Active listening and social etiquette

Active listening and social etiquette

by Magenta

23 July, 2018

By Paul Russell, a luxury lifestyle coach.

If there’s one skill we’ve all mastered, it is the art of fake listening. We do it all the time, nodding our heads, smiling in the right places but mentally we’re somewhere else entirely. It reminds me of a story about President Franklin D. Roosevelt who was said to like to throw in a complete curve ball at White House receptions to test whether others were listening. “I murdered my grandmother this morning,” he is supposed to have been fond of announcing whilst shaking hands and in a tone you might use to say “hello, how are you.” It is said that very rarely were his efforts to root out conversational fakers ever met with an appropriate response.

There are many reasons that we don’t actively listen, it may be because we are focused on something else entirely, be that meeting a president or what we’re going to order at Starbucks on the way home. It could be that instead of actively listening we’re actually planning what we are going to say, and poised like a diver on a board we are waiting for our moment to surge into the conversation. Whatever the reason that we don’t actively listen, the results are the same- ineffective communication, limited engagement and little development of rapport. Of all the new skills you could develop for Learn Something New Week, the most important one is probably the one that you think you already know how to do- listen.

The most difficult time to try and achieve active listening is when you’re hearing something that you don’t want to hear. The urge to break in is almost overwhelming, and very few people are able to withstand that impulse to snatch up a comment and utilise it as leverage within the conversation. If this is you, then conflict and disagreement is something that you are probably well familiar with, your conversations are more likely to be battle grounds full of invisible point scoring than anything that resembles a productive and useful conversation.

Everyone though can benefit from active listening and there are key steps to take. The first is to actually pay attention, it sounds simple but in the majority of cases we are far more focused on ourselves than on our conversational partner. Flip this dynamic, and give them your full attention. Judgement is the next trap that we tend to fall into, so whether we’re judging them out loud or just inside our own heads, this type of thinking inhibits active listening. Try not to jump into every available space in the conversation, instead allow the other person time to formulate their thoughts and fully express what they want to say. This is a particularly useful tactic in a situation of conflict as butting in can often escalate rather than calm a situation.

When you feel that there is a natural pause you can ask open ended questions to gain a further insight into the topic. This is the time when you can clarify anything that you’re not clear about and perhaps also acknowledge how the speaker might be feeling, saying something like, “that must have been terrifying for you.” Acknowledging feelings really helps someone to feel truly heard. For complex or professional discussions, this might be the point at which you would also summarise what has been said, giving your conversational partner the opportunity to add anything else that is relevant. From here you can show through gestures and words your understanding of the situation. Often, we think that we then need to quickly solve the problem, but in many cases active listening fulfils the primary need.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt smilingly proclaimed that he had murdered his grandmother, what he was asking for was to be heard. What he wanted was for someone to engage with this on a genuine level. To pay attention, to not (in the first instance at least!) judge, and instead of a tired platitude actually offer something of value in response, and with this utterance there are many, many open ended questions that could have been asked of Roosevelt! There is no denying that active listening is a lot more challenging than fake listening, but the rewards are infinitely greater. So this Learn Something New week, challenge yourself to do something transformative- actively listen.

Paul Russell is a luxury expert and etiquette coach who works with private clients and high net worth individuals in the art of correct behaviour. He is co-founder and managing director of Luxury Academy, a multi-national company, specialising in soft skills training for the luxury market. Luxury Academy have offices in London, Delhi, Visakhapatnam and Mumbai. Prior to founding Luxury Academy, Paul worked in senior leadership roles across Europe, United States, Middle East and Asia.

The price of life: 2007 - now

The price of life: 2007 – now

by Magenta

12 July, 2018

In this guide, Robin Hood Energy discusses the rising cost of life in 2018, compared to 2007, and the journey in between.

Seemingly every day we’re being made to pay a few more pennies in our shops but this all adds up, especially over a period of years. Only recently, supermarket giant, Tesco, announced they won’t be price matching their products against competitors anymore. Prices rise. Brexit looms. Is it all just a big media scare though? Or has the price of life truly risen? Research from, energy supplier, Robin Hood Energy, analysed the price of common household goods and necessities, like petrol, from 10 years ago compared to now. Let’s see how much money the general public really has lost over the years.

1/ Petrol

In the UK, people are spending around 115.2p per litre on petrol, where has flit back to 2007 and you’d be paying 84.7p instead. Statistically, the UK person uses 1,377 litres per year which costs you £3,828 more now than it did back in 2007. We are definitely not getting the best miles per gallon there.

2/ The cost of education

Still a sore subject for many now-graduates who received the £9000 per year tuition fees compared to their predecessors who had the same education, same lectures and same opportunities for a third of the price. The numbers are quite simple here, if you did your degree 10 years ago, you’d be £18,000 better off, that’s not even accounting for debt and the interest that develops over time.

3/ Sweets treats

I’m sure we’ve all spoken to our friends and colleagues about how we remember when certain chocolates cost way less than they do now. On top of that, they seem to have gotten smaller too, the jury’s still out on that one though. The research specifically looked at Creme Eggs and found that if you ate just one a week, you’d be set back £33.80 now compared to £17.16 then! Deliciousness is expensive.

4/ How expensive is getting ill?

The NHS is one thing we take for granted in the UK, with prescriptions costing around £8.60 currently, however 10 years ago they cost £6.85. This is quite a reasonable price increase as a one off for what you’re getting anyway. However, if you had one a week it would’ve cost you £330.20 in 2007, whereas it costs you £447.20 in the present day.

5/ Staying in touch

Nearly everyone you know has an iPhone, it’s the most popular phone in history. If you were ahead of the trend 10 years ago, it would have at you back £297.67 precisely, however now, for the latest model you’re paying £999. In essence, it does the same thing, but the £701.33 increase is incredibly steep just to keep in touch with your social networks. Maybe it’s time we all went back to Nokia 3310s.

6/ Energy

To stay in touch, we need to charge our devices, energy bills seem to increase every other month with blame being placed on Brexit, trouble with sourcing materials and increased demand. In 2007 the price of a standard tariff would be around £1,039.23 but if you shop around today and lock in a fixed tariff you can get one for a similar price or even less around £959.95.

Life is always increasing in cost, of course, the price of living rises every day. So, it’s important as consumers for us to shop and compare. A great power which we didn’t have much authority over back in 2007.

Gardening on a Budget: 7 Top tips

Gardening on a Budget: 7 Top tips

by Guest Contributor

2 July, 2018

By Andy Baxter, MD of Internet Gardener

In this guide, Andy Baxter, MD of Internet Gardener helps prove that gardening doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby, offering some top tips for those wanting to have thrifty green fingers.

1/ Keep your space limited

There’s a common misconception that you need a large garden or a huge space to be a good gardener. This is simply not true! The latest trend of ‘urban gardening’ involves the uprising of city gardening – making the most of small spaces to grow your own produce and flowers. This commonly includes keeping your own mini-garden in planters on window sills and ledges, but balcony gardens are also becoming popular, as well as rooftop gardens! Making the most of the space you have will save you money, as you won’t feel like you need to invest in a bigger property with a larger garden, or rent out an allotment. Additionally, you’ll naturally be more efficient with limited space, as you’ll have to be really selective on what plants you want to invest in.

2/ Recycle all the way

One of the benefits of gardening is that you can re-use a lot of the components. Many people spend hundreds on new compost, whereas hardy plants don’t need anything fancy. In fact, reusing soil or dirt from previous plants is totally acceptable, especially if you’re feeding minerals and nutrients to the plants using your own home made compost, which brings me onto the next point…

3/ Make your own compost

Collect your kitchen waste from fresh produce, such as vegetable cuttings, egg shells, leftovers and fruit peels. You can get large tubs for outside spaces for pretty cheap, but even if you don’t have much space, keeping this in your own little ice cream tub under the sink or somewhere else dark will still work.

4/ Keep seeds and grow them next season

The best thing about gardening is that you’re literally growing the next years crop! Make sure to collect the seeds from each plant and keep them stored away somewhere dark and dry until next year. You could even plant them again this season, if your gardening space is warm enough.

5/ Grow fresh produce

I know it sounds obvious, but why not double save by growing your own vegetables! Cheap salad and vegetables to grow include spinach, cress and spring onions. There are a load more as well, such as starting your own herb garden. Having to buy this consumable can get quite expensive since herbs always need to be so fresh, so you’ll be surprised how much you can save by having your own pot of basil on the windowsill!

6/ Use anything as pots and planters

Don’t spend loads on expensive and fancy pots for your plants! The plant won’t know any different, as long as it’s the right size! Honestly any old container will suffice, especially if you’re starting out with seedlings. Try using old mugs and glasses that you no longer need, or have broken handles. Things such as biodegradable egg containers are great for starting out seedlings too.

7/ Use your own weedkiller

Those who are fans of organic gardening will like this one. Instead of spending a lot of money on harmful weed killing devices, try using vinegar, which you’ll find is just as effective. You can even use salt to deter slugs and snails from chomping your salad. Gardening doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby, it should be accessible for everyone. With a little planning, even the most thrifty among us can start their own garden in no time!

Thieves of time

Thieves of time

by Guest Contributor

22 June, 2018

by Dominic Irvine

“I don’t have the time to do what you do.” The implication is that somehow I have more free time, a less demanding job, or fewer family commitments. I must have heard this comment said to me dozens of times. It’s nonsense. I’m married, have a family, and along with my colleagues, run a successful business. What makes me a bit unusual is on top of these things, in my late forties, I have also been lucky enough to become a record-breaking cyclist and author. I’d like to say it’s because I am talented, clever, genetically gifted and brilliant. But sadly, that’s also nonsense.

My two biggest revelations have been:

1/     Extraordinary performance requires a huge amount of time and effort and a relentless drive to keep improving what you are doing. It doesn’t matter whether you want to be a brilliant artist, musician, baker, investment banker or sports person, there is no substitute for graft. It’s harder than you think and takes longer than you might like.

2/    Time is perishable. You cannot save time, only spend it. Think of it like a hotel room, if the hotel cannot sell the room that night, it cannot store that unused night up for a busier period – the revenue opportunity has gone and will never come back. The key challenge is how you spend time not how you save it. We cannot change the number of hours in the day, but we can do something with the hours that we have.

From my experience I have found five thieves of time and found some solutions that have helped me recover precious hours to spend on becoming a record breaker and author whilst still being a full-time working dad and husband.


It’s really easy to slump in front of the TV and start watching. There’s a good reason for this, a lot of very clever people have made some very engaging, entertaining and informative programmes. Once you get into a programme, stopping to go away and do something else is really hard.

  1. Don’t start watching it in the first place. You can’t get engaged by a programme if you are not watching it. If you do watch a programme, choose to watch a specific programme, not just anything.
  2. Make TV time a virtue, watch your favourite programmes whilst on the treadmill or an exercise bike or doing the ironing.
  3. Put the TV in a separate room out of the main living area of the house (if this is possible). If you then want to watch it you have to go into the television room. It thus becomes a conscious decision to watch.

Social media

Keeping in contact with friends is great and social media is a wonderful tool for this. Tracking it all can become an addiction that both eats up time and reduces the quality of our thinking by reducing our focus on the task at hand.

  1. Give yourself a few time slots in the day when you do check social media. Turn off the alerts.
  2. Reduce the number of platforms you track – a bit more of a challenge as some people like some platforms better than others. But the more platforms the more time it takes.
  3. Create some rules for yourself about your own posts – what would make them really engaging for other people? Help other people by making sure that if you do post something it is well worth the read, such that people look forward to hearing from you.


Those clever people who sit behind the search engines we use and the pages we browse, know how to target us with specific information likely to draw us into exploring more and more pages of content. The major challenge of the internet is curating content into usable, useful formats that provide the information we need. The rest is distracting noise that just gets in the way.

  1. When opening your favourite browser, with your mug of coffee ready to be entertained, ask yourself “What question am I seeking to answer?” It might not seem much of a thing to do but it will force you to think about what is it you want to know – Are you exploring holiday options, If so, what aspect? Recommendations? Reviews? Flights? Be clear about what you are doing and it will help focus both your time and enable you make better choices of which sites to explore.
  2. Decide on your time limit for browsing. I.e. allow yourself ten minutes, or half an hour and decide what you are going to do afterwards before you start browsing so you know why you need to move on.
  3. Subscribe only to the number of sites / feeds you can realistically follow and read. There is nothing to stop you changing your subscriptions as your needs change. If you are seeking advice or insight, make sure the credentials of those providing it are adequate – do they really know what they are talking about or is it just a lot of vacuous opinion?


What a brilliant tool a smartphone is. It can do so much stuff, and as a result can be so distracting.

  1. Turn off the alerts except on critical apps. Emails, by definition rarely require an instant response, whereas a text can sometimes be a little more urgent. Consider keeping the alerts on for critical people and off for everyone else.
  2. Turn off all alerts at night. Sleep is so important to performance that it is not worth squandering on browsing.
  3. Put it somewhere where it is just a bit inconvenient to use. If in bed, leave the phone in another room. If out and about, put it in your bag or pocket. If in the car, stick it in the glove compartment.If you really want to be good at something, stop complaining you don’t have the time and take a good long hard look at the things you currently spend your time doing. Are they helping or hindering you in achieving your ambitions? From my experience, changing your habits around these five activities can liberate 10 to 20 hours a week. Just think what you could do with that time.

Author: Dominic Irvine

As well as his consultancy business, Dominic is a keen ultra-distance cyclist – he actually holds the current record for non-stop cycling on a tandem from Land’s End to John O’Groats and regularly takes part in ultra-distance challenges.

Dominic’s consultancy focuses on leadership, performance and innovation. With his colleagues, he has grown the business from developing executives using coaching, to the design and facilitation of international conferences, culture change and leadership development for multinational blue-chip companies across the globe. He also regularly produces blogs that explore key leadership and people development issues.

First Time Sailors Fear Naught! Tips for Your Inaugural Boating Holiday

First Time Sailors Fear Naught! Tips for Your Inaugural Boating Holiday

by Guest Contributor

12 June, 2018

It’s easy to understand why sailing has become more and more popular in recent years. The focus required to control the boat and the feeling of freedom on the open ocean are just two reasons why people return time and again to the high seas. For first-timers, a few days at sea might seem like an unnerving way to spend a holiday. Yet, with a little forward planning, preparation and sense of adventure, anyone can grasp the art of sailing and enjoy a holiday at sea.

1. Keep it light

Unless you are travelling on a super yacht, bear in mind that cabin space is usually extremely tight. Only pack the absolute essentials to avoid clogging up limited walkway space with unnecessary items. It’s also worth using a holdall or rucksack rather than a hard suitcase, as they can be folded away once you have unpacked.

2. Stay protected

The idea of sitting on the top deck with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair is probably the reason you decided to book your sailing holiday in the first place. However, being at sea does not mean you can forget to respect the sun and protect your skin. In fact, the reflection of the rays on the water intensifies the potential for sunburn and all it takes is a cooling sea breeze for you to forget your SPF and get a serious burn. Stay vigilant and make sure you bring enough sun cream, and a sun hat, after all – you want to make sure the is trip is memorable for the right reasons!

3. Plan for the worst

Noah Silliman / Unsplash

Noah Sillman / Unsplash

Whilst it’s important to only pack the essentials and be wary of the sun, you should be making room for inclement weather essentials too. Even if the forecast is sunny, things can quickly change at sea and to enjoy sailing in all conditions you’ll need waterproofs to protect you. Brands like Musto and Helly Hanson have sailing clothes with moisture wicking base layers and warm inner linings to keep you cosy and dry. Then you can enjoy the seriously exhilarating experience sailing in stormy waters without getting cold and miserable.

4. Keep your sea legs

Taking to the water can gives you a way to switch off from life’s stresses, and simply connect with nature. Although, if it’s your first time staying on a boat, you could end up feeling a little woozy. Make sure you have seasickness pills on hand just in case, so that if you do feel unwell, it doesn’t spoil your relaxed vibe. As well as the medication, try standing on the top deck and focussing on the horizon to restore your balance; spending long amounts of time in the cabin can exacerbate seasickness symptoms.

5. Don’t go sparko

Whilst a sailing trip is a wonderful opportunity to disconnect from your everyday life for a few days, you may want to bring your phone and other electronic goods on your trip. Remember that it can often be tricky to find a plug socket on board. If possible, bring battery powered chargers for electrical items to ensure that you can use them on your trip. If you are likely to have your phone on you whilst on deck, investing in a waterproof case is a clever idea too. Sailing is a truly unique experience and a fantastic way to see the world so once you have prepared for your first sailing trip, the only thing left to do is relax and enjoy yourself!

Read more from Ed at 

Moving from home with a chronic illness

Moving from home with a chronic illness

by Guest Contributor

27 September, 2017

By Liam Richards

Moving away from home can be hard enough for a normal person but it can be even harder for someone suffering from a chronic illness such as chronic fatigue syndrome (this link will help you learn more about the illness).

I personally moved from home for university whilst suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome and come back in the summers, I was worried prior to this what it would do to my health so spoke to my hospital to gain advice. The tips I am going to give are both recommendations I received and things I have discovered living away from home. I am in no way a health expert and these tips may not work for you as everyone is different.

Social /

My first tip is one that helps you when you are suffering from low spells or relapses, build a support network. A support network consists of people who will be there in your time of need to give you the boost you need, advice or just someone to talk to. They could be family, friends, medical professionals, colleagues/tutors if you are at university or online such as forums. By building a support network you will know who you can talk to whilst experiencing certain issues from your health or just moving away from home in general. If you feel uncomfortable talking to those close to you, an alternative could be to use forums with other CFS sufferers such as Phoenix Rising which is one that I have used in the past.

Food /

My next tip focuses on saving your precious energy and that is to do online shopping. By doing this will be able to save your energy and be able to have a great selection of food rather than just a local corner shop. This leads onto my next tip which is to eat healthily which is easier to do online as you don’t have to worry about carrying it all home and have the option to a wide healthy range of foods.

By eating healthily, it can help to improve your some symptoms, avoiding processed foods can help your body lose less energy as it will be breaking down more natural foods. Some may find it hard to prepare healthy food so it helps to do meal preparation when you have spare time, saving precious energy when you need to cook in the evening after a long day when you will lack motivation and possibly end up ordering an unhealthy takeaway or ready meal. When the meals are prepared in advance it makes it a lot easier when you might lack the motivation as you just need to heat it up and possibly add some fresh ingredients to add variation.

Rest /

Rest is vital when you suffer from a chronic illness and the outside world can interfere with this so it is worth making purchases that can help to limit this. Earplugs or noise cancelling headphones are great if you live by a busy street or with noisy house mates/neighbours. If you suffer from photosensitivity, it helps to have black-out curtains or an eye mask to limit the light. This should help reduce the provocation of migraines, in turn allowing you to relax to the best of your ability.

Software /

There are multiple types of software that can help with both studying and working. The most helpful one I have used is Claroread, it reads highlighted text from your screen helping to reduce the fatigue on your eyes as well as helping with proofreading as you can hear what your text sounds like. This helps you to spot errors when checking over emails, assignments, or essays. Another helpful piece of software for writing on the computer is Dragon Naturally Speaking, which allows the user to talk into a microphone and it will type the words for you. This allows the user to rest but still work from the comfort of their bed if they need to. It might also be of help to use a calendar that syncs on your multiple platforms, this will help function like a second brain and help to remind you of upcoming events or create to-do lists for each day.

Hopefully, these tips can be of some help to those with a chronic illness for when they are moving or deciding whether to move from home. Most of these tips come from my experience of my first year at university but can be applied to those who are working as well.

How to avoid falling out with your business partner

How to avoid falling out with your business partner

by Guest Contributor

26 September, 2017

By Anthony Bennett

Myself and Robin Hay co-founded the bespoke hospitality business Bennett Hay back in 2010. We now employ just over 200 people. Robin and I have worked together for the last 20 years, which is one of the main reasons we decided to set up Bennett Hay.

We found we had very complimentary skills, which I’d argue is an extremely important factor in a successful partnership. At the beginning we spent a great deal of time independently capturing what’s important to each of us before sharing our thoughts, just to double check we had the same drivers and passions – which, thankfully, we did!

Photography on behalf of Bennett Hay © Daniel Lewis.

Here are my top tips to avoid falling out:

Rather like any relationship, you have to keep the communication open and honest. Be up front with any issues and make time for debate.

Agree decision-making processes, allowing both autonomy and combined thinking. Pre-agreeing structures and processes lessens the likelihood of a fall out at a later stage.

Plan for growth and recognise the need to adjust behaviours and job roles as the company grows. Co-founders must be prepared to adapt to the changing business landscape; pre-empting eventualities from the very outset, and meeting up monthly to discuss the proposition, can help pave the way in future.

Sleep on a big decision before making it. Jointly agree to give each other plenty of time to reach an outcome; that way, you reduce unnecessary stress.

Hear each other out. You’ve entered into business together and both partners will possess different skills and experience; tap into and use it at all times. You never know what you’ll learn and discover from each other. A business can only ever grow if it’s challenged after all.

Stay true to your vision and business integrity. Continually believe in what you are here to do and where you want to take the business.

How to Influence an Influencer

How to Influence an Influencer

by Guest Contributor

23 August, 2017


Spilling secrets is fast becoming something that LornaLuxe and I excel at. Especially if it is combined with an audience, an agenda about digital and each other (and possibly a bottle of Champagne if it is after soz 7pm - tee hee).

Anyway, Cision invited us to appear in their series of Webinar’s where we would share some serious #realness on the topic of How to influence an influencer – with LornaLuxe being the influencer and me being the PR acting on behalf of the brand. In real life, the digital influencer is a modern phenomenon, so not massively surprising that it is pretty easy to make a mess of it. And it ain’t just a case of ‘Dear Blogger’ style impersonal emails causing the problems, it is a minefield of money, statistics, marketing, PR, brand, spotting bought followers, understanding Google Analytics and calculating ROI…which is so confusing that you may well want to avoid it altogether.

But DO NOT WORRY because HELP IS AT HAND! LornaLuxe and I have been doing this long enough that in this hour Webinar we give you the ONE thing LornaLuxe always wants to be asked by brands (but they never do). The TWO special sentences that make her hit auto-delete on an email. We will give you a THREE MONTH plan to boost your followers and interaction. Wow I sound like one of those QVC style salesmen! Soz. here is the full and unedited Webinar – featuring our first disagreement (hey, no one said we had to AGREE on shiz).

If you are a bit short on time, I can tell you a few handy hints:

Point break

LornaLuxe & I have worked together on many different projects – including THIS Getting Naked With LornaLuxe interview and for denim designer DONNA IDA. BUT we didn’t meet by chance. Instead Lorna got on my radar, we had a social media relationship so by the time I got in touch, my first email said ‘I feel like we’re already friends.’ The rest is history and there are more details on understanding the Point Break theory, how to develop your relationships on social media and in (controversially) in real life in the Webinar.

Let's go digital

Try not to utter the words; ‘I just don’t understaaaannnndddddd digital’ because who wants to be that person? Skill up! How can you possibly talk to influencers/negotiate with brands/expect to grow online if you don’t understand it. My tips? Get a book first – try The New Rules of PR & Marketing by David Meerman Scott and if not, get a crash course from an expert in the digital field. I was lucky enough to learn an awful lot from digital marketing agency Netleadz and their founder Xaver Matt – they’re small, personal and speak using real language – AMAZE. You’ll soon be talking about your numbers/conversion like a pro.

Me, me, me!

It is easy to become selfish in the digital world so LornaLuxe and I believe in researching your audience to know how you can work together (pictured above when we first met along with Eimear Varian Barry). In the Webinar, you’ll also see the TWO magic phrases that will scoop you into LornaLuxe’s digital rubbish bin – trust me, no one wants to be in there. So – no cut and paste emails, no sloppy language or casual ‘Hi babes’ing. Let’s think strategically folks.

Social as the long game

LornaLuxe (pictured above in the Maldives dah-ling) shares the apps she uses to track her growth and competitors, how to spot people who are buying followers and how she grew to over 400k followers on Instagram! You’ll end with a three month plan – trust me, it is worth it!

I also contributed to Gorkana’s Guide to Influencer Marketing. Click the button below to download.

How to network

How to network

by Guest Contributor

10 August, 2017


My NakedPRGirl blog and business is all about honesty and going behind the smoke and mirrors of the PR & Marketing industry…but today I find myself in unfamiliar territory and am looking to a relationship guru to share his secrets instead.

Let me introduce you to Matthew Hussey, he’s a relationship expert/love doctor type (he hates labels but hey ho) who I first discovered through friends who were looking to decode the modern relationship. Naturally, I was totally cynical, spending an inordinate amount of time watching his YouTube videos on ‘What To Text Him’ and such the like and telling everyone that I thought it was all a bit ridiculous. Until that is I began to admire him – there I said it. For one, the man KNOWS his marketing – or rather his team do. Giving us that perfect mix of slick videos with down-to-earth moments and ‘real life’ examples. He knows how to tease me. Goddammit Matthew, I went from casual YouTube-ing to getting the ‘Get The Guy Book’ from the Maida Vale Library to subscribing to your fancy members area (HELP HELP!), ‘he’ emails me every single day – that’s more often than my clients do!

But jokes aside, I knew he was really onto something when my mum (who was visiting me before Christmas and has been happily married for 30 years I might add), picked up the Get The Guy book and started reading it, proclaiming ‘it has some really interesting points.’ And it does, and what I’ve realised is that these are really life skills, they are skills that have been forgotten amongst the digital malarky and I think they’re so important that I am telling anyone who will listen about them. So here are the SEVEN things Matthew Hussey can teach us about LIFE and more importantly for the PR industry, about networking:

1 – IN REAL LIFE – Digital (of course) has it’s place – in dating and in business. BUT Hussey will be the first to tell you that we need to work on our social skills in the everyday. Wow – so true isn’t it? So that means, talking to people. Actually speaking to them, and more of them, and being friendly, men, women of all ages, just try it. Not all your conversations will lead anywhere but they will get you used to talking to people and therefore make you better at it. And when you meet that man/woman of your dreams or that influential business person, you’re less likely to look like a rabbit in headlights. Try and chat to a couple of strangers today and see how hard it has become, if you do it everyday it gets easier.

2 – BE THE BUTTERFLY – I’m always jealous of those people who come in, light up a room, smile and chat and move effortlessly between groups, before sliding out of the door while you’re still hanging in the corner clutching a glass of champagne and trapped (usually) with some dude trying to sell you an affiliate scheme. In any situation, we can get so much more out of life by enlarging our social circle and getting to know more people. So the next time you’re stuck in one of those conferences with a name badge, challenge yourself to move around more.

3 – BUILD RAPPORT – Argh but like HOWWWWW??? For a long time I didn’t realise my job was to be friendly with people. As a PR Assistant ten years ago, I was usually in the background and working away but these days as a Consultant, most business is face to face. Building rapport isn’t easy and some people are better than others which is why we should practice. Maybe you already do this, maybe it’s complementing someone when you meet them (oh your shoes are ah-mazing etc)…whatever it is make sure you have a few failsafe things to say and you’ll soon relax and be yourself.

4 – CREATE A ROUTINE FOR SUCCES – Hussey loves a good quote, and he especially likes The Great Gatsby (one of my all-time faves) and in the video below he talks about how Gatsby created a timetable for himself to prepare for success. Organisation and strategy is the key to success, in business and in love. That can mean anything from making it a weekly task to visit a new venue, checking out a new event from likeminded people or even using social media to do your homework on new connections and network for half an hour each day. The key, sharpen up.

5 – IMAGE – Now then, I often talk about image in business and Hussey’s assertion with dating is that you should always be ready; ‘if you’re always ready, you don’t need to get ready.’ What he means is that, ideally, you’d always be happy to run into your ex because you’re taking care of yourself. Same applies here. You might run into a new client or influencer on a Sunday afternoon, and you don’t want to be put off from chatting to them because you haven’t washed your hair. That’s not to say you have to go OTT every time you leave the house, (note you do not need to channel VB in skyscraper heels at all times – well not unless you Uber everywhere) just that you want to be happy with your appearance.

6 – HOLD AN EVENT – In dating Hussey looks at enhancing your social circle by going to new places and holding regular get togethers with friends old and new. In business, instead of ploughing money into Facebook advertising, how about an event where you can keep talking to regular contacts and getting to know new ones in an informal setting. Think you can’t do that? You totally can, just start with a small number of people and go from there. No one is expecting you to be throwing a BRIT Awards style party straight away…give it a year at least

7 – KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY – We all know that person in work, or in dating that is a total f*£k-wit time waster and will just keep leading you on and on with the hope it will go somewhere. When you get the feeling that you’re wasting your time, be confident that there are other people out there who will appreciate you. As Hussey says, be ‘high value’ so take note and be nice, firm and leave them to it.

So there you go seven things from Matthew Hussey’s ‘GET THE GUY’ world that can translate to real life; in your love life and your work life. You can buy GET THE GUY on Amazon and head over to Matthew Hussey’s Get The Guy YouTube channel to watch the videos. Be warned, he’s addictive. Right, I’m off to book on a £5k Matthew Hussey Retreat in LA…just joking – pull me back from the edge someone!!!