Seize the day… but save the Hooch! #38 #cong21


The silver screen is the gold standard when it comes to lessons in leadership.

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About Brian Mac Intyre

Brian Mac Intyre is a public servant at the Department of Justice. He spent almost (gulp!) three decades as a print and broadcast journalist working for major employers on both sides of the Atlantic up until August of this year. During this time he went back to college in 2014 to get an MA in Screenwriting, which made him fall in love with stories all over again.

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By Brian Mac Intyre

It was the summer of ’89. I had my dream part-time job, which was working in a cinema, courtesy of my J1 visa – and for a pop culture junkie, you can’t do much better than that.

A few movies made quite an impression on me that year at the Loews Cineplex, Copley Plaza in Boston. Copley Plaza was what the Americans call a “tony” shopping mall…  so posh that there was even a swanky hotel inside it.

Sadly the cinema is no longer there, as I found out on my first visit back to Boston a quarter century later in 2014. But the leadership lessons I learned from those three months are still imprinted on my memory.

That’s because few mediums rival cinema in terms of imparting life lessons to millions around the world. Speaking of lessons, I remember clearly the rollercoaster of emotions that was Dead Poets Society.

“O Captain! My Captain!” is one of the most oft-quoted movies lines ever, sometimes even uttered by characters in other TV shows and films through the years. And if a captain isn’t a leader, then, well, you know the rest.

The second most famous quote is, of course, that old reliable from Latin class. Carpe diem is great advice for any leader to give to their troops.

English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams) is a truly transformational leader as he uses the power of poetry to embolden the teenage boys under his tutelage, ending in that famous scene where they clamber up on top of their desks to salute him. And it’s also a fitting tribute to the wondrous talents of Williams himself.

The next film I saw that summer was a sleeper of sorts, but it awakened me to the power of sports movies.

Most films in that genre are about underdogs triumphing against all the odds. But when you add magic realism to the mix, you get Field of Dreams.

At the start of it, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice imploring him: “If you build it, he will come.”

He keeps on hearing voices and so he seeks out reclusive author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) for help in interpreting what he’s supposed to do.

At one point, Ray asks Terence what he wants. To which Mann replies: “I want them (his loyal readers) to stop looking to me for answers, begging me to speak again, write again, be a leader. I want them to start thinking for themselves.”

Isn’t that what any true leader wants from their followers?

(As it turns out, Ray was just wondering what Terence wanted to order from a hot dog stand!)

Ray himself displays leadership qualities when he goes with his gut instinct and builds a baseball diamond in his cornfields.

Later on in the film, the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other Chicago White Sox players appear on his diamond, decades after they were banned from the game for throwing the World Series in 1919.

Ray risks everything, even his family farm, to fulfill his vision. And the payoff is, well, you’ll just have to watch.

Lastly, an inadvertent lesson in leadership comes from Tom Hanks. He starred in Turner and Hooch, a tale about a police detective who adopts a dog to find a killer.

Even though it was a hit at the box office that summer.  Moviegoers had a bone to pick with Hanks about the movie’s controversial ending.

“I have to make a confession: I was the main proponent of killing Hooch,” he told BBC Radio 5.

“It was a Disney movie and when we were putting it together I stood up at a table and pounded my fist and said, in the grand Disney tradition of Old Yeller, ‘Hooch must die…’. And so they killed Hooch. We killed Hooch and we never should have. We should have, I guess, kept that doggy alive, so we wouldn’t have made the children cry.”

Admitting your mistakes – another great example of true leadership.

Thanks, Obama #37 #cong19


Newspapers are all about community because they reflect our lives by being made up of citizens of those same communities. Journalism also engenders a sense of community among a particular paper’s staff given their shared goal of being as informative as possible to their readership.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. I’ve been fascinated with communities near and far since I was a kid… hence my interest in journalism.
  2. Being a journalist often conveys privileges such as literally getting a front row seat to history (see photo within article). But it’s the day-to-day coverage of events within communities large and small that really make the profession worthwhile… such as my job at The Salt Lake Tribune.
  3. I can’t tell you how damaging the use of the words “fake news” by authoritarian figures are to my profession… and our wider society.
  4. Thankfully, some authority figures do understand that a free press is one of the key pillars of a functioning democracy.

About Brian Mac Intyre:

Brian has spent three decades working as a storyteller in various forms.

He has been a reporter and sub-editor at a host of Irish national newspapers.

In addition, he lived in the United States for 12 years where he worked for The Associated Press in Little Rock, Arkansas and The Salt Lake Tribune.

He also spent time as a broadcast journalist and radio researcher writing scripts for top RTE presenters… and appearing on air occasionally himself.

He is also a corporate trainer, pitching coach and content marketer with his consultancy firm

He has a BA in Economics and Politics (TCD), a Masters in Journalism (DCU) a Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing (Digital Marketing Institute) and an MA in Screenwriting (National Film School at IADT).

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre::

You can reach Brian by email.

By Brian Mac Intyre

Community literally means the world to me.

I’ve always been fascinated with what makes people tick… whether they’re nearby, or living far, far beyond our borders.

My keen interest in the globe’s daily comings and goings… i.e. news… started when I was a schoolboy, and it was fed as soon as I got home from classes.

I would spread The Irish Times on the carpet of our TV room and scan its headlines. I also used to collect Time magazines when historic events occurred, such as a new US president being elected.

I knew I wanted to go into journalism. And I had no idea at the time what a sense of community it would give me.

But I wanted a fallback too, so I decided to study Economics and Politics in college, given they’re what make the world go round… ie they help build functional communities.

I had a big interest in other countries’ politics too, especially Britain and the United States.

I remember watching Ronald Reagan being sworn in as US president in 1980. In part, it was a fascination with whether or not Iran would release US hostages held in Tehran at the time for 444 days.

The Iranians did so… right after Reagan was sworn in so that his predecessor Jimmy Carter couldn’t claim it as a diplomatic victory.

So I was part of a worldwide community of interested citizens watching events from afar.

And I never imagined that nearly 30 years later I’d be sitting in the front row for another Inauguration to witness the first African-American to take the same oath of office. In fact, I took this photo there. And Obama, of course, started out as a community organiser himself.

But that’s one of the privileges of being part of a community that gets to witness events as they unfold, some of them quite historic indeed.

In my nearly three decades in journalism I’ve gotten to cover the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games and even interview film stars such as Martin Sheen and Cameron Diaz, among others.

And throughout that time I’ve always felt a strong sense of community with fellow journalists, even from rival papers.

We’re all on a mission to inform readers, listeners or viewers of what happened in their world today… because knowing what’s happened in the past will make them better equipped to navigate the future. That’s because stories are all about solving problems, and thereby surviving.

The time I most felt a sense of togetherness and shared struggles was when I worked at The Salt Lake Tribune for nine years (1996-2005).

It was easily the best newspaper job I ever had simply because you felt you were really helping make a difference… in the community.

Our main competition, the Deseret News, was owned by the Mormon Church, while the Trib was owned by an Irish-American Catholic family (for part of my tenure).

And even though it was a majority-Mormon state, the Trib, which styled itself as “Utah’s Independent Voice”, sold twice as many copies as the Deseret News.

Our readers, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, appreciated our independence and, as a result, the paper was largely respected within the wider community.

That’s because, like everyone who works in media, we were part of the community too, with the same wants, needs, gripes, frustrations etc as everyone else.

But this is a fact that’s often forgotten… newspaper people really do care about the communities they live in and want them to perform optimally for as many people as possible.

But one thing that’s deeply damaging to our global media community in recent years is when authoritarian leaders undermine it by calling stories they don’t like “fake news”. It undermines the whole profession and is a deeply disturbing trend.

And Barack Obama, for all his faults, many of which he’d admit to himself, recognised this fact.

Although he brought a host of prosecutions against whistleblowers and leakers, he did make a point of standing up for the media in his last press conference at the White House.

He said: “You’re not supposed to be sycophants — you’re supposed to be skeptics. And having you in this building has helped this place work better.”

According to New York magazine: “The president suggested that the media’s persistent scrutiny of his reaction to crises such as the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the BP oil spoil had made his administration more responsive to the needs of the public.”
The magazine then quoted him saying: “So America needs you, and our democracy needs you.”

So thanks, Obama… for standing up for my community.
And all of our communities as a result.

The Story Behind Big Ideas #37 #cong18


Stories spark ideas because they’re about problems that must be solved. So if you’re looking for that next big idea, figure out what the world needs fixing.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”
  2. Stories and ideas have a symbiotic relationship.
  3. Problem. Idea. Solution. That’s literally the story of our lives.
  4. The truth about fish and chips… for batter or worse.

About Brian Mac Intyre:

Brian Mac Intyre is a journalist and screenwriter. He also owns, which helps companies make better connections with clients, customers… and even their own staff. In addition, he coaches start-ups in how to harness the incredible power of storytelling for great investor pitches.

Contacting Brian Mac Intyre:

You can contact Brian by email and see his work on

By Brian Mac Intyre

It’s 2011 and I’m at the Dublin International Film Festival where I see Irish crime fiction writer John Connolly sitting two seats away from me.

Given the chance, I like to pick a creative person’s brain to find out what golden nuggets of wisdom I just might learn from them.

So I introduced myself as a fellow journalist (Connolly had worked at The Irish Times) and soon enough we got onto the subject of ideas and what makes a good one.

Journalists usually have a pretty sound idea of what makes a good story.

So I asked him: “But what if your idea’s just bad in the first place?”

And he said something I’ll never forget: “There are no bad ideas, just poor execution.”

Ten million copies later, he should know.

But his quote, I hope, also illustrates the symbiotic relationship between stories and ideas. That’s because they’ve both got to do with problem solving.

Stories are usually about people with problems. In the world of film, for example, Luke is trying to defeat the Evil Empire, ET is attempting to phone home… and the Muppets will do whatever it takes to save Christmas.

So the survival, or existence, of someone or something is always at stake. And these are problems all these people need to solve… by having a good idea of how to fix them.

Long, long ago, when the first of our forebears was eaten by a sabre-toothed tiger, you can be pretty certain the rest of the tribe immediately learned to avoid big cats.

But given their main problem was survival – as it is for all of us – then you can also bet that at least one of them had the brainwave to go hunting when their prey was resting.

Problem. Idea. Solution. It’s a pattern that endlessly repeats itself over time.

For instance, it’s commonly held that fish and chips were invented by the British. But in this case a ‘one and one’ does not, in fact, equal two.

Without fried fish, this combo just wouldn’t be the same. And it turns out this part of the epicurean equation was invented by Jews fleeing religious persecution in 15th century Portugal.

Many of those Sephardic Jews, who relocated to England, took with them culinary treasures, one of which was Peshkado frito, commonly known as cod or haddock fried in flour.

It had to be fried on the Friday night in preparation for the Sabbath as cooking was banned on Saturday under the Mosaic laws.

It’s thought the batter preserved the fish so that it could be eaten cold the next day without compromising the flavour. Problem. Idea. Solution.

In another context, 40 years ago, American management consultant Marilyn Loden was taking part in a panel discussion about women’s aspirations in the workplace.

She noticed that the female panelists focused on how women behaved in a self-deprecating way and allegedly carried a poor self-image.

She recalls that it was a struggle for her to sit quietly as these criticisms were being aired.

While she agreed that it was hard for women to progress beyond middle management level, she said there were invisible barriers to their advancement that had everything to do with culture, and nothing to do with personal issues.

So she coined a phrase for this on the spot, calling it an “invisible glass ceiling”. And she said this was the main reason there weren’t more female CEOs.

That idea, partly sparked from the story of her own experience on that panel, has proven to be one of the most talked about ever since.

And finally, going back to films, some can ignite ideas that literally make the world a better and safer place for all of us.

In Stanley Kubrick’s satire Dr Strangelove, a mad general sparks a path to nuclear holocaust that politicians and other generals must try to stop.

In a key scene, one character uses a payphone to call the Pentagon to provide them with access codes, but doesn’t have enough change. He fails to contact them… resulting in nuclear annihilation.

That scene was later screened for the US Congress who collectively thought it raised real worries about communication blocks during a crisis.

There and then they decided that access codes to nuclear weapons should not be limited to just one federal official.

So if you’re looking for that next big idea, find a problem to solve first.