Today we celebrate ROQUE day at QuestUnique

Today is ROQUE day at QuestUnique.

The ROQUE Model, The ROQUE Coaching Methodology and QuestUnique are terms and acronyms that were all inspired by a man called ROQUE.

Today is Roque’s birthday and I celebrate his memory his influence and his friendship.

Roque loved his DIY tools and projects. We shared much in common in these interests! He was quite fascinated that his name as an acronym would also be a ‘tool’ to help others.

Photo of Roque the man who inspired the name The ROQUE Model and QuestUnique

      Photo of Roque in 2004

The ROQUE Model:The name takes its inspiration from a much-respected man named Roque (b. 1930 d. 2005). He represented the ultimate in coachee behaviour – humility, respect, trust, openness, integrity and commitment to learn. Roque was never afraid to ask questions when he did not understand. He was always eager to respond to questions relating to his particular enquiries, goals and aspirations. You can learn about the methodology behind the ROQUE story here.

Roque the man was born a Roman Catholic, when it was traditional to be baptised with a Saint’s name whose Catholic calendar feast day was on or near the birth time of a new born. The man Roque was so named after a Saint Roque (b. 1576 d.1628). “

Even on his sick bed, Roque would ask me during my visits, about how my leadership programs or coaching sessions went with clients. I processed his Myers Briggs personality profile and he just loved the debrief. He said it would be good to understand all his family and friends’ profiles so that he would ‘know them better’ and have ‘good conversations’!

In his last days, I told Roque that his name would be known across the world and that it would be helping many people. He humbly said: “How can that be. I do not know much”. Today ROQUE is known in all the continents and everywhere QuestUnique reaches, so does Roque’s name.

World map highlighting areas where The ROQUE Model has reached.

     World map od The ROQUE Model reach

Happy birthday Roque! Never forgotten, and with much gratitude.

The original story of ROQUE at TEDxMelbourne:



I’d like to share with you a connection I make, between Leadership, my Grandfather, a now famous Swahili phrase Hakuna Matata, and a man called Roque.

You see for me leadership is not something you can buy or read about.

Leadership comes about when a human being transcends his or her self, and goes within To reach those depths those heights of the essence of who the person is. At this level you are close to the very source of potential for that human being.

At that level, the human being exudes magnanimity from one human being to another and to others. It is that magnanimity, that genuine sincere care, which is so profound that causes others to well up with inspiration. It shifts perspectives and motivates people into action.

You see for me it all started as I was growing up on the island of Mombasa in Kenya. As a young lad, I would often accompany my Grandpa into town. One of the main streets we walked was called Kilindini Road.

Grandpa knew many people but there was one particular man he always stopped to talk with on the roadside. And by all accounts he met with this person every day. You see this person was someone society called a beggar. The Swahili term for beggar is Maskini.

Maskini was born a polio victim, and he would never have full use of his legs. Now, Grandpa knew Maskini since he was a teenager. He saw in Maskini what most others overlooked. Here was Grandpa’s magnanimity at work. He used to explore with Maskini his current circumstances, encouraging him to the optimism that was his to leverage. They would discuss all the things that were both good and challenging for Maskini. There was no judgment.

And then Grandpa encouraged Maskini to explore what he could do based on that reality. But Grandpa also challenged Maskini to stretch. Grandpa never accepted limiting thoughts and beliefs. The philosophy was that there was always more. Don’t just look at what is in front of you he would say. Look at the peripherals. And when you have done that look behind you where you cannot readily see. Ask others. Test ideas.

Then Grandpa would say to Maskini, OK, so what are you going to choose now? Again Grandpa would test the choices. Grandpa was very certain that Maskini should be making decisions of his own accord rather than simply following what Grandpa or others would say.

Once Maskini had made a decision, Grandpa would then say, OK, so what do you need now for you to accomplish this decision?

And when Maskini had listed all his needs, Grandpa would say: OK, so what exactly are you going to do? And Grandpa would say: and by the way, I am going to be holding you accountable – I will be checking on you!

This is a snapshot of a story that has transformed a life. You see Maskini first became known to Grandpa when he was but a teenager. Grandpa inspired Maskini to rise up to his true potential to the point when I got to know Maskini, in his early twenty’s, he was already a married man, with a wife and three children. He was living in a house in a village that he himself helped to build. He created the mud bricks and with his wife, they thatched the roof from coconut palm leaves.

Now imagine the fate of a Maskini who did not have such inspirational leadership. Imagine the destiny of such a human being. And imagine the opportunities that could have been missed.

After finishing school in Kenya, my family moved to the UK – in 1968, just five months after Grandpa passed away. 25 years later, I moved to Perth in Western Australia and came to know a man called Roque. He too grew up in Kenya and even remembered my family in our regular Church attendances.

Roque and I developed a very special relationship. And even when I moved to live in Melbourne, Roque would always consult with me for advice on many different subjects. In particular, we both had a love for tools and things DIY! He would often phone me to explore how we could solve problems. This could be about anything from decision making to things he needed to fix.

On one particular occasion Roque phoned me to tell me about a problem he had with his garage door.

He said: Joseph, my garage door doesn’t lock anymore and I really don’t know what to do. So I said OK, let’s have a look. A process I used that Roque was very familiar with. Typically, I would get my note pad ready, write the date, the name of the person I was talking with and the topic.

I would start to ask Roque questions. When did this start to happen? Has there been and recent damage you are aware of? Did someone knock into the door? Has the wood become rotten? Are the hinges intact? Etc. We would just probe and probe and I was reminded about how Grandpa would question Maskini. We were looking for clarity about what we were dealing with.

Periodically, Roque would say: Oh, that’s a good point. Just a moment. He would Put the phone down and race to the garage and come back with an answer. This used to happen a few times during a conversation.

In these moments of down time, I would be doodling as one does waiting on the phone. By now my mind was rehearsing the methodology that Grandpa’s wisdom had used which had really become second nature to me even in my professional life.

Whilst doodling, I wrote down Roque’s name in a mind map fashion. And a light bulb went off in my head. An AHA moment that I had not seen before. And within Roque’s name, I had the acronym for the methodology that Grandpa was using. Ofcourse from Grandpa’s perspective, it was just wisdom of experience and perspective when trying to address an issue or help another.

And voila, we have what we now call the ROQUE Model! ROQUE has developed into a decision support, self-discovery and coaching tool. What ROQUE actually does in keeping with Grandpa’s methodology, is quite aligned with the phrase Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata is sometimes translated as No Worries, No problems, No issues etc. But actually Hakuna Matata is all about that and more. Hakuna Matata is saying : there is no need for turbulence. It all depends on how you look at a situation. What ROQUE does is to settle the turbulence and pave the way for some considered thinking.

So this is how we use ROQUE:

R = REALITY NOW: What is actually going on now? Symptoms? You know, the first step into solving a problem is to accept you have a problem!

O = OPTIONS: What Options do you have? Tolerate the marginal!

Q = QUEST: What are you going to choose? With Head and heart? Cf congruence of head and heart.

U = UNIQUE YOU NEEDS: What do you need to fix or put in place before you can embark on your Quest? Mindset / attitude, skills etc.

E = EXECUTION: So what exactly are you going to do, how much, how big, when, and how are you going to make yourself accountable?

So as you can see, The ROQUE Model has become more than just a decision support tool. As a coaching methodology, it is very much in alignment with research into Leadership that suggests that a key Leadership skill is to have Coaching as a leadership style!

Coaching happens by questioning. By seeking to understand. This is about raising the awareness of the individual so that the individual becomes inspired to rise up and take responsibility – to take ownership, to make decisions and then act upon those decisions. The magnanimity of a leader becomes the accountability factor. This is to me, inspirational leadership.

So with the ROQUE model, I often say to people:

Are you a Human Being?……….Relational Self ………….Professional Self………..

So I ask: What is the

Reality for your Self as Human Being, Relationship Self, Professional self.


My dream for the ROQUE Model  is that it becomes part of the vocabulary of Personal and Professional Development. My dream for The ROQUE Model is that for each of you………… become ROQUE ‘d into steering your life.

Roque the man passed away in 2006. In his latter years he always took an interest in my professional life and the projects I had. I used to tell him that one day his name would be helping people all over the world. He looked down with all humility and said: How could that be? I do not know much. I think Roque the man would be tickled to know that already several thousand people around the world have and are using The ROQUE Model!

So remember we say ROQUE with a Q for Quest and always with Hakuna Matata!!!!!!!!!!


A subsequent rendition of the ROQUE story at TEDxTelstraMelbourne. This video is now broadcast to all Telstra employees within the corporations intranet.



I have an idea which I hope you believe is worth spreading! It is about the Human-ness of every one of you as Human Beings in contrast to the much used concept of utility in the phrase of Human Resource.  It is about the Human-ness of“ an individual – family member, partner, friend, colleague.

It is about every one of us as Human Beings : What is your dream for yourself as a Human Being? Is that dream driving you – causing you to become all that you are destined to be or indeed aspire to? Yes or no? And if you say whoa, I am busy enough with my family life and career………well, that is a conscious choice? If you had a purpose in life, what do you think it would be?

You know, if you are a human being, the chances are you had parents! Right? Chances are you had grandparents, uncle, aunts, siblings. Growing up you perhaps have a partner or spouse – children even. You have friends from school days, social circles, and perhaps professional networks as well.

We are pre-destined; forget it, no choice, to live in a relational world. And truly the only way to achieve that is to have a care for every fellow human being with whose path you cross. A 19th century writer said:  Most of us are acutely aware of our own struggles and we are preoccupied with our own problems. We sympathize with ourselves because we see our own difficulties so clearly. But he noted wisely, “Let us be kind to one another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”

And inorder to sustain those relationships, we have to do something – have a profession, a vocation or even just a job – Not too sure if “jobs” exist anymore. I think we need to be trading our value for an income! And let us not forget that Transformative power of being human…… Every human being is different yet, working and teaming in win-win magnanimity, we draw on potential we could but have imagined.

I’d like to share with you some threads of connections I make, between being human, Leadership, what I learned from a mentor growing up, a beggar called Maskini, a now famous Swahili phrase Hakuna Matata, and a man called Roque.

You see for me leadership is not something you can buy or read about. Leadership comes about when a human being transcends his or her self, and goes within to reach those depths those heights of the essence of who the person is. At this level you are close to the very source of potential for that human being.

At that level, the human being exudes magnanimity from one human being to another and to others. It is that magnanimity, that genuine sincere care, which is so profound that causes others to well up with inspiration. It shifts perspectives and motivates people into action. And leadership exists between every single conversation you have with another human being.

When I was growing up on the island of Mombasa in Kenya, my mentor taught me….. from about the age of 7 about. He taught me to look at the human being as more than just what we see”.

  • He introduced me to the concept of Philosophy – philo Sophia. And we now also use the term about individuals having a personal philosophy of life. What is you philosophy about being a human being?
  • I learned about Theo Sophia – another great concept. This is about divine knowledge which is wisdom – nothing to do with organized religion.
  • I learned about Ancient Wisdom traditions where from the dawn of time, man seems to be on a quest to try and understand what it is to be human.
  • And Uncle Castellino, this mentor taught me about Man as being greater than just what you see
  • I began to learn about Masters, Teachers and Great Leaders

This definitely shaped my philosophical outlook on life.

At about the same time, my Grandpa showed me by his actions, how to not only respect yourself as a human being but how to also see the human being in another. And this was graphically imprinted in me and I do share details in another talk. He used to take me on walks to visit a beggar in the streets of Mombasa.  This beggar known as Maskini was a victim of polio from birth and could not walk. And by all accounts, such was the societal treatment of individuals like this, they were just destined to be beggars for life.

Grandpa would work on Maskini by questioning him and drawing out of him his own awareness – his own realization of who he was as a human being first and not as a crippled body. And through those interchanges, Grandpa inspired Maskini the beggar to actually start a business selling newspapers.

So that Maskini could add value to the people who purchased newspapers from him,  Grandpa trained Maskini to read the newspapers in English, memorize the key headlines and recite it to Grandpa everyday! And ofcourse when people came to buy their newspapers,  Maskini would say: Bwana, Don’t forget to look at the headline on page three. Or Memsab, there is another magazine we have today which has a good article about cooking fish. And his business just grew.

You see, Grandpa had encouraged Maskini to see that if he earned a living, he would never have to depend on the generosity of passerby’s.

Maskini used to sleep in the shop front of where he first begged and then sold his newspapers. Grandpa had a word with the shopkeeper that he could do this on the basis that he acted as a kind of security and that he kept it clean. With Grandpa’s forthcoming retirement and the need for Maskini to be a little more self sufficient,

Grandpa began to explore  what options were available each day they met. They considered changing locations, times, days etc. But Grandpa challenged Maskini to ‘break’ the cycle of sameness and explore with ‘Akili ya cooku’. Grandpa did not accept ‘shauri ya mungo’ – where one just accepted circumstances.

Grandpa asked Maskini: What are you going to do in the future? And Maskini gestured like this and said: Hakuna Matata.  Now Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase currently known through a movie set in Africa. In Australia it means ‘No worries – mate!’, In the UK – No Problems! And in the USA – No issue!

But what it actually means is: Hakuna – There is no, Matata – troubling. The philosophy behind that in the Swahili language is: Whatever the situation, first settle the troubled waters by shifting your place of thinking. From this perspective you can remove the matata – or in reality, contextualize it and so free you from the noise. Only then can you see clearly.

And it appears that Maskini had been thinking about what next after selling newspapers. Maskini himself came up with the idea of charging to clean more shop fronts and asked: Bwana Mzee: Will you help me by talking to the other shopkeepers. Grandpa said no. I was surprised at this apparent and most unusual sharpness. But Maskini had now become empassioned with the idea and wondered how he could promote himself.

Just at that moment, the friendly shopkeeper came to greet Grandpa and in apparent passing, Grandpa said to him, Good morning Ibrahim, have you heard of Maskini’s new business idea? The shopkeeper looked to Maskini and Grandpa stayed silent. I was itching to say ‘can you help him’? Maskini said to the shopkeeper: Bwana, can you please talk to the other shopkeepers for me? The shopkeeper said: No. But I think you are a good man and have shown yourself to be trustworthy and you keep this place nice and clean. I will give you a written reference and you can use that to talk to the others.

On our way back some few hours later, we saw Maskini quite a distance from his usual location. It was as if he was sitting on a spring waving his arms and beckoning Grandpa over. Even I felt an excitement and started to increase my pace towards Maskini. Grandpa maintained his pace, now started his usual calm humming (sometimes he whistled softly) and we approached. I was grinning with happiness and did not know why.

Grandpa’s eyes had that look of pride and ‘knowing’. Bwana Mzee, Maskini shouted and embraces Grandpas feet. You won’t believe it Bwana, twenty shops said they will give me a try for one month to check my work. I explained to each of them that I am only here four days a week as on the other days I have to go back to my village far away to help my wife and children and do things at home.

Maskini said, Bwana Mzee, you do not have to give me anything because in one months’ time, I would like to buy you a cup of chai and two mahamuris!

You see, in the years Grandpa knew Maskini and cared about him, the young man had evolved to be a husband, father of three, home builder and provider for his family. It was this act of magnanimity from one human being to another that enabled the transformation of another’s life.

Years later when I came to live in Australia, I met a man called Roque. It was Roque the human being, who inspired the use of his name as an acronym to take any complex situation and elegantly yet simply provide a meaningful structure.

One day Roque wished to discuss a problem with his garage door. So we started and I asked him to tell me what was going on. It once locked but now a mis-alignment through age prevents the bolt from engaging. By continuous probing with Roque even putting the phone on hold and going out of the house to check questions like: are the hinges intact? Is the wooden assembly still sound? Has anybody knocked into it etc.

It was during these on hold moments when I continued doodling – as one does when waiting with pen and paper, I became conscious of the process that Grandpa used with Maskini. Whilst it was now second nature, for some reason I was taken back to that clear logical process.

Then a big AHA came upon me with the juxtaposition of the name ROQUE. And I realized with clarity of insight that we had an acronym for a process. I was too young to be aware that Roque the man and Grandpa actually knew each other casually in Mombasa but to create this new connection – Grandpa’s way with Roque’s name – well that seemed fitting.

So began the life of ROQUE – a process, a self-discovery, a coaching tool. We use it like this:
R = Reality now
O = Options
Q = Quest
U = Unique Needs
E = Execution

Sometimes when we are overwhelmed we need a structured approach to help give us the clarity on what to do next. My dream for ROQUE is that it becomes part of the vocabulary of personal and professional development.  ROQUE the acronym evolved into the ROQUE Model where we ask individual’s to reflect:

  • Human Being
  • Relational self
  • Professional self

Questions for you:

  • Who is that mentor in your life – who enlightens you to your own potential as a human being?
  • Who is that Grandpa like figure in your life who shows you that you can grow yourself and others?
  • Have you met the Maskini who lives within you? Is he waiting for you to call and start a conversation?
  • Do you know where to go to find Hakuna Matata?
  • Where is your leader? Do you have the courage to call on your own leadership potential?
  • Could you welcome Roque into your life to help you assist yourself and others?

If only one person in your team shifted their perspective to seeing human beings what a difference that would make. What if YOU were that one person first?

“There’s no such thing as business, company, organization or corporation, there’s only human beings having meaningful conversations with other human beings” – even widgets are produced as a result of meaningful conversations with other people

“Good and great leaders do not default to behaviour where people who work for them are just widgets. The people we have conversations with are human beings”

Look for that something special in all the individuals you meet – at work, home or play…..and really enjoy, value and appreciate what you find!

To be human means to care for one another – don’t allow yourself to be robbed of being human as you pursue your professional duties. Being human is not for the feint hearted – rather it enhances who we are in our relational world – at work, rest and play. Use your human being essence as your compass in your aspirations and your tasks. Be true to yourself.

           Happy Birthday Roque!