Maria's Musings Archives – MFL Global

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Tommy Weir: The World’s First Leadership AI Lab

As founder of Emerging Markets Leadership Center, Tommy Weir has helped several thousand executives from more than 80 nationalities achieve better performance.

Tommy Weir is the author of the bestselling, Leadership Dubai Style and advises CEOs around the world on how to improve their leadership in order to achieve rapid growth.

Emerging Markets Leadership Center (EMLC) has now launched its latest project: the world’s first leadership Artificial Intelligence lab in Dubai. Its goal is simple: to use machine learning to help leaders lead the best they can.

The EMLC Artificial Intelligence Lab will highlight how people and machines lead better together.

The EMLC Leadership A.I. Lab disrupts leadership execution by combining traditional leadership approaches with cutting edge A.I. technology.

By observing data, employee behaviours and patterns, the Lab delivers A.I.-enabled leadership that predicts the best actions and recommends which leadership nudges will result in minimized organizational input with maximized output: profit, performance and productivity. A.I. enabled predictions provide higher accuracy and deeper granularity, which allows leaders to focus on making the right judgment calls for decision-making and execution.

Tommy Weir commented: “About a year and half ago, I visited Tokyo to learn about applied A.I. When I boarded the flight to Tokyo, I was sceptical about artificial intelligence, but what I learned from MIT Media Lab, Sony Labs, Google’s driving cars and other progressive projects, made me wonder, ‘What’s the relationship between AI and leadership?’ That question has led to the opening of the EMLC Leadership AI Lab, where our team of data scientists and leadership experts use A.I. to make leaders better and help organizations maximize their profit.”

EMLC has hired global AI talent to work alongside the existing team of leadership experts to build the intent triggers and leadership nudges that improve individual leadership capacity and impact, supporting day-to-day leadership execution for organizations looking to grow their output.

EMLC’s Lead Data Scientist, Vitalii Duk commented: “The opportunity to use machine learning to solve for leadership impact is a progressive move in the data science world. It is complex: combining internal company data, process mining, individual employee offsets, and leadership science to predict the best actions and ways for leaders to get results. Fortunately, Dubai has created an environment for the data science community to disrupt the ways AI is used and lead the way in global innovation.”

Machines learning and humans leading is the next logical progression in both machine learning and leadership science.

EMLC is a boutique leadership science and technology firm that merges artificial intelligence with its decades of leadership research, working with executive leaders and practical experience.

Watch Tommy Weir discussing Leadership:

Men and Women on Stage

So let’s talk about the difference between men and women on stage, yes before you write in I know that there are now 72 genders on FB but for simplicity and because I can only talk from a female point of view let’s start here and see where we get to.

Is there a difference in how men and women present/speak/deliver on stage? Should there be? Hillary Clinton in her presidential campaign said there was. I’m not sure I agree, listen to my musings and share your thoughts and experiences.

What type of Speaker are you?

What kind of Speaker are you?

1. A speaker who gets asked for by name?
2. A speaker who gets booked through marketing?
3. A speaker that gets rebooked?

Listen to my musing on the subject and let me know which type you are and if you are aiming to become a number 3. For me, number 3 is the best place to be. Are you there and if not are you clear on what you need to do to get there? Or maybe you don’t want to be a number 3?

Francois Hollande – Available for speaking and advisory

François Hollande

President of France 2012-17

We are pleased to announce that President Hollande

is available for speaking and advisory


Francois Hollande

François Hollande was the President of the French Republic from 2012-17. During his mandate, he carried out important reforms which restored the competitiveness and the growth of the French economy.

Hollande’s presidency was marked by the action he took against international terrorism and climate change.

  • By deploying French troops to Mali in early 2013, Hollande stemmed the tide of violence caused by terrorist groups.
  • It was under his presidency and leadership that the Paris Agreement of 2015 was signed by an overwhelming majority of the global community. The agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change as well as strengthening the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. Read More

Davos: Special Address by François Hollande

To book Francois Hollande – contact us



Happy International Women’s Day 2018

            Today, we celebrate the fabulous women that work within team MFL:






Populism’s Next Frontier: Italy’s 2018 Election & Europe’s Future

At the start of 2017, possible populist election victories in France, Germany and the Netherlands were seen as the biggest threats to the European Union. However, victories by established parties initially eased investor fears and the hope that populism had receded. However, the last quarter of 2017 has seen instability in Catalonia, a right-wing conservative victory in Austria on anti-immigrant platform, the election of a new populist prime minister in the Czech Republic and the possibility of new elections in Germany.

Europe confronts another crucial electoral contest with populism as Italy, the Eurozone’s third-largest economy goes to the polls in early 2018. Italy’s tenuous political landscape has the anti-establishment Five Star Movement neck-and-neck with the ruling centre-left Democratic Party. Both narrowly trailing a possible centre-right coalition including former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia, the eurosceptic and anti-migrant Northern League and the small, far-right nationalist Brothers of Italy. In the meantime, Italy’s political dysfunction, economic stagnation and lingering toxic debt continues to concern investors and the Eurozone’s future.

To understand the forces and complexities dominating Italy’s political landscape and post-electoral prospects impacting Italy and the broader Eurozone, internationally renowned global affairs expert Marco Vicenzino provides a deep insight into the rapidly changing world.  Marco is a regular guest speaker, panellist and panel moderator at international conferences, forums and institutes around the world.

Thinkers50 Awards Gala 2017

On Monday 13th November 2017 I was privileged to attend the Thinkers50 Awards Gala and I wanted to share a few highlights with my readers!

First of all, in case you are not familiar with it, what is the Thinkers50?

Launched in 2001, Thinkers50 was the first-ever global ranking of management thinkers. It has been published every two years since, and remains the premier ranking of its kind.

Since 2001, the scope of Thinkers50 has broadened to include a range of activities that support the mission of providing innovative access to powerful business and management ideas – ideas that will make the world a better place.

That mission is based on three core beliefs:

  • Ideas have the power to change the world.
  • Management is essential to human affairs.
  • New thinking can create a better future.

The Thinkers50 Awards Gala has been dubbed “the Oscars of Management Thinking” by the Financial Times – was introduced in 2011. This extraordinary event celebrates the very best in management thinking, and provides a forum for thinkers to share the leading business and management ideas of our age.

Held every other year in central London, the Gala draws thinkers from across the globe for a full day of debate, discussion and networking, followed by an elegant evening awards ceremony.

Winners of Thinkers50’s eight Distinguished Achievement Awards are announced.

The new Thinkers50 Ranking of Management Thinkers is revealed, including who has won the coveted #1 position on the list.

The 2017 ranking can be viewed here:

And the Award Winners are:

Lifetime Achievement: Presented to Tom Peters

The Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award acknowledges an exceptional individual whose work has made an important contribution to global thought leadership over an extended period. This person has brought insights that challenge the way we think about management. Their work must be global, original and embraced by practitioners.

Tom Peters has been credited with inventing the modern management guru industry. He is chairman of the Tom Peters Company and has several best-selling business books under his name.

Ideas Into Practice Award Winner: Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez

The world’s leading champion of project management and founder of a global movement that has transformed a tactical topic such as project management, into one of the central issues in the CEO’s 2020 agenda. He argues that project management is the lingua franca of the business and personal worlds from the C-suite to managing your career or relationships.

The Thinkers50 Ideas into Practice Award celebrates an organization putting new ideas to work.

As an aside, Antonio cut his honeymoon short to attend the event, he told me afterwards: “It was a bold bet shortening my honeymoon without knowing if I would win the prize. The deal was that if I didn’t win, we would do a second honeymoon ;-)”

Talent Award Winner: Amy C Edmondson

Amy C EdmondsonAmy C. Edmondson is the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. She teaches and writes on leadership, teaming and organisational learning, and her articles appear in management publications such as Harvard Business Review and California Management Review as well as in top academic journals. She is best known for her pioneering work on psychological safety, which helped spawn a large body of academic research in management, healthcare, and education over the past 15 years.

With the changing attitudes to work and new generations entering the workforce, the challenge now is to better understand how talented individuals work best and how they can effectively be attracted, motivated, and retained. Research into talent has never been so important and practically useful.

Innovation Award Winner: Scott Anthony

Managing partner of Innosight, the innovation and growth consulting firm, Anthony is the author and co-author of several books, including (with Clay Christensen) Seeing What’s Next (HBR, 2004) and The First Mile (HBR, 2014). His latest book, Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future, co-authored with Clark Gilbert and Mark W. Johnson, (HBR Press 2017), tackles how successful incumbent companies can counter the threat of disruption.

The Thinkers50 Innovation Award recognizes the thinker who has contributed the most to our understanding of innovation over the last two years.

Leadership Award Winner:  Hal Gregersen

Hal Gregersen Executive director of the MIT Leadership Center and a senior lecturer in leadership and innovation at MIT’s Sloan School, Hal Gregersen is the author of 10 books. His question-centric research project to surface insights into how leaders can build better questions to unlock new solutions helped defined what Gregersen calls his Catalytic Questioning methodology.

Teams, corporations, and organizations of every kind, demand and require leadership. Yet the nature of that leadership and how we understand the role of the leader is constantly being reappraised. The Thinkers50 Leadership Award acknowledges thinkers who shed powerful and original new light onto this perennial and still vital subject.

RADAR Thinker Award Winner: Amy Webb

Amy Webb

Amy Webb is the founder of the Future Today Institute, a future forecasting and strategy firm that researches technology. She is a lecturer at Columbia University and was a visiting fellow at Harvard University.

Which of the new generation of business thinkers is most likely to shape the future of business and business thinking? Whose work has the potential to challenge the way we think about management? With the Thinkers50 Radar Award we identify and celebrate the thinker-most-likely-to.

Digital Thinking Award Winner:  Don and Alex Tapscott

Authors of The Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World (Portfolio, 2016), an international bestseller. Canadian technology trailblazers, they are also co-founders of the Blockchain Research Institute. Don Tapscott is the author of The Digital Economy, Wikinomics and other global bestsellers.

Digital technology has transformed the world of work. It has also changed the way we understand ourselves as human beings. But which thinker’s research and insights shed the newest and most original light on the new digital reality? The Thinkers50 Digital Thinking Award celebrates the thinker who has done the most to convert the digital language into useful human insights.

Breakthrough Idea Award Winner: Susan David

Susan David
Susan David is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, and is co-founder of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital. She is the author of Emotional Agility (Penguin, 2016), which Harvard Business Review rated as one of its Management Ideas of the Year.

The Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea Award celebrates a Eureka moment in management. It is given for a radical idea, which has the potential to forever change the way we think about business.

Strategy Award Thinker Winner: Richard D’Aveni

The Bakala Professor of Strategy at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. D’Aveni is the author of a number of influential books including Hyper-competition (Free Press, 1994), Beating the Commodity Trap (HBR Press, 2009) and Strategic Capitalism (McGraw-Hill, 2012). His forthcoming book, When Titans Rule the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018), builds on his HBR article “3-D Printing Will Change the World,” and charts the rise of “pan-industrial” manufacturers.

The Thinkers50 Strategy Award celebrates the very best of strategic thinking.

Number One Thinker Winner: Roger Martin

The former dean of University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Martin is a strategy advisor to CEOs worldwide and the author of ten books, including Thinkers 50 award winners Playing to Win (with AG Lafley, HBR Press, 2013) and Getting Beyond Better (with Sally Osberg, HBR Press, 2015). His new book Creating Great Choices (with Jennifer Riel, HBR Press, 2017) follows up on his 2007 bestseller The Opposable Mind (HBR Press).


The best piece of business advice I have been given

I am in a privileged position, I work with some of the top experts, thinkers and leaders in the world. I am lucky enough when I find myself in need of advice that I can go to these experts and ask their opinion. One piece of advice has stood out over the years above all other advice I have received.  I believe it to be the single best piece of advice I have been given, and I would like share with you.

The man who generously, and freely, gave me this advice is Phil Hesketh, psychologist, author, and top motivational speaker.  If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition, if you want to be truly successful in business, better than anybody else, to be the go-to person in your industry, this is the thing you need to do. This is powerful because so few people are doing this, it’s very simple and blindingly obvious.

What was that piece of advice? In nine words, it’s “Do what you say you are going to do”. Let me repeat that for you, it is simply to “do what you say you’re going to do!”

How many times have you been disappointed or let down? When you’ve been promised a call back by somebody and they don’t call you back? When you’ve been promised delivery of an item at a certain time and the item hasn’t appeared. When you’ve been promised a decision by the end of the week and the end of the week comes and goes and you’ve heard nothing? I could go on and I am sure you have many examples of your own. Time and time again people say they’re going to do things and they don’t.

So, if you want to improve your business, even improve your relationships, do yourself a huge favour and do what you say you’re going to do …… or don’t say anything!

Thank you, Mr. Hesketh x

The Bloodhound SSC – First Public Runs

On Thursday 26th October 2017 with just its jet engine’s thrust, the Super Sonic Car (SSC), Bloodhound, raced at 340km/h (210mph) down Newquay Airport’s runway in Southwest England.

On the long run record attempt in South Africa, Bloodhound SSC will also be fitted with a rocket motor, to enable it to travel (1,000mph – 1,610km/h). While this is a way off yet, the test-run at Newquay airport has given hope and confidence to Andy Green, Richard Noble and the rest of the SSC team that the Bloodhound is able to achieve the performance it has been designed for.


Over 3,000 VIPs and Supporters Witnessed the SSC Bloodhound’s First Trial including our very own Alison Coleman


As Andy Green climbed the SSC Bloodhound’s cockpit, more than 3,000 VIP  supporters were present to witness the first trial of what is hoped will be the world’s fastest car.

They watched as the Eurofighter EJ200 engine took the car from its standing start point to 200mph in approximately 8 seconds. The crowd witnessed the engine’s bright glare on reheat as well as its deafening noise.

Speaking after the test-running as soon as he stepped out from the cockpit, Wing Commander Green said, “We carried out two back-to-back 200mph runs in a five-tonne car. It felt like approximately 8 seconds – something we were actually expecting.”

Green continues, “Really, it was quite a hard work-out for the car’s brakes. Perhaps up to somewhere close to 1000 degrees, the front brakes smoked in a furious manner after the second run.”

The SSC Bloodhound testing that took place these past few weeks triggered more hope in members of the team, that the car has the capacity to reach 1,050km/h (650mph) with just the EJ200 engine.

While that speed is not sufficient to beat the world land speed record which is 1,227km/h/763mph, it promises to take the car into a performance zone that would enable the SSC team and engineers to learn so much more about the car’s capabilities.

And, with the knowledge acquired so far from this first testing, the team is ready for what it will take for the car to attain 800mph come 2019, and then go up to 1,000mph in the year 2020.

Neil Armstrong – on the 5 year anniversary of his loss

As we hit the 5 year anniversary of the death of Neil Armstrong, he is still very much in our minds and hearts.

When I started working for a speaker bureau over 20 years ago now, the first question many of my friends asked me was “who is the person you would most like to meet?” My answer, without hesitation, was Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. So when I got my first booking, within a few months of joining the speaker bureau you can imagine how excited I was. I was very lucky to have a chance to work with Neil many times over the years and to spend time with him. His passing left a huge hole in so many places, including the speaking world.

As a speaker Neil was the consummate professional, he took on very few engagements wanting to be sure that he was genuinely able to add value to the event through his participation. Neil tailored every single speech sometimes working for several months on his content to ensure that he delivered something unique and memorable for each client. I hope that someday his speeches might get published in a book.

I have some very fond memories of various meetings with Neil which I hope you don’t mind my sharing with you on this anniversary.  The first memory is when I introduced Tom Kenyon Slaney, CEO and co-founder of London speaker bureau to Neil – a night I’ll never forget!

I had booked Neil to speak at and event in Dublin, and as he often did, he arrived accompanied by his lovely wife Carol a few days early to enjoy the city and to ensure he was fully rested. I invited them out to dinner. Mary Menton who runs the London Speaker Bureau Irish office, found us the perfect restaurant with a very private table to guarantee a pleasant and undisturbed evening. The only problem was that I had no “date” for the evening, I was single at the time so what to do? At this point no one at LSB had worked with Neil Armstrong (I had via my previous bureau) and so I offered the opportunity to come along as ‘my date’ to Tom Kenyon-Slaney and Brendan O’Connor the two founders and directors of the bureau and allowed them to fight it out. To this day I don’t know how Tom won, but he did, and he flew across to Dublin to join us. What I didn’t know until I met Tom later was that he had had a bike accident and dislocated his right shoulder, had to have it put back into its rightful place and was in significant pain before getting his flight. He was taking pain killers and all seemed to be fine. However, during the flight, there was some turbulence and Tom stumbled losing his balance, hitting his bad shoulder and dislocating again. He told me that he came to from being unconscious and found himself in an ambulance being driven to hospital. He came to the fast realization that he was going to miss his dinner and demanded that the paramedics let him out as he had a dinner appointment with Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon. As you can imagine, the paramedics thought that he was either drunk, high on his painkillers or concussed and took a great deal of persuading to let him go! Fortunately for Tom they did let him go. When I finally met up with him he was nursing a very large whisky trying to numb the pain in his shoulder. What followed later was a very interesting dinner experience where I had to subtly help Tom cut his food without the Armstongs realizing what was going on (Tom didn’t want to share his painful experience). I don’t know what kind of first impression he made that night on Neil and Carol but I look back on it with great amusement. I’m glad to say that Tom’s shoulder is fully recovered and he still enjoys cycling.

Maria Franzoni and Neil Armstrong
Maria & Neil Armstrong in the big hair days!

On another occasion, I booked Neil to speak for a client running an event in the Algarve, and I was lucky enough to accompany him. This time Carol didn’t travel with him so I made sure I personally looked after Neil throughout. What Neil didn’t know was that the client and I had arranged for David Scott, one of his former astronaut colleagues to join him at the event, David, (first motorised moon journey and part of the original crew orbiting the moon with Neil before the final team was decided) or Dave as we called him, was also booked to speak. The two former astronauts had not seen each other for many years, It was a wonderful and very warm reunion, I’m very happy to have been a part of it.

Maria Franzoni and David Scott Astronaut
Maria, David Scott and Maria’s hair!

For my 40th birthday (I know I don’t look a day over 25 – I wish!) I planned a very big and very special birthday party. Many of my speakers and clients were invited along. I had recently started dating a new man, his name was Neil Armstrong (I believe it still is!). So as my guests arrived the buzz and excitement grew as people looked at the table plans and saw that Neil Armstrong was seated at the head table next to me. Everyone thought that The Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon was going to be attending my birthday party. They were disappointed. A few years later I introduced my Neil Armstrong, the boyfriend, to The Neil Armstrong, the astronaut. It was emotional and the first time I saw my Neil Armstrong cry to be meeting his hero and name sake. Although we are no longer together I can share that we are still friends, probably because he will be in indebted to me forever for having introduced him – do you hear that Neil Armstrong number 2?!!

Neil Armstrong meets Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong meets Neil Armstrong

And the final story that I’d like to share with you is about Neil and Mary Menton, who I mentioned earlier on. I met Mary at an awards event in London we were seated next to each other and hit it off immediately. If you know Mary you’ll know that she’s bubbly, kind and great company. At that time Mary was running a conference company, a very successful conference company. She didn’t really know very much about speaker bureaus. I explained how we worked and suggested to her that she might want to open an office of the London Speaker Bureau in Dublin. She was interested. So, when I booked Neil to speak at a pharmaceutical event again in Dublin, I called Mary and invited her to come along as a guest to hear him speak. That was it. She was hooked on speakers. Neil delivered a brilliant, moving and beautifully tailored speech, and Mary took her small step into a new adventure.

The rest is history.

I miss you Neil, thank you for all the many amazing memories x

My Favourite TED Talks – Ideas definitely worth spreading!

Below is a selection of my all-time favourite TED Talks. I hope you find them as inspirational, enlightening and enjoyable as I have.

Maria x

Sir Ken Robinson – Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Alain de Botton – A gentler, kinder, philosophy of success

Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. Is success always earned? Is failure? He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.

Ariana Huffington – How to succeed? Get more sleep

In this short talk, Arianna Huffington shares a small idea that can awaken much bigger ones: the power of a good night’s sleep. Instead of bragging about our sleep deficits, she urges us to shut our eyes and see the big picture: We can sleep our way to increased productivity and happiness — and smarter decision-making.

Ziauddin Youfsafzai – My daughter Malala

Pakistani educator Ziauddin Yousafzai reminds the world of a simple truth that many don’t want to hear: Women and men deserve equal opportunities for education, autonomy, an independent identity. He tells stories from his own life and the life of his daughter, Malala, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 simply for daring to go to school. “Why is my daughter so strong?” Yousafzai asks. “Because I didn’t clip her wings.”

Hugh Herr – The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

Hugh Herr is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago; now, as the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, he shows his incredible technology in a talk that’s both technical and deeply personal — with the help of ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.

Beau Lotto – Science is for everyone, kids included

What do science and play have in common? Neuroscientist Beau Lotto thinks all people (kids included) should participate in science and, through the process of discovery, change perceptions. He’s seconded by 12-year-old Amy O’Toole, who, along with 25 of her classmates, published the first peer-reviewed article by schoolchildren, about the Blackawton bees project. It starts: “Once upon a time …”

Rory Sutherland – Life Lessons from an Ad Man

Advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception, rather than the product itself. Rory Sutherland makes the daring assertion that a change in perceived value can be just as satisfying as what we consider “real” value — and his conclusion has interesting consequences for how we look at life.

Yanis Varoufakis – Capitalism will eat democracy … unless we speak up

Have you wondered why politicians aren’t what they used to be, why governments seem unable to solve real problems? Economist Yanis Varoufakis, the former Minister of Finance for Greece, says that it’s because you can be in politics today but not be in power — because real power now belongs to those who control the economy. He believes that the mega-rich and corporations are cannibalizing the political sphere, causing a financial crisis. In this talk, hear his dream for a world in which capital and labor no longer struggle against each other, “one that is simultaneously libertarian, Marxist and Keynesian.”

Mary Robinson – Why Climate Change is a Threat to Human Rights

Climate change is unfair. While rich countries can fight against rising oceans and dying farm fields, poor people around the world are already having their lives upended — and their human rights threatened — by killer storms, starvation and the loss of their own lands. Mary Robinson asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

Magnus Lindkvist – Why Small Ideas Matter in a World of Grand Narratives

Everyone seems to have some grand theory – a grand narrative – about where the world is heading. Yet the world changes when a single individual does something new, different. Small ideas are not big stories – in fact, they often sound strange and unrealistic before they become a reality.

Peter Hinssen – The TiGER & the ROCK

Why Extrapolating WON’T WORK & What it means for HEALTH