We’ve all done it.
You don’t get to headline conferences without doing the lunch and learn, ’15-minutes-to-do-a-30-minute-talk’ overrun squeeze and ‘favours for a mate’ circuit.
They may not pay but when you’re starting out as a speaker, they’re the proving grounds.
It’s where you cut your chops.
It’s not easy, it’s often not fun but it weeds out those who want to make a living from speaking and those that don’t.
It sharpens your material.
Makes you better.
Builds your value.
So, when you go to the market, it’s right that you capture that value meaningfully.
That’s why great speakers don’t speak for free.
That often translates into a binary decision - “if you don’t pay then I won’t speak”.
That’s ego talking.
I’ve broken down a way that all great speakers can get the value they deserve by...
I believe it's as William Gibson describes in 'The Peripheral', a series of catastrophes (known as the Jackpot) that bring about a long drawn out decay of society as we know it.
And, if we reflect on what’s happened since the start of the millennium, the echoes are Grand Canyon-esque.
From flooding to fires - glacial melting to boiling point geo-political unrest - through to the manipulation and greed so present in technology firms and banking fundamentally shifting our relationship with 2 of our most existentially important means of survival - our minds and our money.
Throw in Coronavirus and it’s raw, visceral, real and right in our faces. And, humans are shit at thinking about long term implications and taking action.
Knowing you may die of lung cancer and even sticking a flaccid penis on a pack of 20...
It was 10pm
I’d annoyed myself by falling for shameless ‘industry clickbait’; some eager, ex-agency casualty of war proclaiming that their new venture was set to
“capture the zeitgeist and propel their clients into the next era of millennial bullsh*t through a futureproofed, full service proposition that promises excellence and delivers mediocrity”…
You know the sort.
My annoyance was not that I’d been duped by an algorithm. Rather, this focus on the ‘future’ has, for too long, been a cross borne by agencies. An apologetic, self-flagulating, hair-shirt wearing confession to the church of creativity that this is somehow all ‘their fault’ and they’re in need of a collective ‘physician, heal thyself’ moment. Maybe.
I’m no apologist for agencies by the way. The current business models are shot. There’s a burning platform. This sh*t just got real. But you knew...
Each birthday, I’d receive an Airfix model aircraft kit. Between the 23rd and the 31st of December, what started as 10 unfathomable plastic moulds, a sheet of stickers and a tube of glue became a Spitfire, a Hawker Hurricane or some other outstanding feat of engineering.
My mum, my sister, my friend next door and numerous babysitters would each play their part - reinterpreting instructions, holding intricate parts between their finger and thumb, rubbing transfers onto wings or simply bringing the odd cup of orange squash.
What seemed improbable at the start very quickly became a fun, collaborative almost cathartic experience created miniature aviation magic.
And never once did I look at the task in hand as a problem; the lost piece, the jammed up glue, the wrong colour code on the paint.
All were simply part of the puzzle to be solved.
Where suddenly, there were hundreds of...
He’d been asked to not only polish the turd that was the USS Benfold but cover it in glitter.
It was the US Navy’s best equipped ship with the worst performing crew.
Within a few months, he got the tanker (OK warship) to turn. In record time, he moved them from Top Flops to Top Gun.
The pace at which he completed this wasn’t down to a tight deadline or an edict from above. It was a ruthless focus on clarity. And, once clarity was achieved, speed of change quickly followed.
I was at a Contagious talk last week. They’d spoken to their key network of top marketers, agency heads, academics and industry experts. Their biggest challenge for 2019 was, guess what? Speed.
Speed to market, speed of decision making, speed of change, speed of competition.
And, I talk to lots of business leaders who tell me the same thing. Speed is the competitive advantage yet we just can’t inject enough of it into...
The receptionists ignored them, cigarette butts were stubbed on the floor and bins resembled landfill sites.
After being kept waiting for 25 minutes, and just as they were about to turn heel, the client was met with by the agency team who let them know this is how most of their customers experienced the brand. If this didn't change, they wouldn't have a business let alone their jobs. Come this way and let's show you how we'll change that.
Pitches throw a mirror up to the client behaviours, the truth of the brand and a whole load of other stuff that the ego despises. It can feel complex, scary and intense for clients, but one simple truth remains. And it’s in this simple truth that winning pitches lies.
It's time consuming, painfully slow and boring.
But, speaking with my decorator friend recently, I got a whole new perspective. What I know now is that it's not just about slapping paint on a wall. There's a whole load of serious prep work required; stripping, sanding, washing down - whilst it's a schlep, the end results are palpably different. By doing the work to clear the space and prepare the wall, the new paint holds far better and the final look is incredible.
The inside track from him is that he applies a ratio of 70% prep, 30% actual painting. In other words, the hard work come well before we see any of the final pomp. Now I know. And so do you.
That ratio isn't just applicable to jobbing DIYers looking to spruce up the lounge. As a leader, the principles of stripping, sanding and washing down can have a profound effect on you ability to bring the Boom! to your leadership skills. (Good luck if you can segue from a DIY moan to the power of leadership. Ed)
So I’ve been told.
Makes sense. We’re an attention starved, hyper-sensitive, eager to please organism. We have screens, open door policies, meetings, expenses and a whole heap of distractions that zap time like the Hadron Collider.
And, in my role of exec coach to some of the most fantastic leaders, the big pain point that repeats like a seafood taco is ‘lack of time’
Lack of time to do all the things I need to do, lack of time to think deeply, lack of time to focus on my wider life.
Lack of time is an epidemic. But, as hard as it may seem, it’s also a choice.
In reframing conversations with people about this I explain that firstly, and painfully, this is a choice we make. Of course, none of us would like to admit that it’s a choice. No one wants to admit to doing ‘busyness’ over ‘business’. No-one wants to admit that the fact they missed a recital or failed to deliver the...
One of the world's greatest leaders, a man who created impact and legacy in immeasurable quantities was about to change the way I viewed leadership forever.
My mum couldn't believe it either - I extended the invitation to her as she had been an avid 'Anti-Apartheid' campaigner in her youth - she was about to see a man's life turn full circle and be part of an experience that no-one who was in the room would ever forget.
What Nelson Mandela taught me that day was the true mark of leadership. How, when delivered positively, the smallest, simplest and most visceral responses to reading people can totally transform a group, an organisation and a nation.
Clearly, long-distance travel, an extended tour of London and an early start meant that we were not only enthralled by his appearance and...
The morning after our gig at one of the biggest clubs in Switzerland. Our promoter sat opposite us. With a mouthful of bacon, which he described as the '4 star sh*t right there', he continued with a story about his time with one of my favourite artists of all time.
Marvin Gaye moved to Ostend on Valentine's Day 1981. It was part of his rebirth after a tempestuous period with Motown. His lawyer described Gaye's time in Belgium as 'the best thing that could ever have happened to him' and he subsequently signed a major deal with Columbia and released his biggest ever hit, Sexual Healing.
The promoter had shared time with Marvin in the early 80s and told of a humble man who had one really crucial piece of advice for him.
It has stuck with me ever since as a powerful way to live and isn't what it seems at first glance - it's got more to do with the quality of the time, not the quantity.