Wise words from the original Mad Man

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I’m on the early leg of my holiday, although have already completed the first of my books: the quick-read autobiography of George Lois, the legendary New York advertising creative. Called Damn Good Advice (for people with talent), the book consists of 120 insights – offering guru-words and images from the man that had us eating Lean Cuisine while demanding “I want my MTV” and saying “If you’ve got it, flaunt it” (for an advert for Braniff airlines).

In 1960 Lois started the world’s second creative advertising agency, pioneering the creative revolution that was as bold and innovative then as Silicon Valley is today. That said, he resents being referred to as the “original Mad Man”.

“This maddening show is nothing more than a soap opera,” he opines, “set in a glamorous office where stylish fools hump their appreciative, coiffured secretaries, suck up martinis, and smoke themselves to death as they produce dumb, lifeless advertising.”

Mad Men destroys the revolutionary atmosphere in which the early advertising industry operated, says Lois. Creatives then were maverick outsiders, he claims, inspired by the Civil Rights movement, women’s Lib and the protests against the Vietnam War. These were seismic, turbulent, days that changed America forever: so to reinvent the history of creative advertising to one portraying corrupt corporate insiders is – for Lois – an insult to an industry that reset rather than followed the zeitgeist.

Lois was certainly an outsider. Raised as a Greek New Yorker (the son of a florist) in a “racist Irish neighbourhood” his experiences as a conscripted GI helping to “commit genocide on an Asian culture” led him to a life as a radical graphic communicator “determined to awaken, to disturb, to protest, to instigate, to provoke”. Indeed, he provoked reactions wherever he went – even on his first day as an army conscript when, at a 6am rollcall at a camp in the pre-Civil Rights Deep South, he irritated the major for offering the wrong response to his hollered name.

“Oh, another Noo Yawk, Jew Fag, Niggah lover!” spat the major, to which Lois replied:

“Go fuck yourself, sir!”

What I love about Lois’s take on his own creativity, however, is not his in-your-face liberalism: confronting a McCathyite Cold War USA with a creative imagination and passion that the crusty conservative establishment failed to understand let alone match. He’s hardly the leading advocate here – more like one of many baby-boomers catching the wave. Although his contribution is, indeed, significant it’s not game-changing – and pales compared to John Lennon or Andy Warhol or Bob Dylan. Ultimately, George Lois depended on his corporate clients so the odd pro bono campaign for a just cause was never going to turn him into a revolutionary hero of the first order.

No, what I love is – perhaps oddly – the discipline of creativity he extols. The book reeks, not of the hedonistic mayhem of the age, but of the hard work required, and of the unstated rules of creative success. The early insights such as “follow your bliss” and “always go for the big idea” are fine, if highly predicable, but they give way to the undeniable notion that good creativity requires dedication, and that those that make a difference don’t do so by partying harder than their rivals but by getting into the office earlier and staying later.

“If you don’t burn out at the end of each day, you’re a bum!” he states….”I’m totally burnt out at the end of each day because I’ve given myself totally to my work – mentally, psychologically, physically. When I head home at night I can’t see straight. But I love that feeling of utter depletion.”

Other insights I like include:

  • Lois’s extolling of Abraham Lincoln’s famous apology to a friend “I’m sorry I could not have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time”: certainly something I’d love Moorgate’s PR clients to understand when they’re convinced it takes us less time to write an 800 word OpEd than a 1500 word feature,
  • His conviction that you cannot sit at your computer waiting for the big idea to pop out. It won’t – you need to get out and about (Lois recommends art galleries and museums, even if visited a 1000 times before),
  • That there is a big idea or creative solution waiting within even the dullest assignment. His view is that we have to want to find it, rather than simply want to complete the task,
  • That we shouldn’t over learn the lessons of failure as they may make us too cautious. Instead, Lois – if convinced it was a good idea – contends that they were all “magnificent conceptions” that he’d failed to sell. Being humble when being creative, he opines, will blunt your fearless creativity. That said, he insists that it’s “onwards and upwards, and never give your failures a second thought”,
  • He also thought that you should never listen to music when trying to come up with your big idea. This is a difficult notion to accept in our office because we often wear headphones to block out noise while writing. But I agree music can interrupt the thought-waves and, instead, listen to bland, soothing, lobby music with no lyrics. People think I’m mad but I’ve written four books this way – something that would have been impossible with The Eagles or Oasis in my ear,
  • Creativity is rarely a group activity, says Lois. Rather it’s the insight of individuals. “Breakthrough creative decision making is almost always made by one, two or possibly three minds….Collective thinking usually leads to stalemate or worse.” By worse Lois refers to “group grope”, which is the opposite to the “eureka” nailing of good ideas. “Teamwork might work in building an Amish barn, but it can’t create a Big Idea.” Of course, as outsiders, we knew this, though latter-day managerialism makes us the maverick that must be exorcised from the creative process – so it’s great to hear that we weren’t wrong: individuals produce the best ideas. Thanks George,
  • Work is worship. “Working hard and doing great work is as imperative as breathing,” says Lois. “Creating great work warms the heart and enriches the soul. Those of us lucky enough to spend our days doing something we love, something we’re good at, are rich.” So says Lois, adding that unless you are the best in the world at what you do, you’re failing your talent. At least at first, payment, influence, fun: all are distractions to the real goal of excellence,
  • Work comfortably in a formal setting. I love this insight as it reinforces my own prejudices about all those new work-play offices with ping-pong tables and roof-top bars. Work is work, so generate a formal working environment and save play for the evenings. That said, he didn’t want a pristine setting that makes workers feel uncomfortable. “I love people informality in a structured, precise surrounding,” says Lois – which made my heart leap with the joy of affirmation,
  • “It’ll do” is NEVER good enough. In another passage Lois tells the story of legendary restaurateur Joe Baum. With Lois in a bar, Baum admires a Bloody Mary he’s served, before challenging the barman to make an even better one. He duly obliges, to which Baum shouts “then why the fuck didn’t you make it that way in the first place!?”.
  • Behave like a professional. He expects dignity and self-discipline from his staff, no matter how senior. “If you act like one of those lecherous TV Mad Men in your office, you’ll wind up getting screwed,” he states. “Save your passion and drive for your creative career, and keep your mind on your work,” he adds. Again, this is something I agree with and have written about – not least due to the career destruction caused by men using their power to procure sex and women offering sex to procure power: “Nobody loves a womanizer, and nobody wants to work with an associate who’s got one eye on his work and the other on a coworker’s curves. It’s the fastest, and ultimately the nastiest way to destroy a budding career”.

Wise words from an ambitious man that made a huge difference to his industry.

www.robert-kelsey.co.uk

 

Attitude and the Chewing Gum One

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Every time I pee in a pub urinal and spot a wad of chewing gum stuck in the grate, I’m reminded of a small injustice I witnessed as an 18-year old working in a formal London surveyors’ office. One day such a wad appeared in the only urinal of the male toilets. No big deal, you may think. Except a very senior manager was outraged – appalled that visiting clients may witness such an oikish artefact and draw negative conclusions.

An investigation, of sorts, was held. I say of sorts because there was a recently-started junior that the senior manager had taken a dislike to, and the assumption quickly developed that he was the offender. Of course, nothing was openly stated. He wasn’t confronted. It was all in what wasn’t said: at least openly. Office-conversations became animated by the incident – though turned silent at his approach. People looked away, back to their desks (this was pre-PC, believe it or not). Or they changed the subject, or offered a too-cheery “hello” as the lad under suspicion passed by.

At this stage I should add that, no – for once – this wasn’t me. I was also a recent-starter, and bubbled with enthusiasm for my first job in London – finally out of the provinces to which my parents had erroneously consigned me prior to my birth. But that’s the point. It could’ve been me. I was a rough-diamond from Essex with an accent the posh-graduates in the office loved to mimic. I had the manners and posture of someone likely to spit chewing-gum into a urinal.

But the other lad – a genuine Londoner (rather than someone over-egging their Cockney creds, as I was) – was the one under suspicion. Why? Because his attitude was wrong. Both comprehensive lads with barely an O’level between us – both thrown into a smart West End surveyor’s office full of born-to-rule estate management types I’d never come across before – my enthusiasm endeared me to my betters, meaning they forgave my ignorant use of language and my propensity to stand with my hands in my pockets. Meanwhile, he knew all-too-well how much these Toffs hated him and his quiet, chippy, resentment was soon noticeable.

I was noisy, stupid and loveable. I quickly became a sort of office mascot – like a regimental goat, though one in a cheap suit and scuffed shoes. Sure, we’d both been taken on because we were capable of talking to the painters and decorators they employed, as well as the gas-fitters that were the tenants for their largest residential estate. But while I saw an opportunity, he bore a grudge. And was soon gone.

I stayed three years: travelling up and down the land, learning about life, love and London while gaining the A’levels that took me to university as a mature student. And it was only looking back that the belittling and snobbery I endured on a near-daily basis actually strikes home. Mostly, I remember being a popular – if uncouth – member of the team. I lived in Fulham for a bit and, some evenings, would hang out with the office Sloanes (as they were becoming known) in the White Horse, Parsons Green, and other long-gone hostelries along the New Kings Road. They saw me as a gobby curiosity – a genuine cheeky-chappy. It was a role I loved.

So what’s my point? That, quite by accident – and largely through ignorance – I had the right attitude, which stood me in great stead. I prospered and enjoyed my time, to the point that – when I left – they promised to interview me for a post-college job (though I rejected a surveying career soon after). Meanwhile the other lad – streetwise and insightful – lost out, though I’ve no doubt he found his thing eventually. It was an occasion when knowing too much – and over-analysing human interaction – was, in fact, harmful. Meanwhile being the simple, jolly, fool (within-limits) opened doors.

Of course, outsiders will recognise the role played by both him and I. Uncomfortable in our own shoes, we’re so often either the sullen blackcloud of the office or the workplace jester or fool. What we’re not is the future CEO: taken seriously, respected from the off, trusted and clubbable. Given this, we’re immediately handicapped – starting from an inferior position with the odds stacked against us.

So we have an uphill battle, for sure. But, for me, the lesson is clear: we may as well start the attack from a position of being liked – not least because it will undermine rather than reinforce the prejudice. It’s a lesson I had to learn several times (not always as the good guy).

Oh – the chewing gum: it soon became apparent that the workmen upstairs were using the male toilets on our floor, and their renovation project also entailed constant deliveries of building materials and equipment, some from miles beyond London and with big burly crews constantly pounding the stairs and filling the lift. But by then it was too late. The damage had been done, and my fellow (not so) cheeky-chappy had another, partly self-fulfilling, layer to his resentment.

www.robert-kelsey.co.uk

 

Thoughts on my father

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Dad died on Sunday. I’m still waiting for the emotions to kick in, although I’m mainly concerned for my mother who’d spent three years visiting him daily – watching the decline of a once-proud man. A good day was one where she’d managed to feed him, or where they’d been a flicker of recognition at her arrival. On bad days he hardly woke, or lashed out angrily at the care staff trying to clothe him or change him or walk him to the dining room.

For 10 years the decline had been relentless. Each irreversible step pushing him further into the mental wilderness he eventually occupied: staring blankly at the wife he married and the children he reared. He saw my eldest born. Held him, in fact. But the photos reveal a man already in the throes of being hollowed out from the inside. Uncertain he could hold a baby safely, he clung on too tightly, his eyes betraying a mix of panic, pride and encroaching bewilderment. By the birth of my youngest he could barely speak – a thought would occur to him and be lost by the time the words were in his mouth.

Slowly, surely, the ravages of Alzheimer’s took him away from us, as if some internal janitor was wandering the corridors of his mind, switching off the lights as he went. And at certain points the lights were extinguished in the rooms containing us: first the grandchildren, then my sister and I, then his wife, and then any sense of himself. After that, it was a watching brief as all semblance of the father I knew was disassembled and removed: piece by piece, light by light.

Three years ago my mother could no longer cope with the human shell she’d once married and still loved. He moved to one of the two care homes that were to punctuate the last sad act of a life that had been marked by progress. Born in Plaistow in East London, he’d been brought up in a terraced house just off Green Street, probably the Newham thoroughfare most known to visitors because its course runs between Upton Park Station and the Boleyn Ground.

Indeed, he remained a West Ham supporter all his life – in fact one of the few ways to win a reaction from him in his final years. Yet he was always more interested than passionate: keen to see them prosper, though equally able to shrug off the inevitable setbacks. Of course, the stoicism of West Ham fans is legendary, and somewhat typifies the area – values that were to spill into the exurban Essex flatlands with the post-war diaspora that my parents were a part of. “White flight” some called it, though that’s to put a negative spin on people looking for a better life beyond Abercrombie’s greenbelt: fresher air for the children and a garage for the car.

That said, his most formative years – and an experience that returned to obsess him as his mental decline kicked in – were as an evacuee. Between 1940 and 1945 – aged between five and 10 – he shared a bed with two other grimy East London urchins in the house of a childless couple in the small town of Bishops Castle, Shropshire (pictured above, dad is the small guy on our left wearing a West Ham Speedway pin). “Uncle” George and “Aunt” Hilda loved him as one of their own. Meanwhile his mother, Ethel – her husband away fighting Mussolini – had moved to nearby Shrewsbury for the duration of the war and visited him no more than two or three times despite being just a 30-minute bus ride away. Once she came with a stranger he was told to call daddy.

It was a detachment that impacted the relationships he forged as an adult, although – as part of his later-life redemption – he came to recognise the damage such emotional neglect and confusion caused him, and to make amends.

Despite the war, my father was in many ways part of a lucky generation. The 1944 Education Act meant he was a beneficiary of a system that took the brightest working class kids and projected them into the professional classes – often via the sciences. He won a place at Stratford Grammar, which led – via Southwest Essex Technical College in Walthamstow – to him qualifying as a structural engineer. And that – in turn – became his ticket out of East London.

The values this gave him: of the link between hard work and self-improvement; of overcoming the genuine barriers to progress through sheer determination; of the power of education to change lives – eventually became my values, for which I’m grateful. He recognised that many doors remained closed to the working class, but that didn’t stop people from disadvantaged backgrounds making enormous progress. They just had to strive for it.

And his progress was certainly marked. Within a few years of qualifying he was made a partner at a firm of London structural engineers – soon starting their Brentwood office as the junior then equal partner to Arthur Crowe, who I remembered fondly as the kind man with the generous Christmas presents. By 1980 the firm had been renamed Crowe Kelsey and employed over 30 people. Soon after that it became Peter Kelsey & Associates and developed a national reputation for subsidence.

So I remember a moderately-comfortable upbringing in the leafy lanes of Writtle, near Chelmsford. I also remember a man with an acute work-ethic, as well as a deep pride in his achievements. He owned a Rover 3800 (numberplate SHK 444K) and the garage to keep it in. We went on foreign holidays (to Spain and Portugal and even on a cruise). And he was a member of a Masonic Lodge, although he gave this up: a step too far towards middle class respectability perhaps.

Yet he also had two children and a beautiful wife he’d met one Saturday night at the Ilford Palais. Partly to escape his now over-bearing parents (conceivably making up for their war-time neglect), he married aged 23 – immediately after his college-delayed National Service in the RAF. And it was here where he struggled. Too young for the responsibilities of family, he saw us as one more aspect of his arrival in the middle classes. We were the picture in the frame: the girl, the boy, the wife. We represented an idea of success – of respectability – while the reality of emotional neediness, of selfless investment, of unconditional love, dawned on him only slowly, and perhaps too late to prevent some collateral damage.

So his successes as a working class East Londoner turned middle class professional were nearly negated by the challenges he faced as a husband and father. I say nearly because in middle age he experienced a Damascene conversion. Seeing his mistakes, he spent 20 years as the model husband, as well as one of the best friends I’m ever likely to have.

Over late nights drinking single-malt whiskies and with a background of classical music (both tastes he acquired in later life but enjoyed all the more for it) we’d put the world to rights: our mutual interests in history, politics and economics gelling into unshakable – shared – beliefs.

Indeed, a final aspect to my father was his obsessiveness. History was his hobby, something he indulged with an almost unhealthy intensity. As a young child, I wondered whether books existed that were not about the Second World War, or whether there was a book on that conflict he hadn’t read. He then developed a keen interest in the English Civil War, so much so he became a leading light in the English Civil War Society: on the parliamentary side, of course.

And in later life he returned to his childhood – writing a book on his experiences as an evacuee. Mentally, his life had come full-circle, which was perhaps his preparation for the decline to come. By the time he was found wandering alone in a Chelmsford multi-story car park – an aggressive lift door causing mum to lose him – the only remaining badge of the man that once was were the letters after his name on the business card she’d put in his pocket for just such an emergency. No longer even able to ask for help, he still carried the qualifications that made him, and that the illness could never take away: FIStructE, CEng, FConsE, FGS.

It was a pathetic and drawn-out end, eased by the excellent care of Hatfield Peverel Lodge, and by the profound love of his wife, my mother Dorothy, who’d stuck with him during good times, bad times, and the ugly denouement that he didn’t deserve and from which he’s now been – thankfully – released.

Peter John Kelsey 1934-2015

The Service of Remembrance is at the South Chapel, Chelmsford Crematorium on July 16th, 3.30pm

Essex breeds outsiders like nowhere else

A version of this article appeared in the Essex Chronicle

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Bestselling author Robert Kelsey has just written The Outside Edge with the aim of helping those that “don’t belong” succeed on their own terms

What does a white male know about being an outsider at work or in business? Since the publication of The Outside Edge: How Outsiders Can Succeed in a World made by Insiders I’ve been asked this question several times. It’s a fair one: not least because the media usually describes “outsiders” as those not from the clubby world of white-male insiders that, for millennia, have carved up the upper echelons of business, politics and the arts between them.

Dominant media outlets such as the BBC assume outsiders are people like Christine Legarde – the first female head of the IMF – or Tidjane Thiam, the first black-African CEO of a FTSE-100 company. Sure, they deserve praise for reaching the top while overcoming barriers. But being an outsider wasn’t one of them. Both were brought up within elite families, and attended the best Paris universities. They knew the rules and manners of being an insider: how to behave, what to say, who to know and what doors to knock on. They had insider knowledge, in other words: a code of conduct reserved for an insider elite.

So imagine knowing none of that. Imagine leaving a mid-Essex comprehensive (one that would, these days, find itself in “special measures”) with one O’level (in geography). And imagine having the uncouth accent, manners, slouch, dress-sense and – let’s face it – attitude that came with the territory for 1980s products of what can only be described as a “lowest common denominator” education system. And then imagine banging on those same doors – trying to break into the elite (privately-educated) salons of the London media industry.

That, my friend, is what being an outsider feels like. And it’s something people from Essex know all about, whether white, black, male, female, gay or straight.

Yet that’s just half the story. True outsiders feel estranged from their own social group and even their families. No matter what the occasion, true outsiders look around them and wonder why they cannot relate. Why they feel mentally distant – even alienated – from the jollity and bonhomie others enjoy.

Outsiders are culturally and psychologically adrift – rejecting their own group or tribe, and even their family, yet being unable to find another group to call their own, though some jump between groups in the effort. It’s a common phenomenon, especially from people suffering childhood stress in one form or another (family break-up, bullying, sibling rivalry) or who, in adolescence, develop what psychologists call an “identity crisis” – one lasting into adulthood and even middle age.

For normal careers, such traits are a disaster, as you’d expect. Cynicism, disrespect for authority, rebelliousness – all combine to make us ineffective, even troublesome, employees. We end up the office clown or the bitch or laggard or blamer: all signs that we’re on the outside, looking in – feeling like we don’t belong.

And yet outsiders also have positive traits – ones that could be highly effective in careers and business if only we knew how to employ them. For instance, many – if not most – outsiders are highly creative. They see things differently, which makes them inventive. They’re rule breakers: “out of the box” thinkers, often because they struggle when thinking “inside the box”.

 

Essex culture produces outsiders

Certainly, that describes me, but I think it describes many Essex men and women. Something in Essex culture produces creative people that disrespect authority – potentially as a reaction to suburban conformity but also in defiance of the snobbery we face when trying to integrate with artistic London cliques.

The county’s famous for it. Whether comedy (Russell Brand, Rik Mayall, Phil Jupitus, Dudley Moore), art (Grayson Perry, William Morris, Arthur Mackmurdo), music (Depeche Mode, Blur, Prodigy, Billy Bragg), or even literature (Jilly Cooper, Martina Cole, Tony Parsons), there’s something in the culture that produces – well – culture, though subversive culture that’s novel, confrontational and somehow rebelling against the London elite.

It’s the same in business. Shut-out from the wood-paneled boardrooms reserved for the old-school-tie, Essex men and women have taken their outsider status and used it to their advantage – generating some of Britain’s most famous entrepreneurs (Alan Sugar, Barry Hearn, David Sullivan, Deborah Meaden and even Jamie Oliver).

In fact, if there’s one thing all the people named above have in common it’s that they’re entrepreneurs. Whether in business or the arts, they’ve done their own thing – often going against the advice and warnings of others to do so: the classic attitude of the outsider.

Yet outsiders succeed not because they’re mavericks. That’s just the start. What they need are the key attributes for turning their creative or business genius into success. These include:

  • A growth mindset – opening your mind to learning and opportunities.
  • A plan. Dreams are not enough: a routemap is required.
  • A strategy for getting through those shut doors – especially the ones saying “Essex man/woman not invited”.
  • Influence over others – including the gift of persuasion.
  • Judgement – helping you make strong decisions.

 

I guess hard work can be added to this, but – if there’s one thing most Essex people have in common – it’s a strong work ethic. Certainly, we’re grafters – an Essex trait that makes me proud to put my name to my homeland. Indeed, writing The Outside Edge has made me admire my home county and all its maverick “entrepreneurs”. I guess that now includes me, which is strange because – having rejected Essex as a young man battling my own identity issues – I now realise it’s the place that made me who I am.

I get it now: thanks Essex.

www.robert-kelsey.co.uk

 

Can outsiders make good leaders?

A version of this article appeared in The Director.

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Robert Kelsey, author of The Outside Edge, says their failings can be turned into strengths with a few simple steps

There’s no use denying it – outsiders make awful leaders. Our individuality and selfishness, along with our sensitivity and defensiveness, are an explosive mix, making us ignorant of the needs of any team.

Sure, our innate creativity can inspire others to follow – as long as their admiration outweighs the shame and humiliation we heap upon them. But successfully creating and corralling team activities, as well as spotting, developing and motivating talent? Very unlikely.

Or, at least, very unlikely without some form of Damascene conversion. If outsiders can step through the mirror and realise the impact we have on them – rather than remain focused on the impact others have on us – we can become excellent leaders.

Leaders, what’s more, in tune with the needs of our team, able to unleash their creativity, organisational competence and execution skills. Yet this is an uphill task for outsiders. Here are five steps that can help outsiders become leaders:

1. Leaders need to go on a mission

Philosopher and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl opined that “what man actually needs is not some tensionless state but rather the struggling and striving of some goal worthy of him”.

Outsiders must find their mission: a cause – going way beyond any need for seniority – that all those involved can mentally invest in. If others can at least share that mission, they’ll see beyond your other failings.

2. Leaders need to develop a growth mindset

Stanford psychologist and Mindset author Carol Dweck divides the world into those with fixed, and those with growth, mindsets.

The former consider their attributes set in stone and spend much of their time concealing self-perceived weaknesses, which is a disaster when it comes to managing or persuading others. Those with a growth mindset, meanwhile, accept they have everything to learn and treat every encounter – including with juniors – accordingly, something that helps win people over.

3. Leaders need to set goals and delegate

Appreciating your team is one thing, setting them free to achieve quite another. But the mantle of great leadership is only bestowed on those who can.

A big leap in the right direction comes from meaningful delegation – what Ken Blanchard called “one-minute management”, in which we develop a joint vision of the final result before backing off completely.

This way, they not only learn skills (other than simply carrying out instructions), they own the work, which unleashes their creativity and is highly motivating. This should be combined with personal goal-setting for every team member so they can see how their involvement in the project furthers their own “mission” as much as the team’s.

4. Leaders need to control their emotions

Emotions are probably an outsider’s biggest barrier – not least because it’s our emotions that destroy rational judgement.

Many catastrophise their fears, accentuating their paranoia and making them poor decision-makers. Others – perhaps succeeding despite themselves – develop a preening arrogance that can lead to an inevitable, and disastrous, reckoning.

Yet controlling our emotions is, oddly, a matter of including them. If we first confess our hopes and fears we can ensure they’re just one part of our decision-making, alongside other elements such as process, control and creativity.

This will prevent your team feeling they’re being held hostage to your emotions and may help defuse your reactivity: a classic outsider trait you should learn to control. At the very least, practise your apology.

5. Leaders need to develop empathy

Many outsiders have what can be called “distorted empathy”, in which we find ourselves sympathising with society’s wrongdoers because we understand the alienation that generates deviant behaviour.

Of course, it’s not unhealthy to understand the motives of others – even what drives extreme behaviour. It simply needs to be strategically employed, allowing outsiders to empathise with the agonies of colleagues and, especially, juniors.

Being in tune with their emotional needs – not just our own – helps motivate them: not through terror or false incentives, but through the shoulder-to-shoulder pursuit of personal growth.

Ultimately, as outsiders we have it in our power to develop strong leadership skills, which – in turn – will help sharpen our creativity and multiply our output.

But we must first notice the impact we have on others rather than vice versa. If not, we’ll remain the lone wolf with, at best, some disciples who have yet to tire of our egocentric and selfish pursuits. And that hardly counts as leadership at all.

The Outside Edge: How outsiders can succeed in a world made by insiders, by Robert Kelsey – £9.99 Capstone

robert-kelsey.co.uk

@RobertKelseyWSY