Another three reasons why I feel like Philip K. Dick, this evening29 Oct


1. I am part of a vast active living information system (Valis)

2. I write tracts (Our Friends from Frolix 8 )

3. I am a crap artist (Confessions of a Crap Artist)


Vancouver Manoeuvres22 Oct

Vancouver Summer 2008

• Taking a limo in from the airport and watching the glass-skyscrapers get closer
• Eating sushi on Davie
• Hiring bikes at the edge of Stanley Park to ride to Beaver Lake then going to Second Beach for a swim and booing Steve Balmer’s yacht in the bay
• Playing volleyball at Sunset Beach as like, er, the sun sets
• Evening drinks in our apartment, watching the Vancouver cats walk along the balcony rails, eleven floors up
• Chilling in Van Dusen Gardens with hot-dogs and a beer
• Heading out to the University of British Columbia to see the Museum of Anthropology and use the outdoor pool with the 7-metre diving board
• Stopping off at the beach on the way back (see above)
• Driving a 4×4 up to Whistler so the lads can don body armour and take the adapted ski-lifts then hurtle downhill on mid-range mountain bikes
• Hurtling back down south to Vancouver in-and-out of the road-works preparing the highway for the Winter Olympics
• Missing out on buying rare 7” vinyl such as Toddla T’s remix of Roisin Murphy’s “You know me better” and Mozza’s “First of the gang to die”. Damn
• Waiting for the man by the juke-box in that pub…
• Dining at the Tapas-tree, the last restaurant as you head west on Robson
• Riding round Stanley Park at 4am in a Mustang with the top down, still deaf from going to that club in Gastown where everyone communicated by sign-language
• Buying jeans, t-shirts and boxers on Robson
• Wondering when that enormous pile of yellow sulphur across the bay will go down
• Wishing we didn’t have to go home


Five cool things the Bizlike Organisation can help you to do12 Oct

Smiley Trampoline2

1.    Talk like a Premiership Football Manager

2.    Introduce competitor-devastating strategies into your business

3.    Write a British situation-comedy with loads of irony

4.    Foretell the future

5.    Achieve Inner Peace


School’s In!11 Oct


In my recent piece on BackNoise and related matters, I explored some personal and professional dilemmas relating to public speaking and (probably) coined the phrase Prez 2.0. This is the possible phenomenon whereby the simultaneous social-media backchat (e.g. Texts, MSN, Skype, Twitter and recently, BackNoise) becomes integral to the speech, making in effect an audience-created presentation.

Support for this more avant-garde approach to any situation where the many gather to be addressed by the few comes from an unexpected quarter in today’s Observer .

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers says: “Schools should be harnessing the fantastic educational opportunity children carry round in their pockets, instead of banning the phones with their cameras, voice recorders and internet access.”

Picture the scene: poor dress sense, recent bad haircut and spinach-on-the-teeth episodes captured and ridiculed, leaving a little time for last night’s escapades and the usual brief this-subject-is-boring exchange… all with the Heads’ blessing!

But you’d be wrong.

In schools where children were provided with phone and internet access to use in lessons, teachers have reported very little misuse if the evidence of Learning2Go is anything to go by. They have run a scheme for the last five years in 18 primary and secondary schools in Wolverhampton.

But, apart from fact-checking (“if children want the date of the Battle of Hastings, they will Google it”) what exactly have the Black Country boys and girls been up to with their high-quality smart-phones? They have, in fact, been using them in lessons and for homework and see them as a tool for learning!

How often have you been to a conference and behaved like the imaginary naughty kids – smirking, bitching, texting and dissin’ the corporates? The Wolverhampton wonderers set us a good example – if only we knew what it was.

The questions we need to answer are: How 2.0 is Wolves? Do they learn through self-generated content? And what does their experience tell us about the future of Prez 2.0? Of Conf 2.0? Even of Class 2.0?

Face(book) up to the facts – the Skype’s the limit. Watch this (My)space.


Suspect Plot Devices, Chris Brogan and Prez 2.010 Oct


As keen students of film and TV drama, Mrs Bizlike and I have identified a concept we call the suspect plot device. This is an initially irrelevant, but ultimately critical detail in a story.

A good example can be found in Carol Reed’s film “The Third Man”. In one scene, Holly Martins, the hero played by Joseph Cotton, is at the apartment of Anna, his love interest. He dangles a piece of string in front of her cat, in a vain attempt to encourage it to play. The cat is unimpressed and leaves, prompting him to remark on its lack of sociability. Anna replies that the cat only liked Harry – her boyfriend, the eponymous third man supposedly killed in mysterious circumstances. Shortly after, we see the cat nestling at the feet of a shadowy figure across the street – the first confirmation that, as Holly has begun to suspect, Harry is still alive.

I had cause to remember our concept of the suspect plot device recently, when running a presentations workshop at the offices of a client. My host and I had been discussing the problem of the ubiquitous “Crackberry” – the communication device to which so many business people are addicted. We agreed how difficult it was to retain anyone’s full attention these days and my host recounted how recently, another trainer at their premises had terminated his own course, mid-way through the day, on noticing that the entire group were e-mailing away and not listening to him.

I expressed my admiration at the nerve of this principled stand. Privately, I wondered whether the trainer would ever work for the organisation again… Simultaneously, I began to ask myself if our conversation was a suspect plot device of my own. Was I about to find myself in the position of having to force such an issue? Whilst the surreptitious thumbing of such devices was an ever present backdrop to my workshop, and indeed any other occasion where the many gather to be addressed by the few, might I be obliged to invoke the house rule (universally ignored) that “Blackberries be switched off during the session as adequate breaks will be provided for that purpose”?

As it turned out, my concerns were only partially but entertainingly justified when, part way through my first input, my own phone began to ring in my pocket! It’s always the person you least suspect, I mused as the delegates laughed and tut-tutted at my breach of the last remaining mobile-phone-at-work taboo.

Gaining and maintaining people’s attention is a continual challenge for us all, not simply limited to the dull and inept if Chris Brogan’s recent experience is anything to go by. Watch his entire presentation take place against a full screen stage display of the continuously updated Backnoise conversation that his speech is stimulating. Observe, as his live audience did, the incredible interplay between what he said and what the screen showed. Watch fascinated as he ignores some comments (those not worth a mention) but deigns to use others to reinforce key points in his talk. Social Media heckling brought out into the spotlight and dealt with!

Now this is a suspect plot device that we should all take careful note of. How exactly will this strange new version of the conversation (Prez 2.0) manifest itself? Stayed tuned (or don’t) and find out next week…


Phil Brown takes it to the bridge07 Oct

Gower sunset

More pearls of wisdom from the lower reaches of the premiership this week as Hull City’s manager tells a
tale or two.

Recalling last Wednesday’s team-walk across the Humber bridge, designed to get some “clarity”, the Tigers’ boss explained his rationale: “It is easier to talk when you are walking than when you are jogging.”

An everyday story of footballing folk – they’re playing rubbish, the manager will try anything. So far, so average. But here’s the emotional bit that makes for a much better story – they come across a woman threatening to jump! Brown explains:

“She was considering her future, shall we say. But we saved this girl. Sweet talk, you can say. In the end she tootled off back to wherever she had come from. I think she saw us and realised ‘OK, at least it’s not that bad.’”

A nice self-deprecating twist to this tale of life, death and football. But all good stories should have a point, too, even when they put us through a bit of drama…

Here’s Phil explaining the idea behind the walk: “The bridge was built with modern-day engineering and based on the fact that when an ill wind blows the bridge becomes stronger. The weight of the wind comes down and makes it sturdier.”

There is an analogy with the club, he told his players. And then, in a masochistic version of getting his retaliation in first, added: “But I can also see others saying, ‘What a load of shite that is.’”

Phil, don’t be so hard on yourself – this is classic ABC – Anecdote-Based Communication. A cast-list of footballers, an avant-garde sports psychologist plus a damsel in distress makes for a great story with a motivational point – and two punchlines! Awesome.

Using my handy 7-slide tutorial you can try ABC for yourself. Never a dull memento.


Global Specifics – the simplest and most efficient way to improve your presentations04 Oct

wood:trees mdm

In my professional life I often come across experts. The more technical and detailed their knowledge, the more reluctant they seem to be to generalise. Nothing quite captures the essence of what they’re describing than – you guessed it – lots of detail.

These people pay me to generalise for them, to draw some general conclusions and map the wood grown from their trees. But even my accountant – and I pay her – suffers from the affliction:

Me: How much do you think my tax bill will be this January?
Accountant: I’ll look into it and let you know
Me: But roughly..?
Accountant (starting to get nervous): I’d need to see the figures.
Me: Will it be the same as last January?
Accountant: Yes – unless you’ve earned more or less than last year.

In NLP terms, my accountant has a “Specific” working style as opposed to my “Global” one. If she’d replied “About the same as last year” I would have been happy, but she would not have been.

If you are a marketeer, politician, brand consultant or other high-concept Global type you will be known as a bullshitter by those with the Specific working style. Whereas you will view them as nerdy anorak pencilled-necked geeks or some such term of endearment.

But I put differences aside with my clients by asking the  corresponding questions:

Questions to help Specific people be more Global, big picture and abstract
What is this an example of?
For what purpose?
What is your intention?
What is important about…?
What will this achieve?
Why is this important?
(What’s the big idea?)

Questions to help Global people be more Specific, detailed and

What will this allow you to do?
What are examples of this?
What specifically?
In what way precisely will this affect you?
Can you describe…?
Give me an instance?
(Prove it or show me!)

Including the answers to these questions helps you to balance your working style in your presentations. If you are Specific, I can help you clarify and emphasise your key messages. If you are Global, I can help you to be more credible and clear through the inclusion of specific examples.

It takes all sorts (Global) and now you know precisely what sorts, and exactly how to use them together (Specific). Happy? If not, send a sample of your presentation to the Bizlike Organisation for fast, efficient advice.
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