On identifying sporting talent: The Calthorpe Hypothesis

September 1, 2017

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In my new book, Seconds Out, I describe a fictional idea known as The Calthorpe Hypothesis. It indicates how sporting talent might be identified, and how it transfers from one sport to another. As sometimes happens, fiction can become a reality.

Seconds Out is a thriller with the usual ingredients of a super villain with a plan to dominate the world, a valient team intent on stopping him, few ghostly interventions, and a protagonist facing academic ruin if his research turns out badly. For the last point only, I was able to draw on personal experiences.

The Calthorpe Hypothesis

In the book, the research is based on The Calthorpe Hypothesis, a concept I invented as supporting a theory which might turn out to be completely wrong.

As the story developed, I became intrigued by the possibility that the fictional hypothesis could actually have more credibility in the real world than I originally intended it to have.

Chess Boxing

Sometimes an idea buzzes around in irritating fashion, giving you no peace of mind. It often helps to share your thoughts with someone else.

Chess boxing” I said to Susan one evening, as we were setting out to review progress on construction of the East Cheadle bypass relief road being conducted outside our front door.

“Sorry” she said “I thought you said Chess boxing. That sounds weird.”

“I did say Chess boxing. It’s a new sport. You have boxers who fight and then sit down to play a game of chess. It is the perfect contest requiring brain, brawn, courage and cunning.

“I suppose the chess players put gloves on after a game for fighting, and the boxers take their gloves off to move the chess pieces.”

“Whatever,” I said. “Anyway, it’s going to become big. And it is exactly where we should be looking to recruit much-needed new members for our Chess Club.

I am pinning my hopes on chess boxing as way of restoring my fading academic reputation, but I decide not to mention that to Susan for the moment.

As the story develops, I learn more about the Calthorpe Hypothesis in a conference on sporting excellence

I return to my room to dig more deeply into the implications of the Calthorpe hypothesis. With references from Greg’s paper, I quickly find what I am looking for. Professor Calthorpe is no longer with us. He was based in a department of sports science in Australia’s remote Northern Territories. His largely ignored work suggests it is possible to identify characteristics that suggest which sports are particularly complementary. He collected evidence from a range of Olympic sports such as weightlifting, swimming, gymnastics, and hurdling.

I can hardly sleep as I see the unnoticed implications of Calthorpe’s insights and consider how they will increase my academic survival prospects.

My first success came in the identification of Tim, a promising chess player who according to my ideas, could become successful at both chess and boxing. Tim agrees to become involved:

“I’ll think on it,” he said. “I’m coming over to East Cheadle soon. Got to go now. Lift’s waiting for me out there. I’ll let you know.”

Even if he can only play the last games of the season it might make all the difference. But a half-promise is not enough. My search for players must go on.

He leaves before I have time to learn his name. But before he leaves he says his meeting is to contact an agent for when he turns professional. That sounds even more promising.

A scan of the results board tells me I have been in contact with a Tim Bolton, whose grade makes him eligible to play as our new secret weapon.

The story continues with many a twist, and a final encounter with the evil Lyman Groat. After 60,000 words, I had become convinced that the Calthorpe Hypothesis is not an entirely crazy idea.

Chess Boxing

Chess Boxing is alive and well, and I am grateful to guidance I received when writing Seconds Out from the London Chess Boxing organisation.

Why not capitalize on the idea?

Putting on my Business School hat, I am now developing a research proposal around the hypothesis, and submitting it to various sporting bodies in the real world, seeking sponsorship in identifying their next top athletes from other sports.

I may still do so, but I have given too much of the game away already. Readers of Seconds Out, or even subscribers to this blog post, may beat me to it. If you do so, please buy copies of the book for all your family and friends.

You can learn more about The Calthorpe Hypothesis from clicking this link to the book

 


Tennis Matters: The dream of a perfect forehand

August 14, 2015

 

Tennimageis Matters is an account of the author’s obsession with tennis from his schooldays through his working career as a scientist and a Business School Professor. It documents his fruitless search for a respectable tennis forehand shot

Tennis Matters was published in E book format in August 2015. It is part biography, part based on tennis stories updated from over a thousand published in Leaders We Deserve over the period 2007-2015. It lists the mostly unsuccessful attempts of the author’s coaches to help him develop a workable forehand. It also includes Tennis Teasers (‘because they were the parts of my lectures the students liked most’).

“Hit past the baseline not into the net”

The story unfolds as the author recalls boyhood experiences: “My first coach was Tad the Geography master, a powerful bantamweight of a man, blessed with a natural tennis game, and in the classroom an unerring aim with a piece of chalk to gain the attention of an errant pupil. He did nothing to set me up with an educated forehand. But I do remember one piece of his advice. Better to hit the ball out past the baseline he insisted than into the net. I cannot say I have fully mastered the principles required for this tricky procedure”.

Tennis fashions

He watched his first films about the glamourous and exciting lives of tennis professionals: Hitchcock’s classic ‘Strangers on a Train’ and the lesser known ‘Pat and Mike’ starring Gussie Moran and Katherine Hepburn, noting the impact that Katherine Hepburn’s shorts and Moran’s frilly knickers were eventually to have on tennis fashion.

At the start of the 1960s, he recalls, the genteel ineptitude of tennis officialdom was still accepted. One match at Wimbledon ended in chaos when a line official nodded off and was unable to confirm that the match was over on a match point.

The modern era

Then came professionalization, and the modern era. The Australian Lew Hoad became to tennis what Stirling Moss was to racing, Bobby Charlton to football, and Arnold Palmer to Golf.

By the 1970s the great tennis tournaments were available to mass audiences. There were epic contests between two dominant figures of the era, Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. A similar series of breath-taking battles were to take place in the 1990s by battles between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi.

Into the 21st century

As the 21st century approached, the young Roger Federer began to rewrite the record books. He was later to face intense competition from Novak Djokovic, and from the king of clay Rafa Nadal.

An era of America supremacy led by the iconic figures of Navratilova, King, McEnroe, Sampras and Agassi was coming to an end. Another golden age was emerging in which ‘the American (Bryan) brothers and (Williams) sisters were supreme and yet were not receiving the wider recognition they deserved’.

The author began recording his notes on every match played by Andy Murray, having watched him first as a junior playing on an outside court in a regional tournament. He discovers that changes in the game have not all been to his liking. He learns of the impact of branding as he miserably fails to trade up his 1970s racquet for a modern one. His forehand continues to frustrate the best efforts of various coaches, even one who had helped players such as Martina Navratilova.

Subsequent tales bring us to the highs and lows of today’s superstars, and the pratfalls of TV pundits.

The dream of a perfect forehand

The author remains optimistic. Drawing inspiration from the great orator Martin Luther King, he concludes that however modest the achievement, he still has a dream that one day he will play the perfect forehand.

Note to subscribers

Note the price is quoted currently at $3.99 or £1.99. It is a Kindle product, but you can download a free App via Amazon if you don’t have a Kindle.


Dissecting Creativity: Interview with Tudor Rickards

March 10, 2015

Professor Gerard Puccio interviews LWD editor Tudor Rickards for the 2014 Alex Osborn memorial event at Buffalo State University

Gerard Puccio is chair and Professor at the International Center for Studies in Creativity [ICSC] at Buffalo State University. The memorial celebrations honoured the life and work of Alex Osborn who did much of his pioneering work on stimulating creativity there, with Sid Parnes. Sid’s wife Bea also attended and give a further key-note address.

The interview [47 minutes duration] covers Tudor’s association with ICSC, his personal history, growing up in a mining community in South Wales, [in Treforest, home of Tom Jones], developmental influences and how he became involved in creativity, moving from a career as a research scientist at New York Medical College and then Unilever on Merseyside,to his academic base at Manchester Business School where he helped build a network of European practitioners and academics.


Developing global leaders

October 25, 2013

Leaders We Deserve subscribers are invited to view and use a presentation on Developing Global Leaders, which is trending at the moment on slideshare

The presentation by LWD founder and editor Tudor Rickards suggests that Global Leadership is increasingly concerned with dealing creatively with complex business dilemmas. The presentation was produced to accompany the textbook Dilemmas of Leadership.


Twitter goes public: a few tweets

September 13, 2013

When Twitter announced it was going public, Leaders we Deserve Editor in Tweet provided his own tweets to mark the news

Friday 13th September 2013

1. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
@smh Thanks.Your article on twitter has encouraged me to review my earlier blogs from the time I wondered what Twitter’s business model is
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2. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Further thoughts on Twitter. What I like: unexpectedness of tweets from people with primary focus to communicate not capitalize
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3. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Further thoughts of twitter: What I dislike, Use as crude and sometimes covert advertising [lessons to be learned from TV commercials]
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4. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
I tweet therefore I am. I don’t tweet because I am something else
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5. Tudor Rickards ‏@Tudortweet now
Last twitter tweet for now. Twitter will split into several services whose form and function will be shaped by us the tweeters.
Details

A more formal analysis on how Twitter makes money came from The Sydney Morning Herald. This triggered the Tweets above.

Other early tweeters

1. Reuters India ‏@ReutersIndia 2h
Twitter takes first step toward going public
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2. James Hirsen ‏@thejimjams 3h
Things to know before you load up on Twitter stock
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3. Los Angeles Times

Twitter files for an IPO; five things you should know
As you may have heard, Twitter has filed for a confidential initial public offering of stock, so in case you aren’t too familiar with the company, here are five quick things you should know.
[Also shows original Twitter announcement]


THE CHRONICLES OF LEADERSHIP: BOOK PREVIEW

September 9, 2013

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The unexplained death of a scientist, and a surge of drugs on campus force Vice Chancellor Wendy Lockinge to return reluctantly to her skills as a senior police officer. Her daughter Jessica who wants to become a detective thinks she can do better…

So begins the marketing blurb to The Chronicles of Leadership by Tudor Rickards. The story moves from the University to the scientist’s laboratory, and to a local zoo whose animals are under threat from a mysterious visitor. Wendy recruits a team which includes a student activist, an expert in theories of everything, and a researcher into leadership who has his own secrets to conceal, including his relationship with an ambitious local journalist. The team unearths a criminal scheme that has to be stopped before its shattering consequences are felt around the world.

The Chronicles and Leaders We Deserve

A few years ago I thought there was a book on leadership to be extracted from the six hundred posts published through the Leaders We Deserve blog. Since then, the project has changed. The Chronicles of Leadership turned into a detective story.

A few willing volunteers are following the fictional adventures of Wendy Lockinge and her daughter Jessica chapter by chapter. I will shortly face a leadership dilemma of publishing in traditional or electronic format (or both).

The author

According to the blurb, The author of Chronicles of Leadership has written or edited fifteen non-fiction business textbooks, is founder of the blog Leaders We Deserve, and appears from time to time in the media on his specialist interests of creativity and leadership.

Pythagoras the python

In the book, Pythagoras the python featured above plays a part in a demonstration of snake-whispering. This goes badly wrong when Pythagoras attacks a Professor of Management.


Why I’m not a tennis commentator: Murray v Federer

January 26, 2013

Australian Open Tennis Semi-Final 2013. After five games of the match, two commentators declared that Federer could not win unless something significant changed. What had they ‘read’ that was not obvious to a non- professional observer?

Tudor Rickards

As a tennis addict I watch a lot of matches. I even offer opinions on a game I have never played at competitive level. Why not? There are plenty examples of less gifted players who make impressive commentators. With the notable exception of John McInroe, former top players do not seem particularly insightful. [I hesitate to comment on female commentators, as I don’t watch or listen enough to have a view on them or the game.]

Australian Open Tennis Semi-Final 2013 [25th January]. Views were expressed by former grand slam winners Pat Cash and Goran Ivanisowitch, after only five games. Both though Murray was completely in charge. Why?

I roused myself from beneath the warm morning blankets [UK time] and switch on TV. The first set went as the pundits predicted. To me, Murray seemed more comfortable on serve, although scattering enough errors to need a few big winners on big points. Federer seemed a shade more nervous than usual. The pattern or strategy of Murray was clearer. Strong hitting to the Federer backhand with powerful forehands to win points. Federer more being forced to respond.

Second set

A more even set. The TV commentators are more cautious than Pat and Goran, saying that Federer is never out of a close match. Now fully floodlit on the court. Are conditions changing? Is Federer giving up on points needing a big chase? My mind thinks tiebreak with edge to Murray. Tiebreak it is. Weak start by Murray. Murray misses a chance to win, misses, loses. One set all.

Third set

Murray seems in discomfort. Notice, Federer is hard to read. Physical and emotional state concealed. Federer has a weak service game, loses it, Murray holds. Wins set. 39 to 19 points won. Federer takes comfort break.

Fourth set

Murray’s concentration lapses and he drops serve. Fights back. At 4-4 no predictions. Murray stronger and breaks again to serve for match. Federer brilliance Wins to reach another tie break. And wins tie break.

Fifth set

The commentators have to make predictions. I’m glad I’m not one of those. BBC pundit just favors Murray. Who moves to 5-2. Then 6-2 to win match.

Learning

For me, realization that commentators are forced to resolve all anxieties for the rest of us. Maybe they “read” situations through better experience and tacit knowledge. Or maybe utter confidence in a belief is one of the charcateristics of a champion?


That’s better. Amazon updates its information on Dilemmas of Leadership

March 30, 2012

Updated materials from the Dilemmas of Leadership textbook can now be found on the Amazon website

Read on to find the connection with the image, which shows a scene from Cruft’s dog show

You might say this post is a publicity pitch for Amazon’s services. Or you might consider it a self-interested advertising pitch, or the author’s cry of gratification. Whatever, I can report that from today [March 30th 2012] a data search for Dilemmas of Leadership on Amazon will reveal information about the new edition which was published towards the end of 2011.

The old words behind the new cover

From time to time over the last three months, as newly published authors do, I would return to the Amazon website to see whether it has updated the pages announcing the 2nd edition of Dilemmas of Leadership.

Over that period of months, I remained disappointed to find the Amazon image was of the cover of the new edition but with the text inside from the older version of the book.

Portrait of the author as an old dog learning new tricks

The extended period waiting did not diminish the sense of frustration or motivation to return to the site time and again. Today I felt those extended efforts had been rewarded at last.

In dog training, this is referred to as the process of behavioural shaping through the gratification afforded by periods of extended play…

Images

The first image shows a border Collie assessing a group of judges at the UK’s annual doggiefest at Crufts. It has some connections with the main story, but mainly it’s there because I like the unconscious irony in the picture which is from Real Dog Training, Scotland and was taken in 1996.

The second image shows the book cover behind which Amazon sneaked in text from the earlier edition of Dilemmas of Leadership.


Carte Blanche. The rewriting of a superhero

October 25, 2011

Not a review of Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver’s reincarnation of Ian Fleming’s James Bond

Readers of any Bond story expect to find reference to much-loved and hated characters. There must be some hi-tech spy gimmicks for escaping and killing. There must also be a mastermind villain plus mastermind villain’s dreadful and evil plan which Bond has to thwart.

The ultimate Carte Blanche

Then there is the Bond antagonist who attempts but ultimately fails to kill Bond, and a few supermodel Bond babes for sexual, if transient, encounters in luxurious settings. Touches of sadistic violence and high fantasy are arguably also essential. Finally, we have Bond’s famous Licence to Kill, the ultimate Carte Blanche.

The challenge

The challenge is compounded through the success of the Bond films. The movie Bond might be considered authentic – even if the authenticity is based on a re-working of a fictional original, a simulacrum as the post-modernists like to say.

Icons and iconoclasts

Deaver risks accusations of heresy against a sacred belief. A militant army of Bond aficionados is ready to take up arms against false prophets…

The biggest challenge

The author has tricky creative decisions to make. What are ‘must leave in’ items? What are ‘affordable omissions’? What are ‘something extra’ items? Any new Bond has to be true to the mythology which is now thoroughly accepted through the superhero of the Bond films.

New Bond

Deaver sticks to a hero consistent with that to be found in the films, and arguably with the Bond in Fleming’s books. His Bond remains resourceful, courageous, a style icon, sexually voracious but with updating of his habits and attitudes. He has avoided the tempting ideas of producing a black Bond or a female Bond or a Gender-bending Bond.

No spoiler here

I won’t reveal the plot. The story does have the requisite components outlined above. When I checked by re-reading Fleming’s Casino Royale I was surprised at the patchiness of the writing and the level of sadism in the original. Carte Blanche is far less dark.

If you like Jeffery Deaver …

I felt the author had to sacrifice a bit too much of his own authentic style in his efforts at sticking to the old Bond format. But If you like Jeffery Deaver, you’ll probably enjoy this book.


Steve Jobs. Creative genius and cult leader

October 6, 2011

Obituary notes on Steve Jobs by Tudor Rickards

Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011) was a modern phenomenon for his creative achievements which did so much to create a global corporation, and maybe a cult of devoted followers

It is hard to find anything new to say about Steve Jobs [Image right with one of his most celebrated innovations, the i-Phone].

His life has become a story so widely shared that it has become part of a common platform of understanding.

His genius will be rightly lauded and his fame deserved. His greatest creation was the Apple corporation. I had been working on a post about Steve Jobs at the time of his death, and the following draws on my unpublished notes.

Apple as a cult

A BBC documentary [May 2011] suggested that Apple produces brain reactions in followers akin to those experienced in religious believers. It started from the interesting premise that Apple goes in for a lot of religious imagery. It was fairly easy to see the point that was being made. It also accorded with part of the Jobs story that Apple devotees can become evangelical.

Bad science

Web-comment was largely dismissive. The BBC programme had focussed on one addicted Apple user whose brain scan seems to show stimulation akin to those identified with a state of religious ecstasy. But the point being made is not entirely without merit. Much has been discovered by an imaginative leap based on observation of an exceptional medical case, or even a scientific observation.

A Jobsian cult?

One article went to town on the metaphor

A team of British neuroscientists has confirmed what IT atheists have known for years – that the brains of Jobsian cult members respond to the sight of Apple products in much the same way that religious believers respond to religious imagery. In a recent BBC documentary, Secrets of the Superbrands the neuroscientists ran an MRI scan on the brain of Alex Brooks, the editor of World of Apple, who claims that the Jobsian cult is “definitely” on his mind 24 hours a day. They discovered that photos of things like the iPhone and the iPad make certain parts of his brain all tingly.
“We see quite an amount of changes in the brain when he’s actually looking at Apple products, ” explained professor Gemma Calvert, a neuroscientist at the University of Warwick. “There’s much more activity in the visual cortex, an enhanced visual attention, if you like, to Apple products.” Much the same thing occurs, she explained, when holy imagery is shown to religious zealots.

Cultish leadership

Professor Dennis Tourish of the University of Kent has been exploring what he calls cultish leadership which appears to be an extreme manifestation of charismatic leadership . He has documented the Enron case and Scientology as manifesting cult-like properties.

Followership

Another emerging trend in leadership studies is that of followership. Here there has been renewal of an idea promoted by Ghandi who urged people to the perspective of self-development as ‘followers of self’. Ghandi remarked in this context that he was pretty bad at following his own goals and ideals. Maybe we have to look more closely at the conditions of extreme followership, be it of Steve Jobs or of the latest celebrity phenomenon.

To go more deeply

The BBC later [Oct 10th 2011] wrote more on the personality cult surrounding Steve Jobs