Friday, September 29, 2006

On the couch with, er, Inspector Morse

I do get asked some strange questions.

I had a call from a journalist the other day, who was writing an article about fictitious TV detectives. And he wanted me to consider what career and lifestyle advice I'd give Inspector Morse if Morse were a client of mine.

Apparently Inspector Morse drinks very heavily and eats a lot of pork pies. I don't know if that's true or not, but that's what the journalist told me. So I advised on making lifestyle changes by finding a buddy to act as social support in improving his dietary regimen.

The kinds of weird questions I get asked as a business psychologist!

The business psychologist and the Big Brother celebrity (part the last)

Well, my involvement in filming the TV show has now finished.

We held the big finale at a nightclub in Leicester Square just a couple of nights ago. It was a glitzy affair with the two remaining candidates for the job as Jade's PA having to organise two separate charity parties to raise money for Scope and the NSPCC.

Both parties were fantastic and both raised thousands for charity. We, the judges, were duly impressed.

But there could only be one winner. And we had a really difficult decision to make. In fact Jade had become so attached to the two candidates that she found it incredibly emotional. We had to break it down into the skills and character traits that Jade was looking for and see which of the two candidates excelled at each skill or trait. I can tell you that we had a very heated argument and a few tears when it came to making a decision.

But, eventually, we came to a decision. When Jade announced the winner, we were of course happy that she had found her perfect assistant. But we were also a bit dejected that we had to crush the dreams of someone who we had also thought was almost perfect.

Anyway, apparently the trailer promos for the programme have started running on Living TV - so look out for them. Again, a reminder: the programme (Jade's PA) starts on Monday 9th October at 10pm!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Does your reputation proceed you?

How would you describe yourself? Perhaps you think of yourself as confident. But what if others see you as a little too confident and crossing the line into arrogance? Or what if people secretly think you lack confidence and are actually tetchy and nervous?

How others see us creates our reputation. And, whether you like it or not, and whether you make any effort or not, you have a reputation among your colleagues and clients. And, unfortunately, many people’s reputations are not enhancing their credibility but actively damaging it.

A business magazine just asked me to write an article on the topic. So I did.

The key to managing your reputation is to ask people how they see you. Get feedback. Get advice. And then act on it.

Ha ha, I think I've just managed to sum up a 1200-word article in about four sentences.

But if you'd like to get more information on the topic, you can click here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The business psychologist and the Big Brother celebrity (part 5)

Filming continues for the Living TV programme that I'm involved in. And last night we went off to the theatre to see a production of The Vegemite Tales.

We're down to the final three candidates vying for the role as Jade Goody's PA. Each was set a different challenge. And one of them was tasked with getting Jade onto the West End stage.

Of course Jade has no theatrical experience, so it required more than a bit of blagging influence and persuasion on the part of the candidate to persuade the show's producers to let Jade onto their stage (even if it was to perform for just 30 seconds).

But eventually Jade made her acting debut on the West End stage last night - and I have to admit that she wasn't half bad!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Presentation anxiety: The full story

At the start of last month, I posted on the topic of presentation anxiety. I'd been asked to write an article for PQE, a magazine aimed at lawyers.

But the article is just as relevant for anyone who needs to stand up in front of a group of people and present - whether it's a handful of fellow students in a class tutorial or hundreds of journalists and shareholders at an AGM.

Anyway, if you'd like to download a pdf of the full article, you can get it from the News section of the Talentspace website (that's where I work, by the way!) or by clicking here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The business psychologist and the Big Brother celebrity (part 4)

Yes, the work is still continuing on the TV show I've been filming for Living TV.

In fact I'm just waiting for a car to pick me up to drive me up to the house where the remaining candidates are staying. We started with ten, and over the course of weeks, we have whittled them down to three. I can't say too much about the challenges we have used to weed the weak from the strong, but they are spectacular and difficult!

Just a couple of days ago, I attended the press launch for Living TV's autumn/winter 2006-7 schedule. The head of the channel, Claudia Rosencrantz presented the line up of programmes including for our TV programme, so we got to see a few clips of the first episode for the first time. Again, I can't reveal too much - but it does look funny. So set your video or Sky+ box for Living TV on 9th October at 10pm!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The secret of happiness

As a business psychologist, most of my work is to do with organisations and helping managers and individuals achieve business and career success. But sometimes I do wonder whether my clients are doing enough to chase their personal happiness as well as their professional success.

So I was interested to read in the latest issue of The Psychologist a piece about Vanuatu, the 'happiest place on Earth', as determined by research conducted by the New Economics Federation.

Peter Forster, a psychology lecturer at Webster University in Leiden, The Netherlands, explained the finding by saying:

Vanuatu is a very poor country in some ways of measuring that. Very few people have access to any of the governmental safety nets we take for granted when people have problems. In their place they have strong social support systems within their villages and extended families. When they are fit and healthy they work for their community. When they go through hard times they are supported by others.

He goes on to say:
Studies under the mantle of positive psychology indicate that it is our positive, supportive relationships that contribute most to our happiness.

So bear that in mind as you claw your way up the career ladder, set up your business or seek other forms of professional success.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The wisdom of threatening your boss

So apparently Chelsea footballer William Gallas may (or may not) have threatened to score an own goal if he didn't get his own way.

Anyway, a journalist phoned me up yesterday to ask for a comment on the topic of threatening your boss. The first thing I said was that it's foolish - totally stupid - to make threats. Your boss can fire you. You can't fire your boss. So who has the power and real control in the situation?

Not only that, but whoever makes threats first usually flags up that they don't have the maturity and emotional intelligence to be able to negotiate like a proper grown-up.

So don't threaten your boss. Ever. Seriously - just don't do it.

You can read the full article on the Guardian website.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Laziness is the new hard work

Don't know if you've noticed, but hard work is sooo last season. There's a whole slew of books arguing that hard work is overrated and that laziness and loafing are much more fun.

So Corinne Maier's book 'Bonjour Laziness' is a rant about the meaningful bureaucracy of office life from the organisational lingo we have to adopt to the rubbish tasks we're asked to do.

Don't expect to learn anything that will transform your life, but it's a pretty entertaining book if you've ever wanted to slap your boss over some of the sheer silliness that goes on at work.

I picked up 'City Slackers' in a bookshop a few weeks ago just 'cause it has such a great title. (Oh, if you're ever trying to get a book published, make sure you have a great title - as a great title and average content will outsell great content but a so-so title).

Turns out that the author, Steve McKevitt, and I have something in common. His PR firm does the publicity for Cyan Books (who publish a handful of my books). He's a bit of a cynic, but a pretty funny one at that - arguing that it's possible to have a successful career without ever having to be involved in a successful job or project. The book has plenty of fairly amusing anecdotes about playing the corporate game to further your own ends without ever accomplishing anything. There's a fair bit of truth in his argument - so sit up and take notice!