If you’ve never tried Spinning…09 Feb

If you’ve never tried Spinning, don’t bother.

If you aspire to anything approaching physical fitness, you probably burn your calories through some skillful and satisfying sporting activity and support this with a sensible regime of running, stretching and weight training.

The thing about Spinning is it’s pointless. Well, apart from the massive cardio-vascular workout potential. Pointless, but strangely addictive.

It’s not competitive, well not in any conventional sense unless you count who can get the sweatiest. At our gym, we used to have bikes with ten settings, but you could tighten or loosen the belt against the flywheel and anyway, we broke them all.

Now the Startrac bikes just have a red knob with a two-headed arrow on it; plus one way, minus the other. Clockwise gives you more resistance, anticlockwise gives you less. Put thirty of these  in a darkened room with disco lights, loud music and an instructor:

Now you has Spin.

You can pedal them fast; you can peddle them slow. You can have heavy resistance; you can have light resistance. You can stand up; you can sit down.

And… er… that’s it, basically.

Except when you’ve got the resistance just right so you can pedal to the limits of your endurance and stay on the beat – Blur’s “Song 2” with it’s slow/fast/slow/fast/fast (Whoo-Hoo!) structure is a good one, otherwise most dance music fits the bill – that’s when your instructor earns their salt with his or her motivational catchphrase.

Here are three of my favourites with a preliminary description of their creators:

  • Huge bloke with muscles on his muscles and crew-cut red  hair who, towards the end of some impossibly long, fast section, just as we were all slowing down to be sick, would announce “YOU KNOW IT MAKES SENSE!”
  • Sturdy lass with multi-coloured asymmetric hair, she would arrive from who-knows-where in her Japanese 4X4 to urge us on at critical moments with her battle cry “KEEGO-KEEGO-KEEGO KEEP-GOING!”
  • Relatively slight but utterly gung-ho north-eastern girl who prefaced everything with the stern warning “FAST AS YEZ CAN!”

Did I say Spinning was pointless? Maybe if we wired the bikes up to the National Grid we could sell the electricity generated…


Larkin about with the Jung ones08 Feb

Graneek is extremely nice without being at all my kind of man: he is a pusher, a mover, a coherer, an urger, a carer; I am a leaner, a stopper, an analyst, a discourager, a scoffer.

Top of the list in Mr Bizlike’s letter to Santa this Xmas was Philip Larkin’s “Letters to Monica”. This long awaited volume, coming almost twenty years after fellow poet Andrew Motion’s biography and Anthony Thwaite’s “Selected Letters”, covers the forty year correspondence between Larkin and his lover and closest confidante, Monica Jones.

In a letter written from Belfast on October 26th 1950, Larkin contrasts himself with his librarian boss at the time by presenting five dichotomies, each consisting of opposite poles:

Pusher or Leaner

Mover or Stopper

Coherer or Analyst

Urger or Discourager

Carer or Scoffer

As sometimes happens, this was synchronous with other studies currently underway at Bizlike Towers, specifically the use of the Myers Briggs Type Instrument. Based on the work of eminent Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, the MBTI is a self-report questionnaire designed to make his theory of personality types understandable and useful in everyday life. It’s based on eight preferences, arranged into four complementary pairs or “dichotomies”.

So let’s consider Larkin’s theory of personality as evidenced by his five opposites:

Pusher or Leaner. How like Larkin with his notorious antipathy to work to take a passive stance. (“Why should I let the toad work squat on my life?”)

Mover or Stopper. Larkin moved into the attic flat at Pearson Park, Hull in October 1956 and stayed there for the next eighteen years. He only moved out when the University which owned the building, decided in 1973 to ‘sell off its worst properties.’

Coherer or Analyst. A very strong correlation here with the Jungian concept of Perceiving. Larkin’s boss, as head of a complex institution would see the coherent whole – the big picture, whereas the poet would be more observant of the detail of what was going on around him. (“ every station, Goole, Doncaster, Retford, Newark, importunate wedding parties, gawky & vociferous, seeing off couples to London..”) Bits and pieces like these would become his famous “The Whitsun Weddings”.

Urger or Discourager. Consider the batchelor Larkin’s epigram “Marriage”:

‘My wife and I – we’re pals. Marriage is fun.’ Yes: two can live as stupidly as one.

Any questions?

Carer or Scoffer. Finally, another Jungian concept – the dichotomy between feeling and thinking. Larkin’s boss makes decisions based on his values of showing respect for other people. “Nevertheless, he is extremely nice and I can’t imagine him in a bad temper” the poet writes. Larkin however is more sanguine about the role of emotions (“Man hands on misery to man, it deepens like a coastal shelf.”)

In Myers Briggs parlance, it’s customary to use capital letters to denote type – as a big-picture extrovert, task-driven, captain of industry this makes me ENTJ. Larkin’s typology makes him LSADS – an indolent, stick-in-the-mud, nit-picking, commitment-phobic cynic. Of course, he had his bad points too!

(It’s worth noting here that the MBTI makes no claims to defining “good” or “bad” – only different preferences…)

Larkin makes just one reference to Jung in his published letters. Seven years prior to his personality profiling, he mentions the practice of writing down his dreams “to try to find in them a curve of development” before announcing a few days later: “I have dropped my dream business and presumably I am the individuated man.” This term refers to the process in Jung’s analytic psychology by which the self is formed by integrating elements of the conscious and unconscious mind.

Jung describes individuation as the main task that we face during the second half of our life – an open-ended process of psychological maturity. The twenty-one year old Larkin claims to have achieved this in about a fortnight. Fairly typical for one of his type, wouldn’t you say?


The Civilising Influence of the Digital Bohemian15 Nov


Some nights I wonder: How did I become a D-Bo?

Twenty years ago, I would have been sat at my desk in a big corporation, dictating memos. (Do you use your Dictaphone much? No, I use my finger – this was a joke of the time.) Dictating copy for the marketing department to spend a small fortune on printing it somewhere on a dead tree and wonder who the hell would read it. I come from a time where we had someone to do our typing for us. In Tapscott terms this makes me a digital immigrant – I moved on-line in my lifetime. I wasn’t (like my children for example) born here.

Now, in fact, I’m a digital nomad – I work where I sleep and several times a month, I sleep where I work. When the big corporation was swallowed by a mega-corporation, they might have let me go because my function was a duplicate of an existing one. Actually, I had already left of my own volition. Now I type my own copy to be turned into electronic pulses by Twitter and transmitted to whomever of my followers can be curious enough to tap a key and see them. Fortunately, because I still oil some communication wheels at mega-corp (in fact several mega-corps) I can afford to dick around like this. I guess there’s a lot of us out there and if we can handle the uncertainty we should appreciate the freedom.

Anyway, that’s enough about me – let’s talk about you. What kind of “work” do you do? Whether you work for a corporation, a small-to-medium enterprise or you operate as a sole-trader (or “bed-ender” as they used to be known, after their bedroom office) your work might fall into one or two of these categories:

• You develop content-free IT and attend the care and maintenance of the information superhighway (remember that one?) You are like Wallace & Gromit in “The Wrong Trousers”, laying the train-track as we run on it
• You trade in knowledge, products or services. This might be straight on-line commerce (like e-bay, Amazon etc), e-learning (web-enabled training) or face-to-face events marketed and/or disseminated on the web (conferences, workshops, webinars and the like). Your design skills might be the best. You make games. You may be charismatic in a commercial way (or vice-versa)
• You work creatively in the areas of autobiography, photography, music, poetry, writing and similar artistic endeavours. You are a digital bohemian (D-Bo!)

Wherever you sit or stand on this Science – Commerce – Art continuum, you can choose to use some of the resulting time and money from the first or second category to fund your activities in the third. To a greater or lesser extent this simply defines you as being civilised – “having instincts other than survival.” So bit by bit, byte by byte, you might say that we are all becoming more “civilised” through our activities as digital bohemians. It’s 2.0, it’s unmediated (and might benefit from some editing), but it’s all about our lives and loves in the 21st Century.

Wikipedia defines Bohemianism as the “practice of an unconventional lifestyle”. Compared to what went before, swopping a suit and a tie and a desk 9 to 5 in exchange for pyjamas and a laptop all hours of the day and night. “…Often in the company of like-minded people, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits”. Hello Tweeps! “…With few permanent ties. Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.” Or just a bit random, eh?

Are D-Bo’s creating the cave paintings of the Digilithic era – made in the dark winters by people using stone tools and berries? Maybe it’s potentially something as long-lasting as that. Will you be remembered for the last few elegant lines of code you wrote in ASP or PHP? No. Or the instructional design you did on that Health & Safety training? Not likely. Did I write history with that teambuild I ran for 60 senior managers in Manchester last week? No, but maybe that blog you wrote, that picture I took, that clip she stuck on YouTube (35 million views and rising…) – it’s a long shot but any one of our little digital boho-doodles might just go global, or failing that, simply show what it means to be human in the 21st Century. Civilised, despite what goes on all around us.

Maybe in the future everyone will be famous for 15 million bits. Maybe not. Either way – immigrants, natives, nomads – all hail the civilising influence of the D-Bo.


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


Wow! Inner Peace!! Guaranteed?28 Sep

phone box

Im passing this txt on2 u because it worked for me. I have found inner peace. The way 2do this is 2finish the things u start. I looked around yesterday afternoon at the house & saw the things I had started but not finished…. So I finished them…… The vodka, the Baileys, some rose wine, the ice cream, crisps & the valium. U have no fuckin idea how peaceful I feel now!! 😉 Pass this on2 anyone u think might need a bit of peace in their life!!


The Nine Classic Joke Forms of Comedy Scriptwriting16 Sep

funny rex

My last post about Irony reminded me of a list of nine different types of joke that I got from a comedy scriptwriting book. They are:

Exaggeration – I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate. Some people have a stream of consciousness, mine’s more of a puddle
Word Play – He had engine trouble – he was hit by a train. The footballer had car trouble – on the way to the ground a fan belted him
Pun – In the event of fire, inform any ember of the staff
Twisted Cliché – People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones
Reverse Gag – My garage told me to keep the oil but change the car
Illogical Logic – I tried to put a Euro in the parking-meter for my German car
Insult – If your suggestion was a light-bulb you might have the faintest idea. You’re so un-hip – why doesn’t your bum fall off?
Sex Gag – Save your breath for blowing up your girlfriend
Topical – Home secretary Alan Johnson is reducing police paperwork by making the forms smaller.

If you want to apply these you simply make a list of words and phrases relating to your chosen subject. Here’s mine about “the Brits”:

Hooligans, Irony, Beer, Stiff Upper Lip, Mrs Thatcher, Cross of St George, Island Race, Tea-drinking, Bad Food

Then try each one with each joke type:

In England, they order their food, pay and then run off without eating it (Bad Food/Reverse Gag).

You can hear some more like these in my radio play “The Archie and Cilla Show”.

Have funny!


Mr Bizlike’s finely developed sense of Irony15 Sep


Some years ago, I was trying to explain the British (or more specifically, the English) sense of irony to a German. Because he was an engineer and much given to scientific method, we created the grid shown above to set the concept within the general context of “jokes.”

We decided that, whatever our nationality, we can make jokes about ourselves and about others. These jokes can be about a permanent or a temporary condition. This gave us three different joke types:

• Two stereotypical types of joke, where the “permanent condition” is indicative of a national or cultural characteristic. For example, on seeing the proverbial glass, an optimist says it’s half-full. The pessimist says it’s half-empty. But the German says its 50% over-engineered. Regardless of who makes this joke (self or others, a German or me) its still about one of their national characteristics, the stereotype of reliable (see VW ad ) engineering
• What I call “clowning” where the joke is about myself and concerns a temporary condition. Once, whilst running a session, I had to pause part way through an explanation because I was unable to pull the top off my flip-chart pen. I announced that the pen was the Excalibur of felt-tips and I would never be King… Despite the pre-requisite knowledge of Arthurian legend and a tone more tragic than comic, my remark showed a willingness to let others have a little fun at my expense
• The delightfully named “Schadenfreude” – or joy from others’ sadness. A man walks into a bar. Ouch! It was an iron bar. Includes fart jokes (embarrassment), banana skins and other physical comedy scenes.

To illustrate the concept of irony, my German colleague and I chose the topical subject of Iraq. Having spent the spring and summer of 2003 defending UK foreign policy to my colleagues from the rest of Europe, I’d arrived at a stock response:

The British are an island race. Tony Blair says: “I land troops wherever George Bush tells me to.”

Taking one definition of verbal irony – that speakers communicate implied propositions that are intentionally contradictory to the propositions contained in the words themselves – I suggested setting this joke up with an opening assertion:

The British attitude to European unity can be understood by the fact that we are an island race. (This implies that there are geographical and historical reasons for our permanent condition of separateness.) Tony Blair says: “I land troops wherever George Bush tells me to.” (The punchline contradicts the original meaning by showing that our permanent condition is in fact to be in thrall to the US.)

The skill in using irony, we concluded, lies in how well the speaker subverts stereotypical expectations. A criticism of “us Brits” is that it’s often hard to know when we are being serious – we say one thing and then immediately go on to imply the opposite. This may explain the stereotype about our notorious “sense of humour.” No one gets irony the way we do…

This gave us a fourth category to add to our grid:
• The ironic stereotype where a permanent condition of self or others changes meaning in the telling.

Take the ever-popular subject of beer. It’s an old stereotype in the rest of the world that our beer is inferior to other nations’ products:

English beer tastes so bad its best to pour it straight down the toilet and cut out the middle-man.

By incorporating another stereotype – the notion of British inefficiency – we can mean the opposite of what we say:

English beer is a wonderful example of British efficiency – it tastes so bad its best to pour it down the toilet and cut out the middle-man.

So now you know. How to make funny jokes and both use or fully appreciate irony. Handy, eh?


Mr Bizlike’s brief foray into applied NLP sports psychology31 Aug

John's shop NLP

“Homes and Gardens” is a cornucopia of DIY and horticulture in our little village on the edge of the city, last stop before the manicured lawns give way to rough moorland grasses. The shop’s proximity to Bizlike Mansions means that five-mile, 55-minute round trips to B&Q, for a picture hook or a pot of weed-killer, are rarely necessary. Recently, John the owner and I were discussing his recent form on the bowling green, it being high season. He bemoaned a run of losses that had led him to question how he could play the game for 40 years and still produce such poor results. I had just read something on Twitter about NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) coaching so I asked if he had a pack of playing cards. They sell everything so he produced one.

I asked him to pick out some cards and write a word or phrase connected with his game on each one. He produced a magic-marker and this was the result:
* Joker – “X” (he emphasised that this did not mean he didn’t take the game seriously!)
* Jack of Clubs – “No 1”
* King of Hearts – “Best”
* Ace of Spades – “Choice”
* 2 of Diamonds – “Line”

With hindsight, I could have asked him to elaborate about the “X” factor to see exactly what it meant to his bowling.

I explained the exercise and how he should look through his five cards before that evening’s match and use them to “call up” the qualities that they represented. The NLP term for this is “anchoring” which I understand to mean a way of imbuing inanimate objects with abstract concepts. In this case the cards would anchor the 5 key aspects of his “bowling mojo”. John seemed unfazed by this mumbo-jumbo and explained that he had studied Sports Psychology at the local university and he knew very well that at the top of any game “it was 80% mental and 20% technical.” I could have asked him how studying sports psychology had led him to own a DIY/Garden store but that wasn’t the object of my immediate curiosity. He explained his belief that bowls was about “rolling” and that “the moment you try to push, you’ve got trouble” before expressing his concern that that evening’s weather conditions would not “suit his game.”

Some days passed before I was able to ask him how he had got on. He was unimpressed by his performance which I was half expecting given his get-out clause of “weather conditions.” The cards didn’t work, was his conclusion. We left it there and I quickly shelved my latest blog on NLP in sports psychology.

Some weeks later I saw him again in his lair (pictured). He was a changed bowler and proudly announced his break-though. He had been failing to account for how quickly the greens were drying out, despite the wet summer, and so had been pushing, not rolling, the bowls in the expectation of more resistance. It seemed a no-brainer to me, and I don’t even play bowls, but maybe the cards and John’s explanations had given me some insight. In any case, he was genuinely excited about his discovery so perhaps I was in on the genesis of some understanding that had previously eluded him.

You could say that the cards were merely incidental in his technical revelation and that John would have reached this conclusion anyway, sooner or later, in dealing with his run of bad form. But why not try it for yourself? Think about one of your primary skill-sets – can you select five or six images and symbols and use the qualities you associate to access them, develop them further or correct some fault?

It’s on the cards.


Celebrities Squared19 Jul

coco pops Yay! Employment suited to my particular talents. Celebs – its only $10 a character – all killer no filler! 8:15 PM Mar 27th from web

Help! We are a group of media-studies students held captive by Mr Bizlike and forced to write the cool stuff he is too drunk to do himself! 8:29 PM Mar 27th from web

We answered an ad for “hip young word-slingers happy to work at home in their pyjamas”. We’re chained to a radiator and living on Coco-Pops! 8:36 PM Mar 27th from web

We’re at 157 K- Does Stephen Fry write all his own tweets? Teams of eruditionists labour night and day to produce pearls he casts before us 8:43 PM Mar 27th from web

That was close, he’s gone to the off-licence again. Rescue us! Wait – look at our twitter-grade. Awesome let’s stay and see if we can 100 it 8:50 PM Mar 27th from web

Malicious hackers (try saying that when you’re drunk) have infiltrated my Tweetbunker. I cannot be held responsible for the views expressed. 8:54 PM Mar 27th from web

What we do

You can contact me regarding any team building, communications, leadership and management skills training.

Get in touch

Thanks for visiting our website. If you’d like to get in touch, we’d be more than happy to hear from you. Just email or use our contact form.