Impresario of many scenarios
By Stefan Stern
Published: November 19 2008
Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy
The A to Zee of Motivitality
L. Vaughan Spencer
Profile Books £8.99
The business books section of Borders on Oxford Street, central London, has never seen anything like it. Its well-stacked shelves reflect the long tradition of earnest management writing. This is where you come, high up on the third floor, to read about leadership, strategy and project management.
But into this hallowed space a few nights ago burst a vision in tangerine: the pony-tailed, curiously micro-bearded inspirational guru L. Vaughan Spencer. We had come in our, ooh, dozens, to hear the great man speak, and get a first look at his long-awaited new book.
L. Vaughan SpencerMr Spencer - L-Vo to his friends and admirers - has established quite a following in the business and self-help worlds. If Tony Robbins is too understated for you, or Funky Business authors Nordstrom and Ridderstrale too predictable, then L-Vo is your man.
It was a tough crowd. But L-Vo won them round. By the end of his presentation, the audience were singing to his Abba-inspired soundtrack and getting ready to queue up to buy a signed copy of the book.
What will the lucky new owners of this book find when they open its pages? L-Vo has not held back. He has poured his heart, soul and several other vital organs into it. Here, from "A to Zee", is a guide to succeeding in business and life, from someone who knows how, who has been there, done that, and got the tangerine jacket with the broad check lapels.
"This book uncovers a conspiracy," L-Vo declares at the outset. "The conspiracy is that for far too long you have been allowed to fail. Who's been keeping you down? YOURSELF!"
L-Vo will help us end our addiction to under-achievement, a subject he has studied in great detail. "I look deeper than the bottom line," he writes. "I see beyond the numbers. All of my work is based on a rigorous analysis - apart from where it's easier not to."
L-Vo is a succeeder. He succeeds. He takes failure and repurposes it for success. He is an expert on just about everything - anger management, for example: "Read my article in the Journal of Anger Management called 'Why anger is good'," he writes. "Though they did cut part of it, which pissed me off big time."
What really matters, L-Vo says, is what we actually do. He cites research undertaken by Prof William Trankin of the Jimmy Connors Institute of Business in San Diego. Apparently, "76 per cent of what we do can be put down to our behaviours".
And when we let our standards slip, L-Vo says, it is because we have wallowed for too long in the comfort zone. This is "somewhere to get out of", he says. "Book your train ticket outta there right now - and don't buy a return, even if it's cheaper than a single, which sometimes happens."
Insights such as those offered by L-Vo are rare in business. "When I enter an organisation, I can almost smell the culture. Sometimes it smells of fear. Or fish. Sometimes fearful fish. Those who really know about corporate culture are outsiders like me. We don't work in the organisation, which means we can be objective and use words like 'paradigm' easily and tell them what to do and let them sort it all out when we've gone."
L-Vo is in touch with modern issues such as diversity - "How does a company treat people who aren't normal (white, middle class and male, like me)?" He has mastered presentational techniques such as the "elevator pitch" - his ends with the often neglected question: "Can you press the button for the fourth floor, please?" He has mastered feng shui - "If you want good luck, avoid pointy things." And he has mastered Six Sigma. But: "I have gone beyond the traditional approach," he says. "I use Five Sigma - it saves time. It's nearly 17 per cent more efficient."
L-Vo and this newspaper have a certain history, to which he alludes. "Yes, I know the Financial Times called me an Überguru (26.9.06), perhaps because of my exalted position and because I am blazing a trail, but I am just a guy doing his job," he writes. "Call me an Überguru if you really, really must, but I just found myself in the right place at the right time saying the right things for a competitive fee."
We knew, from his earlier works such as What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Infants School, that L-Vo was a man to be reckoned with. But with this new book L-Vo inspires us to declare, loud and proud, "Yes, we can. We can succeed."
This is, quite possibly, the only business book you should ever bother reading.
Original review at www.ft.com
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
Don't Be Needy Be Succeedy
by L Vaughan Spencer
Are you underperforming in your business and personal lives? Do you underestimate the importance of good hair and moisturised skin in achieving your life goals? Are you stumbling through life in a Fast-Moving Business Environment (FMBE) without a motivational mantra to guide you? Then you need this book. As The A to Zee of Motivitality, this is a dictionary of achievement from a man who can teach you how to succeed like a toothless budgie.
L Vaughan Spencer was the 2004 Business Speaker of the Year (Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire) and has been named one of the top ten thousand most influential people on management issues in the Home Counties. In other words, this is the sort of person you need to listen to, and thus the sort of book you need to read. Packed with useful statistics (number of deaths that occur per thousand meetings held, for example), real life case studies and quotes from those who have been through the Succeederology® training programs, this is a no-nonsense guide to being the best or, at least, a little better than you currently are.
Attention to detail is L-Vo's forte (after all, Don't be needed, be succeeded has an entirely different ring to it, and is not what our business friends are aiming for in today's Fast-Moving Business Environment (FMBE)). All areas of the business arena are targeted, from meetings to presentations to how to feng shui your office, and why Human Chess and British Bulldog have their role to play at work. If you need to improve your style, there are tips on how to dress, while the innovative Alphabet diet advice is the reason I'm currently eating only Zabaglione and Zinc tablets (and coveting the names of two other Bookbag reviewers, Chloe and Claire - mmm, imagine the chocolate and cheese possibilities).
From the business park in Luton where it was written to the sundrenched balcony in Mexico where it was read, this book has universal appeal. I have already tested it out on real live business people, in the form of my EFL students, and they laughed and laughed. Quite how much they understood, given their low level of English is another question, but still, they did laugh.
L-Vo questions the things so many of us take for granted for example Your Business Card: Why should it be made of card? Why should it be rectangular? while providing insightful answers to those tricky questions such as the difference between a Trainer and a Coach in today's Fast-Moving Business Environment (FMBE)? (On a train) you can walk around. ..with a coach there may not be a toilet. Think about it.
Any quibbles with the book? Well, when I read that he thinks pastries at meetings are optional, I was immediately certain that L-Vo has never worked in the NHS. Apart from that, I would agree with a lot of what he says. This worries me a little.
This book comes with the promise that buying two copies will make you even more successful than buying just one, but you might like to make it three just to be on the safe side.
Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book (though only one copy? Don't they want me to be super successful?) If you're looking for another read, you could try understanding why What Got You Here Won't Get You There, but I'm sure you'll find that to get you There, Succeederology® will be key.
Original article at BookBag.co.uk
November 2008 by Mike Southon
Don't Be Needy Be Succeedy
by L Vaughan Spencer
We all need inspiration and good advice in these hard times, so I have been combing bookstores for leading-edge thought leadership from business experts.
Many of the most popular books originate from the US, so I was pleased to find a new book by a British motivational guru, L. Vaughan Spencer: Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy, The A to Zee of Motivitality.
Spencer claims to have made his fortune in refrigerated transport and is now visiting professor of succeedership at the University of the Isle of Wight. His list of books is impressive and includes Chicken Nuggets for the Soul, The Seven Hobbies of Highly Effective People and Who Moved My Cheeseburger?
I could not find any of these on Amazon, so called the "succeeder hotline" number on his website. I had a conversation with a member of his staff, who explained that the lack of availability was the result of a conspiracy by a number of people, including a rival motivational speaker.
This seemed slightly suspicious, but I thought little of it until I discovered a month later that the hotline was a premium rate number and the call had cost me several hundred pounds.
I sent an email to complain and received an answer from Spencer himself, saying that legally I had agreed to a "virtual Vaughan session".
The conversation became heated, so he offered to convert my payment into a free place on his business boot camp. He also said that anger is "vital in today's FMBE (Fast Moving Business Environment)", and explained that the boot camp would be a perfect place for me to express my pent-up anger and channel it into business success.
The day started with Moisturiser, which Spencer explains is "vital in today's FMBE", quoting ancient French Canadian wisdom, which translated as: "Man with dry face no win big deal." The next session was Movement and Dance, in which we moved around to 1970s disco music, with Spencer encouraging the female members of the workshop to loosen constricting clothing.
The rest of the agenda included "Urban Tribal Drumming", a case study on how Spencer changed the face of refrigerated transport, and "Deep Tissue Ego Massage" by someone called Cranston and his team of former paramilitaries.
It is easy to be cynical about the neoreligious fervour stirred up by motivational speakers; a friend once referred to their events as "hope for the hopeless". It is true that some people spend money they cannot afford on get-rich programmes, which increase the wealth of the speaker, rather than the audience.
But on balance, I am in favour of anything that lifts the spirit. For every sceptic, there are many more people who get value from the programmes.
My recommendation is not to follow their models slavishly, but to use them to add perspective to your own experience. All motivational speakers have the same basic themes: you need to take personal responsibility for your own situation and take action rather than prevaricate.
It is also important to retain your sense of humour. As Spencer says: "Successful business is not about talk-talk. My book is all do-do."
Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy, the A to Zee of Motivitality by L. Vaughan Spencer is published by Profile Books
Original article at the Financial Times
January 2nd 2009
L Vaughan Spencer's 2009 self-help tips
We asked L Vaughan Spencer,self-help guru and gangsta motivator, to share his tips on how to realise your true potential in 2009
Wassup in 2009? Are you ready to realign? You're gonna shine - offline and online. Time to define and shine but not decline. Perhaps meet a Valentine, or even visit Liechtenstein?
Apparently there are enough self-help books published every week to cover the world with forest 38 times. Most of the books don't get read - they're not practical. My book is. It's not just talk-talk, it's do-do. Everything I say is do-do. It's based on lots of research, some of it carried out by other people.
For example, Professor William Trankin of the Jimmy Connors Institute of Business and Tennis in San Diego found ''6 per cent of what we do can be put down to our behaviors' (or behaviours, in English). It's great to be writing in a London magazine, spreading the word beyond the 'succeeder triangle' - the area bound by Luton, Watford and Stevenage. It's our answer to Silicon Valley. We can match anything there. They've got Hewlett-Packard, Apple and eBay. We've got London Luton airport.
It's the beginning of a new year, time to stop wallowing in your comfort zone. Book your train ticket outta there right now - and don't buy a return, even if it's cheaper than a single.
So, here are my top nine tips for 2009:
1. Buy a copy of my book
The more you buy, the more successful you will be. Here's a graph which proves it. There's lots of good advice on how to make an impact, how to give good meeting or finding the upside of your backside.
2. Get a life coach
Without a coach there is no life. You need a coach. Maybe me? Currently, I have gaps on Tuesday morning, Thursday afternoon and Friday. I'm offering a 'credit Crunchie' (snack size) free with every coaching session.
3. Conduct a friendship audit
Do you end up seeing friends you don't really like? Cut out the dead wood. Ask yourself, '\'What use is this person to me?' Think about your friends from a business perspective. Do they provide cash (buy drinks)? Have merger opportunities (they have some sexy friends)? Or are they tarnishing your brand (being seen with them puts off potential romantic partners)? The friendship/business synergy paradigm can work the other way round, too. For example, you might be able to outsource some activities connected with relationships. One year I allowed a valued client (a ten-pin bowling alley) to 'sponsor' Valentine's Day. My wife and I simply had to wear their branded T-shirts all day and we were given a free lane that evening. Sadly, we separated a few days later.
4. Don't be a guiltoholic
Remember: guilty feet have got no rhythm.
5. Become hair aware
Have you sorted your Tong Shui (the Feng Shui of hair)? Is your hair aligned to your goals? I keep the dragon of failure off my back with a ponytail. Ask yourself some simple questions: 'Does a side-parting work for me?' 'Is a bob just the job?' 'Feather-cut or bed-head: which is better in a downturn?' 'Sideburns: yes or no? (If yes, should they be those ones that come to a sharp point?)' 'Why not try our half-day workshop, "Backcomb to the future?" '
6. Embrace email
Some companies have 'email-free Friday'. I find the opposite works. At one organisation I instituted 'email only Monday', where employees were not allowed to speak to one other and had to communicate solely via email. That hospital is doing really well now.
7. Work a workout into your work
Meetings can be bad for the succeeder's health. It's not good to sit still for too long, eating biscuits sitting in nonergonomic chairs around a table of laptops (and lapdogs). Keep active while talking. It's essential to keep the body engaged as well as the mind, so I created Meet-ercise©. Why not hold your meeting in the gym? Or in the sauna? Or playing British Bulldog?
8. Face up to your face
Moisturising is vital to success. Girls have understood this for years. Boys are catching up. Why not try some guyliner - eyeliner for men? It's useful for certain situations, such as giving a presentation under very bright lights, at Halloween and dealing with political canvassers. But remember: think outside the Botox. To look younger, guys and gals, follow my 'Make your Face FitŠ' exercise regime. This is an easy to follow daily succeeder facial workout. To keep things simple, I have named each movement in honour of a current affairs personality: Huw Edwards: Move lip up and down. Evan Davis: Eyes wide open and shut. George Alagiah: Roll from the shoulders. Emily Maitlis: Eyebrows up and down. Robert Peston: Keep the jaw going for a long time without saying anything.
9. Practise silence
I use 'succeeder silence' whenever possible - in coaching sessions, keynote speeches and that court case. I have found that silence is a great weapon in negotiation, coaching and a failing marriage.
'Don't Be Needy Be Succeedy: The A to Zee of Motivitality by L Vaughan Spencer' is published by Profile Books, priced £8.99. Watch videos and contact him at www.thesucceeder.com (or via Facebook). He regrets he cannot enter into personal correspondence (unless there is cash involved).
August 15, 2002
A new guru takes centre stage
People and profit by Stuart Crainer
Managers are a cynical lot. After all, the biggest-selling business book of all time is not a weighty tome on strategy or marketing, but that sceptical peon to office life, Dilbert. More seriously, the recent wave of corporate scandals confirms that cynicism is endemic - and can easily lead to blatant corruption.
Management gurus are perhaps the most successful living (and legal) incarnations of this cynical breed. They travel the world peddling the same ideas year after year. They re-package old ideas, coat them with a varnish of jargon, pronounce them revolutionary and then charge managers a fortune.
"Our ideas are much the same, indeed they are the same, but we use different words. The trick is to have your own catch phrase," a strategy guru recently said. Nice work if you can get it.
To this world of cynical, world-weary salesmanship and snake-oil, it is something of a relief to welcome L Vaughan Spencer. Fashionably pony-tailed, Mr Spencer is the first of a new breed: the honest guru, someone who unashamedly tells it as it is. His world is that of personal enlightenment and self-development. We can be what we want to be. Helpfully, he also promises financial success.
A fellow motivational speaker, author and business tycoon, Chuck Schneider, has described Mr Spencer as "the Tom Peters for the Britney generation. He is awesome." If management really is the new rock'n'roll, then L Vaughan Spencer is Bill Hailey. One convert labelled him "the Eminem of personal self-enhancement". A more useful comparison may be with the smooth-talking Sergeant Bilko.
Mr Spencer's reputation has developed gradually, a slow burner in a world of empty comets. He is a prolific author. His books include The Tao of Shaving, Chicken Nuggets for the Soul, The Seven Hobbies of Highly Effective People and The Little Book of Big Things. The books are celebrations of human potential as much as dynamic calls to action.
"Business is a dog-eat-dog world and if you don't scratch my back then your cat won't get the cream," advises Mr Spencer, with his customary evangelical zeal and sincerity. As well as the veritable library of books, L Vaughan Spencer has also acted as personal coach for Jean-Pierre Dupont, the man behind the internationally acclaimed Cirque du Merde, which features circus artists from the greater Montreal area.
Where L Vaughan Spencer really comes alive is on stage. Most gurus rely on a tried and tested PowerPoint presentation. They go through the slides with all the enthusiasm of a hamster running on a familiar exercise wheel. Mr Spencer stalks the stage like a wild animal and casts out metaphors with something approaching abandon. The audiences lap it up.
His "Don't be needy, be succeedy workshops" have the irresistible air of revivalist meetings. They are "gigs" rather than seminars. Middle managers are taken to places they never before imagined existed. Indeed, I interviewed Mr Spencer prior to a pre-Edinburgh Festival appearance in Maidenhead.
To prove that he really is rock'n'roll in a world of chamber music, one of Mr Spencer's favoured metaphors is that of drumming. This is not a metaphor favoured by some of his more straight-laced competitors in the guru world.
"I use drumming as an allegory for teamwork and immersed myself in Eastern philosophy by spending a fortnight studying with the monks of Phuntursee Island," Mr Spencer explained, when I interviewed him while he was lying on the floor of his cramped dressing room with a towel over his face. Mr Spencer has even had the good fortune to play as a guest with the Koko Drummers of Unagi. Drumming, it seems, is a powerful means of encouraging careworn managers to lose their inhibitions.
Mr Spencer also advocates the "Succeeder Dance", which involves rotating your pelvis and thumbs at the same time. The intention, should you be so fortunate, is to propel yourself into what he labels the "Confidence Zone", where everything seems possible and self-expression far easier. The ogrish head of marketing is less intimidating with both your pelvis and thumbs in motion.
Some may scoff at Spencer's inspirations and his excitable delivery. Cynicism reigns. After all, his academic grounding owes more to Penge Comprehensive than Harvard Business School. However, in a world of cynics, he strikes a mysteriously resonant chord. Stephen Covey beware.
Saturday August 3, 2002
On the ladder
Time to get in touch with your
Barbara Oaff has a dozen questions for career coach - L Vaughan Spencer
Looking for career guidance? Want to know how to get your boss's job and, more importantly, her salary? Then listen to some good advice. But take it all with a pinch of salt until you've heard the legendary, the life-changing and high-charging L Vaughan Spencer, career coach to the stars and the author of several bestsellers including Chicken Nuggets for the Soul, The Road Less Tarmac'd, Further Along the Road Less Tarmac'd and Blokes Who Run With Wolves.
This month sees him lecturing at the Edinburgh Fringe on "Don't Be Needy, Be Succeedy" but Rise managed to secure an exclusive pre-festival interview. Read on and get ready for your rapid climb up the greasy career pole.
1. I've just graduated and I still don't know what sort of career to choose. How can I find out what I want to do in life?
You must get in touch with your Inner Succeeder. Find a tree and sit near it. Ask it what it recommends.
2. I'm a bit of a basket case in interviews. I either clam up or ramble on. How can I calm my nerves and speak intelligently?
Prepare yourself mentally, physically and logistically. Warriors of old used to prepare for battle with a war dance. Use the Succeeder Dance - rotate your pelvis and your thumbs at the same time. Do it in the toilet or the lift on the way to the interview. It will help you to get in the Confidence Zone and once you're there you'll be able to express yourself well.
3. I loathe my boss. She is a complete nightmare to work with. How can I improve our relationship?
What's wrong with her? Is she pretty? If so, send me her photo and phone number and I'll try and see what I can do.
4. I'm always being lumbered with menial office chores. How can I win more responsibility?
"Lumbered"... "Menial"... "chores"... these are all value-laden words with very negative connotations. What's wrong with emptying the waste-paper baskets? Empower yourself and rejoice in your efforts coping with soggy tea bags. And remember that menial is an anagram of alien-m , and that chores becomes sore-ch and office is really ice-off. Do you see the metaphorical and metaphysical significance? If not, then phone my Advice Line - charged at 763 Euros a minute - right now.
5. I've been looking for a job for about four months now and I'm just about sick of it. I can't stand the thought of facing another selection panel or filling out one more application form. How can I regain some focus and determination?
Apply for jobs for which you are clearly unsuitable. For example, chief executive of a global corporation, UN ambassador, or Big Brother host. There might be a mix-up and you might get the job. Then you can get fired with a big "fat cat" pay-off and never have to work again. Alternatively, write down all the things that are good about yourself. You'll probably only need a post-it note. Then go into the living room, strip off, stand on one leg and shout "I am focused and determined" 473 times. Feels good doesn't it?
6. I don't think I can take one more rejection. All my confidence has been shattered. How can I sell myself in an interview when I don't feel like I've got that much to offer any more?
Have you thought about giving up? I would suggest that it's time you got the message. Nobody likes you.
7. I'm feeling overloaded at work. It's like there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in. What should I do?
8. I've just missed out on my dream job. I feel so devastated. How can I get over this lost opportunity?
Forget about your dream job? Stop trying to live a dream and wake up to reality! It's time to get over yourself. Slap yourself in the face. Then go and have a cold bath.
Now that's cleared your mind, it's time to work on your body. When was the last time you had some beetroot? Go and eat some now!
9. I'm really bored in my job. It's not turning out like I expected. Should I stay and hope it will get better or should I move on?
Do you have access to the stationery cupboard? If so, stay as long as possible and take what you can. Some people call this petty theft. I call it Benefits In Kind, or Investing For the Future. If you don't have five staplers and 76 post-it note pads, how can you be expected to start a business? And why shouldn't you be able to relieve your employers of 78,853 pencils? They knew what they were risking when they employed you!
Business is a "dog eat dog" world, and if you don't scratch my back then your cat won't get the cream. Capitalism is all about chance and demand and supply and that includes rulers that just may happen to walk out in your backpack. So, stick with the job until you get can't nick any more.
10. I'm too reserved in the office. I rarely speak up in meetings, I shy away from team efforts and as for after-work drinks... How can I become more assertive?
Come on my Assertiveness Weekend Workshop. It will change your life. Just spend £376 and I will get trained Shouters to shout at you until you shout back and I will call that Breakthrough. You won't ask for your money back because you're too shy.
11. Any parting advice for all the graduates out there?
Get a work/life balance. Take up a hobby. For example, running or standing near things. I spend hours standing near Starbucks and I love it. It's where I do my best work.
12. Where can I find out more?
See the WORKSHOPS section of his website.