Many of us have silly little (mostly meaningless) superstitions that give us some kind of strange comfort when we apply them. Mine is carrying this little coin – a British “Winston Churchill Crown” from 1965 in my pocket when I speak.
It’s not particularly expensive (many are available online for £3.50) but I’ve carried it around ever since I received it as a gift from a visit to Bletchley Park (the place where Alan Turing worked his magic during WWII).
Maybe I’ve always carried it because I play with it to calm my nerves before addressing a large audience. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of the year that TIME magazine published 50M words for the first time in a year, and I like to point out in my keynotes that it now takes twitter under 10 minutes to create the same amount of words. Or maybe it’s just because Sir Winston Churchill was a badass.
I like the cut of his jib. I love his sharp humour… his style… his famous quotes…
“Never. Never. NEVER give up”.
… and his not so famous quotes
“The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself”.
… but more importantly I love the words he spoke. His command of the English language was incredible. Unlike many speakers (Obama included) who sound incredible in person, many speeches of the great orators often lack the same power when you read them on a page. Churchill was different. Try reading one of his speeches in your lounge, it will give you the chills.
I’m such a fan that I also dedicated a couple of pages to him in my book Ten Words.
So it was with great joy that I woke up this morning to the news that one of my favourite actors Gary Oldman won best actor at the Academy Awards last night, for his portrayal of Churchill in Darkest Hour.
Hopefully this serves as another reminder, perhaps to a generation who know little about Sir Winston, that great leaders speak of big ideas using small words and short sentences.