Seen: Phantom Thread

This is a review of the film ‘Phantom Thread’ starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Lesley Manville. None of my reviews contain spoilers and only broad comments on the plot of a film.

Back to the Oscar-nominated films, I was excited to see Phantom Thread after enjoying the soundtrack for a few weeks (Spotify link). I was also interested to see what is supposed to be Daniel Day-Lewis’ last film, and see how Paul Thomas Anderson had directed this story – especially after hearing a great interview with him on the Adam Buxton podcast last week.

Phantom Thread tells the story of Reynolds Woodcock, a haute-couture dress designer and maker in 1950’s London, a man of exacting and sometimes eccentric standards and taste.  Lesley Manville plays his sister Cyril and provides both a foil and accomplice to indulge his whims.

The film focuses on the relationship between Woodcock and a young woman called Alma, who comes into his life following a chance (?) encounter over a brilliant breakfast scene.  The couple does not have an easy relationship, given his focus on work and demanding nature.

Phantom Thread

Along the way, we meet some of the interesting customers that might frequent an haute-couture fashion house in the 1950’s, from Princesses to Countesses to socialites, and all of the challenges they entail.

Phantom Thread is beautifully made, with an attention to detail and pace that makes it a lovely film to watch. The performances from Day-Lewis, Manville and the newcomer Vicky Krieps as Alma are electric and worthy of the finest films.  There is something gothic and unsettling about Reynolds, and like many of Daniel Day-Lewis’ finest parts, he dominates the screen and dialogue.

Just after I watched this, Phantom Thread was largely overlooked at the BAFTA Awards, picking up Best Costume – I suspect that this will change at the forthcoming Oscar ceremony.  Whatever the awards bring, this is my favourite of the season.

Overall. 10/10. IMDb


Working Out Loud Circle – Week Five

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Once again we gathered on Friday morning for our regular connection to the Working Out Loud Circle which has started to be called the ‘Mut Anfall Team’ – Courage Attack.

So what did we do this week?

As usual, we started with our regular check-in – I felt I had made some good progress in connecting with my relationship list this week and it was good to hear that others were making good progress soon. One of the most affirming aspects of being in a circle is that you can enjoy others small success as well.

We then moved on to the Week 5 exercises – finding and discussing facts about ourselves.  For some, this can be a difficult exercise, first finding the facts and then sharing.  We discussed some lists that were already out there in the group and committed to sharing the remaining lists in our Slack channel.  We spent a long time talking about the difference between a gift and a contribution, and the effect that has on us sharing these lists.

I saw a connection between these facts and a journey line exercise, which many companies use as a way of sharing history and creating some vulnerability in leaders.   We also talked about how this connected with having a growth mindset when connecting with people.

Along the way, we discussed the Johari Window concept (new to me) and walking as a meditation or problem-solving tool, which is great  – because I love a stroll!

My key takeaways

  • Creating 50 facts about yourself is not easy, but it’s a worthwhile exercise to focus on facts vs opinions. There is an element of trust required, but your circle is a great place to explore this.
  • I learned about the Johari Window – and will be reading about that and maybe completing the exercise for myself in the future.

What did I do after the week three meeting?


Sunday Six Pack #3

Time to relax, pour yourself a coffee and enjoy the Sunday Six Pack, all killer, no filler, just six of the best links curated from a week of reading. Previous editions here.

Compiled whilst listening to Eddi Reader

The Sunday Six Pack - great reading from across the web, curated for Sunday morning enjoyment Click To Tweet

Friday Customer Experience Pack #3

Every Friday, I’m going to round up the best Customer Experience writing I have seen during the week. Subscribe below if you’d like to receive this by email each week. Previous editions are here.

  • Customer Journey mapping is so important to building an excellent experience for your most critical assets.  This article from Jeanne Bliss is taken from her CCO 2.0 book, where she outlines the process taken at the Smithsonian Institute to build a living and breathing Customer Journey to help articulate the experience across the company.
  • The inimitable Shep Hyken asks ‘are you so good that your customers would pay double?‘  It’s thought-provoking to understand what differentiates you from your competition, and how Customer Experience can play into that.
  • The team at ZenDesk are asking if it is time for you to build a Support Operations team.  Making sure that your customer-facing staff have the best in processes, content and ongoing support will ensure that they can focus on delivering the best service possible.  I’m lucky enough to have great staff surrounding my frontline, but there are always opportunities to formalise and improve.
  • Finally, over at Customer Think, they are writing about the huge opportunity there is for small business to differentiate themselves through Customer Experience.  Given that margins are being squeezed ever tighter and the price is no longer an easy way to differentiate, customers are going to make decisions about service and experience.   Just think about how you will go to the ‘expensive’ coffee shop because the coffee is a tiny bit better, and the service is great.  That decision is being played out thousands of times a day and if you aren’t maxing your experience, you are definitely losing customers.
Thousands of buying decisions are being made each day based on #CustomerExperience alone - are you thinking about maximising your profits through great CX? Click To Tweet

What did I miss? Let me know the best Customer Experience writing you’ve seen this week in the comments.

Being together

Being together is a choice we make, daily. Every moment. Before every embrace. After every argument.

In the smooth and the rough, we choose. We choose to work for it. We choose to fight for it. We choose to love.

We choose to be at our best. And that choice means being together.

It the best choice I make every day.

From the incredible Patrick Rhone

Five podcasts that make your commute funnier

I spend two hours per day commuting in and out of London, and while I try and make efficient use of the time, it is also a good opportunity to decompress and get some entertainment.

Here are five podcasts I regularly listen to that keep me amused, I consider these to be an important part of my toolkit. I’d love to know your recommendations.

  • The Richard Herring Leicester Square Podcast – I never miss this one, recorded live in London, the very funny comedian interviews various comedy & TV stars.  Last weeks interview with Kathy Burke was brilliant.
  • Adam Buxton – Another must-listen.  Great interviews with some really interesting people, some comedy, some film, some music – recent guests have included Paul Thomas Anderson, Jonny Greenwood and Romesh Ranganathan.
  • Distraction Pieces with Scroobius Pip – whilst not strictly comedy based, this is a fantastic listen.  Street Poet and Actor Scroobius Pip attracts some excellent guests.  Recent episodes have seen diverse interviews with actor Vicky McLure, singer Paloma Faith and comedian Russell Howard.
  • Hip-Hop saved my life with Romesh Ranganathan – as well as being a guest, Romesh Ranganathan also hosts this fantastic podcast.  Loosely based around the guests ‘love’ of hip-hop, the wanderings are wide enough to cover even the guests who only like a little bit of the music.
  • WTF with Marc Maron – Comedian Marc Maron is the grand master of this genre with nearly 900 episodes in the bag. From his garage, he attracts some incredible guests for interview including Barack Obama, Bruce Springsteen and recently Darren Aronofsky.  The style is confessional, and funny and always a great listen.

Podcast - WTF with Marc Maron

I hope these five podcasts will keep you amused on a commute or drive.   I listen & subscribe to mine via Spotify or Acast, an excellent podcast client for on the move.

Nowhere else to go

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln

HT – Cultural Offering

Seen: Downsizing

This is a review of the film ‘Downsizing’ starring Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz. None of my reviews contain spoilers and only broad comments on the plot of a film.

Taking a break from the Oscar-nominated movies, I decided on something a bit lighter this weekend and took in Downsizing, a social commentary/comedy starring Matt Damon.

The premise is clear from the trailer.  As a way of saving the planet, mankind discovers a way to shrink itself to just a few inches tall, thus reducing carbon footprint.  Matt Damon and his wife see this idea and see it as a solution to their lives.

The highlight of the film is the transition process from ‘big to small’, and then the obvious scenes where Matt Damon gets to grips with a life at 5 inches tall.  He lives in a ‘park’ environment and enjoys a very different lifestyle to his life as a normal size person.

Along the way, he meets some great characters – especially Dusan Mirkovic, played amazingly by Christophe Waltz – who steals the show as a mysterious, louche neighbour with questionable morals.


Udo Kier plays Konrad, Christoph Waltz plays Dusan and Matt Damon plays Paul in Downsizing from Paramount Pictures.

I found Downsizing a little bit of a letdown, whilst there are some funny scenes, it is not really a comedy movie.  The story device of shrinking humans is good, but I feel like we’ve seen it before, although the actual process is very funny. However, the film leans very heavily on the social commentary aspect and feels like it loses some fun.

It is a pretty long movie, clocking in at over two and a quarter hours – but doesn’t really move at pace and it feels like it could have had a bit of tightening up, both in script and editing.  Matt Damon and Christopher Waltz are excellent, and I love the interplay between their characters.

Overall. 6/10. IMDb


Working Out Loud Circle – Week Four

This is part of a series of posts documenting my journey with a Working Out Loud circle, as defined in John Stepper’s book; Working Out Loud: For a better Career and Life.  You can read the rest of the series here.

Friday again, and it was hard to believe we’ve reached week four of our Working Out Loud Circle journey. I’d had a particularly disrupted week, so it was great to regroup with my new friends and discuss how we’d got on.

So what did we do this week?

Once again, we started with our regular check-in. Which I find a good time to really reflect, out loud, on what has gone on during the week and what progress I have made.  It’s great to hear that my fellow circle members have made good progress.

We started with the exercises from this week, reflecting on ‘Inbox Empathy’.  Most of us had some good examples of people that had contacted us with zero empathy, and it was clear how it made us feel.

We then had a lengthy discussion about the tactics we use to create empathy in our initial connections with people inside and outside our network, and how we were going to use that to connect with people on our relationship list.

It was encouraging to hear that others share the same puzzles about reaching out and ensuring that you are adding value, but it’s clear that we are all going to attempt something this week.

My key takeaways

  • Connections with new people are often all about context – in the example that John Stepper gives in the worksheet, the winning paragraph is that he sets the context for the email. This demonstrates the ‘why’ of the mail – not just the gift.
  • We had a long discussion on the open, random, supportive approach to building a network vs the ‘screening’ approach that some of the circle use.

What did I do after the week three meeting?

  • I’ve sent email connections to all the people on my relationship list – with some resources I think they might find useful – now it’s time to wait for responses!