Tattoo decisions – and science tattoos

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READ TIME: 2 mins

Tattoo decisions. We don’t make many of them in life of business. But when we do make them we need to make sure that they are right. Because any reversing the changes are very painful. Here is a very funny spoof advert for Turlingtons Tattoo Removal Cream.

In business there are relatively few tattoo decisions. These involve a key decision, and then telling lots of people about it (like that Tramp Stamp tattoo):

Pretty much everything else you can reverse or change; choice of CEO, product pricing, product functionality, distribution partnerships, website design, company branding.

Interestingly in life there are even fewer tattoo decisions – except of course – actually getting a tattoo. Even getting married is probably not a tattoo decision any more. Probably the biggest tattoo decision is having children, or robbing a bank (and getting caught).  Just thought of another one – getting a turtle as a pet. They live to 60 years old. Max, my son, has 2 of them and if they survive time at college with him they will outlive me.

Every other decision (that is legal) is not a tattoo decision; where to live, which school to send your kids to, which course to take, what job to accept, what hobby to take up, what car to buy.

So why do people procrastinate about make all these decisions?  They are putting their life on hold whilst they try and decide. So, make a decision and then work to make the best of that decision.

Interesting side note. There is a genre of tattoos I heard about today: science tattoos.  Here is an Pinterest feed of science tattoos.  Quite remarkable.

Making a first impression – the perfect handshake #leadership #managing

You do it 15,000 times in you lifetime, but what is the initial impression you leave with the other person?

Wimpy-limp wrist. Damp fish and clammy. Overly aggressive. Creepy-hold-on-too-long.  Insincere.  All this conveyed in less than 2 seconds.

It has been traditional greeting, a symbol of peace and a key part of business deals for thousands of years.  But today scientists announced that they have created a formula for the perfect handshake after it was revealed that more than 70 per cent of people said they lacked confidence when it came to performing the gesture, according to a survey for Chevrolet. Les Turton, from Chevrolet, added: ‘It is easy to overlook everyday rituals, but as the handshake is used to complete agreements it is important our staff are well trained so they can pass on trust and reassurance to our customers.’

Another poll found 19 per cent hated the act and were unsure how to do it properly. The biggest problems were sweaty palms, limp wrist, gripping too hard and lack of eye contact.

Professor Geoffrey Beattie, head of psychological sciences at the University of Manchester, devised the equation taking into account 12 key measures – such as vigour, eye contact, hand temperature, positioning and length – needed to convey respect and trust to the recipient. He said: ‘The human handshake is one of the most crucial elements of impression formation and is used as a source of information for making a judgment about another person. ‘A handshake reveals aspects of the personality of the person giving it – for example, a soft handshake can indicate insecurity, whilst a quick-to-let-go handshake can suggest arrogance – so it is surprising that up until now there has not been a guide showing people how they should shake hands.’

How to do the perfect handshake

  • Use right hand, a complete grip and a firm squeeze (but not too strong)
  • Ensure fingers are under the receiving palm
  • Position hand in a mid-point position between yourself and the other person
  • A cool and dry palm, approximately three shakes, with a medium level of vigour
  • Hold for no longer than two to three seconds
  • Keep eye contact throughout


Happy staff!! I run a business not a bloody holiday camp #hr #leadership #happy #recruitment

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I was horrified when talking recently to CEO (name withheld) about the economy when he said “The best thing about the recession is I can treat by staff like sH!t as they have nowhere else to go”.   Not only is it short sighted and it fails the ‘would I want to be treated like that’ test, but it is morally wrong.

Do the math. We all spend a significant percentage of our lives at work. And based on this poster by Charles Schwab and the state of the Government’s finances, we are all going to be working even longer.  So as leaders it is our role to make sure that the lives of our staff is valuable and rewarding, if not fun.

People have incredible levels of drive, ability and enthusiasm as the staggering video in the blog People are Awesome shows. We need to harness that.

Thought: why is happy hour just an hour and happens after work?

There has been a lot of research recently that is showing that (wait for it…) happy employees are more productive. I guess we knew that instinctively, but now studies are putting some data behind the feeling.

As long ago as 2007 people like Alexander Kjerulf, who bills himself as Chief Happiness Officer have been writing and talking about the effects of a happy workplace on productivity.   He has written a book called Happy Hour is 9 to 5 which has been published by Lulu or you can read it for free online.

University of Warwick’s Economic Research Institute discovered that happier workers were 12% more productive, unhappier workers were 10% less productive.”

The team, led by Andrew Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick Business School and a leading authority on the relationship between economics and mental health, said its research has important implications for the worlds of politics and business.

“We find that human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity,” the team said. “Positive emotions appear to invigorate human beings, while negative emotions have the opposite effect.”

A article It Pays To Be Happy At Work by Vicki Salemi summed it up well –  Happiness at work doesn’t just boost morale, it leads to better reviews, faster promotion, fatter salaries and higher productivity.  Vicki has written an number of articles highlighting the link between happiness and performance.  The Forbes article highlighted a British company iOpener headed up by  Jessica Pryce-Jones, author of Happiness at Work.

Which leads me to a recent blog Making Work Easier, Faster and More Valuable by Mike Gammage where he talks about the Nimbus mission statement which was adopted  earlier this year:

We want to make work easier, faster and more valuable for millions of people.

Interestingly he is most proud about the ‘more valuable’. ‘Easier and faster’ is where the focus has traditionally been. It’s time-and-motion and automation, and links direct to the bottom line. It will always be important. But he says that ‘more valuable’  is where it gets interesting. Intuitively that being involved is energizing, but he  doesn’t have any hard evidence.  Maybe because he is having too much fun and not looking hard enough!!!  There is a strong body of evidence that is growing that staff who happier are more productive.

But what does happier mean?   Feeling valuable, achieving, being rewarded is the positive side – which should be reinforced.  The negative side we should be eliminating feeling embarrassed, confused, unworthy, wasted, uninvolved.

A surprising number of these can be influenced by letting people know what they should be doing, how they should be doing it and how well they are doing.   Process & Metrics.  Who would have thought processes were a route to happiness?

Listen to the final quote on this short  Carphone Warehouse video.  Enough said.

Psychos in the Boardroom (or Government). Fascinating stats.

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Psychopaths lack empathy, are pathological liars, have an enormous sense of self-worth, are impulsive, irresponsible and won’t accept responsibility for their own actions.

They make up 1% of the total population, 25% of the criminal population. But do you recognize the traits.  Perhaps in the upper reaches of your corporation or our Governments?

The Psy-Fi Blog in their blog Is your CEO a Psychopath? puts a strong case for as high as 4% of corporate boardrooms have psychopaths as inmates.

Here are some traits to watch out for, or maybe aspire to if you want to make it to the top of the corporate world.

  • They have superficial charm: They are a smooth talker and very charming.
  • They are self-centered and think they are way more important than others, even if in reality they aren’t.
  • They have a need for stimulation and is prone to boredom.
  • Their behavior is deceptive: They lie and cheat without difficulty. They don’t mind being caught.
  • They manipulate others for personal gain.
  • They show little remorse or guilt. Sometimes They’ll say there sorry, just so others will stop bugging her/him.
  • Their emotional response is shallow.
  • They are callous with a lack of empathy. They feels no pity.
  • They lives off others or has a predatory attitude.
  • They have poor self-control.
  • They are promiscuous.
  • They had behavioral problems at an early age already.
  • They lacks the ability to set realistic long term goals.
  • They have an impulsive lifestyle. They are a risk-taker.
  • They behave irresponsibly.
  • They always blame others for their behavior.
  • They can only commit to short term relationships.

As this presentation from the UK’s Institute of Risk Management suggests there are a range of possible problems with psychopaths in the boardroom.  These include risky decision making, unethical behavior and a lack of loyalty to the company and stakeholders: does this sound familiar?  One of the problems with these people is they’re very good at managing upwards – they charm superiors, manipulate peers and abuse subordinates.  Once they get in senior positions it’s easy to see how problems could escalate.

So the argument is that the rise of the mantra of value maximisation, increased corporate instability and the ever increasing turnover of staff has allowed corporate psychopaths to flourish, further reinforced by the desire of the media to find ‘media-friendly CEOs.  Recent examples are the late Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Richard Branson and Alan Sugar who by all accounts are not cuddly, empathetic leaders. They are ruthless and driven.

And it appears it is fine line between the focused, driven leader and the psychopath.

The toughest of tests: what businesses can learn from Olympians #bpm #london2012

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To really excel and beat the competition requires more than a spark of inspiration and talent. It requires focused effort.  The sporting world has shown that, brought into sharp relief when you hear the personal stories of the medallists over the last 2 weeks of the Olympics.

Better practice = better performance

The coaching and training techniques have been refined and improved which is part of the reason that we are seeing World and Olympic records shattered. And whilst advanced and novel training techniques are not limited to sports, they do have one common theme; they all make the activity more difficult than it is for real.  Let me give you a couple of examples:

Football; one of the reasons that Brazilian footballers are so good, is not natural talent or the poor economic conditions, but they all play futsal. It is played with a smaller, heavier ball and a smaller pitch. The maths tells a story. Futsal players touch the ball far more often than soccer players – six times more often per minute. The smaller, heavier ball demands and rewards more precise ball control. “No time plus no space equals better skills”.

Table tennis; multi-ball coaching techniques brought in by the Chinese. Simply put, multi-ball is the training technique that has coach use a number of balls to set up a training drill for the player who is doing the practicing. Most players think of multiball almost as a torture technique, where the trainee is reduced to a small puddle of sweat as the feeder keeps him constantly moving all over the table chasing the ball and gasping for breath. And while using multi-ball to build fitness is one aspect of the technique, there are several other benefits; technique, footwork, decision making and psychological strength.

Better business practice

In business we do not ‘practice’. Every day we go to work we are ‘in the game’, rarely with a coach, a game plan or any time to reflect on our performance.

But business is not a zero-sum game. In sport to win, your opponent needs to lose. In business that is not the case. If an individual can raise their game it can be replicated to other team members. The collective performance gains can be huge. So why are proven techniques from sport not used in business?

As one business expert put it “Very few businesses have put the principles of ‘purposeful practice’ into the workplace. Sure, the hours may be long in some jobs, but the tasks are often repetitive and boring and fail to push employees to their creative limits beyond. There is little coaching and objective feedback is virtually non-existent, often compromising little more than a half-hearted annual review.”

BPM= Business Practice Management?

Some businesses are starting to take management of business activities seriously. It is being called Business Process Management (BPM). But it is pretty patchy across companies, with some exceptions. Companies like Nestle take process very seriously and consequently are some of the most successful on the planet.  But there is a critical role that clearly documented and managed businesses gives you; a basis for feedback.

Feedback is rocket fuel

In the words of a sports coach, “If you don;t know what you are doing wrong, you can never know what you are doing right”.

BPM allows companies to define a baseline against which improvements can be measured. Without a clear definition of process it is impossible to work out why something has gone wrong. There is too much “noise”. Quite often sports have feedback built in. Play a bad shot and and you are in a bunker or out of bounds. But business often has a longer feedback cycle so it is difficult or impossible to link action to result. BPM helps make the link clearer and removes the noise.

Raising the game

But there are other ways that businesses can make sure that they are at the top of their game. Whilst it might be easier to pick a market with weak competitors and forgiving customers, that does you no good in the longer term. You only have to look at the defence industry which got fat on Cost-Plus Government contracts. As those contracts dried up and they had to compete for commercial work they found they were hopelessly uncompetitive. Many simply went out of business taking their small suppliers down with them.

Our alternative approach when we set up Nimbus was to compete in the toughest market and the most demanding customers. That was the food and pharma market. Regulated by the FDA, these companies are tough to satisfy; they want to see proven results before the purchase, they drive hard price negotiation, and they conduct quarterly company audits. But once you have established yourself as a credible supplier, then there is a huge barrier to entry for your competitors.

Pick the toughest markets

Likewise with we are looking to satisfy the most complex projects; large numbers of invited individuals, huge numbers of posts and photos, with complex sharing with multiple businesses and their sub-contractors and their sub-contractors.

“Pick the toughest and most complex market and everything else will be easy.”

So we could have picked one of the first projects to be organising a small village party. But no!

We have picked the most complex and nerve-wracking party of all. A wedding.  But not a simple wedding in a church in England with a few friends. A wedding in Sydney, organized by the happy couple in London and the rest of the family between here and Australia. is perfect for home improvement projects. Installing a new kitchen. A new conservatory. Updating a bathroom.  For any of these projects, will enable you to keep on top of the admin – the quotes, invoices, photos and ideas – and a financial dashboard to keep in control.

But those projects are simple compared with one of the first projects for, which is a new build of a large contemporary house. This will engage architects, surveyors, arborists, builders, interior designs, landscape designers… and the (expensive) list goes on.

More than medals at stake

So, we can’t wait to get out into the market. We are being told by everyone we talk to about the concept that we are on to a winner.  As an investor it fees like there is a lot more at stake than a medal.

Smart Casual – how to avoid getting frocked up #culture #funny #dresscode

Relaxed, yet professional

We at Nimbus are ‘relaxed, yet professional’ and that hasn’t really changed since being acquired by TIBCO. That’s what our staff tell us. That’s what our clients tell us. That’s the exact wording in our company values statement . In the office, from the CEO down we wear jeans, polo shirts and sneakers. Or whatever people want to wear.  But when we go to clients we wear what the client wears – suit and tie at Nestlé, smart shirt and chinos at Microsoft.

Smart Casual – how to avoid getting frocked up

But it is tricky when an invite to an event for a company that you don’t really understand their culture says Smart Casual. How smart? How casual? Maybe this video has a clue so you aren’t “frocking up” unnecessarily.

Does dress code drive culture, or culture drive dress code?

So our culture has driven our dress code. In fact our dress code has relaxed over the last 10 years. But we have a strong company culture. In a recent staff survey it was identified as one of the reasons people enjoy working for Nimbus.  It is one of the things that people will fight to protect. So it is one our 3 key priorities as we grow around the world – “Maintain our company culture”.

In our case at Nimbus, our culture has driven our dress code. But is the reverse true? Does a suit and tie dress code breed a stuffy, over-important culture or a very professional attitude.  By contrast is a t-shirt and jeans dress code, or even no dress code, symptomatic of a chaotic and slovenly business? I remember when I was IT Director at a major UK Government Department we had very large teams who were under-performing and came to work looking a mess.  But those same people would put on a smart shirt and tailored trousers as it was the entry requirement for the local nightclub.  So we imposed that as the minimum dress code.  Did it change the culture?  Slightly, but only slightly.

My view: Culture sets the dress code. Senior role models demonstrate both the culture and dress code. Dress code reinforces the culture, particularly for those new to the organisation.

What’s your experience?