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“… thanks for making me look good.”

Jim's magic curtain In my mid-twenties I recall a lively debate with a Sydney-based friend, Jim, about theatre.  He knew a thing or two about the theatrical medium and he maintained that the curtain, when it is used on stage as a device, is an essential and powerful element. My less-experienced-former-self argued that this was nonsense and that performance was everything. Fast forward 20 years and after a career of working in business (not theatre) I’ve realized how right he was. Theatre and keynote presentations, whether in business or public gatherings such as TED-and-the-like, have much in common. Jim argued that when used creatively as a device on stage this secondary curtain plays a fundamental role. The irony is that, in theatre, curtain-use is disappearing in performance.  And in business, as leaders seek to reach consumers and audiences, it seems to be thriving in reinterpreted forms. Presenting to a small [...]

Reclaiming Conversations in Organisations

Louis CK recently quit. Stephen Fry threatens to do the same in a blog post about how digital media can actually make us less connected. He proclaims, “I haven’t yet jacked out of the matrix and gone off the grid. Maybe I will pluck up the courage. After you…” This phenomenon of media figures encouraging people to quit not just social media, but the internet entirely, is gaining momentum. You won’t have to search very far to find a constant flow of articles in this same vein. When we talk about wanting a “digital detox,” we’re really talking about feeling burnt out by our constant dependence on emails, social media, texting, and everything else we look to our devices for throughout the day. We long for meaningful human connection in a world oversaturated by media stimulants. The writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston chronicled his 25 day digital detox for Fast Company, [...]

Mentorship in Corporate Comms

Earlier in my professional career, when I switched from brand marketing to corporate communications, I realized how important it would be for me to find a mentor in my new field. Having a trusted mentor is important for every profession, of course, but I believe it’s especially essential for developing one’s career in the corporate comms field. When people ask me what it’s like to work in corporate comms, I sometimes describe it as being a lot like drinking from an open fire hydrant, while at the same time steering its trajectory. Even though the nature of our profession is changing (becoming less about corporate and even less about comms), this analogy still holds true for me today. Corp Comms requires a dual focus split between monitoring how one’s company communicates externally while also paying attention to internal conversations and the development of one’s own interpersonal skills. In other words, [...]

Here’s to the Perspective-Shifters

We’ve all had the transformative experience that reading a great book, listening to a powerful piece of music, or viewing a piece of moving artwork can deliver. Reading a novel by Franz Kafka or standing before a piece of art by Marcel Duchamp can change the way you see the world around you. This act of switching roles between the viewer and the performer has a powerful effect. When you step into the shoes of a great artist, you are left with a glimpse of how they saw the world—and how they changed it. Music for me is the greatest source of inspiration. A powerful piece of music stirs up creativity, allowing you to think of new approaches to work. A pianist like Glenn Gould was a terrific innovator in his day. This young Canadian could take a classic piece of music like Bach's Goldberg variations, and change the audience’s [...]

When in-flight food is your worst nightmare

Recently I attended the wedding of two close friends. As best man, I had duties that made me more aware of the ‘needs of the happy couple’ on that day. One of the grooms has Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) so quite naturally I could imagine the unease of having a monumental day being disrupted by a chronic condition. What my friend was dealing with on this day is indirectly connected with aspects of my work (the company I work for is focused on treating those withInflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), a different but very serious gastrointestinal disease, with some similar symptoms). While I may not ever know my friend’s true discomfort of living with IBS, I did start to think about what it would be like for him to travel by air to New Zealand for their honeymoon (imagine severe pain, not being able to eat, coupled with the constant need to access the toilet) and what it’s like to live with such conditions daily...