I am part way through Max Gallo’s Mussolini’s Italy (1974)- an account of the rise and fall of Fascism in Italy. I had no knowledge of this period except for the sketchiest sense of Il Duce and an image of his jutting jaw, his rescue by German commandos after Italy’s capitulation and then his ignoble demise. I am astonished at the political factions and factors that allowed Fascism to take root. Mussolini was educated to be a teacher, practiced journalism and moved around in the political spectrum from socialist to anarchist to fascist, always an opportunist. There were several moments when he avoided disaster and continued forward in his progress to power. He was a clever manipulator of competing political and social interests and had a rare skill for reading public opinion and manipulating people and politicians. He was astonishly immoral and made use of violence and intimidation as a matter of course. His rise to power by 1923 inspired Hitler to make his attempt at a coup in Munich in 1923. The Nazis were arrested at that point and HItler sent to prison where he wrote Mein Kampf.

Inger Stevens

Caught the 1969 thriller movie, House of Cards, starring George Peppard and Inger Stevens. A movie i had seen many years before on TV. She looked stunningly, achingly beautiful in it. I have fond memories of her from her successful TV show, The Farmer’s Daughter. I found a collective biography of actresses who died young and read about Stevens. She was beautiful, talented, worked to help others and died senselessly at the age of 37.

leopard coat spots – work style change

I am going to offer you some free advice. Remember it is free and that its actual value may not be any greater than its cost. The cost to you is a couple of minutes of reading time.

Can you answer yes to these questions:

Most days I feel I am just keeping pace with things?

Most days I feel like I am just treading water not swimming to the island I am trying to reach?

I seem to spend all my time on stuff that is not very important?

If you answered yes then you might want to look at changing the pattern of spots in your “leopard coat”. Here are a couple of suggestions for change that might help you feel more effective.


Change 1: Instead of taking all your phone calls as they come in and dropping whatever work you are currently doing, have the staff take a message. Try to force calls into a block of time of your choosing. If you do your best “heavy thinking process” work in the morning, dedicate all your morning to that work and make call backs in the afternoon.

Change 2: Read your email first thing in the morning and then forget about it for the rest of the day. Hard to do but constantly checking email is a time waster.

Change 3: Is it necessary for you to handle ALL the details that you are currently handling. Can you not delegate more items to staff.

Change 4: Tell staff to accumulate materials for your consideration and signing and come to see you once a day or twice a week not on a per piece basis.

Change 5: As an experiment track your time for a week and generally track phone calls, unplanned visitors, solitary work, administration, strategic work, long range projects, or MLRB (minimum level to run the business). It is possible you will find the results surprising. You may find that you are spending next to zero time on strategic work.

Change 6: Urgency grid is a four zone grid of choice in which you quickly decide what value in importance and what value in urgency a piece of work possesses.

1 Urgent and Important

3 Urgent but not important

2 Not urgent but Important

4 Not urgent and not important

There is a real human nature tendency to do items that fall into #4 because usually they are easier to do and give us the false reassurance that we are accomplishing at least something with are time. When in truth if we never get to them, there is no meaningful impact.

Change 7: Time estimation – most people tend to underestimate how long it takes to do work. A good rule of thumb is to make a guess of the time you will need to get something done, then double it and add fifty per cent.

If you are doing this for the first time increase your estimate by another 50 per cent.

Most initial estimates automatically assume all will go perfectly. Most work does not go perfectly smoothly.

If your piece of work or project involves more than one person, add time.

If those people work in different physical locations (buildings) or different time schedules in the same building, add time.

If this work involves getting the approval of other people in one or many steps, add time.

One sure way to predict the amount of time is to stop and guess how many times you will have to talk to someone involved in the work, then based on past experience recall how easy it has been to reach that person by phone, by email or letter or in person.

Lastly be sure to think about how important the work is to you and to consider if it is a top priority or last priority with the people you will need to participate and cooperate with to accomplish it.

Al Pacino in 88 minutes

I didnt enjoy this as much as i hoped going in. Thriller about a forensic psychiatrist who receives a cell call informing him he has 88 minutes left to live. It was a little muddled to me but did show up in a slightly deficient way the true meaning in cinema story telling between shock and suspense. The audience has to be told things before they happen for suspense to build. Too many things in this plot move ahead with no effort to keep the audience informed. A lot of the time we have no idea where we are going or why. One major problem with the character of Dr. Graham (Pacino) he is painted with too many flaws and is basically unsympathetic, although every female character is enamoured with him.