies, teaching commitments . […]

May
29

Into the Cauldron – another principal’s perspective

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    This is a guest post by a principal colleague, Mike Hope, from the Rangitikei.    With the excitement and nerves of starting a new principal role at the beginning of this year, the last thing I needed was to be dealing with a pandemic in my first term. The year started really well, […]

May
22

Connection

By | Blog

  Ok, so last time I wrote I said I was tired. This time, two weeks later, I’m exhausted. This is different to being tired. It’s the next step up for sure. It’s that feeling you get when you get home and you slump into the couch, and thirty seconds later you’re asleep. It’s that […]

May
15

What’s On Your Calendar?

By | Blog

  When your team’s winning you don’t change the captain – even if they are an arse. When your school maths results are going up you don’t bring in a new system – even though some individuals are failing. When it’s Mothers’ Day you don’t suggest that chocolates are unhealthy – even though Mum . […]

May
08

Join the Realisation Revolution

By | Blog

There’s been a great video circulating on social media recently by Tomos Robertson AKA Tom Foolery called The Great Realisation. Maybe you’ve seen it. It really is wonderful and follows a line that David and I have been promoting for a while now. In our current climate of lockdown and isolation it’s come into even […]

May
01

Slowing Down The Spin Cycle

By | Blog

  Hands up if the run into Level 3 left you feeling like you’d accidentally spent 3 rounds in the octagon with Israel Adesanya. The general consensus is that it was exhausting! The world wants things to go back to how they used to be, and predictably, our education system is doing its part by […]

Apr
24

HAVING TIME TO TAKE YOUR TIME

By | Blog

There’s something about being in lockdown that has resonated very positively with me. The other day I found myself walking through my neighbourhood during a very pleasant autumnal like, but sunny day. There were people everywhere, walking about, smiling, waving, being genuinely cheerful. All adhering strictly to the 2 metre social distancing requirements, but also […]

Apr
17

Soft Skills or Hard Reality?

By | Blog

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again” Nelson Mandela   So the good-ship “home learning” has launched, and you and your team have done your level best to make it as smooth as possible. Once you get some momentum up things […]

Apr
10

BE SLACKER BETTER

By | Blog

The other day I found myself looking over my wife’s shoulder as she viewed a clip on line from comedian and TV personality Miranda Hart. Some of you may know her show, “Miranda”. “Turn that up,” I said to Helen, “what did she just say?”. Miranda was talking about life in lockdown and the pressures, […]

Apr
03

WHAT NOW? WHAT NEXT?

By | Blog

Anika Huizinga   I’m taking a chance here. A chance that you are just far enough into lockdown to be starting to wonder how things might look on the other side. And here’s where that question gets both exciting and scary – it’s going to be different.     Before digging into this thinking any […]

Mar
27

IT IS WHAT IT IS

By | Blog

Woah, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been since I last wrote. This time last week as a principal, I had just made the decision to postpone our school camps, to stop having school assemblies and we were talking about moving the Staffroom into the Hall so that we could all practise the […]

Mar
20

YOU’VE GOT THIS

By | Blog

A day may be a long time in politics, but not as long as a week in a school with a pandemic virus doing the rounds. There’s a lot happening right now, and you as a leader, are right in the middle. .  .  . The adrenaline junkies among us are probably feeling excited, those […]

Mar
13

LANGUAGE CREATES REALITY

By | Blog

I’m not sure who said it first – it seems to be attributed to a whole heap of people including Viviane Robinson, but the statement; “Language Creates Reality”, rings truer with me everyday. Like with a lot of statements or quotes, I tend to twist the meaning slightly to suit my purpose. With this quote […]

Mar
06

SMALL CHANGES WORK

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I did an extraordinary thing last weekend. I rode a 36km mountain bike event. Being in the race wasn’t extraordinary. Several hundred other people did the same. And it wasn’t my time nor the place I came, because it was by far my slowest ever for completing the event. It was by no means my […]

Feb
28

Recognise It, Anchor It, Re-create It and Refine It

By | Blog

Some time last century I went to Teachers’ College. For most of my training career I felt I was a failure. I was routinely one of those students who struggled on placement and couldn’t wait to get back to the safety of the café at the College. At first, I thought everyone must feel this […]

Feb
21

ONE PERCENT BETTER

By | Blog

Two weeks ago I challenged you to find a couple of habits to either change or create. How’s that going? Because now is the perfect time to set yourself up for a better year – a more effective year or a happier year or a healthier year . . . maybe even all three. Imagine […]

Feb
14

UNDERSTANDING THE PACE

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At the end of January I found myself in front of a big group of eager teachers at our annual beginning of the year teacher only day. Before the group, on a big white board, I sketched out a ten week timeline. The Term ahead. And then I asked, “how many of you have run […]

Feb
07

A CHALLENGE

By | Blog

It’s the end of Week 1 (possibly Week 1.5 if you were very keen). You’re still running nicely on the energy built up over the holidays. Waitangi Day helped too. There are a zillion things on the go already at school but you’re handling them. Your team has launched with the nervous energy teachers always […]

Jan
31

RISE OF SKYWALKER

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During the Xmas holidays I found myself sitting with a chocolate nut icecream and a box of popcorn at the latest Star Wars movie … Rise of Skywalker.  There were a number of irksome little things in the movie that annoyed this long term Star Wars fan, but on the whole I imagine that for […]

Dec
20

CLOCKING OUT OF 2019

By | Blog

With the adventure of 2019 nearly behind us and the possibility of 2020 still to be considered, Steve and I are clocking out until later in January. The 40 Hour Principal project has taken on a life of its own, and we will be back in the New Year to share ideas and provocations that […]

Dec
13

Two Circles

By | Blog

It’s that time of year again. Maybe you’re like me and in the distance you see a light. Possibly it’s the light at the end of the tunnel, and equally possible it’s the light of an on-coming freight train. Either way it’ll be here before you know it, and even if it is a freight […]

Dec
06

THE PILE

By | Blog

What does your desk look like? Mine looks like this . . .  frankly, it’s a mess. Every time I manage to shift something a new piece of paper magically appears from somewhere. People think they’re doing me a favour if they put the new stuff in a new pile.   And PostIt notes! I […]

Nov
29

Decision Fatigue

By | Blog

A few weekends ago I was hanging out in a Dunedin op shop looking for second-hand books. In a pile that had no real purpose or description sat a copy of Donkeys Egg, the junior reader that I read at school when I was a six year old. I was amazed at the release of […]

Nov
22

MADVEMBER DOESN’T HAVE TO BE

By | Blog

Mid-term 4 seems to bring out a special blend of drama in many schools. I see the label “Madvember” popping up on social media and can’t argue based on recent personal experiences. Maybe the combination of warmer nights (sleep deprivation), spring (hormonal crazy) and the busyness leading up to Christmas is to blame? I don’t […]

Nov
15

LET IT GO, GO WITH THE FLOW

By | Blog

I often wonder what would this principal lark would all look like if it was easy? I’m wondering this because here I am at 7:30am looking at my desk that is, unsurprisingly, just like I left it. Skewed piles of paper and a shattered “to do list”. Nothing went to plan yesterday.  To be honest, […]

Nov
08

HAVING NO FINISH LINE IS GOOD

By | Blog

Let’s start with a question – is your job ever finished? Is there ever a point when all the work is done? Most of you won’t hesitate for long before saying, “no”. “What wears me down is the number of tasks I have to do. There’s just too many and I can’t finish them. There’s […]

Nov
01

EBBS AND FLOWS

By | Blog

It’s Board meeting week. To be honest, it’s probably been Board meeting fortnight. The work before the Board meeting always takes up a lot of time. And energy. There are reports to write, documents to put together, and people to communicate with. (I always wonder about the inordinate amount of time that we put into […]

Oct
25

HOW BATCHING CAN HELP YOU

By | Blog

Do you often get to the end of a day with a “to do” list at least as big as you had 10 hours before? Have you started a week with something important that needs to be completed but when you get to Friday afternoon it’s still sitting there – and now it has time […]

Oct
18

WELL-BEING IS A COLLECTIVE

By | Blog

During the year, our teachers have been working on a well-being inquiry as part of their local Kahui Ako focus. It’s been great watching the team think about and then re-think about their roles with well-being the driver. I was excited about the staff talking about well-being at school as it’s such an interest of […]

Oct
11

WORK SMARTER NOT HARDER – a teacher’s perspective

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This week we’d like to introduce  another perspective. The following piece is written by a teacher, Sarah Spittal. Sarah is one of those amazing teachers who appear to have super woman like capabilities. You’ll know the ones I mean; relentlessly passionate about their teaching career, a fabulous asset to your school both in and out […]

Oct
04

MAKING A START

By | Blog

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about “reasonable” and the “status quo”. You can read it here, but in a nutshell, I stated that to change the status quo of your school leadership role you have to be “unreasonable”. I wasn’t suggesting that you have to be a pain in the proverbial […]

Sep
27

BEING UNREASONABLY REASONABLE

By | Blog

  Synopsis of this Post The status quo may seem reasonable but in reality is just another bad habit that should be confronted. We often run with our individual thoughts about our role in a fashion that, on the face of it, seems reasonable but it’s actually hurting us and our ability to learn and […]

Sep
20

BE UNREASONABLE

By | Blog

  Synopsis of the Post Being reasonable maintains the status quo. The status quo is not working. Changing the status quo for principalship will take deliberate action – which may upset some people.     “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. […]

Sep
13

ARE WE WINNING? UPDATE 1

By | Blog

We are now eight weeks post sabbaticals and that time has simply disappeared! Both of us have current change goals that we are working on, and for your entertainment, we’ve written a short update on how it’s all going. Does the theory work in the “real” world? It’s Week 8. There’s two and a half […]

Sep
06

THANKS JIMMY

By | Blog

In the 2019 Cricket World Cup, New Zealand almost pulled off a huge upset to win the whole tournament. Almost. But for a count back system that was used to separate two sides who couldn’t be separated on the field. Sadly New Zealand came out on the wrong side of that count back. Such is […]

Aug
18

THE SABBATICAL GIFT

By | Blog

It’s three weeks into my sabbatical and I’m sitting outside with a cup of coffee and Tim Ferriss’ “Tools of Titans” ¹. The day is one of those amazingly clear but crisp examples of winter that we get way down here in South Canterbury.  I stop for a moment to appreciate the calm and while […]