I’m Just Asking: What Size are your Ears?

'My new headphones'

One of the key success factors in the consulting game is time management. Being able to run a ‘mobile office’ – capturing ideas on planes and trains – using speed as a competitive weapon. Clients want correct answers – and they want them fast. Otherwise you do the day job with clients and the night job back at the ranch. And, who wants to be the one to knock the lights out every night?

Being effective in this space requires good tools. Laptops that have a battery life longer than a Hamster’s memory. Smartphone’s with push email and Internet access. Gadgets that keep you connected and productive, whether you are in Cork or Cairo (Cork wins hands-down at the moment).

Laptop Luggable: These tools have come a long way. In 1989 I got my first business laptop, a spanking new Toshiba that weighted in at just over 8 stone! That’s what it felt like, carrying around a sack of potatoes. It’s a wonder of nature that I don’t have arms like Magilla Gorilla from lugging that piece of gym equipment all over the place. Despite the deadweight, it was incredibly slow. Unbelievably, it took a full day to develop and print out about 8 slides – a job that can be done now in an hour at most. I carried that laptop, a hardcopy leather notebook, a diary and an address book, doing a reasonable imitation of a business-class Sherpa.

That was then. Now I have a diary, address book, phone and a music player all rolled into one small piece of kit, the beloved iPhone. If it came down to it and I was being mugged, I would definitely give up my first-born rather than part with it (only joking Amie).

Music Lover: In order to listen to music you need a set of earphones. After paying about €500 for the phone itself, I went and did a really smart thing – bought a set of earphones for a tenner. And then discovered something really important. When I die my next-of-kin should donate my ears to medical science – because whatever particular shape they are, no ‘bud’ earpieces will stay in place. I have tried miniature ones, soft ones (supposedly better grip) and XXL – and they all have one thing in common. They dislodge. I even considered using superglue but chickened out at the last minute.

Helpful Teenagers: I needed some technical help. Going through the airport with time to kill, I got the insider-trader rundown from my son Cillian. A myriad of options ranging from about €9 to €400 with more technical wizardry than Apollo 13. It was all too much to take in at one bite – so I sneaked into HMV in Grafton Street for Headphones Lesson 2 and came out with a pair that cost me €180. But, boy are they great.

Now I can walk the dog and practice new lyrics. When a call comes in I press a button and start talking like a CIA operative with a direct line to Barack Obama. When Britney Spears sings ‘Hit me baby one more time’ I duly oblige, pressing the forward button and let The Script take centrestage.

Guilty Secrets: Is it crass to spend that much money on something that you want? I don’t think so. If you want it and you need it (even sort of), go get it.

In my coaching side of my job, I often work on the issue of guilt. Close to the top of the hierarchy are working mothers – worried that they are missing their kids first steps and doing them lifelong damage by absentee parenting. They watch movies about ‘latchkey kids’ going rogue and add this to an ever-expanding worry list (the dad’s seem to be missing this particular guilt gene!). People present with a whole variety of stuff. Guilt has no boundaries; it spills over into all areas of life – some of it based on the idea that clients somehow ‘don’t deserve good stuff’. Let’s kill that idea straightaway.

The Deal: If you have a stressful job with a tough boss, work long hours, suffer tight deadlines, or are up against a long commute, then you need to find some way to unwind. What are the options? Take Class A drugs? Get pissed every night on Sancerre (“I’m not an alcoholic. I only drink white wine”)? Chase teenagers with a view to improving your bunga-bunga technique? Or listen to some great music? You decide.

So go ahead now and indulge yourself with those headphones (or whatever). Because you’re worth it.

Paul Mooney


About Tandem Consulting

Paul Mooney holds a Ph.D. and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Sociology from Trinity College, along with a National Diploma in Industrial Relations (NCI). He has a post-Graduate Diploma and a Masters in Coaching from UCD. Paul, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, is widely recognised as an expert on organisation and individual change. He began his working life as a butcher in Dublin before moving into production management. He subsequently held a number of human resource positions in Ireland and Asia - with General Electric and Sterling Drug. Between 2007 and 2010, Paul held the position of President, National College of Ireland. Paul is currently Managing Partner of Tandem Consulting, a team of senior OD and change specialists. He has run consulting assignments in 20+ countries and is the author of 12 books. Areas of expertise include: • Organisational Development/Change & conflict resolution • Leadership Development/Executive Coaching • Human Resource Management/employee engagement
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