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Kaleidoscope

November, 2018

A Unique Presentation


If you think that presentation is all about how others see you, then perhaps it’s time you reassessed your opinion. You may well ask, “Why” because surely the importance of how others receive your presentation is paramount? Well this was undoubtedly the case before the advent of the internet. In simple terms, if you presented someone with a fancy and beautiful box of chocolates, they were more impressed than if you gave them exactly the same chocolates in a brown paper bag. Case proved – presentation matters!

So, what has the internet done to change this? Basically, it has stopped many of us thinking about the actual presentation and made us more focused on ourselves. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat etc., constantly bombard everyone with information about others. In many cases this creates jealousy within us. Why can’t we have the lifestyles of David Beckham, Deepika Padukone, Emma Watson or Shahid Kapoor etc.? Consequently, instead of naturally thinking about the effect our presentation has on the recipients, the focus has shifted. There is now a tendency to place more importance on our own importance. The internet has been educating us, through our on-going interactions with social media, that we are all equally unique and correspondingly important. Otherwise, how do you explain the need to gain more followers on Twitter or more likes on Facebook than anyone else?

It used to be accepted that people might normally have a unique talent in one particular skill. Consider the university professor who was brilliant at maths but known to be quirky and eccentric in most other things. However, many now believe that being unique, in one area, allows them to claim some right to have a valued opinion in others. This has led to celebrities, who are only known for their singing or acting abilities, telling us how we should vote politically or what toothpaste we should use!

It is true that the meanings of words change over time but let’s look at ‘unique’. Its original meaning was: –
‘Being only one of a particular type or having no equal’.Obviously such a definition completely excludes the possibility of there being more than one. Applying this logic how can we all be unique?

This idea of uniqueness and individuality, with its implied sense of self-importance, has worryingly started to result in the breakdown of team spirit. You only have to look at football and the way a main celebrity player attracts all the credit, as well as the money! Invariably their ‘uniqueness’ causes friction, within the team, who have to live under the celebrities shadow. In our workplaces, if we all believe we are unique then it restricts our ability to receive or give advice and perhaps come up with ideas, because others are afraid to compromise our uniqueness. This philosophy makes us more resistant to being told we might have got something wrong or that there is a better way of doing things.

The current global state of politics highlights this, especially in America and the United Kingdom. A topically trending ‘meme,’ (the name for an image, video or piece of text, typically humorous that is spread rapidly via social media) shows ‘NPC’ (non-player characters) protesting how they are all unique. The absurdity of computer-generated random characters having some sort of influential uniqueness is laughable. But consider this:- ‘Every snowflake is unique but it has totally no individual effect in a snowstorm’.

So where does this leave us? To adapt a famous quote:-‘No person is an island, entire of themselves, because everyone is a piece of the continent.’

In order to better ourselves, and also help others, we mustn’t allow the internet to suck us into being isolated from the needs of others. Not everyone is interested in knowing about our recent stay in hospital, even though we got hundreds of likes on Facebook. The recent pictures posted of a Seychelles holiday might have got hundreds of likes, however the chances are some were really envious and, even though they posted ‘like’ actually disliked them! Consequently, it would have been better not to post them because doing so caused envy. As the well-known logic goes, this negativity might well come back and bite you when you least expect it.

Good interactive presentation still relies on the premise that the importance of the recipient comes first and foremost. We must shrug off our feeling of self-importance and uniqueness. Resetting the threshold, raising the bar when self-importance kicks in, will give us a better perspective about our family, friends and colleagues. Interestingly the Victorian-era theatrical English partnership of Gilbert and Sullivan summed up the dilemma very well, in these lyrics from their 1889 comic opera, ‘The Gondoliers’. It’s probably well worth keeping them at the forefront of our minds.

‘When everyone is somebody, then no one’s anybody’.


May, 2018

Respect For Ones Elders?



If you are one of the many who regularly use social media, you will be aware of the gap which appears to be growing between the generations. The young appear to blaming the older generation for not making it easier for younger people to progress. Equally the older ones cannot understand why they are not shown the respect that they believe they deserve. After all they have, over many years, invariably contributed much to society.

It is true that different cultures treat the generation gap in dissimilar ways but generally, until recent times, the overall thrust encouraged respect for ones elders. Traditional Indian culture is a prime example of this. Equally the saying: ‘Learn from the people who have walked the path before you. Respect them because that chances are, sooner than you can imagine, you’ll be walking along a similar path’; is a truth not to be ignored.
However the growth of social media and its ability to link-up like minded persons has brought many traditional attitudes into question. Youth brings with it an assurance that simply wasn’t there, only three or four decades ago, when views use to be more isolated and not inter-related. Nowadays the sound of everyone shouting together cannot be ignored.

At sixteen it seems perfectly reasonable to say, “I am an adult and therefore I should be treated as one. Older people have no more rights to life, than I have, so why should I respect them? We’re just the same!” Of course, what this view overlooks is the fact that the passage of years gives plenty of time and opportunities to step up, screw up, take decisions and live with the consequences. This is why elders tell youth to respect their elders because they have already had the same experience. We’ve all probably said, at one time or another, “I am old enough to decide” only to regret it later on, because we had not taken the advice of those who were older. They have had the experience already, been there and done that, and therefore know the outcome regardless of the younger person’s deliberations. Experience is what matters and the longer we live the more we gain.

So that’s it sorted then is it? Young people should respect their elders? Well it isn’t as simple as this because if we defer to other well-known sayings:-
‘Mutual respect is the foundation of genuine harmony’ and ‘Respect will never be freely given, you must earn it’, it becomes clear that gaining respect is a two-way process. As a consequence the ironic part about gaining respect is that, in order to earn it you must give it!

This has never been truer than with our current generational demographics in terms of communication techniques and skills. Older people, in general, still prefer to chat and come to valued judgments; whereas youth has been brought-up on making more instantaneous responsive decisions. Of course an ability to take time to consider may well be seen, by younger folks, as the elderly slowing down. But coming to fully informed decisions based on experience usually does take time. It’s the way problems are avoided and contingency plans are made. Youth often doesn’t see the need to plan for other eventualities, because lack of experience often gives them a misguided full confidence in what they are doing. Quite rightly it is this confidence that makes young people unique and is an attribute which older people should never forget. We have all experienced this confidence, because it is part of growing up, and accordingly deserves respect.

So there it is; you have a summary about the need for respect between the generations, in a nutshell! But remember children always look up to their parents as role models. If mother and father have a way of life which shows respect, without discrimination to everyone, then their children will also start reciprocating. This accords with the a quotation from 18th century Irish novelist, Laurence Sterne, ‘ Respect for ourselves guides our morals, respect for others guides our manners’. Regardless of the influence of social media this style of family culture encourages generous, empathetic and self-respecting individuals who equally respect others, young or old. What could be better than this for all our futures?
Kaleidoscope desk


March, 2017

Failure Leads To Success


You may have it heard said that successful people don’t have failures. They view all events as a learning process towards achieving their goals. If this is the case why is there growing criticism that younger industry talent seem to have lots of knowledge and qualifications but lack the fire to grow their career? Could it be that they lack an ability, to take time, to assess failure as a step towards promotion and success? Whilst mistakes and ill-fortune happen, talented people demonstrate their real skills and true metal; by the way they mitigate such events, possibly turning them into an advantage.

So what, if anything, has given rise to this situation?

Well, turn the clock back only forty years and you’ll find a time when the principle source of learning general communication skills came from within a family. Meals, where all generations ate and interacted together, were a regular feature. Values, traditions, customs, courtesy, social and verbal skills were passed onto younger family members. They were then able to develop them as appropriate for their generation.

But the internet has changed everything. Its phenomenal growth has overtaken what was usually slow social development and replaced it with a potential for an immediate global response. News from all corners of the world impacts on us 24/7. ‘YouTube’, ‘SnapChat’, ‘WhatsApp’, ‘FaceBook’ and ‘Twitter’ are just some of the current social media resources which influence and create social trends. These are outside what were our usual family, community, state and even a Country’s ethos and ambience.

Our younger generation is being influenced in a way which has never happened before. Yes, all generations are impacted by these changes in communication but the great difference is that the older generations have more experience to deal with them. The values of parents invariably influenced their children. This aspect has now, in many societies, been subjugated by what youngsters learn from social media. Values are learnt from the internet which question and challenge views being taught by parents.

Considering this background and applying it in the workplace focuses minds on the way different generations react. Whereas the middle-range and upper-management, generally in their youth, were used to having at least 30 seconds to consider an issue, (as demonstrated by the length of television adverts), today social media and interaction is often limited to 5 seconds. No time for thinking, just an immediate reaction. This is often why tweets and emails sent, with a quick click, lead to instant regret. What is needed, especially in business, is forward planning and considered responses. However this flies in the face of the social environment in which today’s students find themselves. On one hand at university, being required to study for their degrees and on the other hand, being expected by their peers to give fast responses. Clearly there is a potential conflict as it is not realistically possible to completely separate social skills from business skills. They are all part and parcel of the same thing – an ability to communicate and take decisions.

There is also a growing tendency for educators being encouraged to highlight the uniqueness of students. Unfortunately if you focus on believing you are unique, especially when a team member, it has a tendency to set you apart from others. A belief in uniqueness impacts on a person’s assertive nature. Everyone has their own particular unique talent. This needs to be nurtured but not at the expense of it becoming an excuse for lack of success. The claim that ‘YOU’ didn’t nurture my unique talent enough, as a means of blaming others for one’s own failure, is not a sustainable proposition. However it’s a view which can comfort those who lack motivation and determination.

This brings us back to our opening question. The growing criticism, about younger industry talent seeming to have lots of knowledge and qualifications but lacking the fire to grow their career, needs to be addressed. This is an important consideration for a company determined to build on its success. Once we realise and accept how rapidly changing social media has altered the way different generations interact; planning, training, encouraging and coaching younger staff members, within a company’s ethos, can be seen as ‘must have’ approach. Undoubtedly it will add invaluable corporate value to a workforce.

Youth brings a vibrancy that companies need. How a company benefits from this is going to be judged on the way intergenerational trust can be fostered and developed. Personality, assertiveness, bargaining and negotiation skills cannot be successful asserted if they are limited by social media experiences. Short attention spans limit an ability to see beyond failures towards a successful horizon. Herein lies the challenge for a progressive company – how to unlock the social media box and encourage younger talent to take control of their own vibrant potential to flourish.


November, 2016

Your Decision or A Behavioural Response?


A friend recently commented on how everyone seems to focus on finding out reasons as to why we do things. When, in response, I mentioned ‘Behavioural Economics’ his eyes started to glaze over; rising towards the ceiling. “Not another trend?” he asked. So tried to explain why I felt that this particular approach deserved fuller consideration.

A six year old school girl invited her class mate round to her home.  Showing her round the other six year old asked, “Where is the rest of the house?” Now some might be offended with such a comment but remember it is said that ‘out of the mouths of babes’.  It just so happened that one of the girls lived in an ordinary suburban two bed-room home whereas the other was the daughter of a film star and she had only ever lived in an eight bed-room mansion estate. She had never known any other home so naturally and curiously she wondered why her school friend lived in such a small home – hence, “Where is the rest of your house?” Now, of course, as the little girl becomes older she will start to appreciate more the differences between all of us. She did not realise that, if she had been older, many would have been offended by her question.

This simple example basically illustrates what ‘Behavioural Economics’ is all about. It’s a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain economic decision-making. Subconsciously we are all influenced by our background and upbringing both socially, culturally and economically. Some of our experiences we remember and others are somewhere deep within our subconscious.  However when it comes to making decisions behavioural economics explains why often they are not totally rational. Behavioural economics explores why people sometimes make irrational decisions, and why and how their behaviour does not follow the predictions of economic models.

If you think about it you may come to the conclusion that the world in which we live is a communal institutional response to our own biology. We are collectively the creators and motivators of our own interactive future both consciously and unconsciously and it is the unconscious element that gives rise to unpredictable outcomes.

Additionally our nature means that we all are motivated by various degrees, depending on our upbringing, to focus on the ‘now moment’.  Given a choice which would you go for – $100 cash in your hand now or $110 cash in seven days’ time? You are the exception if you choose the future amount of $110! Accordingly when it comes to making decisions we have to remember that, to ensure that we are fully aware of our future plans and aims, we have to deliberately make our long-term goals a focused consideration. Otherwise the ‘now moment’ will prevail and obscure our forward-looking objectives.

As with the six year old school girls, as we grow older, we forget many influences which have become part of our make-up and consequently impact on us when we make decisions. A well-known saying is; – ‘If you want to become a millionaire first start mixing and socialising with millionaires’. The simplicity of this statement, in terms of behavioural economics, should be obvious. Those without money are clearly not able to think and act as those with money. If you mix with millionaires then ones thinking is bound to change and will influence the way you act and take decisions.

The boss of a United Kingdom holiday tour company recalled one of their mistakes, a lesson to be learnt, on the way to becoming a millionaire. Initially, starting the company from a small back-street office, they had always wanted a car with their own personal number plate. Eventually the day came and an article, in the national press, was published showing their picture in front of his car. It stated how he had paid $20, 00 for the one off number plate. He was happy but it turned out his customers were not as sales started to fall away. He had failed to appreciate that they might consider he was boasting about his success. Spending $20,000 on an apparent frivolous item, when clients had to save in order to pay for their annual holiday, created a negative two-way behavioural economics response, not least because established millionaires instinctively known the dangers inherent in flaunting ones wealth.

Behavioural economists also look at the roles of habit and trust in consumer choice. Proponents of behavioural economics realise that they do not have much to tell psychologists about how individuals makes decisions but rather they have a lot to learn from psychologists. The coming together of individuals from diverse backgrounds, is however, what behavioural economics is about. It endeavours to explain why we sometimes make irrational decisions, and why and how our behaviour does not follow the predictions of economic models.

So the next time you are at the supermarket check-out ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to buy that bar of chocolate or should I get an apple instead?” Train yourself to knowingly make a decision based on going along with the majority’s instinctive choice or planning for your own future with a healthy lifestyle because this will knowingly be behavioural economics – in action!


September, 2016

Good Bye Stress


We all know that whether our office is lively, dull or easy-going we have days when things just do not seem to go right. At such times our stress levels rise and as a consequence our work suffers. Let’s face it we would all appreciate a less stressful day at the office. On such occasions an extra bit of ‘umph’ to jolly us along, would be very welcome.  It’s therefore of little wonder that lots of ongoing research takes place to see how this ‘umph’ may be provided. So here are three suggestions, from many, that are designed to stimulate ideas which may enhance a work place environment.

PLANTS IN THE OFFICE

The first one is a simple solution arising from research carried out by an Australian University that focused on the benefits of having plants in our offices. It concluded that plants, being present in the work place, not only helped purify the air but also added focal points and created identifiable spaces. Plants are known to be a source of tranquillity where a casual, almost subconscious, look can trigger inner peace. The Australian study determined that plants in the office reduced the adverse effect of a whole range of feelings including anxiety, anger, depression, stress and fatigue. Just one plant, per work space, can provide a good lift to staff spirits whilst at the same time promoting wellbeing.  The choice of plant is important depending on how much time one wishes to devote to looking after them. Ideally plants which only occasionally flower are better avoided. Seeing them come into bloom is upwardly stimulating but when the flowers start to wilt the emotional uplift is dampened. However if an office has a team member with ‘green fingers’ then maintaining a regular recycling of floral greenery displays will be a welcome assignment.

HOLDING A COLOUR DAY

This second suggestion is more team focused and allows for fun without occasioning any direct impact on working practices. Having a day when everyone in your department agrees to wear something of the same colour is bound to bring some interesting surprises. If there is an overall feeling that a more determined approach is needed then everyone should be asked to wear something red. It could be red socks, shirt, tie, dress, shoes or even an item of jewellery – anything, as long as it is red.  The variations will no doubt raise at least a chuckle and woe betides anyone who forgets. The choice of colours for your work place colour day should be picked to suit a team’s emotional needs. This brief look at the emotional meanings of colours will give you the idea:-

RED – Strength, energy, determination, decision making.
YELLOW – Loyalty, light-hearted, attention impact.
ORANGE – Joy, enthusiasm, creativity.
GREEN – Safety, growth, finance.
PURPLE – Luxury, power, ambition.
BLUE – Wisdom, trust, confidence.
BLACK – Power, elegance, authority.
WHITE – Perfection, goodness.

Choosing a colour will let everyone else know, who is into the secret, what your objectives are for your colour day. It’s bound to favourably impact on success.

PETS AT WORK

The third suggestion is bringing a pet to work. A British pet food company’s research revealed that some 40% of UK workers said that having a pet in their office would make them feel less stressed. It may be impossible for an office to adopt a pet but a staff member, bringing in their pet for the day, can have a wonderful interactive effect on others. It’s said that the next time you are stressed, perhaps because of a monthly meeting deadline, then reaching down to stroke a cat or pat a dog sets aside any unhelpful stress.

Still, whatever ideas this article may have stimulated for you, eliminating stress completely is not realistically possible. However we owe it to ourselves and our colleagues to see how we may say ‘goodbye’ to stress. By trying meaningful ways of injecting some ‘umph’, into our day to day routine, we may help each other to feel more contented at work; not least because it’s never too late to start.


July, 2016

Healthier Lifestyle – An Easier Way…


There are two occasions when magazine articles seem to focus on lifestyle. The beginning of a New Year is the obvious one, when we all are encouraged to make resolutions. The other time is now, as the mid-point of the year, draws near. At this juncture enough time has passed for us to be able to assess what any resolutions have achieved. Invariably we all think about lifestyle but other demands seem to distract us. Living healthily all seems so simple but it is never this easy. Some of us have more will power and greater motivation whilst others struggle. If you start with a negative mind-set you are doomed to failure.  Hopefully this article will provide you with some tips to help you develop a technique which works.

It’s not that long ago that eyebrows may have been raised if a middle-aged person joined a gym or kickboxing club, took-up Pilates or even started dance classes. Nowadays in many cultures, almost anything goes in the quest for a healthier lifestyle.  What we need to ensure, in this pursuit, is that we enjoy it. If trying to be healthier brings us pleasure, both emotionally and physically, then we will carry on and achieve our goals.

The first step is to get a training buddy then set goals and find ways of making things fun. You have to have an objective and a real reason that will encourage you to take the first step. Having a training buddy, where you arrange to regularly meet someone, will provide encouragement and also means you will probably have a laugh egging each other on. Once this becomes part of your routine then you are on your way to success.

The second step is to remember to start with small steps. Booking a session with a trainer and finding yourself in roomfuls of strange machines and pounding bodies can be really scary. So start off gradually and don’t be pushed into trying too hard. Once you know how to use the various types of equipment you will begin to enjoy it. Being surrounded by others, enjoying exercising, spurs on motivation. Joining-in with various classes also provides welcome variation. Of course if gyms are not your thing then you’ll just have to accept it and discover an alternative.  Even simple things like taking breaks from sitting at the desk or doing press-ups and stretching whilst the TV adverts are showing all helps to break an unhealthy cycle of inactivity. Regularly playing sports, swimming, tennis and golf or even walking and gardening can all play their part as forms of exercise. Gyms are not the be all and end all.

The third step is the 5 minute rule. If you struggle to get into your exercise routine, after a tiring day at work, then give it 5 minutes. Often, in such situations, it’s not a physical tiredness which is holding you back but the mental left-overs from the stresses and strains of work. Chilling for 5 minutes can make all the difference.

The fourth step for many is the real fun – adding ‘the beat’ to your exercise! Boosting up your pace with a lively beat in your headphones really does make all the difference.

The fifth step is all about variation. Variety really is the spice of life and by combining cardiovascular activity, at your own level of fitness, with weight training will achieve the best results.  The different routines will provide a more interesting programme of training that will also bring better health rewards. Hopefully your gym will have its own qualified trainer or coach, so seek their advice and guidance

Finally the sixth step is to realise that a healthy mind and a healthy body are intrinsically interdependent. Remember that training your mind, as much as your body, is of equal importance. After exercise, good sleep, sufficient recovery time and nourishing food are necessary requirements. If you are ill or injured you must not trying pushing yourself. Similarly when you ‘on a downer’ and lacking motivation having a good mental attitude and emotional skills will help get back on track.

This brings us back to the first step because, with the help of your training buddy, you’ll be able to remind each other that where the mind goes the body follows. In the process you will both enjoy, reaping the benefits, encouraging each other to lead healthier lifestyles.

Have fun………


May, 2016

Have You Got Good Mobile Phone Manners?


You’ve probably experienced it whilst shopping, the intrusive discourteous behaviour of some mobile phone users. They stroll along the aisles, looking at what to buy, whilst at the same time talking loudly into their mobile. They have an attitude that speaking on their mobile gives them some right to ignore other shoppers, allowing them to push past everyone regardless. They also force a way along pavements apparently believing that, clamping a phone to their ear, gives them some absolute right of way. Even worse they speak into an invisible aura, using Bluetooth, to connect to a hidden device. Some users even seek to increase their importance by juggling several mobiles. “Hey look how important I am, I have all these people wanting to speak to me – NOW!” Do they realise how idiotic the look?

Heads down, eyes staring downwards looking for obstructions on the ground, our feet, lampposts, potholes and rubbish, whilst keeping their phone as the focus of their world, – beware – , it’s the “walking texting twit”. Oblivious to the rest of the world, if they bump into us they’ll look incredibly annoyed because we have interpreted them!  The list is almost endless when it comes to the places that provide an opportunity for mobile users to talking loudly, or more probably “SHOUTING”. On the bus or train, in the theatre or restaurant, even whilst talking face to face with someone, mobile discourtesy seems to know few boundaries.

Well the good news for those who find such actions unacceptable, the fight-back to regain some tranquillity has started. What began as a joke became something of a viral Internet story. It was announced that in China a “phone lane”, where a phone painted onto the ground, similar to the painted bike which indicates a cycling lane, had been inaugurated. Whilst it turned out to be in a theme park, it addressed an issue which annoys many. Now, in other countries including American, ideas are being considered that explore and experiment with solutions to reduce mobile phone intrusion.

Of course what really needs to happen is for these annoying offenders to realise that their actions make them look less important, rather than being some influential mover and shaker. Being always “on call” underscores an inability to delegate or plan ahead and a lack of confidence in others and oneself.   Obviously there are occasions when we really do need to use our mobiles when others are around so, hopefully, these mobile phone etiquettes, dos and don’ts, will help.

THE MOBILE PHONE ‘DO LIST’

Think about the choice and volume of your ringtone – your upbeat all dancing tune says more about you than you realise.

Keep your conversations about family, relationships, money and work private – you never know who may overhear.

Watch where you are walking when texting or emailing on the go – bumping into others is a “no-no” and it may just be your boss.

Turn off your phone when at important social occasions such as weddings, religious services and at the theatre, cinema or restaurant.

Watch your language when in a public space – you can be heard by everyone.

Realise where you are calling from – a train announcement or a bathroom echo is a dead giveaway. 

THE MOBILE PHONE ‘DON’T LIST’

Use your mobile when your attention needs to be 100% focused elsewhere. Even hands-free, in the car, adversely interferes with driving.

Carry on mobile conversations or check your phone constantly when you are supposed to be giving your full attention to others. Such actions are dismissive and ignorant.

Become an over-demanding attention seeker selfie addict.

Carry on phone conversations when making a transaction in a shop, bank or restaurant.

Use your mobile when eating with family or friends.

Texting while talking or during a discussion

Send more than two texts without a reply – it looks very insecure.

Leave caps lock on when texting or emailing – it’s shouting!

Use acronyms like ‘LOL’ – laugh out loud, ‘ATM’ – at the moment, for example – others might not understand the real meaning.

Allow anyone else to use your mobile, especially when you or they are drunk.

Finish any relationship, work or friends, by text – it’s cowardly.

So the overall message, when it comes to good mobile phone manners, is basically, “Think before using your mobile”, although it is often easy to forget this. Like the wife sending a text, to her husband, whilst out at lunch with her lady friends. “Darling I am sending you my lunch-time love thoughts. If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send me your smile. I love you.”

Everyone wanted to know what her husband texted back to her: –

“I’m on the toilet. Please advice.”


March, 2016

Bowie Changes


Being brought-up in England, as a youngster in the 60’s, meant one thing to an impressionable youngster and that was seeing David Bowie performing ‘Space Oddity’ on BBC TV Top Of The Pops programme. Bowie’s appearance seemed as far out as it was possible to be. Back then there was no way to record television so you could watch it later. Any one appearing had to make an immediate and lasting impact. Bowie’s first TV performance is still vividly lodged in viewers’ minds. This underscores his ability to command a following of fans, throughout a 60 year career, that may be credited to two main characteristics.

Coming from a working class back ground, Bowie provided an inspiration to many which is attributed to the fact that music leaps across all boundaries. Whatever your cultural, social, ethnic or economic background music is a universal means of communication. It mattered not that he was born in Brixton, south London. His mother – a waitress, and his father – a promotions officer, were unmarried at the time. What became more important was his reputation, which started to grow from when he attended Stockwell Infants School. Leaving, at the age of six, his reports said he was a gifted and single-minded child as well as being a defiant brawler!  Bowie was already displaying his first main characteristic that was to be so influential throughout his life. It was a determination to stand-up, defend and promote your own belief in yourself.

It became obvious, with his music, that he was saying that it was okay to be different. Just think how many people are ridiculed because they dare to be different? Bowie realised that standing out from the crowd helps others to recognise you and your brand. The more people know of you the better your chances of success. The difficulty, for those involved with creative people, is spotting potential and giving it room to develop. Too often creativity is smothered by the urge of others to conform. Being told to “act your age” is a response from those who just want to follow the rules. It is one of those truisms that winners never do what others do. That’s why they win!

Bowie’s second main characteristic demonstrated the benefits of adapting and evolving. At the age of nine, his junior school introduced innovative music and dance movement classes. His teachers described him as being strikingly imaginative and vividly artistic with a poise that was astonishing for someone of his age. Around this time his interest in music was further aroused when his father brought home some American records by artistes including Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Fats Domino. In interviews, later on in his career, Bowie expressed how much this had influenced him. So several years, groups, styles and management changes later; in 1969 “Space Oddity” was born. This record proved to be a quintessential start to Bowie’s illustrious career which saw him transform his image and music style to ones including Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, Pierrot, The Regular Dude and finally The Black Star. Over the years Bowie moved from persona to persona, with ease, creating an every changing fascinating image. This sounds easy but the clever part is staying in touch with your audience and being ahead of what they want. Sometimes changes happen because of what happens around us but Bowie seemed aware of this. Many of his fans will have treasured memories of events that influenced their lives. Even a concert ticket gives a chance to say “We were there” but importantly to remember that to succeed and survive we perhaps need to embrace Bowie’s motivational spirit.  His fans have enjoyed the merry dance on which David Bowie led us throughout his career. By grasping a belief in oneself and awareness for change we may achieve similar lasting success in our business adventures.  As Bowie sang early on in his career: –

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes, I said that time may change me!


January, 2016

Staying Focused


Perhaps you have pondered over the last few weeks if you should make any New Year’s resolutions, but how many of us can remember the ones we made last year? Unless we managed to achieve the outcome we resolved to attain, the chances are we have long since forgotten them. This is unfortunate because setting goals, by making resolutions, does work. The concept has never failed anyone. The only reason failure occurs is because the person, who may easily be you or me, has chosen to give up. What has let us down is our inability to stay focused. Research supports the view that over 78% of those making meaningful goal setting resolutions failed to stay focused and gave up.

For this reason, when setting any targets or goals, we have to accept that focus may become an issue and make plans accordingly to help us keep on track. There seems to be evermore distractions which demand our attention and steer us away from being focused. Our particular goal setting may be seen as unusual, so even our friends often want us to conform to what they see as normal. “Go on another piece of cream cake won’t harm you”. “You’ve been to the gym twice this week, time for you to have some fun”. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – come on give yourself a break”. Perhaps they do not appreciate your need to stay focused when you have set yourself goals? The most important person when it comes to deciding this is YOU. Sometimes we need to put ourselves first and for many this is not an easy attitude to accept. Recall, if you will, what a flight attendant tells passengers before take-off.

‘If the oxygen masks deploy you should secure your own before attempting to help others with theirs.’ After all, unless you are getting enough oxygen, how can you help them? There are times when you have to stay focused on yourself because only when your needs are met are you able to help anyone else.

It was some fifteen years ago that a former Apple and Microsoft Executive coined the term, ‘continuous partial attention”, to describe the modern predicament of being constantly attuned to everything without fully concentrating on anything. How, in such an environment can anyone hope to stay focused? Today’s generation seem to have even more distractions, steering them away from being focused. Personally I cannot understand how someone can give an issue their full attention when holding a face to face conversation whilst at the same time juggling their mobiles, texting and allowing them to be interrupted by calls.

There are numerous ways to help stay focused but my favourite is to create a vision board made with a collage of pictures and slogans that represent my goals and dreams. I make sure I display it in a prominent place so as to remind me. When I set myself a weight loss target, I put a picture of a lean and toned guy, the same age as myself, on my fridge door. When planning a campaign I find pictures of winning situations, coupled with cryptic words, and mount them on a board near to my office desk.

To succeed you have to develop a mind-set which sees you attaining your goal. You also have to limit the number of goals that you set in order not to spread yourself too far. Ideally picking one to three goals and sticking to them, is usually a realistic target for most of us. It is also crucial that you do not bother yourself with other goals until you have achieved those you have already set. Of course the proviso to this, if your priorities shift and your goals no longer reflect what you want, is a reassessment is required.

Oprah Winfrey, American media proprietor, TV show host, actress and philanthropist tells us we should, “Take five minutes to centre yourself in the morning – set your intention every day”. Obviously this routine has worked well for Oprah and it is an appropriate start for our day if we wish to move forward, achieving our goals. Nevertheless, without determination and dedication, it is easy to be detracted from staying focused. This why my New Year’s resolution was; “Procrastinate more – Starting tomorrow! “


November, 2015

To Selfie or not ot selfie


Many years have passed since football legend Pele visited Kolkata and a lot has changed since then. A few weeks ago, when he was greeted by fans at Atletico de Kolkata’s ISL fixture against Kerala Blasters at the Vivekananada Yuva Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Salt Lake, Kolkata; one thing other than football was also uppermost in fans’ minds – get a selfie with Pele. This thought is so far removed from Pele’s first visit, thirty-seven years ago; no one would have predicted that the word “selfie” would have gained so much prominence. But fans, who managed to take selfies with Pele, soon started posting pictures of their memorable moment on social media. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were soon full of selfies with Pele.

It is only two years ago that the Oxford English Dictionary, an icon of the English language, gave the accolade of “Word of the Year” to “selfie”. Since then the word has become a feature, for many of us, in our everyday language. For the uninitiated, and others will tell you that you had better get with it, a selfie is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a mobile phone camera, held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick.

Ranging from the flattering, casual and sometimes bizarre, most selfies are taken with the mobile held at arm’s length or pointed at a mirror so as to avoid using a self-timer. But the one indisputable fact of a selfie, which makes them so much in demand, is the overarching thought that if it happened then there must be a picture. No picture then it didn’t happen!

However the temptation to take a selfie and post it almost immediately on social media has brought its own problems. Just like pressing the send button on an email, and then regretting it soon afterwards, selfies are being posted without any thought to the unexpected consequences. Once posted on social media, selfies can soon attract reposts and retweets gaining so many views they are deemed to have gone viral. What the picture taker felt was a personal view of an event, to share with a few friends, becomes everyone’s property on which to make comment – good or bad.

When Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was shown taking a smiling selfie, sitting in-between US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, it probably never crossed her mind that she was going to create an international commotion. Although the selfie was taken at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in December 2013 it is still, even now, doing the rounds as a selfie “in bad taste”.

Believe it or not more people have died, in recent years, while trying to take a “selfie” than from shark attacks. You may wonder how these unfortunate tragic selfies occurred.  There is the 66 year old Japanese tourist who fatally injured himself, after falling down some stairs, whilst taking a selfie at India’s Taj Mahal. Others have been killed getting too close to wild animals for that once in a lifetime selfie. In 2014, organisers of the Tour de France were compelled to ask spectators to “respect the riders” after a number of accidents occurred when spectators ran onto the roads to take selfies.

These situations arise because selfie takers frequently become so engrossed in achieving a “wow-factor” picture they forget about what they are actually doing. Of course as the selfie trend grows so do the opportunities for others to make money. Have you spotted the product placement which appears in many of the celebrity selfies? You can safely bet this is not by accident. But the image that the celebrity selfie encapsulates is one that today’s selfie generation is attracted to follow – to take part in what seems glamour and fun. Posting a selfie democratises the idea of celebrity and the dream of instant success. For one moment, as the selfie is taken, that person is making a self-confident statement.

However like many things it is all “ifs and buts” so as many of us will be tempted to take selfies, especially during festive celebrations, there is little point waiting on the side-lines as just one selfie might make YOU famous. Like the lottery saying, “You have to be in it to win it” and with fame should come some good fortune. So smile everyone please this “Kaleidoscope Team” selfie is about to go VIRAL!


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