ASK Programme

We’re delighted to announce that Dawn has been appointed as a mentor on Newtownabbey Borough Council’s ASK Programme. The ASK Programme launches on Thursday 12th September at Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey.

Local businessmen and women are being invited to Theatre at The Mill on Thursday, September 12, 6pm – 8pm, to kick off Newtownabbey Business Network ‘s autumn programme of events.

The keynote speaker on the evening will be Professor Michael McQuillan, co-founder of The Streat Café franchise. Michael and his wife Nikki opened their first café in Belfast in 1999.

At the event, staff from the Economic Development Section of the council will also launch the ASK Programme – an initiative unique to Newtownabbey that is aimed at offering specialist mentoring support to local businesses free of charge.

For further information, or to confirm attendance at the event, contact Jean Shortt via email – – or call 9034 0017.

Narcissism is Good for Business

Love, love me do. You know I love…me!

I love taking things to the extremes, adding a bit of spice to an otherwise bland, mediocre, middle-of -the road mindset. Yes, I know that everyone else says this, but I mean it. That’s why, for example, at BizCamp Newry 2012 I advised entrepreneurs to develop their narcissistic tendencies. Then I read a BBC article in defence of narcissim. Maybe I’m not so rad after all; let’s see.

Narcissism is usually defined as a mental illness or personality disorder. Some psychologists do admit that there is such a thing as healthy narcissism, “the healthy narcissist being someone who has a real sense of self-esteem that can enable them to leave their imprint on the world, but who can also share in the emotional life of others.” Without such a foundation of self-esteem, the narcissist acts from a place of resentment and repression rather than authentic self-respect.

In practical terms this means developing the constant habits of:

  • receiving positive feedback with a ‘thank you’ rather than a ‘yes, but’
  • allowing others to share in celebrating your achievements and victories
  • thinking big about what you want to accomplish in this life
  • admitting when you know more about something than others

So far, so trite? Then try these.

  • relishing those aspects of your personality, taste and style that set you apart from everyone
  • asserting your self-defined rights and values in the face of indifference or opposition
  • acknowledging that you are the centre of your universe (like everyone else!)
  • refusing to let others waste your time, contaminate you with negativity or bore you out of mere politeness
  • feeling good as you overcome obstacles and increase your power over self, circumstances and others
  • using others to achieve your goals while allowing elective reciprocation
  • constructing viewpoints that are unique and provocative
  • finding a purpose or mission that you will surrender to no-one on this earth

At least, this is what ‘healthy narcissism’ means for me (which is all that matters after all…)

Narcissism is hot topic is business since Michael Maccoby wrote an article in The Harvard Business Review called Narcissistic Leaders: The Incredible Pros, the Inevitable Cons. He also wrote a business book called The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership. Leadership is really where narcissism and business meet for most writers. For a more negative appraisal of this relationship, read the article Narcissistic Leaders: Effectiveness and the Role of Followers by Ben Brown. This is an issue with which business coaches in particular need to grapple.

Are you a narcissist? Take this free, online tests to find out – the Narcissistic Personality Inventory. My score was 25 out of 40, higher than 87.8% of the sample. The average is around 16. I scored high on authority, self-sufficiency, superiority and entitlement, but low on exhibitionism and exploitativeness, with a near zero on vanity. Now I know what I have to work on. What about you?

Image credit: centralasian.

What Business Does Well In A Recession?


The stress business, that’s what! Executives and senior managers are making liberal use of an off-shore retreat that is more usually the haunt of celebrities and rock-stars. Causeway Retreat, situated on a private island off the Essex coast, promotes itself as an ‘Executive Addition Treatment and Mental Health Rehab Clinic’. The fees are around £10,000 for a week’s stay.

But according to a BBC article – Executive stress a boon for island rehab – the number of rooms and cotteges on the island will nearly double in the near future in order to cater for demand from the growing executive sector.

It seems to me that places like Causeway, while laudable, might be a symptom rather than a cure. If companies took more care of their employees during work, then they wouldn’t have to ship them off to such places when it gets too much. Continue reading “What Business Does Well In A Recession?”

Online Coaching in Social Media


This week, we are launching a new service, Online Coaching in Social Media.

Who is it for?

We design and delivery a fair amount of social media seminars and workshops. Our customers are drawn from those who are just starting a business and those who are attempting to expand their business. This also includes more established organisations, who are attempting to seek new ways to market what they do and expand their network or establish a more rounded online presence. Continue reading “Online Coaching in Social Media”

The Making of Meaning

Last Saturday – 4th April – I delivered a course much anticipated… by me anyway. It was the first time I’ve got to use my philosophy background explicitly in a course, except for some work I’ve done in the area of business ethics.

The course was on the meaning of life, and how to find it for yourself. It’s interesting to me that this sort of topic is becoming more in demand not only for personal development but also in organizational growth. A framework of meaning connecting individual and corporate purpose provides the ultimate in occupational motivation!

I’ve already mentioned the direction of the course in the enigmatically-named blog called 42. Instead, what I want to do here is share a few insights that I’ve gleaned during the course of my research and the delivery of my course. Continue reading “The Making of Meaning”


For Friedrich Nietzsche, the basic human motivation was a will to power.  For others, from Freud and Skinner to Tony Robbins, it is a will to pleasure that drives us.

Another man, Victor Frankl, had a different theory, one that was tested in the cold fires of the Nazi concentration camps.  Frankl was a psychotherapist before his incarceration there, and was in the unique position of beign able to live his theories out and observe it in the lives of others in this horrific context.  His classic book, Man’s Search For Meaning, remains one of the greatest works of true ‘self-help’ literature ever penned.  For a good selection of quotes from this book go here.  For an introductory overview try here.

Frankl is only one of the thinkers that I’ll cover in my workshop on Saturday 04/04/2009 at QUB, Belfast called The Main Thing: How to Find Meaning in Your Life.

I’ve given away my own viewpoint in the title – for me our quest for meaning is indeed the main thing.  The main thing that moves us and that gives us rest, that we search for in every tangle with  pleasure or power, that offers us our greatest source of hope, strength, and very identity.

Here’s what the course involves.

“Do you sometimes feel your life lacks sense or significance? Join the club! Our search for meaning is the most basic human drive…and the most misunderstood. A lack of personal meaning leaves you without purpose – powerless, passive, and pessimistic. Learn how to give meaning to your own life by employing a range of practical techniques, from powerful questions to personals stories.”

There are many aspects to the meaning of life – philosophical, religious, scientific, even comic (as astute readers of the title of this blog will appreciate).  We’ll have a look at what these worldviews have to offer us, not so much in terms of their truthfulness but in terms of potential usefulness. But I want to bring the ‘big issues’ down – or is that ‘up’? – to the level of everyday experience, so if you’re not a philosopher, don’t panic!  The answer to the mystery of life, the universe and everything might be more obvious than you think!

To book a place, phone the School of Education (Open Learning) on 028 9097 3539/3323 or email

Photo by Pierre Van Crombrugghe on Unsplash