Is it possible to find mojo in a day?

Judging by the feedback we received after the recent Mojo-in-a-Day workshop, the answer is YES! Truth be told, the delegates on the workshop had a passion for what they do anyway, but in each case we were able to help them craft and deliver that story in a more compelling way.

Mojo-in-a-Day is delivered as part of the MojoLife programme, a concept founded by Sara Knowles and myself a few months ago, as a result of us sharing our stories.

We’d both undergone life-changing (and rather traumatic) experiences but, quite independently, we’d also managed to re-invent ourselves and take our lives in a direction of our choosing.

MojoLife celebrates the opportunity we all have in the modern world to pursue goals that fulfil us. Our belief (borne of personal experience) is that by discovering the true value and purpose of what we do, we come alive as an individual and positively attract opportunities.

It’s this approach that makes some job seekers more marketable than others, some businesses more vibrant and distinctive than their rivals and some organisations more productive and motivated than the rest.

So what do we deliver in Mojo-in-a-Day? There are 4 key elements:

1) Finding your Voice

Some people who get involved with MojoLife are at a cross-roads in their life – perhaps through redundancy or some other significant moment. We help them reflect on who they are, what they’re really good at and what future they might want to engineer for themselves. This might involve setting up a new business or social enterprise, or simply making themselves more marketable in their preferred employment sector.

Others know what path they’re following, but want to improve the results they’re achieving. They might be running a business that needs to attract more clients, but they realise it’s tough to stand out in a crowded marketplace.

In both cases, MojoLife helps them ‘find their authentic voice’. This means they identify what they’re really good at (and have a passion for). And when this gets crafted into a compelling story, they grow in confidence and attract more opportunities. This is what people with mojo have – they know who they are and what they offer; they literally become more attractive!

2) Developing your Personal Brand / Telling your Story

It’s not just companies that have brands – people can have them too. The management guru Tom Peters is often cited as the originator of the term back in the late 1990’s. For him, a brand is simply an expectation of what you’re going to get. When you hire Ricky Gervais to host an awards ceremony, you should know it’s going to be a bit controversial and not necessarily right for a conservative audience!

But the important thing about a brand is consistency and congruence. Tiger Woods was seen as a role model for young, aspiring people throughout the world, squeaky clean and the epitome of professionalism and dedication. I say ‘was’ because we all know what happened next! His brand was badly dented because his behaviour was at odds with that image; sponsors pulled out in droves.

So at Mojo-in-a-Day we ask people how they see their own brand. We ask, “what would you want other people to say about you?” Many things go into your brand:

  • Your professional expertise
  • Your personality
  • Your ‘way of doing things’
  • Your history or ‘back story’

But if you’re going to establish your brand, you’ve got to ‘start the rumour’ so-to-speak. In other words, you’ve got to continually tell the story of what you’re about.

This would often start with a basic ‘elevator pitch’, that 30-60 second overview that summarises who you are and what you do. If you nail that, you’ll get a reaction from your audience – ideally they’ll want to know more. This is when you need depth and a really good ‘story vault’ (a mental library of case studies, personal experiences, media stories or pieces of research). Your ability to pull these out of your mental locker and weave them into conversations or presentations is a terrific social skill. It makes you memorable, likeable and helps to establish your distinctive ‘signature’.

Becoming a KPI

You’re probably familiar with the acronym KPI as meaning ‘key performance indicator’. But as Australian speaker Daniel Priestley suggests, it can also mean Key Person of Influence.

When you develop confidence in your own story, when you start telling it in a compelling way, you start moving up the ‘ladder of influence’. From the person who’s ‘just there’, you begin to be seen as ‘someone worth knowing’. Your story stands out from all those other vanilla versions. Your brand and reputation precede you and people begin talking about you. You start to develop ‘pull’ and ultimately you’re seen as indispensable.

3) Spreading your Reputation – Networking & Social Media

It’s all very well having a great story, but if nobody knows about it you’ve still got a problem! In Mojo-in-a-Day we explore some sound techniques and strategies for spreading your word.

It’s amazing what a poor brand networking has, especially amongst people just starting out. Again, there seems to be a gap between what it purports to be, and the experience people actually have of it. We encourage our delegates to become smart networkers, to strike a balance between speaking passionately about what they do, while affording others time and space to talk about themselves.

For us, networking is not so much WIIFM (what’s in it for me?), but WIMFY (what’s in me for you?). It’s about building relationships which last beyond the event itself, taking a genuine interest in others, developing a sense of curiosity and the ability to see possibility wherever you go. As an American trainer once put it, the secret to networking is to do what your mother told you not to do when you were little – speak to strangers and use the F-word (that’s FOLLOW UP!).

Social media remains a mystery to many, but its pulling power is beyond dispute. Those who don’t use it feel they’re missing out, but there’s a lack of understanding about how it works and what it’s for.

Without doubt, social media has fundamentally changed the way we communicate in recent years. We used to rely on good old fashioned word of mouth, but that’s a bit ponderous.

Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube provide extraordinary speed and reach – and cost virtually nothing to use. It’s levelled the playing field, allowing anyone to self-publish – we all have a megaphone now.

But that presents a problem too. With everyone shouting, there’s a hell of a lot of noise out there. Our defence mechanism is to ignore things and develop a natural sense of distrust and scepticism. That’s why conventional methods of push marketing are less effective these days.

At MojoLife we believe in pulling power. What are you saying and doing that’s worth paying attention to? Is your message authentic…but also about us, the audience?

Seth Godin a great point in this interview about social media – that it’s essentially an opportunity to lead. It’s a free platform for you to create influence. Think of social media like another networking space. The same rules of interpersonal etiquette apply – don’t shout too loud; be polite and respectful and interested in others; find common ground and build relationships; make some interesting points that spark a debate; be seen in the way you’d want to be seen; get people talking about you.

4) Setting goals and writing your manifesto

We ask our MojoLife members to write their manifesto. This is not so much a CV or a bland mission statement, but a deeper representation of who they are, what they can do for people and what they believe in.

The global recession and the advent of social media has changed the landscape of work and business. What people seek now in providers is authenticity and transparency. What we seek in ourselves is a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

MojoLife helps people find their authentic voice and pursue something they have a passion for. When you discover what that is, and you start telling that story in a way that resonates with people, the possibilities are endless. That’s why MojoLife is really about self-empowerment and the realisation of people’s potential. And that’s why we get excited about it!

For more on the Mojo-in-a-Day programme, and other related products, click here.

Taking the Mojolife message to Whitehall

A few months ago, when the idea of MojoLife was first taking shape, I told my kids we’d be presenting the idea to the Prime Minister within a few months time. “Yeah right, dad,” came the reply. Well we didn’t manage to get in front of Mr Cameron last week in London, but we did attract the attention of the Cabinet Secretary and one of TV’s infamous ‘dragons’.

The occasion was Civil Service Live, a 3 day exhibition at Olympia aimed at inspiring the public sector to deal with the unprecedented challenges coming from the global meltdown and the inherited debt of the last government. The concept was to introduce recession-busting ideas from the private sector, so MojoLife got the call! 

Because Sara Knowles and myself (MojoLife’s co-founders) have both emerged from challenging experiences of one sort or another, we believe we’re in a unique position to put the spark back into people, companies and organisations. When change forces itself upon you (eg through redundancy), it’s tempting to blame the things you can’t control and bemoan the fact that money is tight. But that’s exactly the time to think creatively. 

We had to raise money to exhibit at the show, and through the sponsorship of companies like Cassons Accountants (big supporters of Speakeasy and MojoLife), and some co-exhibitors who shared our stand, we were able to mix with the likes of BT and the Post Office and punch above our weight. In more than the obvious sense, our exhibition stand spoke for what we represent. It was a collaboration with 3 other companies, and one of the most colourful and active stands despite a budget that was probably 10 times lower than any other. 

Thanks to Ashley Boroda, we were the only exhibitor to run a stand-up comedy class. Our flowers (mojo colours) were the envy of the hall. But most of all, the message of hope and empowerment which underpins MojoLife was enthusiastically embraced by the hundreds of delegates who came our way. 

They divided into 2 main camps:

  • Those who were facing forced or voluntary redundancy
  • Those who were searching for strategies to manage change within their departments. 

What was interesting was that those lower down the pay grade were asking for the mojo-approach, and those at the top (including Cabinet Secretary Gus O’Donnell, pictured left) were equally receptive to our ideas. Many of the ‘guru speakers’ at the event were espousing similar philosophies of self-empowerment and creative thinking – on the one hand good to hear, but on the other we felt we could have done a better job of getting the message across without quite so many bullet points! 

Ashley didn’t provide the only comedy moment. On the final day there was a rumour that TV Dragon Peter Jones was in the building. We got ourselves in the zone, and soon enough there was a scurry of activity – nervous security men and busy paparazzi – and a very smart, extremely tall businessman headed our way. The only problem was he was looking the wrong way as he passed our stand.  

I hate mithering famous people, but Sara has no such qualms (as evidenced by her recent encounter with Sir Ken Robinson). “Oi, Peter!” she yelled (or words to that effect). She got his attention. Slightly flushed but otherwise on good form, she pitched the MojoLife concept to the fearsome investor. Peter Jones’ teeth flashed that TV smile. He turned to me and I blurted something out about the business concept and our hopes for the future. “So your business shrinks,” opined the Dragon. I was lost for words. I was thinking, “No it doesn’t! It’s going to grow and grow…” Thankfully at this point, the comedy genius of Ashley Boroda ‘got it’ and suggested (if you’ve read Lynne Truss’s excellent Eats Shoots & Leaves you’ll understand) that a grammatical error might explain my confusion.

 There’s a world of difference between, “Your business shrinks” and “You’re business shrinks” and of course, in a way, we are business psychologists! 

Now that the dust has settled we can look back on a hugely successful week. Our round-table discussion had a fully engaged audience, and it seems we’ll get another chance in the Autumn to host a discussion – this time in the Cabinet Office itself. 

Ashley, Ameena Ahmed from Direct Path Consulting and Lesley & Chris Kay from Parallax Consultancy were fabulous companions on the MojoLife stand and I like to think we spread a degree of optimism and positivity throughout the entire hall.  

There are some brilliant people within the Civil Service and the Public Sector at large, but the world we live in has changed dramatically in the last 3-4 years. People moving from the public to the private sector have to think about packaging their expertise and telling a compelling story about who they are and what they offer. It’s a different language to pay grades and job titles, policies and procedures. It’s now about what problems you can solve, what you’re really good at, what you believe in and what motivates you. 

And for those public sector servants who remain, it’s now a matter of doing more with less – and that includes getting the most from the workforce. I recall listening to Daniel Pink’s RSA talk on motivation. Apparently, in jobs which require intellectual input rather than simple laborious tasks, as long as pay isn’t perceived as a source of injustice, offering someone more money makes them less productive. Yes, that’s LESS productive. The three things that make people more productive are AUTONOMY, MASTERY AND PURPOSE.  

A large part of the MojoLife philosophy is that people should develop their natural capacities and pursue things they feel strongly about. This gives them purpose and helps them come alive as a human being. Where people in an organisation feel they’re contributing to a wider purpose, they become revitalised and more productive than ever. But this culture starts at the top. As Sir Ken Robinson puts it, good leaders are like farmers. They don’t make things grow themselves; rather, they create the conditions under which things can grow naturally. 

I hope you’ll join us at MojoLife in some capacity – as a client, a sponsor, an associate training provider or just an individual who believes in creating a future of his/her own choosing. If that’s a journey you want to start, we’re with you all the way!