The Swing of the Pendulum - Reflections from Ireland's No.1 Business & Self-Empowerment Summ



In this week’s blog post we wanted to share some insights from the PepTalk Team who have spent the past two days at the Pendulum Summit 2019 held in The Convention Centre, Dublin. This years Pendulum Speakers were diverse, passionate and brought incredible depth to their chosen topics at the conference.

We know that no amount of words can replace spending time listening, talking, feeling and thinking – but hopefully these notes will share a couple of nuggets for anyone who wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to make the event!

The Pursuit of Excellence

Stuart Lancaster – Leinster Rugby Head Coach, Former Head Coach of England Rugby Team

  • No1. It’s a leaders responsibility to set the goal

  • You need strong foundations for sustained excellence


  • Excellence is created by focusing on the ‘why’

  • People tend to work from the outside in. Work from the inside out !


  • You need to create ‘connections’ for excellence

  • Small Actions i.e. small conversations = connections. (strengthen those connections)

  • Connection requires energy. It is VITAL to give time to it.

Red & Blue Heads

  • Blue = Calm and composed under pressure

  • Red = Emotional and aggressive


Great Leadership (at the very top) is key for Excellence :

Leadership never stops it is experiential

  • If you think you know it all – you will fail – you have to have desire to continually improve

  • Are you telling people what you think or asking people what they think ?

  • Organisations fail because the leadership fails – they do the ‘easy’ thing, not the ‘right’ thing

  • They usually fail because of 2 things (1) Operations (failure to apply the level of detail to your planning) and (2) Values

Qualities of great leaders

  1. Be authentic .. demonstrate integrity, show your character

  2. Have great communication skills

  3. Align people to a cause .. paint a vivid picture of the future

  4. Have a point of view – be prepared to articulate it

  5. Be good with people – inspire them

  6. Sense – ‘the mood in the camp’ – situational sensing

  7. Build trust and relationships. Character and competence

  8. Have the moral courage to do the right thing

  9. Have great body language

  10. Build belief and make performance meaningful

Creating belief for Excellence

Why Believe?

  1. Identify

  2. Training

  3. Cohesion

  4. Experience

'You won’t achieve excellence if you don’t take on the challenge.

Striving for it, that makes life meaningful!' Henry Fraser


(Jenny clearly got distracted then and drew a ‘self-portrait’)

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: Helping Successful People Get Even Better

Marshall Goldsmith – The World’s #1 Business Coach


Classic Challenges for successful leaders :

  • Winning too much

  • Adding too much value

  • Passing too much judgement

Six Active Questions ... Did I do my best to :

  1. Set clear goals?

  2. Make progress toward goal achievement?

  3. Be happy?

  4. Find meaning?

  5. Build positive relationships?

  6. Be fully engaged?

Developing yourself as a leader and partner:

  • Ask

  • Listen

  • Think

  • Thank

  • Respond

  • Involve

  • Change

  • Follow-up

How to Be Human

Ruby Wax OBE – Actress, Comedian and Writer


  • In the future, I think life will be less about survival of the fittest and more about survival of the mindful.

  • Be your authentic self, showing you flaws is what makes you real and what people around you know you are really. Everyone has fucked up in their own little ways, you didn’t need to cover that aspect of you up, it makes you, you.

  • We are supposed to be stressed at some stage, a complete stress-free life isn’t real.

  • Be kinder to yourself, being kinder to you builds your compassion.

  • We are not wild animals, we don’t need domination, we need collaboration. Employers need to learn this.

  • She spoken about her masters in Oxford, helped her learn to deal with the echo in her head to focus on what’s in front of her - "you check the weather outside, you need to check you weather inside". Particularly when its getting stormy in there.

  • Focus on one of your senses

  • You can’t stop the waves (anxiety, depression etc) but you can learn to surf them

  • One of the best things you can give people is your attention. Your full attention. Practice this.

  • Wherever you focus your attention, that's the person you are in that moment.

  • Exercise yourself mentally. You can change your body and the exact same thing can be said for your brain.

  • “Mental is physical .. every other organ in your body can get sick and you get sympathy, except the brain and it’s the mothership”

  • Neuro-plasticity, shape shifting neurons. Every thought, feeling, experience creates new patterns, chemical, pathways in your brain. It's constantly changing.

  • Cortisone makes those pathways rigid and immovable, the brain is unable to rewire, practising 'mindfulness' can relax these pathways.

Heroic Diver famously recognised for the Thailand cave rescue

Jim Warny


The most compelling aspect of his talk was how he approaches risk and tough situations:

  • On taking the risk to go to Thailand - his family trusted not only his skill but his judgement to take calculated risks

  • How to stay calm - focusing on the task at hand. Small steps

  • Advice - don't ignore the risk but don't let it put you in panic mode. Calculate and factor in the risks. How can I get out of this 'easily'. Work through the problem by breaking things into small steps and visualising in advance. Lighten the mood when in a tough situation​

  • Don’t ignore the risks or become consumed by them, simply factor them in!

  • Small goals will get you through

Attitude is Altitude

Nick Vujicic - Positive Change Agent & Resounding Resilience Master


‘We don’t know what is impossible until we know what is possible. So get out of your own way!’

Nick was a highly engaging speaker - he doesn't want to be a fluffy motivational speaker who just makes you feel good for a moment in time. So he encouraged the crowd to participate - take notes, record stuff, and repeat after him! It was a highly interactive session.

How he got into speaking - talking about bullying in schools

To reach your goals and live a happy life - start by asking two questions:

  1. Who are you?

  2. What do you want?

Nick gave '7' key things to note in achieving your goal:

  1. Attitude of Gratitude : The Happiest People on Earth are those who count their blessings

  2. I don't know what's impossible until I know what's possible. You don't know what you can achieve until you try.

  3. Get out of your own way. Be your own cheerleader. There's torment in fear. Accept that you might be the only one who believes in your goal. Someones the ones who love you most are the worst in believing in your goal - they can be the worst encouragers! Nick's parents are his example. They were amazing in making him independent and helping him overcoming his barriers - but wanted him to use his 'brain' (he has a financial / accounting double degree) and didn't fully believe in his goal to be a speaker

  4. When you fail (its never an 'if') - just get back up again. Failure = education. Mitigate risk. Calculate Risk. Build you team. Get a mentor. Attend events. Do all these things - but when it comes to it - you'll probably learn your own lessons and learn them the hard way. Even if you don't get a miracle - you can be someone else's miracle with your story or support.

  5. Obstacles are not barriers. Barriers are opportunities

  6. Dream Big

  7. Never Give Up

“If I wanted something, my parents told me to get it myself. I had to figure it out, so I started vacuuming with my shoulder and chin for $2 a week. It taught me patience. Don’t just give your kids something because they want it. Get them to set goals”

Things to record:

  • My goal is ...

  • Thanksgiving - 3 things I'm thankful for

  • Forgiveness

  • - I want to forgive myself for....

  • - I want to forgive X for Y

  • - I need to say sorry for .....

  • Obstacles - 3 biggest obstacles to achieving your goal

Unless there is zero chance of these obstacles being removed (health or disability) then your goal can happen!

‘The happiest people on earth are those who take time to count their blessings. I don’t need money to be happy … they can cut off my tongue, pluck out my eyes, burn my skin, but they can’t touch my soul’

A Career in Entertainment: From Beginning To Success

Colin Farrell, Award Winning Actor


"The greatest thing about fame is that you can strike if off the list of things that bring you happiness"

  • Acting was the place he found his voice and was a path he took that he was passionate about and was not solely influenced by his environment (like playing soccer was a cultural thing in his house and something his dad did)

  • The journey to achievement is absolutely the sweet part in his experience. Awards, nominations etc are amazing and you have a good night - but when it comes to it you realise the journey was the best bit.

  • How he dealt with fame - was so concerned with staying the same, not letting fame change him that he arrested his own development. And that's not natural - we all have to change and evolve as human beings.

  • Does he wake up happy every day? Not quite but always has an inbuilt sense of gratitude (that he has worked on) and a a willingness to let the day reveal itself.

  • Advice in tough times: this will fucking pass, talk to someone

Be the best you can be and achieve professional mastery

Baroness Karren Brady CBE – Leading Entrepreneur & Empowerment Champion


In life, there are 3 types of people:

  1. Make things happen

  2. Watch things happen

  3. Wonder what happened?

Some refections from her talk :

  • Good leadership manages hearts (make people love going to work) and minds (show what is expected)

  • Build trust, most important in the workplace. Do the right thing for the right reasons.

  • For business success, get culture right first, then set expectations and drive to clear goals.

  • Find naturally curious people with enthusiasm to work with. Life long learning from all.

  • Be really open about the challenges and improvements needed in the business.

  • Balance family and career was her biggest challenge

Personal ingredients to be the best version of yourself:

  1. Leadership, how you face the music when you don't like the tune. Collaborative attitude

  2. Ambition and internal spark, step outside comfort zone

  3. Determination is key

  4. Attitude and mindset

  5. Direction. Where you start is not in your control, where you finish is.

  6. Positivity, hang on when everyone else has let go

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence"

"It’s not the hours you put in, it’s what you put into those hours"

Unmatched Personal and Professional Growth

John Mattone – World’s #1 Authority on Intelligent Leadership, Coach to Steve Jobs



Individual and business success components:

  1. Think different and think big. Ask yourself better questions and hold yourself to a higher standard. Am I a role model?, What is my legacy?

  2. Vulnerability is key. Courage to accept feedback, be humble, look for input, ask questions. Show compassion and heart. This helps drive innovation and creativity

  3. Be proud of your gifts and strengths. Improve them ,see them as a differentiator. Look at your weaknesses and address them.

  4. Execute with passion, pride and precision.

  5. Be vigilant, eyes open, sensitive to others, what you say and how you say it.

  6. Course correct if needed

  7. Privilege and pride mindset. Don't take what you have for granted.

"Failure nearly always precedes success and success is often the first step to failure"

With an overriding purpose of the end goal, hard work, and self-belief, anyone can achieve their ambitions.

Mandy Hickson – UK’s first female Fast-jet Pilot and Leadership Authority


Building and managing successful teams

Brian Cody, Kilkenny Hurling County Manager

  • Kicked off joking, this was probably his biggest dressing room ever!

  • Started with a couple of questions. Why does he want to be the Kilkenny manager? Why is he entitled to be the manager? It’s a huge responsibility.

  • He believed they were under- achieving historically speaking. Set standards and set standards. Not about being successful, but being seriously competitive first. Very clear in his head about building something strong solid genuine with real respect.

“I wanted to build a spirit. It’s not about just the players and team management. It’s the county board, clubs (all our players come from their local community club), the people of Kilkenny.”

  • Build a spirit. Kilkenny hurling goes way beyond the people in the dressing room. Supporters crying out for a team that would give 100%, and they were entitled to that.

"Creating a culture of spirit that can not be broken whilst as a manager being conscious that the game changes or disruption in terms of business. Looking closely as the solution that might be right in front of you!"

"Need to build standards of excellence at all times, to set tone from the top. You don’t come in and say 'lads, I know what we could do.' That’s a gimmick and I’ve no time for gimmicks. You lead by example. If training is at 7am, it was my duty to be there at 6am"

  • Spoke about that unbreakable spirit. Easy to have when you win. Not so easy when you’re losing. That’s when spirit gets tested.

"When you don’t win that’s when spirit will help you bounce back if it’s strong, if it’s real"


"You learn so much in defeat or failure. Failure happened early for me, the first year. A horrible thing but a good thing if you’re prepared to learn from it. You need to improve and drive it all forward"

"Humility matters hugely. The understanding that we’re all just people with our feet on the ground. As soon as we lose that ordinariness, that hunger to win, we’ve lost it all. We’re either all superstars or none of us are superstars"

"Winning is an expensive lesson as well. Galway beat us the next year. Why? We had the spirit and the killer instinct. But we stood still. We thought we knew how to win because sure we did it last year. But to stand still is at your peril"

“You lose because you’re not good enough. No excuses. Then focus on how you can do better. Zone in on those items and nail them”

  • Players are still amateurs. Needed to know them and know their situations. See and read body language. Inevitably if a player isn’t performing, something in personal life is effecting it quite a lot of the time.

“There are no superstars on the team - all players are treated the same. It’s all about the team”

  • Knew he needed expertise from different avenues. From fitness/strength. From medical. Knew that others know more than him and he needed them and their expertise.

"What wins for you this year, won’t win for you next year!"

  • Had confidence in own ability. Sure of himself. Always wanted to “be himself”. (Not mentioned by Brian Cody but by PepTalks Cathal Sheridan : the current NFL Chicago Bears Coach has a sign saying “Be you” on his play sheet that he has for the sidelines. Uses it for when he has to make tough calls to remind him to stay true to himself)

"I believe the solution we are looking for is always standing right in front of us. If you have the confidence and the belief in your abilities then it’s not a risk, it’s a decision. Never turn away from it, believe in your gut"

Sustained Success

Bernard Brogan, GAA All-Star, Co-Founder of PepTalk and Legacy Communications

Bernard has played with Dublin for over a decade, earning 6 All Ireland Medals, 11 Leinster Medals and 4 GAA Football All-Star Awards as well as Footballer of the Year in 2010. In this session he delved deep into what it takes to maintain success, what keeps him motivated and moving forward, and how this applies to business.


Bernard focused on three areas for the Dublin Senior Footballers that demonstrate their culture :

  • Performance Culture and what that means on a day-to-day basis

  • Legacy

  • Sweeping the Sheds

Bernard explored how on the Dublin Team a performance culture is built off a foundation of respect and equality – that every single member of the team gets equal treatment and opportunity. One of the drivers for members of the Dublin Team is that ‘it is not about the team, its about the jersey’. This is built off the perspective that ‘great men and woman wore this jersey before us and it is now our responsibility to leave this jersey in a better place than when we got it’ – to ensure the Legacy lives on!

Bernard shared a lot of the learnings that the Dublin Team took from the All-Blacks, including the humility and respect that comes from ‘sweeping the sheds’. He regaled that even after an All-Ireland Final, while the opponent team changing rooms will be full of bandages, water bottles, and general rubbish, the Dublin Teams changing room will be left spotlessly clean with the exception of the black-bags with all the rubbish in them. For the team these basic rituals are really important culturally.

Bernard commented; this for me has such an important impact on our group. It is about respecting the group and the coaches and kitmen. Its more than just cleaning up after ourselves it drives the ideal that you can ‘never be too big to do the small things that need to be done’.



Bernard set the scene, with a description of the reality of what it is like to play in Croke Park in front of 80,000 roaring fans, bands, aerial displays, coaching staff, referees and media. He focused in on three key points :

  • Clarity of Role

  • Preparation

  • Courageous Conversations

Bernard shared just how hard it is to communicate with someone who may only be ten feet away from you, in a high pressure circumstance. He highlighted how the team use different types of communication, particular non-verbal communication – naturally this is still extremely difficult!

He reiterated how preparation is 9/10th of performance - for the team to be able to communicate and understand what looking to achieve on the pitch they need to have the work done in advance. Bernard emphasised the need for each person to have absolute clarity on the game plan/strategy and know what each units & individuals job is. He explained that this work is done through communication with Jim, with Jason as forwards coach, with players in your line, with the forwards group & with the Team as a whole.


Change & the need to embrace it to drive sustained success :

  • Growth Mindset

  • Breathe

  • Performance Trinity

Bernard spoke about his viewpoint for success in sports and business alike, relies on the ability to continually move performance to higher levels – having a growth mindset is critical to this.

In essence, what you achieve this year may not be good enough next year - “you are only as good as your last game/sale/quarter”. Goals and standards move onward and upward, creating a demand to find new means and methods to ensure the delivery of performance moves upwards also …

Bernard shared his experience after winning an All-Ireland and All-Star, just how quickly the expectations go up. When January comes around again, back pre-season training – he spoke about the need to choose a ‘growth mindset and approach to ensure he moves out of his comfort zone again to reach new levels of performance. ‘The expectations are higher and now there is a bigger target on my back from lads inside the camp trying to get my jersey but also other players from other counties who want to dethrone you’. Bernard explained that this is a great place to be, but it requires an attitude of embracing challenges, not avoiding them, one of learning from criticism, not ignoring it and not being threatened by other, but instead enjoying the challenge.

To maintain the success at this level requires the technical, tactical and physical prowess (that everyone assumes) but mainly the key to it - is the mental resolve to want to grow! The resilience to reinvent yourself time and time again, to maintain the high standards of play and try keep ahead of the chasing pack. The idea that the ‘raised expectations drive improved behaviours’.

This applies to the business world as well - you may reach all your targets in one year but then the pressure mounts again to keep on performing. Then it becomes expected as a norm so you have to keep on moving out of your comfort zone to reach new heights. When a Team embraces this mind-set choice then they will have a better chance of reaching their potential.

"The magic happens when you are under pressure"


  • Purpose

  • Make it their Challenge

  • Flying V

Camaraderie is a feeling of trust, a bond created by a shared purpose - you don't have to be best friends with everyone in the group to know you have their support, but everyone understand that 'we are in it together'

"These are the lads you go to the well with. The winning is a bonus. It’s amazing but it only lasts a short time. It’s the journey – training, bonding, building resilience, creating a shared purpose - and the camaraderie that makes it work"

Bernard shared that he has been involved with Teams in the past that were not as successful as the current team – ‘when I look back and reflect on it there were great players in those teams but there wasn’t the same sense of Team’. He shared that while this may not affect progress in the early stages of a season and there is no doubt that high quality individuals could get you into a quarter-final however to go all-the-way and reach your potential as a Team, you need to have a collective sense of Team and a camaraderie that is evident in training, gym, and of course in the game.


  • Hard Work

  • Performance = Capability x Behaviour

"Having a strong commitment is a sobering fact of high performance teams and their successes, it’s down to hard work. There’s no shortcuts, no secret sauce. The goal or the point is the product of the 10,000 kicks before that point"

Brexit and Beyond

Boris Johnson, Former London Mayor who served as UK Foreign Secretary

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Innovation, Creativity and The Right Attitude To Making Mistakes

John Cleese – Globally Renowned Actor, Comedian, Author

Highlighted his position on the power of play and creating space for creative thinking is key, allow yourself unrestricted time. Don’t allow critical thinking in early stages and allow unconscious thinking

"If we are going to be creative, we have to escape from our usual pathways of thought. That requires a more conscious, thoughtful, slow and relaxed way of thinking. No hurried thinking is allowed in creativity"

"Creative thinking can never be hurried you have to create a place where you can be quiet and settled and at that point the creative stuff comes to the surface!"

"The whole time you were in school or university, you probably never had a single lesson in creativity. Isn’t that crazy? It’s incredible how neglecting that is"

“New ideas are like new babies, they are very easy to strangle”

And he loves cats [so thats an excuse to put in a picture of Michelle's stunner of a cat below] and dislikes pedal bins.


Did you attend the Summit? If so, we would love to hear about your learnings, what speakers made the biggest impact for you and why .. Leave us a comment below!

#Empowerment #Motivation #Learning #Summit

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