What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

This video is from Dublin. My dad makes an appearance. Some scenes from the Ireland vs Argentina rugby, and from Trinity College and at UCD Smurfit Business Schools where I was teaching during the week.

The Wise Man and the Bowl of Lentils

If you liked this post, you will like Happiness, It is about the quality of your Relationships and The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People.

What would you do with €10/$10?

What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

In the 1960s, while consulting for a British factory, Elliott Jaques had a controversial insight: Employees at different levels of the company had different time horizons

Line workers focused on tasks that could be completed in a single shift; managers devoted their energies to tasks requiring six months or more to complete; Senior leaders and the CEO were pursuing goals over the span of several years.

Jacques’ Time Span of Discretion

Jaques said that just as humans differ in intelligence, we differ in our ability to handle timespans.

Each of us has a time horizon we are comfortable with, what Jaques called our “Time span of discretion”.  This term defines the timespan of the longest task this individual can successfully undertake.

Organisations recognise this: workers are paid hourly, managers annually, and senior executives compensated with stock options.

The following chart shows the type of work found at each Time Horizon:

Complexity Description of Capability Organisational Role
Most Complex
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans in the largest of the world’s corporations.
Super Corporation CEO
Construct and pursue world wide strategic plans. Place businesses in the world.
Corporate CEO
Lead the accumulated impact of multiple business units.
Corporate EVP
Optimize the function of a single business unit or corporate support staff.
Business Unit President
Manage multiple, interdependent serial projects. Balance resources among a number of departments.
General Manager
Plan and carry out sequential projects while considering contingencies and alternatives.
Regional Manager or
Manager of Managers
Accumulate bits of information to diagnose and anticipate problems. Proactivity appears. Trends are noticed.
First Line Manager Supervisor
Least complex
Follow predefined procedures. When an obstacle is encountered, seek help. No anticipation of problems is expected.
Shop Floor Operator

The Challenge: 100 Year Problems in a 4 Year System

Our current leadership promotional systems require you first to be successful at annual or 4 year timespans before you can move into the positions that allow you to set 50 or 100 year strategy.  Politicians have 4 years to deliver an impact (and 12 months to run a campaign).  Divisional managers have 1-3 years to deliver an impact if they are to be considered for 20-50 year strategic decision roles.

Climate change and Peace between warring nations are so difficult to resolve because we have a political system that elects 4 year thinkers when we really need 20 to 50 year thinkers in office.

PS What’s your time horizon?  Let me know in the comments below 😉

It doesn’t matter how incredible your ideas are if nobody pays attention. It doesn’t matter how great your business if you can’t capture the attention and interest of customers, employees, investors and suppliers.

There are 7 triggers of fascination.

  1. Power – Take command of the environment
  2. Pasion – Attract with emotion, irrational, irresistible charm
  3. Mystique – Arousing curiosity
  4. Prestige – Increase respect, aspiration
  5. Alarm – Driving urgency
  6. Vice – Creativity, Deviation from the norm, See things differently
  7. Trust – Connection through consistency and predictability
Sally Hogshead explains the 7 triggers in her TEDx talk:

There is a lot of frustration and anger in the world. This has led to the election of Donald Trump, to the Brexit vote in the UK and to the Catalan independence movement here in Barcelona.

On the declaration of independence here in Catalunya, I made this video reflecting on the last 18 months of politics.  I believe that there is anger and frustration…  some is just rebellion…  but there is a lot of understandable frustration with a growing inequality in our societies that we must deal with.

My worry is that the current politics are polarising the different views… Trump causes extreme emotional reaction, Brexit causes emotional reactions… and Catalan independence causes emotional reaction.  It is not an environment where we can work together to create a better structure for living together.  What can we do?

I think we can each make an effort to engage openly in understanding the lives, hopes, dreams and frustrations of others, particularly those who are different from ourselves.

This video is about a strategy for focussing your life’s energy and resources into fewer but more strategic projects. (I tell a story that I have never told in class).

How do you ensure that you are dedicating your efforts to what is really important in life, and not diluting your efforts, resources amongst hundreds of small projects?

If you liked this post, you might like The Complete Guide to Personal Habits for Success and The Star Wars Guide to Saying “No” (from Obi Wan Kenobe).

“If someone followed your life and took 24 hours of film of everything you do for a day and they edited that into a one-hour documentary… the editor could decide to make you look like the worst villain ever or the greatest hero ever… it depends on which parts of your day he puts into the documentary” my friend Raul Aguirre over dinner in Buenos Aires

This video is about a Paradox that we must come to terms with in order to live a full human life. I’ve made it in Montevideo, Uruguay on a trip here to teach Leadership Communications at the IEEM Business School (part of the University of Montevideo).

We need to find a balance in our lives between the forces of external and internal success, between intentional, goal-directed living and a sense of peace within. The paradox – is that these are two forces that clash. How do you find the right balance?

I’d welcome your help on Balance between Ambition and Peace

I need your help- how do you find this balance? Do you have this balance? Do you ever lose control to one side or the other… and how do you recognise this and regain the balance in your life? Thanks… trying to regain this balance in my own life…

If you liked this, you might also like to see my recent video on Finding Purpose and Defining a Vision for your Life (an Exercise).

This is a guest post by Inna Alexeeva, CEO of PR Partner, an IESE Global Executive MBA graduate and an expert in helping leaders work effectively with the press.  Here she shares some tips for leaders in preparing for media interviews.

How to speak with the Media

Inna Alekseeva at a recent media event

Giving an interview to media is stressful for most people. The speaker’s knees shake, he keeps adjusting his tie or watch-band, he stutters, coughs or repeatedly touches his ears – nervousness shows itself in many ways. Even those who deliver lots of interviews and prepare them thoroughly still feel nervous. In this column, I will tell you about some steps to overcome the fear.

Know How to Introduce Yourself

“conversation starts with an introduction where “I” cannot be omitted”

Where I live, in Russia, it is not customary to speak too much about oneself. Many people are used to hiding behind the collective “we” and never speak for or about themselves. However, a successful interview in the modern world is an open conversation filled with references to first-hand experiences. And any business conversation starts with an introduction where “I” cannot be omitted.

You must learn how to introduce yourself in front of a camera (even if you never give TV interviews). Record yourself and watch the video critically, assess your appearance, speech, gestures, tone and tempo of your voice. I would recommend preparing and memorising a 30-second self-presentation that consists of the following:

  • Speaking for 10 seconds about your past, with a brief an account of your work experience
  • 10 seconds about your present, what are you doing now
  • 10 seconds about the future, your plans

Such a self-presentation is easy to use in interviews, at press conferences or during a broadcast (if appropriate). Make it a rule to start any public communication (a press briefing or an address to employees) by introducing yourself and your company. Don’t be too modest.

Prepare three stories

“It would be great for each of the company’s speakers to have 3-5 simple, clear stories about life in the company”

There is no need to tell jokes. Think of the simplest, commonplace stories related to yourself and your company. For example, how you came to work for the company, how a leader hired an employee for the first time. It may be a story about mergers or takeovers or about the last company’s acquisition that will be easily remembered by the audience. Remember the story, write it down, put aside your piece of paper, tell the story in front of the camera, and then watch yourself. What would you like to change? Tell it again. And again. You don’t have to make anything up, just give an account of what has really happened.

I would like to share a little trick with you. If you often have to give interviews in an office, put up an art print or photo on the wall that will suggest the desired topic to the audience. For instance, while looking at Picasso’s Dove, we can talk about peace, environmental protection, the importance of negotiation, etc. It will be a trick up your sleeve. You can buy a set of 100 art posters from the MIF Printing House. They will certainly trigger interesting associations.

It would be great for each of the company’s speakers to have 3-5 simple, clear stories about life in the company. Each story should take no more than three minutes.

Employees, colleagues, partners, journalists and other target audiences will know your stories, remember them, and contact you for further details if the need arises. This doesn’t mean in any way that you will be using only these stories for 20 years of participating in public debates. Your story portfolio will expand as you become aware of the stories happening around you. 

Put Clear Structure in your Interview Content

Do not write down the complete text answering all questions beforehand. In Soviet times, students at schools and universities were asked to prepare abstracts that were subsequently presented in front of the class. Secretaries typed speeches for leaders verbatim, exactly as dictated. Nowadays, less than 10% of speakers use prompters and most leaders rehearse and deliver speeches spontaneously.

Of course, having a sheet of paper with a prepared speech for an interview within reach gives us more confidence, but if we want to have a greater emotional impact and create an atmosphere of trust, we’d be better off forgetting about it. We do not confess love with a piece of paper. We do not apologize with a piece of paper. And a piece of paper will not help us become a good speaker.

Three to five key points are enough for the entire speech. I suggest creating associograms (also known as mind maps) to remember everything. An associogram is a schematic drawing that consists of the main topic of your interview  in the middle and 10-12 arrows with tips (sub-topics) that come out of it in different directions.

Let’s say you would like to talk about charity at your company. The following arrows will come out of the word charity: funds, money, employees, plans, achievements, etc. When a speaker looks at such an associogram, it is easier for him or her to remember which sub-topics they have missed and which are yet to be mentioned.

This will make your speech natural and spontaneous and you won’t have to frantically recall what you wrote yesterday.

Use Numbers and Facts

If stories are a way to listeners’ hearts, numbers are a way to their minds. Infographics for interviews could contain numbers, percentages, basically anything with digits. If you’ve got no ideas whatsoever, you can always compare your national indicators with the foreign ones or track interim changes, or make a forecast. Look for consistent patterns and share them with the journalist.

Rehearse your answers to likely questions 

A good 15-minute TV interview will take between 3 to 30 hours to prepare. You have to rehearse your answers at least three times.

Ask for feedback from a friendly PR person.  If you need, reach out to me!

Encourage your PRs to be honest. I think it is obvious why getting feedback may be helpful. It helps you to correct your mistakes faster and grow as a speaker.

Keep giving interviews and talks!

Maybe today your interviews are not so great, but the more you practice, the more thoughtful and effective the speeches you make in front of the camera, to the company’s employees or in the studio will become.

  1. A parents’ meeting at a primary school,
  2. a speech at a sports club,
  3. congratulations to school teachers,
  4. toasts at weddings and birthdays — you should use any chance to speak in public, not only media interviews!

Schedule 52 speeches for any reason a year (one a week), and I can promise you that, in just 12 months, you will become a very good speaker! 

Recommended Books for an aspiring speaker

5 services for great presentations

  1. Prezi
  2. Haiku Deck
  3. Sliderrocket
  4. Slides
  5. Powtoon 

4 services for colorful infographics

  1. Piktochart
  2. Visual.ly
  3. Easel.ly
  4. Google charts

About Inna Alexeeva

Inna is CEO of PR Partner, a leading Russian PR agency.  She is a graduate of the IESE Global Executive MBA. She is the winner of the Russian Ernst and Young Business Women 2015 Competition in the Brand Management, Advertising and PR category.

Winner of the 12th RuPoR PR Person of the Year Award for public relations development. The author of more than 200 media publications. Co-author of the book High Сaliber PR: How to Make a Top Manager a Star (Mann, Ivanov & Ferber, 2008). Author of Training Top Officials to Work with the Media, Secrets of Effective PR, 100% PR: Reboot, and other training programs. Her clients include Shell, Audi, Coca-Cola, UniCredit Bank, Autodesk, Sberbank, Russian Railways, Sistema Joint-Stock Financial Corporation, Rostelecom, RussNeft, Beeline, AES, Kazakhmys, Konica Minolta, Vozrozhdenie Bank, AVON and SAP.



This video is about Leadership development. I find that leaders worry about the training for those around them… but who worries about the training for the leaders?

What should Leaders be Learning?

The 7 Key Skills of a Successful Business Leader

At Vistage, we believe there are 8 major areas that Leaders need to be working on:

  1. Inspiring a Shared Vision
  2. Leading and Letting Others Manage
  3. Knowing your Numbers
  4. Attracting and Retaining the Right People
  5. Creating and Retaining Customer Loyalty
  6. Watching Emerging Trends, Risks and Opportunities
  7. Taking Care of Yourself

Where can you Find Inspiring Leaders in Continuing Development?