Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Do you learn information or do you practise a skill? What skill will you practise in 2015?

What is on your list of goals for 2015?

I recently met someone who was studying at University.  It made me realise that curious people love learning information.  I am a self confessed course junky.  I love learning new information.  However some things cannot be learned in books. Some things we need to experience and do. If it's presenting we need to put into practise speaking in front of different crowds and crafting our message. If it's communicating we need to understand assertiveness in action. We need to be skilled at being consistent in our communication.  Understand the detail of the words we choose to say.  If it's selling and negotiating we need to plan and put the plan into action. Action and Practise is key.

I have been a professional actress and performed amongst other places, the National Theatre with some of the best UK directors.  I often do voice overs and feel very skilled at doing that because my skills have been constantly honed and practised.  However my skills at performing a Shakespearian character may need brushing up.  My dear friend, Michele Moran however is a true acting professional, she performs regularly and her skills are honed.  She would easily and skilfully perform a lead Shakespearian character on any stage.  She's constantly practising her skill and art. 

The same applies to athletics and exercising.  I ran the London marathon in 2005 in a  reasonable 4 hours 23minutes.  I regularly ran 10k runs.  I could and do run 5k runs but I couldn't run a 10k or a marathon tomorrow, I'd need to practise my skills more regularly by running two or three times a week.  I know it will take me about 3 weeks to start "remembering" my skills again, get hooked and starting being able to think about the detail. The first few weeks will be just getting through it.

Some amateurs practise regularly.  I've been wondering what the difference between an amateur and professional is.  The official idea is the difference between being paid and not being paid. However I think it's about the passion for detail.  Amateurs often think they're very good at a skill but they don't consistently practise it or get good at the detail.  A professional can perform a skill and a task very well even when they're not motivated to do it.   A professional is constantly improving and working on the small details.  My friend, Bob Cairns is a top violin player and has coached Nicola Benedetti. Bob plays his violin every day and so the sound he achieves from his violin is exquisite and the speed of his fingers jaw dropping.

So practising theory is essential.  It's not the courses you go on this year it's what you learn to put into practise that counts.  Ask yourself what do I want to get good at then,  find out how you can hone and practise the skill you need to improve. Not once.  Not twice but every day or at least two or three times a week.  This is the way to be an outstanding professional in what you do.

Remember if you did a presentation last January, you may need to practise presenting to smaller groups regularly.  If you're managing difficult people, you may need to practise your consistent behaviour and language patterns.  If you're wanting to sell and negotiate more effectively you may need to network regularly with potential clients and consciously negotiate and understand your ideal settlement zone in lots of situations e.g. family, friends, market stalls!

Learning is addictive.  Being able to put it into practise is not only addictive, it gets results.  It will move you closer to your ideal success. So go on practise!

Friday, 26 September 2014

TEDxBrixton - the Power of Delivery

I'm  very excited to be doing some coaching with TEDxBrixton this Sunday.

I have delivered presentation training for over 15 years yet I still get excited about helping people deliver powerfully, reduce nerves and learn new techniques.

Here are 10 things to think about when delivering a talk:

1. Start and finish powerfully.  How you start and finish are remembered more than the middle section.  Grabbing the audiences' attention and knowing where you are heading is key to a powerful talk. I'll never forget the beginning of Aimee Mullin's Ted talk when she showed her designer legs, including a pair of legs by Alexander McQueen (the last pair on the right).
2. Be aware of your body language.  Coming across as open, engaging and authoritative is essential to get your audience on your side.  If you video yourself when you deliver your talk, you can get an idea of how you look and if you have any mannerisms that are distracting.  This is much better than watching yourself in the mirror which can be distracting and unrealistic.
3. Understand what to do with your hands.  There are more neurological pathways between the brain and the hand than any other part of our body so we often become over-conscious of them when we talk.  We explore the best ways to use your hands to back up your talk. Generally open is good and pointing is bad.
4. Get into the right mindset.  So much of confidence is sending out the right energy.  Getting your head in the right mindset is essential.  There are lots of ways of helping your head think positively: coming up with positive messages; reminding yourself of positive situations in the past; and using powerful posture to change your mindset. For example the power poses that Amy Cuddy talks about in her TED talk.
5. Use your focus.  Where you focus is key to how people listen to you.  If people think you won't look at them, their brain may start to wander. Keep your audience listening by looking at them regularly.
6. Enliven your tone. Often people think that if their tone is flat when they speak it's because they sound like that all the time.  Often it's not the case.  Often people are much more engaging when they talk naturally.  We find ways to encourage variety in your tone.  We  use your written messages to ensure your tone is emotive and interesting to listen to.
7. Breath as you speak.  Strange but people often forget to breath deeply when they are talking.  It's so useful if you can learn to do it because deep breath helps you relax more.  Meaning the more you talk the more relaxed you become. We explore how you breath and how to improve your relaxation through breath.
8.  Energise the room. Energy can be ephemeral, however in performance and presentations it is essential to engage a room.  Energising your talk is actually quite a technical exercise about how you use your hands and voice.
9.  Make sure they can hear you.  This is not just about volume.  As the Greek amphitheatres can show you, it's possible to whisper and be heard at the back of the room. Much of it is ensuring your articulation is athletic. If you are aware of your consonants and vowels and sound them out,  it's much clearer what you're saying.  Tongue twisters are great at helping with this.
10.  Be congruent.  Congruence is a rather horrid word but an essential technique.  It's a way of making all the things come together e.g. your body language backing up your message; your hands supporting the words and your tone demonstrating the feelings you want your audience to feel.

So if you think people are born good speakers, think again.  All the great speakers work on their delivery to make it look effortless.  Look out for TEDxBrixton's talks to see how the team do on the night.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

10 reasons how Scotland got power before the vote

From tomorrow morning Scotland will negotiate for more power.  Power that has been promised, even if they vote NO.  So how did Scotland’s referendum turn around from No Chance (22% in 2012) to Too Close to Call (48% or more today) ? I go through 10 reasons why.

1.      The Power of Yes – The Yes Campaign managed to negotiate the right word – people are more likely to vote for a positive than a negative

       2.    The initial Negotiation – at the Initial negotiation Alex Salmond – with the polls at 22% wanted Devo Max – increased powers to Scotland on the ballot paper.  David Cameron refused from his confident position.  I wonder how he feels about that now – with Devo Max being offered as the alternative to Yes!

       3.     Never saying Never.  Galvanizing the disenchanted.  Allegedly the No campaign concentrated on the usual voters.  The Yes campaign went out to find new voters – again at the negotiation this tactic was set – with the guarantee that 16 year olds would be able to vote for their country’s future. But the Yes campaign didn’t stop there – they went out to find the dis-enfranchised.  Those who had never voted before and got them engaged in the debate.  It is for this reason that on 18th September, as all the residents of Scotland go to vote, no pollster is confident of the outcome. Because there is nothing to compare it to. No-one can even guess how these voters think. 

       4.     Lethargy and complacency are not as powerful as humility and passion. Some people say they don’t’ like Alex Salmond because he’s arrogant.  However the passion of the Yes campaign cannot be denied.  I would argue because he was so far back in the polls to start with – most of the rest of the country thought “there’s no way they’ll win” That arrogance could lose the United Kingdom Scotland

       5.     Know your opponent.  As a Scot living in England this is where I believe the No campaign underestimated the other side.  I know a lot of Scots were part of the No campaign, but there seemed a misinterpretation of how Scots’ culture translates itself.  A lot of it, is in it’s humour.  If you are patronizing to a Scot – beware the wrath! You will be pulled up immediately.  We don’t like being told how to do things.

If you tell us you will give us something, we will tell you that we can take it ourselves.  So when NO politicians said “We will give you a voice” the YES campaigners said “No thanks, we’ve got one already.  It’s not for you to give”   The NO campaigners didn’t understand the stubborn, confident Scot they saw before them.  Numerous linguistic gaffe’s were made throughout the campaign.

      6.     Get your messages right. Consistency of messaging is key in any campaign.  The Yes has been consistent – the only thing that changed at the end was an extension of the message: “Yes, it’s in your hands”. The No campaign became Better Together, then No Thanks then Lets Stick together.  There were too many messages – hence the reduction of social media effectiveness I believe.

Getting your message right is also about making sure the message can’t be tarnished.  Another gaffe of the No campaign was the advert setting up a “wee wumman” who “didnae know any better”.  A huge backlash came and the Better Together ad then became a translation of the NO Campaigns subconscious – or at least the YES’s translation of that subconscious.  The YES campaign took control of their brand.

For a while in London I wasn’t sure who’s brand NO THANKS was.  I heard it used by both camps. “ Westminster – no thanks”.  The Saltire with NO thanks written on it. The message was muddied. It didn’t work.

The YES campaign however was slick.  The video using short sentences, said with the UK Flag in the back and then said backwards, turning the NO message into a YES was brilliant on so many levels.  First of all it turned their message round from NO to YES shockingly and cleverly, Secondly it went from a negative to a positive. Thirdly it connected to our Scottish heritage of Poetry, music and creativity – a place where Scots feel strong. 

       7.     Get your delivery right.  I like Alistair Darling. However despite his huge career success, his ability to present powerfully is not as technically crafted as Alex Salmonds’
a.    Darling points, Alex Salmond smiles
b.    Darling gets het up, Alex Salmond stays calm
c.     Darling stays attached to his notes and the podium, Salmond comes out from behind the podium confidently – he opens up to the audience
d.    Darling forgets the names of the questioners, Salmond uses them pointedly but sparingly
e.    Darling sticks to a few points, Salmond has constructed arguments for all. 
f.      In the first debate Darling’s reputation of being a bit too serious and boring stood to his favour when he  came out impassioned.  The reason the pundits gave him the win was their shock at his energetic delivery. 
g.     In the second debate, Salmond slightly increased his passion but still remained stately and in his calmness got Darling to make a gaff about the currency.  Darling admitted Scotland could use it. Alex Salmond in fact simply delivered the way he had done in the first debate but his time there was no shock value.

      8.     Don’t look desperate.  In the last week the main campaigner Darling has been replaced by Gordon Brown. It reeks of desperation. Or people believing they can do a better job. It’s not working together.  They are not living their brand. Where before the message changed, this time the messenger has changed.

 Also seeing the normally dour Gordon Brown with his new fervor, doesn’t seem authentic.  I do believe Gordon Brown is an empassionted man but we’re not used to seeing it.

Salmond and Sturgeon however seem closer and more together than ever. 

       9.     Never underestimate the power of the people.  No-one knows what the “never voted” will vote.  They are the secret weapon.  But of which side, we’ll only know tomorrow. What we do know is the YES camp won in the social media stakes

As reported in the London Metro (Thursday 18th Sept 14) 500,000 more #VoteYes and #YesScotland have been posted on Twitter than the #BetterTogether  No campaign tag. 

The independence campaign has 258,000 likes on facebook with the Unionists on 182,000

      10.  The tide of change, the tipping point, the law of social proof and the law of scarcity, the zeitgeist is a powerful tide, best caught early. The law of social proof is where people are more likely to go with the majority vote – if they see other people doing it they are more likely to do it.  Especially if it’s by people they like.  The law of scarcity is when people are likely to buy because they think the ‘deal’ may run out.  Because the vote is so tight, everyone knows their vote could be the one that tips the balance so the momentum to vote is high.

With momentum for political engagement this high, it is an exciting time for politician’s to re-engage with voters.

Tomorrow we may well see the political debates in Ireland, England and Wales heating up. They have been simmering the last couple of days. 

But this is only the first step for Scotland.  Now the really hard work begins.  Because now the negotiations start.  No matter what the vote.

How the two sides have positioned themselves will have to be seen through.  This political tide has just started to flow. Who has caught the wave early and positioned themselves well for those negotiations, time will tell.

What we do know,  as well as negotiations for Scotland’s future, we are also in a campaign for the next government, to be voted in a short 8 months. We are entering a political revival and as a Londoner I’m excited to see how we all re-engage in politics on all sides of the present United Kingdom’s borders.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bias and the Scottish referendum

Bias is tricky to measure.  To measure it you have to get someone to take an IAT test.  You can do it here:  IAT stands for Implicit Association Test. 

It would be interesting if Harvard came up with an IAT test for Pro or Anti Scottish Independence!

What it does is test your responses to certain questions.  It would be interesting to get Nick Robinson  to do a test about Scottish Independence and his allegiance.  With the thousands of people protesting about his bias - that might clear up a few things. 

Bias is often subtle.  There are things called micro - inequities which are small subtleties in the way we behave and communicate. 

In Wikipedia it talks of Mary Rowe's original article where she defines micro-inequities 
as “apparently small events which are often ephemeral and hard-to-prove, events which are covert, often unintentional, frequently unrecognized by the perpetrator".

They can be small things like forgetting who said what after a meeting to support your bias.  Thinking a friend said something you support , when in fact it was someone else.   It can also be small things like who you look at. Or taking preference to your own belief being supported and using more of that language than the opposing view.  

in journalism it can be subtle things like where you position a picture in your report.  A picture that starts a reporters piece is very telling.  Most people remember the first or last thing they see for longer than other parts of a story.  So what you start or finish with will be remembered for longer.  

Slight word changes like using "when" rather than "if" or in the case of business leaders discussing prices; "increase" is used when "different" was said. 

The tones of voice can also have micro-inequities.  These subtleties are registered by our subconscious.  So although the words may be technically not biased, the tone in which it is delivered could be.  

So how is bias measured?  In order to be deemed impartial, what is the scientific measurement that it goes through?  Or is it simply someone else's opinion?

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The power of words - messaging, the brain and the referendum

When you deliver a great speech, it's not enough to have passion and great delivery, you've also got to have a  great succinct message.  Martin Luther had "A Dream" Margaret Thatcher said "There is no Alternative"; Barak Obama had "Yes we Can".  I could go on and on.

Succinct messages are important in campaigning,  presentations, and media interviews. If a message is less than two seconds we're more likely to remember it.  So who has faired better in the Scottish campaign messaging?  Let's look at it. 

Today I heard on The World at One a number of the Pro Union campaigners still using "Better Together" slogan while they also have "No Thanks", which is apparently inspired by the Quebec referendum in 1995 "non merci" slogan that narrowly beat the Independents.  

The best succinct messages are aspirational - use big picture language that everyone buys in to and can be used to answer all the difficult questions.  "Better Together" has tried to do that.  " No thanks" doesn't manage this quite as well.  The other side have simply got the very memorable and positive YES. 

There is a psychological reason this is important too. Has anyone every said to you  "don't think of a pink elephant" and of course the first thing you do is think of one.  This is because of the way our brain works.  Our subconscious hears only the positive in the message. So positive messages have more power. 

Notice the YES vote  has had no alignment with nationalism, nor have The Irish or the Welsh joined in the debate.  The YES campaign has aligned with Scottish aspiration.  This is after Chris Hoy won six gold medals at the 2012 Olympics, Andy Murray won Wimbledon and more recently Glasgow has hosted a hugely successful Commonwealth Games. Whether these Scots have kept out of the political argument does not take away the Scottish pride that comes with those successes. 

So YES has also been anchored into our minds.  An anchor in the world of the brain means that we associate certain things together.  So you might associate a place with an emotion; a smell with a memory.  Or in Scotlands case Andy Murray's success with Alex Salmond's Saltire waving at his moment of triumph. 

The Chris Hoy stadium during the Commonwealth Games was a constant reminder of his Olympic successes as well as his presence during the Commonwealth Games.  Also seeing Glasgow and Scotland portrayed on the telly so magnificently will have inspired pride; reinforced confidence and encouraged belief.  Aligning all these to the word YES has been the campaign's brilliance.  I'm sure the timings were thought through, in great detail. 

The other reason why YES is so powerful and sales people have known it for years.  If you get people to say yes out loud to two questions they are more likely to say Yes to the third question.  There will be some savvy people who won't but the majority will. 

People gravitate towards positive words and actions.

Consistent messages shows confidence in your messages.  The Union messages have not been as consistent.  They started off negative and have tried to move towards the more positive "better together" and today they seem to be comparing the potential of losing Scotland like a divorce or the end of a relationship.  The strategy seems on the back foot rather on the front.  It's certainly not aspirational or visionary.

However the Union camp is working with a natural human trait - fear of change.  So it's the change argument that has to be stronger for the chances of a Yes vote to succeed. This is probably why the votes are so close together.  

The Yes campaigners however are using visionary language: words like: democratic empowerment;  the power to succeed; for Scots to be on the World Stage and more recently Team Scotland vs Team Westminster.

Visionary language is essential because it helps us "see" the idea.  Seeing the big picture in the language means more people are likely to agree.  We all want more jobs and a prosperous Scotland.  Journalists role is often to pull apart these visionary messages into the details but politicians and campaigners look for the common themes that bind us. 

Notice it's not Team England.  They are playing with the beliefs of Scots that Westminster does not hold their interests at heart but their own.  A belief held by many, although in my experience is not the case.  But perception is nine tenths of the law.  

Talking about words the two adverts that have come out of the different campaigns, show the power of words in action: 

The Union advert which got so much flack for implying women couldn't think politically for themselves

lended themselves to an advert with "Subtitles" or their translations of the messages in the advert This second version translates the advert into a patronising idea of women at home, children's disinterest and a lack of understanding of the politics. 

Compare this with the linguistically ingenious way this advert is done.  Setting a tone and then flipping it on it's head. As a Scot it anchors itself in our Scottish tradition of poetry and story telling. 

There's another thing: timing:  The Yes ad called "My Generation" is one minute 52 seconds long while the Better together one " A woman changes her mind" is two minutes forty long.  Shorter is always better. 

So the messaging has been clever.  It is more challenging for the Better Together team as there are 3 parties that normally work against each other pulling together but they are working with a strong human emotion: fear of change.  

I've just booked my ticket to go up to Scotland for 18th September.  I have no idea who will win.  Both sides have powerful arguments.  What I do know is the messaging from the YES camp is more aspirational, consistent and visionary but will it be enough? We'll find out, I hope in the early hours of 19th September.  I'll be there watching history happen - what ever the outcome. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Scotland Debate : Politics to the People.

As a Scot living in London it's rather bizarre as we approach the Referendum on Scottish Independence. I feel connected yet missing out. I get that I can't vote and think it's right.  Scots away can get romantic about their homeland as the number of Burns Nights around the world on 25th January every year can testify. However having been in Scotland over the summer and caught up with the fever, I now have let it slip slightly from my mind, despite the intermittent news coverage. But that just changed.

I spoke to my brother today, who lives in Glasgow and he was alight with excitement.  The referendum is taking a new momentum.  He was driving his car and shouting out all the stickers on the windows; YES YES YES NO YES NO NO YES NO NO.  Everyone was getting involved.  Most houses were sticking their views to their windows.  This is politics for the people.  And all the people are getting involved. He sent me this photo attached.

Cialdini's law of commitment also suggests if you write down or verbally confirm a commitment you're likely to stick to it all the way. So those stickers are likely to translate into votes.

Later my brother recounted a Radio Scotland piece about a journalist who was in Castlemilk, Glasgow.  The journalist walked into a cafe with a local woman and the person behind the counter asked the local "What will you be voting: Yes or Naw?".  When the woman replied she wasn't sure, the woman behind the counter said "You'd better educate yourself" and the rest of the cafe joined in saying this was too important and we all had to educate ourselves to have an opinion.  There was an eruption of discussion about how everyone needed to "educate themsels" to decide. Political apathy was not an option.  Voting was a necessity.  The people know they are making history and they want to get involved.

Allegedly school children are wearing their opinion in badges to school.  Noone is exempt. Everyone is challenged to have an opinion.

A recent piece on Radio 4 I heard talking to Jim Sillars a Labour MP who had travelled Scotland with two Iron Bru barrels and a mock stage with a mic.  He talked of old fashioned politics, coming to the people. And the people are listening and deciding.

I have no idea which way it will go but I do know it will be close.  There are few things I've noticed in the run up to it from a presentation and psychological point of view.

1. The Yes campaign have managed to get the positive word, people are more inclined to vote YES than NO
2. The No campaign is challenging on fear not aspiration and not selling the positives of the union.
3. The slogans have changed from Better Together to NO Thanks - an inconsistent message.
4. Alex Salmond, although allegedly losing the first debate with Darling was announced the stronger in the second debate. His clever use of coming out from the podium; using questioners first names; having open body language and using visionary language versus pointing, staying behind the podium and not using names, were all reasons for this success
5.  The Commonwealth Games have just finished.  I was up there a few weeks when it was on.  Seeing Glasgow and Scotland look so amazing on the TV, seeing the hoards of tourists lapping up the Scottishness and buying up the souvenirs was a sight to be seen.  The slogan of "The People make Glasgow" and "The Friendly Games" were not empty but every where the people of Glasgow were extra helpful and friendly.  My sister was waiting for me at a street corner and had 2 or 3 people come up to ask if she needed help.
6. People like consistency and the NO vote suggests consistency. However in the Darling/Salmond debates it was clear Scotland will get more devolved powers so both sides have future uncertainty and lack clarity.  This vote is a leap of faith either way.

So there is a frenzy happening in Scotland. And the Scots are certainly feeling confident.  We'll see what the outcome will be after the votes on 18th September only 14 days away.

What we do know is Glasgow and Scotland and potentially England, Ireland and Wales will never be the same after that date: whatever the outcome.  As my brother put it "this energy of the people could fuel 3 cities".  What will happen with that energy after 18th we can only guess at.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Girls and Electric Guitars

I recently went to Birmingham to see my husband in Rhys Chapman's composition of 100 electric guitars called "A Secret Rose for 100 guitars".  It was an extraordinary night.  My daughter who is 6 loved it too (with her top of the range headphones on!)

But I only saw about 5 women in the ensemble and was disappointed that more women didn't apply to be part of the performance.

I don't think it was anything to do with the organisers, many of whom were women.  Nor was it a bias of the composer, Rhys Chatham who said this on Facebook

I'd like to mention, that Daria (one of the 100 guitarists) wasn't the only the woman in the band.  there were others

Ya know, when I first saw Patti Smith, she inspired so many people to begin playing. She was a poet on the poetry scene in the 70s,, and we all figured, if Patti could do it, maybe we could too? And that's what made the NY scene so cool back then, all these people who loved music, like Arto and Ikue and Kim, coming out of whatever backgrounds, and they all decided to play music, and it was way cool. Half the people in the bands in the no wave scene were women. I could name many, just thought I would mention that; Guitar: it isn't just a guy thing, after all.
Malina Moye

But Women guitarists aren't considered the norm. Why?

With a bit of research you can see there are plenty about.  Fender at the beginning of last year did this article which had the top 10 Guitar Goddesses.

I wish I had an answer to this one.  I don't know why only 5 women applied to be in the 100 Guitars, why there is biased thinking towards female electric guitarists. However one of the 5 girls at Rhys Chapman's concert was a young girl, who must have been about 11 or 12.  One of the female guitarists told me that she said "I love playing the guitar but I can't find any of the other girls who want to play too".

My husband, who runs a contemporary music night called @SonicImperfecti is doing his bit, aiming to create a gender balanced event throughout the year.  He's actively looking for female acts, not only ones who play electric guitar but who play experimental music.

I don't have the answers to why female guitarists are considered less likely than men,  but I do know that if more event organisers thought about their gender balance and more women step up to perform, it will go a long way to changing perceptions. And that 12 year old girl and my 6 year old daughter might think quite differently in the years to come.

Selling and Negotiating

Read it on the Cockpit site

or Read it here:

Kate Faragher, from BeSpoke Skills, was in the studios earlier this month running a sales and negotiation workshop for our New Creative Markets participants.
Here are her top 7 tips on selling and negotiating:
1. It takes 7 to 12 meetings to turn a relationship into a sale, so make friends with your customers and decision makers. Find reasons to hook up with them and keep in touch by sending relevant information.
2. Buyers need reasons to buy. They need their fears and worries rationalised.
Identify what’s stopping them from buying and be ready with comparative prices like ‘it’s the same price as a sofa yet it will never wear out and you can pass it down your family for generations’.
“When I buy I create my own reason to buy something beautiful. Sometimes I have it as a reward for achieving a goal. Recently I bought an expensive bag after a successful work trip in Ghana. I’d been to the shop at least 5 times and had fallen in love with it, long before I bought it.”
3. Authentic selling isn’t making someone buy what they don’t want but realising what they do want and how it will enhance their lives. Things enhance our lives, if they help represent who we are.
Know what your qualities are and what your products represent. Then match them to what is important to your buyer.
Madeliene Albright changes her brooch every day to represent what she’s going to talk about or think about that day. We buy and display things to say “This is who I am”

Albright’s book “Read my Pins”
4. Don’t be afraid to name drop subtly. The Queen, the Pope and many celebrities own, use and display the work of Makers at Cockpit.  We like our buying choices to be affirmed. If we know someone we like or admire has bought from you, it will reduce our fear and increase the likelihood of buying.
5. Negotiating is getting clear about your boundaries. What is your ideal outcome. Name it, know it and write it down. Then decide your walk away points.
6. Know your figures. You need to know the hours it takes you to make a piece, the monthly income you need to achieve and the mark up you need to put on your work. If you know your figures your walk away points are clear and the clarity behind those figures empower you.
7. Get the buyer to name their ideal price first. Then you know their starting point and if you are both in the same game!

About the Trainer
Kate Faragher has been a trainer for 16 years. She has coached and been a consultant in the banking, corporate and entrepreneurial sector

Monday, 9 June 2014

Justin Bieber trousers may be more old fashioned that you think. The wide crotch trousers were invented 3,000 years ago. 

Archeologists, Mayke Wagner and her colleagues at the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin found a pair of low crotch trousers discovered in Xinjang in China were 3,000 years old.  

Trousers are a relatively new invention. Most people wore tunics, robes - skirrs and cloaks really.  But when the Chinese started riding horses the trouser was invented. The wide crotch on the trouser they thought protects the groin so make horseback riding easier. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

No Gimmick. A great performer.

Last night Conchita Wurst won the 2014 Eurovision song contest.  This morning some commentators complained that it was a gimmick and detrimental to Eurovision.

The Complaints before 
Russia and Belarus allegedly - according to BBC Website were asking for Conchita to be removed from the competition as they might edit her out.  Luckily she got to stay. 

Next year might be interesting when Conchita performs her song again in Austria.  It also been suggested she may host next years' event.  

The assumptions after 
I find it worrying that commentators complained about the quality of the song.  I know art is subjective but I think it's clear that it was one of the better songs of the night.  And most of the commentators were not musical experts.  Perhaps some bias is at play.  

The Netherlands song was good but had a rather weak chorus in my view. There were 3 or 4 stand out tunes and many were voted for. 

The commentator bias?
So, I couldn't help but question how on BBC Breakfast this morning there were 2 men being interviewed and both agreed the song was a gimmick and a weak song.  What I wonder was the best song in their opinion? And were they in fact falling for the psychological bias of prescriptive and descriptive stereotypes.  

Descriptive stereotypes are when we have beliefs about gender characteristics (or other social groups).  Conchita flouts the normal description of the female stereotype. 

Prescriptive stereotypes are when specific behavioral norms must be upheld to avoid derogation or punishment by others (Gill, 2004). Conchita did not uphold the behavioural norms.  Some people and countries were ready to punish her verbally, just for going against the "accepted" norm.  I experience it as I walked through Columbia road market today and two traders were shouting about their horror at Conchita winning. 

The future?
So where often there is a social penalty to pay for flouting these stereotypes, something amazing happened last night.  Conchita won and so many voted for her.  It was amazing to watch. Voters liked her, supported her despite the potential social bias, maybe because of it.  Flouting the norm takes bravery and we all admire bravery. .  

I imagined a day when people would see each other equally; understand our differences and celebrate them not condemn them. Where we admire people being themselves, in all the variety that means. 

Austria's winning song was voted by the public because  we, as viewers, really enjoyed the performance, the vocal and the song.  It was a stand out performance.  Why is that so hard to believe?

Friday, 2 May 2014

Neuroscience differences between men and women

I started this year thinking there wasn't a great deal of difference between men and women but I've gone full circle and believe there are. Maybe it's since my daughter has gone from refusing to wear anything but trousers to asking for her first dress.  But that is probably more about peer pressure at school than neuroscience.

Decyphering the differences between men and women has lasted centuries.  Gender is however on a continuum which is why it's not cut and dried.  There is still a lot of neuro science to be done me thinks.

So here's a bit of research on the neuro-scientific differences and would love feedback on more if there are any thoughts out there. Send me your thoughts via twitter @kate_faragher

Oxytocin which induces contractions and milk making in mothers is meant to improve spatial memory. the thought being that the mothers will remember for longer where food sources are.  But is this only when you are lactating or most of the time?

This rings a bell for me.  I"m always remembering who we met, the story of their life and what people are interested in; I mention the name or the story to my husband and he grows a Klingon head and it goes way above it. Who? he asks

We as women allegedly like men who show 'enhanced learning ability" and I just love how my husband can real off facts and figures and is an asset in any pub quiz. But women seem better at recalling information than men.  I'll remember stories but my husband seems to remember facts, unless the facts fascinate me.  It's always been my understanding that men recall facts better but the neuroscience seems to say the opposite.

So let's look at the brain: first of all from what I've gathered from a few places this left right brain thing is a whole load of bunkum.  Women do have more wiring but it's not as simple as left and right.

The Amygdala - men have bigger ones which might be why they have greater sex drives (allegedly).  Men encode emotional memory on the right of their amygdala while women use the left so women retain emotional memories more vividly.  This can be tricky when doing something that didn't go so well the last time!

The Hippocampus is where short term memory is turned into long term memory and it's different in men and women.  Again the men use the right and the women use the left. This seems to be less active in men and larger and more active for women. So women seem to remember things for longer

The Limbic Brain - Women seem to have a larger and deeper limbic system.

Wiring is different too but not until after you're 14.  The wiring before that seems to be quite similar. Men's wiring seems to be from front to back while women's wiring is more right to left hemisphere - however some of these findings seem to have been disputed.

Emotions it seems men don't recall past events as well - probably because of that spatial memory and smaller hippocampus.  They also concentrate more on the present moment while women  internalise their emotions and can recall them more effectively.  As they store them in different bits they recall them differently too.

Emotions and decisions 
So men protect and defend themselves by quick self analysis, quick decisions, focus and immediate action while women protect themselves by reflection, connection and exploration of emotions. (Check out McKinsey's "A Competitive Edge for the Future"  It's not surprising we work differently in business.

So we know there are differences but it looks like there is still a lot more research to be done on how this translates.  My gut feeling on this is that it's not going to be as simple as male and female because humans aren't as simple as that.  As Ben Goldacre says "I think you'll find it's a little bit more complicated than that'

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Are you wanting to change direction. What are you doing?

Do you want to change direction? What do you need to do?

Most of us sit around speculating but change requires action. Here are a few steps you'll have to take for changing direction in life. All these steps require ongoing work.  It's best to start them in order, then it's about keeping them all going. 

Step 5: REVIEW

Step 1:
Many get  stuck at this point because they speculate  You need to do some research. Get the facts, don't guess them. Take one profession or idea and decide if you want to do it: YES or NO.

Research is to answer some of these questions:
  1. What interesting companies/ people/ missions are out there?
  2. Which interest you and why?
  3. Do you want a job/ to join a start up / to set up your own business?

The aim ultimately is to find a clear goal you want to achieve eg Bill Gates when he changed direction created his goal: to eradicate Polio:

Step 2:
Create a list of people.  Go meet them.  There are now with social media about 2.5 degrees of separation between all people.  It's easier than ever to find and connect to the people who have the same interests and passions. 

It’s great to target your list but initially it’s good to get out there.  You don't necessarily want to go to lots of networking session. This can end up being a waste of time.  Targeted networking to your area of interest in my opinion has more value. 

Aim: to find people you like or can work with; to short cut their system to get to where you want quicker and to find the right business or mission that interests you.

Write down at least 15 people that would be good to meet. 
Identify your pitch – what you’ll ask people and say to people while still selling yourself on this networking stage. 

Step 3
This is where you start honing and clarifying what you want to do. Talk to people.  Start thinking about what interests you and what doesn't.  

Aim is to create your own mission and direction.  You need to be constantly thinking, reading and working on the clarify of your direction.  It can be difficult to keep focused.  Sometimes finding someone like a coach to help you build your ideas and develop your vision can be useful. Choose wisely. You need someone who is supportive and challenging. 

Step 4
When you start doing it.  This might mean testing the water or trying to find the role you want.  Meet people linked to your mission.  Find out how to raise your profile or find the gate keepers to the role. 

Step 5
Review where you are and if you’re going in the right direction.  Make sure you don't get side tracked.  Check that you haven't just ended up somewhere that was safe or just like your last role that you were trying to escape from.  Create your boundaries

Step 6
As you hone and clarify it can be a challenge.  The winds of change can feel as if it's throwing you off and you can feel unsure of yourself.  As you go through the process you will find your mission.  I know it sounds easy but this process takes time to develop, hone and get clear on. Trust the process.  Trust your self and find people to talk to on the way to ensure you're not limiting your possibilities; your beliefs or your aspirations. 

Good luck in your journey.  Mine has taken me to lost of different places.  I've met so many interesting people who I hugely admire.  Some who have helped me know what I don't want to be like.  I'd do a few things differently if I was to do it again however mistakes are what make you grow and learn.  So in the words of a famous French singer, regret nothing.