Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 and Thank You

Just 5 hours remain in the year we call 2017.

I could do a reflective talking about all the remarkable and many extraordinary events that have taken place, some fake others not but my fear is this would quickly become a Trump rant.

Instead, I will follow my instincts and outline what has impressed, surprised and delighted me in international and local politics, sport, books, movies and music these last 365 days less 5 hours

Politics - International........

The election of Emmanuel Macron as President of France seemed to break the sequence of protest election results. Brexit was unexpected and arguably unwanted and Donald Trump achieved victory on the back of an incredible platform and dislike of Hilary Clinton.

Macron does not have a traditional political heritage however he also conducted a campaign that was not purely based on hatred.

The initial indication out of Germany was also positive at it appeared Angela Morkel would be returned. This is a little less clear right now however chances are a coalition of support will deliver stable government in Europe’s dominant economy.

Politics – Locally......

A few things stand out in a year that was embarrassing by way of the pettiness, childishness and self-centred negativity by just about all local Federal players.

Senator Brandis speech after Pauline Hanson donned a Burka was outstanding and received a standing ovation from all Senators not aligned with One Nation.

The carriage of the Marriage Equality legislation was also a high point and demonstrated what can be achieved when politicians argue and prosecute their beliefs irrespective of political alignment.

Nothing else about this matter was positive including the process that resulted in the act being amended. The result however was.

My other positive is a little “left field”. I applaud Cory Bernardi for following his conviction, leaving the liberal party and forming the Australian Conservative Party. Having decided he could not turn the Liberal Party in to a Conservative Party, he left and formed a Party that aligned with his values.

Like or dislike the Conservatives, his actions are credible. If only a few other Members of the Liberal and National Parties would demonstrate similar conviction and join his party.

In World Sport........

Roger Federer provided a Master Class in how a great champion should behave when he competed in and won the Australian Open Tennis Tournament. Everything about him sets and example for everyone else to follow in all walks of life.

Chris Froome won two Grand Tours in 2017, French and Spanish and again his humility and class was always on display. Unfortunately, a cloud has recently appeared over his victory in Spain.

In Local Sport..........

Richmond climbing to the AFL Premiership was an event many never believed they would live long enough to see.

However, the real achievement was the growth and acceptance of the Women’s sporting environment in Australia.

Alysse Perry played the outstanding Ashes Innings of the year with her double century in the Test against England played at North Sydney. Her batting was outstanding for its power, grace, elegance and sheer skill. No better double century innings has been played in Australia these last 20 years – male or female.

Also becoming a house hold name is the Matildas Sam Kerr. Her goal scoring feats for the Matildas and in the American League have been outstanding.

2017 was the inaugural season for the AFL Women’s’ competition. TV ratings were huge and attendances put many main stream men’s’ sports to shame. The star, premiership captain, role model and best and fairest medal winner was Erin Phillips who bypassed her lucrative and successful American Basketball career to follow her AFL passion.

The growth and acceptance by the sporting public of the authenticity of women’s sport was a land mark of 2017.

At a personal level.........

Leaving Corporate Life has been refreshing, energising and fulfilling. I am not saying I would never go back, however I would be very fussy about what it is I would be doing and for whom.

Berlin was magnificent. I loved the City and all it offers. The marathon was also fun and satisfying.

My trip to the Tour Down Under was sensational. The atmosphere of health, happiness, involvement and inclusion that is Adelaide for 10 days in January is intoxicating. I look forward to this again in 2018.

Still on cycling, growing up in Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road is iconic. Cycling a section of the Great Ocean Road as part of the Cadel Evans Peoples ride was a highlight.

I managed to read some 40 books in 2017. Of these, perhaps 39 were non-fiction. As much as I try, I cannot decide my favourite however I have reduced the list to four books:

1.       This Road I Ride by Juliana Buhring.

Despite the title, this is not cycling book. It is more a voyage of discovery by a lady who identifies with no country as a result of growing up in a cruel cult. On escaping the cult, she fell in love with an adventurer who died in the wilderness while kayaking. Her voyage of discovery was by way of a bike ride around the world, a venture she never really expected to survive. She only learned to ride a bike a few months before leaving.

2.       Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler

A fascinating and educational look in to the one-thousand-year history of Constantinople. What is most enlightening is just how many of the challenges we face today, were unable to be resolved all those years ago.

3.       The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

This book is many things including a unique look at Academic Research and those who conduct it. Two Israeli Psychologists with enviable combat records spend years researching and testing human behaviour and the impacts of decision making. The dangers of unconscious bias are investigated and solution sort. It can be heavy going at times but is captivating.

4.       Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

A look at what drives this unique individual including the contradiction that has many devoted to him while at the same time being driven to extraordinary lengths and sacrifice to keep things moving forward. One of the most fascinating sections explained why Musk has such an incredible risk tolerance.

In reality, this autobiography should be “Part One” as the Musk story is still unfinished.

I had no such problem deciding on the best movie. It was clearly Hidden Figures, the story of the Computers of African American decent who made the first American manned venture in to space possible.

My music discovery of 2017 is the daughter of a school friend and if it wasn’t for this friendship, I would not be aware of the artist.

Her name is Nussy and her music is as interesting as it is captivating. Here is an example of her work.

While on music, at a completely different level, I was delighted to discover a track by Nick Cave. It is his version of the iconic Seekers hit, The Carnival is Over. I cannot claim to be a devoted Nick Cave fan or to be a student of his work. However, there are many thousands of songs I would have tipped him to cover before this one. Listen here.

All we need now is a duet of Nick Cave and Judith Durham.

I want to acknowledge the diverse range of people who contributed to my life this past year.

The writers, photographers, teachers and educators, thank you. To the financial services professionals some since retired, your interaction, counsel and advice is appreciated. To the cyclists, runners, the hockey players and cricketers past and present, your banter and inspiration is valued. To the school friends and the work colleagues of my youth, the re-established connections have been a delight.

To those who work tirelessly for Motor Neurone Disease, your work is outstanding and I have been proud to have made a minor contribution and look forward to continuing to do so.

I was moved to be a part of the Darkness to Daylight event on 3 May raising awareness of Domestic Violence and perhaps my only regret about leaving Corporate Life is not being able to be part of this in 2018. (I am open to invitations to make a guest appearance in a Corporate Team)

I was also humbled to learn of the work of RizeUp in helping victims of domestic violence re-establish their lives and I am keen to make a meaningful contribution in 2018.  

As for 2018. The only thing for certain is it will be the best year ever, if you make it so.

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