Interview with Don McGlashan – I chat to him ahead of UK tour with Dave Dobbyn

Originally published on NZNewsUK

By Charlotte Everett

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Two true Kiwi legends – Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan – have come together on stage for the first time, and this weekend sees the start of their UK tour. Don McGlashan took time out of their hectic tour schedule to have a cheeky chat with me ahead of their much-anticipated shows in Edinburgh and London.

Don – you are two of New Zealand’s most successful and best-loved songwriters. To have you sharing the stage together for the first time no doubt has fans all around the world excited. How are you feeling about it, and how has this finally come about?

There was a vague plan for us to do an acoustic show together in Edinburgh a few years ago, and although that didn’t happen at the time, the idea remained hanging in the air like the name of your favourite music teacher at Primary School, who you can’t quite remember, even though she looked like Ingrid Bergman.  Then a few months ago we were asked if we’d consider doing the now-established “Acoustic Church Tour” together in NZ this October. We jumped at it.

Your UK shows follow tours across New Zealand and Australia. How has the response been Down Under?

We got a great response to this show in New Zealand. We haven’t finished the Australian leg of the tour yet, but Melbourne was terrific, so I think it’s going to go well. 

 

What’s it been like working together for the first time?

Brilliant. Learning each one of Dave’s songs is like meeting an old friend.

Neither of you are strangers to the UK and Europe. How are you feeling about returning to the UK, this time together?

I seem to still have a fairly healthy following in the UK, both from when the Mutton Birds lived there in the 90s, and from my solo tours there in the years since. It’s always good to see old friends in the audience.

How do the London fans/shows differ from those back home?

No matter where you are, every audience is different; every night is unrepeatable. That’s why playing live matters so much.

 

Your Edinburgh show sold out, so you’re now doing another one. Did you expect as much? And how do you find the fans in Edinburgh?

I’m always surprised when audiences show up. You can’t take anything for granted in this business. But houses have been pretty full throughout this whole tour; I guess people realise it’s a rare occurrence, and they are interested to see how Dave and I bounce off each other musically.

Fans here know to expect a combination of classic tracks from both of you, as well as new material. How much of the content is new, and how has it been received so far?

We’re both playing a wide range of material across our whole careers, including one or two new songs.  The new ones have gone down very well.

Likewise, what old classics have driven fans wild on the tours so far?

Well, hearing ‘Loyal’ and ‘Anchor Me’ in the same set seems to wipe away any last vestiges of reserve in the audience.

Other than the shows, what else will you get up to in London and Edinburgh?

Eel and Pie in London; Haggis in Scotland.  Oh, and single malts. A lot of research needed there.

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How to survive the long-haul nightmare

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I’ve just gotten back to New Zealand after another 25 hours spent on an aircraft. A few people have questioned why I’ve come back so soon, given that I was only here in February. Well, this will be my first Christmas at home in 5 years – there’s something extra-special about being here for that experience, and I’ve been unable to travel at this time of year for the past few years for a variety of reasons. Plus, my grandmother is turning 91 in January, so the chance to be here for Christmas was too important to let pass…

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My grandmother on her 90th birthday in January. Photo by Jackson Andrews.

But I have to admit, the thought of 25 hours on a plane again so soon didn’t exactly have me jumping for joy. This is a trip I try to do at least once every 18 months (once a year if possible!) – and it does get a little easier each time. There are a variety of factors though that determine how well I cope with the journey, and the after-effects – including jet lag. So since a few people have asked, I thought this would be a good time to share my tips for the most pleasant long-haul experience possible. But first, let me shatter a couple of myths for you…

Myth 1: “You’ll be jetlagged for at least a week unless you do a stopover.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I’d love to break up my journey with a 2-3 day stopover in LA, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Singapore or Bangkok. But these things cost money, and I quite simply don’t have the luxury of either the time or the finances (yet) to take a break between legs. Yes, it is true that the longer you’re on the ground between flights, the less jetlagged you’re likely to get. And when I first started doing long-haul, I was often jetlagged for a good few days. But this hasn’t happened for years. Plenty of people travel smart non-stop, and even go back to the office the next (or even the same) day that they’ve completed their long-haul travel.

But if you are going to do a stopover, I recommend you do it on your way to the colder climate/season. Plenty of people (myself included) have remarked on how they’re less likely to suffer jetlag upon arrival in a warm and sunny climate, whereas travelling from the heat to a dark snowy winter often equals post-travel suffering.

Myth 2: “You’re less likely to get jetlag or other side effects of long-haul travel if you travel Premium Economy or Business Class.”

This simply is not true. I’ve had the good fortune of being upgraded a couple of times – but this had no effect whatsoever on jetlag, or even how I slept on the plane. Yes, you’ll have more space and be more comfortable – but that’s about it.

Right. So, myth-shattering accomplished, here are my tips for the most pleasant non-stop trip possible…

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1.) Book night flights

Where possible, try to book flights with either an evening or late-night departure time, as it’s less likely to mess with your sleep patterns. As most people usually take a few hours to wind-down into a flight (after being fed and watching a movie) a late-afternoon departure would also be acceptable. I was fortunate enough to have both legs of my journey at night on this occasion: departing London at 8.40pm, and Hong Kong at 7.20pm.

2.) Wear comfortable clothes in-flight

Avoid jeans and tight clothing that will restrict you from getting totally relaxed in your seat.

3.) Pack your cabin bag with long-haul essentials

An unsung hero of comfortable journeys is the humble cabin bag. A lot of people just seem take what would usually be the contents of their handbag and a book, and stuff it into the overhead locker or under the seat in front of them, only to remain untouched for most of the journey. But here are a few things that I always have in my cabin bag, to ensure maximum comfort throughout the journey…

Neck pillow – thankfully, a lot of people these days are starting to embrace the traveller’s neck pillow. Yes, airlines include a pillow and blanket on your seat, but neck pillows are far better designed for in-flight travel (especially for travelling Economy). My comfort during travel changed dramatically with the purcahse of this inexpensive item.

Poncho (or loose jumper) – this one may seem a bit strange, but is an essential for me. I always get cold in-flight, even with the blanket – and a poncho is more comfortable for sleeping than sleeping in a jacket.

Socks – your feet swell in-flight, so I always take my shoes off once I’m in my seat and cover my feet in big warm socks.

Eye mask and ear plugs – the lights aren’t always dimmed, and there are other distractions that may disturb your sleep or wake you up – such as people moving about, the passenger next to you putting their reading light on, coughing and babies crying. I barely manage to get a lot of sleep on long-haul flights anyway, but do get significantly more now that I use an eye-mask particularly.

Deodorant, wipes, toothbrush and toiletries – I rarely freshen up in-flight, but I always make a point of doing so between flights. After the first leg, my first stop is always the ladies bathroom so that I can brush my teeth and freshen up. Unless you’re fortunate enough to be a member of a business lounge, most airports do not have public shower facilities – and after one long-haul flight, you really already need one. I usually go into a cubicle, get undressed, and wipe myself down with body-fresh wipes. You can even buy specific travel ones for an “instant shower”, but I find that the regular body or facial wipes are fine. Then some deodorant, and change into some fresh clothes. This really does make all the difference in my opinion. The tap water in the bathrooms at most airports is safe for drinking (or labelled otherwise), so perfectly fine for washing your face and cleaning your teeth. Just remember the 100mL limit for liquids in cabin baggage on flights – so be sure to take travel-size or check the volumes of any cosmetics before packing them in to your cabin bag. I rarely wear any make-up on long-haul flights – the air inside the cabin will dry your skin out, so pack a good moisturiser to apply to your face several times during travel.

Change of clothes and underwear – as mentioned above, freshening up and changing into some fresh clothes between flights makes a world of difference. If space/weight allows, I sometimes take a third set as well for changing into before arriving at my final destination.

4.) Drinking

It is really important to stay hydrated in-flight – so do drink plenty of water. To save getting up all the time or having it brought to you by the cabin crew, it might be a good idea to take an empty drink bottle onto the plane for them to fill up for you.

I’ve been told to avoid alcohol if I want to avoid jetlag, but personally I’ve found that having a couple of drinks in-flight is the only thing that will settle me and get me to sleep. Just don’t go crazy – a jetlag hangover is far worse than a standard one.

5.) Eating

Eating light long-haul is key, though you don’t want to starve. Make an effort to eat the in-flight meals and ask for snacks if neccessary, but avoid eating a large meal at the airport between flights – your body has enough to cope with long-haul already.

6.) Get active

Your blood circulation slows down and sometimes struggles in-flight, so it’s important not to stay seated for hours on end. Every 1-2 hours try some exercises such as rolling your shoulders, ankle circles, arm curls etc – and get up and walk around the cabin when possible. I usually go near an emergency exit to do some stretches. For long-haul, I always book an aisle seat regardless of where I’m going, so that I can get up regularly without having to worry about climbing over sleeping passengers and their tray tables.

7. Be mindful of getting some rest

As tempting as the in-flight film selection may be, it is important to at least try to get some rest. I limit myself to two films before putting my eye mask on and just relaxing, even if I can’t sleep. Then I’ll watch something else in the last 2-3 hours of the flight. Try to rest during the designated time that the cabin lights are dimmed – once they’re up again, the crew will be making a heap of noise with the breakfast service and other things.

8.) Take some anti-jetlag pills

“No-Jet-Lag” is the only product I’m familiar with – and unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen it in New Zealand. But it can probably be purchased online. It’s an inexpensive homeopathic product designed specifically for long-haul travel.

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9.) Between flights

Time on the ground or in transit can be boring and drag you down emotionally. If you’re in a transit lounge or stuck at the gate for a couple of hours, do some stretches or yoga, and try to move about a bit. If you have free reign of the departures terminal, wander about, even if you don’t plan on shopping. Your body will thank you for it. Resist the temptation to simply sit in a bar or restaurant and “load up”. Make sure you’ve packed a book even if you have no intention of reading it in-flight – it can save your sanity in between flights.

10.) And finally – after the flight… stay awake!

The final and in my view most important tip is to resist the temptation to simply crash out after your flight. As hard as it may be, resist the temptation to take a nap – as it will only muck your body clock up even more. Do your best to stay awake until the evening, and then get an early night. Under no circumstances go to be before 5pm! Staying up until 9pm is ideal. This will allow your body to adapt more easily and quickly to the new time zone.

I hope these tips make long-haul travel a much easier experience for you. Bon voyage!

Charlotte 🙂

“Legacy”… James Kerr talks to me about lessons in life learnt from the All Blacks – and you can WIN a copy of the book!

On Saturday I had the privilege of having a natter with James Kerr – an award-winning creative director, brand consultant and values implementation professional. He also happens to be a bestselling author, and the storyteller behind a remarkable book – “Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life.”

This article was first published on NZ News UK – and if you visit their competitions page this week, you can be in with a chance to win one of five copies of “Legacy”.

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In 2010, James was given an unbelievable opportunity – to go inside the All Blacks camp for 5 weeks, in their run up to the World Cup. The task immediately at hand for him and photo journalist Nick Danziger was to create “Mana”, a book that for the first time gave New Zealanders an inside look at the All Blacks in their journey towards reclaiming rugby’s grandest prize. But during his time there, living in close quarters, it’s no surprise that James became close to the team, befriended management, and quickly grasped how Sir Graham Henry was managing to reinvent what was already the world’s most statistically successful sports team. The result is “Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life.”

We can learn a lot from the All Blacks. Their approach to the game can be successfully implemented in our own lives and businesses. This is because ultimately, James says, we all work in teams. Whether we’re a multinational team, a small business team, or a rugby team. This isn’t really a book about rugby, James insists. We’re not going to learn any rugby secrets here. This is a book about running a successful team – using one of the world’s most successful teams as a case study. It’s also the story of New Zealand, our people, and what makes us exceptional in many ways. It’s our “collective” approach to life, James says. He cites examples – things like Working Bees, and always bringing a slab to the BBQ. It could in part hark back to that pioneering spirit of travelling so far together on ships; in could in part be a rural thing. And importantly, it is an intrinsic part of our Maori and Pasifika cultural identity. The teachings of “Legacy” in many ways are our gift to the world.

“Legacy” offers us 15 lessons in leadership – straight from a team where there may be only one captain on the field, but there are fifteen leaders. One of the important factors in Sir Graham Henry’s strategy is about developing leaders off the field first and foremost. It’s about that sense of heritage and whakapapa; of “leaving the black jersey in a better place”, by paying respect and tribute to the ancestors (those All Blacks who have come before), and also being a great leader and role model for young rugby players, and those All Blacks yet to be born. All Blacks are never selected on form alone – they are selected as much on character, as anything else. And they have to fit in with the rest of the team. It’s all about the “We”, rather than the “Me”. Henry’s philosophy was that “better people make better All Blacks.” For this reason, it is possible that some New Zealand’s greatest rugby players on a practical level may never wear the black jersey, because form alone is not enough to make you an All Black. The All Blacks philosophy is that if you mix great form with great character, then over time you will develop and become the greatest and most successful kind of rugby player. Anyone can have a great season, but they won’t necessarily grow into the role of an All Black. How does this relate to business teams? We can hire the candidate with the best CV, but if they are not of the right character, and do not fit in, the team will crumble from within. People will leave. It’s about creating an environment where people are happy and you can subsequently get the best out of them.

Humility is another great lesson. In the All Blacks, this is indicative in “sweeping the sheds” – every player, Richie McCaw included – sweeps out the sheds and cleans up after themselves completely after the game.

Arguably the greatest lesson that All Blacks fans in particular are eager to learn, is how did Sir Graham Henry succeed in transforming the team from one that would often “choke” during the crucial final, to one that has just (on top of all else) completed the perfect year. James tells me that this can be credited to the “red head/blue head” approach, which addresses the mental aspect of the game, and was implemented during Henry’s reign. To avoid their minds getting into that dangerous “red” area, players each have strategies to keep a cool blue head, shut everything else out and focus on the process and on the moment entirely. Richie McCaw for example, stamps his feet to re-ground himself. The red-blue approach could also be successfully applied to business deadlines. James recalls how during that nail-biting World Cup final against France in 2011, most of New Zealand would have been in the red – there were only a few in the blue, and they were the guys dressed all in black.

Another key to overcoming the tendency to “choke”, is the importance of playing for something bigger than yourself. Henry believes that a team with a higher purpose creates a higher performance.

Whatever some may think, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. When Sir Graham Henry came to the All Blacks, despite their reputation of “choking” during World Cups, they were already statistically the world’s most successful team, with more than 75% wins over the past 100-year period. During his time with the team, Henry managed an 11% uplift on that. After the perfect season they’ve just had, the boys in black must now be over 90%.

“Legacy” is available in the United Kingdom to purchase online at Amazon, and in-store at some Waterstones, WH Smith and Foyles book stores. It will be released in New Zealand next year.