Exceptional Talent

Hello, a few weeks ago I reviewed ‘Exceptional Talent’ by Mervyn Dinnen and Matt Alder for HR Director Magazine. Here’s my review…

In 1998, when I started my first HR job, Sex and the City was the most outrageous thing on telly, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love over email in a world that hadn’t even seen Facebook yet, and my goal of slick and shiny straight hair seemed an impossible dream.

At this time, one of my main duties was to administer the recruitment process.  Back in 1998 this was a pretty slow and expensive process.  Jobs were advertised in print (The Yorkshire Post) and if you missed the print deadline there was no option other than wait for the next week to come around.  Some people had started to use email to send in applications, but mostly there was a lot of opening of post and date stamping the applications.  This was my favourite bit, there was something satisfying about the thud of the stamp.  Not to mention the schadenfreude of the ‘missed deadline’ pile.  Don’t judge me, I was young.

It was a slow process and a fairly linear one. The only way that applicants found out about you or the company was through the job advert, direct contact with your product or service (or adverts about them) or they knew people who worked in your organisation.  We probably had a website, but what was on it I can’t remember and we definitely didn’t direct people to it to find out about what we were like to work with.

‘Exceptional Talent’ brings us right up to the present. Dinnen and Alder begin by laying out how the job search and everything that goes around it has evolved. The internet, jobs boards and most recently mobile completely changed the way in which people look for work as well as where they are when they are looking for work.

They cover a lot of ground quickly – globalization, automation, digitisation, flexible business models, disruption. As the jobs market has become noisier, it becomes harder to compete for talent.  It is harder for both candidates and employers to stand out from the crowd.  I’m imagining the online equivalent of a penguin colony, to the trained eye individuals stand out, but to the onlooker it’s just one great big bird cacophony.

The key task is set out early on and be warned, it isn’t a small one “The modern HR team has to cater for all expectations and preferences, in a way that is both diverse and inclusive, and enables all employees to deliver their best work”. Globalisation, automation and digitalisation – have resulted in exponential changes to the world, not just the way we work.  Individuals expect a recruitment process that is as slick as booking their holiday or buying a next day delivery on Amazon – the standards by which the employer is judged become ever higher.

In addition to the process of applying, the norms of communications have changed.  Transparency and authenticity are tricky to achieve, but this book makes the case that mastering these brings great advantages to those who successfully align the employer brand with the reality of working for a company. Trusting your employees to be advocates for your company on social media can be a leap of faith that not every organisation is ready for yet.

This is a world in which, if you want to find the ‘Exceptional Talent’, more investment is required to engage people who may not even be considering working for you and the job that they are right for may not even exist yet.  The book encourages us to recruit to find “growth mindsets […]  curiosity, courage and a restless spirit” and says “Talent is about the people who are right for the role and right for the organisation, irrespective of background or trajectory.”  I would have be interested to hear more from the authors explicitly on diversity, the benefits of putting together diverse teams and their tips on how to cultivate diversity in social networks.

This book contains great practical advice and useful case studies. It sets out the new context of finding, attracting and retaining talent  – attraction, hiring, on-boarding, developing and retaining talent.  The why and the benefits of doing these are clearly laid out.  If you haven’t even started thinking about this stuff yet, start with this book.  Even if you’re not recruiting it is about ‘Exceptional Talent’ and engagement in this new context and it will definitely get you thinking.

These days it’s incredibly unlikely that you will fall in love over email, although you never know, ‘The One’ might might buried somewhere in the daily avalanche.  Facebook is past it’s ‘cool by’ date, home only to us oldies and I never did  manage the frizz free look – I just decided to stop worrying about it.   In their conclusion, the author’s quote the Futurist, Jonathan Macdonald, “The only thing that is certain these days is change […] even the speed of change is changing!” on that note, you had better get reading quickly.

To see more book reviews n stuff from other people head over to – https://www.thehrdirector.com/book-review-exceptional-talent-attract-acquire-retain-best-employees-mervyn-dinnen-matt-alder/


#changeboardFT No ordinary HR conference…

As Margret Heffernan closed yesterday’s Changeboard Future Talent conference she said ‘You should be confused by now.’ Or words to that effect, I think – to be honest my head was spinning with questions and ideas by this point, which is always the best way to leave a conference.

Having slept since below is, for the minute, what the day helped to clarify for me.

(This is my personal take on the day, the words and ideas are a mix of the infinitely more qualified speakers that I heard.  Although I haven’t always been able to credit all the ideas to individuals please check out the Future Change website to find out more & who did say what! See below for links to further info)

Get out of your bubble…  Are you feeling comfortable and cosy? Does everyone around you pretty much back up your view of the world? Then you are in the wrong place.  Brexit, Trump etc We need to listen and engage with those whose views might offend us. In our bubble we might be feeling the benefits of globalisation, but others clearly are not.

Professor Veronica Hope Hailey talked about ‘Benevolence’ as one of the four drivers of trust.  She asked,  do think your benevolent? Do you think others see you as benevolent?

She reminded us that within the U.K. We have 8 of the very poorest areas in Europe. Many people have felt disempowered & disenfranchised. I really have understand what others think, however unpalatable their view is to me.

We are all artists now. We need to master different skills and a different mindset for the future. Everything is being disrupted and changing at a pace never experienced before. No one has the answers, however we do have quality research and data in this country and I need to use it more to inform me.

The skills needed to solve the problems now are not what we have, traditionally, been trained for in Education or the workplace. There is no right answer.  We need to all be more like artists who, in creating something for the first time, understand the bravery and vulnerability that it takes to do this. We don’t all need to be creative – but we need to be open to and create safe spaces for others to trust enough.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you, remember “[AI] doesn’t see the colour of your collar” Tom Watson, MP

Listen. Listen. Listen.  From our speakers from incredibly varied backgrounds this was the constant – Listen.  Create space to listen. Create safe spaces to listen.  Whether you are the CEO of Easy Jet wanting to know what’s really happening in your company to rebuild trust or a Creative Director bringing out the best in your performers – good listening is the key to building that trust. Trust is the key to enabling people to take leaps of thinking to create things for the first time.  Creating things for the first time is what we will need to solve the problems and seize the opportunities of the future.

Get ready to feel uncomfortable.

Other stuff you might find interesting…

www.ftconference.changeboard.com for more info on Future Talent and vids of the speakers.

A ‘Problogue’ from Perry Timms a great overview of the event and I’m looking forward to more blogs from Perry!

#ChangeBoardFT on twitter  Check out the twitter feed for some great insights and quotes from the day!

Want to meet more out of the ordinary people doing more than your average people stuff? Check out Connecting HR Leeds, 11th April, 6pm, Leeds City Centre – click here! Now with added CIPD West Yorkshire!  Or check out a Connecting HR / L&D event near you!

View story at Medium.com


View story at Medium.com


View story at Medium.com


Something will happen.

One of my mentors has a saying that I find reassuring when work (or life) is on the brink of tipping over into crazy, busy, madness – 

“something will happen”

To interpret the statement as lackadaisical (and some do) is a mistake.

It doesn’t mean that we simply sit back and wait for something to happen.  That we don’t have a plan, or don’t care about the results or outcome. 

Instead, it demonstrates an implicit trust in the skills and abilities of those around us, that their collective effort will result in the outcome that “something will happen”.

It means that I  have confidence in myself that I will put things in place, I will ask for help, that I have already done the groundwork, to ensure that “something will happen.”

It means that I am not sweating the small stuff because I have a vision and a plan.  I know what my building blocks are and they are grounding me, and my team, so that “something will happen”.

It means that my head is clear and my vision is focussed.  This means that I can ask the best questions, really listen to the answers & make the best descision at that time so that the right something happens.

So… next time things are getting a bit crazy, remember – “Something will happen”



CIPD West Yorkshire Event – Trends in the city


I am very much looking forward to the next CIPD West Yorkshire Branch event on ‘Trends in the City – Leeds’ 6th December, 6pm.  More details & booking here – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/trends-in-the-city-leeds-tickets-29087134402

Not immediately obvious as a HR topic I realise – so why bother?

The last time I listened to Simon Foy, Head of Policy and Intelligence at Leeds City Council, talk on this subject it was at a ‘Leaders for Leeds’ breakfast meeting which I had arranged to take place above a pub.  As ice breakers go – trying to break into a pub at 8am in the morning is a good one.

The session attracted a range of people from across sectors and led to an challenging discussion and some good connections – once we got into the pub and found the tea & coffee.

This time for CIPD West Yorkshire I’m looking forward to making more connections and another challenging discussion.  I am looking forward to thinking about how Leeds is thriving and changing city and region, yet despite this the stubborn economic, social and health inequalities remain.

How does this affect the work we do and how can we make a difference in this context?

Hope to see you there!

CIPD West Yorkshire Branch event on ‘Trends in the City – Leeds’ 6th December, 6pm.  More details & booking here – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/trends-in-the-city-leeds-tickets-29087134402


Prof Sir Carey Cooper

Q&A with prof Sir Carey Cooper – Growing your health & wellbeing agenda.

Need to get assessment centres to value the soft skills of line managers. Generally we don’t recruit people managers, we recruit people who contribute to the bottom line – even if they burn others out.  How do we set up recruitment?  part of a strategic plan.  

Flex working – a lot of people want this. Do you have a menu of flexible working? What proportion of people use it? Who is using it? How do we get everyone who wants it, taking it?  

Why isn’t HR getting hold of issues? e.g. Long hours cultures.  Answering emails on eve, weekends & holidays.  The uk has the longest working hours in Europe by far in the developed world.   70% people working about contracted hours. If you consistently work long hours (40+ hours per week) you will get ill.  Consistently is the key factor & the danger that it becomes part of the norm.

Flexible working to combat the long hours culture – you’re (HR)in charge of that. 

Q- how do you reconcile flex working and emails being blocked?

A- the companies who are blocking emails are where they don’t have a flex culture. All of us control our working hours really? E.g. Liverpool City Council banned emails within the same building .  HR need to get in control of the tech. People are afraid to apply for flex working because of the perception that it means they are less committed – men in particular.

Q- theme is a more progressive approach to work culture.  At the coal face – would seem to be anoverall tendancy towards hierarchical, male, approach to leadership? 

A-agree we should have more women/ more EQ at the top of the system. We’re seeing a change. Senior male biz people admitting they have trouble with the pace of life – depression.  If we had more EQ line managers, the better.  We need those people at the top.  Need more HR people to push up the system, to the top.

Q- realising the position we’re in is unsustainable, how to tackle?

A- the ROI is already out there. Productivity stakes. Productivity is measured by output. My line manager affects me the most.  Organisations believe that the most effective way is to tackle this is through line manager, but investment in training is reducing.  Maybe one of solutions for HR is to concentrate on influencing the CFO.  HR need to get more political within the organisation- e.g. Show the CFO of what lack of strategy is costing.

Q- impact of increase in freelance working? 

A- all of us are in a sense freelancers.  In way we’re all short term contracts.   People don’t like the stress of working in an organisation so people go freelance.  Freelancers are,at least, in control – but are they really in control?  Do you choose your clients? Do you choose what & when you do? Have to earn a living.
Q- there’s a lot of change in the world? How can we manage change better?

A- people don’t manage change well.  If you’re going to do change, don’t tell & get people on board. Ask them – is this a good idea, what are the pros & cons? Engage people in the change & let them decide. We don’t trust people enough to come up with good solutions to problems. Get people in focus groups. 

Challenge – how do we keep the ‘human’ in the process? 

Change will never be effective unless the people who will be effected  design the change.

I blogged this live. I’ve tried to be accurate and not let my views creep in. They may have. There are almost certainly spelling / grammatical errors! 


50 questions…

Ok, so this has been in my ‘drafts’ folder for some time.  I keep changing my mind on the answers, I reserve the right to change my mind later today, tomorow and as many times as I like. Core things that I don’t think I will change my mind on for things that are important to the future:

  • We all need to actively seek out those who are different to us, who think differently to us & keep our networks diverse. Even those whose opinion offends us.  Especially those whose opion offends us.  We may never agree, but we need to listen.
  • Tackling inequality is key to everyone’s success and ability to thrive. I don’t just mean just the ‘protected characteristics’ – we need to consider economic equality, equality of information, skills / motivation to question that information, basic digital skills & competencies, a framework of employment law that fits old & new jobs & probably lots of other things I haven’t thought of.
  • The future is already here & it is everyone’s business, make sure you are paying attention & don’t be afraid to fail if you are going to work effectively.

 1.      What roles or tasks can’t be automated?

Anything where actual human interaction adds value to the experience – whether that is a product or a service.  People can tell if it’s not real.  This episode of ‘Digital Human’ here discusses the micro work that fixes the bits that AI can’t do & the implications for jobs. Things may have moved on a bit since this was first broadcast, but still worth a listen also to find out what the invisible Girlfriend service is all about, but that’s a whole other blog.

2.      What roles shouldn’t be automated?

Anything where human interaction makes people  / other creatures happier.

3.      Financial markets, left to their own devices, aren’t good at accommodating a greater social purpose – do we need to take more of an interventionist stance to ensure greater societal benefit?

Who would be making the intervention?  We need enough individuals to be bold, take responsibility for informed choices & create movements that make change possible.  In this way they will hold the markets to account.   See leadership lessons from the dancing man – here.

4.      At what point do we stop running out of corporate scandals? How can we get more proactive at asking difficult questions of organisations as employees and consumers?

People have to care enough and be connected enough to ask the difficult questions.  Even then I don’t think we will ever run out of corporate scandals, but maybe we will get better at holding them to account.

5.      Does an organisation with a social purpose have an advantage or a limitation?

If measuring by positive social impact, as well as money, an advantage and key to working out how to deal with “a sustained  period of low growth and high inequality” (thersa.org) It is, ultimately, better for everyone to widen the definition of economic success to ‘inclusive growth’ – that is growth that addresses both the economic and social.

6.      What work might be most impacted by changes in international border policy or digitisation making borders redundant?

Border patrol? Security? Fences?  I’m guessing on this one – can you tell?

7.      Who is accountable for my wellbeing?

Me, mostly.  Exceptions are that sometimes I might not well enough to do that. Also, not everyone has equal access to resources & information  and equal confidence to access them.  Not everyone is equally confident to or motivated to question what they are being told.

I once was on a well known diet and, never mind loose weight, I put it on.  Turns out all the ‘healthy’ food you can eat is full of sugar.  I didn’t question the diet – I trused the industry that was selling me this stuff.  Turns out eating as much ‘fat free’ (sugar full) yoghurt as you like isnt good for you!

As an employer I am responsible for safe working conditions and not exploiting others who are vulnerable.

8.      If my employer is responsible for making sure I’m not under undue stress – then am I responsible for managing my diet to ensure I’m delivering peak performance?

I am responsible for my diet*.  I am responsible for being able to carry out my job to the agreed acceptible standards.  Noticing that I am under stress is a joint responsibility.

*see also q 7.

9.      Can you automate creativity – and if so will we still only feel something is creative if it is produced by a human?

No and yes. Was my first answer and then I remembered that an Algorave is a thing. Now I’m not sure.

10.  How do we balance the concepts of diversity with the drive for cultural fit?

We make our culture one of valuing diversity.  We reward and celebrate diversity of ideas, approaches and people.

11.  Is the Gen X,Y,Z & millennial terminology helpful for understanding or lazy stereotyping?

Stereotyping gets us through the day without having to think about every single interaction.  But, we need to be aware that we are doing it and be open minded enough to ensure that we don’t have a fixed mindset about people and that we keep our networks diverse – here’s a blog I made earlier.

12.  What’s the point of work? To get happiness? Make a difference? Recognition? Will the point of work change and how might it do so?

Money.  Social.  Purpose.

The value that work brings may change.  The value will be in the things that can’t be downloaded or what they bots can’t do – and that is rapidly changing too.

How to survive work in the 21st Century   (thank you to @mjcarty for sharing this article)

Humans need new skills in a post AI world

13.  How do we step away from a 9-5 working week construct together?

Some jobs have never been 9-5 – hospitality, security, being One Direction.  Where they are not 9-5 we need to ensure support in place to allow everyone who wants to / is able to participate in work.

Equally, where jobs don’t have to be 9-5 this can be a good thing for all sorts of reasons – health, caring for dependents, traffic.  For these jobs we need to stop managing when and where and start managing outcomes.

14.  How much longer will income and wage inequality be tolerated by those on the wrong side of the stats?

Until they realise that they have a voice. See Brexit.

15.  How many more years of casual sexism in workplaces do we have before that dies a death?

Too many. Although more of us are now stopping to notice -See the Everyday Sexism project http://everydaysexism.com

16.  If whole chunks of your life are viewable on the internet will we become more tolerating of mistakes at work?

or… do we get more savvy about curating our life and images we want others to see?

17.  The image of everyone working on the beach is an attractive one – but what does this mean for introverts or people with mobility issues?

I don’t want to work on the beach.  I dont think anyone really wants to work on the beach, unless they’re a marine biologist or have a beach bar. Or hire out sunbeds.

18.  Do I own my data or am I just a data point?

Unless I haven’t read the small print, I own my data and my data is valuable.   Always read the small print.

19.  You can already automate ‘congratulations’ messages on Linkedin. How much effort can you remove from a gesture before it becomes meaningless?

If I have to put zero effort or thought into the act, not even pushing a button.

20.  If I can outsource work cheaply to another country is that simply the free market in action (and an easy decision) or should I care more about the wellbeing of people I already employ?

You should care about the people you employ, wherever they are.  You should care more about the people you already employ, wherever they are.

21.  If work is to become more transient (the gig economy) then who takes responsibility for long term capability building of people? If I’m only with an organisation for 6 months then why would they invest in me?

Me. But I might charge more for what I am doing.

Also what is the role of wider society, law & education to encourage people to think differently?

“We have no idea what the jobs of the future will be. Jobs that once seemed secure no longer are. But the more that societies can invest in human capital – including the ability to be adaptive – the better we can adjust, and the better the outcome for society as a whole.”  Hamish McRae @TheIndyBusiness September 2016

22.  The more we understand about the mind the easier it is to manipulate it. How do we build in ethical safeguards within organisations?

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. We need to give even more weight to the values that drive our decision making and keep a eye on the future – a bit of healthy catastrophizing perhaps to ask ‘what if…?’  If only John Hammond had thought it through…

(I know this is much used, but I can’t think of a better way to sum it up. Also any excuse to revisit Jurassic Park is a good one now that I have mostly conquered my phobia of raptors.)

23.  How much do we really know about the organisations that curate the world’s information and present it back to you and how much do you need to know?

Not enough.  More. Seriously – get interested, keep your networks diverse, this is shaping your world, your thoughts and values.  Take the time to ask questions, especially of the things that you agree with.

24.  Is happiness a legitimate business and economic outcome?


25.  What is the best way for groups to create influence and make a difference in a digital age?

View groups as individuals motivated around an issue / passion.  Harness this and you can make stuff happen.  Whether or not others agree with the stuff that you are making happen is a different matter.

26.  Why do organisational IT solutions still tend to be more expensive yet less useful than consumer solutions?

I don’t know. Just use the consumer solutions.

27.  Does the age of automation mean that a universal basic payment to all is required?

Or should it be required anyway, regardless of automation? Has it become more urgent because of automation?

Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week?   @johnharris1969 The Guardian April 2016

28.  When we do save time where does it go? For all the automation and efficiency I don’t hear many people saying they have more time to relax

Work expands to fill the time available?

Ego/ Busy = important?

29.  What aspects of our behaviour is it appropriate to legislate for? Is restricting access to company communications after hours unnecessarily interfering or saving us from ourselves?

That wouldn’t work for me, I don’t work regular hours.  However I only send emails in regular hours.  Be considerate to others, especially if you’re a role model  for others.

30.  Will you ever want a consoling hug from a robot?

No.  Not even a Gary Barlow bot.

31.  Why are so many organisations already designed and led as though the workers are robots?

I genuinely don’t know why we want to take the humanity out of work – but it happens, maybe its easier in the short term.  Taylorism and scientific management led us to treat people as just more cogs in the process.

In the long term more awesome things happen when you leave the humanity in, but it is messier.

32.  What does not having to leave your home to work, socialise or shop do to fitness levels over time?

That depends on what you let it do. Shirley?

33.  What are the chances the world left by this generation will be better than the one left to us?

As a hopeless optimist I believe people generally want good things to happen. Awful things have always happened, young people always want that not to happen.  Older people need to reconnect with their younger self.

34.  Do children entering school need to read or write – or will those be surplus skills by the team they leave school?

Of course. My five year old likes pokemon go (bad parenting) but he LOVES anything by Roald Dahl too.  Yes, they need to read & write.

35.  What are the issues that we are sleepwalking towards now that we will regret not taking action on sooner? (thanks to Siobhan Sheridan at the NSPCC for this)

As parents, our children hating that we have  posted every aspect of their lives on Facebook (or similar).

Not recognising & calling out  the pervasiveness of misogyny on social media.

Being surprised that massive parts of our populations are pissed off when our social media feeds are full of Kardashians etc

36.  What are the opportunities that we will regret taking?
37.  How much of our enhanced technical capability will be channeled into solving societal problems and how much into increasing profits?

That’s up to us? I’m lucky, I get to see &I work with people who are passionate about solving societal problems, tech is one way of opening up all sorts of opportunities.

38.  How do you get a mortgage in the ‘Gig Economy’?

I’ll be honest, I don’t know. Financial services need to keep up with changes to work.

39.  Does the Sharing Economy really share – or does it just collect a smaller margin from a larger volume of workers that are dependent? If we called it the Snaring Economy would it be such a popular concept?

No, that wouldn’t be so popular. It’s a nice, romantic, idea. Is it maybe alongside the rise in the ‘mumprenuer’? I know far too many women suddenly made ‘redundant’ when they have children who have no choice but to go down this route.  Not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity due to inflexible working practices & mindsets.

40.  When Prof Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and others describe AI as a potentially extinction level threat why do people think they are overstating it? When did we start thinking we had a better grasp on big issues than Stephen Hawking?


41.  How confident are you really that the Financial Services industry is now running as it should.

Not confident.

42.  How can we help design roles and organisations that make the most of people?

Stop ‘designing’  roles. Create / encourage a culture where people make the most of themselves for the benefit of the organisation.  Stop giving bad manager processes that make it easy to stick people in boxes. While I’m at it – do something about the bad managers.

43.  What are the implications of the current level of gender imbalance within the tech sector over the next decade?

Everyone uses tech. Without a major part of the population in that conversation how can it be developed in a way that works for all?

44.  Much of the technology we utilise on a day to day basis would struggle to meet most people’s definition of an ethical supply chain. When do we start making different purchasing decisions?

When we stop to question the impact of our purchasing decisions. Many people don’t , some people do. We need more people to question more – I include myself.

45.  What are the best sources of information on the changing world of work and how can we ensure the independent voices are heard when organisations with the biggest budgets will be looking to exploit this space?
46.  People frequently talk about wanting more equality and higher living standards for others – yet how many people would give up, for instance, 25% of their salary in order to improve the living standards of others?

Honestly? probably not many. However, we can all contribute to closing the gap in terms of money, but also health equality and equality of opportunity.  In my city there are massive differences in life expectancy from one area to another. The reasons are complex. Joining up public services / third sector will help. Working better together will help. I won’t lie, a bit more money would probably help too.  Basic Universal Income could help.

47.  How will we filter content effectively in the future and how open to abuse is that filtering process?

Totally open to abuse. We have a responsibility to keep our networks diverse & seek out people with different opinions. We are all subject to being ‘lazy & narcissistic’ (Ibarra) If we are not vigilant the algorithms feed this and we don’t even notice. People programme the computers & people have agendas.

48.  How do the business role models of the future act?

With integrity.  Not exploiting the most vulnerable for profit. Working to close the gaps.

49.  People cry when their pets die. What will be the first piece of technology that you cry over the loss of?

I look back with fondness at fighting over the massive BBC computer at school so that we could programme a ‘turtle’ to draw a pentagon, but I can’t imagine crying over any tech.  However I haven’t experienced tech with personality, yet.

I’ve seen starships...

50.  If you had one contribution to make to making things just a little better over the next decade what would it be?

Listen better.
The end.

Lazy bones

In case you missed it in the 90s – The aim of the Bacon factor game is to start with any actor or actress who has been in a movie and connect them to Kevin Bacon in the smallest number of links possible (or Bacon number). You can play at The Oracle of Bacon

The point is that taking Kevin Bacon as the centre of the network (that being actors who have been in movies) he is a pretty good centre and is well connected, he has been in lots of movies. There are better connected actors and not so well connected, but somehow nothing sounds a right as ‘Bacon factor’.

If you were to play this game, with you at the centre – what would your networks look like? Would you be a good centre, or not?

Theres a ‘thing’ that I’ve been thinking about recently. Herminia Ibarra in ‘Act like a leader, think like a leader’ calls it the narcissistic & lazy syndrome.  Describing our tendency to use ‘like me’ indicators when forming relationships or connections she says that this syndrome is hard wired and difficult to overcome. Difficult, but not impossible.

“People are apt to have relationships with people like themselves and are unlikely to have overlapping networks.”

To paraphrase – To set yourself apart and make your networks future facing you need to identify your weak contacts, that come from outside your current world.  These relationships will never evolve naturally, you will have to step outside your current world.

Lamenting (quite rightly) the lack of diversity at conferences Sukh pabial asks some open questions in his blog – here  Including –

“In this day of 2016, how can we not take the idea of diversity more seriously?”

As an organiser of events of all sizes I am aware of the constant challenge, who do we have on the stage? Who should be in the room who isn’t in the room?

The problem to overcome is that sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know.  I have particular life experiences & values, my close friends reflect and share many those experiences & values. It takes conscious effort to extend beyond ‘like me’.  Some days I feel a bit vulnerable, I don’t feel like talking to anyone – never mind pushing myself to talk to people where it takes a bit of effort.

But, the only person I can blame if I fail to broaden my networks is myself.  So, I’m going to take onboard Sukh’s points and add them to my usual event checklist, I’m going to share those around my team.

I’m going to pause and notice when I’m falling into the ‘narcissistic & lazy’ trap.

I’ve started to consciously make more effort to broaden my networks, by attending things I wouldn’t normally go to.

Top tip

Use twitter lists to make sure you don’t lose track of connections outside your ‘echo chamber’.

Name the list after the event you are at if (like me) you worry about causing offence with your list name!

Make an effort and check your lists regularly, join in conversations or just say ‘Hi!’


Make the effort.  Step outside your world.  Gradually you will build your connections.  You will have a greater number of people that you know, like and trust to draw upon and who know, like and trust you and invite you in.

Do this and your world will become more inclusive and richer for it.

Don’t be a lazy bones.Untitled design-11

Here are a few bacony treats to help to get you in the ‘getting out there mood’…

Footloose  I learnt some of my best moves from this.

Enjoy some Modern day Bacon here.

Read all this and still think you might like to work with me? Check out my free coaching offer – here!