Getting in Early

If little things please little minds, I don't want to think about the dimensions of my brain. 

Because something very small happened this week, but it brought me a great deal of pleasure. 

This is it - 

Two people, in a lecture theatre, writing away... well, I did tell you it was a little thing. 

But the reason I was happy is that they were practicing a trick I think is both brilliant and invaluable. 

To explain, I'll step back a few hours from when this photo was taken. 

I was lecturing at... Read more

Bridging the Divide

I was at a careers fair last week, which unwittingly presented an important but often overlooked lesson in the art of getting your message across. 

The hall was full of tables for all the various businesses and contributors, and this was the view from mine - 

It was a double barricade from the students who were our audience. Not just a table in front of me, but a couple of signs as well. 

Some of the other exhibitors were sitting behind their desks, and - perhaps not surprisingly - getting little in the... Read more

The Right Words

The right words are rare and beautiful things.

Get them spot on and you can make someone fall in love, bring peace, get yourself a publishing contract, seal a business deal, or get people to follow you just about anywhere, through just about anything.

And so much more besides.

But get them wrong and the consequences can be awful.

One small example -

I don't think I've got the best taste in the world, but I try to keep my house reasonably stylish. 

For a birthday, years ago, my dear parents, for reasons... Read more

Just Another Blog... or The Triumph of a Thrilling Title

Modern life is so bish-bash-bosh busy.

Emails, messages, social media, the phone ringing, we're far too often short of time to do all the rich array of things we'd like to.

So if you want to get noticed, get people interested in what you're doing, you've got to use all the communications tricks at your disposal. 

Where better to start than the title of that talk you're doing, or the course you're running, or the product or service you're trying to sell?

So, given all the competing demands for your time, which of my musings are you more likely to... Read more

A Forbidden Word

There's a word I'd like to ban from job applications, biographies, social media profiles, CVs, and any forum whatsoever in which people describe themselves. 

I heard it three times last week, and excuse the melodrama...

But I wanted to chase it around the room with a stick, corner it, cage it, and bury it under tonnes of earth, never to be seen again. 

The first time was in London, where I was teaching in the Church House, a wonderful building which is part of the magnificent Westminster Abbey corner of the city.

There... Read more

Off the Shelf... and Into the Bin

There's a big, smiling, alluring, come hither temptation when you're asked to give a talk, lecture, or teaching session...

It's understandable. We're all busy. There are plenty of other demands on our time.

So we're very tempted to find the notes on that session we did before, and regurgitate it.



Because yes, sure, it will probably be adequate.

It'll fill the space, tick the box, get a polite round of dutiful applause at the end.

Score you as average/ok/fine on the feedback forms.

But do you really think that's enough?

Sufficient to impress the people in the audience... Read more

Winks of Fate

Life can sometimes drop you a hint to let you know that you're on the right track. 

And - happily enough, in my experience - often at moments when you need it.

I know that's a big, bold thing to say, touching on religion, and philosophy, but hear me out -

One such moment happened to me this week, and, looking back, they've come visiting quite a few times before. 

I was out for a run along the River Cam, and reached a point where I would normally turn back. 

But this Christmas,... Read more

A Legacy Resolution

It might be a little pompous (you know me), but this week a thought came to me which I liked.

It struck me as very worthwhile, a legacy thing even, and so I plan to adopt it.

I don't usually bother with New Year resolutions, but I was out on a run, musing away as I do...

And perhaps the scenery inspired me. 

I was thinking about the various stages of life, and how we embrace them. 

At the start of our careers we tend to be go getters, full of energy, throwing... Read more

Superpowers and Secret Weaknesses

I was asked a couple of excellent questions this week. 

I've always liked questions.

They've looked after me well in my years as a journalist, and are much underrated in life.      

How else do we make progress if we don't ask questions?      

Why do those birds have such different beaks? (C Darwin) Why did that apple fall on my head? (I Newton) Why don't I have a vote? (E Pankhurst) etc etc.     

These two questions were powerful because they forced me to think about myself, react fast, and in front of an important audience. 

... Read more

Commerce in Character

Scenario - you're faced with a choice of two products. 

They could be goods, like tins of beans or crime novels, or services, like communications training and support. 

They're roughly equal in terms of what they're offering, quality and content wise, and price too. 

So, which do you choose? 

If that was me - and based on the majority of experiences I hear - you go for the one you like the look or sound of most.

In other words, the character of the product.

Which is why image, and the way we present ourselves, can be so important. 

Two... Read more