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Welcome to the Rhetonic Blog

Hello and thank you for visiting the Rhetonic blog. Now, pull up a chair and let’s have a chat…

Like any subjects, my passions of Psychology, Marketing, Leadership and Enterprise can be as fascinating or as dull as we make them. Well, I don;t know about you, but I don’t like too many dull things, so I want to use this opportunity to make my topics as stimulating, thought-provoking and relevant as I can. But I’m going to need your help.

Firstly, please do browse through the entries and come back to look again from time-to-time. I am not one who is often short of things to say, so this blog will be updated on a regular basis. Better still, why not subscribe to it so you will always know when something new has come out.

Secondly, keep your mind open to what we can learn here. Many of the insights and comments which follow, relate not just to our leaders and our customers, but also to ourselves as individuals and consumers. So, much of it will apply to all of us at many levels – if we let it.

Finally, when you are reading through the posts, if you find something that makes you curious, think about things differently, surprises you or even annoys you – will you tell me? That way the ‘lecture’ becomes a conversation, and we will all go away better informed.

Do we have a deal?  I hope so…

Enterprise Weak?

I don’t know if you are aware, but this week in November is National Enterprise Week – a week where students in schools and colleges are encouraged to focus on Enterprise in all of its forms. It has a day dedicated to social enterprise and one specifically for the role women play in enterprises as they are hugely underrepresented in the field of business start-ups.

Enterprise Week is always a busy time for me and the BoomBizz team, but it is a thoroughly rewarding one too. We go into schools and work with hundreds of students, allowing them to explore their entrepreneurial potential through the simulation of running their own small business. It creates a huge energy, momentum and enthusiasm within the students…a much needed positive experience of business. 

So how tragic, that against this background of enterprise, yesterday should see the release of figures stating that for the first time since the records separated the figures out, youth unemployment has crossed the 1million threshold. 1million.

So much of business, whether it is about forecasting growth, securing funding, gaining customers or passing interviews, so much of it is about confidence. And how much confidence is this generation of young people going to have in themselves? Imagine how it must feel to have had years of work, study, tests and exams, all to culminate in…what? In frustration. In rejected applications. In disappointment. In desperation.

Now is the time when we need to encourage them to be more enterprising than ever. To be creative, take risks and seize opportunities. To be bold, energetic, active and determined.

True entrepreneurs are the ones who dig deep, find the strength and belief to go on when the odds are against them and create the circumstances they need in order to succeed.

Maybe we could all do with a few lessons in enterprise?!

All in a Flash

What were you doing on the 10th August 2001? Where were you – what were you doing and who were you with? Can you remember? Unless it was a big day for you like your birthday or wedding day, the chances are you probably can’t recollect it. OK, what about on the 11th August then? Still nothing? So, what about a month later. What about the 11th September 2001? Yes, I bet you can tell me all about your day now can’t you?

Today, the eyes, minds and voices of many within the world will return to the atrocious events of ten years ago – the terrorist attacks in the US. Many people will discuss in private or in public, in homes, on phones, on radio and TV stations, through Tweets and blogs such as this one, their detailed experiences of September 11th 2001. But do you ever stop to think how remarkable that is, or to wonder how we are able to do it?

Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as ‘Flashbulb memory’. It is when a memory remains so vivid that we can recall the most incredible details about it…years after the event.

With Flashbulb memory you can usually recall several things including where you were when you heard about the event, who you were with, what you were doing, what you did next and how you felt.

Flashbulb memories are generally thought of as being collective – depending on your age examples may include hearing about the shooting of JFK, the Challenger disaster, the death of Princess Diana, or more recently of Michael Jackson. But, they may also be individual memories – recalling when someone proposed to you, when your first child was born or when you were told that a loved one had a terminal condition.

So, how is it that some memories become Flashbulb ones – what is it about them that makes them different? You may have noticed that the most common element is extreme emotion – usually including shock. But from here on, there are two different theories on why the memories become so strong.

One view is that due to the nature of what happens the emotions are so great that it is as if a photograph has been taken of that moment – hence the reference to Flashbulbs. But the second view acknowledges that these are special moments in our lives and that they are not treated like the rest of our memories. As human beings, we discuss these significant events, describing and sharing our individual experiences. But, unusually, we do this time and time again, repeating, reliving and reinforcing it each time. It becomes like a story that we are used to telling, a well-rehearsed part of our lives. Is it any wonder then that we remember them so vividly?

Whichever theory is right, one thing is for sure. Flashbulb memories are powerful, they remain with us, become part of us and are incredibly hard to forget …… even if we wanted to.

Neural networking!

A colleague and I were talking recently about the different approaches men and women have to networking. Women only networks have been created as environments where women feel ‘safer’ and more inclined to network effectively. But surely, by doing this we significantly reduce our chances of promoting ourselves and our businesses effectively don’t we? Wouldn’t we stand a better chance if we could interact and communicate confidently with people of both genders?

So why does this barrier exist? Is it all about the lackof confidence that women have? Or could it be something else?

Ironically, as a result of our evolutionary past, women are better adapted and developed to benefit from networking. As the more socially focused gender, women seek to build relationships, support others and share their experiences and insights for the benefit of the wider community. Now contrast this with men. Genetically programmed to climb the social ranks, their neurology creates a sense of competition rather than collaboration, encouraging self-preserving behaviours like one-upmanship and the importance of demonstrating status.

So, what happens when the two combine?

Well, I think you can see where the confusion occurs! Men, through no fault of their own, often make women feel inferior or even threatened. Women on the other hand may come across as superficial to men as they use small talk to build rapport rather than getting to the point as male brains prefer.

All is not lost though. The two genders can and do work together successfully, but it often takes effort, practice and an appreciation of what the other party prefers. Understanding this will enable people to be more relaxed, more open and more effective in such environments.

Surely that suits us all doesn’t it?