Archive for February, 2009

Feb 28 2009

Laugh Out Loud at My Living Will

My life was brightened once more by a contribution from Judith Morgan…



Last night, my friend and I were sitting in the living room and I said to her, ‘I never want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from a bottle. If that ever happens, just pull the plug.’

She got up, unplugged the Computer, and threw out my wine.

She’s such a bitch…..

I laughed out loud!! Fortunately my friend was also attached to a computer so was too busy to pull the plug or throw the wine.

Time for a walk on the beach maybe…

Enjoy your weekend!

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Feb 26 2009

Powerful Personal Motivation

Whether I’m talking with my coaching clients, working with a group of people in a workshop or designing a web page to sell products in the internet, we keep coming back to the same subject: Personal Motivation.

When I know I want to do X, why do I let myself down?
When I know I should do Y, why do I consistently find myself doing the opposite?
When it comes to shopping, why do people consistently buy what they want and not what they need?

These mysteries of life go much deeper than our conscious mind and knowledge. We know what we should do… but something much deeper actually motivates our actions. Now I could write a book on this but won’t right now!! Suffice it to say that our behaviour is motivated by our fundemental needs and also by our personal values.

Tony Robbins has described six human needs and believes everyone is—or can be—motivated by their desire to fulfill these needs.

The first four needs are basic or fundemental:
1. Certainty. We all want certainty at some level. Much of this comes from comfort or security. Of course there is no ABSOLUTE certainty, but we do want to know that we will be safe, be healthy, have an income. We want the certainty of knowing that, as long as we don’t break the law we will be free, if we pay our money our goods will be delivered… you get the idea.

2. Uncertainty. This might seem paradoxical but we also want uncertainty. Too much certainty is stifling! There needs to be enough uncertainty or variety in our lives to provide spice and adventure, to provide challenge and entertainment. Generally speaking we don’t want every day to be the same or entirely predictable.

3. Significance. Deep down, we all want to be significant. We may not want to be a star (or we might!) but we do want our life to have meaning and significance at some level. Maybe to be noticed, to be an individual, to have someone care for us for being ourselves – and at some level this means we need to be different to everyone else. We may not be the worlds greatest rebel but we probably want to “do it my way” at least some of the time. And those of us driven to act out “the world’s greatest rebel” role, are simply expressing this deep human need. It’s often quick and easy compared to persuading someone to love us.

4. Connection. In contrast, we also want to be connected. Yes, we want to be ourselves but we also want to be part of some family, group or team. The isolation of being the only one, with nobody understanding what it’s like to be me is just too demanding for most human beings so we crave connection. It is hard to argue against the need for love & belonging – even rebels hang out in gangs. We want to feel part of a community, a family, a movement or a tribe!

These four human needs are core to our being human: certainty – uncertainty, significance – connection. We are driven to meeting these needs in so many different ways. jumping-for-joy

And then we look higher, beyond the basic there is the expression of what makes us more fully human and this expreses itself in the desire to meet two additional needs:

5. Growth. Not everyone is driven to grow – but there are few of us that don’t enjoy getting better, knowing more, doing more. Our motivation might be to be promoted or get out of a rut of a job… to become better, to improve our skills, to stretch and excel may be more evident in some than others, but it’s there. And there are some of us for whom growth is a passion, a deep need and an eternal source of pleasure.

6. Contribution. Stephen Covey expresses this as leaving a legacy, our gift to the world or those who come after us. This is our footprint on the planet and, even if you don’t want to be remembered by name or in fame, most of us would choose to be remembered kindly rather than for wanton destruction! The desire to contribute something of value—to help others, to make the world a better place than we found it is in all of us.

So, when you’re confused by what you don’t do or when your actions seem contrary to your wishes, think of these needs – which is driving your behaviour? If you can think of a different way to meet your needs you might actually get closer to your goals!

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Feb 25 2009

Managing People: Book Recommendations

In my discussions following the Manage, Influence and Motivate workshop, I’ve repeatedly come back to a cluster of book recommendations:

I was really happy to recommend any of Macolm Gladwell’s books as an easy introduction to some very interesting areas. His latest, “Outliers” explores how ‘geniuses’ are made rather than genetic… his work has some profound implications about how we nurture our talented youngsters and what gifts we might be unknowingly throwing away. I’d probably recommend The Tipping Point and also Blink even more highly – but take a look to find out more about these books.

The work of inner change is more personal. We need to set real targets for progress, get out of our own way, deal with inner doubt or limiting beliefs… “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson – an absolute classic and an introduction to the art of mindfulness. Micheal Neill might be less well know but he is a master. His book is entertaining, practical, jargon-free and grounded in real life. I was concerned that the title “You can have what you want“, would reflect a very self-centred approach to getting “stuff” – not at all. It’s a book about becoming who you are with authenticity. It is one of the best self-coaching books I know. As for Paul McKenna, you might love him or hate him… set aside your predjudice and enjoy a practical book that comes with a useful CD.

When it comes to communication there are many different options. I can’t recommend Robert Cialdini highly enough… He is a master at explaining the hidden power of influence. You need to know this stuff! Likewise Allan and Barbera Pease are established masters in their field of exploring body language. A slightly small book with lots of excellent pictures is “Body Language At Work” by Peter Clayton but this doesn’t seem to be availavle at Amazon… The Andrew Curran book is a delight, particularly for the biologists amongst you but is accessible to all (just don’t get hung up on the neurobiology!) .

Do have a browse – if you have books you particularly like, do share them with me!

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Feb 22 2009

Little Chef Wins in Customer Service Stakes

As a trainer I travel. As a traveller I often find myself taking a break in service stations of various descriptions and see the good, the bad and the ugly!

I recently stopped in a Tesco store and witnessed some of the worst customer service interactions I’ve seen. Two operatives – anonymous, one male, one female but no name badges in evidence, were behind the counter… while I browsed the various “Special Offer” meal deal boards, a couple in front of me asked for “Two teas and hot cross buns please”…to be met with “Sorry but there are no large hot cross buns left, we only have the standard size over there” and a vague gesture to the left, away from the counter. The customers were confused by the response and repeated their request for tea and hot cross buns. Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee repeated as if in unison “Sorry, there are no large hot cross buns left. We only have the standard size over there” with more pointing away from the counter… bemused, the customers wandered away from the counter and didn’t return while I was there.

My go next… “Have you got any fish and chips?” – it was Friday and this was their meal of the day. “No” came back the answer. It dries out if we keep it under the lights. We could cook some for you but you’ll have to wait 10 minutes or so. Is that OK?” Well, what do you think? Would that have stirred you to part with your money? I left without fish and chips!!!

LittleCheflLgo Contrast this with a visit to a Little Chef at Hope-Under-Dinmore… we arrived around 6.30pm, it was about half full and looking bright and bustling. There were only two staff on duty as far as I could see but Tracy and Jo were doing a great job. Each new customer was greeted warmly at the door and shown directly to a clean table. “Would you like a drink or shall we leave you for a minute to look at the menu?” We took the option to look at the menu – as soon as we had browsed, made our choice and put the menu down, Jo appeared with her order book in hand – “What can I get for you this evening?”. We waited minutes before fresh coffee appeared and was followed by freshly cooked food. I barely had time to watch and admire as Jo and Tracy seemlessly swapped roles – Tracy was the chef and seemed in control in her kitchen but, if Jo was taking orders Tracy stepped out to greet a new customer and show them to a table. No sooner than a freshly cooked meal appeared did Jo collect it and deliver it to table. When your meal was finished a further invitation “Would you like anything else?” or “Are you ready for your bill?” and people were given time to pack and move out without fuss – but the table was being cleared before they had closed the door behind them!

It was a real lesson in how to do great customer service. So Jo and Tracy at Hope-Under-Dinmore, thank you!

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Feb 19 2009

What goals are you going for?

Published by under Personal Development


It’s a subject close to the heart of a coach and one almost guaranteed to bring a groan from many of my clients… we seem to know that goals are important but rarely seem to know how to set them effectively.

In fact we are actually brilliant at setting goals and achieving them – but we usually do this unconsciously.

Most of us have bigger goals that we don’t speak about, that are rarely voiced and never written down. These more powerful goals are about in-action…

Things like “I don’t want to fail”, “What if I mess up”, “I don’t want to be a bad Mum”, “I don’t want to mess with my kids” “I don’t want to impose upon others”…

These in-action goals are so easy to achieve because all we need to do to get them is more of what we are already doing – stay put in that rut!!!

I think Tony Robbins said “The only difference between a groove and a grave is the depth.”. And so often we just keep ploughing through that same old groove!

The good news is that these big powerful in-action goals are easily blown away by – taking action!

So set yourself a goal. Make it something you really want to do. Make it something positive that you actually can do – by all means make it a stretch but for this first time round don’t set out to conquer Everest. It certainly helps to write down your intention – and make a note of the date – this is your pledge!

Then – take action.

Take action daily & do it before you’re distracted by the cares of the day.

score your goal

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Feb 17 2009

The Big Issue receives over £4000 from the Money Gym!

Wouldn’t you just love to make this headline happen?

A major charity helping the homeless, receiving financial support from a business promoting property investment…

You can make this happen.

The Money Gym is organising a Property Extravaganza and all the profits are going to the Big Issue. You can come along – buy a ticket for just £25, all profits go to charity, you gain the wisdom and experience of some of the biggest property people in the UK today.

Below is an excerpt from an email Judith Morgan wrote earlier today – and if you don’t yet know Judith, it would be worth paying £25 just for the opportunity to meet her.

Have a read and then buy the ticket…. you know we usually regret what we don’t do far more than what we choose to do… so choose today and help The Big Issue!

JudithMorgan Judith says:
Clients ask me all the time “what makes a good property investment and do you think this one will be OK”? The short answer is usually “I don’t know”…no-one knows in advance whether any investment’s projections will come true or not, only hindsight will tell. You can do your own due diligence, you can meet others who have done it and ask them why, you can quiz them till their brains hurt but in the end you just have to make a decision – are you in or out? All I can tell you is that I was a woman who lost out big time in the last recession and that I am buying property now. And I am investing in lots of different sorts to spread my “risk” across the UK, the Caribbean and the world’s property hotspots.

Yes, you know I am as rash an entrepreneur as they come, very top line, positively relishing risk but I am learning from observing the way our property clients invest. I have two clients who invest in completely different ways. One looks at the spreadsheet and only buys if it meets her very strict criteria. One assesses the investment and uses her emotional barometer to invest. Both achieve excellent results! I think I am somewhere in between these two ladies. I like to scope out great investments for our Money Gym clients. I like a wide variety because we are all in different financial places and have more or less money and time to get started.

The wide variety of Experts I have on offer for you at our Property Extravaganza on Saturday 21st March includes:
* Someone buying for you in Manchester for very small sums – £5,000 for one or £11500 if you want to bulk buy in handfuls of five!
* Someone who will hold your hand while you learn to do it yourself so you don’t have to pay a fee next time unless you prefer to
* Someone who will show you that BMV still works – you buy better so you still put in relatively small deposits.
* Someone who will show you how to double your capital PLUS create an income within 2-6 years in the Caribbean and how that can be 100% funded
* Someone who will teach you how to use the money in your dull old pension and make investments with it via a SIPP and that this works for all our commercial property investments
* Someone who will show you how to buy houses for only £1
* And someone who will show you how to build a Unique global property portfolio where your initial capital investment is GUARANTEED.

I have 200 seats at the venue, the fabulous Cavendish Conference Centre where we were for our Brett McFall event last September. I thought I had 250 seats but the capacity turns out to be only 232 and I will need those 32 for my Money Gym team, the back of the room gang, the facilitators and mike runners and the speakers and their entourages so that’s only 200 seats available and I have sold 26 at the time of writing to the early adopters and to some new names I’ve not heard of before but I am looking forward to meeting on the day. If we sell out all 200 tickets, we will be able to donate £4347.82 to The Big Issue who are coming along on the day to collect a cheque. At the time of writing, that cheque would be for £565.21 – better than nothing but not quite what I had in mind. Will you help me to help the homeless please?

And I am having the most extraordinary luck in persuading each speaker to give me some prizes I can raffle on the day – so far this stash includes a holiday in one of the Unique properties, tickets for Harlequin’s box at Wembley so you can watch sport or music live, Rick Otton’s Cashflow Investor pack work £1997, a year’s property mentoring with me, a day out and lunch with my Property Boardroom, priceless mentoring sessions with each of our speakers, books and various other goodies. I’ve even got Martin Roberts off the telly!

Steve and I are working on this project and we are rather beside ourselves with excitement about it. I bought a book of pink raffle tickets today for £1.49 and it made me almost deliriously happy. My hallway is filling up with booty – books and chocolate money and million pound notes.

We do hope you will support the Money Gym fundraiser in aid of The Big Issue and book out 21st March in your diary and come along and learn something new, meet the Property Experts who recommend you buy in 2009 using one of their cunning schemes and help us to raise in excess of four thousand pounds for the homeless.


I’m so looking forward to seeing you there and sharing my new property secrets.


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Feb 16 2009

How Can I Do Better?

I was talking with a colleague recently about their impending Annual Appraisal Review meeting.

Almost every organisation has these reviews in some form or another and I don’t know many places where they are really appreciated or used to best effect for either employee or organisation.

It is always assumed or even explicitly stated that the purpose of such meetings is to

  • provide feedback on past performance and
  • encourage improvement of future performance.

Yeh… on occasion, with a really good Manager, this can feel almost true. But a good Manager is providing this feedback regularly anyway! Why would they/you wait for the annual appraisal?!

So if you’re serious about improving your personal performance, is there a good way to go about it?

How about you – Ask for feedback….

Now there’s daring! Ask your peers, ask your colleagues, ask your managers…

This might sound simple and it does require courage. However, it is very, very easy to get totally wrong!

I’ve been reading “What got you here won’t get you there” by Marshall Goldsmith – fascinating book and unusually, it’s the last few chapters that really made an impact for me.

Have you tried asking for feedback? Where do you start… “Am I doing a good job?”, “Could I be doing better?”.

People you are managing often feel the power dynamic – how can they honestly tell you what they feel could be better… it’s such an openended question and certainly not specific or focussed.

If you’re lucky, you might get someone brave enough, or arrogant enough to tell you what you’re doing wrong. It’s far more likely you will get comfirting platitudes about you’re doing a good job anyway… maybe a slightly embarrasssing smile or uncomfortable silence and then moving on with the business.

So how can you ask for feedback?

How about “I’m really serious about improving. How could I do better? Could you tell me just two things I might try?”

For some people, that would be limited enough and open enough… others might need a little time to think about it or even to share their thoughts later… no pressure…

What do you think? Would it work for you?

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Feb 14 2009

A Potted History of Valentine

Published by under Inspiration

This article was inspired by Martin Avis who also has an excellent ebook on how to write articles. Take a look – if you like the article you might like to read the book!

Long before there was a Saint Valentine to spice things up and bring some passion into the season, mid-February was an exciting time for Roman youths. As early as 400 years BC, the Romans took part in a special competition as an act of worship to their god of shepherds, Lupercus. Teenage women had their names put into a box and drawn at random by adolescent men. The ‘winners’ then found themselves legally paired for the next twelve months. Was this a recipe for friendship, lust or love? It did seem popular though!

In the third century AD, the militaristic emperor Claudius II put a stop to marriage for young men — because he took it into his head that single men could fight harder in battle.

A Christian bishop, Valentine, didn’t agree with his Emperor and went against the law, carrying on marrying young people until Claudius found out and first imprisoned him, and finally had him brutally executed on February 14th, 270.

While he was imprisoned, Valentine fell deeply in love with the daughter of his jailer and when he was finally taken to be killed, he wrote her a note which he ended with, ‘From your Valentine.’

Hearts for Valentine's Day
Valentine’s story provided a good excuse, and so, the Church, in AD 496, decided to get rid of the annual pairing off lottery run in the name of Lupercus the pagan god and so made some changes of their own to the rules of the event:

Henceforth, both the young men and the young women would randomly choose from the box, but instead of getting a year of companionship (and often lust), they drew the name of a Saint whose character they were obliged emulate over the coming twelve months.

Must have been quite a disappointment for the hot-blooded young Romans!

They named the day after Saint Valentine whose choice, 226 years after his execution, was intended more to displace the traditional god Lupercus than from any honest reverence towards love.

As so often happens, the public’s memory was stronger than new political ideology — particularly when unpopular and Saint Valentine’s name never really stopped being associated with lovers. The young Roman males, deprived of their lottery, began instead giving paper notes to the girls they fancied on February 14th.

And so, our modern love of distributing and receiving Valentines cards and messages was effectively begun over 1500 years ago!

The very first modern-day card that is still in existence is owned by the British Museum. This first proper Valentines card was sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415. He was a prisoner in the Tower of London at the time and so his emotions were probably quite heightened!

Five hundred years ago the Bishop of Geneva tried to reinstate the annual ‘live like a saint’ lottery, but unsurprisingly interest was low. February 14th was by then too firmly associated with lovers for the Church to successfully interfere.

In 1797 a British publisher, a man who would have done well in modern times, issued a booklet called ‘The Young Man’s Valentine Writer’ in which were hundreds of pre-written sentimental verses for the creatively challenged.

Anonymous Valentines cards not surprisingly started in Victorian times. Those outwardly straight-laced folks privately adored anything sensual and passionate, but outwardly were obliged to maintain an aura of respectful purity. As a consequence the verses in their cards became really quite filthy, but the authors remained hidden from behind their self-imposed anonymity.

The earliest known of Valentine’s cards in America, Esther Holland set a price of up to $35 for a single card. That was a fortune in 1870!

You’ve also noticed that love messages are traditionally ended with an ‘x’ – this is because in the days before people could generally read and write, it was legally acceptable for a person to draw a cross as their signature. To convey the effect of an oath, people would draw their cross and kiss it — much the same as they would kiss a Bible. Over time the hand-drawn X and the kiss became one and the same.

More recently

May you have a lovely Valentine’s day! X

This article was inspired by Martin Avis of Kickstart Daily – thanks Martin!

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Feb 13 2009

Manage, Influence and Motivate

Brilliant workshop yesterday at Royal Holloway. To Manage, Influence and Motivate you certainly need to master communication!

The day explored how we communicate meaning through our words and our body language. If you want to say “No”, words don’t help much when your body language says “If you push just a little harder I’ll give in!!”, most people can read that message loud and clear and yes, they push that little bit harder until we give in… How much better if our “No” meant no and our body language backed us up!

We discussed a number of books during the session:
I was really happy to recommend any of Macolm Gladwell’s books as an easy introduction to some very interesting areas. His latest, “Outliers” explores how ‘geniuses’ are made rather than genetic… his work has some profund implications about how we nurture our talented youngsters and what gifts we might be unknowingly throwing away. I’d probably recommend The Tipping Point and also Blink even more highly – but take a look to find out more about these books.

We also discussed another book “Taming Your Gremlin” by Rick Carson – an absolute classic that can show us how to free ourselves from negative thoughts that are often the root of our anxiety and insecurity! The amazing thing is – it’s oh so simple…

I didn’t mention a Nancy Kline during the workshop but I nearly did. We explored active listening as a means to communication and I can’t think of a better or more powerful way to listen than to use Nancy’s simple and startling wisdom.

And if you want to use language to influence, to persuade or even to understand more clearly, these are the books for you. Robert Cialdini has to be top of my list. Accessible, authoratative and amazingly entertaining. As you read it, scales will fall from your eyes as you see these techniques in use…

Rose Chelle-Charvet writes a more dense text but this is also a powerhouse. Maybe not for an idle interest but if you’re serious about taking your use of language to the next level….

We covered so much more during this workshop and the delegates – a wonderful and inspired bunch of Academics – brought their own wisdom in abundance… what a way to spend Thursday!

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Feb 11 2009

Human doing vs human having

How much do you have?

How much do you own?

Very strange, very straight questions and very un-British! Actually I’m not really interested in the answers as much as I’m keen to get you thinking about the question.

So much of our culture is focussed on owning things, possessions, property, businesses, assets… often we are measured by what we own and those individuals who own the most are said to be rich. Maybe we are more acutely aware of this in times of recession as the gap between “haves and have-nots” increases.

To counter this it is also said that true wealth is what you have left when money is gone – someone recently made redundant may not find much comfort in this.

In my role as a Money Gym Coach, working with people, and with myself, to achieve financial freedom, these two can be seen as setting up a tension, one being there to stop you having the other.

Recent research has cast more light on this… people were asked to recall a recent purchase made, specifically a purchase made to increase their happiness.

Then they were grouped into those where the purchase was an object, a thing, a possession. A second group had made a purchase of an event, an outing and occasion.

The bottom line is that, after the purchase, people responded more joy persisted, lasted, after they had purchased an experience. The joy of possessing an object faded more rapidly.

To experience something, particularly a shared experience, a holiday, a visit to the beach with friends, the joy of shared experience persisted, was remembered, lasted.

Do have a look at the report yourself as it does have some interesting aspects, but one thing is certain –

We find most pleasure, most joy in sharing a pleasurable experience.

So now it’s official – having a good time with a friend is good for you.

Laughing with friends So let’s do it!

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