founder of naked leader

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

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

  1. Loved these little stories made me laugh, thanks for sharing. Here is one from me…..Yesterday I was playing ‘quiz questions’ with one of the boys 6 year old mates. (Yes it is a bundle of laughs at our house!) Anyway after a few easy ‘sums’ I tried geography…

    Question: What’s the capital of France. There was a long pause…
    Answer: F 🙂

    Merry Christmas

    • Aren’t children wonderful David? I speak at a lot of schools and they always thank me for “putting something back into the community” – little do they know it’s the best training I can ever do as a speaker because you never – never – know what they will say!

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for your comments, stories, anecdotes and advice over the last year. I always enjoy them, and whilst I cannot claim to have conquered deep seated procrastination, your thoughts and thinking are going to help me do so.
    Have a peaceful festive season.

    • Thank you Clive, your kind comments mean a lot to me – a happy 2013 to you and everyone who reads this.

  3. What a brilliant ending to the NL year! I love all the messages/postings and inspirational messages that come from you to my inbox. Thank you so much.

    Very Merry Christmas David, your family and all your wonderful colleagues.

    I hope to see you at an event in 2013.

    Sharon x

    • So am I Paul – turns out the world didn’t end on 21 December, it started a new era which I hope will be a positive revolution

  4. Short stories, reminds me of Jeffrey Archer’s wonderful ditties which I just happened to get for Xmas last year.

    • WOW! as a writer, to be likened to Jeffry Archer – in my opinion the best storyteller in the world – is a compliment indeed, thank you Tony

  5. Seven stories…reminds me of the book I have just been given for Christmas.
    Seven Deadly Sins. Looking forward to reading that.

    • Yes, the leadership/business and success industry is obsessed with “sevens” – and so am I (and threes) – I really must get some therapy

  6. The misunderstanding story is superb. Andy King. I remember my ex husband loving that man when he used to star for Everton back in the day, in Merseyside derbies. Infectious character, great midfield player, so I was told every day!

  7. Absolutely classic. There is nothing more sad, funny, tragic, uplifting, confusing and wonderful than the human condition. Except maybe peanut butter. Thanks for sharing these.

    • Absolutely bizarre, isn’t it Francis – we have the original letter in an increasingly full “funny file”

    • I could write a book about the lessons, put downs and priceless comments from Olivia and our son Anthony.Olivia is glad you liked it Michael.

  8. The ‘Tom’ story must have been excruciating and awkward and the point where he adamantly says ‘no I don’t’ in that categorical way.
    It is amazing how things can get mixed up like that, it is almost material for slapstick comedy.
    It reminded me of the Only Fool and Horses sketches, two in particular, the first when Del Boy and Rodney turn up at the wrong funeral and it is only when relatives start talking about the deceased they realise they went to the wrong church!
    The other was when Del Boy and Rodney think they are going to a fancy dress party when actually, it is a wake because the person who was throwing the gig had died.
    They go bursting in as Batman and Robin. Trigger is in a suit, normal attire and he tells Rodney (dressed as Robin) that they would never have won the fancy dress competition because although Rodney looked Tonto, Del looked nothing like the Lone Ranger. Priceless comedy.
    As was the above sketch, David, must have been hilarious…ish!

  9. I think we’ve all had moments when we wish the ground would swallow us up.
    that sounds like it was one – Everton chairman indeed.
    I happened to meet Andy King once, when I was at Goodison to see a game back in the 80s. He was a gentleman.

  10. So you decided against the story about the non-league chairman who boasted at half time that his side would play nothing like they had in the first half when Woking matched them and watched his side go on to lose?

    You KNOW you wanted that in print…

    (For the purposes of FA etiquette, any resemblance between this incident and any that may have happened involving persons living or dead or David Taylor is purely coincidental – I may even have imagined it or misunderstood the anecdote – remember the emotional investment in teams can go down as well as up – your club may be at risk if you do not keep up loan repayments – mind the gap – terms and conditions apply)

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