What’s your Party Piece? Being insanely good at something is the root of career success

"I'm Gonna Rock this Convent Tonight'

“I’m Gonna Rock this Convent Tonight’

My Aunt Moya was a nun, a nursing sister who spent all her life taking care of old folks in a geriatric hospital just outside Paris. Moya was a formidable lady – having done a stint as the Mother Superior at one point.  In her later years she didn’t hold any post of responsibility but continued to work as a nurse well into her 80’s. She had sort of adopted the 10 kids in our family and we were quite close, albeit because of travel restrictions in her community, we only met every couple of years.

Paris Trip: When Moya died, my sister Teresa went to Paris to represent our family at the funeral. She stood in a small mortuary chapel, surrounded by nuns all dressed in formal attire. Moya was well loved and her ‘niece’ was an important visitor. At some point in the proceedings, one of the nuns suggested: “Go on Teresa. Sing a little Irish song for Mother Gertrude (Moya’s religious name) before she passes on”. Now Teresa, by her own admission, can’t sing a note and was mortified. The other nuns thought this was a great idea and joined in. “Yes, she loved music. Do her proud”. Not wanting to let the team down, but not knowing the lyrics of a single song, my sister burst into an off-key rendition of “For he’s a jolly good fellow” (and so say all of us). Most of the nuns, working through English as their 2nd language, thought this was a great ditty and joined in heartily with the chorus. Teresa said it was one of those moments when: “You’d just wish the ground would open up and swallow you”.

Party Piece: So, what’s your Party Piece? I’m not talking about having to sing at funerals. What is it that you are insanely good at? What is your standout quality? In the workplace, what do you bring to the party? Because, the chances are, if you can’t answer that question, no-one else will be able to answer it either. Generally it’s Mission Impossible to hit the career jackpot if your personal brand is unknown. If you havn’t been discovered yet, this is down to poor marketing on your part, not some in-built fault of the succession planning system or a HR deficit. Career success is a combination of being excellent in some particular area – and – having the marketing nous to let the world know this. Now, which part of that equation do you need to work on?


PS Lighter Moment: I recently took up meditation. It sure beats sitting around doing nothing.

PPS: In similar vein…Nescafe manages to arrange a meeting with the Pope at the Vatican. After receiving the Papal blessing, the Nescafe official whispers ‘Your Eminence, we have an offer for you. Nescafe is prepared to donate €100 million to the church if you change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’

The Pope responds, ‘The prayer is the word of the Lord. It must not be changed.’

‘Well,’ said the Nescafe man, ‘we anticipated your reluctance. For this reason we will increase our offer to €200 million.’

‘My son, it’s impossible. That prayer is sacred and it must not be changed.’

The Nescafe guy says, ‘Your Holiness, we at Nescafe respect your adherence to the faith, but we do have one final offer…. We will donate €500 million – that’s half a billion dollars – to the great Catholic Church if you would only change the Lord’s Prayer from ‘give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘give us this day our daily coffee.’ Please consider it’ …………and he leaves. The next day the Pope convenes the College of Cardinals.

‘There is some good news,’ he announces, ‘and some bad news. The good news is that the Church will come into €500 million.’ ‘And the bad news your Holiness?’ asks a Cardinal.

‘We’re losing the Hovis account’

Know someone who’d benefit from this blog? Ask them to email paul@tandemconsulting.ie and we’ll add them to the list. Check our website http://www.tandemconsulting.ie or call 087 2439019 for an informal discussion about executive or organization development.


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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