Psychologies Workshop: Marc Kahn on Emotional Intelligence

Marc KahnThis past Saturday I attended the first ever Psychologies Magazine Readers’ Workshop at the beautiful and picturesque Groot Constantia. I had only picked up one copy of this magazine and enjoyed most of it. It’s exactly my cup of tea. One thing bothered me though was that this magazine is aimed at women. And I quickly sent off an email to the editor. Only to find out that there was letter from another man published asking the same question. Why this is a magazine for women because many men are interested in psychology. For god’s sake Freud and Jung were both men!

Anyway Marc Kahn was the first speaker and dazzled the stage with no presentation. I’m still in two minds about when to use a presentation and when not. He used a very simple structure for his talk on emotional intelligence and the word picture were vivid. There was also a lot of audience participation which is always wonderful to observe and participate in.

So the key question Marc began with is whether emotions are good or bad. In fact this is a common misconception he said as he proceeded to outline how perceived negative emotions can have very practical and useful benefits indeed. Emotions have thousands of textures and at the core are mad, sad, glad, bad and fear.

So now we can proceed to unpack them…

  1. Mad: you feel upset, anger or even pissed off. The colour frequently associated with it is Red. You feel hot inside like there is a rise in the energy-in-motion (e-motion). Your heart beat increases; your muscles tightens and the word that comes to mind is “No” or “Stop” and so it allows you to set boundaries. When you have poor discretion anger becomes destructive and you can experience Intermittent Explosive Disorder.
  2. Sad: When you are sad you withdraw into a place of comfort. You go inside to attend to yourself and to heal. When you hold back, you build up the baggage inside. So allow sadness to run through you because it’s nature’s way of healing you. The colour associated with sadness is most often Blue/Grey. Like with all emotions there are different shades of this one. One of the tragedies is that boys and adult men are not able to experience sadness as it should be experienced. It’s the old adage: boys don’t cry that leads to a tremendous amount of emotional baggage built up in grown men, and more often that not the anger that emerges is directed at their fathers. In women anger is often blocked because it’s considered, again contrary to what’s healthy emotional response, not ladylike to express anger.
  3. Glad: You feel happy, excited about life and like you want to celebrate. The colour associated with this emotion is Yellow. Think of the sun shining and wanting to jump for joy. The word associated with this emotion is “Yes” because you always give yourself permission to feel glad. The opposite is where you feel miserable – you don’t get excited and you feel afraid.
  4. Fear: This emotion makes you feel like running away. You can experience an adrenaline rush because you sense danger. It warns you to be careful. People who ignore fear take many risks and live dangerous lives. Living in fear leads to paralysis and that’s not good either. (Ramon’s own comment: someone gave me this excellent definition of fear once: False Evidence Appearing Real) Capitalise on fear by challenging those feelings. The colour most often associated with it is White.
  5. Bad: This where you feel guilt or shame. The colour associated with this emotion is often Black. Marc proceeded to deal with guilt and shame separately:
    • Guilt: This is when you feel what you have done is wrong. When you feel no guilt you become sociopath and you live out of line with what’s considered socially acceptable in human behaviour. When you are riddled with guilt this leads to neurotic behaviour.
    • Shame: You feel embarrassed about yourself and is often a reflection on how you see your self image. When you never feel share you become arrogant or a narcissist. Use discretion especially in what you say when you talk yourself. That little voice inside your head is always talking.

After the review of the 5 core emotions Marc took some questions and discussed briefly Depression. This is something which hits home for me because I’ve experienced it twice in my life and managed to overcome it. As Marc described it I realised how accurate that was: Basically it’s a complete suppression of emotions both “positive” or “negative” ones. And it often leads to feeling fatigue and your mental state becomes numb or empty. You feel flat. Freud called it the frozen fear because you are afraid of the consequence of allowing yourself to feel anything. So emotions are an entire landscape which to draw from. Most of use receive at least 12 years of education about using our minds but very little education about our emotions. Remember your emotions are like a tap and with education and with practise you can learn to open the tap slowly and close it fast when needed.


The Impact of Social Networking on the Value of Information

Last week I was invited to present a lecture at the University of Johannesburg by the Department of Information & Knowledge Management where I am an alumni as well as currently registered for my Masters degree in Information Science. Contact Andrea Ferreira if you would to be added to their list for similar seminars held every couple of months.

The key points were as follows:

  • Information pollution is devaluing faster then ever before – So learn how to avoid or stop information pollution and information overload.
  • The numbers: Worldwide Internet users over 1.1 billion, worldwide cellphone users: over 2.5 billion, IM users approximately 580 million users, Social networking users approximately over 300 million
  • MySpace and Facebook are both huge social networks for teenagers and increasingly people over 35. MySpace is particularly strong in the entertainment industry and Facebook has loyal support from the university/college campuses while experiencing explosive growth in South Africa.
  • LinkedIn is the most useful social networking tool for professionals with over 12 million registered users worldwide and over 25,000 in South Africa. It’s changing the way recruitment is done as well as background checks on new employees. You may be interested in the excellent ebook: How to double your income in six months using LinkedIn.
  • The concept of Six Degrees of Separation and the Small World theory is the basis for the success of online social networks.
  • Google has been a key driver in the emergence of the long tail in marketing and onlie retail. Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005 and people thought he was crazy and not long afterwards signed an exclusive deal with Google guaranteeing at least $900 million over 3 years. Facebook users generate about $6 in advertising revenue while MySpace users only generate about $2. And based on Youtube‘s value it’s 124 million unique monthly visitors are worth about $13.
  • According to Rich Shefren, the information age is dead and we now live in the attention age. People with elements of ADD have an advantage because they can focus for short periods and maintain productivity levels while switching between tasks. Ordinary people’s potential efficiency is reduced each time they change tasks by 20% to 40% depending on the complexity of the tasks at hand. The abundance of choice impacts decision making because most people are NOT trained how to evaluate source of information. And therefore there exists a Paradox of Choice.

Some recommended resources of where you can start research and narrow your focus on more valuable information are: Squidoo, ChangeThis, Google Answers and to a lesser extent Yahoo! Answers. And if you still have not make some time to read the entire Cluetrain Manifesto, published in full on the website. As a side note if you are interested in the rise of Blogging read the quarterly report by Technorati: The State of the Live Web.

You can view the presentation or download it from here:


Robert Bly explains the way to meet the Wild Man aka Iron John

Iron John manhood book by poet Robert BlyThis book is a must read for any man living in the world today. And for any mother who wants to know what to do with her son, most especially if she is raising him as a single mother. This strikes a real cord with me because I grew up with a single mother ? and I lacked a strong male role model for most of my teenager years. And the result? A lot of confusion, a lot of self-doubt and this with a combination of other factors led directly to a nervous breakdown when I hit 25. You could say that I was never prepared to deal with the harsh reality of the adult world or you could say that I was to immature and the pace of my life was so fast I could not acclimatise quickly enough.

Yes, I have a father and we have not been close for most of my of my life especially after he remarried. Now his 2nd wide has passed away 8 years ago and my half-brother is almost 21. There is a divide that is deep and sometimes painful. And since I grew up with my mother I have a much closer relationship to her and my 19 year old half-sister. How have I dealt with this in the past? With anger, with frustration for being deprived from growing up in a ?normal? family unit. This led to more self-loathing then anything else so I turned outward to find my own role models, especially masculine, in the great books of history. I studied the classics from the West and the East. And I eventually reached a point where the simplest advice turned out to best for me: accept everything as it is. Thank God I never spent years of therapy trying to figure this out, which in retrospect seems like the kind of common sense my mother always claimed I didn’t have when I was a teenager.

Anyway Iron John is a mythical story of a boy’s journey with the Wild Man and his separation from his mother and his father. The basic element that we find missing in the modern world is that of male initiation. Now living in South Africa I know all about male initiation, especially among the Xhosa people. There has been growing resistance from the government to close down these initiation schools because of the lack of medical expertise where the boys end up suffering injuries. Could it be that more and more of the ancient knowledge or know-how of how to best conduct these rituals have been lost? I think we have reached a critical point, post the feminism revolution, the decline of fatherhood, and the rise of single parent (mother) families, which causes a severe imbalance in the male/female polarity that is needed. When the Yin/Yang balance is distorted to this extent we find that weak men are all that’s left.

There is so many analogies from this book, which has been brought to my attention via other sources, most notably the seduction community, because is an attempt to restore the balance. How many times have you observed in a Hollywood film, a sitcom, or a cartoon the idiot man with his intelligent wife/girlfriend who point him in the right direction. How many times have you met men, who are unable to articulate themselves, who do not live with a passion or a purpose. They become like zombies living lives of quit desperation. How can the modern man meet the wild man inside him? He can push himself to do something of extraordinary courage and learn from it. Maybe climb Kilimanjaro or run the Comrades or stop denying your father, your masculine, because you need to draw from there the energy that can sustain you through your life. This book is an excellent big picture of the current problem men are facing and for specific help on how to overcome these problems I highly recommend The Way Of The Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Woman, Work, and Sexual Desire

If you live in South Africa you should purchase Iron John by Robert Bly from

Here’s an excellent video of poet Robert Bly being interviewed by Bill Moyers in 1990. They discuss what it means to be a man in today’s society – the pains of being a man and the things that can be done to heal them.


Ugly Betty now in South Africa is an Ugly Role Model

Ugly Betty SuarezDriving around Johannesburg I’ve noticed several huge billboards advertising the new show on M-NET, Ugly Betty. The reviews are all positive in the South African media like this one by Tashi Tagg. And this is to be expected because we live in a politically correct country or some would say world. Now I have not watch this television show and have no intention of doing so based on my opinion of this show. And what may this opinion be you ask?

Ugly Betty is meant to make women feel like there is more to life than being a physically attractive woman. And most men would likely agree, to avoid being labelled a sexist, or a misogynist, that this is true. Now let’s look the reality of the situation. There are many brilliant books on evolutionary physcyology and sexual behavior that proves, scientifically, that men are attracted to attractive females because they are more likely to produce healthy offspring and that in turn ensures the long term survival of the species. Just tow books you can reference to this effect are as follows:

  • The Mating Mind by Geoffrey Miller
  • The Red Queen by Matt Ridley

There have been many studies to show that more attractive people get more opportunities in the workplace, in social circles, etc. So this negative role model does not in my opinion help any woman understand what the reality is in the world. In America where obesity is now almost at epidemic proportions there is anecdotal evidence that this show is giving fat women an excuse not to try and loose weight. Most people are plain lazy when it comes to working on their physical appearance yet these same people are likely to judge others on their first impressions and therefore on the their physical appearance. So what I am saying here is that we should rather point women to role models like Charlize Theron and Angelina Jolie. These women work exceptionally hard in their careers and still manage to look stunning whenever they make a public appearance or film.


Digital Citizens Indaba 2007 announced at Rhodes University

My friend Henry Addo notified me of this event via the African Bloggers Group. The Digital Citizens Indaba, which is a Blogging Conference, will take place again this year from 9-11 September 2007.

Last year I was a speaker at last year’s event. There was a lot of talk about blogging being used to for activism and the now stale debate on blogging vs journalism. There were several international speakers like Ethan Zuckerman, co-founder of Global Voices and Emeka Okafor, program director of the TEDGlobal 2007 conference. There was a very small focus on blogging for business and so I sincerely hope they will bring more of that into it this year. If we really want to make an impact with blogging we need to get more companies in Africa to use it as a tool.

On Tuesday this week I did another one of my blogging seminars for Douglas Green, a very big wine and spirits company in SA with distribution in Europe and America. They are reeling with possibilities based on the Stormhoek success. And I helped them see these possibilities more clearly.

Perhaps the most important thing we need to do is to help individual Bloggers , especially those from other African countries, make money or generate an income or get some consulting work for themselves from their blogs. It certainly works for me here in South Africa. And I can say once again that my experience at TEDGlobal in Tanzania has taught me how fortunate we really are here in South Africa. My friend and mentor, Tony Roocroft, makes more then R1 million per annum from over 100 websites even with the high prices of Internet and broadband costs.


Freek Robinson offers tips for successful interviews with Media

Freek Robinson SABCMarketingweb posted an excellent summary of points by Freek Robinson, a long time television presenter in South Africa. He gives the following excellent tips on how to conduct yourself during and interview. And I found this particularly useful as the frequency of my radio and television interviews are consistent and as new projects come about can only increase. What I found is that it really helps to be as relaxed and natural as possible. And in fact being over prepared can be a disservice to you because your mind will try to recall to much information.

For my recent television interview on CNBC Africa, I prepared for a full hour’s worth of conversation in between the business segments and was only on for 5 mins in the end.

Some tips from Freek Robinson:

  • It is better to do an interview live because then it cannot be edited or interfered with.
  • In radio, your voice is all important. Your voice should be calm but with energy.
  • Think of the audience; you are talking to them not the interviewer.
  • An interview is basically a structured conversation. You must plan it but it must be you delivering it as your natural but trained self. Credibility lies in you being your true self. It should not simply be a question and answer session.
  • You are in an interview to deliver a message, irrespective of the questions asked. You have to know in advance what you want to say or you will fail.
  • Before an interview, eat and drink with care i.e. no fizzy drinks, tea or coffee, and don’t consume a big heavy meal that could make you sleepy.
  • Your posture should be straight and open; sit still, and avoid stock phrases like “you know”.
  • Concentrate on talking to one person you know and respect, such as your mother, then it becomes a real personal conversation. This is the recipe for avoiding stage fright.
  • Stay focused, stick to your point and be concise.
  • Beware of the first question – look out for leading questions, statements as questions, multiple questions, the ambush, interruptions, offensive interviews, be aware of where the line of questioning is going. Take control when these are thrown at you.
  • Be honest, acknowledge problems.
  • Don’t argue or lose your temper.
  • You must always try to manipulate the situation that’s best for you. You are not a victim. You are there to deliver a message and should be proud to do so.

2014 edit – The original source is no longer available because it seems Marketingweb website has closed down.


Self-promotion interview with Damaria Senne

You may be interested in this is an interview I did with journalist and blogger Damaria Senne about self promotion and building your own profile. A friend of mine once suggested that I offer this as a service to clients. So if you want to obliterate your competition and position yourself as an expert in your field or your industry, contact me directly.


The Attention Age Doctrine

This is a speech I gave last night for my Toastmasters club

I only had my first girlfriend when I got to university, after high school. So I was a bit of slow starter back then. Every weekend I would rely on my best friend and neighbour to give me a lift to and from her because she lived in another city and his girlfriend lived there as well. So it almost became like a ritual that after he picked me up we would stop off at a garage shop and buy snacks and cool drinks. So while driving at 120 km/hour he held his cigarette in his right hand, conveniently close to the window for fresh air, controlled the steering wheel with the same hand. In between his legs he would keep his can of Coke and take the occasion sip. With his left hand he would change gears and every now and then grab some Niknaks or Simba chips. Now in retrospect this was in fact a very dangerous and stupid thing for him to do. This is taking multitasking to the the extreme.

Thank God cellphones were not widely in use back then.

The word multitasking comes from the computer industry and is now considered a vital part of our everyday lexicon. The idea is simple – you do multiple things at the same time. For example you may iron while watching tv or drive you car while listing to a news broadcast on radio. It turns out that of multitasking does not increase our productivity. In 2001 CNN reported a study by researchers Rubinstein and Meyer that found “time costs” increased with the complexity of the chores: It took longer, say, for subjects to switch between more complicated tasks. Every time you switch tasks you loose between 20% and 40% of the potential efficiency. An example quoted was when you write a report and your phone rings – you experience temporary writer’s block when you have switch back into the mode of writing the report.

The science author James Gleick wrote a whole book about the acceleration of just about everything called Faster. However, the most vivid description of this problem we’re facing comes from Professor Barry Schwartz, author of the Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less. The basic premise in his book is this: In the affluent Western world we have a greater selection, and a greater amount of choice than ever before in the history of mankind. The ability to choose is directly linked with concepts like freedom of speech and democracy. Nevertheless, we are more dissatisfied with our choices than ever before. So in economic terms we are experiencing a substantial increase in what’s called opportunity costs. And often we find ourselves paralysed when having to make choices. One examples from his book is where a study was performed in selling jam to customers. While presented with 30 flavours of jam at a gourmet store it attracted more interested parties who wants to sample the jam. When presented with only 6 flavours of jam, it attracted less people but increased sales. So there is a paradox is offering to much choice.

Rich Shefren, an online business coach, in his free ebook, the Attention Age Doctrine highlights the facts that we have now entered and era where Attention has become the most valuable resource. So how do you begin to reclaim your attention? Switch off your television, radio, computer and cellphone and give yourself a mental break. One final thought on this subject. In 2005, Glenn Wilson, Psychologist at King’s College in London, gave a group an IQ test who were to do nothing but take the test. He then gave them the same test while being distracted by emails and phone calls. Even though they were told to ignore these interruptions, the volunteers average IQ dropped by 10 points while being distracted. This is more than twice the effect of marijuana in a similar study.


Lessons from Steve Jobs on making a excellent pitch in your Presentation

Today I learnt via the TED Blog about a great column on Steve Jobs’ presentations skills. The basics of it include the following factors:

  1. Building tension
  2. Stick to one theme per slide
  3. Add pizazz to your delivery
  4. Practise
  5. Be honest and show enthusiasm

Go directly to the Business Week column here. And you can watch the speech directly from this link on Apple’s website. I watched the first 10 to 15 minutes of this presentation and the response from the audience is awesome. If you are in need of improving your Powerpoint/Presentations skills start by downloading Seth Godin‘s free ebook Really Bad Powerpoint. And if you are looking for speaker for your conference or company view my Speaker Profile here.


Joke of the Day: The Husband and the Coke machine

A man and his wife are in court getting a divorce. The problem is who should get custody of the child. The wife jumps up and says: “Your Honour, I brought the child into the world with pain and labour. She should be in my custody.” The judge turns to the husband and says, “What do you have to say in your defence?” The man sits for a while contemplating, then slowly rises. “Your Honour, if I place R5 in a vending machine and a Coke comes out, whose Coke is it – the machine’s or mine?”