Tell me about yourself

Cabacos, Portugal, July 2014

As part of a pitch for a piece of business, I was asked to ‘tell me about yourself’: Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Ben Young, grew up in the Shetland Isles where his first job was a cub reporter on The Shetland Times. Moving steadily south (to Aberdeen, Glasgow and then to London), he continued a career as a reporter, a sub editor and a designer on national newspapers before moving into advertising, creating commercial content. In 2009 he was asked to swap his role as creative director for that of... Read The Rest →

Cultural sensitivity

Photograph by David Mellis

I have had a great many conversations about the word culture in the various roles I have held over the years. Consequently I also tend to read a lot on the subject, particularly when it comes to business culture. Perhaps the standout quote from all I have heard and all I have read belongs to economist and author Corinne Maier, whose book Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness) is a best-seller in her native France. “Business culture is the crystallization of all the stupidity of a group of people at any given... Read The Rest →

Power to the People

If you are my age (47, since you ask) you will remember when television in the UK was limited and linear. We had only two channels in my house in rural Shetland until the late 70s and if you wanted to watch something you had to be there. We didn’t even have a credible remote control or a video recorder – never mind the ability to pause, rewind, store, or download a programme of your choice at any time of day or on any continent. Like almost everything else, today... Read The Rest →

This time, it’s personality


  It may be because I fear I lack one myself, but I have always been hugely skeptical of personality tests. I know that most are fiendishly clever pieces of work and that a great deal of scientific-style thought has gone into creating them. I know, too, that there are many skilled people capable of interpreting the data to assess the personality traits of those taking these tests. But I can’t help but fear that incorrectly handled, they may be nothing more than the modern-day equivalent of a horoscope. Personality... Read The Rest →

Get Engaged


The more motivated and engaged you are, the better you tend to perform, right? So it seems to me that a little investment in employee engagement would be money well spent. And yet it still surprises me that so many people in business – often in senior positions – still question that sort of investment and fail spectacularly to see any link between an engaged workforce and better productivity. All too often the idea is seen as some sort of hare-brained idea from HR that shows how disconnected they are... Read The Rest →

Fun and games

Game On

When it comes to serious business, there is a tendency to be wary of anything that might seem fun. Indeed even in most creative agencies, where fun is apparently part of the DNA, such frippery is quickly tossed aside when trouble comes to call. But there is a lot to be learned from fun and, in particular, from games. And what we may learn can have a dramatic effect on our business. Indeed, I am increasingly convinced that a more ‘playful’ approach to work can have serious consequences – boosting... Read The Rest →

The morale high ground

The multi-talented Brad Bird demonstrating one example of motivation

  I am indebted to Tina Seelig for not only her excellent book inGenius: a crash course on creativity, but also for leading me to this quote from Brad Bird, who directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille. “The most significant impact on a movie’s budget – but never in the budget – is employee morale. If you have low morale, for every dollar you spend, you get about 25 cents in value. If you have high morale, for every dollar you spend you get about three dollars of value. Companies should... Read The Rest →

Diary of a Misfit 3: The Hire

Call me, Baby, wherever you are...

I feel like a teenager again. Not because I’m filled with youthful exuberance, but because I’m waiting for the phone to ring – and it doesn’t. I am transported back more than three decades.   I am sitting at the kitchen table pretending to busy myself with homework but unable to concentrate because I am willing Liz Irvine to call to say she can’t live without me (at least during school and Saturday afternoons in town).   And now, just like then, I find myself picking up the receiver just... Read The Rest →

Diary of a Misfit 2: Becoming a Wildcard

Prius - ahead of the curve

On my own personal change curve, I appear to have progressed from misunderstood misfit to shortlist wildcard in just under a month. Result, right? So, I am in my second month of job hunting and the transformation has come about largely as a result of a new and improved CV, thanks to a panel of colleagues.   The document has, in fact, become a sort of embodiment of an Agile environment in that it is in its tenth iteration and counting. The good news is that my CV now better... Read The Rest →

Diary of a Misfit 1: Maverick for Hire

If you want to get ahead...go to Lock and Co.

I am a misfit, a freak of nature, the result of a three-year HR experiment gone badly wrong.   Either that or I am the future, a ground-breaking trailblazer to lead HR into a new era. I’m not sure which – and this is why I need your help. You see, after more than a decade as a commercial creative director for a leading UK publisher (and, yes, I wore a trilby and supported a drinks cabinet long before Don Draper came to the screen), one day –almost by accident... Read The Rest →

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