The Bryan Hughes Interview
Bryan Hughes is the CEO of Eversheds an international law firm planted well within the top 10 of the UK legal hit parade. He is an affable family man who claims to make a habit of losing golf balls and doesn’t look his 50 years (he tried to convince me he was 14 when he joined Eversheds in 1984) but underneath his pleasant exterior he’s a determined, focused and very switched on lawyer-turned-businessman. Read more about Bryan here.
Now, here’s how Bryan sees the world….
You have ambitious expansion plans – can you sum them up for me?
We have always had a 3 year business plan but during our last round of planning we decided to look further ahead, in fact to 2020 and not just so we could call it our 2020 Vision! Our short term objectives are to consolidate our global organisation by standardising our offerings, filling the gaps and turning our investment sites (they’ll be the ones that make a loss) into profit centres.
Our 2020 vision is about taking this platform and spreading the reach still further. We all know that there is an increasing movement of business from west to east but we still need to establish ourselves in the US so an American move is certainly a real possibility in the future.
What is your response to those who would say now is not a good time to invest?
Well they said that 3 or 4 years ago too but we carried on regardless and have continued to add turnover and profit to the firm. We know that if we invest wisely and stay focused we can steal a lead on those of our competitors who are “waiting for the good times to come back”. We believe in ourselves and our strategy so why wouldn’t we invest in it?
With expansion on the agenda why the recent redundancies?
Nobody likes to have to let people go; it’s always painful but we have realigned our business to reflect the market and the needs of our clients and we needed to staff up accordingly. Very sad but also very necessary I’m afraid.
What are the major challenges you’re facing with this strategy?
Pretty much the same as everybody else I’d say: we live in times where change is the new status quo and we have to keep up so we constantly need to refine our plans to keep ourselves on target. Added to that there is less business about which is being chased by too many lawyers and with new entrants turning up all the time it’s tough out there.
Bottom line: If you can’t give the clients a good reason to choose you they’ll simply go with the cheapest. High quality, great service and value for money are valuable assets that clients want and we just concentrate on making sure we deliver them.
You have a very progressive IT department – how does it add value to the average lawyer in the firm?
This question has two answers. Firstly our lawyers simply want to take IT for granted. They just want it to work 100% of the time wherever they are on the planet and they don’t want to have to think about the enormous amount of work it takes to consistently deliver this. Well why should they?
Secondly we see IT as an enabler; something to give our lawyers an edge in a market place where you need all the edges you can get. Whether it’s enabling a completely mobile working option or allowing people to link their own Smart Phone or tablet to our network our IT team are saying “yes” as opposed to the proverbial sharp intake of breath.
Lawyers are traditionally techno-phobes – how have you got round this?
Well our younger lawyers have been brought up on computers so totally get how important they are and have no hesitation about using them. Some of the more experienced lawyers have also made the leap into the information age with ease whereas others……. (stares wistfully out over St. Pauls)
In short what counts is their ability to provide great legal advice and IT is just one of many tools we use to help us do this quicker and more effectively.
You were the first firm to issue iPads to your lawyers – did this pay off and do you have any other projects coming up that you can share with us?
Yes I think it did on all sorts of levels. Sure there was some PR value to it but it enabled our people to use technology in situations that would be impractical if you had to fire up a laptop. They also improved our ability to communicate and engage with our stakeholders. Added to that the lawyers thought it was “fun-computing” if there is such a thing (I am an IT man so I told him there is – not sure he was convinced).
Moving forward we are working on a ‘Bonfire of the Bureaucracies’ project to reduce the amount of form-filling and unnecessary processes that have built up over the years as well as additional projects to enhance our HR, case management, practice management and CRM systems. We definitely like to get our money’s worth out of our IT department.
Law firms are having to change from passive BD to something that is a lot more proactive – what changes have you made in the way you win and keep clients?
This is an interesting question. To start with we have been running an extensive and very successful Key Account programme for a number of years which has contributed greatly to our growth and profitability. We train our people precisely how to look after clients as well as seek out new ways to help them and engage with them. This has, and still is, giving great results.
We are still winning new clients of course but we have a range of approaches to this including promoting our sectors and relationships with third parties.
Do you think every lawyer should have to do BD?
A perennial question Mike. Look, everybody has a part to play in securing business. It could be the lawyer that does an outstanding job and gets a referral from it or perhaps somebody who is as comfortable in a networking situation as they are in a boardroom. I believe that you should work to people’s strengths and not spend your time trying to make them good at something they inherently find difficult. Having said that each practice has their own business plan and each team member is expected to contribute; the business won’t win itself you know.
I always like to end with a round of quickfire questions so here they are.
Describe Eversheds in 10 words or less.
Relationship-driven; different in a good way; challengers of the norm (did him a favour and hyphenated the first two; Mr Generous).
Are you an ambitious firm?
We’re far too self-effacing for that Mike – we just want to be different and do it our way (yeah, sure like he loses a lot of golf balls too).
Reasons to: -
- Work at Eversheds: strong culture, meritocracy and the sky is your limit.
- Use Eversheds: easy; we’re obsessed with customer service and being aligned to their businesses.
- Competitors should beware: we’d rather they just ignored us really…. Until it’s too late!
During a time when many firms are talking about attacking the market and growing their businesses but not doing much about it Eversheds, under the urbane Mr Hughes, are making it happen and good luck them. Apparently fortune does favour the bold. Learn more about Eversheds here.
Well done Europe and commiserations to the USA who came very close to nailing it. Great golf but what can we learn from it that would be useful in business?
Well the first thing to say is that everybody on both teams were great golfers; that’s a gimme. Each player has enormous talent and ability but more than that they are used to delivering under pressure and in the spotlight. Pretty similar to life in the second decade of the 21st century really: everybody is pretty good. The recession has cleared out most of the poor performers so quality is no longer the edge it used to be.
So what was it that made the European team raise their game and win? I think it came down to 3 things.
Jose Maria Olazabal provided truly great leadership: support, discipline, belief all in abundance. After the win he said to his team “All men die, but not all men live. And you have made me feel alive again this week”.
As Rory McIlroy put it “He has made us cry in the team room this week, some of us have broken down into tears with some of his speeches”. Even after the game was won Olazabal was urging on Francesco Molinari to win his match.
Never underestimate the power of inspired leadership.
Passion for the Cause
The late Seve Ballesteros became the cause for this European Ryder cup team. Olazabal had partnered him on numerous Ryder Cup teams in the past and had a special bond that went beyond their shared homeland. But Seve was so well liked and respected he became the cause that everybody rallied around.
Olazabal said ”Seve will always be present with this team” a sentiment added to by Sergio Garcia who said “We did believe, there’s no doubt that we’ve been inspired by Seve, through our captain.” Again Rory McIlroy summed it up “knowing that Seve’s looking down on us, it’s just been one of the most incredible days that I’ve ever had on the golf course.”
Wanting to win is natural in all sports people but having a shared cause that everyone has a passion for lifted their performance to a different level and one that the Americans were unable to match.
Having a shared passion for a single cause that sits above the obvious prize makes all the difference in the world.
There may have been momentary doubts; there must have been. To be faced with 12 matches and the opposition only has to win 4 of them would seem an impossible task especially when faced by a talented and pumped up USA team but they always hung on to the belief “we can win”.
Justin Rose said after his amazing win over Phil Mickelson “Jose told us to believe and we really wanted to, we really did.”. Belief helps you to pick yourself up when you have fallen and can steer you through the narrowest of gaps to pass the finishing line first. In short, belief promotes persistence – which will surely conquer all that lies before it.
Following one of Olazabal’s dressing room talks and even though they were 4 points adrift Ian Poulter said ”We weren’t four points down. We felt like we were all square. We just knew we had a chance. And do you know this is history right here.”
If you believe in yourself you really can achieve miracles.
So what can we take away from all this?
In business we can’t just rely on being better than the next firm we must look within ourselves and ask these questions: do we really have a cause not just a target and are we all passionate about it? Do we believe in ourselves and those around us and finally do our leaders support, believe and inspire us to achieve the seemingly impossible.
So, with the week in front of us about to unfold how do our organisations match up to the European Ryder Cup Team of 2012?
This is a guest blog by Alan Kenny who is the European General Manager of Mimecast a crazily successful provider of cloud-based email management software for archiving, discovery, continuity and security. He has a long track record of sales and sales management and if he says something works you can bet your last Rolo that it does!
You know I used to always believe that I was a great motivator of sales teams. I have had teams that have delivered tremendous results and of whom I have been extremely proud. I used to love it when I heard my boss say that I drive the team with ‘tough love’ and that although it wasn’t obvious I really did have their best interests at heart.
Good times and I wouldn’t change them for the world, but it’s just not sustainable.
The danger with being the key to your sales team’s motivation is that it can only ever be a short term effect: it lasts for as long as you can maintain the energy to drive, cajole and manipulate their behaviour. Worse still, you can become an accidental diminisher rather than a multiplier – a scary thought!
The real key to motivating your sales team is to ensure that you do not de-motivate them!
Believe me this is not as simple as it seems. It requires communicating a clear vision for your sales team embracing methodology and behaviours as well as publicly demonstrating enormous trust in the people themselves. Not to mention quite a lot of patience which is very often lower on the list of qualities exhibited by us sales leaders than it should be!
So here are my top 5 rules for building highly motivated sales teams.
Rule #1 – Recruit the right people – You probably have an Ideal Client Profile for selecting new clients but do you have an Ideal Rep Profile to help you clearly identify the Talent, Experience & Cultural characteristics that a sales person must exhibit. Whatever happens never compromise: never accept anything less!
Rule #2 – Develop, Develop, Develop – David Beckham never stopped practising free kicks, sales people should never stop developing their skills – Fact! So have an on-going training and development program to help them ease their weaknesses and hone their strengths.
Rule #3 – Explicit Expectations – Create a personal contract with your sales people which makes clear what you expect from them and what they should expect from you and then hold each other accountable.
Rule #4 – Social Accountability – Create an environment where results and performance are stated publicly along with a commitment on actions to course-correct if required. There is nothing more binding than a person’s public commitment to their peers provided you hold them accountable for delivery.
Rule #5 – Consistency on the first 4 rules – If you don’t follow best practise then don’t expect anyone else to!
In case you think that I have completely nailed all of the above then you would be wrong: you can never sit back and say “that’s it, the perfect approach”. I’m just committed to creating an environment that allows people’s self-motivation to flourish and then trying to stay out of the way!
If this sounds like a journey that could be of value to you then I recommend the following 5 books as they have become my bibles.
- Multipliers: How the Best Leaders make Everyone Smarter by Elizabeth Wiseman and Greg McKeown
- The New Solution Selling: the revolutionary sales process that is changing the way in which people sell by Keith M. Eades
- The Inner Game of Work: Focus, learning, pleasure and mobility in the workplace by Timothy Gallwey
- Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action by Simon Sinek
- Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink
This is a guest post by Barry Hoffman who is the Group HR Director of Computacenter. I have known Barry for many years and I can honestly say he is one of the most productive and successful leaders I have ever worked with. Lazy? Perhaps not but he rarely attends meetings, works a standard day and always has time to meet useful and interesting people. Read on to find out how he does it all…..
When the Flair man asked me to write a blog on how to be productive, successful and lazy, I predictably and inevitably said I couldn’t be bothered, and even if I could, I’d be outsourcing it to some lesser mortal. But after some, frankly, undignified, begging for a man of his maturing stature and the promise of fine dining, I relented and so here is the secret to a productive and successful career: Let people do their jobs.
Believe it or not, it’s easier to write than it is to do – but it soon becomes a habit. I am, I think, quite successful – by lots of measures (financial, hierarchical, family, health and so on), but I am apt to look on the bright side, I grant you.
In all seriousness though, to be successful you need to let go – trust those around you (give them support, guidance and clear boundaries) but don’t interfere with the experts, listen to what those around you say and then allow them to fulfil their potential. Don’t take opportunities from them – they may do things 80% the way that you wanted but the other 20% might be better than you could ever imagine – or indeed better than you could ever achieve yourself.
So many of us feel the need to speak, to have it our way and to be superior by knowing more about everything than those beneath us. It’s primeval and natural. But overcome this and you are unlocking a rich seam of productivity. You will achieve more through others than you ever imagined and, if you do it with magnanimity, encouragement and genuine permission, then you will have the most loyal, engaged and committed team you could hope for. They will cover more ground than you could ever hope to alone. It’s no accident that Newton’s quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” is a cliché. Use the strengths of those around you and you can cover great distance (operationally) and see for miles around (strategically).
This approach is hard work and takes lots of practice. But once you’ve cracked it you will be productive and successful. If you want to know how to start then my advice is to listen, really listen to your people, let them do their jobs and try as hard as you can to encourage, support, guide and not interfere.
And how do you do that – well of course, it helps if you’re lazy!
So here they are; my top 10 TED videos and the reasons why you should check them out. Just on the off-chance that you don’t know what TED is it’s like YouTube for grown ups where the contributors are invited to contribute. Video clips tend to be less than 20 minutes and covering an eclectic mix of subjects – at home we often watch TED instead of the TV!
Read on if you want to be educated, inspired or just plain entertained. Beware though: TED can lead to addiction issues!!!!!!!
1. Steve Jobs – Stanford Address - http://bit.ly/rZL53R
The inimitable Mr Jobs is speaking at a Stanford University graduation ceremony. He recounts three different parts of his life each offering at least one important message but beyond that these episodes provide a fascinating insight into what made the great man tick. Seriously it nearly moves me to tears every time I watch it.
2. Simon Sinek – why do people buy from you - http://bit.ly/vLk0ev
Sinek recounts some real-life examples (again one of them being Apple) of how people buy what you believe above all else. If you have to persuade people or sell to them as part of your job this brief clip WILL make a difference. I changed the way I present what I do after I watched it.
3. Sir Ken Robinson – Killing creativity - http://bit.ly/us1MOy
I’ve seen Sir Ken speak live and he never fails to entertain, educate and perhaps most importantly make you contemplate. Here he is talking about creativity especially in kids but you can relate to what he says no matter what you do or how old you are. Particularly relevant if you have kids at school I might add.
4. Derek Sivers – Starting a movement - http://bit.ly/sZtLY8
Sivers narrates a video clip of somebody who starts an extraordinary movement at a pop festival, of all places, and then draws lessons that anybody who wants to be a wow on the internet will want to learn. Want to grow a community? Well check this out. Also it really is fascinating to watch the community form before your eyes.
5. Malcom Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce - http://bit.ly/tdTAKn
Ever wondered why some people prefer one product over another? Could this help you to promote your offering to better effect? I think so and the way Gladwell achieves it is by recounting how the perfect spaghetti sauce was developed; or not as the case may be.
6. Sheena Iyengar – How to make choices easier - http://bit.ly/x7Wqll
When I watched this clip for the first time I was struck by the simplicity of Iyengar’s argument: put some effort into the way you build features and choices into your offerings and the way you present them to your clients. Love it!
7. Niall Ferguson – the 6 killer apps of prosperity - http://bit.ly/s2vd9z
You may have seen the TV programme but either way this is a great talk which explores a) why the west was so successful in growing powerful and rich nations even though it started later than the east and b) why the east is now overtaking the west. Very thought-provoking and ingeniously presented by using the modern concept of Apps but for nations.
8. Nigel Marsh – how to make work-life balance work - http://bit.ly/sqqQT5
One of the biggest challenges we face in the modern world is getting balance in our lives: how much time for work; how much for our friends and families and how much special time do we need for ourselves? A relatively easy question to answer you’d think but if you can’t seem to get there (you’re definitely not alone if you can’t) then try this talk by Nigel Marsh for size.
9. Paul Gilding – the Earth is Full - http://bit.ly/zhUmyQ
I don’t want to get into the whole green debate but wherever you stand on the subject this talk will certainly make you think. Gilding avoids the easy targets of lonely polar bears, shrinking icecaps and unusual weather patterns and comes from an angle that even made me sit up and think. If you watch it do so with an open mind – the logic behind his arguments is sound and irrefutable.
10. Cat vs Washing machine - http://bit.ly/fFQ6O1
OK so this isn’t a TED video; I’ve watched it a hundred times and it makes me laugh every single time so go on, cheer yourself up and watch the cat who’s left his iPhone in his jeans which are now in his washing machine. One of many TRANSLATION vids by Chris Cohen.
So there you have it; my very favourite TED videos but I’m sure you’ve got loads others so please add your favourites as comments so others can share.
Vive le TED!!!
Have you heard that old expression: when you’re up to your arse in alligators it’s difficult to remember that you were hired to drain the swamp? Well, if it resonates you probably need to check your pulse because you could have already turned into a corporate zombie without even realizing it. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever watched any of those dreadful B-movies involving zombies swathed in rags and their flesh falling off their bodies limping wide-eyed and groaning towards their hapless victim? A gruesome vision, perhaps but a vivid reminder of what it’s like to work in today’s corporate world? Surely not!
Well I happen to think there is more than a passing similarity. They seem acceptant with their lot, they’re all behaving in the same way and, worse of all, they are entirely oblivious to anything except what is in front of them.
Think about it. Where do you get any thinking time these days? Years ago, before the advent of hand-held devices and email, travelling; holidays; lunchtimes and home time all belonged to you but now you are available 24/7 and, unbelievably, some people have become to expect this kind of access as the norm!
The upshot of this is no thinking time. Just like the zombies we have to concentrate on the next thing in front of us. Oblivious to all else we process that next email, take that incoming call, turn out for meetings (most of which are pointless) and stress about deadlines. Everything, it seems, is sucking our time, energy and head-space from us leaving no time to think and no time to question. Voila! We have become corporate zombies.
Well it doesn’t have to be this way.
In America there is a new concept that I would like to introduce to you called Corporate Stillness. The belief behind it is that the more senior you are in an organisation the more ”empty time” you need so that you can think, reflect and challenge the status quo – that’s how progress is made.
Apparently you can stay in a cliff-top room in the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur California where you pay extra ($2285 per night per room) for a room which does not have a TV, wifi or a mobile signal – only in America! But the reasoning is sound: you need time to think about the big idea, draining the swamp if you will.
Added to that Nicolas Carr performed a series of tests as research for his book (The Shallows) that found after spending quiet time often in rural surroundings, people “exhibited greater attentiveness, stronger memory and generally improved cognition”. In other words quiet time makes you smarter and sharper!
We all know we should be working on our business as well as in our business but if we don’t find the time it just won’t happen.
My point is this: ideas are the currency of greatness and they don’t come whilst you’re arse-deep in the corporate equivalent of snapping green monsters. Creativity and innovation need time so you simply must create some stillness in your lives otherwise you are just going to groan and limp your way through one corporate morass after another.
My advice is consider adopting the following: -
- When you go on holiday spend time before you go arranging things so you don’t have to check in every day. Give somebody access to your emails and get them to do it instead – don’t fall for the illusion of your own indispensability!
- Turn off all you mobile devices every second journey you make especially to and from work.
- Do not wear a watch or check your emails on Sundays.
So there we have it – avoid being a corporate zombie and achieve great things by showing a little back-bone; turning off your Crackberry and creating some stillness. It sure works for me.
Here’s a funny thing. A friend of mine recently implemented an enormous Internet based computer system for his client a large retail company in the UK. His team had worked miracles to deliver the thing within the expected time and budget constraints and he was both proud of, and deeply grateful for, their efforts.
So instead of attending a Friday management briefing he took them out to the pub and bought them a celebratory lunch that “ran over” a little. The team were highly delighted, his management colleagues were not.
I’ll tell you why this story connected with me: this kind of gesture is no longer common in corporate Britain. I’m not talking about a celebratory lunch, necessarily, but rather any kind of celebration for a job well done.
When I was in recruitment we regularly treated ourselves with anything from a cream cake to an afternoon off and a taxi ride home depending upon the scale of our victory and we weren’t the only ones to do so. I’m not sure that recruitment is anywhere near as much fun these days.
So why don’t we celebrate as much as we should?
For starters I think everything we do at work happens at 100 mph with very little time to spare for anything that is not screaming at us, poking us in the ribs or just about to collide with us.
Like many people I do more than one job; in fact I do 4: salesman, consultant, researcher and author. Also like a lot of people there is always something I could be doing, knock a few more things off the to-do list and try and get ahead of the game.
“Another sale, great. On to the next” This cannot be right so here’s 5 reasons to celebrate: -
- It’s enjoyable – celebrating victories is great fun and life is meant to be fun isn’t it?
- People need recognition – it’s one of the 3 key basic needs human beings require in order to feed their souls.
- Team spirit – even if everybody knows that they have done a good job having the boss demonstrate this lifts morale and helps team spirit.
- Breaks the slog – one thing relentlessly following another in some sort of corporate production line. Nah!
- Incentives – do a great job and get something nice. Can this really have an effect?
Think back for a moment. When did you last come up with a really innovative and ground breaking idea? When did you solve that business problem that had been dogging you for ages? When was the last time you made a business development breakthrough? When was the last time you had a revelation about your future?
I’ll bet a pound to a penny that it wasn’t whilst you were slogging your way through your emails or on the telephone to an irate client and I am darned sure it wasn’t in a meeting. No; the kind of outcomes we have been describing come from reflective introspection in an environment that you find conducive to thought. This is called Purple Time.
The big problem with Purple Time is getting enough of it. Come to think of it, drop the Purple and apply the statement to time in general but whereas with Red Time (activity) you can use, pretty much, whatever you have available to get things done this does not apply to Purple Time. This is especially true if you have a job to do and are expected to do some business development as well.
Consider the time you spend doing activities as fast food time: get it and consume it on the hoof. But, Purple time is more like preparing a fine meal at home for someone special. The lead up to it is all important and the consumption should be considered and savoured and it should definitely not come with a deadline. “Hurry up with your creme brulee would you darling I’ve got the property team arriving in 5″. I think not!
So if you want to be more in control and have a clear idea of where you are going here are my three steps to Purple Heaven: -
- Figure out your Purple Time. It can be different for all of us. Mine used to be running but since I can no longer run it is walking. I also experience Deep Purple Time when I am driving with the radio off although I don’t recommend this as it can be highly dangerous. What were you doing when you had your last Eureka moment?
- Stack the Purple Deck. If you don’t make Purple Time it just won’t happen I’m afraid. It’s not really a matter of booking it in; I’ve yet to add an entry to my Outlook calendar that said “Experience Purple Time”. Whatever your Purple activity is make sure that you go out of your way to get some, preferably on a weekly basis.
- Write things down. If you are not very careful your special time will turn into a sort of a thinking-shop in the same way that many brainstorming sessions at work become nothing more than talking shops. This is all very well but it is the outcome we want not the experience. So, when you emerge back into a less than Purple reality write down what you came up with and, where necessary, insert some tasks into your chosen task management system. Action, action, action!
Here’s a thing. Just before Christmas I was the keynote speaker at the Eversheds IT conference in Birmingham. The event was a combination of me speaking, which took up most of the afternoon, some group work, a couple of excellent videos (not involving me) and then a round up by the CIO.
We then all got changed into our penguin suits and posh frocks and hoovered up some really delicious scoff. After dinner the CIO ran an awards ceremony for the staff and key suppliers who had also been invited to attend.
Now the reason I mention this is two-fold: -
- The fact that they had invited the suppliers really did make us feel part of the team and to be presented with awards for various things (not me I hasten to add) was even more inspiring.
- The employee awards represented genuine achievement across the whole department and whilst everybody could see the fun side they were also taken very seriously; and so they should have been.
As the awards were being presented you could see the recipients grow taller by the second. Honestly it was a pleasure to watch.
I didn’t see anybody receive an award that the room thought was ill-deserved which only served to strengthen the team spirit and boost morale. Sadly I was flying to Germany very early the next day and so could not stay for the disco but I heard later a good time was had by all. Not surprising: there was enough energy buzzing around to give EON a run for its money.
As I have mentioned on many occasions if you want to establish rapport and strengthen your management techniques one of the key things you need to do is show people that they are appreciated and valued. This awards dinner, and the event as a whole, managed to achieve this with room to spare.
You may not be able to organise an event for your team or your department on the same scale but it doesn’t have to be. Fair and just public recognition for exceptional results or effort above and beyond the call of duty in say, a team meeting will do just as well.
In these hard times you may not be able to award large pay rises or offer promotions and even training is being cut back (shame on you ) but you can recognise contribution which will go some way towards filling the gap.
Congratulations Paul, it was a truly great event.
I enjoy speaking and writing. I know I’m not brilliant at either but it doesn’t make any difference to me: I am good enough to get by and I enjoy it. Moreover this kind of Showcasing is a vital part of my new business acquisition strategy.
I learned a long time ago that if you want to make a big impression, get your message across and stand half a chance of engaging your audience you should learn how to use rhetoric, so imagine my surprise when I read the best ever summary of the ancient skill in the Mail on Sunday magazine the other weekend. I have placed a scanned copy of the article on my LinkedIn profile so if you missed it (or can’t bear to read the MoS) feel free to swing by and download it.
This blog is way too small to even contemplate explaining the power and deployment of rhetorical devices so instead I thought I’d list out my “Top 10 things you need to know about Rhetoric” to whet your appetite enough to investigate further. Here we go then: -
- Rhetoric was invented by the ancient Greeks 2500 years ago and has been used extensively by pretty much every politician since. The Romans loved it.
- Western politicians have been trainined in it for years – think JFK, Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair (less so Gordon Brown).
- It is made up of a collection of devices designed to connect with the audience or readership.
- Rhetoric is divided up into three parts: Ethos (the credibility of the speaker); Pathos (how the audience feels) and Logos (the logic of the piece)
- Ethos and pathos are what wins hearts and minds not Logos. Strange but true – feelings rule OK!
- Rule of three: “Education, Education, Education”, “the Son the Father and the Holy Ghost”, “Location, location and location”. “Yes we can”. Also this blog entry is packed with examples.
- Alliteration: “the People’s Princess”
- Metaphors: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get”
- Reversal: “Ask not what your country can do for you but instead ask what you can do for your country”
- Rhetoric is like salt: a little will greatly enhance the flavour but too much will spoil the dish. (This is a metaphor by the way)
The objective of this blog was to make you inquisitive about rhetoric, make you suspect that it could strengthen your communication skills and perhaps want to find out more. If you do get the scanned version of the article and if this turns you on try buying “Lend Me Your Ears” by Max Atkinson which explores it in much more depth.