Not The Apprentice?!

Every year, we sit down to subject ourselves to be entertained by The Apprentice candidates’ overstuffed personal introduction videos. This is my advice to the candidates having watched episodes 1 and 2.

Learn the difference between an adjective and a verb

Anyone else feeling deflated that the decline of the English language is no longer the fault of the hoodie-wearing, mobile-addicted school dropouts of urban legend? No it ‘s all down to the BBC ‘s The Apprentice candidates. From their pompous self-introductions and taxi rants to their post-task analysis, I ‘m not sure I ‘d trust any one of them to tweet for one of our clients, let alone decide how to spend £100,000! Did this escape the notice of the selection panel? I ‘d have slotted in an interview task requiring candidates to construct an elevator speech without using superlatives.

How will they manage to chair meetings, run presentations or write a business plan?

If you must talk in clich√©s, for pity ‘s sake, get them right!

  • The world is full of far too many wafflers. I get the job done, I walk the walk, I talk the talk and I dance the dance.

This is classic Apprentice-speak. Cliches are either misquoted, embellished (badly) or mashed together to form an editor ‘s ultimate nightmare.

Try to avoid sexism when you ‘re pitching for a large investment, in which you ‘re judged by both a male and a female

  • I am an alpha male. I can make women do what I want in the business world and, come to think of it, some men.
  • Most men will buy from females because females are more attractive to look at

The men part has been added in, I think, only after he heard himself aloud, and realized perhaps that it sounded at least a little creepy. As for Sarah, feminists up and down the country will have been pounding their fists into their cross-stitch, following a day spent floating decoratively around the office in their flattering twinsets after typing up the boss ‘ dictation.

Realise that your grandiose statements paint a picture of insanity

  • I see myself as a mix between Gandhi and the Wolf of Wall Street.
  • I believe I am right about everything.
  • I regret not becoming a scientist so I could clone myself.

Honestly people, if an interviewee came out with this one, we ‘d be guffawing into our mid-afternoon soya mochas. I feel na√Øve have they been told what to say by a room full of comical teenage scriptwriters?

@thesensei is making me watch. I ‘m slurping another large mouthful of Earl Grey as I hide behind a protectively oversized mug. But, I ‘m also feeling somewhat Karren Bradyesque. The Apprentice is great for the ego of a hard-working micro-enterprise owner in this wee corner of Europe.

Thankfully the sea separates me from The Apprentice candidates. Otherwise, I ‘d appear mid-show, disguised as an English teacher and give them what for .

What makes you roar over your wagon wheel apple and tea? Do tell.

Image credit: foolstopzanet

Business-Speak at The Apprentice #1

Following hot on the heels of The 10 Worst Business Phrases of All Time and The 8 Worst Written Business Phrases of All Time, we begin a new series on The Apprentice, focusing mainly on the contenders’ communication skills.

Series 7 is under way. The first episode on the current series was shown on 10 May. Catch up on the first two episodes of The Apprentice. Then, come back and join the debate here.

Allegedly, the Alan Sugar’s apprentices have been selected from the country’s top minds and sharpest entrepreneurial figures. And, what do we get? Read on.

Spoiler Alert: the first two episodes, including who got fired, are discussed below. And, you can read more on BBC – The Apprentice.

Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit, when there are footsteps on the moon.

Surely, we think, they’re joking. I think the less drivel-spouting contestants may be able to survive the barrage of drivel by adopting some of Sarcastics Anonymous. It’s a simple strategy (oh no, there’s another buzz-word!).

Either that, or I volunteer to run a five-minute workshop, to help contestants understand the concept of a metaphor.

Edward, who was fired in episode 1, seemed a likeable-enough guy, yet his mouth seemed to run away with him. I counted three instances of the following phrase, within as many minutes.

You’ve just got to roll with the punches.

And, in defence of his action throughout that week’s task…

Not only am I the youngest in the team, I’m the shortest

The others up for firing in the episode remained strangely controlled, revealing only the briefest of smirks.

His failure? It came down to an inability to express himself clearly or succinctly. Lord Sugar is known for curtailing pontificators, mercilessly.

Alex was fired in episode 2. I blame the Welsh sideburns – that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Most bizarre moment

Edna’s gloves distracted from what she was trying to say throughout her pitch.

Star of the show so far: Jim Eastwood

At Sensei Towers, our money is on the man from Cookstown, Jim Eastwood. He’s referred to variously on the hilarious Apprentice Twitter streams as SoupMan, or as Allen prefers, JediJim. Follow the brutal – but entertaining – live tweeting on The Apprentice.

Noobs may find the following useful:

PM Project manager.

“Group hug!” Let’s indulge in some corporate bonding for the cameras.

OK, guys, let’s strategise We need to figure out what the heck we’re doing before the car reaches the market stall. Oh, we’re here.

Roll with the punches. Keep your chin up, even when you know you’ve in way over your head.

Are you following? If so, have you formed any opinions yet on who might win? Or, who might be fired next? Answers on a comment below.

Image credit: jamescronin.

Jedi Workshop Goes International!


Well, kind of. I was interviewed this morning by Steve Chase of ABC Radio in Australia.

Media coverage for this course has snowballed at an unbelievable rate in the last week. Dawn mentioned some of the radio interviews I’ve done in the last blog, as well as the inital exposure with the Newsletter and the BBC.

This in addition to the national newspapers that were generous with their space… at least on-line. First of all there was the Guardian Educational Supplement, hotly pursued by the Times Higher Education Supplement. The latest treatment was by the Times Online, which is interesting because of the comments generated (not all of which are flattering). The Daily Telegraph is in on the act too.

Dopiest question award? Continue reading “Jedi Workshop Goes International!”

Maximum Headroom

I came across a great BBC website recently that I thought I could share with you all. It’s called Headroom: Unwind Your Mind. The site contains a cleverly formatted mix of health news, stories, tests and interactive resources. For instance, there’s a section called MoodScape that allows you to create your own unique animation to reflect your mood. There is also a MoodSpa to explore your mental well-being from a number of viewpoints, such as self-esteem, social life, fitness, and anger management. Continue reading “Maximum Headroom”

Everything Politicians Touch Turns to Waffle – That’s Official!

As a trainer and tutor, it’s commonplace for me to acknowledge that people learn in different ways. (These are called learning styles in the jargon.) They do this just because they are people, not robots or cogs in a bureaucratic machine. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

Unless you’re a politician, that is.

In a heart-breaking and logic-defying article, apty titled Let’s not get personal, BBC correspondent Mike Baker has highlighted yet another government u-turn, this time in education (the usual victim when it comes to government fads and sound bites). Once, not so long ago, meddlers as mighty as Blair and then Brown recognised the fact that ‘children learn in different ways, at variable speeds, and in response to different teaching styles’, several decades following many psychologists. Therefore modern teaching methods should follow suit.

Not so. Continue reading “Everything Politicians Touch Turns to Waffle – That’s Official!”

Saturday Magazine Programme

johntoalLast Saturday, I was chatting to John Toal on the Saturday Magazine Show about blogging. He wanted to know why anyone would blog, and why anyone would read it. I suppose I’ve become something of a ‘person to ask about blogging’, since I started blogging a few years ago, and now teach regular workshops on blogging and other social media tool for NI Libraries, QUB and various businesses.

I’m not sure I convinced him, but it was a really interesting experience, following on from my previous one and only radio appearance on the David Dunseath Programme, again, talking – for approximately 38 seconds – about blogging.

This opportunity was a little longer, and I had a lovely time. John took me into the studio, ostensibly to open a few sites, so we’d something to focus our thoughts on, and calmed me a little, as I was rather nervous, to be honest. I was rather calmer after realising someone had set up little stoves right there in the studio and had started cooking Tikka Masala. The smells were mighty! It was just like being at home… Continue reading “Saturday Magazine Programme”

A Thin Slice of Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is very much an author of the moment. I’ve read his Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking. It’s an engaging defence of intuition as an equally valid, and in some ways superior, method of decision-making to traditional reasoning, at least for the trained mind. The main idea is Thin Slicing (seeing patterns in situations and behaviour based on very narrow “slices of experience”). Here’s a good BBC article on how these snap decicions are sometimes the best.

He’s a journalist rather than a psychologist, and it shows in this work anyway. Yes, it’s a pleasant enough read, but if you’re after some meat on this subject, I would suggest the works of Gary Klein among others (who Gladwell quotes in his book). But that’s just me… Continue reading “A Thin Slice of Malcolm Gladwell”

Are Storm Clouds Gathering?

The BBC and Workology, among others, have taken up the news of the British Chambers of Commerce July announcement – UK in ‘serious ‘ danger of recession. Chamber Online expressed concern that business taxation might rise, squeezing an already thin profit margin, borne out by falling cashflow levels in the services and manufacturing industries. That, added to the slowing up in house sales is making all of us decidedly twitchy… Continue reading “Are Storm Clouds Gathering?”