Half-full…half-empty…or simply overflowing

I wrote this piece just before the 2012 Olympic Games opened in London. I had been reading the English (And other nations) press and its doubts and fears about the upcoming test of our ability to deliver as a country. I find that we are coming full circle as 2019 looms with impending embarrassment, loss and catastrophe as Brexit approaches. I am not for an instant, suggesting that the games and the separation from the EU are comparable. What I am fascinated by, is our approach and our attitude to both.


I have decided that I am an eternal optimist!

I was an optimist before...but now I have made my mind up, that this is to be a permanent state for me...from here on in. My reasoning is as straight-forward as it is compelling and I’ll be happy to explain the thinking behind the decision. 

In fact...I’ll be happy to do anything from now. (I’m an eternal optimist.)

Last week I was working with a client. Keiron Gallimore is the head of a fast growing and dynamic organisation called TXM, or The Extra Mile as its full title proclaims its mission. Gallimore is a lively, energetic man who has a smiley expression that often hints of mischief! He is a sharp thinker and a fun character and both he and his people function very happily at high speed. 

Keiron is still an optimist. I was reminded of this as I thought back over working with him some six years earlier as the London Olympic Games approached us. We were discussing the future and I mentioned the potential of a new recession that many are predicting as inevitable in 2013.

Keiron listened and acknowledged my point and then moved on without so much as a blink, to something far more exciting and engaging. His plans for the future and the fantastic opportunities that were unfolding for him and his guys at that very moment! What was so inspiring about his comments were the immediacy of the excitement and the acknowledgement of the present tense and not just a hope for the future. He was so engaged that he didn’t really have a mind for the warning I brought regarding next year’s potential recession!

As I mentioned, before I decided to be eternal, I was already an optimist. I know how powerful optimism is and how it can bring massive results. I’ve been coaching the principle for over thirty years! I invite you to try it...and once you’ve tried it, I invite you to practice optimism, for the following reasons:

Optimists are way above the average person in terms of being...:










well-balanced…this list goes on and on.

And please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is an excerpt from a self-help article!

If you need hard proof, please follow the work of Shawn Achor, an expert in positive psychology and the CEO of Aspirant, a Cambridge Massachusetts based consulting firm which researches positive outliers—people who are well above average—to understand where human potential, success, and happiness intersect. Achor is also the winner of over a dozen distinguished teaching awards at Harvard University, where he delivered lectures in Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar's class "Positive Psychology," the most popular class at Harvard.


The great thing about optimism is...it can be practiced and learned. We can start small and gradually build up until we not only find the good in people and situations...but also look for the best, even before it’s there!

For the sceptical and cynical amongst you... consider this: You can be as challenging and questioning and as suspicious as you wish, but when you do decide to make your mind up about anything, you can then choose to be optimistic or pessimistic about it. Whatever is happening around you can be viewed differently when you make your own mind up about which lens you look through! Is it the lens of the optimist...or the lens of the pessimist?

Here’s the view of Rupert Stadler at Audi, in a clip from the U.K’s Daily Telegraph’s motoring section: 30th July 2012...

But then Audi isn't doing this recession as others are. Last year it sold a record number of cars and expects to do so again in 2009, its centenary. When Rupert Stadler, Audi's chief executive, was asked how his company was preparing for the downturn last autumn, he replied: 

"We heard about it, so we had a board meeting and discussed it thoroughly and have decided not to participate."

For full article: www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/carreviews/supercars/4570410/Audi-R8-V10-review.html

The point I make is this. There are some good thing and some bad things going on out there right now. Take the Olympic Games as an example. The fact is... it’s going to happen all around you...Great victory and defeat, uplifting and funny moments, followed by real sadness and loss...packed houses and empty seats!

If you want to take the first step toward eternal optimism...Choose the upside for yourself.

Watch the games through the fun lens.


Everything else is like the medals...up for grabs.

Tony Whittle


The Golden Hours

If you could learn to effortlessly stretch the available time and the work quality of one hour to deliver twice its normal yield every day.

Would you use that skill?


When I worked in a London media business it was the 1980s and 90s. The world was becoming more VUCA by the day!

Alan Watkins, the heart doctor turned world class executive coach now describes this world as more volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous. It was becoming so then and it is more so today!

But it was during the eighties and nineties that I discovered The Golden Hours and I’ve been living my life in them, every day since.

At that time in my career and at that time in the world, work was king for me! I existed in an action culture where running was the norm for walking and quiet time was often pretty noisy. At that time, making money meant much more to me than it ever should have. I existed in a hectic place and I carried both its pace and its intensity wherever I travelled to build a media business in the UK, Ireland ,Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand…. 

Same pace…. Day and night!



It was while I was travelling through time zones, either to the East on business or to the West to the US on vacations, that I found The Golden Hours. And like a lot of great discoveries, I didn’t recognise them as such, or understand their immense value for some time.

The Golden Hours exist where time is stretched and work flows freely. These hours are calm, cool, quiet and peaceful. They are free from hassle and interruption. Free from hustle and bustle, noise pollution and traffic, people and pagers, phones or computers.

The difficulty is… just like me, most people can’t see them as they’re hidden in plain sight and are existing directly under your nose. For me they begin at 05.00 because that’s the time I now choose to wake. They stretch from then, all the way to 09.00, when the rest of the world (Officially) starts work.



At five am there’s usually only me around. Indoors or out.

No family members, no neighbours, no colleagues or clients  … Just me!

Granted, once I move outside, there are a few people awake, but they number just a fraction of those that will surface for a nine o’clock start. There is less noise, less traffic, less pollution, less distraction, less interference generally.

Getting out of doors is essential at this time….where you can see green or blue (Trees and grass or water) not grey (Concrete)



As I awake at 05.00, I feel grateful for this time to myself. It appears to me that this is a period that most people miss out on completely, or they sacrifice it for more sleep as the priorities of the working day take over. Ironically, for me, this is the most important part of the day, as once this part is in place, everything else seems to flow easily.

I have outlined the contents of my golden hours for you to consider. This is not meant to be ”The way” to begin your days. It is meant to be “One way” of beginning them! Apart from five to six am much of this is flexible. Just imagine having near perfect conditions for these activities!

If you want to learn how… for more information on Golden Hours, drop me a line on LinkedIn or contact me at The Aspiration Company

The Golden Hours Workshops are now available in The UK, Ireland and Europe.

5 am



Exercise (Mental and Physical) Outdoors.




6 am








7 am


Problem solve

Priority work-based activity

Fresh air break Outdoors.

Handle priorities

Set goals


8 am

Make calls

Take calls

Handle mail

Prepare for the 9 to 5 people


9 am…… OK! It’s time to go to work!


I do realise that not everyone can arrange their daily life to contain four golden hours. It’s just that the time I spend at this part of each day works best for me. If your own early mornings are limited and restricted by forces outside of your control, just try working with one golden hour which you create for yourself at the very start of your day, then see how it goes.

Once you’ve tried this for a month, I have a feeling you’ll take more control over the twenty-three hours that remain!

If you want to learn how to utilise the Golden Hours, drop me a line on LinkedIn or contact me at The Aspiration Company


Tony Whittle

Perennial Advice

I wrote this article for a Latin American publication back in 2006, at the request of Christophe Cahen, a friend and colleague from my Media Vehicle days in London and Amsterdam. At the time I was also coaching a young sales team at SAS and they had some outstanding talent within the ranks. Many have gone on to lead teams and organisations of their own. 

As I reread the piece, I realise the same values still hold firm ten years on…. then I recently looked again at the teaching of two of the world's greatest coaches and realised why.

A lot of sales people I talk to, tell me they want more! 

As a performance coach I believe it is not my place to problem solve on their desires. My responsibility is to ask great questions, to see if the real answers are within their grasp. I begin by asking my clients…”Do you want to have more, be more, sell more, earn more, sleep more, give more or take more?” My advice to you…and to my clients is this: Before you ask for more, please have a very clear idea of what you are really asking for!

The key to more:

If you want more sales, ask more prospects to buy. If you want better sales, however, call better clients and be a better salesperson when they see you! Sounds too simple doesn’t it? It is. Yet I know that seventy-five percent of the people reading this article won’t try do it! 

When I was building a portfolio of media clients, there were always some that we all dreaded calling. They were rude, aggressive, unreasonable and demanding…and that was on a good day. It got so bad that I would rather do anything than make contact because I knew what was coming! In direct contrast, I thought of the very best people I spoke to and started to study the behaviours that I thought, made them my best clients. Were they easy, or soft, or pushovers? Not at all. One was Andy Tilley the head of the UK’s biggest media buying house and the other was Media Manager at Unilever, Nik Wilkinson. Tilley was sharp, quick thinking, incisive and very, very knowledgeable about his subject. Nik Wilkinson was a real thinker and a man who expected you to be able to prove the value of every piece of activity you did! Both very different men, but both were an absolute pleasure to work with.

Quality will lead you to quantity:

I spent some time asking myself what set them apart from the nightmares I dealt with at other companies. Answer…they were good people! They had the kind of personal qualities that you would look for in a friend. Honesty, openness, good judgement; great sense of humour, loyal, competitive, determined, positive thinking and friendly. So from then, I focussed on prospecting more clients that had those traits and qualities…Guess what? I won more business and made more friends at the same time!

If you don’t believe me, have a look at your activities and your client list for the last month. Were over ninety percent of your clients and ninety percent of your calls fantastic? No, they weren’t! That’s because neither your clients nor your presentation were consciously trying to be the very best they could be… were they? Once you gain some experience in a job, you tend to cruise a little and forget how great sales are made. For those of you that have the courage to admit I am right…here’s your next step.

Look at your industry and ask yourself: Who are the top fifty, very best people you could possibly hope to present to? Maybe you admire, respect or fear them. Great! Now prepare to call them and arrange an appointment to present your proposition.

If you want to be a leader… You go first!

First ask yourself…”If I were that great a prospect, what kind of sales person would I make the time to see?” Then you prepare to become that person. When you call prospects, make sure you are the very best sales professional you can be: Well informed, concise, excited and confident you and your proposition can be of great service. Oh and by the way, before you go in to see them…think about these qualities. Remember the kind of personal qualities that you would look for in a friend: Honesty, openness, good judgement; great sense of humour, loyal, competitive, determined, positive thinking, and friendly. Do you expect to get these from your clients before you display them yourself? If you are prepared to work on this, in every call you make…you will see a massive change of fortune.

The Primary Skills.

In fairness to many sales people I've coached, they are fully prepared to work on sales techniques and will make sure they are up to date with the newest books, blogs and podcasts from the best sales sources available. My personal belief is that too much emphasis is placed here. The primary success skills are actually those which help you get close to people in the first place! Marshall Goldsmith believes that the higher you get, the less it's about your technical ability, because everyone is switched on and well qualified. The more it matters, how skilled you are with people. Jim Rohn also focussed his work on the power of personal growth before success in business. He said "You can have more than you've got, when you become more than you are."

And now…the results.

For the small percentage of you, the readers that followed all of these steps; Please enjoy the profits…You will have truly earned them. We both know that many people in sales started to fall away from success right back at my first questions…Don’t they?

That’s one of the beauties of this profession.