Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pimp up your words

Another cool thing I have been doing lately for clients is taking a special piece of collateral, such as a menu, and comparing it to the world's best. In only a couple of hours, it is amazing how many improvements you can make. When someone can't see the text anymore they are so tired of it, I can come in with fresh eyes and fresh ideas and pimp it up. It's a bit like the client sending me the cake, I just do the icing.

I think you will be hearing a lot more of this 42-year-old

Laura Vikmanis, Oldest NFL Cheerleader, Gets Film
Mom, cheerleader, and now, inspiration for a major motion picture.

Couldn't resist this piece form the Huffington Post.
At 42 years old, Laura Vikmanis is the NFL's oldest cheerleader. A registered dietician, trainer and mom of teenagers who set her mind to making the squad and joined the Cincinnati Bengals' Ben-Gals squad in 2009, Vikmanis serves as a guide for her younger cheerleading teammates. If it sounds like a Hollywood film, well, it soon will be.

New Line Cinema has picked up the rights to Vikmanis' story, The Hollywood Reporter reports, with "Gnomeo and Juliet" writers Emily Cook and Kathy Greenberg set to translate her life to a film script. It's a story that has already been documented in the national press.

“I was at a point in my life where I was like, ‘What do I really want to do? What’s something in my life that makes me happy?’ ” Vikmanis told her local Dayton Daily News in 2009. “I went to a couple games and saw the cheerleaders and thought that looked really, really fun.”

Still, no one thought she could make it, so when she made it to the final round of cuts in 2008, it inspired her to train for an entire year, making the team the next time around. READ MORE

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perks of the job

The birth of a new website is a pretty brilliant thing. Was lucky enough to be present when The Conversation went live yesterday, a new site that harvests the best research and ideas from around Australia's universities. (I'm doing a minor guest role during the launch phase.) Standing there waiting for the site to load is excruciating, stressful and brilliant all at once. All that work comes down to one moment.
The Conversation content is created by Australian academics and researchers themselves and a team of editors works with them to craft articles in Plain English (yes academics, PLAIN ENGLISH). I like to think of it as meets academic Facebook, meets the Guardian, LinkedIn with a tiny dash of something like New Scientist. Traffic so far has been extremely high. The content is rich, interesting and it is sparking lots of comments which is exactly what it is meant to do. The team is led by Andrew Jaspan, Jack Rejtman and Misha Ketchell, plus there are 12 section editors and a crack team of developers. Obviously the success of a venture is waaaaay more than day one, but I think this is a very clever channel for academia to break out of its ivory tower, connect to the public, contribute to mainstream debate, connect with business and make the most of the brains trust we have in Australia.

And we're now live!
Curated by professional editors, The Conversation offers informed commentary and debate on the issues affecting our world. Plus a Plain English guide to the latest developments and discoveries from the university and research sector.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Performance-boosting guru

I was lucky enough to interview psychologist Sian Beilock this morning, she is an internationally renowned expert on brain science and performance, working out of the University of Chicago. She is the author of Choke, a very cool book that I am discussing in a feature for one of my clients on new breakthroughs in boosting performance in organisations. (Can't give you too many deets yet.) In her lab, she has intensely studied how people behave in stressful situations - giving speeches, sitting exams, going for that putt on the 18th hole etc. The great news is that there are really simple things you can do to improve performance. Simple things such as humming, writing down anxieties, preparing in different ways can stop that analysis paralysis that leads to sub-par performance. As a brain scientist, Beilock has the proof that these techniques work. Like so many around the world that are devouring her book, I will be incorporating her best strategies into my training (with full credit to Sian and her research team). It is refreshing to hear from Beilock.
Greg Norman should give her a call!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What I've been up to...

Every job I do is unique, that is the best thing about running a bespoke consultancy. The last quarter has been particularly interesting as established clients and new clients appoint me to work with them on a wonderfully diverse range of projects. My work is all about harvesting great content and using it strategically to benefit my clients' organisations and training people to perform more effectively.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There is NO such thing as off the record

What if a journalist says 'we can talk off the record?' I get asked this all the time in media training sessions. There is no such thing. And it's not even just journalists that you need to watch your mouth around, anyone and everyone can be a newshound thanks to technology. Just ask designer John Galliano. The news has just broken overnight that the fashion house Christian Dior has begun proceedings to sack him for anti-Semitic comments he made in a Paris bar. (Do I need to say that this alleged behaviour is absolutely disgusting?) Galliano's behaviour was filmed in the Paris bar by patrons.

Here is an extract from the report just filed with the New York Times.
"In a brief statement, Sidney Toledano, Dior Couture’s chief executive, said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the words and actions of Mr. Galliano, “which are in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house.”

Dior said it had “immediately suspended relations” with Mr. Galliano and that it had “initiated dismissal procedures.” It cited the “particularly odious comments” contained in a video published Monday.

The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I loveHitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.

Late Monday, the actress Natalie Portman, who recently signed an endorsement deal with Dior for its Miss Dior Chérie perfume, strongly condemned Mr. Galliano. In a statement, she said: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

Mr. Galliano was initially questioned by the police last Thursday after a separate incident at the bar, in the Marais district of Paris. He was accused by two other clients of making an anti-Semitic slur.

Mr. Galliano was suspended Friday by Dior. The fashion house, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, cited its “unequivocal zero-tolerance policy regarding anti-Semitism and racism” after the initial incident was reported.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday, except to say that witnesses, including Mr. Galliano, had been questioned again Monday and then released. She referred all questions to the Paris prosecutor, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

According to French media reports, the police questioned the owner of La Perle, which Mr. Galliano frequents, the bar’s security staff and other clients.

Mr. Galliano’s lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, was not available for comment Tuesday. He has previously contested the accusations of anti-Semitism against his client. READ THE FULL REPORT: New York Times