Personal Change Management; the tools

A post entitled, Embracing Uncertainty, suggested an alternative description of the practices often recommended to support resilience.

It has become clear that the language helping professionals use, is often one of the most significant obstacles to supporting significant life and career change.

So, if you’ve embraced mindfulness, a daily meditation practice or have already found your way into a supportive recovery community – this post is not for you.

If you’ve explored mindfulness, worked with a trainer, have made multiple attempts to adopted a healthier and more balanced lifestyle, yet find it is difficult or impossible to maintain – this post is for you.

If you’re struggling with periods of malaise, outright depression, anxiety or physical symptoms which might be stress related, or if you have a sense that your work/home life could be better – this post is for you.

And if you’re living well, but have a niggling feeling that something is missing – keep reading. It can’t hurt.

Personal Change Management

Change management has been formally studied and implemented in business and industry for over half a century. In the early days it was characterised by a top-down exercise in defining goals and strategies; in recent decades the focus has moved toward ‘stakeholder-driven’ change.

This shift is important to note. Industry has determined that sustainable change and innovation follows bottom-up management by individuals, team leaders and ‘change champions’.

Boss yelling imageOur personal top-down change management system appears to need updating as well. New Year’s Resolutions are a great example:

  • I’m going on a diet
  • I’m looking for a new job
  • I’m training for a marathon

Good in theory, but arguably top-down. There’s a ring of “the boss says I should” to it.

Personal Change Champion

What would bottom-up personal goal setting look like? How different would it be when you, the ‘stakeholder’, is in charge?

  • Would you decide to diet, or would ask yourself what pain you are medicating by overeating or not exercising?
    : What feelings are you shovelling down or numbing with sugar, carbs, drink or drugs?
  • Should you get a new job, or could you confront the stressors at this one?
    Ask: Are you bored? Is it the right field for you? Do you ask for what you need? Do you bring your best self to the workplace – or simply punch a clock?
  • Planning to train for your first or fifth marathon?
    Ask: Are you doing it to benefit from the exercise, discipline and camaraderie – or are you running away from something or for the sense of accomplishment? “Accomplishing” seems more like work than self-care.

Setting achievable goals and ultimately moving from knowing what you don’t want to what you do want, begins with more than a few tough questions.

It requires us to fine tune or re-calibrate our ‘receivers’.  Specific obstacles that have undermined us in the past, become apparent when we learn to listen in a whole new way.

Fine Tuning Receivers

Bandwidth. It’s a perfect metaphor for our attention span and focus. It’s not limitless. Which station are you tuned into? Favourite programme on 88.5? you can hear it on 88.6 or 88.4 – but through some static. In re-calibrating our receivers, it’s the static we’re out to eliminate; the noise characterised by that judging voice and negative self-talk that reinforces the message: why bother?

step.staircaseThe Method

Take one small action every day on your own behalf. The tools outlined below are designed to be adopted into your daily life and routine.

The process is fundamentally the same as the  “DMAIC” model used for Change Management in industry – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control.

If you’re in “I’ll do it myself” mode, we’re inviting you to embrace one small change at a time!

The Tools

These are modified slightly from their source for introductory purposes, links to the original work follow.

Morning Pages

The best case I can make for adopting this practice is laid out in journalist Oliver Burkeman’s 2014 Guardian article.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at how powerful Morning Pages proved, from day one, at calming anxieties, producing insights and resolving dilemmas. After all, the psychological benefits of externalising thoughts via journalling are well-established. And that bleary-eyed morning time has been shown to be associated with more creative thinking: with the brain’s inhibitory processes still weak, “A-ha!” moments come more readily.

Julia Cameron, who devised the practice, calls it “meditation for Westerners”. Absent our habit of embracing stillness or silence, three pages written in those early moments of wakefulness between dreams and consciousness, we can achieve the same effect. In her words –

“They are a trail that we follow into our own interior…”

After nearly two decades of doing them, I can attest that the days I write them go far better than the days I do not.

Simply put they are three hand written pages of whatever comes to mind – think of it as a stream of un-consciousness. Some mornings they flow, other mornings they look like a petty list of gripes, a to-do list for the day or a silly unreadable scrawl. They are meant to be private and not shared. They are rarely even re-read.

There is no wrong way to do them. Put your inner critic to the side, take pen to paper and focus on the fact that “done is better than perfect”. Perhaps you can consider them “mourning pages” –

“…a farewell to life as you knew it, and an introduction to life as it’s going to be”

Still skeptical? For more in the author’s own words you can listen to a brief description on her site .

It may just be simpler to try it!


Introduced in Cameron’s subsequent books, with this tool, she reminds us that

“…walking is a time-honoured spiritual tradition. Native Americans walk on vision quests, Aborigines go on walkabouts…Walking brings a welcome sense of connection…optimism and ….a sense of health and well-being.”

Make it a point to take a walk of at least 20 minutes, twice a week.

“Walking is a luxury, an escape from our frantic pace. When we walk, we experience the richness of the world”.

Time Out

Relax. It’s doable – it’s only five minutes!

Once in the morning and once at night – sit quietly for five minutes. Check in with yourself. It’s an opportunity “for self-appraisal and self-approval”.

Set a timer, make an appointment, silence your inner critic and listen. Simply ask yourself, “How am I feeling and why?”

Play DateCoasteeringPlay

Yes, I know Cameron calls it an “Artist Date“, but it is the single most resisted tool, usually while clients are emphatically insisting they are not “artists”. We’re taking liberty in describing it, as even Cameron calls it “assigned play”.

And to make the case for calling it a “Play Date”, consider this:

“What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they’re not much fun to be around,” he says. “You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.”

That from Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the U.S. based National Institute for Play.

Once a week, imagine “what sounds like fun?” – then allow yourself some time alone to try it. Focus on the word “date”.
Cameron’s genius is never subtle – she is inviting you to “woo” yourself into doing something fun.

“Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play.”

And they need not be adventurous – a hour or two at a gallery, take in a film or a play, head off to an antique show, gaming convention or go berry picking. Just a few hours away, on our own and without a phone or technology is good for re-charging.


The process is simple, but not necessarily easy. So choose one of the tools above and try it. If it serves you well, make a habit of it and add another. If you are struggling with one, add a different one and come back to it. And don’t go it alone!

The method, tools and techniques described are outlined in a series of books on creativity, resilience, perseverance, writing, abundance, money and starting over. Published over the last 3 decades and grounded in Julia Cameron’s own recovery, the techniques have evolved over the years, been embraced by millions worldwide and reflect much of the mindfulness based interventions for emotional well being.

You can find all of them from her first, The Artist’s Way to her most recent It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again online and in most bookshops.

Her intention was that small groups would come together into “creative clusters” and work through one chapter a week for 12 weeks at a time. There is information available on forming a cluster, joining a facilitated group, or individual coaching here.

For inspiration you can follow the hashtags #morningpages #artistdate on Twitter.

Thank you to our friends at CoasteeringNI and Firewalking Ireland for challenging us to play and push outside our comfort zone.

Embracing Uncertainty, the space in-between

OptimistAdjustSailsNavigating the space in between what was, what is, and what will be, can be daunting.

Yet, in those days, weeks, months or years, we conceive and create our future.

“Choose to live in the present moment” is fine advice. Living mindfully, embracing self-care and a sense of prosperity requires skill building and support. But where to begin?

Might I suggest that we take a lesson from the business world. Just for a moment, let’s not think in terms of a therapeutic or spiritual journey. Consider it a “personal change-management” program.

“The Quest for Resilience” (Hamel & Välikangas), got my attention a few years back. Originally published in the Harvard Business Review (2003), the paragraph headed, “Zero Trauma” was captivating. This followed:

“The quest for resilience can’t start with an inventory of best practices. Today’s best practices are manifestly inadequate. Instead, it must begin with an aspiration: zero trauma. The goal is a strategy that is forever morphing, forever conforming itself to emerging opportunities and incipient trends. The goal is an organization that is constantly making its future rather than defending its past… In a truly resilient organization, there is plenty of excitement, but there is no trauma.”

Now try re-reading it. Substitute “individual” for “organization”.

The human condition is unlikely to allow for “no trauma”, but when one frames this process as the “avoidance of pain”, we’re returned to the discipline of living one day at a time, mindfully and to its fullest.

The article continues:

“Sound impossible? A few decades ago, many would have laughed at the notion of “zero defects.” If you were driving a Ford Pinto or a Chevy Vega, or making those sorry automobiles, the very term would have sounded absurd. But today we live in a world where Six Sigma, 3.4 defects per million, is widely viewed as an achievable goal. So why shouldn’t we commit ourselves to zero trauma?” 

6sigmaPyramidAnd in the business world  the SixSigma process is the gold standard.

What would a “Personal Six Sigma” process look like? Pretty much the same.

Existing interventions and methodologies such as 12-Step Programs, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and self-help programs all employ similar methods.

Which makes a powerful case for skill building in support of well being. Particularly when taken out of the realm of pathology and treatment, while delivered as fitness training and education. To begin –

Define the problem

Consciously or unconsciously we have all adopted rituals and habits in our daily lives that either support or undermine well being.

  • Perhaps there isn’t a problem that is easily named, just a sense of wanting more, a feeling that we’re not “firing on all pistons”.
  • Perhaps we are struggling with a weight problem, issues around drink, gambling or drugs.
  • Perhaps we are in transitional relationship, work or academic situation or a life stage.


As you map your current processes, ask yourself:

How are you sleeping?

How stressful is everyday life?

Are you living within your means?

Are you satisfied with your career?

Are you passionate about your work or your hobbies?

When was the last time you found yourself “the zone” – entirely immersed in an experience?


Choose to identify the cause of the problem. Don’t go it alone!No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it. copy

Ask for help. Join a group, find a coach, a trainer, a therapist or consult your GP – because analysis requires perspective.

Going it alone means you’re working with an often undermining ‘committee in your head‘ .  It repeats and reinforces your doubts and your negative self-talk.

To quote the linked article:

“Like any healthy organizational board, you should consider a term limit and invite new members to the committee.”

Asking for help is not about diagnosing a problem. It is simply about defining and isolating causes and effects.

Begin by asking yourself: What pain am I self-medicating when I’m over (or under) eating, sleeping, exercising, drinking, drugging, spending, etc.?


Implement and verify the solution in a supportive environment. One process at a time. This does not involve grandiose schemes or major life changes.  Isolate a single sentiment – “I’m miserable, I’m going to quit my job, leave my marriage, or move or whatever”.

Then isolate a small, simple, discrete change. It will make a difference. Choose one – or suggest another.

            • I’ll take to my bed at 9pm with a good book, leave the phone and tablet in the next room and get more rest.
            • I’ll reduce my caffeine, alcohol, drug, and or sugar intake.
            • I’ll monitor, chart or list my eating, drinking, gambling or spending.
            • I’ll keep a mood chart and note my periods of irritability, exhaustion, high energy, sadness or lethargy.
            • I’ll walk for 20 minutes three times a week.


If an intervention or changed behaviour works, map it out, monitor it, make it a habit, and embrace a new ritual.

Then start again. You’re training for resilience.

Nothing succeeds like success with each incremental change you’ll be energised.

That’s it, simple but not easy, and achievable.

If “Personal Change Management” seems like a good approach, get in touch.

Introductory sessions, six and twelve week groups are forming to help you navigate the process.

Tangible Leadership, #Tangible17

  Where we’ve been and where we’re going!


In 2009, David Allen Ibsen
published, “Leading your way out of the recession”.

It was a recipe for what it would take to survive the global economic crisis.

The ingredients included:

• Self Confidence
• A clearly articulated and broad vision
• A willingness to be flexible
• The skill to act upon intuition
• A talent in mobilizing resources (the right type, at the right time)

The skill to act upon intuition” was evident here in Ireland when, in January 2009, Raymond Sexton convened what he imagined would be a “one-off” session to bring a group of colleagues together. The meeting was designed to kick off the New Year and attend to:

• the move from despondency to a sense urgency and passion which would lead to focused actions, individually and collectively
• rediscovering the basic elements of success, in his view- Time, Treasure and Talent
• providing each other with needed inspiration, encouragement, and support
• curating a body of knowledge which would provide participants access to mentorship, connections and empathetic financial resources

The enthusiasm generated that day resulted in a call to “do this again”. In April, they convened Limerick. An ancient city and home of Shannon Development, created by some of the most forward thinking and action oriented change-makers in Ireland. Their initiatives from the 1960s forward have made Ireland the commercial gateway to Europe it is today.

In the three months between those the Howth & Limerick meetings, attendees at the first had launched nearly a dozen positive initiatives. Clearly, Tangible energy was catalysing change.

The momentum generated in Limerick drove the initiative forward to New York City in May. Scheduled on the morning of the annual Ireland Funds Gala, it was enthusiastically received. A July seminar followed in Sutton, Co Dublin and the leadership series was born.

As the series enters its ninth year, with over 60 seminars behind us, it includes 7 annual sessions in Ireland. Thanks to the enthusiasts, ambassadors and conveners we have met along the way, the global outreach now extends from New York to Sydney, and London to San Francisco.

We’ve proven that resilience is born, as the Irish proverb puts it, Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine, “In the shadow of each other, the people live”.

You are welcome to join us in Oranmore, County Galway on 6. October or in London on 17. November for the remaining #Tangible16 seminars.

In 2017, alongside our “events as usual” we will begin to deliver a structured programme designed to offer continuing professional development.

Next year’s events begin as we “Bring it On” in Howth, Tangible’s 65th event in it’s ninth “new year”!

Oranmore, County Galway

Oranmore, County Galway


On…Continuing Education

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste” images

So goes the very powerful fundraising campaign launched by United Negro College Fund in 1972. It’s one of the most enduring tag-lines Madison Avenue has brought the world. It endures because the sentiment is universal.

Dust off the cobwebs, turn off the talking heads and find out what real people working on the front lines of social, political and educational change, are up to.

The season of “Summer Schools” is underway. It’s a glorious opportunity to surround yourself with the intellectually curious, to have your thinking challenged and be infused with a dose of positivity.

We are sadly lacking mature leadership on the island of Ireland and it has never been more important for all of us to develop ourselves into an active and engaged citizenry.

The McGill, Merriman & xChange Summer Schools are now behind us. There is ample coverage of all available and still time to consider The Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford  which will address “D’Arcy McGee, 1916 and Revolutionary Republicanism” and Tangible Ireland’s Ambassador Summer School which covers “Business & Civic Leadership”.


Don’t do it for yourself, do it for your children and grandchildren. Education doesn’t end with “qualifications“, it’s a life-long process. Model it!

Why? Frederick Douglas sums it up perfectly: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men



*(per the 2014 post – and an excellent incentive to mark your calendars for the 2017 events…)  The McGill Summer School will stream its programming on “Reforming and Rebuilding our State”. And there’s still time to plan an outing to Glenties. Audio highlights of the xChange Summer School about “Changing Conversations” are available. Still ahead are the Merriman Summer School where “Emotional Life in Ireland” will be explored; The Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford  will address “The Famine in Ulster”; Tangible Ireland’s Ambassador Summer School covers “Business & Civic Leadership” and there are many more.


Leadership, Tangible style

“Do as I say, not as I do!” …or not!

When Tangible Ireland began in 2009, we were experiencing a lot of that kind of leadership in Ireland.

Founder, Raymond Sexton believed that an emphasis on the positive was required.

• What was going well?
• Who were the people driving the success stories?
• Did anyone else believe we were better than our bottom line?

He began to examine what drove excellence in leadership both at home and abroad.

The perspective was that of an engineer and project manager experienced in helping multinationals invest and build facilities in Ireland, a homecomer returned from a decade in Australia, and a closet historian.

Who the Irish are in Ireland and who we become when we go abroad is a fascinating study.*

And the many Tangible ambassadors, partners and guests have joined him in studying it – up close and personally, across the island of Ireland and worldwide.

There have been over sixty Tangible seminars in global cities – Dublin, London, New York and Sydney; regional capitals – Belfast, Limerick & Galway; and in the urban & rural villages that lie at the heart of Irish life and values – Howth, Kilmallock and Crossmaglen.

There’s a common denominator in all these communities. We honor our original associations, whether counties, communities, schools, or team affiliations, we pay it forward and take care of our own. We are industries, joyous, playful and determined.

Here’s what we do:

Imagine the simplicity of a “3 pinned plug” and the energy it channels. It’s the way each Tangible Seminar is designed. We showcase and model the best business and civic leadership in a region by:

• focusing on the maverick and entrepreneurial “live wires” – the local leaders driving change
• highlighting and sharing connections to the startup, trade & inward investment support offered in the Republic and in Northern Ireland
• recognising our citizens at home, abroad and in transition, uniting them in their efforts to prosper both here and across the Diaspora

Here’s what we’ve learned:

• at home and abroad our values never change
• our Diaspora represents our greatest asset; vast supplies of human capital available for spending and investment
• our citizens never cease to be our citizens

Here’s what we believe:

• Personal, business and trade relationships empower us individually & collectively, in our new lands and across Ireland.
• Our citizens never cease to be entitled to be heard.
• At home, abroad or in transition, we owe each other a duty of care, including responsible stewardship of this island, economically, environmentally and politically.

This drive for excellence in leadership and best practices reflects our duty of care to the next generation by making this island fit to come home to, or to never be forced to leave.

We are survivors.

Who we are and who we become, whether we stay here or go abroad needs to reflect our best hope for the future of our Irish or Northern Irish children and grandchildren in the Americas, the EU, the UK, Oz or elsewhere.

To join us in San Francisco on Thursday, 21. July  or at the annual Ambassador Summer School here in Ireland follow the links to register.

For a great summary of why Tangible travels the globe in search of “live wires” – here it is:

*…who we become when we go abroad as described by one of our own:

Beehan; psychosis






Entrepreneurial Ecosystem – Pivotal or Peripheral?

Entrepreneurial ecosystemPeripheral to two capitals that benefit from significant foreign direct investment, policies favouring support of 21st century technologies plus agencies committed to expanding markets, the NI/ROI border region is uniquely placed to focus on just three of these six key pillars.

Human Capital, Supports and Culture

Our task is to develop these to ensure we can fully participate. In an age of a mobile and freelance workforce, geographically peripherality does not preclude our being pivotal to both markets

A skilled workforce is educated, confident, flexible and resilient. Peer to peer educational and networking opportunities serve to showcase local entrepreneurial success stories, highlight opportunities and encourage our somewhat risk averse population to follow their lead.

At the core, programs like BizCamps, Newry Creates, Women that Work among others, address the roots of our collective difficulty with ambition & self-promotion.

We signpost resources designed to provide mentorship among peers, encouraging participants to “pay it forward” volunteering with outreach efforts like CoderDoJo and Drone Academy to inspire and support skill building among young people as well as the unemployed.

Where opportunities may not yet exist we support people seeking to create them.

Learn more…


BizCamp is Back!

On behalf of Neo Ireland, I’m delighted to be coordinating #BizCampAND in Bangor on Friday, 11 September 2015!

Initiated by Paula Ault at the Signal Centre of Business Excellence and supported by the Ards & North Down Council we’ll be gathering at the Clandeboye Lodge Hotel Conference Centre all day.

You can register to attend or pitch a talk here.

Speakers will be determined by a committee two to three weeks in advance of the event. The criteria is to balance talks around skill building, entrepreneurship and motivation across a wide range of industries. Micro-businesses, SME’s and individuals come to learn about what they don’t even know they don’t know!

For updates, information and inspiration you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We will be uploading previous talks and presentations at YouTube and Slideshare. If we haven’t yet uploaded yours – send us a link at

Here’s a general overview of BizCamp:

A Bizcamp, is a “user generated un-conference” designed to bring entrepreneurs together to share skills and experience.

Opportunities provided include:

  • a chance to pass on what you’ve learned, inspiring and giving a hand-up to new entrepreneurs
  • Bizcamp-Newry-2012-Lunchtime-Lobbyan opportunity to learn new skills, hone dated ones and see what your colleagues (and competition) is up to
  • an opportunity to speak; BizCamp attendees are encouraged share their experiences and skills by pitching a talk
  • an opportunity to network regionally or province-wide

The day is casual. Between 21 & 24 half hour talks run across 3 rooms and “BizCampers” pick and choose which presentations to attend.

Who benefits:

  • micro-business owner/managers who operate their businesses from 9-5 and manage them evenings & weekends
  • unemployed & underemployed people looking for opportunities with growing businesses or who are considering their own start-up
  • managers/owners in traditional business seeking to up-skill and refine their approach to running their departments or businesses
  • SME managers/owners currently handling digital marketing themselves; learn what the experts are doing
  • recent graduates interested in exploring opportunities they may never have know existed here
  • retirees considering opportunities to put their skills and talents back to work, this time for fun
  • anyone needing better presentation skills, a chance to practice their “elevator pitch”, create a wider network
  • everyone seeking to be inspired by the success stories, the positivity and the generosity of professionals sharing what they’ve learned

photoHeld across Northern Ireland we’re delighted to be adding Bangor to our past appearances in Newry (’10, ’11, 12); Belfast (’10, ’11, ’13),  Craigavon (’10 & ’13). Neo Ireland is pleased to bring BizCamp elsewhere in the province as requested. BizCamps provide a regular, regional meet-up to help grow a more collaborative and cooperative business environment in NI.

BizCampers do business with people they know and businesses they interact with frequently. They support each other and the sponsors who make BizCamps happen.

For more information on our commitment to building a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, read more.

Why Write? “…it is human nature to write”

So says Julia Cameron in her introduction to The Right to Write.

We should write because it is human nature to write. Writing claims our world. It makes us directly and specifically our own. We should write because humans are spiritual beings and writing is a powerful form of prayer and mediation, connecting us both to our own insights and to a higher and deeper level of inner guidance as well.

Cameron’s best know tome is The Artist’s Way and it is regularly referenced in lists on the best books on writing. “Show up at the page” is the message – both in pursuit of your art and in the discipline of the “morning pages“. She uses the habit of three long hand pages of writing every morning on awakening as a means to clear the mind of distractions and anxieties, freeing up space for creativity to flourish.

She concludes her introduction to the Right to Write with:

It is my hope that this book will help to heal writers who are broken, initiate writers who are afraid, and entice writers who are standing at the river’s edge waiting to put a toe in.

I have a fantasy. It’s the pearly gates. St. Peter has out his questionnaire, he asks me the Big Question, “What did you do that we should let you in?”

“I convinced people they should write,” I tell him. The great gates swing open.

I share her fantasy.

Show up at the page. If it’s hard, get in touch!


#Tangible15 – Limerick

LimerickDipticWe had a great day in Limerick for “A Winning Culture“. The setting was the beautifully restored Bishops’s Palace and David Deighan, CEO of Limerick Civic Trust led with an overview of what they’ve accomplished and where they’re going!

Limerick is coming off it’s year as Ireland’s first “City of Culture” and some wonder “What’s next?’.

That’s where Tangible Ireland comes in. We never stop to wonder. Leaning in to the positive, we’re here to highlight everything that is moving forward.

Limerick has a history of courageous and innovative thinking. “Shannon Development” the world’s first “free trade zone” was as cutting edge as it got in 1959. It gave rise to the National Technology Park, now part of the University of Limerick campus. The University shared it’s trajectory  with Shannon Development, the Shannon Free Trade Zone and with the help of fundraising efforts in America, established itself as a leading academic institution.

What the founders did in the late 1950s was actively imagine a different future for the region – and in fact the country. The manufacturing base required to move Ireland forward from an agrarian economy was imported from America and relationships were cultivated with Asia – then just emerging. The region still owes it’s economic viability to the creativity and foresight of these leaders.

Maintaining momentum matters! Tangible Ambassadors are invited to present on a range of subjects which serve to educate, inspire and promote their personal, business and civic initiatives.

I was inspired by three young innovators – David O’Shea of nTrai Crowd Funding; Neil O’Hagan of Atlantic Youth Trust and Robbie Gilbert of Premium Power.

Do what you love” comes to mind! David O’Shea is an athlete who is bringing an innovative approach to funding sources for athletes in training. Crowd Sourcing has been around for a few years now – but the focus has been on products!  nTrais approach is genius.  Sponsors ‘back’ an athlete, who then seeks matching funds. The athlete is supported, the sponsor gets exposure to the community built up around the athlete, their personal or team effort and across the sport.

Neil O’Hagan has been driving this project forward from concept through development and now into the funding stage. The Atlantic Youth Trust has a tall ship to build!

The youth leadership programming has begun, the plans are drawn and a ship has been sourced for preliminary voyages. Some matching funds have been promised  from both the UK and ROI* governments – and application will be made for EU funding as well. Help Atlantic Youth Trust get the remaining donor support it requires.

Electrical Engineer Robbie Gilbert talked about bringing his skills from a market leading, international engineering consultancy to Premium Power a niche energy startup with a mission focused on quality. Reared and educated here in Ireland, with family on both sides of the divide, he credits the sacrifices made for his education for his success.

What all three young men modeled were work and career choices clearly aligned with their personal values.  I have every confidence that these “leaders in waiting” will put the last generation of chancers to shame!

Tangible folk hail from across the island of Ireland and the Diaspora. We are entrepreneurs and mavericks, mainstream professionals from both the corporate and third sectors, middle managers, civil servants and retirees.

The events create a forum for entrepreneurs to benefit substantially from the expertise shared by professional consultants. Eoin Barry of ARV Excellence delivered an overview of their “Better Results” program.  It is clear that a methodology to accelerate a company’s culture shift to one of accountability is critical to micro businesses as well as the industry leaders they serve.

Aoife Healy of Pathway Consulting challenged us to focus on a strategy -no matter the size of the business or industry. Her reminder to identify and analyze the barriers to success, was as significant as exercise in goal setting. It echoed ARV’s addition of  “velocity” to accountability and reliability. She too emphasized “maintaining momentum”.

Paul Ferns and John Webb O’Rourke presented on the latest economic development initiative in Kilmallock, County Limerick.

RISE is a social enterprise in what was once the Medieval capital of Munster. Proximate to Limerick and Cork cities and the Ballyhoura Mountains, the plan is to restore and develop an historic structure as a centre for sustainable businesses as well as a destination for educational programming. Sustainability is assured by co-locating complementary businesses and industry.  This diversity in it’s base, the move from service based businesses to production as well as the range of businesses will cushion the local economy in the event of a future downturn.

Imelda McGrattan, Coach and Belfast blow-in to Dingle – grounded us, as always with her perspective. She shared a part of her journey recalling the influence of a business owner and boss who modelled relaxed, grounded and centered leadership. Having arrived there, she reminded us that there is much to be learned by documenting your journey and respecting the incremental changes that reflect how far you have come. Aim high, stay grounded.

My own message was and is to ask that we demand excellence in leadership, praise it when we see it and voice our disaapointment when it falls short. Embrace digital media and share the stories of #PositiveIreland. Draw attention to what is #Shameful, #Unacceptable or of which it can be said #WereBetterThanThis. Case and point, a Tourism Ireland Event page that hasn’t been updated since 2007. Things will change only when we demand that they do.

Raymond Sexton closed with an overview of Tangible’s Mission, Values & Ethos. He reviewed the remaining meetings this year set in villages in Ireland to Global Cities where our diaspora thrives. It’s about Collaborative Leadership, Shared Excellence and a commitment to “Pay it Forward“.

We’ll be in New York (23. April), Crossmaglen (28. May), Sydney (25. June), Summer School in Ballyhoura 18, 19. 20 August, Galway in September and London in November. The schedule can be found on the “Leadership Seminars” page of the Tangible site.


*The ROI government has been asked to contribute the €3.8 million insurance money it collected at the loss of the Asgard II







Global Ireland

Generations have left the island of Ireland to find opportunities around the world. We hear often of the “Global Irish“, estimated at near 70 million. That is just part of the story.

Global Ireland is far bigger than that.

America boasts 22 Presidents with “Irish Roots”, but on closer inspection we find 13 of them actually hailed from Counties Antrim, Derry, Down, Fermanagh, and Tyrone. Here in Northern Ireland we call those Northern Irish Connections!

They are a significant portion of “Global Ireland“.

And why “Connections” vs Diaspora?

Beyond their ancestry, whether Irish, British, Ulster-Scots or Northern Irish, the term recognizes the millions who feel a connection to Northern Ireland by virtue of their years in school here, their connections as expats via “time served” posted in business here or on UK, Commonwealth or EU government service.

A “Prosperity Process” will carry us far beyond the economic and social benefits the peace process has yielded. It will get there when fueled by a vibrant economic recovery in both the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Growing the economies on an island of less than 6 million people requires export. Global Ireland can provide those markets.

We, in turn, can provide a highly skilled workforce to provide engineering and marketing support allowing companies from Americas to Asia to bridge the timezones. We can also deliver those services in every European and Eastern European language.

Lastly, Global Ireland does business beyond any connection to Ireland.

The diaspora does business with it’s own between Silicon Valley and Asia, between London and New York, from South Africa to Scandinavia and beyond.

Because as this oft quoted verse1 says of parents –  Ireland is merely the bow from which our children were sent forth ….(and they) dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Let all of Ireland’s children support each other; it will be a great model for their “parents” on both sides of the border!

1 On Children; Khalil Gibran


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.