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What Turns You On?

It's been a while since I've been so excited about pretty much anything. I'm been, happy, optimistic and aware of how fortunate I am. Yet, it's been a while since I've been doing something where the hours of the day just disappear. It's scary. It's also hugely exhilarating.

The author Daniel Goleman calls it having focus. Tom Evans, being in the zone.

Whatever you want to call it, you'll know it when you find it. If you've not got it, or you're not sure, then why not start shaking life up. When you have a day off do something new and exciting with someone you care about. A new sport. A new location. A new experience. Who cares. As long as it's new.

My turn on at the moment is this. JPMarkey the website - JPMedia, JPMagic, JPMentors. I want to create a training brand that delivers C-Level (CEO, CIO, CTO etc) training which is recorded at 360' in high definition and then rolled out to the entire business. Imagine if you could (at least, virtually) attend your next training course at work and you were sitting next to your CEO. Scary? Thrilling? Exciting? Whichever way you look at it, it's bloody well engaging!

It's not there yet, but I'm getting there. Every day is spent creating new content, reaching out to people, testing, reviewing and changing. Hopefully JPMentors will be up and running before you know it!

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Hosting The Ultimate Icebreaker

The icebreaker. Mandatory in every training course I've ever been on. Usually, it's a way to fill the first twenty minutes or so. Usually, you're too focussed on what your answer is going to be to actually listen to other people. Let alone, try to remember their names.

You turn up to someone's event and you get asked something along the lines of ...

"Introduce yourself and describe what sort of animal you would be".

Brain: **Hmmmm.... what should I pick****Ducks are pretty cool. Though I do like horses**

Joanne: "Hi. I'm Joanne. I'm the operations manager for the South West. If I could be any animal I would be an eagle"

Brain: **An Eagle. I wonder why.....*

Joanne: "So I could have an even better birds eye view over everything my team is doing".

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Brain #panic: **Uh oh. I'm next. I was going to say "horse", just because I like them. She has upped the stakes. What do I say now..... Oh god. **

You: "Hi, I'm James. I'm the marketing manager for the North East. If I could be any animal I'd be a horse. Because....... *Brain wave*...... Because, as a stallion, this would mean I can outrun all the competition."

Clap. Clap. Clap.

Brain: **PHEW**

Now let's say it's your turn to host a training event.

What are you going to do?

Follow the same tedious example of those set before you or break out for success? First of all, what do ice breakers try to accomplish.

1) Make people feel comfortable to talk (hence, breaking the ice).

Rule #1: Keep it personal.

Don't allow people to relate personal questions back to work. Otherwise everyone will try to better each other and put barriers up. Instead, if you can get one person to open up (that can be you), everyone else will follow and those barriers will go down.

2) Introductions to people and their names.

Rule #2: Repetition. Repetition. Repetition.

How often do you remember ten people's names upon hearing their name once? As a facilitator, you should use people's names. "Who's next? John. Great, thanks John, you're up!" Encourage people to repeat in the icebreaker too! You could make the next person summarise what the person before said, for instance. "Hi I'm James. Joanne said she wanted to be an eagle. Well, I want to be a horse......"

3) Engage people.

Rule #3: Make it fun.

Humour is one of the best ways to break the ice as is a simple smile. So, keep it fun. Have people stand up and throw a ball around. Ask them what the worst gift they've ever received is. Do something new and interesting. Just don't send people to sleep before the day has even started!

My favourite Icebreakers

Personal song introductions - This takes some preparation. Contact everyone who is coming and ask them for their personal song and a reason why they chose it. Then play a twenty second clip on the day and people guess whose it is or you just welcome them to the stage. Make the first one a good one to hook people in. The first time I was at an event with this, the first person had a Spice Girls song. Turned out, this muscular man heard Spice Girls playing whilst he was in the delivery room with his wife giving birth to their first child. That really broke the ice!

The M&M game - Take a m&m out of the bowl and whatever colour you get means you draw a question from that coloured pile. You have no time to prepare an answer, so you're really concentrating every time someone stands up and answers theirs.

Wacky Dancers - Everyone gets in a circle and as you go round you introduce yourself and share your wacky dance move which everyone copies for a few seconds. One way to reduce barriers and keep energy high for sure.

Agree / Disagree? What's your favourite success / disaster stories?

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Thank You For NOT Saying Sorry

I thought I would share with you a little, tiny, nugget of wisdom my Supervisor shared with me one day. It's such a small thing but it really makes a big difference. On your thought process. On the situation. And on the reaction you get.

"Try saying thank you instead of saying sorry"

There's a bit of a queue at the cash desk. Nothing major but the customer has had to wait a couple of moments before they get served.

Method One - Apologise
"Afternoon Madame, sorry you had to wait. That'll be £xxx please."
"Don't worry about it. Here you go." (Thought process: I did have to wait a while, didn't I!)

Method Two - Thank
"Afternoon Madame, thank you for your patience. That'll be £xxx please."
"Thank you. Here you go. Thank you. See you next time." (Thought process: that was nice).

See the difference?

You come across calm. In control. A nice person, even. The thank you almost always diffuses it. People like to be thanked. It's also really hard NOT to act positively to someone thanking you.

Saying sorry is saying you've done something wrong.
Saying thank you means you appreciate the other person's actions.

Give it a go tomorrow and see if you notice the difference.

For more of my thoughts see "Stand Out" which I wrote on train journeys to and from London.

Find out more here.

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James Markey

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