Spice speech

Over the years, I’ve killed my throat. Or toughened it up – it all depends on your perspective.

You see the thing is – I love spice. Whether it’s black pepper, cayenne pepper, or chilli pepper, I’ll incorporate it into recipes in some of the most surprising, and occasionally inappropriate ways. Just ask anybody that I’ve ever made hot chocolate for.

Over the years though, my taste buds have toughened up to the constant flow of tobasco. It now takes fairly incredible amounts for it to register on me. I’ve developed a tolerance.

In a similar way, our polarised politics and news media means that if you don’t have a really strong opinion, a Scots-Bonnet of an opinion (chilli lovers will know what I mean), then you’re not going to be heard, because audiences too have developed a tolerance for heat.

Then I spotted this piece on the web-site of my friend and fellow blogger, Broc Edwards. That tolerance for polarised heat that we’ve all developed exists in the commercial branding world, and in presentation world as well.

In a world where we’ve all become used to a good dose of chilli with every message, what’s the right amount of heat to be adding to presentations?

fool (with a plan)

I’m fascinated by branding. Not the marking-cows-so-the-don’t-get-rustled kind. The kind of branding that’s about identity and messaging and clear authenticity. How clear? If No One Hates You, No One is Paying Attention. That statement is the title of a great piece by Alf Rehn (@alfrehn), and gets at the heart of branding. Alf reminds us that trying to be all things to all people doesn’t work, despite the legions of businesses that attempt it. It makes sense to know and declare who you are as a business and what you stand for. But the ugly, unmentioned downside is that in doing so you are also declaring who you aren’t and who you stand against.

So truly strong branding is only telling people “Our products are for you. You will like them. You will like what being associated with them says about you. You should buy them.” But it’s also…

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Ideas for the weekly team meeting

by Peter Watts

What to talk about at the weekly team meeting?

It’s a seventh-day conundrum. Yet again it’s Monday morning. Yet again it’s that darned team meeting, and yet again, as the person chairing it, you’ve got no idea what to talk about.

Let’s just present the weekly team meeting with the same agenda as last week. Which, incidentally, would be the same agenda as the previous week’s team meeting, and the same agenda as the week before that.

Ironic therefore when we complain that weekly team meetings are a non-achieving waste of time.

Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. I’m going to suggest therefore that the vast majority of  team meetings are a collective act of organisational mass-insanity that waste mind-blowing quantities of human hours every single week.

To break free of the insanity you need to be ready to do things differently, and that’s what Broc Edwards’ new book “What thinks you?” is all about.

While nominally a book about human resources, “What thinks you?” is actually a thought-a-day guide for leadership. It’s subjects meander through presenting, sales, e-commerce, customer services and all manner of behavioural and motivational topics. Articles take no longer than three minutes to read and celebrate in titles such as “Disengaging the Engaged“, “Tale of Two Burritos“, and the awesome “Punk Rock HR Worksluts“. Each little mini-article is an early morning croissant of ideas dunked in just enough fresh espresso to fire your enthusiasm.

If  your weekly team meetings don’t seem to achieve  much beyond rehashing the same old agenda, then try making a weekly theme out of any of the 65 topics within the book. Introduce the theme at your next  meeting and then ask your team to explore  that topic over the coming week.

It will get everybody talking, exploring, and engaged, and produce some organisational change as well.

Doing things differently. That’s sanity. Just ask Einstein.

“What thinks you?” by Broc Edwards can be purchased from Amazon by clicking this link.

Broc Edwards guest-post: Downton Abbey and dealing with the FutureNow


The Broc Edwards guest post edition!

by Peter Watts

Following on from our recent Downton Abbey article, here is a guest-post from Broc Edwards over at the Fool With A Plan leadership blog. Broc puts forward eight topics to keep in mind as like the inhabitants of Downton Abbey, we all continue to face a changing world around us.

fool (with a plan)

I really enjoy Downton Abbey and I’m super excited about the new season. A friend turned me on to it this Fall and my wife and I quickly watched the first two seasons. I really shouldn’t be able to relate to it – after all, it’s a period drama (soap opera?) about British aristocracy and their servants in the early 1900s.

Except it’s not. It’s about humans dealing with the inevitable change of FutureNow. The tried and true traditions of the 19th Century have been blown up and burned down in the onslaught of change in the early 20th Century. Industrialization, automobiles, air travel, women’s rights, democracy, revolutionaries, class systems (and duties and obligations), a world fighting a new kind of war and the horrors it brings all get thrown in the societal blender. The characters, rich or poor, weak or powerful, are just humans trying to find…

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fool (with a plan)

Want a leg up professionally? Need a career boost? Become a better public speaker.

I can hear the collective response: Ohhh, ugh, groan. Not public speaking. Yawn. That’s lame. Give me career advice I can use. Maybe more school or certifications. I hate public speaking.

And that’s a big reason why it’s such a powerful skill. So many people hate and fear public speaking that even a mediocre speaker really stands out.

Why public speaking?

It’s valuable in all fields and every position I can think of. Any position that involves speaking to another human benefits from better communication.

I have met leaders from numerous countries and cultures and cannot think of a single one who wasn’t an adequate public speaker. Speaking and communication skills are crucial to being an effective leader.

Your skills get noticed much more quickly. Who does leadership remember: the talented wallflower or the talented person…

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