The Imposter

During the the past week I have had more than one person congratulate me on how good I am at networking and self promotion, citing the success of the book as an example of this. I thank them for that, I really appreciate the time and thoughtfulness behind it.

I’d like to level with you all. I’m rubbish at networking and self promotion. I simply can’t do it. I feel uncomfortable and slightly like an imposter. At a recent event someone asked me if I was a consultant. My reply was ‘um, I guess so, I mean…technically…people pay me to do stuff, so I guess I’d have to say I was, but I’m not sure I’m a proper one or if it will last’.

Yesterday someone asked me what my areas of expertise were for a speaking engagement. My initial response was ‘I’m interested in lots of things, I’d hate to claim to be an expert’

These aren’t the responses of a natural salesperson.

From the very first black tie networking event I attended in my career I’ve felt inadequate, out of place and about to be found out. So I found ways to make the experience more comfortable.

i) I find one person who I know (or who also looks lost) and I talk to them about whatever they like

ii) I try and help them with a problem if I can – I listen and try to be useful to them

iii) I assume everyone has an interesting story to tell

iv) I open up early and ditch the formality. I’ll talk really honestly with people

So I mentally exchange my forced black tie event for an evening doing what I love – learning about people and helping them solve their problems. Last week that led to me getting a visit to Facebook, a wonderful experience. I’m happy to admit it came about through me just wanting to find someone to talk to at the CIPD Centenary Dinner, primarily so I didn’t feel like a spare part.

The volume of PR around the book has been based around not letting 50 other authors down. If this was my book that I’d written on my own? There is simply no way that I’m spending days tweeting people asking them to endorse it. That is a horrible concept to me. I’m not brave enough and it’s not in my nature.The fact there is a social ambition to it and an ability for me to create success for others is what drives my behaviour.

All the good stuff that people think is me being brave is just me running scared from failure and awkwardness. I’m not leading, I’m just finding the most creative way I can to run away.

This will probably be a problem for me if I continue to be a ‘sort of consultant’. I’m not comfortable at self promotion. I’m comfortable with sharing. I thought I’d share that in case anyone feels the same way.

So I’m sharing that if you feel awkward with self promotion – well, there is at least one other person out there who feels the same way too.

#CIPD13 – Celebrations and frustrations


A long time ago my HR dept used to do ‘celebrations and frustrations’ each week. Everyone would send in an email listing their work/experiences and then this would be circulated to keep people updated.

What tended to happen, all too often, is that the busiest people didn’t find time to fill it in, felt they didn’t get appropriate recognition and got progressively grumpier. That is why HR is tough. Designing systems around people is complicated.

Anyway, I’m stealing the format to do a quick overview of #CIPD13. Most of the bloggers have written beautifully reflective pieces. Welcome to my bullet points


  • As a networking opportunity it was incredible. I went to Facebook today and I’m off to Innocent Drinks soon. These opportunities came as a direct result of the event.
  • My love of Dan Pink is well documented. I was lucky enough to see him twice during the conference and to take part in a Q+A with him. That was an exceptional opportunity and he genuinely engaged
  • I got to see an overview of the Crossrail project that really helped me reflect on how much work can mean to people
  • I dropped into plenty of the sessions in the main hall and enjoyed the variety and content. Great, short sessions
  • I got an hour with the CIPD CEO and then another hour with the Deputy CEO. They were open to challenge (which was good because I challenged) and the debate felt worthwhile. They listened. I realise this contact time was atypical of most delegates experience, so it feels important to note the time they gave to random people like me
  • The CIPD were very gracious in supporting the book – still available to buy.

I met some great people and shared in their energy and enthusiasm. That’s always the standout isn’t it…


  • The opening keynote was flat. It really disappointed me and felt slightly shallow and by the the book (and very ‘buy the book’). I’ve seen the speakers before and they were ten times better when I did. I would have far preferred to hear more from Peter on his thoughts about the profession
  • More CEOs or people who are ‘not HR’ would have been great. HR is business, more people from the broader business would have been useful.’My HR team did this and this is what it did’.
  • I agree with Sukh Pabial about the lack of diversity in the speakers
  • The hack update was great in terms of content from the hackers, but the whole process feels a bit slow and not action focused enough. The hack model is about design – real life is about implementation and momentum. A lot of people signed up for the Hack – I’m not sure how many have been retained
  • I heard some really closed thinking from people, including a horrible description of how different generations learn (‘older people just want to be talked at in classrooms’)
  • I heard some really risk averse responses to ideas. It’s seemed unless an idea comes gift wrapped people won’t run with it. How would that work in your organisation? Well, that is something you are paid to work out. I get that we need to manage risk, but we also are in the business of growth and that involves encouraging risk.
  • It would have been great for the main sessions to be more interactive. If we are updating on the hack then… let’s hack. Send people away to discuss Dan Pink – do things to involve the audience. One person speaking to several hundred has less benefit than hundreds exploring a concept. If a group of HR people designed an internal event it would never be this formulaic. More on the fringe, more interaction, more involvement, more commitment, more exploration = better results

A few notes to give context on the above.

  • As I tweeted and blogged for the CIPD I didn’t pay to enter the event. I’m probably biased and they did provide me with biscuits which increases the probability of this further
  • I’m not a member of the CIPD, I never have been. If I’ve been positive about them it’s due to them deserving it
  • I attended a range of events across the 2 days and thoroughly enjoyed the evenings

Humane, Resourced – early reflections

Last Wednesday we launched a book.

It was a far from perfect book – I really appreciate the time of the awesome people at Pressbooks who sent me an email full of flaws in the formatting for me to update. Their software was brilliantly useful in helping us create the book before exporting to Amazon.

But it was a book full of good things and you should really buy it  and then leave a review. We’ll be doing a second one so honest reviews – as well as generous reviews that author’s tend to attempt to solicit – are equally welcome.

My goal throughout this process was to get people into a book, it never really crossed my mind that we might sell any, it just seemed nice that people could say ‘I was in a book’. That seemed a worthwhile use of my energy.

On Thursday morning someone sent me a screengrab of the book in the ‘bestselling business books list’ in the UK Kindle store. It was number 8.

Then a couple of minutes later someone sent me a link to the HR books section on Amazon (all books, not just Kindle). It was number 1.

Here is some of the odd stuff that happened last week – for a book with no formal backing, no PR plan and created in 4 months.

Peak positions:

  • #29 Organisational change (US)
  • #32 HR (US)
  • #1 HR (UK)
  • #7 Business (UK)
  • #2 Business management and leadership – only outsold by the new Gladwell book
  • #81 nonfiction (UK)

Books that we were sitting above in the charts at some point during the week:

  • Outliers by Gladwell
  • Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
  • Women, Work, and the Will to Lead By Sheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook)
  • To Sell Is Human AND Drive By Dan Pink
  • 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team – Patrick Lencioni
  • Karen Brady’s biography

We also moved Who Moved My Cheese?. Things have quietened down a bit now (although we remain the #1 bestselling HR book)

I’m still not quite sure how this happened. I feel slightly like I have a moral responsibility for plugging the book as so many people contributed for free – so my twitter feed is currently full of ‘buy this book’ spam.

I apologise for that and if more people could share that would be wonderful. The CIPD have agreed to us doing some promotion at the conference next week, which is very generous of them and unexpected.

But if we don’t sell any more – and we simply peak at a top ten selling business book and the bestselling HR book in the UK – well I guess that is ok. Best Sellers The most popular items in Human Resources - Google Chrome 02112013 092921.bmp

Humane, Resourced – out on Kindle

I’ve just had a bizarre experience where Twitter has once again managed to beat other technology to the punch. At about 6pm someone tweeted me a picture of Humane, Resourced available in the Amazon Kindle store. It was another hour before I got an email from Amazon to say it was available in the store – and it is available here…

A quick recap and then a call to arms

The recap

1. Over 50 authors contributed – if you were one then congratulations, thank you and it couldn’t have happened without you. People also checked the text, created a cover and promoted the book – thank you, it couldn’t have happened without you

2. All proceeds go to charity. The book will be available for free next week, but if you can spare a couple of pounds (or a few dollars) then please know your money is going to a good cause. And you are only paying about 4p per chapter

3. There will be some errors – I’ll correct them, if I can, in future revisions

A call to arms

  1. Share it – share it and then please share it again. On LinkedIn, Google +, MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and word of mouth. People have given their time and effort for free so let’s make the most of that.
  2. Share it at different times in different ways and not just this week – talk at conferences, networking events and family parties – something brilliant has happened here
  3. If you have connections that might want to review it for a publication etc then put them in contact with me – likewise if they want to talk to me about the story behind it I’ll do that
  4. Encourage people to post reviews – let’s get it properly backed on Amazon
  5. Enjoy it. There is something of real substance and ambition here and some exceptional content.



BoB cover

Gamifying me 0.1

I am the Podgemeister General. 

A week ago I stood on the scales and I was 14st 13lb.  That weight would be acceptable if I was an international rugby player, however, it seems that currently the Welsh rugby squad is strong enough to cope without me. 13st 10lb is about fine for me as a normal weight – 14st 13lb is only about fine for me if I was holding my daughter at the same time. To be clear, when I was on the scales I wasn’t holding my daughter.

A brisk sprint through Gamification

Earlier this year I took an online course through Coursera on Gamification, hosted by Kevin Werbach ( . Gamification is the concept of taking the science behind games and applying it to real world situations.  It is becoming increasingly popular (as it proves very effective) and comes in pure forms (creating a whole world for people to experience) to lighter forms where you will recognise badges, levels etc without necessarily recognising it as ‘a game’. You might be part of a forum and notice stars and levels next to people’s names – this is to give them a sense of progress and achievement – mechanics that game designers have been refining for years. Consumers spent $20.77 billion on video games, hardware, and accessories in 2012 (ref: It is a serious business ,with serious people, who understand almost perfectly what makes us tick.  A computer game budget can now be as much as a Hollywood movie – so the teams working behind the scenes to understand what mechanics get people coming back time and time again are in the top of their field.

There are instances of successful gamification that you might not have reflected upon: when everyone was suddenly moving about AND playing computer games when the Wii was released? Gamification of physical activity. This was enhanced with the Wii Fit and Wii Sports – you were enjoying exercise whilst you beat scores, played with friends and progressed through games. It made exercising easy, fun and rewarding. Recently Aviva have gamified driving your car –  see video below – you get your car insured, your driving skills rated and you get to share your skills on Facebook. Suddenly people are competing to see how well they can drive – and Aviva can take your money knowing you are less likely to crash,,,

Richard Bartle came up with a useful way of categorising gamers called Gamer Types (, The four categories typically used are

  • Achievers – gamers pushing on for recognition or to test themselves
  • Explorers – gamers who like being able to do things at their own pace, discovering things others might not notice
  • Socialisers – gamers who are there for the community rather than the game itself
  • Killers – gamers who thrive on competition and outdoing others

For anyone who says that games aren’t relevant to business I’d ask you to look at the list again. Seemingly if you can tap into those motivations people will be having fun and achieving without noticing. If you can create communities, a sense of progress, an opportunity for people to elect to compete and space for people to explore – you are creating an environment that people would choose to be part of. That is why gamification is useful – it isn’t a fad, it’s been about as long as fun has been – and probably since warriors chalked up their kills for other people to see them or people competed on cold nights to see who could get the fire started first.

It isn’t the next big thing, it is a part of our toolkit that we are starting to understand, one that provides us with evenmore opportunity to help businesses and people succeed. It isn’t just about games in training – but also about socialisation of performance management and possibly even pay.

So does it work then?  

In short, yes. It can work when used well – although unsuprisingly you’ll also hear of failures where people have just thrown in a game without thought of culture fit or outout or people and -puzzlingly – this has proved less successful. It isn’t a silver bullet – it’s another tool.

You joined me when I was 14st 13lb . I’ve been using an app called ‘Mapmywalk’  this week that gives me all sorts of stats and typical gamification features (how do I compare to yesterday’s walk? what is my speed? what’s my biggest climb? How do I compare to other people doing the route? Congratulations, here is a badge for being quickest up that hill). The app has helped build habits and encouraged me to stick to them –  it’s allowed me to email my route and stats – my success and effort-  to my wife and friends (sociable), encouraged me to try new paths (explore) and to push on for slightly longer and quicker walks (achievements).  in short, getting fit has become a game.

I’ve just got back from a walk that has now become my favourite – a bit quicker than last week, but no less enjoyable. I lost 8lb in seven days. No funky diet, no starvation, no punishing regimes (I had two bbqs and a couple of beers…) – just playing by the rules of the game. Update: I’m now down to 13st 13lb (as of 14/08)

We want business to be fun – and we want people to try

People enjoy games and put effort into succeeding in them

Not complicated to put them together.