Interesting Stuff 2017

24th December 2017: Happy Christmas and New Year

And so we come to the end of 2017 - I hope your year has been as successful as mine - my best yet after six years on my own. Except I'm not on my own - thanks to my fantastic clients, my co-professionals at APMP, techUK and elsewhere. Have a peaceful Christmas and New Year looking forward to a fascinating 2018. 

1st November 2017: Empathy in Proposals

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

In the last of my three-part series on empathy, I look at how Roman Krznaric's Six Habits of Highly Empathic People can help us to write better proposals.

I align each habit to proposal best practice: remembering to mention your customer to show you care; stepping into your customer's shoes to show you understand; creating shared experiences to make a close connection; hitting replay, to remind them of value you have brought to them; including proof; and bringing insight.

It's been a fascinating journey - have a read and see if you agree.   

18th October 2017: Lifting the Curse of Knowledge

Dressed as a witch, complete with broomstick, I arrived at the 2017 APMP conference ready to lift the curse of knowledge. 

In an attempt to help my audience learn how to avoid bamboozling their readers, I was on a mission to explain how to produce prose that sparkles with clarity.

In my imagination, there is a world where everyone understands each other: gobbledygook and gibberish eradicated - obscure language stamped out.

Using Steven Pinker's latest work "A Sense of Style", I explained that to triumph over the evil of incomprehensible prose, we must understand the curse of knowledge, and how it prevents us imagining what it’s like for someone who doesn’t know what we know. Only then can we learn how to express ourselves more clearly.

During a spell-binding hour, we explored how the curse of knowledge is cast (using sticky, garlic frogs, by the way). Then, we mixed empathy and examples with straightforward language and stirred up an antidote. My slides are on the APMP website and an article will follow soon.

1st July 2017: Empathy in Selling

In the second of a three-part series, I delve into how the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People, identified by Roman Krznaric in his book “Empathy”, can help us to become better salespeople.

In Part 1, we cantered through Krznaric’s book introducing “the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that to guide your actions.” We learned that we are all wired for empathy and that we must simply develop our empathic brains and skills to make it natural behaviour. If you had a go at each of the six challenges I set, you would have got the idea.

In this article, I bring the subject back from the personal perspective and give it a business angle and look at how empathy helps with three aspects of selling:

  • Building relationships > buying and selling are people-based activities.
  • Inspiring creativity > a sure way to differentiate.
  • Underpinning culture and codes > creating shared values on which to build trust and loyalty.

6th June 2017: Persuasion - APMP UK Symposium-style

With Old Trafford as the venue two days after the Ariana Grande tribute concert for the Manchester bombing, and with Simon Weston as the keynote speaker, the APMP UK Symposium was a poignant affair this year.

Notwithstanding, we had some fun during my workshop on Persuasion. The audience randomly chose from six topics under one of four categories - Connection, Credibility, Clarity and Consistency. The lucky ones won a classic prize - Strunk and White, Jane Austen's "Persuasion", or "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"; the not so lucky one won a mouse mat with "Keep Calm and Proof Read", which should have read "Keep Clam and Proof Read" except I was sent the wrong one!

We dipped into vibrant and authoritative language, aligning with your customers, rythm and flow, questioning and listening, and continuity to name but a few. There was too much to cover in 75 minutes, so I am offering the full session as a workshop. Contact me for further details.     

18th May 2017: It's a beautiful day - proving that words matter

30th April 2017: Words matter

The words you choose, the way you use them, and the mindset and behaviour you put with them all matter. Really, really matter. 

My soapbox, my crusade, are about acting and writing with integrity - being trustworthy through what we say and how we say it. 

It is always gratifying to find support. So, I enjoyed Stern Strategy Group's blog on "Words that can make you trustworthy" and Tony Robbins' video "To Change Your Life, Change the Words You UseTo Change Your Life, Change the Words You Use."  Check them out.

15th March 2017: Engaging with Empathy

Inspired by Roman Krznaric's book "Empathy", I took a deep dive into the subject at last year's APMP conference. And now I've whisked up an article to support the session. It's the first in a planned series of three. This one is essentially a book review. I trot through the history the Six Habits of Empathic People leaving you with a brain teaser on each to get you into the groove.

The next article will map the six habits to the world of selling and the last one will consider them in the context of proposals.

Krznaric's book is perfectly digestible and is packed with some wonderful characters who took their engagement with empathy to the extreme.  

22nd February 2017: The Power of Story

On 21st February, I completed my foundation certificate in Storytelling during a fascinating day at the Berkeley Storytelling Academy.

We told our own tales to discover the component parts of a story - although we had a list of 20, it came down to a plot (a problem to solve), characters (with whom we can identify) and a purpose (that the audience relates to).

We learnt to use the Pixar storytelling template - as in Pixar, the film gang that made Toy Story, Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life. Using their simple formula, shown in the picture and one of 22 storytelling rules, you can build a story about anything. We practised on ourselves as a final exercise to translate the theory into the commercial world. My re-write of my Linked In profile is work in progress, so watch that space. 

I came away working out how to translate all this into proposals - much of it points back to the principles in my Ethos, Pathos, Logos article, but I will fine-tune this thinking in a future article. 

15th January 2017: Government Style Guide

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

If you haven't found this really useful tool yet, consider yourself formally introduced to the Government Digital Service style guide. It's an alphabetically arranged, online reference for style, spelling and grammar conventions for all content published on GOV.UK.

Covering a host of topics, it clears up some common dilemmas including capitalisation, hyphenation and abbreviation. Although designed for online content, there are many hints and tips that can be carried through to proposals. And for when something is missing, it helpfully refers you out to style guides from The Guardian or The Economist.   

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