The Carnival of HR is coming to Mentoring Mullarkey!

Good morning/Afternoon/Evening all! Some exciting news – the biggest event of the summer will be arriving this July to a blog very near you. ‘Bigger than Murray’s win at Wimbledon?’ I hear you say – yup. ‘Bigger than the meltdowns we say on the interview stage of the Apprentice?‘ Totally, double yup there too. ‘Bigger than the moon landing?!’ Well, quite possibly.

I am talking about that great event of long, hot summers of the carnival coming to town. And there is only one carnival that you want to be a part of ladies and gents – the Carnival of HR!

For those who are new to it (or Carnie Newbies maybe?) check out this link for more details but in short it is the best blogs on HR, L&D and everything in between in one place – I told you it was big!

I am hosting the carnival on July 17th, with the theme being on career/personal development. With this in mind we are looking for blog posts focusing on:

  • The best or worst career advice you have ever been given
  • Why it was so effective/ineffective
  • If you had their time over again whether there is anything you would do differently
So be sure to get your posts to me via mullarkeypj at gmail dot com by Monday, July 15th.
Like any good HR event there are some rules to follow:
1. Please submit a recent (within 2 weeks) post of your own for consideration to the current host.
2. Once the Carnival goes live please help promote it via twitter, your blog, or what have you.
3. Check out the Carnival of HR site!! This not a “rule” per se, but it’s still a good idea.
So there it is. Your best and worst tales in career and personal development – view it as a big HR/L&D career counselling session. I will be plucking one of my many personal horror stories (I emphasise ‘personal’ as in I tend to be the recurring problem in many of my tales) but the success of any carnival is dependent on its customers, so I need to hear from you guys by July 15th.
Look forward to seeing you at the carnival next week!

Training Zone Book Review: ‘How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life’

As some of you might be aware, the website Training Zone is discussed content on training, learning and professional development, and everything in between.

Aside from general industry discussions and information, it also has a section dedicated to book reviews that are of interest to those in the HR/L&D field, with a wide variety of topics and titles being covered each month.

This month I read and reviewed ‘How to Make Partner and Still Have a Life’ for the site well I saw this month, technically I started reading it in November and only have reviewed just now (please take this as a sign of my own inefficiency and not a criticism of the book!). The review shall be available on the site shortly, but for a preview here it is on mentoring Mullarkey – enjoy! Book

The first thing to say about ‘How to make…’ is that if you do not work in a law firm or professional services do not ignore this book – it has content that is very transferable to any individual looking to structure and plan their professional development and career management.

In some ways the title does the book an injustice – although it does provide an overview of the partner track within law firms, case studies and quotes from individuals within the industry, like any effective professional development materials it can transfer across expertise’s and roles.

It is important to note that having never applied to be a partner myself (what a surprise for someone working in L&D!) I cannot comment in too much depth on the effectiveness or value of the advice given from this perspective. However, it does seem to me to be very practical and straight forward guidance for those taking on entry-level roles within such industries which would be of use.

Where the book had real value for me was in providing very practical advice on career management/personal development, easy to pick up structures for leveraging value and knowledge from a professional network, advice and ideas on how to make sure of maintaining a positive work life balance, as well as suggestions on how to effectively manage and develop others within a team.

Although I would strongly recommend this book as a ‘must-read’ were I just entering the legal profession and wanted to map out career paths within it, it still has value to those outside of the field who are looking for some ideas to refresh their own and other professional development. Considering this, I would give it a mark of 8/10: well written, useful and practical – what’s not to like about that?

Day 39: Breakthrough

The amazing Alison Chisnell has been hosting blogs all through advent and in to the new year, with new topics daily from HR and L&D bloggers at her HR Juggler blog.

Do yourself a favour and sign up for her updates – they are always insightful and thought provoking, from both the professional and personal perspective. In the meantime check out my contribution to the ‘calender’ with my take on reflections and resolutions – hope you enjoy! P.

The HR Juggler


Today’s post is written by Patrick Mullarkey, better known to many as @MentorMullarkey on Twitter and a fabulously nice bloke and excellent and insightful blogger. His take on the reflections and resolutions theme is below.


From a young age I had always been a little hesitant about New Year’s resolutions but find the older I get the more comfortable I am with them, and am definitely optimistic looking forward to 2013.

My previous reluctance was partly down to never seeming to be able to stick to any resolution during my ‘youth’. I would be buzzing with good intentions at the start of the year but, as winter turned in to spring, would find that my motivation seemed to melt away.

In part I think this is due to how the resolutions come about – it was the time of year that was prompting them, rather than some sort…

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L&D Design Rules: How Tescos made sure their message was delivered

I read Andrew Abela’s ‘Advanced Presentations by Design’ over the Summer and ever since have become obsessed with how, regardless of the circumstances, you can make sure through effective design that your message is understood by your audience.

I loved the book and would recommend it to any L&D professional or those who are involved with regular presentation design. One element which struck me was when he spoke about what he called ‘The Squint Test’ which, in short, meant whether or not your audience could understand the message of the slide if they were to squint when looking at it. Admittedly the finer detail might be lost on them in smaller print when doing so but, as a minimum, they would be able to understand what the theme of the message was.

It was with this in mind that I was struck by an advert for Tescos recently on the London Underground which I think is a perfect example of this. Even with the smaller version of the image, right, you get an idea of what the main theme or point is that they are trying to get across to you.

I talked in a previous post about how Tiffany and Co. were using a minimalist approach to their advertising with a simple image and lack of text to promote their brand and I think what Tescos have done with the above is another example of that, along with the Abela squint test rule in action.

So, a busy London commuter would be able to pick up the key information if they did not know Tescos provided a home delivery service. However, what I think is brilliant about this advert is that after what announcing something which is quite common place (online ordering for delivery is taken for granted – seeing how much arrived from Amazon in my office today is testimony to that) it still holds the audience’s attention by having the smaller text in an underground map/vehicle format. It draws you in whilst still supporting the main message.

Not only that but if the audience has not yet made the connection of how they can use the service the text in the advert is making suggestions – check out a bigger version of the picture below to help explain:

Squint image

Toiletries, Ready Meals, Healthy Breakfast – these are not suggestions but, within the context of this advert, a call to action. It not only informs consumers of the service but is projecting on to them how they can use it. Brilliant.

So why is this of interest to L&D people? Our roles demand that we not only design materials and training that give people information but also provide them with the motivation for action. Whether it be a change in behaviour, a new skill learnt or an update on previously acquired knowledge, it is not enough to deliver the information – we also need to convince and engage with your audience so they act on it.

It is something that Tescos achieved very effectively in this instance and that all L&D designers should strive for – but what do you think? Is Abela way off with the squint test notion? Does this image even fit that theory?

I would love to hear what you think. Even if it is the shortest comment or suggestion it would be useful – becasue, as a famous slogan has suggested, Every Little Helps…

Come check out ldglobalevents with an interview with me, Patrick Mullarkey, where I talk about all things Twitter, Mad Men and steroids. Oh, I also talk about L&D in there also too – enjoy!

Start Again: The Richie McCaw approach to Continuous Professional Development

Richie McCaw. For those not in the know, he is about as close you will ever get to perfection in terms of his expertise (Rugby Union), consistently performing above and beyond expectations for one of the industries highest performing organisations (The New Zealand All Blacks). Truly, he can be said to be someone who has made people look at the same role they fill within their own team (Number 7/flanker/wing forward/all-round nuisance) and how they can apply what McCaw has taught them to reach a higher level of performance.

But how does he do it? Simples – he starts again.

English: Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby union...
The name’s McCaw, Richie ‘Im a Rugby God’ McCaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To explain further, it was a recent interview that McCaw gave in the UK to the Guardian (the All Blacks are touring Europe at the moment) to promote his upcoming book and generally talk about this career that got me on to this.

McCaw talks about how each time before a game he would take out his notebook and write down ‘Start Again’ at the top of the page, then a few key points for him to implement over the course of the afternoon to get the results that he wanted.

He would then end it by adding ‘G.A.B’, standing for ‘Greatest All Blacks’ – a reminder of those who had come before him in the role and how they performed, as well as the company he wanted to be considered when he looked back on his career.

Notice the structure there? Lets take a closer look:

  • ‘Start Again’: Forget what has gone before, move forward from it. You are beginning a new journey.
  • Key points for the day: What is needed to affect the present; what challenges immediately lay ahead. Clear instructions to follow for the immediate future.
  • G.A.B: If any further motivation was needed, remember previous high performers and set out the challenge in your own mind. The rewards for me are vast should I continue performing at such a level, but remember who went before. I have very high standards to be aspire to.

It is a simple, clear approach which, most times in his career, has worked out for McCaw. Not many can say they have achieved what he has in his career (have to give a mention to this guy, who kinda has) and on such an enduring basis. Truly someone to tip your hat too – though I’m not sure if this takes artistic licence a bit too far in terms of compliments!

But never mind all-conquering international rugby stars – what about you? Organisations are always interested in continuous improvement and development, what are you doing to support this?

How can you, like Richie, start again?

The 3 C’s: How to avoid being an invisible candidate in a social media world

So that is what your career looks like without a social media presence – blank, on the floor and, frankly, pretty lacking! So what can you do to fix this situation? Well here are 3 ideas to get off the sidelines and get involved and, to top it all, they are even easier than 1,2,3 or A-B-C…

(NB: Apologies for my tardiness! I promised this follow-up to my previous post for Thursday, but I was rather distracted by this which I just had to write about.)

Here is my follow-up on my latest 180 Blog Post (don’t know what that is? Find out here) with three strategies to develop a social media presence to enhance your recruitment prospects – or, in short, the 3 C’s.

‘Three what now?!’ 3 C’s – enough chat, read on below and that will explain all…


We live in an age where there are lots of opportunities for us to share our thoughts, both professional and personal, on all manner of topics. Facebook, Twitter, blogs like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr – all the stages are out there for us, just waiting to be taken.

However some people get up tight about creating their own stage for their opinions and expertise in a professional setting, often worried about issues of confidentiality or being exposed as some sort of fraud within their field. Two points to keep in mind about this:

1) If you hold opinions that are offensive or share information that has been given to you in confidence and choose to announce this via social media platforms, then you are an idiot and not taking part will not be enough to protect you – only changing your behaviour will do so.

2) If you do not present yourself as an expert away from social media do not start doing so online. If you do present yourself as an expert in the real world, then unless you get laughed at by peers, colleagues and clients alike on a regular basis, then chances are that you at credible at what you do. Ok, you might not be the a Jedi master of your profession, but you have experiences or knowledge others can draw from.

Not a real Jedi, knows he is not a real Jedi, and yet is still having fun – so could you! (Photo credit: Spike_stitch)

Accepting both these points, why wouldn’t you want to get involved with a platform that you have control over and is totally your own? It gives you a chance to help create a shop front for your skills as well as show a little bit of personality and entertain people at the same time – who would not want to do that? Now that’s what I call using the force… social media force!


Bit hesitant or unsure about how to you are going to come up with content? Perhaps you could be a hub for information, spreading the good news of useful resources and knowledge – perhaps you are the curator that the world has been waiting for!What do I mean by curator? Well someone who collects and is willing to share useful information with others which helps educate and inform. Think of yourself as that helpful librarian or museum assistant that you knew growing up – sure, they did not write the books or put the paint to canvas, but without their care that knowledge would go to waste and be forgotten.

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
An evil librarian? That would be someone who would not want to share information – you dont want to be evil like this guy, do you? (‘Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians’. Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is not that pressure there to be regularly creating content – rather you can just spread the good news! (If you want to see what someone who combines creating and curating very well looks like in action, check this guy out)

3. Comment

So you think it might be too time consuming to come up with information or keep sharing links or reports that you come across, this is still no excuse for sitting on the sidelines. Why not just comment?

In its own way this is a form of creating content, but it gets a separate spot as you are creating as a result of someone else’s initial input – view it as being like a social media piggy back ride in to better understanding.

At first this might seem more straight forward than the first two, but keep in mind that you will need to find the topics and discussions that your professional community are involved with – not just on sites but also forums on the likes of Linkedin (or in the case of HR types CIPD). You will also need to contribute content that is both informative and value adding, not just correcting what you feel are misunderstandings or invalid information.

Remember that no one likes a know-it-all, so approach commenting with a mindset of wanting to aid and facilitate rather than take control and command of the discussion. It is possible to be both the fountain of knowledge as well as the person swimming in it. So to speak.

So there you have it. The 3 C’s – Create, Curate and Comment. A simple strategy to move from having a chalk outline for a career social media presence to one that shows how interactive and engaged in your professional community and career you are.