The Daily Explorer

March 22, 2008

The End of an Era

London: March 2008

Mozzie Byte, Editor - The Daily Explorermozzie-byte-profile-44pt.jpg

Welcome back to all our Daily Explorer readers and greetings to those of you who are joining us for the first time.  In this issue, we will be updating you on what Ray has been up to during his ‘longer than normal’ stay in England. My name is Mozzie Byte (above) and I am the Editor of The Daily Explorer, responsible for the compilation of all of our publications on-line. So if you have any comments or requests you would like to make, please email them to me at or use the comments section at the bottom of this issue.

Since our last issue was published about a month ago (In Memory of Alan Gray), our global traveller has been planning the year ahead and reviewing things in general after nearly 850 days of life on the road. “I returned to the UK to complete a few things and kick off some new ones for this year” Ray told me. “When I sat down last Christmas and thought about what I would like to experience in 2008, more work in a professional capacity was definitely one of the things on my list as I love the opportunity to engage with bright, creative people” explained Ray. “I have also recognised a desire to learn some new stuff in business and wanted to investigate some courses on offer in the field of executive coaching – a service I have been providing to a small number of clients for the last couple of years, as my capacity has been severely restricted because of my desire to travel” he told me. “Since returning to London, I have made a couple of new professional commitments which have the potential to grow and I am very excited about these situations” he added. We hope to bring your more news about these in future issues of The Daily Explorer.


Above: On his return to the UK, Ray was very fortunate to be invited to stay with his dear friend, Helen Chilvers who lives in Henley – “This is not the first time that Helen has appeared in The Daily Explorer and probably won’t be the last” said Ray, “as she is so generous and provides me with a very creative space when I stay at her home” he told me

Below: Ray and Helen met each other whilst working for a company called Programmes in the early eighties. Helen is circled on the right. Second from left is Elizabeth Taylor, who readers may remember from Ray’s various trips to Sydney, Australia in the last couple of years


While staying in Henley with his friend Helen, an unexpected possibility arose that someone might be interested in acquiring First Place, Ray’s consulting business. “Some Daily Explorer readers know that I ‘downsized’ my company in 2004, prior to going travelling and was uncertain at that time as to what to do with it in the longer term” explained Ray.  “Whilst in California, I began a coaching relationship with someone who has started a UK consultancy practise (called Katila), assisting by telephone and email on a weekly basis. It struck me that a lot of the infrastructure that First Place had built to run and manage a consultancy business would be very useful to them. So when I met with the owner of Katila at the beginning of February, we talked about the idea of them acquiring the company and it seemed to make a lot of sense” said Ray.

I was intrigued at the timing of this opportunity and asked Ray if he felt it was significant. “Well Mozzie, one thing life has taught me in recent years is that whatever is happening in the ‘now’ is perfect and I intuitively felt that this was the right time in my life to let First Place go. “It also gave me the opportunity to complete this era in a way that I could feel completely satisfied with the ending” he told me. “One thing that made me feel very good about the decision was Kate Lavender of Katila as I have known her for a few years and feel that we have very similar values” said Ray. “In passing ownership of the “Heart and Soul Management” tools to Kate, I felt that this precious material would end up in very safe and creative hands” he added. All that remained was to determine a mutually acceptable value for the business, so Ray set to work to prepare the necessary information over the next couple of weeks.


Above: Ray and Kate Lavender of Katila, working together during one of their coaching sessions in February – “I admire Kate and what she is doing” said Ray. “She is bringing all of her knowledge and experience to the business world and I think she is going to be very successful” added our travelling businessman

Although our brief at The Daily Explorer is to bring you news and stories related to Ray’s travels, much of his recent visit to the UK has revolved around the enduring relationships that he has built during his business life. “When I was in California, two significant things happened to me” recalled Ray. “The first was that I underwent a series of ‘Brain State’ treatments with my friend Nic, which were designed to balance the left and right sides of my brain and allow the possibility for greater creativity. The second was that I had a detailed reading of my astrology chart done for me, which highlighted some sort of return of focus for me around career and a good year financially, which at the time was quite hard to see or imagine how it could be true” added Ray. “I was very excited to have the opportunity to talk about this and other things with my men’s group, who I have been meeting with periodically for about 15 years now” said Ray.


Above: Ray meets with his Men’s group for the evening at Brown’s in Covent Garden to discuss life, the universe and everything. “We have known each other for over 25 years and the fact that we are all still friends is testimony to the quality of our relationships” said Ray. “Our meetings give us a unique opportunity to give thanks for the great things happening in our lives and ask for help from each other and the greater powers at work if we need it. I consider myself to be very lucky to have this many quality male friends in my life” added our traveller. From left to right: Ray, Andy Loveless, Scanes Bentley, Aubyn Howard, Simon Rustom, Kieron Murphy, Tim Donovan and Simon Lovegrove (who Ray will be working with in Switzerland in April and May)

Below: A moment down memory lane for Ray – Ely Place is where he met most of the men in the photograph above, back in 1982 – “I was over in the city for a meeting to sort out what to do with my pension fund when I walked past the office (near Holborn Viaduct) where Programmes started and it made me realise how absolutely full of wonderful experiences my life has been since that time” said our appreciative traveller


Back in Central London after a few days in Henley, our global traveller made the most of his visit by catching up with friends and family. “Some readers may remember that I have a very good friend called Dave Cox who lives in Seville, in Spain” Ray told me. “Last September, I was re-united with his sister Janet after 25 years and I had another opportunity to spend a bit of time with her during my trip” explained Ray. “She is a bit of an art lover and had invited me to a Mark Quinn exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard” said Ray. “Whilst sculptures are not really my thing, I could not help but be impressed by the man’s work as he has carved these huge and very detailed statues of the human embryo at various stages of development out of pink granite” he told me. “I must thank Janet for dragging me out to see this as it is something I would not normally choose to do and it makes me feel like I am still travelling, even when I am in London” Ray told me.


Above: The curious and interesting looking White Cube Gallery at Mason’s Yard in St. James was home to the Mark Quinn ‘Evolution‘ series of sculptures

Below: Janet enjoys the marvellous work of Mark Quinn (left) in the White Cube Gallery and then heads to Fortnum & Mason on Picaddilly for some goodies! (right)


The timing of this particular visit to London could not really have been any better as it co-incided with Ray’s brother’s 5oth birthday. “I only have one sibling and to have missed this important milestone in his life would have been unthinkable” said Ray. “He and my sister-in-law Kitty live in Southfields, near Wimbledon and they always invite me to stay while I am in the UK. Without their unconditional loving support, it would be much harder for me to operate while I am in the country and it gave me an opportunity to let my brother know how special a man he really is” said Ray.


Above: Wimbledon Park Road, Southfields on a sunny day – “London is still a great place to visit” said our traveller

As with most major birthdays and anniversaries, there is usually an element of surprise and Paul’s 50th was no exception. “Kitty (Paul’s wife) had arranged for Paul and their two kids to go with her to see ‘Spamalot’ on stage in the West End, but had not mentioned that they would be joined by me and our mum” said Ray. “However, knowing Paul quite well, I suspect he knew something like this was on the cards and it was all revealed when Mum and me were waiting for them at Kettners in Soho where Paul was being treated to a slap up supper before the show” recalled Ray.


Above: Kitty (left), Daniel, Paul (centre), Rebecca and Ray’s mum (right) pour over their menu’s at Kettners, trying to decide what to order for the 5oth birthday feast!

Below: Loosely based on Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spamalot was great entertainment – “I could hear my brother laughing throughout the show – I am really glad he enjoyed it” said Ray. “We all loved it when the cast sang ‘Always Look on the Bright Side’ which is quite fitting for Paul as he is someone who does!


Other friends (and Daily Explorer readers) who Ray managed to catch up with in London included:


Above: Lynn Parker – an ex-colleague from Merchants Consulting, where Ray worked in the early 90’s – “She has set a goal to volunteer as a relief worker in Africa towards the end of 2008 and sounded very inspiring when she told me all about it over dinner at Wagamamas in Kensington” said Ray

Below: Jane and Will Reynolds and their daughter Emilia – Will is Ray’s (ex) brother-in-law and met him for coffee in Wimbledon Village – “Jane is heavily involved in a charity called Cancer Active – they do an amazing job to help people with cancer understand how to fight the disease using alternative therapies and as it is all funded by donations, they could do with as much help as they can get, so please get in touch if you are able to offer your support” said Ray


Above: London’s parks are amongst the finest in the world. Ray spends time in the gardens at Kensington Palace with friend and regular Daily Explorer reader Laura Jacobs (in red top), with the beautiful Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall in the background

Below: Although he has no running experience, Ray is considering entering the New York Marathon this year, which is sponsored by financial giant ING. His friend Jules Hartley works for the company and has run the race himself – “It was wonderful to see him again after such a long time and great to hear about what it takes to complete the marathon” said Ray, pictured here with Jules at the Malmaison Hotel in Reading


Above: Fellow traveller and Australian Julie Parker was passing through London for a couple of days whilst Ray was in town – “It was dead lucky that we were able to meet” said Ray. “She was a very helpful and positive influence for me three years ago when I had my ‘annus horriblis’ and our conversations led me to act in a play in Australia, sell my house in London and become a nomadic traveller for a while – I have a lot to thank her for” said Ray

Below: Lauren de Vere, whom Ray met at Cortijo Romero last September during a seven day retreat – “One of the joys of travelling is meeting kindred spirits like Lauren whom you know you will remain friends with from the minute you meet” Ray told me. They linked up for a coffee in Covent Garden whilst Lauren pointed out to Ray the effect that his brief return has had on the local community


By the middle of February, things had progressed with Kate Lavender at Katila regarding the potential sale of Ray’ consulting business. “I went down to Brighton for a meeting with Kate and her colleagues, which was a wonderful experience as I had really missed having a team of people to work creatively with in the business arena” Ray told me. “During the evening over dinner, we talked about how the sale of First Place could work for Katila and I took Kate through the detailed information I had prepared in the previous couple of weeks. Apart from one or two minor points, we were able to come to an agreement in principle, which was a very big moment for me, as I am sure it was for Kate too!” recalled Ray. “This was the moment I knew that First Place Consulting was really coming to an end and I felt very good about it” he told me. “I have a sense of space emerging in my life to create something new when the timing is right” added Ray. “I drove back from Brighton knowing that although there was still more to do to conclude our deal, we were both committed to making it happen. One of my life goals has always been to create and sell a business and although it occurred in slightly different circumstances to those I had originally imagined, it has been immensely satisfying to have ticked that box” said our happy traveller.


Above: A day in the life of Katila, an exciting new consulting practise started by Kate Lavender (right) last year. On her left is the first full time member of her team, Janet Syder who has joined as a project manager – Ray will continue to advise Kate and the team for the remainder of 2008 until the handover of First Place is complete and they are all familiar with the new tools and systems they have acquired

Below: During his whirlwind six week visit, Ray also managed to spend a day working with his friend and client, Adrian Hollister (right) – “Some readers may remember Adrian from the last issue of the Daily Explorer, as I met him and his wife for lunch in New York over Christmas” said Ray. “Over the last three years we have worked together, Adrian’s business has gone from strength to strength and I am really pleased for him” said Ray. “Mandy (left) joined the sales team a couple of years ago and, with Adrian’s encouragement, is now bringing in huge contracts for the company, much to everyone’s delight. She is a perfect example of someone who really cares about her work and is tenacious at making sure her clients get a brilliant service” added Ray


With the end of First Place Consulting in sight, I was curious to know more about Ray’s thoughts related to work in the coming year. “Well Mozzie, one of the things I have really enjoyed in the last 2-3 years is having a break from the constant requirement in my life to generate business” he admitted. “I had huge targets to meet when I worked in Merchants for 12 years and ambitious goals at First Place meant that I was constantly having to create new clients who could enter into substantial contracts with us” he explained. “For the first time in 20 years, I do not have that pressure and can focus on different things, like what I want to learn about next. For this reason, I think that any work I do in my current area of expertise will be as an associate to other consultancies or coaching companies who need temporary support from people like me, at least for the foreseeable future” he added. “In terms of new learning, I am keen to consolidate and expand my knowledge and ability as a coach and have spent time investigating one or two training courses in the UK whilst I have been in London. However, the time commitment over a six month period is considerable and I have to weigh it up against some of my other goals which include the possibility of starting to trade financial products on-line whilst remaining mobile, which is something I have seen other travellers doing, so I will keep you posted” said Ray.


Above: Ray spent quite a bit of time exploring a wide range of training courses whilst in London, including some programmes aimed at Executive Coaches and others to help people get started as financial traders

My next question for Ray was where he was headed after this visit. “I am going back to Thailand for a few weeks Mozzie” was his reply. “Once I have completed the sale of First Place, I have a block of time before I start work in Switzerland” he told me. “I was thinking of going back in June, but the opportunity to go has arrived sooner than I thought. It will be great to re-establish contact with some of my other friends in the region, as well as continue the exploration into the suitability of Asia as a possible base for the future” explained Ray.


Above: The Last Supper! Ray’s sister-in-law Kitty makes a delicious Asian stir-fry, in honour of his pending re-entry into Thailand

With all of his social engagements in the diary complete, there was one thing left for our traveller to attend to – the signing of the contract completing the sale of First Place Consulting to Katila. “I had quite a bit of work to do to complete the sale of the company and I had never done anything like it before” recalled Ray. “And I am lucky that I have such a good relationship with Kate as she was very willing to work to my agenda to complete our deal by the middle of March so that I could get a reasonable chunk of time in Thailand before returning to Europe in April” he told me.


Above: Tuesday 11th March, Weybridge: The big moment arrives, marking a significant ending for Ray and a new beginning for Kate Lavender of Katila, who signs the contract which completes her acquisition of First Place Consulting

Below: Signed, Sealed, Delivered! Time for a little celebration to commemorate the event


Above: One for the album – a shot taken in 1999 of Ray and his ex-wife Charlie, who worked with Ray to build First Place and create the Heart and Soul Management framework that now belongs to Katila – “I owe a huge thank you to Charlie for two things – firstly, the marvellous and unforgettable experience we had during the years we worked together and secondly, her willingness to get involved in helping me transfer our systems and know-how to Katila during the remainder of this year” said our appreciative traveller

Below: “Isn’t technology wonderful?”. The entire infrastructure of First Place Consulting was delivered to Katila on this tiny thumb drive – something which would have been unimaginable a decade ago


During Ray’s last weekend in the UK, an unexpected visitor arrived in London from California which took Ray by surprise. “In the last issue of The Daily Explorer, I made contact with Grant Atwell, who lives just outside San Francisco, for the first time in 24 years” said Ray. “You can imagine how surprised I was when he called to announce he was coming to London as it meant that I would see him twice in three months!” he told me. “He actually had very little time as he had come over primarily to see his daughter Hayley Atwell perform in a play at the National Theatre, but we managed to squeeze in a couple of hours” he told me.


Above: Twice in three months – Ray was once again re-united with old friend Grant Atwell, this time in London

Below: Grant, an experienced photographer, invited Ray to hang out with him at the Photographers Gallery near Leicester Square – “He showed me a thing or two about taking good pictures, including how to have a very relaxed, calm expression when being snapped” joked Ray



Above: “OK Ray – that’s enough theory for now” says Grant. “Let’s go outside and I will show you how to compose a top class photo”…

Below: Grant demonstrates what an expert can do with the right camera and setting and appropriately takes this amazing snapshot of Ray as he enters the ‘next’ phase of his life…


Above: Not many people know that Ray used to be an avid ‘aircraft spotter’ in his youth – “I departed from Heathrow on 18th March, which was the same day that the first Singapore Airlines service with the new A380 Super Jumbo was due to arrive” Ray told me. Unfortunately for Ray, he left before its arrival so had to make do with looking at this scale model hanging from the roof of Terminal 3

Below: Thailand here we come! Ray boards the Thai Airways Boeing 747 for the long trip to Chiangmai


Editors Note: Ray is now in Chiangmai, in northern Thailand and will be making his way towards Nakorn in the southern part of the country in a few days time. If you would like to comment on anything you have read in this issue of The Daily Explorer, please email me at or use the comments box below. All feedback is welcome!



Above: An aerial view of Chiangmai. In our next issue, due online in a couple of weeks, we will bring you the latest news and stories of Ray’s trip. Look out for our email coming to your inbox soon!


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