Olympian Study Techniques

Another great idea from Phil Chambers

In honour of the 5 Olympic Rings, this month I decided to share my own 5 rings (or letter O’s) to help you study or assimilate information faster.


As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in Mind”.

Before tackling the book it is important to set your objectives and define goals. Break your goals into smaller aims. How long do you want to work for per session and how much do you want to cover? Ask yourself why are you reading the book? What specific questions do you want to answer?
Asking questions before you begin enables your subconscious to go to work as soon as you open the book. You will be on the lookout for particular facts and will be more likely to spot relevant information. Often the answers will seem to leap out at you. Spend five minutes jotting down what you already know about the subject. This gets you in the right state of mind to engage with the book, boosts concentration and means that you will lay a firm foundation to build upon. Connecting new and existing knowledge is far more effective than trying to acquire information in isolation.


Go through the whole book very quickly. Pay particular attention to summaries, conclusions, illustrations, diagrams, graphs and headings. Look at the contents page and index. You may want to insert strips of paper to act as bookmarks so you can quickly return to points of interest. The aim of this step is to familiarise yourself with that layout and rough content of the book. Imagine you are attempting to complete a jigsaw puzzle. This part is analogous to studying the picture on the
front of the box and spreading out the pieces.

Obtain information and answers

‘Skim and dip’ through the book. Don’t be tempted to dwell to long on any one section. Make notes as you read (Building up a Mind Map is a good tool for this).  Be selective in your reading. Remember your questions. Most information tends to be concentrated at the beginning and end of chapters so pay particular attention to these. In the early days of the internet when the web was referred to as the ‘World Wide Wait’, images were often shown as progressive JPEG files. You started with a very blocky image that gradually became clearer as more data was downloaded. The process of reading works in exactly the same way. You start with a vague picture and refine it bit by bit as you assimilate information.

Omit difficult bits

If there are parts of the text that you struggle with, just jump over them and continue onwards. The more context you have the easier these parts will become. Getting bogged down in detail does not serve any useful purpose. Returning to our jigsaw analogy the more pieces you put in place, the
easier it is to see where the remaining parts fit.


The final stage is to tie things together. Return to noteworthy parts of the text, fill in any gaps and answer your questions. If you want to retain what you have learned from the book, especially if you are studying for an exam, you need to review. Take a 10 minute break after finishing your notes then re-read them. This initial reinforcement is vital to maintain recall. Schedule time in your diary to review your notes or Mind Maps: Review for a second time the following day, one week later, after one month and finally after three months. These five reviews will be enough to transfer the information to long term memory. Remember to celebrate. This may sound frivolous but it is very important. It associates study with reward and motivates you next time you have a similar situation. The whole time you are enjoying yourself your sub-conscious is assimilating, integrating and interpreting what you have been learned so that it is embedded at a deeper level.

Next time you have to study a book, think of the Olympics and follow the five rings.

Time for a bit of creativity

More from Phil Chambers

To be creative you want to leave all avenues open. If you take a single word in isolation it can have a multitude of meanings and trigger countless ideas. As soon as you place it in a sentence you are restricting the meaning and taking away the freedom to associate. You are putting up walls, imprisoning the word. Even worse, sentences funnel you down a path of more and more selective thinking. You write your first sentence. The second sentence follows on from the first. Maybe it develops or refines the theme, but you choose the sentence that best flows. At each point in a narrative you are making choices or selecting. Selective thinking is the enemy of creativity. You need to employ generative thinking to come up with as many solutions as possible.

Capturing thoughts using a Mind Map without imposing sentences allows you total freedom to come up with hundreds of ideas. You can stimulate idea generation using various techniques. These include…

Metaphors: Take a different situation, generate ideas and then relate them back to your challenge.

Reversal: Identify as many ways as possible to make the problem worse and then propose the opposite.

Provocation and movement: Make a ‘silly’ statement, imagine what would happen if this were true and what consequence would arise.

Daydreaming: let your mind wander – Do you come up with ideas in the shower, on long journeys like travelling on trains or planes, or when you go for a walk? Give your subconscious time to work on a problem.

Challenging your assumptions: What walls have you put up that you restrict your thinking? Give yourself permission to stray from convention.

Taking a different perspective: Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. How would scientist like Einstein approach the problem? What would a tough businessman like Alan Sugar say? How would a politician, a nurse or a psychotherapist see things?

Only once you have generated ideas do you evaluate which are most likely to be fruitful. With one or two really good ideas, you can develop them, flesh them out and finally articulate them in sentences. Don’t serve a life sentence of sentences. Break your creativity out of jail.

How to remember Birthdays and Anniversaries

Courtesy of Phil Chambers

One such method is The Major System. It may seem a bit odd

to start with, but stick with me. You represent each digit

by a letter code, combine these to make words that you can
imagine as pictures. (Memories are essentially pictures in
your head).

Here’s the code

0 = s or z
1 = d or t
2 = n
3 = m
4 = r
5 = L
6 = j or sh
7 = k
8 = f or v
9 = b or p

So to code the number 21, you convert it to ‘nt’ and add a
vowel that has no meaning to give ‘net’. You can see a picture
of a net easier than visualising 21.

This takes care of the number part of a date but what about
the month?

You can represent months as numbers (January = 1, February = 2,
etc) but this starts to get complex as you’ll have to make
up words involving 3 letters. (eg 21st February = 21/2 = ntn
which becomes ‘Indian’). I think a better method is to
represent months by more direct associations and then use
these to ‘modify’ the images generated from the number part
of the date. Let me explain…

January = ice and snow (in the northern hemisphere – If you
are in Australia you could use a barbecue).

February = associations with Valentine’s Day: Hearts,
chocolates, roses, etc.

March = marching soldiers or March hares or Spring flowers

April = rain (April Showers)

May = dancing round a maypole with ribbons and bells

June = sunshine (once again only in the Northern hemisphere)

July = American associations (from Independence Day being 4th
July): The statue of liberty, the star spangled banner, etc.

August = Roman associations (August is named after Augustus
Cesar): Classical columns, togas, etc.

September = Autumn leaves

October = Halloween associations: Witches, ghosts, pumpkins

November = Guy Fawkes Night associations (in England):
Fireworks and bonfires.

December = Christmas associations: Christmas trees,
decorations, cards, presents, etc.

As you will start to notice, memory systems tend to be very
culturally specific and one person’s associations do not
generally correspond with someone else’s. It is always best
to come up with your own associations but let’s work with
mine as a guide for the time being.

Going back to our example of 21st of February this can be a
NeT  scooping up chocolates (for Valentine’s Day).

21st June (My Birthday) would be catching the Sun in a NeT.

To remember who each date refers to, just make an additional
association. So for my birthday imagine me wielding the net.

Once you have learned two digit codes from 01 = soot to
31 = mat you can code any date and easily remember all the
birthdays of your friends and family.

Selling for Down To The Earth

A collection of ideas and thoughts about selling cookery classes and soups and sauces.

Sources: Lou Larsen; Shelle Rose Charvet; Matt Fox; Cialdini; NLP selling book; Business metaphor?

The selling goal …

-The paradox is that you are really after feelings as a result of achieving your goals and these you can feel now. Imagine what it’s like to feel the feelings ahead of time and then approach getting the goal without need.

By being up front with the customer you remove any fears they may have and establish trust with them.

My job is to sell “Soups and Sauces” . I’m going to do this buy asking you some questions and then if I feel we have soup or sauce for you then I’m going to ask you if you would like to sign up for a sale and then you have two choices – YES (raise right hand and say with raised pitch) or you can of course say NO (lower left hand and say with lower voice tone) I want you to make the right choice.

People buy for only two reasons :

1 Away from – a problem away from pain

2 Towards – to gain pleasure

Tag questions, quotes and embedded commands

-The two keys to customer satisfaction and loyalty include: Accuracy (doing what you say you’re going to do) and, Availability, the product/service/person is there when a customer needs them.

A key skill in selling is pre-empting objections and empathising with the customers point of view. Finding out their frustrations and offering solutions.


Hi Ace

If I could show you a simple way to change someone’s mind, have them take your advice, reverse their opinion, or make them buy from you quickly, would you be interested?

Then go to:


There you will find more information on using some of the world’s most effective and powerful language patterns and persuasion techniques. I think you’ll find it quite interesting — and quite unlike anything you’ve seen before.

But there is a way to get them a bit more motivated by injecting your ad with a little self-consciousness, a little keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, even a little old-fashioned.

And all you need is one word.

What is it?

The word “still”.

“Still” implies that your prospects are stuck in the past. It can imply that what they are doing is wrong. It can imply that their problems haven’t been solved. It also suggests that your product is up-to-date, trend setting, new, etc.


“If you’re still….”

“Are you still…?”

“Do you still…?”


“If you’re still using Microsoft Word to create documents…” (Maybe you are selling another type of word processing software, you’d give reasons why your product is better than Word.)

“Are you still searching for your soul mate?” (For a dating service or relationship book)

“Do you still use Yahoo to search the internet?” (Here you’d give reasons why you shouldn’t be using Yahoo.)

When I use this frame in writing ads for my clients, I like to use the question form more (Do you still..?/Are you still…?) because asking questions of your readers demands an answer. We are programed to answer questions. Don’t you agree with me?

Are you still using standard language in your ads…and getting stale results, then take a look at the following:


Luckily we have a word that can be used in many situations where you are trying to persuade someone. And you’ve probably seen it in a number of successful advertisements. That word is “imagine.”

When you use imagine as an imperative (a command) like this, you pretty much engage a person’s entire internal experience. This makes it quite appealing.

• Imagine what it would be like…

• Imagine for a moment that it’s a month from today…

• Now imagine you…

• Imagine what you could do if you…

• Allow yourself to imagine a scene of…

• Just imagine how you’ll feel…

• What happens when you imagine…?

At the end of the frame you future pace the benefit of doing what you want them to do. You could also future pace the consequences of not doing what you want them to do. But generally, it’s more effective if you future pace the positive.

You can also use these Imagine frames to start a bulleted list of benefits.

Here are some examples of the above frames:

•  “Imagine what it would be like after you mastered these language patterns.”

•  “Imagine for a moment that it’s a month from today and you can persuade just about anybody with these patterns.”

•  “Now imagine you just gave a business presentation and your audience was completely enthralled.”

•  “Imagine what you could do if you could persuade thousands of people at the same time.”

•  “Allow yourself to imagine a scene of total success.”

•  “Just imagine how you’ll feel after you experience the power of these language patterns.”

• “What happens when you imagine people actually doing the things you told them to do?”


1. Get clear on your outcome. What do you want your target to do, think, feel, or believe?

2. Use this frame –

Maybe you haven’t (YOUR OUTCOME) yet.


Maybe you haven’t read my book yet.”

Maybe you haven’t put it out of your mind yet.”

Maybe you haven’t decided to come with me yet.”

This language pattern is great in that you start getting your target to actually think about what you want with less resistance. After all, you are only making an assumption.

This is very similar to the sales techniques of the Assumptive Close. This is where you act as-if the prospect is going to buy:

“When should we deliver it to your house?”

“What will your neighbors say when they see it?”

“Where will you put it?”

As I’ve mentioned before, you can stack additional language patterns onto this pattern to make it stronger and more complete. You can add embedded commands, Reasons-why, and linguistic binds. Like this,

Maybe you haven’t checked out the following catalog yet. It’s a good idea to  take a look now  because you will find all sorts of information on how to sell more of your products and services.


Here’s the frame:

Most/Many/ (NUMBER) people feel (WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO FEEL) when they (WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO).


•  “Most people get excited when they study NLP language patterns.”

•  “Many people feel a great sense of relief after coming to ABC Resume Service.” (for a resume/CV writing company)

• “Many people feel a deep sense of contentment when they enter this house.” (for a real estate agent)

This language pattern also uses the powerful influence of Social Proof which states that most people look to see what others are doing and take their cue to behave in a certain way from what they know others are doing.

And of course you can convert the first part of this language pattern (the emotion) into an embedded command.

You can use types of people in the first part of this language pattern as well: “Thousands of marketers feel inspired when they use NLP in their advertising.


Here’s a collection of positive states to use in the Truisms of Sensation pattern.

Joy – Relief – Serenity – Interest – Connected – Fascinated – Inspired – Awe – Accepted – Brave – Fulfilled – Assertive – At ease – Understood – Strength – Sensational – Revitalized – Satisfied – Reassured – Powerful – Positive – Passionate – Motivated – Liberated – Independent – Honored – Grounded – Energized – Fortified – Free – Content – Pleased – Invincible – In control – Supported

There are plenty more emotional words in any thesaurus that would be a perfect fit for the people you are targeting.


And the process is simple. You merely say something (or things) that a person would likely agree with or to. Then you add the suggestion you really want to implant.

The structure would go like this:


Here are some examples:

● You are resting comfortably in that chair. It’s nice and pleasant to go into a deep trance.

● Communicating clearly is vitally important for business, isn’t it? Your company needs to take this seminar to do well in these problematic economic times.

● It’s imperative to be able to influence and persuade people. And it’s important to have a specific method of doing that. NLP languagepatterns contain that method elegantly and eloquently.

Is/Are (SUBJECT) (X)?

(X) is something positive or negative you want your readers/listeners to think about or believe. But it has to be a chunk or two up a level and not at the same level as the subject; this would just lead to a normal “Yes/No” question. For example,

“Are Doberman pinchers black and brown?”

That’s just a plain question about a type of dog. It’s asking about something on the same level (a physical description).

Now if we up the power of (X) we create a rhetorical question that states your opinion. Like this:

“Are Doberman pinchers the best guard dogs for your home?”

That was for a positive spin. For something negative, we could do this:

“Are Doberman pinchers the world’s most dangerous dog?”

Used this way, a “simple” Yes/No question becomes a way to inject a presupposition into it, especially if the person reading your piece doesn’t have a formed opinion or knowledge about your subject. On the other hand, if your reader knows about the subject you are writing about, they might be intrigued to read more about your views and thoughts on the subject.

This pattern makes a great headline in that it gets your prospective reader curious, and that’s always a good state to get people into…especially if you are selling something.


In NLP’s Meta-Model, we have a violation called “Mind Reading”. It’s where someone believes they know the thoughts, feelings, intentions or motivations, of another person or persons. Like these:

  • They must think I’m a fool.
  • You wouldn’t understand.
  • They hate me.
  • You know what I’m going through.
  • She should know how I feel.

As you can see, these are quite disempowering. We would use the Meta-Model to deconstruct these beliefs and to find out how the speaker came to these conclusions.

But interestingly enough, there is a Milton Model language pattern that uses mind reading for therapeutic benefit.

I know you’re wondering … (“I know you’re wondering what you will experience during this session.”)

When we use Erickson’s Mind Reading in our conversation, writing, and advertising we can create a sense of empathy to deepen rapport with our recipient. It becomes somewhat of a pacing statement. Some copywriters call this method “Psychic Influence” because we are telling our recipients how they feel or what they are thinking at the moment.

Here are some frames you can use:

  • I know you …
  • You’re probably thinking …
  • Presently you …
  • In the past you …
  • Remember when you…?

Some examples:

  • “I know you are going to love this.”
  • “You’re probably thinking that this isn’t going to work.”
  • “Presently you need help with mastering language patterns.”
  • “In the past you’ve had trouble communicating clearly with people and getting what you wanted.”
  • Remember when you first realized the power of NLP language patterns?”

The last pattern is useful in that it can invoke nostalgia, a powerful emotion in many people. “Remember when you were a kid and you finally discovered you could read?”

With this pattern you can make your recipient of your message feel empathy, rapport and understanding; bring on strong emotions (your message will be much more powerful if you make it more emotional); admit they have a problem (that you can solve). Use it with a mix of other language patterns to get your readers or listeners highly motivated.

Clean language WFO

Ask yourself:
1. And what would I like to have happen in 2013?
Answer by stating what you would like, not what you want to get rid of/ not have/avoid/stop doing, e.g. ‘I’d like to eat healthily.’ rather than ‘I’d like to stop overeating.’; ‘I want to build a better relationship with my father.’ rather than ‘I don’t want to fight endlessly with my father .’)
2. And is there anything else about that (answer to Q1)?
Add detail to your previous answer.
3. And all of that (answers to Q1 and Q2) is like what?
This asks for a metaphor for your desired outcome.  Your metaphor can be imaginary (like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow), or a real experience you’ve had/your memory of it (like climbing the Grand Canyon), an amalgamation of memories (like Christmas morning when I was a child), or anything else. There are no right or wrong answers.
4. Then ask these questions, in any order, and repeating them as seems useful, to learn more about your metaphor (‘x’ and ‘y’ refer to any word or phrase that you’ve said.  Keep to words and phrases that refer to your desired outcome rather than to any problems):
And is there anything else about x?
And what kind of x is that x?
And where is that x? or Whereabouts is that x?
And that x is like what? And is
there a relationship between x and y?
And when x, what happens to y?
5. Now you know about the form of your desired outcome, learn about the sequence in which things happen in your metaphor. Again, ask the questions in whatever order seems useful and repeat them as needed:
And then what happens? or What happens next?
And what happens just before x?
And where could x come from?
6. By now, your metaphor may have transformed or evolved, and you may have decided that you have all you need for your desired outcome to be realised, in which case ask yourself more of the questions from section 4, to make your metaphor ‘all singing and all dancing’ so that it has substance and staying-power (all my metaphors of course, not yours and therefore not Clean – sorry!).
7. If it is still a work in progress, ask yourself:
And what needs to happen for (metaphor of desired outcome)?
And is there anything else that needs to happen?  Repeat this question until the answer is ‘No.’
Write all your answers down. They are the conditions that need to be in place for you to realise your desired outcome.
8. Now check if/how the conditions can be achieved. For each condition ask:
And can [condition] (happen)?
If ‘Yes.’ then give it a tick and move on.
If ‘No.’ ask:
And what needs to happen for [condition] (to happen)?
And then repeatedly ask:
And is there anything else that needs to happen? until the answer is ‘No.’ And then loop back to the start of section 8 and keep looping until any issues with conditions have been addressed.
Then return to section 6 to get your metaphor all singing and dancing.
9. Finish by doing whatever will make that metaphor still more memorable to you, e.g. drawing a picture of your metaphor (no need for it to be a masterpiece), making a 3D model, looking up any meaning-filled words in a dictionary with the derivation of words (etymology) to see if any further insights come from what you read, taking actions related to the  metaphor, finding out about processes related to the metaphor e.g. learning how seeds germinate, if the metaphor involves a seed taking root, or finding an object to act as a reminder of the metaphor.
May 2013 be a year you remember for all the right reasons!


Communicating with our people in an Airline


  • Excellent and targeted communication by management is a precursor to trust and engagement by the workforce. See my Secrets of Communicating with Pilots for the answers.
  • “Know your audience” and know that your communication will fall on willing ears.
  • Accept pilots for who they are: Intelligent introverts, and use this to the benefit of the group.

Suggestions for better communications within the UK:

There seems to be an incredible amount of effort and energy spent trying to find out what “they are up to”. For example web chats and forum posts etc. All trying to catch the company out. So I guess management need to convey this information more frequently which will have the side effect of slowly breaking down the us and them situation, after if we are not “Thomas Cook” who is? Remember Tim Walker’s story about his squadron. If this Squadron is shit then so are you.

Sources used: Brilliant Minds; Andrew T Austin; Online articles; Fruitbat; Shelle Rose-Charvet

Models used: Metaprograms; Business metaphors; Myers Briggs; 4Mat

Following on from my interest in Engaging with our people in an Airline it has become apparent to me that the way in which we communicate with pilots will directly influence the way that they engage with the organisation. The company want engaged staff because engaged staff are more productive, more efficient, take fewer sick days and generally perform better.

One solution from ETS plc (who carry out the Echo survey for TCX) was to influence what we as individuals THINK, this in turn will affect the way that they FEEL about the company and hence alter the way they DO things. That is the way we behave and engage.

To achieve this their whole approach is to align the strategy of the organisation, ie what’s in it for the company with the suggested questionnaire. Surveys are tweaked accordingly. By asking specific questions and then producing specific action plans and carrying them out, all will be well. Ask them what they want, do it and life’s a beach. Well until the results start to fall I guess? My experience of Action Planning is pretty poor. It requires  very committed manager and the work force seem to be pretty unconvinced by the outcomes for reason. All this action requires time, energy and money whilst getting on with the day job. The ECS approach would imply that there are a set of outcomes ie Behaviours that are being sought from the outset by the company. From an NLP perspective behaviour is of course the output from an individual which has been filtered and tweaked by all the usual Blueprint of Behaviour influences. In principal I agree with the concept of THINK FEEL DO but I do not believe that the ETS method is the best way to go abut it.

The second suggested solution from Dianne Lowther is to engage with every individual pilot on a 1-2-1 basis and ask the following style questions:

  • What would it take to engage that person, what would it take to fulfil their values?
  • What’s going to make the work meaningful and enjoyable to them?
  • What’s going to make them proud to work for this organisation?

Now lets agree that this is not going to happen soon so the question is how else are we going to glean this information?


I have recently read a great deal written by Dianne Lowther from Brilliant Minds and in particular her work on why the iT department nearly always come bottom in any staff survey and this got me thinking about the similarity between Pilots and IT personnel. In particular I was intrigued by the possibility of a direct comparison and then transferring these findings to TCX.


Do you recognise these people? Disaffected, cynical and disengaged.They bring up negative concern after negative concern? Not to mention nit-picking the most picayune details?”  They often tell you “I don’t know what’s going on around here!” Suspicious and even a little paranoid. Long memories of perceived injustices. Well you probably would not call these people “Intelligent Introverts” would you? Well Dianne does and her point is that these people can be extremely useful in an organisation should you choose to use their qualities.

More work by Dianne includes a closer look at Introverts and Extroverts.

According to Myers Briggs the definition of an Introvert may not be the stereotype that you hold :  “What a person will do after a days work to re-charge their batteries.”

  • Spend time with friends and family often at home.
  • Read the paper and or watch television or the web.
  • Happy with their own thoughts and ideas.
  • Poor at small talk and get frustrated by it.
  • Go for depth of knowledge – so may have a long term hobby or sport.
  • Goes for depth of experience
  • Takes time to trust somebody

She has also produced a publication about Why the IT department sucks at engagement.

This is a short list of stuff that may be worth considering regarding communication:

  1. Intelligent Introverts (see above for Introversion)
  2. The “Business”
  3. Interpersonal skills

Intelligent Extroverts offer:

  • High IQ
  • Introversion
  • A broad view of most situations
  • Logical thinking
  • Good memory
  • Myers-Brigs: Cool Blues Analytics and in NLP terms Digitals (like logic and detail)

I would like to suggest that the last two are changed so that it reads:

  1. Intelligent Introverts (see above for Introversion)
  2. The “Business” needs you! Why not harness the attributes of these guys and engage with them.
  3. Airline Interpersonal skills and personal development: Technical ability comes first and managers lack the confidence as leaders. They are often promoted for their technical ability or knowledge and not their leadership qualities.

Intelligent introverts don’t judge you on what you do, but on how you think.

I’m not sure just how this can be achieved in TCX, lets see what emerges.


Here are some interesting ideas about the sort of people we pilots are. The first one is from AVweb and suggests the following:

 In a practical sense your non-pilot manager must understand that your concern with what might go wrong is not negativity. Instead, it is the pilot’s natural training to look for problems that he/she does not even remotely imagine are going to happen. It is fastening your safety belt taken to an extreme. And since, as a pilot, many lives depend on your decisions, you tend to take things to an extreme.

Here’s another rather funny one from the partner of a pilot and some possibly useful findings:

“Pilots tend to be scanners, drawing conclusions rapidly about situational facts. Pilots scan people as if they were instruments; they draw conclusions at a glance rather than relying on long and emotion-laden conversations.”

And here is a list of Traits of Pilots which also includes a couple more references.

  • “More concerned with modifying their environment than changing their own behaviour.”
  • “Pilots are bimodal: on/off, black/white, good/bad, safe/unsafe, regulations/non-regulations.”
  • “…in some ways, pilots are the most consistent and even-keeled group anyone is likely to meet…” they are “trained not to rush!”
  • “Pilots tend to be self sufficient and may have difficulty functioning in team situations without CRM and other training.”
  • “Perhaps there are times that you as a pilot need to understand that some business projects can be rushed with no significant loss of effectiveness. Equally important, help others to understand that to a pilot “rushing” is often synonymous with “making hasty and dangerous decisions.””
  • ” ….. most pilots want to know about anything that affects their work, even tangentially.” Pilots like information that is “condensed” and “to the point,” just like talking to ATC. A lot of pertinent, essential information conveyed succinctly. They must understand why they are being told this information and what is going to happen during the rest of the meeting or FCN or briefing.
  • “Pilots are positive but they remain so by questioning everything that could go wrong. They are diligent but they do not like rushing, especially to meet artificial deadlines. They are interested in what’s going on but like to have a quick overview of the big picture at the outset and they like their information to be concise. Finally, they are cooperative but never ask them to delegate decisions about safety; it’s not a choice they have nor one passengers would want them to have.”

Optimistic and positive attitude; self confident; self disciplined; detailed; logical; good social skills; good reasoning; high personal standards; firm but polite; hard nosed to the point of intransigent when it comes to flight safety;


  • Internally referenced vs Externally referenced
  • Procedural vs Options
  • Detailed vs big picture although when not in the cockpit could be big picture
  • Balance of towards OTP and getting the job done and away from danger or lack of safety.


This work comes from Shelle Rose-Charvet. See my work on this subject here.

Engaging with our people in an Airline

Summary: Created Jan 2013 last update 16 Jun 2014

  • An engagement index should measure the internal feeling that an employee has for the organisation that he works for and not simply a score about the external work environment.
  • Engage with your people individually and they will in turn engage with the organisation.
  • Questions still exist regarding how the organisation intend to increase the engagement index of Pilots.
  • Change what your employees Think about their managers and this will in turn change how they Feel about their management and this will ultimately change what they Do for the company.

Models used: Harvard Memo Template

Sources: Online articles; etsplc; Brilliantminds.co.uk ; kensmithcoaching.co.uk

I have recently begun a dialogue with our Group Head of Air Travel Christoph Debus. This has taken the form of me emoting about my feeling of being un-engaged or even de-engaged (if there is a difference) from my immediate management and above. It follows several letters and communications regarding our future as an airline and the What, Why and even “What will happen if we don’t do stuff” but very little about me as a line Pilot and the HOW we are going to do things differently. In addition “the company” is not happy with the “engagement figures” 39% compared to the national average of 64% what ever that means.

Now does this tell me more about my preferred way of receiving communication or the unthoughtful way that I am being communicated at? Or both? In addition why am I interested in any of this stuff? What do I get to prove and what’s in it for me? What is engaging me in this example of poor engagement?

I guess I care about TCX and my job and I wish to test out my knowledge of human interaction, personality types, metaprograms and the application of a few NLP presuppositions. It’s a chance to get involved in the relationships between management and Pilots which I assume is an area that has not received too much attention from an analysis point of view. In addition it’s a great opportunity to have a look at profiling Mr Debus and mixing in some Neuro Logical Levels.

The overall situation reminds me of the Harvard University format: Problem scenario – Questions raised – Suggested Solutions – Draw your own conclusions. So I will use this format as a template to see how it works out.


Warning Generalisations coming up! Pilots feel unengaged and do not trust management. They are generally cynical about the company and the motives of management. They believe that double standards are being applied to some staff and certainly by most managers especially around financial bonuses.

From what I know of the company they would like to see the engagement figures higher and for us all to pull together as one team in this transformation stage of the rebuilding of TCX Group and in particular the UK Airline. How then will the company do this? There is a difference here between the number of people completing the survey and the Engagement Index generated. See ETS section below.


Definition: or what specifically does TCX mean by Engagement? On a basic level does it mean the number of people that completed the ECHO survey or the results of the survey.

In an letter to the group Harriett says “….make this a better place to work…” and later on “Amongst the many questions each survey featured, there are 15 standardised engagement questions that will give us clear visibility about how you all feel about working for the Thomas Cook Group and how you think we’ve been performing as a business and an employer over the past year.”

From Ken Smith and the Listener: “The inquiry into what employees think about their place of work has metamorphosed into an assessment of the extent to which they want to stay and are willing to proclaim the merits of their organisation, and of their readiness to make additional, discretionary effort for it. In many ways this deeper, strategic enquiry into employees’ satisfaction with, and emotional attachment to, their organisation is to be applauded. ”

I came across this nice article on the subject which helped me understand some of the differences between employee satisfaction and employee engagement. So this article would suggest that:

Employee satisfaction is external to the employee ie more to do with his or her environment, colleagues and bosses (e.g., I have the materials I need to do my work right; My supervisor, or someone at work seems to care about me as a person; I have a best friend at work). Staff opinion poll could be another way of describing this type of measurement.

Employee engagement is far more to do with activation on the part of the employee, the willingness to expend his or her’s discretionary effort to help the employer and how he or she feels internally about the company and their part in it.


I checked out a little of what ETS plc says about its survey and found the following Think – Feel – Do model really interesting:

Think Feel Do

The ‘Think, Feel, Do’ framework that we use to create an engagement index recognises
that an employee’s perceptions of their organisation – for example their understanding
of individual contribution to the strategic direction, job fit, perceptions of the manager
(what they think) – will determine how they feel about working for the company.

Exactly what engaged employees feel will differ between organisations. For example;
pride, passion and a sense of belonging are frequently experienced by engaged
employees (what they feel). But many qualities of an engaged employee are unique to
an organisation and its business context. And what an employee feels will drive their
behaviour (what they do).

So it would apear that ETS do use a way of measuring the true meaning of engagement as the above article suggests so how are we to improve the index and therefor the response rate and presumably create higher productivity and performance?


The following video from Dianne Lowther is a really great NLP style look at the whole Staff Engagement conundrum. I have written up a transcript of her words here. She has also written an article about the Rules of Engagement.


Does Christoph actually want to improve our engagement index or is he happy with our productivity and performance as such?

Where in fact do pilots fit in the big scheme of the Echo Survey? Do pilots know why the scheme is so important. Do we need to be engaged?

How can we improve the pilot’s engagement with customers and fellow workers? CRM? Personal development?

How much does the current Echo survey cost? How can TCX spend half this and come up with a better solution? Who reads Echo surveys? What do they mean to me on the line?


Let’s assume that what the company are doing is not working. If you always do.

The ETS solution would suggest that we should alter and influence what the pilots Think. In due course this will affect what they FEEL and eventually what they DO as a result of these feelings. This is done by following up action plans and meetings and charts and stuff which is not working for me!

The Brilliant Minds solution is to Engage with the individual and their engagement with the organisation will follow. Ask each individual the following style questions:

  • What would it take to engage that person, what would it take to fulfil their values?
  • What’s going to make the work meaningful and enjoyable to them?
  • What’s going to make them proud to work for this organisation?

As of 28th Jan 2013 this is the required action from the latest communication regarding engagement. Your feedback also told us we need to focus on –

  • Communicating a clear and compelling plan and strategy for the UK Airline
  • Further focus on delivering greater customer focus
  • Ensuring people have the opportunity to discuss the issues that we are facing as a company with their line manager and input ideas on how to resolve
  • A much stronger focus on effective performance management with a particular focus on individual development and career growth

On the assumption that TCX will not go with the one on one solution then at least by communicating differently  with pilots we may see some change in thinking. See this post regarding Communicating with our people in an Airline.

01 Oct 2013 update

Comments in Every Voice propaganda letters:

This is an important step for the company – understanding, in detail, what you think, what you want and how we can work together to make our airline even stronger.  Your voice matters, so please make sure that you take time to complete this survey.

You also have my guarantee that we as a management team will openly share with you the results of the survey, explaining what actions we will take across our airline to address the issues you raise.  I am committed to ensuring that we take action based on your feedback.

It’s really important that we get feedback from as many of you as possible. Every voice counts and we will use this feedback to redefine and adjust our improvement measures for next year

Every voice really does count and we – as a management team – will use this feedback to redefine and adjust our improvement measures for next year. We will communicate the improvement measures to you and you will be able to monitor the progress.

…..it is vital that we receive your feedback.

It is really important that we receive the views from as many of you as possible on our airline and Thomas Cook so we can properly shape our future as we strive to become the best sun, beach and leisure focused airline.
As I said last week, as a management team we are committed to feeding back to you once we have the results of the survey, and we will share with you our action plans as we take on board your feedback.
Your feedback is critical and will help the organisation identify the actions that will drive the Transformation and business success at Thomas Cook.

Here’s an interesting open letter from the HR Focus Magazine which also sheds a little light on the subject.

Dear employee,

If you were to give answers to the following questions, what would you say?

·         How do you feel about working for your organisation?

·         How will you describe the way the organisation treats you as an employee?

·         What will make you leave the organisation?

·         What are the organisation’s values and what do they mean?

·         What specific behaviours are aligned to the organisation’s values?

·         What is rewarded in the organisation?

·         Will you be comfortable sharing your answers (or thoughts) with your boss or any senior person in your organisation?

If some of the answers are negative, (or you do not know the answers), and you cannot have an open discussion about your concerns with a senior person within the organisation, you are probably disengaged; and disengaged employees are not productive.

You probably work with an organisation that touts the fact that ‘employees are their greatest asset’. However on a daily basis, the behaviour you observe from those who should know better is totally inconsistent with this. For example:

·         You have a great idea on how certain ways of working or services could be improved, but the last time someone within the organisation brought up a bright idea, he was told it was not his job to come up with ideas. And yet ‘innovation’ is one of the company’s values or

·         Whilst the company says ‘customer satisfaction’ is important, you very often see your managers grumble anytime they have to attend customer requests; and they never return customer calls or

·         Your company values ‘respect’, yet employees are treated differently depending on how senior they are or

·         Anytime you try to be ‘proactive’, you are denigrated as being ‘all knowing’ or

·         The only people recognised and rewarded are those who achieve results through individual effort, yet ‘teamwork’ is supposed to be encouraged.

The list could go on and on, and I am sure you get the drift.

It is therefore not surprising that you have very little emotional connection with the work you do and the organisation you work for.

You think back and recap how you got recruited to the organisation and recollect the interview.  You remember that no questions were asked about how you fit into the organisational culture, or whether or not you were aligned to their values. The focus was solely on technical competence and previous experience.

You then remember your first week at work. There was no formal induction. You were literally on your own and had to find things out for yourself. No one shared the company’s mission, vision, goals, strategy and vision; yet you are expected to contribute to the success of the business. A lot of what you learnt was from informal interactions with peers in the organisation-some of it very contradictory and confusing. As a result, for a very long time you had no idea what the performance expectations were and how they will be measured. You also did not know what learning and development support existed and what career prospects there were. And yet your organisation says it believes in developing its people.

Very often you have to close from work late; not necessarily because there is a lot of work to do, but more because it is perceived that those who stay longer are the hard working ones. This you find very amusing because most of the time, those who stay on do virtually no work. Many are undertaking private courses and use this time to study, whilst others just ‘kill time’.

So here you are, musing over your current situation, wondering how come your once exciting career has become dull and why it takes so much effort to get out of bed, go to the office and work with passion to exceed expectations.

The answer is simple. It has nothing to do with your capabilities, and everything to do with the culture of the organisation you work for.  The way the organisation works, the relationship it has with its employees and customers, its values and environment has affected you and the way you work. Trying to make a difference is like swimming against the tide, and sooner than later you give up.

Dear employee, like many things in life, you have a choice. In this case, you either stay in your current organisation where ‘presentism’ is high (i.e. everyone turns up for work, closes late but achieves very little), become de-motivated and become an average performer; or simply find a new job.

By the way, the next time you are job hunting, spend as much time researching the company’s culture (behaviour, relationships, attitudes, values and environment) as you will spend researching the company’s product and profitability. Where possible, go beyond the company’s website. Read news items, reviews on products and services, customers’ perceptions and opinions etc. The bottom line is that, you are unlikely to be successful working in an organisation whose values do not align with yours, and sooner or later you will be disengaged.

I strongly urge you to share this with your HR Manager, and ask him or her whether he or she is confident that all the high performing employees do not feel the same way you do.

I wish you well.

Sigismund Dzeble – Head of HR – PZ Cussons


Update June 2014

Here is a link to the latest action plan as a result of the Every Voice survey.


Smart Thinking

In keeping with this post here is a summary of what I have learnt from this article which is reproduced in part from Enterpreneur

1 Think of memory as contextual and designed to give you information about what to expect and how to solve problems in that setting or environment

2 Stop multi-tasking and use your whole body to focus and pay attention see this post.

3 From every new leaning focus on just three key points to remember and record this down either on paper or on a blog.

Most of us think that having a good memory is a trait that’s outside of our control. But good memory is a skill and learning how to improve it can help you become a more creative and innovativer.

The first step is changing the way you think about your memory. Your memory isn’t designed to remember names, find missing keys, or store every password you’ve ever created. Your memory is designed to work in context. For example, if you try to make a list of every vegetable you can remember, you will make a much longer list if you imagine walking through a grocery store.

“What your memory is really for is giving you information about what to expect in the world and how to solve problems in those situations,” says Art Markman, a cognitive psychologist and author of Smart Thinking (Perigee Trade, 2012). Ideally, you want your memory to be filled with useful information that helps you solve tough business problems.

To store substantive memories that will make you a more creative thinker, try these three tips:

1. Engage both your body and mind. If you want to remember new ideas, you need to listen and focus. First, stop multitasking. “The human mind doesn’t multitask really, it timeshares,” Markman says. “You end up flipping back and forth between tasks, which makes all of your learning less effective.”

To enhance your memory even more, engage your body as you listen. Sit up straight, take notes, stand up if you feel tired, gesture or move around a bit. “Engage your whole self,” Markman says. “We’re not just brains in a box.”

2. Review three points you want to remember. When you learn new information (by reading a book or attending a meeting, for example), you tend to remember only about three things. To control what you remember, Markman recommends reviewing the three takeaways that matter most to you. “Otherwise, you leave the three points up to chance,” he says.

When the information is fresh in your mind, take a few minutes to review the most useful points. Try saying them into a tape recorder, writing them in a journal, or recounting them to a friend. “That helps solidify those three points in your memory,” Markman says.

3. Explain new concepts to yourself. For an entrepreneur, a rich memory helps you combine disparate ideas to find a novel solution. “To do that, you need to understand how the world works,” Markman says. You gain that knowledge — and remember it — by explaining new concepts to yourself or to someone else.

AIM to improve your memory

AIM to improve your memory even more. Attention Interest Meaning

This article is courtesy of Phil Chambers Learning Technologies Ltd with a few of my own ideas thrown in.

Summary: Pay attention and your improved memory will will surprise you. Invest in attention and it will pay great dividends. When it comes to remembering stuff, create more interest and make it relevant to your circumstances and have fun. Be as wacky as your imagination will go and this added meaning will serve your memory well.


I could write at great length about memory principles, techniques and systems but this month, I thought I’d just give you three valuable tips that can combat the everyday failings of memory that convince many of us that we must be going prematurely senile.

So you remember them they spell out the simple acronym AIM!


How often are you fully in the moment giving your full attention to your surroundings?

With our every busier lives we have more and more demands on our time and our attention. Inevitably we disregard and filter out what is deemed unimportant at that moment.

For example, on the way to an important meeting, where you parked your car is not going to be at the forefront of your mind so is not paid attention to. When you come in from work, you put your keys down and focus on your kids, spouse, whoever is more important to you. Hours later your
have to waste time looking for your keys because you paid no attention to where you left them.

Similarly, imagine you’re a meeting some for the first time. You want to make a good impression so are thinking about what you are going to say to them while they are telling you their name. You are not paying full attention. It is little wonder then that you instantly forget it.

The insidious thing about inattention is you don’t notice it happening. The consequence of not being able to recall whatever, happens hours or sometimes days later so is you don’t make the connection to the cause. As a result you make the incorrect assumption that the there is a defect
in your brain, that you have a bad memory. This false belief starts to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you accept forgetting as inevitable you don’t even try to memorize things. You end up writing everything down and either get swamped in notes so you can’t find the information you need quickly or worse, you forget where you put the note. Rather than relying on note making or trying to ‘fix’ the problem with your brain by buying brain training software. Just invest a bit of attention
and stop forgetfulness before it occurs.

As you walk away from you car, look back for a second and deliberately observe the landmarks that identify where you left it. Is it near a distinctive tree, a lamppost or a particular building? This will be enough to lock the information into your memory.

When you meet people, focus on them. Listen each person’s name. Repeat it in your head or back to them out loud. If it is an unusual name, check that you heard it correctly. Ask them what it means. Ask them how to spell it and then repeat it back to them exactly the way they said it. Spelling it BACKWARDS in your head will really cement their name – for ever!

The simple act of paying attention will make a massive difference.


Are you interested in a particular sport or have a hobby that you are passionate about? Isn’t it easy to learn facts about it?

Ask a young football fan about their team. They can name all the players, all the scores of the matches that season and for years gone by, who scored the goals and when. This is a huge amount of data that they can recall effortlessly. Ask the same person about what they learned in their physics lesson and they are stumped.

Interest plays a massive role in memory. The brain is terrific at discarding unimportant data. If you’re not engaged and interested in something then you don’t assign it significance. The brain assumes that the information is unimportant so doesn’t store it.

We all sometimes have to learn stuff that we find tedious and dull. How can you make it more fun? Can you make it relevant to your life?

Say, you have to learn Newton’s laws of motion. If you’re not a physics geek like me then I guess this probably doesn’t strike you as fun. If, on the other hand, you are taught how Ronnie O’Sullivan can make a 147 break in snooker or how a rocket gets to the moon then that is interesting. Basically, this involved the same physics.


If something is meaningless it is hard to remember.

In the World Memory Championships competitors remember hundreds of binary digits. What could be more meaningless than endless stings of ones and zeros? They are able to memorize them because they give them meaning. Each group of digits are converted into a character or an action. Buy using placing these in familiar locations they take on meaning. For example, if Albert Einstein was firing a gun at Marylyn Munroe in you’re your living room, I think you might remember that!

The more unusual you make a mental picture the more memorable it becomes. So even though you will never actually see Albert Einstein fire a gun at Marylyn Munroe in your living room (mainly because they are both dead) – your imagination can make it seem real.

In everyday life, the same rules apply. If you’ve left you mobile phone at home and you don’t have a pen and paper to hand but a gorgeous girl (or hunky guy depending on your proclivity) gives you his/her number, you need to remember it.

If numbers are important to you then you can learn a complex system to make them stick in your memory. If you don’t feel like the work required to do this, you can give them meaning in another way.

Say the number 0207  9921101

Break it down:

0207 99 21 101

Your bedside clock read seven minutes past two in the morning, you are awoken by someone playing Nena’s Eurovision hit ‘99 Red Balloons’.

It’s you neighbour’s 21st birthday party

As you look out of the window to complain you see 101 Dalmatians bounding down the road.

Doesn’t the story mean more than the number?

With these three simple techniques and no complicated mnemonics you can make you memory work better. If you want to make it super-human then you do need to learn some more sophisticated techniques. For most people though, knowing where you left the car keys, remembering the names of people you meet and the phone number of a hot date would be
a pretty good start.

Thomas Cook 10 Minute Presentation CRMI September 2012

Presentation to Keith and Jonathan @ 11:00 local TCX Hangar Main Boardroom

Check over for VAK and positives

Time 00:00             (What) Good morning Jonathan, good morning Keith. My name is Andrew Hardman and going to talk to you today about HOW anybody can change their behaviour by simply changing their physiology.

(Why/why not) I’m going to share this simple yet very powerful insights from NLP with you for two reasons, firstly because I thought you may be interested in it and secondly because you may see an application for it with CRM.

Time 00:30             (Credibility) Now I was first introduced to it about 20 years ago and I’ve been studying NLP seriously for about 5 years. I’m now qualified as an NLP Practitioner and Master Practitioner although I have lots more to learn.

So what is NLP – well it stands for Neuro-Linguistic Programming and for the purposes of today’s session it’s the Study of HOW people tick or HOW we make sense of the world around us.

As with all things NLP I encourage you to be sceptical and please don’t take my word for it. Test it out for yourself. Try some of these ideas out and come to your own conclusions. If it works then brilliant, if it doesn’t then bin the idea and stick with what you currently do. The choice is yours. One of the great things that NLP can do for us is to increase our options which is always a good thing.

Please ask questions at the end unless there’s something that you don’t understand and I’ll deal with it right now.

Time 01:30              (How)

  1. I’m going to use an example
  2. Introduce you to the NLP concept and then
  3. Have a look at what happens when we apply these ideas to our example.

Time 02:00               You are stuck in a traffic jam on the way to an airport where you are about to fly to Vancouver. As usual your ticket is non refundable, cheapskate, non transferable and you must catch this flight or lose £650. How do you think you could be behaving guys?

04:00             First Bit – second best remembered.

Imagine a circle with a Mercedes Benz symbol in the middle. Better still take out a piece of paper and draw it out. Now label these three segments with the words:

  • Thinking
  • Physiology and
  • Mood or the way that we feel at that moment

It doesn’t matter which way you orientate these words because what I invite you to consider is that they are all inter-dependent on each other. In other words – change one and the other two will change in some way.

06:00              Middle Bit – least remembered.

So let’s explain these labels in a little more detail.

  • Thinking – internal processing – map of the world – internal representation – VAK
  • Mood – by this I mean how you are feeling. Down Confident Excited Nervous Anxious Happy Sad Fearful Envious Loving.
  • Physiology – basically our movement – or lack of, our breathing rate and depth, pulse rate, posture, gestures, eye focus and gaze, muscle tension, limb positions, facial expressions and the alignment of our spine and head.

Remember that if we change one the others will change in some way.

07:00              End Bit mostly remembered.

So what? Well here’s a thing. Our Mood drives our behaviour and not the other way round. So now draw an arrow from your Mood segment and label that Behaviour.

08:00            So back in our car guys how can we change our physiology then?

  • Breathing – slow down Huna
  • Head position – Look up
  • Be aware of our gestures – tense – tapping, gripping, clenched teeth, heart rate
  • Temperature
  • Posture – move!

And in turn this will change our thinking and our emotional state and ultimately our behaviour.

09:00     So to summarise NLP offers us a way of changing our behaviour to a more resourceful one by changing our mood. I’ve used the example of driving a car and i’m sure you can think of examples where this approach could be used at TCX whether it’s going through security or dealing with a difficult passenger.


10:00 Thanks to you for your attention and do you have any questions?