J K Rowling, Noel Penrose & the Orders of the Phoenix

J K Rowling, Noel Penrose & the Orders of the Phoenix


Noel Penrose writes a wonderful series of inspirational notes – primarily for his children as they turn and face the world – he calls it Dad Advice. It holds a lot of lessons for us all.

Today he sent the following…good stuff!

The author, JK Rowling, has blended logic with magic and given us much to think about with the Harry Potter series.  Life lessons within the series that I particularly like are:

  1. Our lives are defined by the choices we make
  2. We must do what is right, not what is easy
  3. It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow up to be
  4. Happiness can be found in the darkest of times
  5. It doesn’t matter how small you are, you can always do big things
  6. Let others be the hero : give up the glory
  7. Question authority when authority is wrong

Much of what Rowling writes about is formed from her own humble experiences and a few years ago she gave an address to the students of Harvard Business School citing the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.  Key points I liked from her speech are shown below: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/06/text-of-j-k-rowling-speech/

  • There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you
  • She said ‘My parents had been poor and it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.’
  • ‘But what I feared most for myself at your age was not poverty, but failure’
  • JKR talks about the benefits of failure; her own failure and the lows it brought her to
  • I am not going to stand here and tell you that failure is fun, so why do I talk about the benefits of failure?
  • Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential
  • I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized
  • Some failure in life is inevitable
  • It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default
  • Failure gave me an inner security
  • Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way
  • I discovered that I had a strong will, and more discipline than I had suspected; I also found out that I had friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies
  • The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive
  • You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity
  • Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement
  • Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people who confuse the two

Believe in yourself.  Get back up.  Finish strong.  Be inspired by the dreams and achievements of others.

Picture: My wonderful Nephews.

In the face of difficult times, practical actions can inspire.

In the face of difficult times, practical actions can inspire.

My friend Noel Penrose shared with me some thoughts, articles and advice that he put together to help ground his sons who are at University and face an uncertain future according to the media-driven gloom merchants.
The notes are optimistic, practical, pragmatic, useful and bristling with suggested actions. Noel makes references to many inspiring people from Martin Luther King to Bill Gates. The most inspiring person of all is Nick Vujicic – “Get Back Up”.

Noel’s advice to his boys is just the kind of advice most companies and most brands need to thrive and survive in the 21st Century. By taking actions that are achievable, short term, testable and positive, brands can build towards providing meaningful experiences for consumers. At the same time, brands have to operate under developing needs for societal sustainability via conscious commerce business models such as that led by Unilever’s Paul Polman.

Noel seeks to inspire his family and community.

Paul seeks to inspire his near 200,000 staff and 2 Billion customers.