Michael, Peter Cosgrove, John Tickell and other leading Australian speakers will work with more than 200 of Australia’s business people and thought-leaders at a unique workshop on the Gold Coast in August.


Your Business Success Seminar
Sheraton Mirage, Gold Coast
Friday 3 August – Sunday 5 August 2007

“In the twenty years I have been in the corporate speakers business I have never seen a seminar post a line-up as strong as this.” Barry Markoff, CEO – ICMI Speakers & Entertainers

BOOK RESERVATIONS HERE: The Your Business Success program on Channel 9 has seen many struggling businesses and sometimes the only reason they are not succeeding is due to the mindset of the operator.

“Before I could put my name to this seminar I needed to be convinced it offered substance and the right ingredients to allow all attendees to receive real take home benefits for their business.” Andrew Vincent, Executive Producer – Your Business Success, Channel 9, every Sunday.


In a recent interview I was asked to add one more thinking hat to the original ‘6 thinking caps’ developed by SOT in 1983.

I have designed the 7th Hat for Wisdom which is the Grey Thinking Hat.

Of all the original Thinking Hats–White, Black, Yellow, Red, Green, Blue–the Grey Hat is also the Senior Hat.

(Master Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with Grey Hat, Paris, 1887)



wisdom n. experience and knowledge together
with the power of applying them critically or practically
Oxford English Dictionary



is all about the escape

from judgmental thinking to wisdom.


Survival is clever and requires intelligence. Long term survival endows wisdom and this is a very clever thing, indeed

From the hard-won accomplishment of longevity emerges broad experience and special knowledge. It cannot be taught. It also offers a deep appreciation of the role that sheer random luck plays in long term survival.

My father was one of the wisest people I have ever known. He had a great deal of experience. In WWII he had served and survived in two theatres of war. He received a classical education, was widely read and had a great deal of knowledge and common sense. He was also very lucky. He survived bowel cancer, completely, and other narrow escapes. He’s used to say, “Nobody’s perfect”. How right he was!


Martin Joseph Hewitt-Gleeson – 15.11.1919 – 09.08.2003


The Grey Thinking Hat is for Wisdom.

The experience of surviving for a complete generation through childhood, adolescence and adulthood endows knowledge and perspective that a young brain simply cannot match.

To achieve 50 years of survival, through two or more generations, allows the brain to build a database of experience which offers a perspective of history, an understanding of long term consequences, a faculty for prediction and a wisdom that cannot be acquired in any other way. It takes half a century.

Grey Hat Thinking is the ability to see consequences, immediate, short term and long term. It is the ability to look back over history and to see forward into the future. To understand cycles, passages of time, the passing of fashions, eras, eons and the many possible futures including extinction, the possibility of no future at all.

My mentor, Professor George Gallup, was acknowledged worldwide as one of the greatest leaders of change. George was also a wonderful American gentleman and a very nice man. He was 84 when he died at his place in Switzerland in 1984.

He was the inventor of the Gallup Poll at Princeton and the designer of market research. He was the first to map the Human Meme Pool. George Gallup’s great personal wisdom was supported by his long experience of measuring, in scientific detail, the opinions of more people around the world than anyone else in history. In The Miracle Ahead he wrote that:
Change cannot be brought about easily by leaders, except in those situations in which the changes advocated do not disturb present relationships. In fact, it is the leaders who typically become the most bitter and the most effective foes of change. The public, therefore, must take the initiative and assume responsibility for progress in the affairs of man. The public must force change upon its leaders (who) command more respect today than perhaps they deserve… The leader is expert in his small world as it presently exists, not expert in the world as it might be. Although he plays an important role in modern society, it is not realistic to expect him to advocate change. This is the surest way for him to lose his status … The hope of the future rests with the citizen. To be effective, he must be well informed, and he must discover ways of making better use of his own great capacities and those of his fellow man. He cannot expect his leaders to give him much help in his upward march.

Grey Hat Thinking also means the wisdom to see other points of view. It includes the sagacity of patience to see beyond one’s own immediate viewpoint and the wisdom to see the viewpoints of others involved in situations: your partner’s viewpoint, your children’s, your children’s children, your neighbour’s, your customer’s, your enemy’s.

The wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking comes from long term survival.

Elizabeth II is the Queen of Australia. She says: “One of the features of growing old is a heightened awareness of change. To remember what happened 50 years ago means that it is possible to appreciate what has changed in the meantime. It also makes you aware of what has remained constant. In my experience, the positive value of a happy family is one of the factors of human existence that hasn’t changed. The immediate family of grandparents, parents and children together with their extended family is still the core of a thriving community. When Prince Philip and I celebrated our Diamond Wedding Anniversary last month we were much aware of the affection and support of our own family as they gathered around us for the occasion.”

It is the wisdom that emerges from the hard won, labour-intensive experience gained from having to solve life’s wide range of random and unexpected problems and having survived through multi-changing environments over several generations and for an extended period of time.

The long-term wisdom of Grey Hat Thinking may also be useful in raising one’s conciousness of Black Swans.

In The Black Swan, Hassim Nicholas Taleb shares his personal insight:

The other day, looking at my gray beard that makes me look ten years older than my true age, and the pleasure I derived from exhibiting it, I realized the following. Effectively, the respect for the elder in many societies might be compensation for our short-term memory. Senate come from senatus, aging in Latin; sheikh in Arabic means both member of the ruling elite and “elder”.

These people had to be repositories of more complicated inductive learning that included information about rare events –in a narrow evolutionary sense they can be deemed be useless since they are past their procreative age, so they have to offer some antidote to the turkey problem and prevent the less experienced members of the tribe from being suckers. In fact the elders can scare us with a story –which is why we become overexcited when we think of a specific Black Swan.

I was excited to find out that this also held in the animal domain: a paper in Science shows that elephant matriarch fill the role of super-advisors on rare events.

One of the well-known paradoxes of wisdom is expressed by Mark Twain’s admission: “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years”.

Even though we may not be able to teach children to do Grey Hat Thinking we can still teach them to understand what it is–to recognise it–to appreciate it, to consult it, and to seek it our wherever it can be found.

Wisdom, wrote Albert Einstein, “is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it … The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while … How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of goodwill! In such a place even I would be an ardent patriot.

NOTE: If you have any suggestions or comments on this topic, please post your ideas below and if your comment is included in the book you will be given appropriate attribution and a free copy of the book.

See also: The Original SOT Thinking Caps Concept …

Chinese character for Wisdom


images1.jpg SIMON interviews Michael (audio) about his new book awaiting publication called Silicon Selling and how the internet has changed the rules.

• What is Sales Analytics?

Gallup’s ’30 Things’.

• Grey Hat Thinking.

• What’s in Google’s enigmatic Building 43?

• Do Fortune 1000 companies ‘get’ the online world?

• What if Google was ten times bigger?

and other silicon speculations for the future.

LISTEN: click here to listen to Simon’s interview …

TRANSCRIPT: click here for the transcript of the interview …


jg.jpg Fun radio interview with Australian Thinker of the Year 2007, Professor Jenny Graves:

COMPERE: Do you hum a lot?
COMPERE: Do you really?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Has that got something to do with thinking?
COMPERE: I think so, yeah. What kind of humming do you do?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Well, I am a singer so, you know, I have music in my head the whole time. And sometimes it comes out my mouth and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s alway there.
COMPERE: Give us an example.
COMPERE: Hey I’ll pose a question to you seeing you are the Australian Thinker of the Year. Which is the other side of the road?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: The other side of the road, I am looking at it right now.
COMPERE: [Laughs] Is the grass always greener on the other side, Jen?
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: Yes, I think so. Every horse knows that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.
COMPERE: Ah, well, done. And now you’ll be going around Australia and everywhere you go now people would say, what do you think about this, Jen? And if you don’t have an answer you’ll be in strife.
PROFESSOR JENNY GRAVES: I’ll have to think of an answer, won’t I?
COMPERE: You will indeed. Congratulations.

Click here for the full transcript of this interview …


TENPOWER: The Powers of Ten – How can I X10 this?
images.jpg Tenpower is a measurement tool. Measurement is a very important skill for the brainuser to develop. It’s also a big help in finding a way out of our CVS.

For example, a BVS is a decimal of a CVS. A CVS is also a decimal of a BVS. In other words, they are related by powers of ten. Sometimes a BVS is ten times smaller than a CVS. Other times it is ten times greater.

The deliberate or habitual use of the number 10 is called Tenpower. Ten times better may be ten times more, or ten times less, or ten units forward or ten units back. It’s the deliberate use of tenpower as a provocation to get you to escape from your CVS.

Tenpower helps you to switch patterns of perception. That’s all. While it is not important that the number ten is accurately used, its use is a powerful escape mechanism. Take an X10 leap with tenpower.