Managers, especially middle managers, get a bad rap. Yet skilled management is vital to healthy organisations. Skilled managers make sure that information gets to the right people at the right time. They make sure that people have a safe environment and opportunities to succeed. They make sure that conflict gets examined and faced, and they make a seemingly endless stream of decisions.

Managers Anonymous provides a long term, practical support group for managers of all shapes and sizes. Many management groups focus on networking and theoretical strategies. Instead we provide an informal group where managers can get focused support for the daily challenges they face in their jobs.

Being a skilled manager can be hard work, but it doesn't have to be complicated. If you are interested in learning with a like minded group, we'd like to hear your stories.

We are currently looking for people who are interested and feel that they can make a regular commitment to participate.

Meetings are free and held every Wednesday 7–8:30am in Te Aro.
Please contact Adam Shand for details.

Note: The intention is to offer a six week block course later in the year which would use the same process but also provide more structured learning for newer managers.

Testimonials from some past and current participants …

“Leading a team can be a pretty lonely experience. Managers Anonymous gave me the peers and space I needed to develop my leadership skills. It's had an enormous impact on the way I work.”
– Clarion Coughlan, Project Director, NZ On Screen

“Being part of MA has been a really important part of my growth as a team leader and people manager. It provides a space where I can reflect on my actions and look to the support of peers when I stumble across a problem.

“The structure, approach and facilitation that Adam puts in place goes a long way to creating a comfortable environment for this to happen.

“It feels like the ground covered during an hour at MA would have taken me two weeks to get to by myself.”
– George Langlands, Leaf Advisor, ACC

“So many of the management & leadership courses I've been on basically teach you how to do the paperwork - how do you do a performance review, how do you performance manage someone, how do you fire someone, how do you make people get their work done on time. Managers Anonymous is a place where I can talk about the real day-to-day problems that come up and not just find ways to solve the problem, but also be challenged myself. To grow my skills and be reminded of what I owe to my staff as a manager - how to try to get the best out of them, and support them, and in a sense how to get out of their way and let them get on with being awesome.

“I also love that it works. That when I'm really stuck on a problem, often one I've chatted to friends and/or colleagues about and not really resolved, taking it to MA really breaks down the problem and lets me see it in a whole new light. And is often is the case in so many things, once you see the problem clearly, the answer seems so obvious and you wonder why you couldn't see it before.”

Posted Mon 29 Jul 2013 11:01:39 PM EDT Tags:

Two people walked. A couple. The woman went ahead. Down to the water, and back up the beach. Many times she went, back and forth. With her, two dogs. One small, one larger. The dogs constantly running, yet always coming back. Jumping up, then sprinting away. The man walked carefully. Slowing periodically. Scuffing the ground, kicking a rock. The whole way he kept slowing to kick a rock.

— · —

Today I kicked a rock about a kilometre down the beach. My rules were simple. It had to be the same rock and I had to always go forward. It's funny what you can learn kicking a rock down the beach. The pattern a tumbling rock makes in the sand. How much to scrunch my toes. What my rock looked like from every angle. To recognise my rock in the middle of hundreds of other similar rocks. Even the time I took my eye off the rock as it tumbled across the scree. How often it ended in seemingly improbable positions. Hanging from an invisible string.

These rules allow only two sensible strategies. Kick carefully or decide you don't care that the games ends. How many times did I kick the rock? Dozens. Hundreds? Each time I was able to make sure that it was carried forward far enough to kick again. It's a simple thing to kick a rock, but isn't everything simple?

I wasn't surprised that the rock changed. I was more surprised that I changed. Kicking a rock, thinking about care. About this world. About me. About the power of decisions. It's not hard to take care. To be careful. To carry something forward. To make sure something isn't left behind.

Posted Sun 28 Jul 2013 03:51:01 AM EDT Tags:

6-8 Servings

I’m normally not keen on white pepper. But I use penja white pepper, which is nice and spicy, not musty like other white pepper and works really well with soups made with tubers and root vegetables. It’s also somewhat expensive and if you don’t have it, the red pepper provides a hint of after-heat. Black pepper can be used, but is better ground over the top of each bowl.

Some might inquire whether they could use chicken or vegetable stock, which you certainly could. But I’m fine with just using water. If you’ve not used leeks before, see how to prepare leeks.


  • 2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 leeks, washed and sliced
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme; optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • 6 cups (1.5l) water
  • 1 1/4-pounds (600 g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the butter or olive oil over medium heat.

  2. Add the slices leeks and season with salt. Cook the leeks over moderate heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted.

  3. Add the thyme, if using, and chile powder, and stir for about 30 seconds, cooking them with the leeks to release their flavor flavors.

  4. Pour in the water, and add the potatoes and bay leaf.

  5. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender when poked with a sharp knife. Depending on which potatoes you used, it could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.

  6. Pluck out the bay leaves and puree the soup with the white pepper, seasoning with more salt if necessary. I use an immersion (stick) blender, but if you use a standard blender, be sure not to fill it more than half-full and secure the lid, and cover it with a tea towel when blending, to avoid hot soup or steam for causing problems. Don’t use a food processor as that will make the potato purée gummy.

If the soup is too thick, add a bit more water, until it’s the desired consistency.

Source: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2010/01/potato-leek-soup/

Posted Thu 02 Aug 2012 12:00:00 AM EDT Tags:
Black Bean Brownies

A little cake-like, but also a little fudgy, you’d never guess the main ingredient in these brownies is black beans. But by using whole, minimally processed ingredients like organic black beans, raw honey, raw cacao powder, coconut oil, and pasture-raised eggs, these gluten free, chocolatey treats actually have decent nutritional value as well.

Since they are so incredibly easy to make, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this grain free brownie recipe again and again.


  • 1 can organic black beans or 2 cups cooked, soaked dry beans
  • ¾ cup Rapadura, ¾ cup coconut sugar or 1/3 cup honey (raw is best)
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa or raw cacao powder (raw cacao powder is least processed and has more nutrition)
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture raised
  • 1-½ Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • walnuts, previously soaked and dried, or other brownie toppings (Optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse beans very thoroughly and drain them completely. Now do it again. You really don’t want any “beany” tasting liquid in your brownies!
  3. In your mixer add rinsed and drained beans, eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, sugar or honey, and cocoa powder.
  4. Blend until smooth, then add the salt and pulse until well mixed. Batter will be thin.
  5. Grease an a 8″x8″ baking dish liberally with coconut oil, and pour batter into dish. Top with optional walnuts or other toppings.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top and sides are set, and the insides are just a little soft.
  7. Cool before serving and enjoy!

Source: http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/grain-free-brownie-recipe

Posted Tue 15 May 2012 12:00:00 AM EDT Tags:
E|-0-2-4---0-------------------------------4-2-0---0-2-0----------4-2-0---0---0---0---0-| (*)

[E] I keep a [B7] close watch on this heart of [E] mine
[E] I keep my [B7] eyes wide open all the [E] time
[E] I keep the [A] ends out for the tie that [E] binds
[E] Because you're [B7] mine, I walk the [E] line

A|-------0---0---0---0---0-| (*)

[A] I find it [E7] very, very easy to be [A] true
[A] I find my[E7]self alone when each day is [A] through
[A] Yes, I'll [D] admit I'm a fool for [A] you
[A] Because you're [E7] mine, I walk the [A] line

A|-0-0-2-4-5---5---5---5-| (*)

[D] As sure as [A7] night is dark and day is [D] light
[D] I keep you [A7] on my mind both day and [D] night
[D] And happi[G]ness I've known proves that it's [D] right
[D] Because you're [A7] mine, I walk the [D] line

E|-----------5---5---5---5-| (*)

[A] You've got a [E7] way to keep me on your [A] side
[A] You give me [E7] cause for love that I can't [A] hide
[A] For you I [D] know I'd even try to turn the [A] tide
[A] Because you're [E7] mine, I walk the [A] line

E|-----4-2-0---0---0---0---| (*)

[E] I keep a [B7] close watch on this heart of [E] mine
[E] I keep my [B7] eyes wide open all the [E] time
[E] I keep the [A] ends out for the tie that [E] binds
[E] Because you're [B7] mine, I walk the [E] line


Performance Notes

  1. The original version of the song is mostly bass, with the guitar playing quite softly.
  2. The tab leads into each verse and the final two oscillating notes are played by the bass all the way through each verse.
  3. Each verse changes key, with the in between tab "walking" either up or down to the new key.
  4. If the in between tab is "walking up", than you start singing on the higher of the two oscillating notes. If the tab is "walking down", than you you start singing on the lower of the two notes. The correct note to key into is marked with an (*).
  5. We've slightly changed the in between tab make the oscillating notes always be on different strings by using E|5 instead of A|0.
  6. Using a capo on the first fret makes it easier to hit the low notes.

Amy and I had been playing a really simple version of the song which had the whole thing in the key of A. Once we started trying to integrate the tab into the song we realised that something wasn't quite right and after a bunch of listening to Johnny sing we realised that he was changing key on each verse. Figuring out what he was doing and especially how obvious and easy it is on the guitar, was really fun. One great moment was when Amy realised that he was using the tab to get his voice keyed in for the next verse. If you listen to the song you can hear him hum to the oscillating notes before starting to sing.

We're still not sure that we have this quite right, but it's closer than anything else we've been able to find online and seems to work.

Posted Tue 03 Jan 2012 03:21:46 PM EST Tags:
Origanal Bee Forage Calendar by Olive, Ashley and Juergen.

For the last month I've been at Milkwood Farm, about a four hour drive from Sydney, Australia. I'm here until December as part of their spring internship program.

Today three of my fellow interns (Ashley, Juergen, and Olive) quickly cranked out a bee forage calendar that it cried out for a digital version. Species have been selected for cold temperate Australia (this is definitely not the subtropics!). We're all beginners when it comes to bees, and damn close toe beginners when it comes to botany so please forgive any mistakes.

We'll improve it as time permits, in the mean time I hope it provides a useful starting point for others. If you have any corrections or additions I'd love to hear them!

Please note that the months indicate when the plant will be flowering in the southern hemisphere, where summer is December to February!

Name J F M A M J J A S O N D Uses
Golden Rain X X X X X D,F
Elder X X E
Rosecea Fruit X X E
Persimmon X X E
Chestnuts X X E
Almonds X E
Willow X X X C,M
Maple X X X B
Fig X X E
Grevillia ? H
Rosemary X X E
Giant Lavender X X X S
Hazelnut X E
Blackberry X X E,P
Bottle Brush X X
Winter Honeysuckle X X X A
Echium Wildpreti X X X X
Foam Flower X X
Tree Lupin X X X X N
Hairpin Banksia X X X X X X X
Queen Ann Lace X X X X
Thyme X X E
Dandelion X X E,M
Horehound X X X X
Lucerne X X X A
Borrage X X X X X X X A
Echinacia X X X X M
Yarrow X X Dy
Golden Rod X X X
Poppy X X R
Globe Thistle X X X P
Bee Balm X X X
Tansy X X X Dy
Cat Mint X X
Milkweed X X X X
Coltsfoot X X X
Anise Hysop X X X X
Ground Covers
White Clover X X N
Penny Royal X X X M
A Animal Food / Fodder
B Biomass
C Coppice
D Drought Tolerant
Dy Dynamic Accumulator
E Edible
F Frost Tolerant
H Animal Habitat
M Medicinal
N Nitrogen Fixing
P Pioneer Species
R Recreational (loljk)
S Aromatic (smelly)
Posted Fri 14 Oct 2011 07:37:16 PM EDT Tags:

It started with a recommendation from my Dad to read "The Snow Leopard" around mid-2009. From there I found a neglected copy of "The Great Gatsby" loitering on my bookshelves and then discovered "Diary of a Drug Fiend" in a secondhand bookstore. Continuing in this vein, and fuelled by childhood memories of Bill Murray, I tracked down "The Razor's Edge".

Reading these books from nearly a hundred years ago, it startled me how little many things had changed. That despite the sea of change in which we are currently immersed, "people … are still people". This dovetails nicely with one my primary experiences in Asia over the last year, that despite significant language and cultural differences, people are still people. It's a great lesson that neither time or space is powerful enough to change us, in essence we are all the same.

Digressions aside, one of the things I love about these classic novels is the almost breathless way in which characters are often introduced. Here's an example from F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby":

His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God... and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen year old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end.

and from W. Somerset Maugham's "The Razor's Edge":

He was a colossal snob. He was a snob without shame. He would put up with any affront, he would ignore any rebuff, he would swallow any rudeness to get asked to a party he wanted to go to or to make a connection with some crusty old dowager of great name. If I have given the reader an impression that Elliot Templeton was a despicable character I have done him injustice. He was for one thing what the French call serviable...helpful, obliging, and kind. He was generous, and though early in his career he had doubtless showered flowers, candy, and presents on his acquaintances from an ulterior motive, he continued to do so when it was no longer necessary.

This gave me an idea for a writing exercise. Using my friends as inspiration I will try and craft my own versions of these introductions. I don't have the courage to name them, hopefully nobody recognises themselves, and if they do, hopefully they won't be offended by my caricature!

Stay tuned …

Posted Fri 10 Jun 2011 03:30:25 PM EDT Tags: