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I’ve got a few random questions…
Said the candidate I was interviewing for a senior position in a client company.
Brilliant. I love random questions. I was hoping he’d ask things like “What’s the capital of Lithuania?” or “How many wasabi peas can you fit in a smarties tube?” but no.
This man was an ESTJ and ESTJs don’t really do random.
Corporate Governance. Culture. Headcount. Productivity. Profitability. His questions were carefully structured. Ordered. Specific. Relevant. Succinct.
ESTJ is one of the 16 personality types in the Myers-Briggs® Personality Profiling model. Those with a preference for ESTJ (Extraversion – Sensing – Thinking and Judgement) tend to deal in concrete facts.
They often make strong leaders; natural architects of efficient systems and processes. The ESTJ pays great attention to detail. more…
Please forgive me but this week, I am shamelessly promoting the fact that my brother-in-law, Sergeant Christopher Godwin, is running the Amsterdam Marathon on 17 October 2010 in memory of my step-dad.
We lost my step-dad, Valentine Flint, on 11 November last year following a long and harrowing illness triggered by a heart attack, sustained while out go-karting with colleagues from his beloved John Lewis, Oxford Street.
Chris is aiming to raise £1,000 for the British Heart Foundation.
If you are a fan of our website and you want to help, please go to:
for more information.
Monday 13 September
Is it me or are the people that enter the Dragons’ Den more deluded than the contestants on X-Factor?
- My name is Brian. I’m looking for £100k for a 10% stake in my business. I have invented a cup, which you can fill with tea. And drink from.
- Hmmm. So you value your business at £1 million. How many of these cups have you sold?
- Four. One to my mum. One to my dad and 2 to my Uncle Harry who drinks a lot of tea and doesn’t have a dishwasher. And they all really love them.
- This is a tough market. What makes your cup so special when there are thousand out there already?
- Mine is blue. I expect to sell 2 million in the next 6 weeks and they retail at £1.99 each.
- Blue cups, eh? Novel. How much do they cost you to make?
- Err.. I don’t know. I think it’s about £3 per unit.
- Let me tell you where I am, Brian. I’m out.
Mad. The Dragons are often prone to quote the old adage “Turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity.” And they’re right. Well, they would be. They are all multi-millionaires. more…
Monday 7 September
Bounjourno! La donna cucina!
This week, I have mostly been learning Italian. And trying to make cupcakes. Oh, and working 15 hours a day.
When you’re working flat out, doing the same thing day in, day out, it can be easy to fall into a rut.
I worked out long ago that when you’re in a rut, you start to fade. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing and if you’re not growing, you die.
If you’re feeling restless or bored, learn something new. It doesn’t have to be anything too taxing. You just have to enjoy it. more…
Monday 31 August
My brother has just called to say that he has fallen in love with a farm that he has seen for sale.
After 2 minutes of being there, he has already mentally moved in, bought the wellies and worked out how he can raise the half million he’ll need to live The Good Life. And this from a man who took longer to choose which kind of pasty to have, on our recent trip to Cornwall.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we decide to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on a home. You just know, don’t you? Except sometimes, you don’t.
First impressions aren’t always right but the brain is very good at deleting the things you don’t want to see; like the dry rot, the fact that none of your furniture will fit or the crack den next door.
The same applies when choosing people. For jobs, I mean.
Many managers I have spoken to recruit based on gut feeling or first impressions and then are later disappointed that the people they have chosen don’t meet their expectations. more…
It was going to be so beautiful.
I had lured my friends from London and Bath, with promises of the Bournemouth Air Festival, Red Arrows, poignant moments on the beach in silent salute of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight, wing-walkers, parachutists, sky lanterns, fireworks, beach BBQ, cocktails and neon frisbees.
You’d think in mid August, you wouldn’t have to worry about the weather, but no. It poured down. No planes. No fireworks. No Air Festival.
I feel really sorry for the people that organise the festival. It is usually spectacular. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, what to do? Top tips for an impromptu indoor beach barbecue: more…
If your business isn’t doing as well as you’d like, you might want to consider employing my niece, Emily.
The only problem is, you’ll have to wait a while because she’s only nine.
On a recent family holiday (30 of us invaded Cornwall for a week), Em decided that an open-air talent show was in order. And once Em decides something is going to happen, you’d better not get in her way.
First she drew up the accounts, listing the cost of everything she would need in order to determine how much to charge the punters and still make a profit. (When she grows up, she wants to be Sir Alan Sugar).
Then she auditioned to select her acts before producing the tickets which she sold to remaining family members; shrewdly negotiating with the less than enthusiastic by offering a ‘Forces Discount’ to her soldier dad and an ‘OAP discount’ to her great-granddad on the basis that he was, well…really old.
She then recruited and selected her staff; I was to be in charge of hair and make-up while others were given jobs as stage crew, judges, catering etc. (Salaries accounted for).
Next, she cornered me to take her to a supermarket, where she bought huge bags of popcorn, which she then decanted into paper cups to sell at 50p a go in the interval.
Gavin and I have recently been recruiting for client companies, which has caused us to review a number of CVs.
I’m not a big fan of CVs as they rarely tell you anything about the true essence of a person but they can be very funny.
- Like the one where a guy listed his hobbies as rugby, lap dancing clubs and nights out with the lads and his only qualification as CSE Grade 2 Needlework…
- Or the one where a lady said in her profile that she was a ‘morning person’ and when asked about this at interview said that by the afternoon she was generally too tired to concentrate… more…
Monday 26th July
That’s enough about ME. Let’s talk about YOU…. What do YOU think of ME?
I’ve just sat through a sales pitch from a software company that wanted to sell me the latest thing in …errr… software. Don’t get me wrong. I invited them in because I am interested in the type of software they offer.
Instead of finding out what I needed, the company in question spent almost the entire meeting telling me why I should use them, who they had worked for before and in what capacity.
Hello..if a potential client has invited you in, they already know this stuff. That’s why you’re there. What you need to do is find out about them.
How many times have you been stuck with a terminal bore at a party? What made them boring? Yes, they talked about themselves all night.
And how many times have you met someone and just clicked? Why? Because the other person made an effort to find out about YOU. To listen to YOU.
This is such a simple concept that it still amazes me that salesmen choose to ignore it.
Okay, so you’ve had a simply fabulous idea. It will revolutionise the way the company works, will cost next to nothing and will need hardly any resource to implement.
You’re an ‘extrovert’ in Myers-Briggs® terms so you’ve just got to tell someone. You excitedly share your idea with the people around you, get them to trial it and now they’re hooked too. You are a genius, if you say so yourself.
You bound off to see your ‘introvert’ boss. You’ve got to get this idea off the ground and you’ve gotta do it NOW!
Your boss is busy. You know he’s snowed under with work and you can see he looks stressed. You ignore this because, well, you have an idea that will revolutionise the way the company works and will cost next to nothing to implement and …yada yada. more…
Some people regard their glass as half full, some half empty. In my case, if I were to sum up my week, I’d say that someone had downed the rest of my wine and made off with the glass afterwards.
Unlike last week, however, where you’ll have noticed my mood was dark; this week I have decided to view the theft of my proverbial glass as a good thing because:
1.) drinking too much is bad for you and;
2.) it gives me an excuse to loiter in the Waterford Crystal department in John Lewis next weekend.
As Francois Lelord says in his wonderful book, ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’, “Happiness is a way of looking at things”.
I have spent the week overseeing the implementation of a new computer based sales system for a client; with set-back after set-back as the system would not play ball (a bit like the England football team except that we eventually won).
Whilst I could look back at the week, exhausted, with a sense of utter frustration, I am choosing only to see the good in what happened. more…
I have just finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, a colossal novel depicting the rise of the charismatic and omnicompetent Thomas Cromwell.
I’m sure I should have something profound and intellectual to say about this magnificent piece of literature but to be honest, my over-riding thought when I’d finished was:
“ Bloody hell, HR law was so much less complicated in the days of Henry VIII”.
Coaching? Informal Counselling? Disciplinary processes? Appeals? No, don’t bother with all that; just cut off their heads.
Granted, things are much fairer these days but I bet some people would have a lot more motivation to do their jobs well if the alternative was an appointment with a drunken executioner and a rusty old axe.
As you may gather, I am not in the best of moods. more…
“I wish all your family were dead”.
So said a less than satisfied caller as she slammed the phone down on a lovely Helpline assistant that I worked with this week. The Helpline assistant had been politely and patiently trying to explain that the caller would not be entitled to receive a payout from her late ex-husband’s insurance policy.
It’s hard not to react when another person attacks. We’re hard-wired with a ‘fight or flight’ trigger when we come under fire.
There are, however some basic things to remember, when dealing with ‘difficult’ customers:
- There is no such thing as a ‘difficult customer’ – only a customer who is in a difficult situation.
- We have all been someone else’s difficult customer at some point – it doesn’t mean we’re not nice people the rest of the time – someone, somewhere loves us!
- People in difficult situations do not always behave in the way we’d prefer – they make the best choice they can at the time – which might not be the choice we’d make in the same situation.
- There is always an underlying reason for the way a person behaves. Even if we can’t accept their behaviour, we can usually empathise with the cause (in this case; shock, confusion, grief and mourning – the lady’s ex-husband had tragically been murdered abroad).
Dealing with difficult customer situations on the telephone requires skill and resilience and I greatly admire those who do this well. more…
I can’t see the sea. Which is disconcerting as it was there 20 minutes ago.
I am on my balcony, observing the smog that now hangs above the beach; the product of a thousand disposable barbecues that seem to have been lit in unison by the throng of holidaymakers below.
All day, snippets of arguments have drifted through my open window.
- “Darren, I asked you to put sun cream on me, not cover me in sand”…”We’re on the bloody beach Danielle, what do you expect?”
- “Joshua, I will not tell you again…GET-OUT-OF-THE-SEA!”…But, Muuuuuum, we’re at the seeeeeea-siiiiiiide, you are SUPPOSED to go in the seeeeeea.”
- “Brian, don’t put the windbreak there. I’m sure those young girls don’t want you ogling them all day!” .. “I wasn’t ogling them, Maureen” ..“Oh, so you have noticed them, then?”
But now…it’s all gone quiet.
It seems that the little parties on the beach that have been bickering all day have been reconciled, and all for the price of a packet of sausages. more…
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” – L P Hartley
Executive Coaching is often used by people who are already on the up, but want to be the best they can be. Usually, however, we find that there is something holding them back. This was never more the case than when I conducted one of my first coaching sessions, twenty years ago.
A young girl had spotted a job opportunity that interested her. She approached me for advice.
“I’m too young”, she said as an opener. True, if she got the job, she’d be the youngest in the team by about ten years. I asked what experience she could bring to the role.
“None” she replied. “I’ve no qualifications”. It turned out she had not gone to university as it wasn’t affordable and neither could she afford to take the exams required to get this job. “I’ve no money” she shrugged. I asked why not.
5 things that could cause a girl’s motivation level to slip from marvellous to miserable when travelling around the country, running training courses:
• Waking in the early hours to discover an intruder at the end of your hotel bed…which, on closer inspection turns out to be life sized cardboard cut-out of Lenny Henry, which you hadn’t noticed when you’d wearily slumped into bed at midnight on arrival.
• Washing your hair in ‘soft’ water when you’re used to the hard water of the south – leaving you looking like Toyah in the 80s.
• Trying to tame said hair using a hairdryer attached to a desk with a cord which does not allow you to stand anywhere near a mirror.
• Discovering there is no iron or ironing board in the room and that ‘all the boards are out’ when you call reception.
• Realising that you’ve left your new boots at home and that the only footwear you have to accompany your smart black suit are gold FitFlops or your brown Uggs.
Thought for the week: Everything that is achieved on earth is first conceived in the mind.
In March, my business partner Gavin sat down to watch TV, opened a beer and waited to be entertained by one of his all-time comedy heroes; Eddie Izzard. The programme, which was the first of 3 episodes which ran on BBC3, turned out to be a documentary, charting Eddie’s progress as he ran 43 marathons over 51 days. 5 weeks training and off he went. The programme reduced Gavin to tears. Bewildered, confused and utterly inspired. How could anyone achieve such an amazing feat? Especially a guy that is more at home in stilettos than running shoes?
So, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when Gavin announced a few weeks ago that he was going to train for his first ever triathlon, involving a 750m river swim, 20k bike ride and a 5k run to finish.
I have an idea for a new reality TV show in which I would, of course, be prepared to feature. Take six very different, independent women from various walks of life and plonk them all on a foreign island somewhere for a week together and see what happens. So committed am I to this idea that I have just tried it out. The ‘team’ in question consisted of me and 5 other women, 3 of whom I did not know before my holiday. And we interacted exactly as one might expect.
How do I know what one might expect? Because team development usually follows a very similar pattern. Bruce Tuckman first described the four stages of team development in 1965 as;
Form, Storm, Norm, Perform.
When holidaying abroad it is a really good idea not to fall asleep in the sun, get sunstroke and spend the next few days consigned to the villa bathroom.
That said, should you sustain said sunstroke, it’s wise to ensure that your fellow villa dwellers are marvellously compassionate beings who think nothing of cancelling evenings out to keep you company; hold your hair back while you throw up…(again) and lend you their sunglasses / head scarves / fake tan to a.) prevent a recurrence and b.) make you look like you’ve been lying on a beach for days rather than bent double over the loo.
You may have gathered that I am less than well, as I write from my holiday villa.
From my vantage point on the sofa, however, I have been able to watch my two friends, whose Myers-Briggs® personality types are ENFP and ESFP at close hand.
On the face of it, their profiles are quite similar.
Both prefer Extraversion (E) – i.e. they like to talk, get energy from being with other people and from experiencing new things. Conversation has not been in short supply as we’ve sat on the patio late into the night sharing a bottle of wine.
Hello. My name is Wendie and I am…a closet ISTJ.
There, I’ve said it. And now I’ve said it, I guess I’m technically not a closet ISTJ at all. I am out of the closet and, frankly, quite chuffed with my new status.
Of course, I’ll always be an ENTP at heart. Having just spent 2 days holed up in an office on my own, no-one to talk to, poring over statistics; writing detailed reports; researching articles and completing a VAT reconciliation…I can’t deny that I’m now tempted to throw a party, learn to sky dive, invent something amazing and dismantle the radiator to see if I can put it back together again (all at the same time) …but hey; 48 hours as an ISTJ. Not bad.
Driving home from an appointment late last Wednesday, I felt somewhat harassed as a young man in a souped up Ford Escort came up behind me on a dual carriageway at speed. He began swerving from side to side and flashing his headlights.
As I surveyed him in the mirror, I could see that he was shouting and gesticulating for me to get out of his way. This continued for several minutes and I became increasingly agitated as the traffic in the inside lane was too heavy for me to safely pull in.
Eventually a gap appeared and I indicated to move over. He beat me to it, nearly taking my bumper off as he did so. He then cut in front of me, once he’d passed, causing me to brake hard. I was less than amused. more…
Team Performance Management
When discussing Team Performance Management the other day, I was reminded of a lovely story I heard when training as a practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
Once upon a time there was a huge steam ship that had run out of steam. It had come to a grinding halt, out at sea, and the engineers on board were unable to get it going again. They called on the finest specialists in the land, who came on board with their sophisticated equipment and computer technology and tried many different ways to get the ship started but to no avail. more…