PURRFECTION… Battle-hardened commuters scurrying through Liverpool South Parkway to meet the 07:53 to Norwich to arrive in Manchester before 09:00 are well used to the cheering powers of Paul the station cat. For years Paul – his owner is a Paul Newman fan – has crossed the road and headed onto the concourse for a busy day of lounging around at the bottom of tree planters or keeping warm under staff heaters at the turnstile. After this weekend Paul stands to win a new wave of fans when main line trains terminate at Sparkway, as some know it, whilst Lime Street closes for refurbishment. Anyone wanting to do their homework first could join the 2,000-plus followers Paul has on Facebook.

James Wharton

ROOTS MANOEUVRE… What does a former Northern Powerhouse minister do after he hangs up his boots? Join a PR agency, Hume Brophy, with offices in London, New York, Brussels, Dublin, Paris, Singapore and Frankfurt as senior adviser on Brexit. James Wharton lost his seat in Stockton South in the North East at the general election, having served as Powerhouse minister for David Cameron. Fellow Tory, Esther McVey, worked at Hume Brophy before returning to the Commons following her victory in George Osborne’s old seat of Tatton in Cheshire.

Megan Reitz

Mindfulness over matter: Megan Reitz led a five-minute meditation with no sniggering

MOMENT… The sight and sound of 140 business folk with heads down and eyes closed whilst they focused on sensations in their feet was a beautiful thing. Willmott Dixon’s enthralling Developing Leaders day at HOME this week featured three international business speakers. The session after lunch saw Megan Reitz demonstrate how mindfulness, including meditation – renamed ‘mind time’ by Reitz and her colleagues at Ashridge Business School – can help us be more alert and reach better decisions at work and at home. Hard hats off to Willmott Dixon for embracing the wellbeing agenda so boldly – Reitz is currently leading a pilot of mind time practice with staff in each of the company’s divisions around the country and, if effective, it will be rolled out group-wide.

HALO COMPANY… Staying with Developing Leaders, it was notable which businesses this generation of management consultants holds in highest esteem. In decades gone by we’ve admired the training of Mars, the supply chain of Gap, the lean production methods of Toyota. Two out of the three speakers at this week’s event presented lessons from Pixar, the Disney animation studio. Firstly, the short and simple mantra that “Quality is the best business plan.” Later the audience learned the six sentences which shape every Pixar movie plot, taking Finding Nemo as the example. See if you can complete the plotlines.

  1. Once upon a time…
  2. Every day…
  3. One day…
  4. Because of that…
  5. Because of that…
  6. Until finally…

The lesson being that we can use this structure to tell stories at work about what we do to inspire those we lead; set the everyday standard, describe what happens when things go wrong and what needs to happen to fix it so we can all live happily ever after.

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