The Business Show 2013: Part One


Brochure from The Business Show 2013

I came across loads of inspiring corporate and one-of-a-kind speakers at the Business Show 2013 in Olympia this week.  This post contains some key thoughts I took from the event.

I will post some corporate ideas later.  Meanwhile here are views from three speakers I think of as ‘one-of-a-kinders’.  They each made an impression on me in a different way.  I hope you too will want to find out more about these folks:

Clippy McKenna – she’s responsible for Clippy’s jam products getting onto Tesco’s shelves.  She demonstrated the importance of being resilient; challenging the status quo; and living in a way that is consistent with your values.  She is on Twitter as @clippysworld

Brad Burton – head of 4Networking – spoke with passion about: knowing your own truth, and allowing that truth to motivate you professionally & personally.  He is also an advocate of respecting your priorities and putting people first.  Find him on Twitter @BradBurton

David Gold – entrepreneur and joint-chairman of West Ham United – emphasised the personal drive required to pursue an inspiring goal.  As he put it, “If it is to be, it is up to me!”  David’s Twitter handle is @davidgold

By the way, if you were to distil your core values into a sentence, what would they be?

A Word To The Wise


A Thought About Communication (c) R Dennison November 2013

Occasionally it is difficult to get your point across.  You might want to communicate something of yourself, as well as impress with your call to action.

Also there may be certain expectations about how you communicate linked to the working culture in your profession.  In some places of work anything goes, ‘patois’ or ‘banter’ included.  In others, not so much.

I was thinking about all this as there have been several examples of self-expression colliding with effective communication recently.

Exhibit A is X Factor winner James Arthur’s Twitter feud with fellow rapper Mickey Worthless.  On reading the tweets I wondered what Mr Arthur was trying to achieve with his choice of language?  Did he think homophobic language helped establish his street credentials?

Exhibit B belongs to Australian cricketer Michael Clarke.  His sledging comments toward James Anderson were obviously intended to disturb the batsman’s concentration; didn’t they also make Mr Clarke look childish and unprofessional?

Finally, by way of contrast, Tottenham MP David Lammy is right to point out that using a limited vocabulary is not going to help anyone get a job.

Here’s my point.  There’s something to be said for having a communication game plan, before writing, Tweeting, blogging or speaking.  The bare bones of the plan respond to three simple questions:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What sort of language do I want to use to get my point across to them?
  • How do I want to be perceived by them?

No one will get it right all of the time.  However a little fore thought will go a long way to help get the message across.

So here is a question for you: what is the first item in your plan before you start communicating?

What’s Next?

Choosing a Slice of Life (c) R Dennison October 2013

Choosing a Slice of Life (c) R Dennison October 2013

Would it be great to be 25 years old again?  What if you could view the rest of your life as you did then, with every possibility still open to you?

Life would be the most delicious treat, a cake perhaps from which you have only taken one slice.  You could then make positive changes whose impact would be felt over the next 50, or 60 years.  The rest of your life could be incredibly memorable.

A query in the Guardian Work blog explores the territory of later life choices, from the vantage point of someone at the age of 55.  He is trying to find his occupational passion to improve the final part of his working life.

It makes sense to ask ‘what do I want to do now’, since the latest Office for National Statistics figures show a man of 55 can expect to live for another 12 years.  Life expectancy for women is slightly longer.

The question is, if you have the choice, what should you do with the remaining 20 per cent of your life?

You can see the below the line comments if you click the link below.  My views are shown there (I’m Roger AD) and you can see them on Twitter too (where I am RogerD_said)

Anti Social Media Part 2

Logo of the Kent Police.

Logo of the Kent Police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understandably Paris Brown has turned down her appointment as Youth Police and Crime Commissioner in Kent.   This was probably inevitable once the Kent police themselves started to investigate the legality of Ms Brown’s contentious Tweets.


Credit to her for facing the media though.   As Commissioner Ann Barnes’ 9 April statement points out, Ms Brown shows courage by appearing publically to withdraw from the job.


Second time around, the Kent recruitment panel will have to find someone who hasn’t thrown words around casually online, since registering on Twitter.  A clean searchable history means that the next Youth Commissioner will be able to concentrate on their post, without the need for explanations of the ‘right’ context of their language.


Mind you, speech was ephemeral when I was 17.  I am glad I am not accountable for some of the things I said then, or since.  I would have been mortified to have my youthful thoughts captured and shared online.  I’m not sure how I would have handled being a headline item within a 24 hour news cycle.


Coincidentally a recent article in the Guardian newspaper shows that information from the pre-digital era can still turn up on search engines, whether or not it is an accurate reflection of the subject.  That’s a sobering thought.


Perhaps the learning point from these events is this: however detailed your life-plan is everyone makes mistakes, some of which are large enough to be subject to scrutiny by prospective employers, partners, in-laws and the press.  Handling the scrutiny gracefully is part of the the key to managing the long-term impact of those mistakes.

Anti Social Media

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve posted about social media before, so it is no surprise to say that Paris Brown gets some of my sympathy.

Imagine being 17 years old, casually Tweeting your thoughts to your mates, and a year later holding a post as a youth Police Crime Commissioner in Kent, where your words are regarded as anything but casual.  Talk about making your growing up mistakes in public.


Many of us are learning the hard way that Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and their peers are not transient media.  It is difficult to put a favourable context on what Paris Brown said.  She got it wrong.  An apology after the fact for ‘any offence that I have caused’ sounds increasingly like damage limitation.  Deleting the Tweets won’t mean they will be forgotten.  Bottom line, it is difficult, but not impossible, to erase a digital history.


In a sign of the times the British Library is to store some social media output for posterity.  Perhaps every social media user needs to act on a simple goal: to use their chosen medium in way that would reflect their personal brand positively, if what they wrote was to be saved by the British Library.

Digital footprints

I’ve blogged about thoughtful use of social media before – most recently in the October 2012 post In Cyberspace Not Everyone ‘Likes’ You  – however a spate of recent stories caught my eye.


Black Eyed Peas anyone?

Black Eyed Peas anyone? (Photo credit: Twitchietai)

First, there is the revelation that seemingly innocuous ‘Likes’ on Facebook can reveal much more personal detail than users imagine.  According to a Cambridge University  study, quoted in the press, important facets of one’s personality such as social standing; religious identity; even sexual orientation are – supposedly – discernible from what users say on the platform.


Then there is the sobering thought that if you get into a virtual feud with someone on Twitter they may very well track you down, for a very real confrontation.  If in doubt look at what boxer Curtis Woodhouse did to confront the critic who mocked him on line.


Finally, there is recognition that young people are savvy consumers of new media but are not necessarily skilled in producing it.  Former Black Eyed Peas vocalist has donated £500,000 of his own money to the Prince’s Trust to support the development of young people’s knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the STEM subjects) where skills are lacking.


Unless we choose not to have a digital presence, these stories indicate we should carefully decide just how we manage our online life.  They also nudge us to develop our relationship to new media / technology so that we keep up to date as they grows in influence.