Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who's Shaping YOUR future


This year as never before we will be challenged by uncertainty and restrictive behaviour as the frugalness that tight monetary constraints incur continues. Accept it, the Eighties are gone and greed has turned out not to be good (who in their right mind ever thought it would be) and we are fighting the battle of a negative perspective in the press.

So it is easy to fall into the trap of despondency and buy into the hopelessness, in fact as a species we actually like this place best. But for an ever increasing number of us we are having to learn how to support ourselves. Gone are the lifetime work places, gone are the moving from one business to the next without hesitation and in its place is the realisation that we are now the authors of our own destiny. So what does "Author of your own Destiny" actually mean, why should you care and more importantly how do you achieve it.

Well as in all things you have many options but they all start at the same place, with a resolution to change. This generally has been around our personal endeavour (you know this time I really will stick to going to the gym) you even have the new membership to prove it. But then life gets in the way and excuses allow us to slide till it is off the radar and becomes next years resolution. So lets back up the wagons and look at the point where it......


We all do things we love and avoid things we don't, so isn't this the obvious place to start. In order to shape your future you need to fill it with things you love, the old say saying "Make your business something you love doing and you will never work a day in your life" is so true.

Oh sure I hear you say "that's just dreaming, I have bills to pay" well those bills are going to be there whether you like your job or not. And this was the first excuse I gave myself when I tried to leave the industry I had spent the last fifteen years in. My first mistake was not...


I tried to break into a new Industry with the very real belief that my previous experience was totally transferable and valuable (it has proven to be) but in order to reach this position I had to prove myself to the new Industry and this took time (way more than I had expected) five years in fact.

So to keep afloat financially I kept going back to my old Industry whenever a Job was available. This is of course totally logical behaviour but it was also one of the reasons it took so long to cross over. What it did was ease my financial worry but also it made me take my eye off the ball as it would take me off my quest for weeks and sometimes months at a time.


In order to be focused on the future we  have to let go of the past. This is rightly a terrifying place for most of us to stand and is the first great barrier to overcome. Having a permanent job gives us a security of future but robs us of choice, having no job seems like it robs us of a secure future but of course gives us unlimited choice (only limited by your belief in yourself).

One of the questions that I ask people is "if you didn't need the money would you stay in your current job" I guess you know already know the common response to this. So why do we remain trapped in jobs we hate, well because we were never taught to trust ourselves. In fact to the contrary we are educated to believe there are wrong ways to do things and right ways and education is there to teach us the right way.

This of course is nonsense as my whole life I have taken on things I was not qualified for and succeeded. There is no right way, just options and with options come outcomes some work others don't .... big deal, who in the world do you think gets it right first time.

Focus requires the thing that frightens us most SELF BELIEF you are either lazy or a fool if you haven't realised by now that "nothing worth anything comes without a struggle" and when this is about you then the buck stops with you. A job allows people to hide in a niche, when Shaping your Future there is nowhere to hide and hidden within that most frightening of places hides the most REWARDING experiences.


Ask yourself how long you think you will live for remembering you future will go till the day you die. Now ask yourself how would you like to divide those years up, you know, still have PASSION, want to slow down a bit, like to retire, etc.

Most people I meet who are Shaping their Future never talk about retirement, they are always looking where to go next, they are POSITIVE that no matter what comes up they will be able to solve it (either by themselves or by reaching out) which brings met to my next point.

You will need SUPPORT in this endeavour as when times get really tough having a friend, lover, parent, mentor, anyone who believes in you is crucial. We are not designed to work alone we are a pack animal and packs work by supporting each other. SELF BELIEF is most important but a supporting ear is not far behind. Without my partner sticking by me as I turned down opportunities because they would not take me in my new direction things would have been way harder. Even when we really needed the money she believed that I would eventually succeed, which of course motivated me more to succeed.

And oh I forgot RESILIENCE lots and lots of it.


There is NO right time or wrong time, it doesn't mater what the share market is doing or how good the job market is, as the moment you do it your life has changed. The reason most people get round to the realisation that they are in charge of their lives is usually just when they understand how little control they had of it previously....your fired. If you have just been laid off the decision is easy if you are having a mid life crisis that may be enough of a motivator, but the hardest time to do it is when you don't have to (or do you).

After fifteen years in the film industry it began to dawn on me that I was not going to be able to continue working 15 hours a day 7 days a week until I was 70. It had started to become a chore rather than the adventure it had started out as, so I decided to once again Shape my Future.

The first prejudice to rear its ugly head was my age (over 50) no one wanted to know me (recruitment companies are run by sales people not business people ) experience isn't important when moving from one industry to another (so they said). This is course where I came in, so in order to become relevant I decided to...


Now this is where the FUN starts...... no I really mean it, make yourself a blank canvas wrapped around your experiences, your abilities and your new found realisation that you can be what ever you want.

This is not a fairy tale you can change your sights to achieve anything, what you require is the will to achieve it. So the first place to start is.... what are you hoping this new person will achieve / behave like / do differently. For some the realisation that their slavery to their job had robbed them of time with Family and Friends so a work life balance was crucial to their next position. Other people got sick and needed to slow down, it doesn't really matter whatever you choose to be remember no matter how you start out this will not be a step by step procedure but rather a start and stop journey.

Re-inventing yourself requires you to SELF EVALUATE and this is probably a good place for me to leave you for now, I will pick up from here in my next blog.

 I love coming across elderly people who have just taken up a hobby and realised they were born to do it. What I hate is the regret some of them feel when they realise they

Thursday, December 23, 2010

So The Cups half Full.... Big Deal


I am a bit scratchy at the moment, this Christmas Spirit I am meant to be feeling is really tiring and seems to be a one way thing. Clients haven't got into the swing, in fact they are trying to cram as much into the next few days as humanly possible.

Which has brought me round to that silly saying about the half full, half empty cup and how we see it....


Its not how full it is but how thirsty you are that makes the difference, and so it is with life. We are constantly being defined by how we view things and made to feel that this is who we are.
Psychometric assessments, personality type, you name it we are forced into believing we are this single layer of shallowness that makes us easy to put into a convenient box.

Well I have had enough of convenience this Christmas, and my new years resolution is to encourage people to start being complex again. Women have an advantage over men in this area as men fail to understand women when they are asking even a simple request. And men are simple beings and would enjoy being seen as a bit more complex, they are just not sure how to go about it.


Lets ban sports heroes, you know sporting achievements splashed across the front pages and on nearly every other page of our news papers. it's time to replace them with people who achieve things for the betterment of our society. All we are doing is lowering the bar and teaching children that you aren't worth anything unless you are physically tough.

Lets also open up avenues for children to tell teachers what they are interested in. How many self help and management training books call for people to identify what they are good at and work from there. Yet we teach children to be wrong about things that they have no interest in. Once again showing our education system is 100 years out of date.


Our politicians continue to rort the system that feeds them, teaching everyone about the two tier system of wealth and power and privilege vs the rest of us. And why do we let them get away with it?... because we are dumbing down our society to a level where simple sound bites constitute debate. Mass media has become the tool of influence and propaganda the message.

As this world becomes more complex people crave the simple life of their childhood and that brings about the nostalgic view that things were better "in the good old days" which of course is nonsense. People have been struggling to live since the beginning of time and nothing has changed, except that tools and opportunity change with advancement. And so at last the meek have indeed inherited the earth and they rest are struggling to understand what happened.

And herein lies the problem, we have over the years been forcing people into boxes for the convenience of employers and guess what..... now they don't fit.....


In a complex world we need complex thinkers and speed of thought and change is embraced, no longer is it alright to work in the "compliance model" where as long as you ticked the box your job was safe. Now we expect people to make a decision, be accountable, understand risk... be an entrepreneur.

And this is where the Personality "type" Psychometric assessments etc fall over, if people are judged on how they feel about things what they understand currently, how good they are at sums etc it bears no relevance to their complexity.

I am Dyslexic and never read books till I was 40 years of age, I started writing when I suffered a depression. Now I love reading and here I am writing blog posts, my point is that I am still the same person I always was it's just my experiences have shaped how I behave.

So if we take this thought to its.....


What we need to do is get people to have MORE experiences, teach them how to enjoy challenges, teach them how to question not how to answer, support their mistakes, and get them to experiment with life.

In other words get them to experience to understand and most importantly ENJOY this complex world we live in. If we can do that then being a TYPE of person wont be important as entrepreneurs know diversity is what leads innovation.

Thursday, November 25, 2010



This is not about staying young forever, they are two very different things and should NOT be confused. Stopping ageing requires no medication, no plastic surgery and no consultation with a specialist.

The problem is that we are constantly being sold a message of good health but at such a superficial level that unless you have more money than brains it is a pointless exercise, and if you do then point made.

Ageing is not about getting saggy skin or lines around the eyes or even loosing our mobility it is something that happens at a much deeper level, it's about how we think. 

This post is happening because G&M commented on my last post with  "Let me know when you learn the answer to stopping the 'change of aging" so guys here it is.....

What is ageing 

Ageing can happen to us at any time of our lives and for a lot of people it happens before they have even had the opportunity to reach their potential. I have been constantly surprised throughout my life when catching up with past friends and acquaintance's how they so often talked about the good old days and what we did when we were young.

And that was it, they were already identifying their past as the best part of their lives and now they were just on some treadmill till divorce, death or retirement ended it for them. Wow how sad is that, now I don't mind admitting that my youthful past right up until I started growing up (around 40 years of age, maybe a little later) has been one of pure self indulgence. But even for me the thought that the best years of my life had gone was to dreadful to contemplate...

Looking to the Future 

has always been my goal, what I have succeeded or failed at has never been my focus I have always looked for the next opportunity, the next exciting adventure. I have faced criticism all my life about starting so many things and finishing so few, my point has always been the few I have finished has been more than most people start and besides I am not dead yet so there still is time for the others.

Which got me thinking about why people age differently, and I believe that how we view the world is critical to that ageing process. Some people just naturally look forward while most just look back and remember. The western society we now find ourselves in is constantly looking for new sales, and sales come from identifiable markets. So we now find industries targeting young children and encouraging them to have feelings and thoughts beyond their natural growth so they can sell shit to them.

Clothing, Music, cosmetics, you name it, the  pressure for kids to grow up fast is relentless and this robs them of their natural rhythm of growth. By the time they are twenty they already feel old, by thirty they are loosing steam and by forty you are past it. Hang on a minute don't you ....

Remember when you were very young

you know before you believed people who told you your wild ideas weren't possible, back at the time that everything was. Your energy was boundless challenges were overcome just by your imagination, if it got to hard you just had another thought. Well some people through luck or having the right supportive environment (or just bloody minded) never stopped thinking like that. For these people life is an adventure, you have all met them they are the ones with a twinkle in their eyes, who talk fast with excited animated gestures who always have some grandiose plan that may or may not ever get done.

All to often these people are ridiculed as flaky or worse UNREALISTIC, but guess what, these people aren't aging. And why not? because....

Ageing Requires energy  

that's right, ageing robs us of energy and the energy it feeds on is negative energy. Negativity is the aging energy. How many of you know people who just seem to sap the life out of everyone they meet. After time with them you actually feel drained, and guess what you are. And then you come across someone who exudes positive energy and you feel inspired, motivated, maybe even excited. And right at that point you stop aging, just while their spark energises you, then you go home and return to your normal behavior.

Motivational speakers are people who share the secret of slowing aging, but they tend to sell it as something else...


and with that hope comes the energy that can transform how we feel, enable us to look at life through different eyes even enable us to change our behavior, but best of all it stops us from aging. Once we get totally committed to doing something time stands still, just remember the times that you were so engrossed in doing something that  when you stopped to look up you went "where did the time go"?..... 

And right at that moment

ageing had stopped, we had replaced it with positive energy. So lets extrapolate that out into our actual daily lives, how would that work?

"I feel drained already" I can hear the words now as the thought of the energy needed to always being totally engrossed and always positive frightens you. And that is the point that holds so many of us back from actually doing things. "The thought of it" so in order to overcome this, we need to set some clear achievable goals....

Give yourself a treat 

That always works for me, find something that has always interested you that you have never found the time to do.

The problem with a lot of people is that their only interest is work, which is why there is a spike in the death rate of people who retire. They have nothing left to live for, they feel useless and unneeded. If you don't have something you always wanted to do (you know like taking up painting or pottery or building a rocket) you had better get one because the only thing that is going to stop you ageing is rewarding yourself.

The most selfish thing you can do is to help other people or animals because helping is hard wired into our brain and we get tremendous satisfaction from it ( positive energy) giving out positive energy gets back positive energy and before you know it.......

Your Smiling 

Smiling is a fantastic antidote to ageing and can come as much from somebody telling you something funny as something that happens when you look at something you have achieved. And smiling is infectious which is also a great thing as ... you've guessed it, it is positive energy.

But back to being serious

pick a time in your week that you can actually set aside from interruptions, no phone no pool no pets, just time for you. If you can't do this then Houston we have a problem, because if you can't find time for yourself WHO are you living for. 

Finding time for yourself is a cornerstone in the anti ageing process, its not about being selfish its about realising that we all need to invest time in ourselves, to top up the constant drain of our time and energy we spend on our jobs, family, friends, community, the list is endless.

Give this time a name

and put it into your diary for every week of the next year. This is not like going to the gym, this is a reward to yourself. Forget any guilt about not doing some chore that still needs to be done, there will always be chores. This is step one, the next step (oddly called step two) gets a bit harder....

Sticking to it

There will always be reasons in life not to do things, priorities change, unexpected events happen, new opportunities arise, work is pressuring you, whatever the reason you need to acknowledge YOUR TIME, it may change week to week but you must never not do it every week or you are on the slippery slope.

It's like writing a blog, I really enjoy it when I am doing it but I have to fit it in with my ever changing schedule. So how I do it is set a goal for the month, Two Blogs and if I manage to write one in the first day of the month then I am ahead of schedule but what usually happens is that I cram up against the end of the month to finish the last one, like this one.

The point is that I make sure I achieve my goal and at the end of the month I can rest on my laurels and feel good. But some things we are interested in have no end, like taking up a craft. the satisfaction we get is by increasing in confidence through practice and the better we get the more we love it, and the more we love it the more we make time to do it, until... 

We make it part of our lives

and at that point you are on the road to stop aging. And if you say to yourself, "well Nick that's fine for you but my life is way to busy for that" then you are right. But just remember the opposite to....

Where did the time go?, is where did my life go?

This is your life people make a choice it's never to late.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So they Expect YOU to CHANGE

Funny how this world is working out, you see we are born to change from the moment we are conceived. We spend our whole lives moving from one biological change to another until we die.

But we are not in charge of that biological change, we can effect it at a physical level (how we choose to live our lives) but so far we can't stop the change of aging. So why are we so resistant to being asked to change, by others or most importantly ourselves. This is no longer a rhetorical question, it is at the center of our very survival and to avoid change today will mean lack of opportunity tomorrow.

As usual there are many views on how we should go about this but they all start because of one thing, a ......

Motivating Factor

Mine was I became depressed and for a man who had woken up everyday disgustingly happy it came as a real shock. Now I don't know about other people but as I had never experienced depression before I didn't really  understand I was depressed until I started to come right, and at about that time I had this urge to change my personal behavior. My logic was that if I had ended up depressed then I must have been doing something wrong, so change I would. The first mistake I was to make was looking for help...

From an "Expert"

I am constantly blown away by the ever increasing mountain of self help books from personal change Guru's. People ask yourself the question " if just one of them was any good why do we need the rest?" and the answer is not because we are all different.... although we are, the reason is because you can't learn personal change from a book.

It is not like building a deck it is about changing how we think in order to change how we behave and I'm sorry but no well intentioned hype jockey is going to help me do that by reading their book. For me the first step was to...

 Ask people who I trusted

to give me a truthful answer on what they thought I needed to change. After I had done that.. I dismissed their answers as trivial and kept looking for that one great thing that would change my life. And sometimes that's the problem we believe there is one thing that will trigger this change and we go on a life journey to find it when in fact it is the cumulation of.....

Lots of small steps 

that actually get us there. Now I know that this is not news to you, but my point is that everything is made up of the sum of its parts and it is that insight we should focus on. So armed with this simple truth how can we turn ourselves into this new being. The first thing I found worked was to change the thought into an action.

Actions are a fantastic way for us to rewire our thoughts as physical things are reasonably easy to remember. The Martial Arts has known this forever, train repetitively until the body understands so the mind doesn't need to think. So I started with a list of things I wanted to change and I wrote them down and stuck them on the mirror in the bathroom. This is a good place as it is generally the first place we go when we get up.

Changing a Thought into and action

this is where it starts to get tricky as there are so many ways we can tell ourselves that this bit doesn't matter or we will do that bit later, so Its's best to agree with yourself just tackle the easiest one first. Sometimes people feel that if you overcome the hardest one first then the rest will be easy, logical... but bound to fail.

So now take that thought "learn to say NO" and practice it in the mirror ( like in the movie Taxi Driver) just a simple line, "thank's for the opportunity but I must decline". One of my problems was I always try to justify my response with a reason, so I always had to make up and excuse (not to offend) which usually led to me Lying. Sorry but I am busy that day because Bla Bla Bla.

So in order for me to say NO I had to learn just to say No and NOT add a story, hence  "thank's for the opportunity but I must decline". So I practiced that every morning standing at the mirror and every time I was offered something I really didn't want, or couldn't do....."thank's for the opportunity but I must decline" but as we all know...

Nothing is in isolation

so as we tackle these points we want to change other things come into play that are effected by them which means more change. It is often at this stage we tell ourselves it has all become to difficult and we stop, if you get to that point go back to where you feel you were succeeding and just do that.  Don't feel bad if you slip up occasionally as it will probably take months before your new behaviors are reinforced enough to be second nature (congratulations success).

Change effects us at all parts of our lives and  as we go through it we shed parts of our lives, friends being one of them and sometimes even partners. So when we start down a road of even small changes our lives can change dramatically and there is no turning back, you cannot unlearn something. But what if this change is being mandated to you by someone else, like where you work for instance.

It's the classic position where there is a change of management and now everything you used to do one way is no longer "the way we do it", which is where we came in...

So they expect you to change

And this is where I will leave you as unless you are happy to accommodate this new change, unless you absolutely agree with the new direction, unless you are given the time, support, encouragement and tools, this will only end in disaster.


Because the people instigating the change are usually not the ones having to do it so for them it is business as usual, but for you, well thats a different matter.....

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Generation... Nonsense

Yesterday I was talking to a start up business group about sales when a comment ushered forth from one of the group that struck me as amazing.

Generation Y don't buy from people, they buy on line.

Now I admit I am a bit grey around the ears and I do forget a lot of things I hear, but I think that it is time to put a stop to all this nonsense around the facts of generation identification. OK I get that some of them might have been brought up in different circumstances than the generation before but using that argument is weak to say the least.

I was brought up in the generation called the "baby boomer's" which I guess is a politically correct way of saying that after a world war when the men finally got home, for a while, they were interested in sex in a big way. That and the fact that there were no TV sports shows and the pubs closed early.

To then make some stupid broad statement that somehow people who were born in this period were of a certain type beggars belief. The academic who first sported this theory needs a public humiliation and then every word that has been written about this afterwards should be thrown in the rubbish bin where it belongs.

There are some trends

that in the western world that do appear to have changed through out the generations, especially since the war.  My parents generation stayed married for instance even if they hated each other, which by enlarge they did... " for the sake of the children ". Now that kind of logic is what led to the explosion of psychiatrists and happy pills.

Then our generation came along, just when the contraceptive pill became available "with a doctors consent" which was very lucky as a combination of the the devils music and youthful libido would have made the last generations child production look quaint.The freedom that my generation demanded meant it was inevitable that the divorce rate would soar, especially as now casual sex didn't always lead to parent hood. Oh yes and before I forget my generation was behind the idea that women could stand up for themselves, in fact it was compulsory.

Then our children's generation came along and the stigma of being a solo parent had reduced to a level that people weren't judged on the status of their relationship and it became normal for children to be brought up by just one parent or if they were lucky two.And now in some of the parts of the western world actually having a father you know is considered unusual.

So whats my point 

Well I have just been talking in general terms and what I have stated may be a fact but it might not have been your experience, we tend to forget that facts and experience are in no way the same thing, at least not when quoting them. But there are events in generations that do indeed define them, it is just that they are not exclusive to that generation, people have being having affairs since the invention of marriage. There have always been early adopters of technology, take the wheel for instance. You can imagine the inventor pitching that to the tribal council. Well you stick them on an axle, and you attach the axle under the sled.

Whats an axle

Selling new ideas has always been impossible when the influencing people are conservative, risk averse, vested interest in the opposition, dumb etc "so how do you stop it from rolling backwards" (following that logic we would have never had invented reverse gear). What every new idea relies on is the insightful and often vain early adopters for without them we would never get improvement, or the product in the first place. One of the few differences between the generations has been  the ability to show vast amounts of people your invention at one time. Just imagine the impact on the world if Leonardo De Vinci had television been available to him.

In the old days

I am talking pre 2000AD here, inventors had to go to the king, a wealthy benefactor, or a money lender to get the idea off the ground the, where as the Y generation can build it in their spare time and just launch it on the Internet, can't they?. But that is just nonsense and it is not how the world works. The Y generation are no smarter or dumber than the generation before them, they just have a different range of possibilities and this is where I came in.

I was considered a hyperactive child and sent outside to burn it off, today's children are classed as having ADHD and given drugs. My next door neighbour loved books and spent most of his time indoors reading. I am dyslexic and spent most of my time building things. Am I to believe that there are no generation Y children who like staying indoors and reading and there are no generation children who like building stuff. I am told generation Y employees expect to be treated well and move quickly to another job if they are not respected...mmm sounds like me.

Upon reflection

Anyone who assumes that they can define a group by when they were born and therefore understand what they want and what they will buy is deluding themselves and should take up the Tarot. We are as we have always been individuals who are a mixture of nature and nurture and as we rush headlong to this technological Nirvana it might pay for those who envisage a world of interconnectedness that Yang has a Yin, in this case money. It costs money to buy technology and for a growing group of people the Internet is a luxury they do not need and for them business will always be done has it has through the generations...

Face to Face

So my warning to everyone out there who feels that the next generation won't be needing sales and interpersonal skills as everything will be bought on line and sold online, think again. We are fast becoming a generation who realises that the Internet can be a deceitful world and I can see a future where if people can't see you in real time on their screen while you do business no one will buy anything from you. And when we get to that point not to far away, the computer will be able to measure your facial movements and a program will tell you whether that person is lying or not. And at that point all the skills you learn in the face to face world will be the most important ones you can have...

You know 

Truth, integrity, humbleness, enthusiasm, knowledge, these are what we measure people on, not on the years they were born. So the next time someone quotes to you about the Y generation or the X generation or any other generation, ask them one question......

Does everyone else in your generation think like you

If their answer is YES I suggest you advise them to seek professional help.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Personal Branding for Dummies…. and you.

I awoke at 4.30 in the morning, the thought stuck and wouldn’t dislodge, was the penis sheath mans first attempt at personal branding…. If not it bloody well should have been, this is personal branding at its finest and since then… well its mostly been down hill. 
Personal Branding is neither new, unique or particularly difficult, the only difference between this generation and the last is that now it is crucial. So wake up folks because if you miss this train you will slip below the waves of anonymity and rest in obscurity.
Fantastic I hear the socially timid say as it is only extroverts and narcissist’s who seek the limelight anyway. Well that may once have been true but now the game has changed and it now involves you, whether you like it or not. 
Personal Branding, we all do it  
Well yes and no, we all do it but most of us never give it a second thought and therein lies the problem. You see we think of branding as something companies do, not individuals, and the reason for this is we are not taught it at school, no one ever tells us that we are our brand and what we say and how we act is how we build that brand, and what it stands for will either help or hinder us as we travel on this journey called life. 
So who cares 
For a while Tigers brand was about his perceived behavior (integrity, trust, truth, good husband etc) and that attracted businesses that wanted to be associated with those behaviors. It wasn’t about him being the worlds best golfer, that just elevated his exposure and therefore his price, no it was about is clean cut image that made his brand so strong. And the moment that image got damaged companies no longer wanted to be associated with his new behavior. 
It was a shame for tiger he didn’t represent a condom company as that would have been a great branding opportunity…. ” I may have been unfaithful but I always used protection” 
So whats that got to do with me  
Well it’s because of that little thing called the internet that has woven itself into the very fabric of our lives, and we love it. We share things on Facebook that a few years ago we would have found difficult sharing with friends..and thats where the problem starts. We are now building our brand for the world to see and more interestingly comment on. We have opened ourselves up to ridicule and humiliation without inviting it, other than our private lives are now public, which takes me back to…. 
We are not taught branding at school
Don’t get me wrong I am in no way a fan of institutionalised knowledge ( I can’t understand how you can make a degree out of communication, as it just starts with a conversation (thanks Orlando), but I digress. So what can you do to understand what your brand is and what it stands for….Hint what you do for a job is not your brand so don’t say I am a carpenter or a doctor, tell people what kind of carpenter or doctor you are. I am a carpenter who loves and respects the value and beauty of trees, and when I make you something from wood that value and beauty will translate into an object you will both desire and cherish.
Now you have a brand that tells a story that I can relate to…. you respect the material, I won’t just use it I will cherish it, and underlying that story is, you are a craftsman and you are giving me something of great value.
Personal brand is not a clever catch phrase, it is a behavior and it should represent who you are and what you stand for at that point in time, not what you want to be in the future. Which brings us to the inevitable problem… 
Changing your brand
So for a while you were a singer in a rock band and have had so many tales told about your exploits ( some true others not ), which was great at the time as it enhanced your brand and made you desirable to your fans. But now you have given up your rock n roll lifestyle and you want to become a reputable businessman. So herein lies the problem how do you keep your credibility and reinvent your brand. Its easy…. 
You tell the truth  
Its out there anyway so why not use your past to strengthen your position. Its as old as the poacher turned game keeper. What gives you the authority to brand yourself now as a business strategist is your past rock n roll experiences. You can stand in front of hostile crowds and turn them round to loving you, you understand about marketing and what really works and doesn’t ( they don’t teach you about double booked gigs at university). You have had to negotiate with club owners who refused to pay you after the gig. The times you had to arrange tours and record deals for the band. The list goes on but as you tell your story your new brand grows and more importantly people believe you because its true.
So taking your life’s past stories and presenting them in a new way gives your new brand its credibility. Sure you will loose some fans along the way ( I remember when Dylan went electric ) but those people don’t matter as they are no longer important to your new brand. But I feel you getting tied now and some of you are asking… 
What’s the point  
I don’t need to brand myself as anything, I have a good job a great reputation and friends and family that love me, why should I bother. Well just for a moment think, what if you were to lose that secure job for life and you had to move to another part of the country away from friends and family to take up a new position, or positively you get a promotion in a new country, then how do you show people who you are. Don’t worry they will find out, Google LinkedIn, groups, it doesn’t matter how, they will learn about you with or without your permission and what they find is your brand. Wouldn’t it be best that you refined it before rather than after the event and wouldn’t it be best that you control the message, which brings me back to where I came in and the penis sheath.
Who wants to turn up to the annual inter-village dance only to realise you are the only one not wearing one.  
It’s not to late to start.

Monday, September 27, 2010

9 Networking Tips for the Socially Challenged

“Sales tips are only useful when your are actually talking to someone”.
This was one of the responses I got back from my last post, obvious and to the point but also undeniably true.
So lets get back to the beginning and talk about where all communication begins.
It all starts with a conversation. 
Normally we stick out our hand and say “Hi my name is..” easy if you have just been introduced, but way harder if you don’t know anyone in the room and they are all standing in a little group with their backs to you.
But wait… it gets worse, you are the only woman in the room and all these men seem to know each other and are showing the signs of.
Keep out
You know the signs, casual laughing, no one wanting to make eye contact and that impenetrable wall of turned backs. So how do you break into the group without annoying people?
There is never just one way to do anything in life and this situation is no exception. But why not start with the obvious “excuse me would you mind if I joined in as I am new to the group and I am keen to make some connections”.
What you have done here is actually forced your way in to the conversation before you have had to introduce yourself. Also you have put the group in the position that makes it very difficult for them to say “no bugger off” and the best bit of all is that you have totally.
Changed The Dynamics
This is more important than you might realise, as once they have shuffled apart to let you in you have broken the chain. Now turn directly to the people on both sides and introduce yourself. You have now stopped the groups conversation completely and by way of introducing yourself you have made the conversation
All about you
Introduce yourself to everyone in the group and ALWAYS give them your business card.
This might be a good place to talk about the power of the business card. A business card is one of the most important tools in your sales arsenal, it tells people a lot about how you see yourself and the company you work for.
If you work for a company in the Technology, Advertising, Marketing space its better to have your LinkedIn and Twitter address than a P.O Box number.
The title you have is not necessarily the image you want. If you are called Business Development Manager people think that is just a fancy name for a salesman. So if you are hoping to talk with C level mangers and above having the title salesman is not going to cut it. Better to have a title that leaves something to the imagination something a bit ambiguous. Why?
Because this little piece of card has the potential to help the timid overcome the conversation barrier. Use it to become a conversation maker, So tell me what does an Organisational Trouble Shooter do?”
So how hard was that.. do you mind if I join, here is my card and the conversation has already begun. But I do understand that sometimes the fear of stepping up to the group and opening our mouths is what stops us in the first place. So how do we overcome the fear of conversation?
We don’t fear conversation just conversation with strangers
Just for a moment imagine that the closed group in front of you was a group of your closest friends, so how would that conversation be different?
Fear of rejection is a terrible thing, it inhibits us from letting people know who we are and this can be our archillies heel when trying to fit in with a group or individuals we don’t know. As in all things in life practice makes us perfect, I practice every day by saying Hi to people I pass in the street, introducing myself to the person next to me, on the bus on a train, everywhere.
You see we actually all love to talk, especially about ourselves, its just our confidence that hold us back when doing it with strangers. So the moment you say to the disinterested person next to you on the bus, Hi my name is…, so what do you do… you have given permission for that person to talk, and by doing so opened a conversation with someone without any RISK to you. Right at that moment you have potential to succeed or fail, continue talking (especially about yourself or the great deal you’ve got) and failure is assured.
This is the moment to shut up and wait, if they don’t answer then they were never going to be of any use anyway. Chances are (once they get over the shock) they will mumble a reply, that is how some of the best contacts I have ever made started.
But there is also a risk that the person you have just engaged in conversation is not only boringly dull but now that you have given them permission to speak just won’t shut up, so…
How to get out of a conversation
This is sometimes more difficult than getting into a conversation, as once the talker is in full flight they don’t tend to leave much room for you to speak. Once again there are many ways to finish a conversation all with varying outcomes. I tend to stop the conversation by saying the persons name.. “John”.. once someone hears their name they automatically shut up to see whats following , “look its been great meeting you but i’m on a bit of a mission, you’ve got my card drop me a line” shake their hand and go. But don’t be frightened of…
Offending someone
I understand that from a business perspective offending people is not a very sustainable business model but sometimes you are going to do it. The trick to offending people is deciding who and why. When the constant talker has tracked you down to your next conversation and is continuing his babel he has become a liability and if you don’t wan’t him to destroy your credibility by people thinking he is your best friend then it is time to cut him lose and fast.
So for the socially challenged this is a terrifying thought, just a moment ago you were praying for someone to talk to you and now your praying for them to shut up. This is the best way I know without saying “piss off”. Excuse yourself from your new conversation take the person aside and  simply say “John I appreciate you wanting to continue our conversation but I have challenged myself to meet 8 new people tonight so If you don’t mind I would like to try and achieve that”.
Turn immediately and walk back to the group apologise and edge yourself back into the conversation…
But its not always doom and gloom
Sometimes there are easy marks, you know, the people who are as unsure about talking to strangers as you are. They are easy to spot they are the people at the edge of the room sitting by themselves and trying not to make eye contact with you. If you are unsure about starting conversations then look for these people as they will be grateful for a conversation and can sometimes be fantastic opportunities.
I love meeting new people and enthusing the people I meet, and the best way to do this is to introduce good people to each other. Online networking through sites like LinkedIn are just a great way of networking and introducing people.It is not difficult to get great referrals and for those who don’t like face to face this is a great way to build up relationships, but just remember…
It all starts with a conversation