As Google Images demonstrates, we infer from the term ‘work-life balance’ that as long as we give roughly the same time to both, we’ll be OK. But it’s not really that simple.

Ludwig Wittgenstein considered that the function of language, being a human invention, was to create a picture of the world. If a person could envisage the picture created by another, then they understood each other. He also suggested that those who failed to appreciate this nature and purpose (and limitation) of language tended to add to the sum total of confusion in the world.

‘Work-life balance’ isn’t a real thing, but it readily conjures certain images. Perhaps it’s a harassed office worker trying to manage work crises alongside family life. Someone sitting on a pool-side lounger sending emails and taking…


We know being a leader can be a lonely job, but it’s also complicated. If leaders don’t always get it right, rather than criticise, think how you could help. (Artwork by Nadeem Chughtai)

The most famous scene in the 1949 film The Third Man sees Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) confront the elusive Harry Lime (Orson Welles) on the Wiener Riesenrad Ferris wheel in Vienna. In keeping with the best cinematic villains, Lime delivers a self-serving speech in which he asks Martins to contemplate the people on the ground. As the wheel rises up and the pair get higher, the people below become insignificant dots. They cease to be people that you might care about and become objects, statistics. …


Trust can emerge between very different individuals in extreme situations. But trust usually requires consistency, empathy, open communication and oxytocin production.

Quotes from luminaries are rarely a good way to start an article. It’s just a bit uninspired, perhaps demonstrating a lack of original thought. But trust me, I have given this some thought.

Our experience of trust can be summed up by two bearded writers, whose lives overlapped by one year, and both of whom, paradoxically, seemed to struggle with certain aspect of social norms. Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” …


Building bridges is difficult but important, rewarding and inspiring. It requires vision, skill, hard work, good plans, and collective responsibility.

Coal mining has a history of influencing social, political and economic change. The fuel that powered everything for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, it employed millions in dangerous, gruelling, low-paid toil. It also brought great wealth to those that owned both the mines and, in many ways, the workers.

In the 1910s, the fatality rate of Colorado miners was over double that of their colleagues in the rest of the US. The state’s mine owners, chiefly the Rockefeller company, paid miners by tonnage rather than for their time, so work on safety was left wanting. In 1912, the…


Robbie was struggling to adjust to working from home.

In the mid-1700s you knew you were somebody if you had an exclusive audience with a robot. European nobility, according to the stereotypes, were usually fey, bored and yearning for novel distractions (when they weren’t at war with each other). Although some tried their best, acting as patrons of the arts and sciences, fancying themselves as refined polymaths. Both groups, for different reasons, adored an automaton.

The 18th century craze for man-made creatures was one of many endeavours that drew science, art and religion together. Priests and scholars debated what it meant to create something that appeared to be alive…


Within the terabytes of business-related content that has assaulted our inboxes, updates, and newsfeeds over the last five months or so, at least 83% (the author’s estimate) of it has related in some way to ‘dealing with a crisis’. From mental health to management to strategic pivots, the analyses of the effects and potential solutions have been myriad and often confusing. One thing, however, flows through almost all of the advice: culture. That most ephemeral of concepts; much debated, unique to every group, and rarely fully understood. …

Simon King

Communicator. Consultant. Writer.

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