What can we learn about KPIs from Ed Sheeran?


During the past few weeks I have been researching current and future trends in content marketing. I have read a virtual ‘stack’ of articles and, between you and me, I will need to read most of them again so that I get the detail and can implement the strategies. What I can report however is that two themes have already emerged: 1) apparently the trend to add value wherever possible, while limiting self promotion, will continue and 2) ‘experience metrics’ will become just as, if not more, important than traditional key performance indicators (KPIs).

A KPI, of course, is a performance measurement that we use to demonstrate how successful we are; it tell us how close we are, or not, to reaching our business objectives. We can use KPIs to gauge our overall success and/or to evaluate particular business activities that we engage in such as our content marketing efforts, or the impact of our practice for our clients.

Experience – or happiness –  metrics, I wasn’t exactly surprised to learn, focus on how the ‘customer’ feels. They take into account whether or not for example:

  • the customer was pleased
  • the experience was customised for the individual
  • the customer’s expectations were met

I have to say I am not entirely clear how the information we gather by applying the new ‘experience metric’ differs, if at all, from the data we gather from a Customer Satisfaction Survey. And it was while I was thinking about this, and about how I can use the happiness KPI to measure the value of my work for my clients, that the following, in my opinion, utterly charming video appeared in my Facebook feed.

And so, if you haven’t seen it already, and even if you have, I would like to request that you please humour me and take two minutes, 1 minute 55 seconds to be exact, out of your working day, to watch the following short video. (Unless of course you really don’t like Ed Sheeran in which case I suggest you move on to the next post.)

Most of you will agree, I am sure, that Ed adds value in spades. Clearly this young woman’s experience is enhanced exponentially when Ed shows up sending her ‘experience metric’ off the happy scale. The outcome is a priceless and unforgettable experience for one delighted fan and for most, if not all, of the audience.

And while we may not, and probably don’t have the singer/songwriter skills that Mr. Sheeran does, or the fan base to match, we can all, each and everyone of us, add value to the peoples’ lives that we touch, be that our customers’, clients’, colleagues’ or our loved ones’.

As professionals, whatever we provide or offer – whether a product or a service – we can aim to create priceless and unforgettable experiences for our customers and clients, and we can use the new happiness KPI to determine how close we come to actually delivering. Can you imagine how your business will be transformed even if you get only part of the way there?

As a Coach I can definitely add value by bringing my clients’ attention to the ‘Ed moment’. I will be asking my clients how they can create priceless and unforgettable experiences for the people that matter to them. I will be asking them how they can create priceless and unforgettable moments for themselves, because it’s all too easy to forget when faced with a to-do list that seems to go on forever, that life doesn’t. Life is short and life is precious.

My invitation to you is that you please make time in your day to think – out loud if it helps – about how you will answer these questions:

  • How and where can you show up and add value?
  • How can you show up and create an ‘Ed moment’ for the people that matter to you?
  • How can you create an ‘Ed moment’ for your self?
  • What are your next steps?
  • When will you take action?

I welcome both your thoughts and your feedback.

The Challenge of Prioritising

1234“Being successful doesn’t make you manage your time well. Managing your time well makes you successful.”

Randy Pausch, Time Management Lecture




How many of the following behaviours do you identify with?

Do you:

  • Live in crisis mode, reacting to the demands of circumstance?
  • Tend to “squeeze it in” rather than eliminate items from a crowded      agenda?
  • Think that everything belongs on your urgent list of daily to-dos?
  • Rarely step back to consider what really matters?
  • Let others set your priorities for you?

It is only when we take stock that we can prioritise, asking ourselves questions like

  • Is this really necessary?
  • If I am going to take this on, what am I going to give up?
  • Am I really living my life according to my deepest values, or just      reacting to whatever pops up?

Prioritising is difficult for everyone, especially in a fast paced, challenging work environment and instead of prioritizing “first things first”, many people make choices according to other rules

  • Whatever’s on top. Paper shuffling.
  • Whatever’s the easiest.      Easy does it.
  • Knock-knock. Responding to whomever asks me first.
  • False progress. The more I can tick off my list the more productive I feel.
  • Proximity. Might as well do it while I am passing by.
  • You decide. I don’t want the responsibility.
  • Conflict avoidance. If you yell loudly about something, it will go to the top of my list.
  • Whatever I am in the mood for. I’ll do it if I feel like it.
  • Save the worst for last. Anything but that!
  • Go with the flow. Doing whatever my colleagues do.
  • Habit. Just doing the usual.

All of these ways of prioritising aren’t really prioritising at all. In fact, they are ways to avoid prioritizing, letting habit, circumstance, or the priorities of others determine how you spend your time. When you prioritise according to these rules you are unlikely to fulfill your potential at work.


b) Taking Control of Your Time at Work

In his Time Management lecture Randy Pausch suggests that failing to prioritise and plan is the same as planning to fail; he then helpfully points out that you can always change your plan, but only once you have one! He recommends that you set both long term and short term goals and plan accordingly for each day, week, month and three month period.

It is also important to remember to set aside an appropriate amount of time to attend to life issues that are not work related. Time spent with your family, for instance would fall into this category. When prioritizing, you must remember to place sufficient value on activities that give life greater meaning. These real priorities are often inadvertently overlooked when we focus on maintaining our professional lives – often with negative consequences.

The decisions you make about which tasks should come first will probably be the most important part of managing your time. These decisions can be difficult and frustrating but are the key to effective self-management. In the next post  we introduce a number of tools to help you do this effectively.

Time management experts argue strongly that you must learn to judge the relative importance of each task to help in your scheduling.

“Time is all we have left. And you may find that one day that you have less time than you think.”

“Time is all we have. And you may find one day that you have less time than you think.”

Randy Pausch, Time Management Lecture


200px-RandyPausch_Wiki_2Randolph Frederick “Randy” Pausch (October 23, 1960 – July 25, 2008) was an American professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Pausch learned that he had pancreatic cancer in September 2006, and in August 2007 he was given a terminal diagnosis: “3 to 6 months of good health left”. He gave an upbeat lecture titled “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”, on September 18, 2007, at Carnegie Mellon, which became a popular YouTube video and led to other media appearances. He then co-authored a book called The Last Lecture on the same theme, which became a New York Times best-seller.

In November 2007, Pausch delivered a further lecture on Time Management. Pausch focuses heavily on specific skills you can use to get the most out of the time you do have left and we have relied, to some extent, on his wisdom in preparing today’s Workshop.

Pausch died of complications from pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008.


Randy Pausch Resources

Randy Pausch Wikipedia

Time Management

The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams


With every minute of every day, we are choosing how to spend our time. By saying yes to one activity, we are, by definition, saying no to another.

How do you want to spend the time you have left?

How to be assertive and likeable at the same time

‘A NO uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a YES merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble’

Mohandas Gandhi

Being able to be assertive and yet still be likeable is perhaps the greatest challenge that we face in the modern workplace. If we are not able to be assertive, then we lack the ability to create firm boundaries, and we absolutely have to be able to create firm boundaries in order to succeed in the workplace. However being assertive does not have to be at the expense of being likeable; it is possible to be both.


Referring again to “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie offers the following six principles:  as they work through the points

Become genuinely interested in other people

“People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves – morning, noon and after dinner.”

And, to prove his point Carnegie asks:

“When you see a group photograph that you are in, whose picture do you look at first?”

Carnegie suggests that you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you

How can you express more interest in your colleagues?


Smiley Faces

“Actions speak louder than words, and a smile says ‘I like you. You make me happy. I am glad to see you.’”

You may think this is obvious. But is it? Have you noticed how many people hardly ever smile? Have you become so serious that you have forgotten how to have fun? If so, lighten up and if you don’t feel like smiling then fake it. Start with a fake smile and eventually it will turn into a real one. In NLP we refer to this as acting ‘As If’.

Try it now. Just turn up the corners of your mouth….that’s right…… and smile, now.

And, when you return to your workplace, if you see one of your colleagues without a smile, remember to give them one of yours!

Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language

“We should be aware of the magic contained in a name and realize that this single item is wholly and completely owned by the person with whom we are dealing…and nobody else. The name sets the individual apart; it makes him or her unique amongst all others.”

Carnegie points out that one of the simplest, most obvious, and most important ways of gaining good will is by remembering names and making people feel important. However, even when we do remember a person’s name we often forget to address them by it.

Make a point of using your colleagues’ names when you get back to your workplace. Pay attention and notice the impact that this has on your communication.

 Be a good listener. Encourage other people to talk about themselves.

“If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind their back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish: bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence.”

The above statement would be almost laughable if it weren’t for the fact that we all know people who conduct themselves in this way. Furthermore, how many of us, hand on heart, can honestly say that we haven’t been guilt of this type of behavior at one time or another.

People like people who are interested in them. So quit trying to impress your colleagues and be impressed by them. If you want to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. Ask questions that your colleagues will enjoy answering; the best questions are those that will lead them to remember a positive experience.

 Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Talking in terms of the other person’s interests pays off for both parties.”

Be interesting by being interested. Make the effort to find out what your colleagues are working on and take an interest. This is the best way to gain other’s interest in you and your work.

Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely

Carnegie advocates that the best way to make people like you instantly is always make the other person feel important.

William James said

“The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

How can you make your colleagues feel important? By building Rapport with them, by stepping into their model of the world, by being respectful of that model of the world, by seeing things from their point of view and then by applying all of the above principles.

How to create and maintain a good impression with colleagues and management


We have looked at, and discussed how to build Rapport, and how to literally step into a colleague’s model of the world, in order to be able to fully appreciate their point of view. These skills will help you create a good impression with both colleagues and management, and used regularly will help you maintain that good impression. It’s worth saying again

Rapport is not something you do and then move on – it is a constant

What else can you do, and not do, to maintain and build successful relationships?

Dale Carnegie’s pioneering book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, first published in 1936 has a place in publishing history as one of the all-time international best sellers. Each generation has discovered it anew and the book continues to sell in the twenty first century.

The principles which the book offers are as relevant today as they were revolutionary seventy five years ago. Indeed, much of what is written today about workplace relationships has its origins in Dale Carnegie’s work. For the purposes of this discussion we have returned to the source.

Fundamental Principles in Handling People (from Dale Carnegie)

Don’t criticize, condemn or complain

“Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous because it wound’s a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment.”

Carnegie advises that instead of criticizing we should try to understand others:

“Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”

The skills you have learned in this workshop, building Rapport, and the skill of stepping into 2nd Position will enable you to gain a better understanding of your colleagues.

Give honest and sincere appreciation

“There is only one way under heaven to get anybody to do anything. Did you ever stop to think of that? Yes, just one way. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”

Carnegie advocates that being appreciative is the best way to influence others; to get them to want to do something. He refers to Charles Schwab, one of the first people in American business to be paid a salary over one million dollars, who said

“I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among my people the greatest asset I possess, and the way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement. I have yet to find the person, however great or exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort under a spirit of approval than he would ever do under a spirit of criticism.”

It makes sense then to be aware; watch your colleagues, and listen to them so that you notice what Carnegie calls their ‘good points’ and then acknowledge them.

Arouse in the other person an eager want

“If out of reading this book you get just one thing – an increased tendency to think always in terms of other people’s point of view, and see things from their perspective – if you get this one thing out of this book – and we can add here from this Workshop – it may easily prove to be one of the building blocks of your career.”

When we remember to always think in terms of our colleagues point of view we will be able to figure out what they want and when we can do this, when we can talk to our colleagues about what they want and show them how to get it, we will be able to influence them.

Carnegie explains:

“Of course you are interested in what you want. You are eternally interested in it. But no one else is. The rest of us are just like you; we are interested in what we want.”

And so when you want one of your colleagues to do something ask yourself: “How can I make this person want to do it?”

NLP Perceptual Positions

Do not judge your neighbour until you have walked a mile in his moccasins”


Turtles All The Way Down, page 200.

We have referred to Rapport as meeting somebody in their model of the world and we have looked at / discussed how you can achieve this through Matching and Mirroring – as you Match and Mirror a colleague, and Pace them, you are in stepping into their shoes, and once there, in their world, you will be able to see things from their perspective or from their point of view.

To assist us further in this quest, of stepping into our colleagues shoes and being able to truly see things from their point of view NLP describes three positions, often referred to as Perceptual Positions.


1st Position: Looking at the world from your own point of view, through your own eyes. You are totally associated and not taking account of anyone else’s point of view.

Ask the question:
How does this affect me?
2nd Position: Considering how things would look, sound, and feel for example for a colleague. Looking through your colleague’s eyes; appreciating the other point of view.

Ask the question (s):
How would this appear to them?
How would it sound to them?
How would they feel?

The stronger rapport you have with another person, the easier it will be for you to appreciate their reality and achieve second position.

3rd Position: This is a neutral position from which you can observe the interaction between 1st and 2nd positions. From 3rd Position you see the world from an outside point of view, as an independent observer, as someone who has no personal involvement in the situation.

How would this look to someone who is not involved?

This creates an objective viewpoint from which you can generate and evaluate some useful choices in a difficult situation.

All three positions are equally important; ideally we move between them freely, taking the information gained from each. This allows us to have a multiple perspective in a situation so that we can be even more flexible and have greater influence.

Finally, a different point of view:

‘Before you criticize someone you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes!’


Seeing things from your colleagues’ point of view, being on the same wave length and stepping into their shoes

“If there is any one secret of success it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.”

Henry Ford

In 2005 HSBC embraced this principle when they launched their highly acclaimed ‘Points of View’ marketing campaign.

HSBC Theme Park Commercial


hsbc 1

hsbc 2

hsbc 3

hsbc 4

hsbc 5


Additional Phrases:

  • Who knows what you’ll see when you look from someone else’s point of view.
  • Everyone looks at the world from a different point of view.
  • Different points of view make the world go round.
  • Isn’t it better to be open to other people’s points of view?
  • We see no problem with different points of view. Only potential.

The following video  HSBC Live Theatre marked the climax of the HSBC Campaign.


Meeting your Colleagues in their model of the world

a) Relevant NLP Presuppositions

NLP offers a number of key presuppositions – guiding principles – relevant to Rapport Building and communication.

Respect for the other person’s model of the world.  In order to influence your colleagues, you do not have to believe what they believe. It is not your responsibility to change their model of the world through an attempt to convince them of yours. When you respect a colleague, and build Rapport with them, they will like you because you remind them of themselves, and then you will be able to influence them.

The meaning and outcome of communication is in the response you get.  We are taught that by clearly communicating our thoughts and feelings through words, that another person should understand our meaning. Whereas in fact a colleague will respond to what they think you said.  You can determine how effectively you are communicating by the response you get from the colleague you are commu­nicating with. When you accept this presupposition you are able to take 100% responsibility for all of your communication.

There are no resistant people, only inflexible communicators. When you encounter resistance – perhaps one of your colleagues does not support one of your ideas – their resistance is a sign that you are not in Rapport with them. This is an indication that you need to be even more flexible in your communication in order to build rapport with this particular colleague.

The person with the most flexibility will have the most influence of the system. This is the Law of Requisite Variety.  This broadly translates as – the person in a workplace setting who has the ability to build Rapport with the most people, their colleagues, will have the most influence in that workplace. This person will not necessarily be in a managerial position.


The Swiss Cheese Method.

swiss cheese






It’s fifteen minutes to your lunch break – far too short a time to do that overwhelming task which you routinely pick up every morning and then put down again.

But wait!

You could do something to get that task started…

What about making a list of all the relevent sub-tasks that will result in the finished product?

Yes! You decide to try that approach and ten minutes later off you go to lunch feeling better about the task and yourself.

Why? Because you have accomplished something, you have made the list of sub-tasks and are no longer fearful of the main task.

This is called the Swiss Cheese method because by using small amounts of time you are making holes in the larger task. It is a commonly used time management technique

How to respond to Overwhelm

One of the keys to managing yourself effectively in relation to time is being sufficiently self-aware to resourcefully address overwhelm as it arises.

An effective tool for managing overwhelm involves changing how one looks at its trigger. In his ground breaking book, Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins proposes that the best way to deal with overwhelm, is to firstly acknowledge it, and secondly, see it as a “call to action”. In other words, see overwhelm as having a message for you. Generally speaking you are likely to feel overwhelmed when you are over loaded; that is when you have too much to do / are ‘time pressured’.

You may be feeling that you have too much on your plate. Another feeling is that you have lost control over a situation. The message is that you have not prioritised things in your life.

People who have learned to read overwhelm as a messages, are able to manage themselves effectively in that they are able to able to take action

  • Decide on which crucial tasks require completion (as above).
  • The simple of act of listing means you start to have more control over your load.
  • Write down in order of priority what is most important to accomplish (as above).
  • Chunk tasks down.
  • Remember the orange segments! Break tasks down into small steps.


  • Act on your priorities.


“You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get it going”

Tracy Repchuk


  • This can be done in one of three ways, using ‘3D’ – DO IT NOW DIARISE / DECIDE WHEN TO DO IT, or DELEGATE!
  • Use Small Periods Of Time To Get Started
  • There are many tasks which because of their complexity and wealth of detail, are difficult to start. There are always other (and sometimes less important) tasks which give instant satisfaction.
  • Take consistent action

“Ordinary steps taken consistently produce extra-ordinary results”

Alex Mandossian

  • Be prepared to re-prioritise as necessary.
  • Re-evaluate continually. Asking yourself questions such as:

Why am I doing this? 

What happens if I chose not to do it?