Get yourself ready for a great year ahead

During this time of year, it’s only natural for us to think about endings – but I’m always more interested in beginnings. Just as soon as this year’s holiday parties are wrapped, we’ll be thrown headlong into a brand new year – and a fresh opportunity to thrive. As you wind things down for 2016, make sure you’re also winding up for 2017. Now is the time to lay the groundwork for a great new year: Set goals and make resolutions.

That’s why December is one of my favorite times of the year, because it means the end is near and there’s a clear path to a new beginning. It’s a great time not only to look forward to the future but to think about where you are now.

Regardless of where you are at in your life, I believe you always need goals to help you keep growing and improving. You should have big dreams for yourself. And in order to reach those dreams, it’s important to check in with yourself on your needs and your progress. It keeps you accountable — and makes things actually happen.

I want us all to take some time this month to think about our growth this year. What did you set out to achieve in January? Maybe it was as straightforward as keeping up a regular exercise schedule. Or maybe you were aiming for a promotion this year, or to get serious with someone you care about. Whatever it was, how did you do with that goal? And how can you continue to improve on it until the end of the year?

What helps me track progress is writing down a big question that I have on a Post-It, and then possible solutions. It forces me to think of solutions to something that might have seemed big or overwhelming.

For example, perhaps at the beginning of the year you’d said you wanted to run your first marathon. But it was overwhelming, and tough, and it just never happened. That doesn’t mean that goal is a wash. You just need some time to focus on getting there.

You could write on your Post-It: How can I get ready for a marathon? And then write down what you’d need to do to answer that question, like asking friends who have run one before for advice and coaching, starting a fundraising page, downloading a workout app or getting new running shoes. Breaking that big question down into smaller answers can make it seem less intimidating and much easier to get started on.

Knowing that the end of the year is upon us, I’ve already begun to eat a little healthier, started working out just a little bit more and have set my first travel plan with my family. I am ready to take on 2017 with a vengeance.

I hope that you to can join me in this push through the tail-end of 2016. Make sure you are on track to bring something awesome into the new year with you. Make this the best year you have ever had, and know that next year has the potential to be even better. Keep telling yourself that, because the universe is listening.

Open diary New Years Day on wood background

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Early Wednesday, Donald Trump was officially elected the 45th President of the United States. Need to see it to believe it? Here’s a state-by-state breakdown of who won what and where. Later, Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in a private phone call. “She congratulated us,” Trump said, “and I congratulated her and her family on a very, very hard-fought campaign.”
Clinton supporters in New York ended Election Night in tears. Meanwhile, nations across the globe voiced their opinions about the president-elect. For some, it marks the end of an era. Here in the States, Van Jones put the result in perspective calling it a ’white-lash’ against a changing country.
Aside from clinching the presidency, the Republican Party also has House and Senate majority. This is our new reality. “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” Trump said. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all of Americans, and this is so important to me.” His inauguration will take place Friday, January 20, 2017. Brace yourself. Winter is coming.img_1943
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How running helped my firefighting career

I mentioned in my book ‘Firefighting from within‘ about running at a young age and now I want to share how it helped me as a firefighter. Running helps to get rid of excessive adrenalin and other stress hormones, boosts your mood and keeps you fit. Running is free, you can do it anywhere, and it burns more calories than any other mainstream exercise. Also, cardiovascular training for firefighters can make the job a lot easier and is part of the four fundamentals of firefighter functional fitness. Don’t get me wrong, I also did a lot of strength training to cope with the demands of the job too. In fact, here is the weekly training program that I did:

6 days per week - Some sort of running including: Fartlek, Hills, Sprints, Intervals etc.

6 days per week - Plank and grip

1 day per week - Upper body power workout ( low reps / high weight – about 1/2 an hour)

1 day per week - lower body power workout ( low reps / high weight – about 1/2 an hour) + stairs

3 days per week - Full body functional training ( high reps/ low weight) for at least 2 hours

1 day per week - Plyometrics ( Jumping / Bounding)

1 day per week - Rest

As for the mental side of firefighting, check out this really great article by Fire Cheif Frank Viscuso called ‘The Value of Endurance‘ as the article backs up what I say in My Book.


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Everything that happened at the Rio Games

Bolt’s triple treble, GB’s great medal haul, Phelps’ showstopper, Lochte’s shenanigans, Fiji’s first gold, boos, empty seats, a green pool: we’ve got it all

The Brazilian flag waves off the 2016 Olympics during Sunday’s closing ceremony.
The Brazilian flag waves off the 2016 Olympics during Sunday’s closing ceremony. Photograph: Pawel Kopczynski/Reuters

The big picture

Rio was thrilled to be hosting the Games; then not many people turned up to watch them; then the football gold and a beach volleyball win went Brazil’s way and the firecrackers came out again. And now life goes on for the people of Riomuch as it did before.

Jamaican and general all-round favourite Usain Bolt won and won and won to take his triple treble (not triple triple or three-peat, if you please), and also finished in a dead heat with himself for image of the Games. Was it this?

Canada’s Andre De Grasse, left, and Jamaica’s Usain Bolt smile at the finish line in the semifinal of the men’s 200 meters at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canada’s Andre De Grasse and Usain Bolt at the finish line in the semifinal of the men’s 200m. Photograph: Frank Gunn/AP

Or this?
Usain Bolt, Andre De Grasse (again), and the rest in the men’s 100m semi-finals.
Usain Bolt, Andre De Grasse (again), and the rest in the men’s 100m semi-finals. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Elaine Thompson made it another Jamaican double with her wins in thewomen’s 100m and 200m.The diving pool went green, but there was nothing to worry about: it definitely wasn’t urine. And that sewage-soaked sailing bayFineas long as you keep your mouth shutLack of wind meant sailors weren’t at much risk of tipping in anyway.Also at no risk of sinking, despite the heavy metals clanking round his neck, was Michael Phelps, retiring – probably – from his fifth Games with five more golds and a wallflower silver to take his record tally to 23 golds, three silvers and two bronzes. Add in the celestial Simone Biles (four gymnastic golds, one bronze), and the pair carried off almost one-fifth of Team USA’s 46 golds between them.Just as greedy were the British track cycling team, every one of whom won a medal. How did they do it, panted left-behind rivals. Here comes the science part. Also: money.A fistful of countries got their hands on Olympic golds for the first time: Singapore’s Joseph Schooling held off Phelps for his; VietnamPuerto Rico,KosovoJordan and Fiji joined the ranks too.South African swimmer Chad Le Clos tried some mind trickery but was seen off by the Phelps face. More successful were his compatriots on the track: Caster Semenya, who bent back the finger-pointers with her win in the women’s 800m, and Wayde van Niekerk, who stylishly crashed through Michael Johnson’s 17-year world record in the men’s 400m.
The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller dives across the finish line ahead of Team USA’s Allyson Felix to win the gold.
The Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller sprawls across the finish line ahead of Team USA’s Allyson Felix to win the gold. Photograph: Morry Gash/AP

And the podium of controversies? The booing of French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie as local hero Thiago Braz da Silva boinged his way to gold has to be on there, but pipped by the boxing judging row (succinctly precised by Irish boxer Michael Conlan: “They’re fucking cheats”), and Shaunae Miller’s legal but startling dive across the line to deny Allyson Felix 400m gold.Least fun was had by Russia, denied a track and field team after systematic doping, fourth in the medal table nonetheless, but on the end of some pointed criticisms for Yulia Efimova’s success in the pool, its boxers’ efforts in the ringand, well, generally.But China runs it close in the dissatisfaction stakes: “the worst Olympic flop”scolded state media as the national team finished a lowly … third.The most politically charged moment of the Games was very 2016: South Korea’s Lee Eun-ju’s selfie with gymnastics competitor Hong Un-jong of North Korea.
2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics trainingREFILE - CORRECTING ID OF SOUTH KOREAN ATHLETE 2016 Rio Olympics - Gymnastics training - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 04/08/2016. Lee Eun-Ju (KOR) of South Korea (R) takes a selfie picture with Hong Un Jong (PRK) of North Korea. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Lee Eun-ju takes a selfie with Hong Un-jong. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

And the special award for lack of sportsmanship goes to Ryan Lochte and his three partners in time-wasting for what the swimmer called “shenanigans” and the Brazilian police called vandalism and false testimony.

Team GB roundup

Two was the magic number: second in the overall medal table; two more golds for the unbeatable last-lap kick of Mo Farah; two for gymnast Max Whitlockand for cyclist Laura Trott; and 2012 doublings-up for Andy Murray, boxerNicola AdamsJade Jones in taekwondo, triathlete Alistair BrownleeCharlotte Dujardin (and horse Valegro), rowers Heather Stanning and Helen Glover, and Trott and Farah again. The men’s rowers took two golds, in the four and the eight.

Olympics 2016 day fifteenMo Farah shows off his two gold medals earned in wins in the 10,000 and 5,000m after the ceremony for the mens 5,000m during day fifteen of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero on August 20th 2016 in Brazil (Photo by Tom Jenkins).
The golds came marching two by two: Mo Farah shows off his medals.

Second has more painful connotations for Lutalo Muhammad, who dropped to silver with a kick in the head – it’s taekwondo, it’s allowed – in the final, well, second. And for Jessica Ennis-Hill, who ended just 35 points off a heptathlon double gold, but took her second place with pride and praise for her vanquisher, Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam.Jason Kenny (despite the bonus point for remembering to bring his bag for life) mucked up the pattern with his three cycling golds, but that’s doubled his overall haul to six, so this tortured motif still works. Ruining it completely is Bradley Wiggins, a 2016 gold hoisting him to the status of the most decorated British Olympian of all time: eight medals, five of them of the best variety. Katherine Grainger followed suit to become the most decorated British woman, a silver in the women’s double sculls powering her to five medals from five Games.
Laura Trott and fiancé Jason Kenny show off two of the 10 Olympic gold medals they have won between themselves, at the Rio Olympic Velodrome on Tuesday.
Gold medal cyclists Laura Trott and Jason Kenny: you might have heard they’re getting married.

In a generously-medalled Games, there was room for some firsts, too. Getting Team GB on to the gold medal list was Adam Peaty in the 100m breaststroke. The women’s hockey team clinched two firsts: a breakthrough gold and the first same-sex married couple (Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh) to win alongside each other. Nick Skelton won his first individual equestrian gold at the age of 58. Sixteen-year-old Amy Tinkler won her first medal – and Britain’s first for a woman on the gymnastics floor – with a bronze she called “crazy”.
More: Um Mundo Novo? The Olympic rings leave Rio, rustier but brighter
Justin Rose took the first gold since golf was invited back to the party. SailorsHannah Mills and Saskia Clarkand Giles Scott, won their first golds before they even crossed the finishing line. Jazz Carlin was GB’s first double medallist in Rio, with two swimming silvers. Liam Heath won his first gold in a kayak, Joe Clarke his first in a canoe (yes, they’re different). In the first Olympic outing for rugby sevens, Britain came second, but nobody could mind because gold belonged to Fiji.Britain’s most successful Olympic diver twisted to a gold and a silver, and we learned that his name was Jack Laugher and not Tom Daley. We also learned – and then some immediately forgot – the existence of Daley’s diving partner, Dan Goodfellow. In the interests of non-hypocrisy let’s add Laugher’s gold-winning synchroniser, Chris Mears, here.Total: 27 gold + 23 silver + 17 bronze = 67 medals and 2nd place overall.

Team USA roundup

So, yes, America won. A weighty 121 medals, eclipsing China’s 70 and Britain’s 67 with almost embarrassing ease. Will Team USA miss Phelps in 2020? Given he had a – flipper-sized – hand in just six of the 33 swimming medals won in Rio, they’ll probably get by. After all, there’s still Katie Ledecky (aged 19, four golds, one silver), Simone Manuel (20, two golds, two silvers, already a history-maker), Lilly King (19, two golds), Ryan Murphy (21, three golds) and, oh, too many others to list. It’s a pity the names of Ryan Lochte and co could prove the more memorable.

Michael Phelps: hanging up his goggles.
Michael Phelps: hanging up his goggles. Photograph: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

Team USA was a lap ahead of anyone else in the athletics stadium too, with 32 medals, 13 of them gold, and two of those belonging to Allyson Felix, now the most decorated athlete in US track and field history. A one-two-three for Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin in the women’s 100m hurdles was verging on boasting. Justin Gatlin came into the stadium to boos and left withone silver, in what must surely be his final Games.Wins in the men’s and women’s basketball were utterly expected. Defeat in the women’s beach volleyball and football, and early departures for Venus andSerena Williams (as well as golds for the athletically geriatric Kristin Armstrongand Anthony Ervin) were not.But even the absolutely predictable can be unbelievably beautiful, as Simone Biles and the rest of her final five proved over and over and upside down and over in the women’s gymnastics. Online attacks on Gabby Douglas showed the uglier side.Total: 46 gold + 37 silver + 38 bronze = 121 medals and 1st place overall.
Gymnastics - Artistic - Olympics: Day 11RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16: Simone Biles of the United States competes during the Women’s Floor Final at Rio Olympic Arena on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Flipping heck: the incredible Simone Biles. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

On the more humorous side…

Why yes, that is Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe dressed as Super Mario at the closing ceremony. Just 1,432 days until Tokyo 2020 and there’ll be no plumbing issues there. And the stadium will be made of Tetris blocks.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is Super Mario, just because.



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Are the Rio 2016 Olympics safe?

Has 4 years really passed since London 2012? It seems like only yesterday the country was swept up with celebrity torch bearers, Mo Farah, the Queen jumping out of a helicopter, 65 Team GB medals and of course 29 gold post boxes!

Today is the first official day of Rio 2016 and I can’t wait to have nearly three weeks of wall to wall sport followed by the awe inspiring Paralympics. I say official start as the football actually started on Wednsday in order to get it all wrapped up before the end, not that we are involved with the football due to some strange worry about FIFA only recognising a team GB for the rest of time (because we are doing so well separately!). Unlike the last Olympic outing for our athletes these games are far from home and have come under fire for a long list of health and safety risks, not only for the athletes in attendance but also the hundreds of thousands of spectators who are making the pilgrimage from far and wide.

Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, has tried to allay any fears and told ABC news, “We are working with contingencies, but things are on time, on schedule. We are going to show that Brazil and Rio is something more than nice beaches and great parties and good music and beautiful people”. Even some Olympians themselves have highlighted the negative views being propagated by the media, with rower Megan Kalmoe commenting, “Stop trying to ruin the Olympics for us”.

The list of risks being mentioned is huge but there are three that keep popping up on my newsfeeds;

It is a sad thought that the threat of terrorism is something that can affect people anywhere and would be a worry regardless of the Olympics’ location, this does little to lower people’s concerns though. Only a few weeks ago officials stopped a plot involving ten members of a militant group.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of the office of overseas citizen services for the American State Department, said that the arrests were “an indication that the Brazilian government is taking the security situation very seriously.” But terrorism is hard to predict, so it is recommended that all travellers take precautionary measures like giving their loved ones a detailed itinerary, staying away from large group gatherings, if possible, and keeping embassy contact information on-hand in case of an emergency.

The most widely reported of the risks is a viral disease mainly spread by mosquitoes. For most people it is a very mild infection and isn’t harmful, however, it may be more serious for pregnant women, as there’s evidence it causes birth defects and it is widely agreed that pregnant women shouldn’t attend the games.

Some have said that flying thousands of people into a Zika hotspot then flying them home again could be a disease control disaster. The World Health Organisation has tried to lower concerns with an open statement saying “”Based on current assessment, canceling or changing the location of the 2016 Olympics will not significantly alter the international spread of Zika virus”. As Rio is now in their cooler winter period the risks of Zika have lowered but all travellers should: consult their GP before travelling to ensure vaccines are up to date, purchase travel insurance and monitor travel warnings for the latest news.

It has been reported that 85,000 soldiers and police will be on duty throughout the Rio games to protect participants and spectators from crime. Brazil has one of the highest murder rates on Earth, with 1,715 homicides in the first six months of 2016 alone. Several athletes have been robbed at gunpoint while out training, including Paralympian sailor Liesl Tesch. Crime has been rising in recent months as a result of rising unemployment and a shortfall in public spending on security.

While very few official bodies have given warnings about traveling to Brazil, it is recommended travellers stay at a hotel with an established security plan, where they have outlined adequate measures to protect their guests, it also important to steer well clear of the city’s “unpacified” favelas.

Yes I would and in my opinion so long as you do a quick risk assessment in your head and action any control measures necessary then the risk of falling foul to any of these is low. There is plenty of dangers and risks everywhere we go and, although the Olympics is used mainly as a very clever and lucrative marketing campaign (a blog for another time), I think the opportunity to see some of the greatest sporting moments of a generation in person is a hard thing to miss even with an element of risk.


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How I managed with dyslexia as a firefighter

When I started work as a firefighter, I wasn’t in a position where I had to do a lot writing for or to other people. At school I taught myself how to memorize things in a most amazing way, because I struggled to read. I listened very well in meetings and when I was briefed about something, my memory was phenomenal.

However after two years in the job as a firefighter, I was offered temporary promotion to Leading Firefighter ( Crew Manager ) where I was in charge of a crew at the front of the fire appliance. It was then that I was being made fun of and being discriminated against. It seemed to take forever for me to read documents, and write reports and messages that were often riddled with errors. There were no computers or spellcheckers around then in the early 1990′s.

In 2005, after 15 years in the Fire Service, I completed a Politics Degree at the University of London and in the process I found out that I had the learning difference called ‘dyslexia’ a year prior. I always wondered why I was told that I am intelligent and full of good ideas and on the other hand can be sloppy and slow when it comes to paperwork. Now the penny dropped.

Just because someone has dyslexia, it does not mean that he or she is in any way less intelligent than his colleagues. In fact, chances are, he or she brings creativity, insight and powerful problem solving skills to your team.

According to Ronald Davis, author of the 2010 book, “The Gift of Dyslexia,” dyslexics think “outside the box” and often excel in entrepreneurship, science and inventions. Polar explorer Ann Bancroft, industrialist Henry Ford, and billionaire businessman Richard Branson all fit this pattern. Other famous and high-achieving dyslexics include physicist Albert Einstein, artist Pablo Picasso, movie director Steven Spielberg, and five-time Olympic gold medalist rower Sir Steven Redgrave.

With effective support, someone with dyslexia can be a valuable asset to your team. You can create a supportive and accepting environment for a dyslexic team member by adapting your communication styles and by providing appropriate resources. Ask what works best for him / her.

The way that she / he perceives the world is unique and can be a catalyst for innovation and success. But Davis also warns that, if not handled properly, the challenges faced by dyslexics can lead to low self-esteem, stress and even depression, which can exacerbate their condition.

Chances are, as the manager of a dyslexic person, you will have challenges to deal with. Changing his role or duties could cause him or her problems as he or she tries to adapt to new processes, for example, so you may need to provide additional training.

Similarly, introducing new technology can mean that you have to help him or her to adopt new ways of working. However, some new technology may really benefit him or her, and boost her engagement and productivity.

It shouldn’t be necessary in any workplace to hide something like dyslexia for fear of being made fun of or being discriminated against — so here are a couple of tips to encourage and protect people with dyslexia:

Tip 1:

Some dyslexic people are reluctant to disclose their condition. They may worry about how it could impact their employment and career prospects, for example, or out of shame at their difficulty in reading and writing.

Tip 2:

People with dyslexia in the U.S. are protected against discrimination by the Americans with Disabilities Act 1990, and those in the U.K. are covered by the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers need to make “reasonable adjustments” in the workplace so that dyslexic team members have the same opportunities as anyone else.

Wherever you work in the world, talk to your HR department for more information about what legislation applies to your organization.

Dyslexic photo

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So — Theresa May is our new prime minister…

So we have a new prime minister.

Undemocratically elected Theresa May will waltz into number 10 tomorrow evening.

For weeks swathes of the nation have praised our ‘democratic’ decision to leave the EU. But is our democracy an illusion? We are still no closer to leaving Europe and now have a head of state that no one voted for – aside from a handful of the political elite.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Labour Party refuse to acknowledge Corbyn, despite him being ‘democratically’ elected by the Labour membership.

Ah, British democracy…

Personally, I think Theresa will be there until the inevitable general election, when Boris will reappear and reclaim the popular vote.

(Of course, there is the chance Labour can unveil a secret weapon before the General. Though Angela Eagle is most definitely not it.)

It’s all a ruse, dear reader. Political parlour games.

Cameron quit, forcing Johnson’s hand. Johnson conceded it a clever move… he stepped out. Gove took the hit, knowing full well he’d never win leadership (but will have been promised a high cabinet role in the future). Meanwhile, May was happy to have a go at PM that she wouldn’t have otherwise got. Prime Minister looks great on a CV, no matter how it got there.

 Theresa May leaving No 10. From Wednesday, it will be her new home.

Theresa May leaving No 10. From Wednesday, it will be her new home.

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How tough times helped shape Wales’ football manager

Chris Coleman has masterminded Wales’ greatest football achievement — reaching the semi-final of the Euro 2016. Yet the manager describes himself as a man who has had “more failures than I’ve had success”. Their journey into uncharted territory has been an uplifting tale, and the spirit of the adventure has resulted in Coleman’s stock rising to an all-time high. Yet his journey to this pinnacle has not been straightforward. This is a story of a man who has shown great resolve in the face of adversity – and is now reaping the benefits of always “daring to dream”.

The crash

Coleman’s playing career ended prematurely and in brutal circumstances, as injuries sustained in a car crash in January 2001 forced the then Wales and Fulham centre-back to retire. Despite battling back to make a brief swansong appearance for Wales as a late substitute in the win over Germany in May 2002, Coleman had to confront the grim reality and announced his retirement five months later aged just 32. ”He is not one for talking a lot about his innermost feelings. But after that [the crash] he did write me a letter,” says Kit Symons, Coleman’s former centre-back partner for Fulham and Wales.”It is probably the only time he wrote a letter to me and I have kept it to this day. I will not say what was in it and he probably won’t thank me for mentioning it.”But arguably the accident was the biggest event of his life along with the birth of his children and getting married. For someone who is always laughing and joking and taking the Mickey, it showed the magnitude of what happened. Coleman’s son Sonny, now 23 and working as an agent, was 10 when his father had his crash.”He never let on how bad it was, larger-than-life character that he is,” he says.”I didn’t even see a change in him, but he knew he would have to retire. He tore his Achilles tendon, broke his fibula and tibia, shattered his knees – basically all the worst injuries you could imagine for a footballer.”Despite that, he was still himself, still laughing and joking. It was nice of [then Wales manager] Mark Hughes to give him those two minutes against Germany.”Coleman’s final international appearance came as a substitute for a player making his first, Robert Earnshaw.”That was a great thing to do. I always respect it when there’s that respect for players who are retiring, giving them a chance to say goodbye,” says Earnshaw, who scored the only goal in that memorable victory.”I was making my debut so it was the beginning of my career and the end of his. It was a nice moment.”

From Premier League to Greek second division

The silver lining of Coleman’s early retirement was a fast-tracked route to top-flight management, succeeding Jean Tigana at Fulham in April 2003 to become the Premier League’s youngest manager.He impressed at Craven Cottage, guiding Fulham to four years of mid-table stability before a poor run of results led to his sacking in April 2007. Coleman’s next job was in Spain with Real Sociedad, fulfilling a long-standing ambition to manage abroad – but things did not go according to plan. Late for a news conference and untraceable on his mobile phone, when Coleman finally turned up an hour and a half later he told waiting journalists his washing machine had flooded his flat. However, Spanish newspaper Marca published stories suggesting Coleman had been out partying until 5am and the former Wales defender eventually admitted doing so, before apologising for his “mistake”. ”I have had to change quite a bit about myself and that is probably maturity as well,” says Coleman. ”When I was 32 I’d look back to when I was 20 and think, ‘Why did I do that; that was stupid’ and, equally now, I look back to when I was 32, 33 or 34 and think, ‘I can’t believe I did that’. “ With Sociedad just a point away from the automatic promotion places in Spain’s second division, Coleman resigned - citing his untenable relationship with the club’s president – and he returned to England with Coventry. Former Coventry chairman Ray Ranson hired Coleman in 2008 but sacked him a little over two years later as the Sky Blues finished the 2009-10 season in 19th place in the Championship – their lowest league finish in more than 45 years. ”We had a good working relationship but in the end it didn’t help the situation that we were financially hamstrung by the people I owned the club with. I think we were both let down in that sense,” says Ranson. ”The players really liked him. Nobody at Coventry has a bad word to say against him. I do think international management suits him. “In an attempt to rebuild his reputation, Coleman took charge of Greek second division side Larissa – following a recommendation from Sir Alex Ferguson. ”He’d told me to take whatever came up, so I did,” says Coleman. ”If you get it wrong, two jobs running getting it wrong it’s hard to get a third one. That’s generally the rule. I got it wrong at Coventry. I could give you sob stories but, if I’m honest, I should have done better. ”A year out was good, thinking about my approach in and outside the job. But it was still the second division in Greece. One of the best things I’ve ever done because you find out a lot about yourself out of a comfortable environment. “With Larissa’s financial difficulties meaning Coleman went for long periods without being paid, he left again despite some encouraging results. He secured the job of his dreams in January 2012, though it was in tragic circumstances as he succeeded Gary Speed as Wales manager following his close friend’s death two months earlier. ”I’m here for a lot of right reasons and I’m here for a lot of wrong reasons, and that doesn’t really sit right with me,” Coleman said at the time. ”But of course I’m extremely proud to be leading my country. It’s my proudest moment.”

Nightmare of Novi Sad

The first few months of Coleman’s reign were turbulent. After overseeing a friendly against Costa Rica in tribute to Speed, he lost his first four games in charge in earnest – the worst start by a Wales manager. The most galling result was a 6-1 mauling by Serbia in Novi Sad, Wales’ heaviest defeat for 16 years. Coleman considered his future afterwards but Earnshaw, who was in Wales’ squad that night, says the players were not aware of their manager’s inner turmoil. ”There was emotion but no hinting it was too much for him,” he says. ”It doesn’t surprise me that he thought that, but when sometimes you can’t see the end of the tunnel, it can be very, very difficult and dark.” Less than a year into his tenure, Coleman was already under intense pressure. Victory against Scotland lifted some of the gloom and, although Wales failed in their attempts to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, finishing with a commendable draw in Belgium provided a glimmer of hope. The start of Euro 2016 qualifying brought renewed optimism with a relatively kind draw and a promising group of players featuring Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams. Wales delivered on their promise handsomely by securing their place at a major tournament for the first time since the 1958 World Cup. Having overseen one of Wales’ most humiliating results, Coleman had orchestrated one of their proudest moments.

The turnaround

Wales’ transformation under Coleman has been remarkable. Five months before he was appointed, Wales were ranked 117th in the world, their lowest position. Four and a half years into his reign, Coleman is preparing Wales for a first semi-final in a major tournament.”He had a difficult start but since he’s put his own stamp on the team he’s been absolutely incredible,” says the talisman of the current side, Gareth Bale. ”He initially wanted to try and not change too much, too soon. Obviously results did not go the right way. He changed it and it has paid massive dividends. “The success has not changed him as a person to those closest to him. ”I’ve always seen him as a big character and he has always been my hero,” says Sonny. ”He was 22 when I was born so, with the age gap quite small, we’re best friends as well as father and son. ”He was a big influence and one of the reasons why I’m working in football now – the ‘dark side’ as my dad calls it! ”We have the same kind of interests, the same music taste. Johnny Cash was my grandfather’s favourite. He sadly passed away two years ago, but he passed that on to my dad and he’s passed it on to me. ”My dad likes the Rolling Stones, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Foo Fighters – and if Wales win, he’ll always play ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis. “The key to Coleman’s – and Wales’ – success is the absence of fear. There is no fear of failure. He and his players dare to dream. And if they continue in the same vein against Portugal on Wednesday, there is a fair chance the Welsh changing room at Lyon’s Parc Olympique Lyonnais will be shaking to the strains of ‘Wonderwall’.

Sir Alex Ferguson (left) gave Coleman some management career tips

Sir Alex Ferguson (left) gave Coleman some management career tips



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UK has voted to leave the EU– What’s next?

Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU– What’s next? Here’s one possible outcome…

In a similarly dramatic referendum 50 years ago, Singapore citizens voted to leave British colonial rule and join the new Federation of Malaysia. But following race riots that ran out of control, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia and left as an island to fend for itself.

At the time, the skeptics saw a bleak future for Singapore.

At the time, the leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew spoke with tears on National TV: “Every time we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish… because all my life… I have believed in merger and the unity of these two territories.”

Then, realizing Singapore had no one to depend on but themselves, Lee Kuan Yew decided to reinvent Singapore – and focus the newly independent island on becoming a world leading nation.

He looked beyond their relationship with the British Empire and Malaysia to the rest of the world. He looked beyond the present to 50 years in the future.

Suddenly, what looked like a crisis was turned into an opportunity, with SIngapore being the first nation to be deliberately designed for the 21st Century.

50 years after that separation and new focus, here’s what that separation has led to…

Today Singapore has been recognized globally as:

> The No.1 most educated country, according to the OECD Global Education Report.

> The most innovative country, based on the Global Innovation Index published by INSEAD, WIPO & Cornell University.

> The world’s easiest country to do business in, according to the World Bank (7 years in a row)

> The No.1 country with the best business environment, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.

> The No.1 city with the best investment potential, according to BERI.

> The most transparent country in the world, according to the Global Competitiveness Report.

> The 2nd most competitive country in the world, according to the World Economic Forum.

> The 2nd most technologically advanced country, according to the WEF Global Information Technology Report.

> And the 3rd richest country in the world, according to Forbes, with one of the lowest levels of poverty and one of the highest density of millionaires in the world.

Singapore has achieved all of this 50 years after a separation that was seen at the time as a major crisis from which it might never recover.

It was achieved by focusing at future potential over existing partnerships and by focusing at the advantage of speed over scale. They set their own rules based on where the world was going instead of where the world was.

Of course, there’s huge differences between the UK and Singapore. But there’s also huge difference in the times we now live in. With the growing waves of technological and economic change, it’s the most nimble nations that will win in the next 50 years.

And while it will be the ones that can move rapidly with the times that will win, it will be the ones tied down in regulation and bureaucracy that will be left behind.

Of course, this is just one possible outcome from the current situation. The UK could also get caught up in bitter in-fighting and holding on to the past. It could be left behind in a wave of anti-immigration and protectionism. It could trip up over a fatalistic focus on short term currency and market swings. Or get stuck in everyone spending more time complaining about the weather than preparing for a sunny future.

Which path the UK takes is up to its citizens. But to choose to be a world leading nation of the new tomorrow is as valid a path as any.

In the midst of the current chaos and divide, there now lies an incredible opportunity for the UK to unite, put the past behind it, and reinvent itself for the future ahead.

And just as countries can reinvent themselves, against all odds, so can you.

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” ~ Malcolm X

UK EU pic

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What would happen to the EU-derived employment laws with UK leaving the EU?

I wrote a paper on discrimination rights and the implementation of the EU equal treatment directives in the UK in 2005.  Now that the UK has a leave vote for the so-called ‘Brexit’, what will happen to all EU-derived employment laws  that have become entrenched in the UK legal system?

Perhaps someone should tell Dave Cameron – not to mention UK Independence Party supporters – that there are good arguments to suggest that little would change. According to James Davies who is is joint head of employment and Bethan Carney who is is a practice development lawyer at Lewis Silkin, it seems unlikely that UK employment law will be transformed in significant ways. Below, I set out their argument:

Legislative challenges

To some extent, what happens to UK employment law will depend on how the government tries to extricate itself from the EU. European law has been incorporated into UK law in a variety of ways. Some UK laws are secondary legislation, that is, regulations introduced by a government minister under powers granted by the European Communities Act 1972 (the statute enacted to incorporate EU law). One example is the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE), which implements Directive 2001/23. Other UK-implementing legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010, is primary legislation (that is, an Act of Parliament).

If the government simply repealed the European Communities Act, the regulations passed under it (for example, TUPE) would probably fall away. In contrast, freestanding acts of Parliament (for example, the Equality Act) would remain in force. The result would be inconsistent and confusing for businesses. Repealing all primary and secondary legislation in one swoop would result in an avalanche of legal changes for employers and their staff. A more realistic approach following an exit from the EU would be to maintain the status quo and address particular laws individually over time. This could be done by repealing them or merely tinkering to make them more palatable to the UK business environment.

Case law

If this happens, a major issue will be the post-exit treatment of European Court of Justice (ECJ) decisions. Presently, UK courts must interpret EU-derived legislation in accordance with ECJ rulings and a body of UK case law has built up that does so. On leaving the EU, the ECJ would no longer have jurisdiction and its future decisions would not be binding on UK courts. However, it seems likely that if the UK were to retain any laws originating from the EU (which is probable), the UK courts would still take account of future ECJ judgments as persuasive – albeit not binding – when ruling on those laws. In this case, the ECJ would continue to exert an appreciable influence.

A further complication concerns pre-existing case law. Past ECJ rulings have become entwined with UK court decisions and legislation. For example, ECJ decisions on what amounts to a TUPE transfer, that sex discrimination includes gender reassignment and that pregnancy discrimination is unlawful without the need for a comparator have been written into the law. Additionally, when taking into account ECJ decisions, UK courts have incorporated them into their own jurisprudence. For instance, the leading Supreme Court decision on the types of factor that might justify age discrimination depends on ECJ reasoning. Sometimes, UK courts go a long way to make UK legislation consistent with ECJ rulings. Prominent examples include recent cases on holiday pay in which the courts have read additional wording into the relevant UK legislation to give effect to ECJ decisions.

Past decisions remain binding on lower courts, subject to their ability to distinguish them because the particular facts of the case are different. Possibly, UK courts would treat the fact that they are no longer obliged to apply ECJ judgments as a materially different circumstance justifying a complete departure from previous rulings. However, it seems more likely that they would continue with many established doctrines (if for no other reason than to preserve legal certainty) – perhaps retreating from more extreme decisions that have required words to be read into legislation.

Possible outcomes

The ensuing period of uncertainty could prove a real headache for businesses. Employers would be unable to predict with any confidence whether the courts would feel obliged to follow or depart from existing precedents. There might be several conflicting lower court decisions until a case came before the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court and a binding precedent was set.

What if the UK were to get rid of all legislation of EU origin? Once deleted from the statute books, the related court decisions would be of merely historical interest. It seems unlikely that all EU law will be consigned to the UK’s legislative dustbin, for two main reasons.

First, both employers and employees consider much of the body of EU law to be a good thing. Most employers would not argue that they should be free to discriminate or even that there should be no right to paid holiday. In reality, a handful of laws would probably be scrapped owing to unpopularity (the Agency Workers Regulations being the most likely example) and some fairly minor modifications might be desirable for certain others.

Removing entire laws would be much easier from a legal perspective, because it would not give rise to the uncertainties discussed above; but on a practical level, it would engender many other issues. Even if employers and employees wanted to discard all existing EU legislation, large numbers of commercial agreements have been based on it. Abruptly terminating TUPE, for example, would cause havoc with commercial outsourcing arrangements, which all contain provisions based on the assumption that TUPE will operate to transfer the employees if the agreement terminates (and have been priced accordingly).

An even more compelling reason to retain the bulk of EU legislation is that the UK would want to stay in a relationship with the EU. It is the UK’s biggest export market and, as such, the UK will want some sort of free trade agreement with it. Practically speaking, the options for the UK would be either to join the European Economic Area (EEA), like Norway, or to negotiate bilateral agreements with the EU, like Switzerland.

EEA membership

The EEA is made up of the EU and three of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states: Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. As part of this arrangement, the EEA EFTA states are obliged to accept the majority of EU regulations without being part of the EU decision-making process or able to influence it. Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein thus participate in most EU social and employment policy. For example, the EEA agreement incorporates many EU directives, including the Equal Treatment Directive, the Collective Redundancies Directive, the Part-Time Workers Directive, the Posted Workers Directive, the Parental Leave Directive, the European Works Councils Directive, the Acquired Rights Directive, the Working Time Directive and the Agency Workers Directive. Further, the influence of the ECJ would still be felt because the EFTA Court, which interprets the EEA rules, is obliged to follow ECJ case law.

Bilateral agreements with EU

The Swiss model does not offer much more hope to UK ‘eurosceptics’. Switzerland has more than 120 agreements with the EU – many of which incorporate EU law – and Swiss legislation often follows EU law, even in sectors not covered by these agreements. In practice, Switzerland has data protection, TUPE, discrimination, collective redundancy and working time laws and the Swiss courts often follow ECJ case law.

Even the most fundamental goal of many eurosceptics – namely to reduce EU immigration into the UK – may not be achievable under either of these types of arrangement. The free movement of persons is an integral part of the EEA agreement and Switzerland had also signed up to this principle. A recent Swiss referendum resulted in a vote to cap immigration, but this has put the entire basis of the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU at risk, and it is not yet clear what type of arrangement may emerge from the renegotiation.

No major transformation

It is doubtless true that either as a part of the EEA or under bilateral agreements with the EU, the UK would be able to negotiate some exemptions from EU employment law. However, the EU would be reluctant to permit ‘social dumping’ and allow the UK to undercut EU states through lower employment standards (for example, removing paid holiday or scrapping collective redundancy consultation) while remaining part of the free market. The EEA agreement and the agreements with Switzerland allow these countries to access the single market only in return for signing up to significant portions of European law. France and Germany are especially unlikely to allow the UK – as a key competitor and larger economy than the existing EFTA countries – to gain a competitive advantage through free access to the EU market with lower levels of employment regulation.

Clearly, if the UK did scrap all EU-derived employment law and abandoned the free movement of persons, it would have major consequences on UK employers – and on businesses from other EU member states that work in the UK or are in competition with UK firms. However, the relatively minor changes that are, in our view, more likely would do little to exaggerate the already significant differences between the employment law regimes in different EU member states.

Boris brexit


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