Browse Category: Personal Narratives

TEDMED stage Palm Springs

Emotion and relationships in TED Talks

Emotion and Relationships Move People.

This is one of my favourite TED style talks. For a few reasons. Firstly, how I first saw it. A guy who had worked on and off for me for a few years sent the clip to me via Facebook with the message “This woman reminds me of you.” I watched it and had to dry my eyes. Who would not want to be compared to this woman?

There are many reasons why this video has been viewed over 5 million times. Rita Pierson is very funny. She has something to say. She is real and she is authentic. She is not selling anything.

But I don’t want to talk about her delivery – although it is really great and the talk is worth watching for that alone. I want to talk about her content. Because she is a coach and so am I.

She talks a whole lots of sense – but the bit I find really excellent is where she says:

“…We know why kids don’t learn. It’s either poverty, low attendance, negative peer influences… We know why. But one of the things that we never discuss or we rarely discuss is the value and importance of human connection. Relationships.
James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship. George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships. Everyone in this room has been affected by a teacher or an adult. For years, I have watched people teach. I have looked at the best and I’ve looked at some of the worst.
A colleague said to me one time, “They don’t pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson. The kids should learn it. I should teach it, they should learn it, Case closed.”
Well, I said to her, “You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Becoming a SpeakerCoach

I didn’t set out to be a teacher, let alone a SpeakerCoach. It was supposed to be a temporary thing – so much so that I only reluctantly agreed to be trained as a SuperLearning/Suggestopedia(NLP) Coach in Germany by the Institute where I worked. It certainly helped my coaching and made my coaching “stickier” – but pieces of paper don’t make you a good coach – they just stop you being a crap coach.

Over the last 24 years I have been coaching individuals and groups. A lot of that has been in the corporate world in a corporate setting and much of the challenge of coaching and teaching people has been

  1. getting them to relax and
  2. getting them to like me.

This dual task is tough in a corporate training room and even tougher in a group where there are 12 – 15 egos and agendas bouncing around the place. I did this in the German corporate world for over 15 years, so in a different culture as well. It was often intense and always very demanding but it was a brilliant bootcamp/ training ground. It honed my radar, extended my ears and sharpened my eyes to spot early signs of when people were not receiving, understanding, absorbing or agreeing.

On the plus side, at least my clients want to be taught – teaching a class of kids who have to be there, like Rita does, fills me with dread. I have spoken to classes of 15 and 16 year olds at Pimlico Academy in London and, believe me, I would rather be interrogated by a Select Committee or a PLC Board than spend any more time in front of those scary kids!

Building a Coach/Student relationship

So back to Rita’s point. Building a teacher/student relationship. It’s tough in limited time in a corporate setting and tougher in groups. I now work slightly differently as much as I can. Firstly, I prefer to work one on one with clients which enables much more open and frank discussion, coaching and feedback. Secondly, I prefer to work at my home on the coast in Sussex or in London. This is very informal and helps the client to relax and be themselves. Often clients will come to Sussex the night before and stay in my guest room and we chat over a drink and a meal the night before. This really helps us to understand each other and definitely contributes to the success of the coaching.

With some clients it is easiest to work via Skype. This is usually done with them in their homes and me in mine. It’s not perfect – but it is 1-2-1 and informal so it is pretty good. And it avoids plane fairs and travel time.

But in all my coaching, I don’t just talk or broadcast. Nothing is “off the shelf”. Everything is customised. I have some standard courses – but the coaching moulds itself around the client, our pace, the mood of the day and their requirements. I am often provocative and I push, cajole, tease and demand. Because I like my clients and I really want them to succeed and I hope that they can feel this. But I still want to be more like Rita!!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video. Feel free to comment or share.

I have worked with speakers on talks that have ended on TEDx, TEDMED and TED stages and I am also a TEDMED SpeakerCoach. If you have an “idea worth spreading” give me a call and we can discuss how I can help you maximise the impact of your talk.

Articles published in City A.M. this week

City A.M. articles for this week.

CityAM Screenshot2

I’m really enjoying writing for City A.M. each week, I hope you are enjoying reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them. Here are the articles I published this week, be sure to check out what I published last week in City A.M..

Here are my articles published in City A.M. this week:


Stalled career syndrome: What to do when your job’s going nowhere

Are you bored at work? Passed over for that promotion? Find yourself procrastinating or spending time surfing the net to make up office face time? Feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Then you may be suffering from stalled career syndrome.

Two ways to really annoy your boss

Want to annoy your boss? Why wouldn’t you? By simply and consistently annoying your boss you could leave those boring office days behind, forget the early mornings and that rubbish, crowded commute and spend the rest of your days at home in your underwear watching daytime TV. Whoop whoop.


Here are my articles published in City A.M. last week

See all the articles published on the blog this week



late candidate selections

Candidate selections 277 seats not yet selected.

Back in March I wrote a blog post called “Candidate selections 290 seats not yet selected”. And now writing this blog, five months later, it appears that only 13 seats more seats have been selected. (I understand that the seat of Darlington is being selected tonight.)

To make any sort of dent candidates surely need 6 months in post. So if the aim is to have all seats worked by a candidate for 6 months there will have to be a minimum of 60-70 candidate selections a month.  That is some pace!

There was once an accepted wisdom that active and focused candidates could negate most of any incumbency advantage – IF selected 2 years before an election. If that is still true I don’t understand why we haven’t selected more seats already. There must be keen candidates and even keener associations? What about building capacity for 2020?

I fully understand the financial and family pressures of a candidate fighting a seat for 24 months before an election and the argument will be that the 40/40 seats selected candidates early for that very reason.  But where is the long term planning?

Have a look at some of the seats that have not been selected yet – they may not be “easy wins” or even “maybe wins” in 2015 – but many are surely seats that should be worked with a view to a decent result in 2020 – or is that too far away?

If you know of any seats that are being selected soon, or have already been selected but are not on the list, please let me know in the comments below.

Update – as of 22/08/14

EastleighMims Davies (31/07/2014)

Bethnal Green and BowMatthew Smith (31/07/2014)

Birmingham EdgbastonLuke Evans (01/08/2014)

Ynys MonMichelle Willis (02/08/2014)

North West DurhamCharlotte Haitham-Taylor (06/08/2014)

North DurhamLaetitia Glossop (06/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull NorthDehenna Davison (09/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull EastEmma Ideson (09/08/2014)

Kingston upon Hull West and HessleMike Whitehead (09/08/2014)

Mitcham and MordenPaul Holmes (12/08/2014)

Birmingham Selly OakAlex Avern (13/08/2014)

Bolton North EastJames Daly (13/08/2014)

DarlingtonPeter Cuthbertson (13/08/2014)

Batley and SpenImitaz Ameen (14/08/2014)

Congratulations to all the new candidates and thank you to everyone who helped contribute to the updated list.


Seats Unselected August 2014

Life Priorities – The Empty Pickle Jar Test

Life Priorities – Sometime you need a SatNav to help you make decisions

One evening a couple of weeks ago after a particularly long and busy day, I met up with an old friend. A good friend. One who has stuck his head “above the parapet” for me. We met by accident – we both were heading home. We went to the pub. 

We discussed some important things going on in his life and some important choices he faced. Choices are only ever tough when there are costs involved. And there were – personal, time, money and relationships.

He had seen the video above on my Facebook a few weeks earlier. We discussed it again. It helped that night, along with a few beers, to establish his real life priorities – and those that were less so. I have done the same in my own life because the story in the video above touched me (in a slap around the face sort of way) and made me re-evaluate and reassess. A continual process.

Or perhaps “makes” (present tense) is the right word. As we parted that night – I shouted out “Decide on who or what your pebbles* are!”

I am not sure if I was talking to him or me. But there I was, 45 minutes later, still writing about it.


*I prefer pebbles to golfballs. 🙂

The right to be forgotten in business

So you’ve got the new, big, shiny job. You have told your boss where to shove it, booked your last bit of remaining holiday, called in sick once when you weren’t and sat back as you wait to start your new exciting job. Your new employers have said the job is yours, subject to references and checks, but that just means it’s a sure thing, right? I mean – you have an email and everything and you have already spoken to your new boss on the phone about why’s happening on your first day in the office. And the contract is in the post.

ID-100226218However 18 years ago you got arrested,our new employers have found out. Or a speeding ticket or something similar. And your new employers have found out and now you have no job, the job offer is withdrawn and you are literally between jobs – the one you chucked and the one who did some research on you. Or paid someone else to do. The meaning of that sneaky sentence in the job offer email or letter  – “Subject to references and checks” – suddenly becomes ominously clear.

This is a reality for many people.

I recently received some information from the pre-employment screening company Experian – who I had only thought of as a credit ratings agency. Until I read this:

When you are hiring employees, you might need more information on a candidate to make an informed decision. The following list includes the types of information that you may often consult as part of a pre-employment check:
•             Identity Check – Validating an individual’s identity to ensure identity exists and verify it belongs to your candidate.
•             Credit Review – Ensure an individual doesn’t have any adverse financial data on their record, checks include, Electoral Roll, address search, CCJ’s, bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements.
•             Criminal record checks – Ensure that an individual doesn’t have a criminal record.
•             Employment referencing – Verbal or Written Employment History – Referees are first qualified within their organisation in particular to their job title/role and professional relationship to the candidate, Experian Background Checking contacts the referee directly to verify the candidate’s employment.
•             DVLA, FCA, Sanctions, Media & Director searches are also available
Using the Experian Candidate Verifier removes associated risk to brand image via the delivery of accurate data on potential employees.

On the surface you may think as an employer this is a good thing. It probably is good practice to check whether a prospective Company Director or Officer or financial signatory is who they say they are and has no criminal record. The company describes the checks as ‘a first line of defence for your business’s integrity, reputation and security’.

If you use this service, you can assume you can trust a new employee in the full knowledge of knowing everything about them. You can protect yourself, your company, and its image and reputation knowing that your new employee is “clean”. There will be absolutely no surprises ensuring that your new employee does not have a criminal record or chequered history. You can finally be certain that there is no doubt whether your new employee has lied about their education, qualifications, or references. Or at the very least if something does goes wrong with the candidate you can always cover your A*** by showing that you had done your homework and authorised this research. This of course assumes that people who have sinned will always sin again and those with no history will continue to be blameless, but that’s another story – circumstances change, financial pressures grow – the conscientious angel of yesterday may easily become the white collar crook of tomorrow.

Experian ask on their website: How much more could you know about the people you’re recruiting? And to me this is a problem for some candidates.

Experian, for the right price, can find out an individual’s current address, as well as two previous addresses. They can find County Court Judgements, whether you have been declared bankrupt, and any other decrees and administration orders they can find. Fair enough I suppose.

Experian can tell you whether someone has been a director of a company before, whether that company is still going or not and maybe why they left. It can also find out if you have ever been self-employed. Also fair game.

It can check whether a person has ever been involved in money laundering scheme with access to data from the Home Office, the US Secret Service, the Bank of England, the US Treasury and various national and international law enforcement agencies. Scary but also fair research.

They can find out if you have a full driving license, any penalty points, speeding or other driving offences. Experian can find out a complete criminal history, with all conviction information, spent or unspent. As well as any other non-conviction information, ‘considered to be relevant’. This is where I get squeamish. What is “relevant”? What about that stupid thing you did at university? Or the fight outside the nightclub 20 years ago when you were arrested by mistake in the confusion and then released without charge?

Added to that, Experian can also conduct a ‘Media Check’. They are able to research over 45,000 national and international newspapers, from as far back as 1971.

So what does this all mean? Well if you have EVER done anything wrong, whether you were convicted or not, whether you have ever had financial difficulties for whatever reason, if you have ever had speeding points, or if you have ever been once negatively mentioned in a newspaper somewhere in the world in the last forty years, your potential employer can find out.

This can make even the most innocent, harmless, and innocuous person uncomfortable. For a company to be able to amass such huge amounts of information on the people they employ, or are considering employing, is unsettling. The ability for a person to put their past behind them is no longer an option. Some may think this is a good thing, but consider all the falsely accused who are forever associated with something they did not do.

Recently the European Court of Justice set the precedent on a case stating an individual’s right to be forgotten. The case came about when a Spanish man tried to remove an article about an auction for his foreclosed home – however he has already paid the debt and now blames the article for denying him a job. Although the internet giants like Google are unclear on how to interpret the ruling, the concept is interesting.

Obviously suggesting that anyone should have the ability to remove any article about themselves on the internet is ridiculous, but with companies like Experian looking under every rock, one incident can hang over the head of a job candidate forever. Does this mean that only angels can now be considered for senior jobs? Does this exclude the risk takers and the entrepreneurs and those arrested by accident – the people who were either innocent or those who have tried and failed and sometimes fallen on their faces?

Of course I am not suggesting or condoning CV fiction or untrue claims – but this level of scrutiny is now a reality for many.

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