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Screw Work Let’s Play

July 31, 2010 1 comment

 Screw Work Lets Play by John Williams

I first got to know John Williams just over a year ago when he asked me to give a talk on our book Brand You at Scanners’ Night – a gathering for those who prefer a varied professional life. Shortly afterwards he won a publishing deal with Pearson and spent the summer of 2009 writing Screw Work Let’s Play.

The book’s intellectual foundations are much stronger than John himself suggests. On page 7 he says that “Your aim is to get into ‘flow’ as serial entrepreneur Roger Hamilton calls it.” Roger may well do so, but  Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience was the title of a book published by the Hungarian psychologist  Mihály Csíkszentmihályi in 1991.

In an interview with Wired magazine in 1996, Csíkszentmihályi described flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”  Having been the head of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago, he is now at Claremont Graduate University in California.

I mention this because Screw Work Let’s Play is essentially all about flow. Step One: you play until you find out what you love to do. Step Two: you find a way of using the activities you enjoy most to solve someone else’s problem. Result: you do what you love and get paid for it. John takes you through the process in ten chapters, which include exercises and interviews with people who have made a career out of doing what they love.  He also exposes ‘the 21 myths of work’.

John is a very clever marketer. Within the publishing business, the personal development category is often regarded as overserved if not saturated. Nevertheless, he has succeeded in writing and launching a best-seller that grabs people’s attention and ‘speaks to their pain’, i.e. the fact that so many of them hate their jobs. He has also used social media to the full in promoting it, alongside a public relations campaign orchestrated by Pearson. As a result, its Amazon ranking has remained very high since the launch on June 10 and the first (large) print run has nearly sold out.

If you are dissatisfied with your work, I highly recommend this book. If you love your work, I recommend it equally highly.  It will help you succeed on a far bigger scale.

Screw Work Let’s Play – How to do what you love and get paid for it

Book Five – Introduction (first draft)

July 26, 2010 7 comments

This is the first draft of the introduction to Book Five (a working title).  I would really appreciate any feedback you can give me.  I want to make it as practical and useful as possible.  Many thanks, JP

“Each of us wrestles with our particular bundle of issues to do with health, relationships, work and money. Twenty years ago I started exploring the personal development literature – everything from Eastern philosophy to Californian self-help. Every time I discovered an interesting idea, I tried it out in practice. Some of the ideas proved extremely powerful. Effectively, I have treated my life as a laboratory.

What I found was that no one had the whole answer. Each writer or speaker offered one or two useful nuggets. I had to piece it all together for myself. It feels like going up a staircase. Every now and then I run into what seems like a brick wall. Then I discover something new that enables me to move up a level. Having been through this process over and over again, I know the answers are always on the inside. It’s not a question of fixing the people and the world around me. Once I work on myself, everything around me magically changes.

You might call this a ‘spiritual’ process, although that word scares some people. I prefer to call it personal development – or consciousness perhaps. The more you do it, the more you enjoy your life and the more easily everything falls into place.

Before we embark on this together, there are some things I want you to know. The first is that I am not a guru asking you to join my movement. I am going to tell you about experiences in my life and the lives of people around me. This is not because I want you to be like me. It’s because reading someone else’s story is often the best way to understand your own. You can stand back, watch what happens and draw your own conclusions. If you want to read more on a particular subject, you can refer to the book list at the end of each chapter.

Secondly, I appreciate that you will already have your own approach to some or all of the issues raised in this book. We all have our own viewpoint or ‘mental model’ of how things work. My role is to offer you new ways of looking at things. I invite you to try this material for yourself and discover what works best for you. You may decide to modify your approach or adopt a completely new one.

The third point is that personal development sometimes involves dealing with fear. Some exercises in this book will bring you face to face with things you are afraid of. I am not going to ask you to confront them or break through them. There is no need. Instead, you will find that a change of perspective will cause the fear to melt away – if not immediately then gradually. That change may be a life-altering one, which makes it all the more exciting.

Having read hundreds of personal development books, I know how easy it is to overdose on exercises. For that reason I have included some in the main text and put others in boxes. You can do whatever you like. You may decide to read the book straight through and do the exercises at the end. You may prefer to complete them as you go along.

There are twenty lessons set out in the order in which I learnt them. For you the order may be different. Once you have read the text, you can do the exercises in almost any order. The only exception is that some of them assume you have already started practising exercise A.”

Copyright John Purkiss 2010

The answers are within you


Many of us spend years trying to ‘make things happen’ in the world around us.  That approach works to some extent.  If you make enough effort in your studies or your job, you can usually get results.  However, there are times when the linear relationship between effort and results does not apply.  That includes finding a partner, a job or your next client or customer.  It is entirely possible to put in enormous amounts of effort and get nowhere.

The solution is to turn inwards.  You spend less time trying to fix your outer circumstances and more time working on yourself.  The answers are within you. Some of us need to reach the point of exhaustion before we do this. We conclude that there has to be a better way. Fortunately there is.

The original meaning of the verb ‘to educate’ is ‘to draw out’.  The educator draws out something which is already within the student. Some people are fortunate enough to discover some of their talents in this way during their studies.

Your talents point you in the direction of your purpose –  the reason you are on the planet. In Brand You, David Royston-Lee and I introduce some simple exercises which help people to discover the talents they enjoy using so much that they lose track of time. As a professional psychologist, David has tested the exercises on thousands of people. They work.

Discovering your talents and your purpose is a huge step forward. It also saves a lot of time. You don’t need to apply for jobs that don’t fit who you are or where you are going. They are simply not the right vehicles for you to fulfil your purpose.

Another powerful tool for turning inwards is meditation. It helps to get rid of the chaotic thoughts and emotions known as ‘the monkey mind’. I use two techniques: mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation.  Both have the effect of quieting the mind. One result is that your intuition grows stronger. Some people prefer to describe this in terms of their heart or their gut.

The point is, you have a feeling about what you should do now. That feeling is based on love, not fear. Once you focus on doing what you love – in ways that serve others – everything becomes easier. Instead of your having to find everyone, they start to find you. Once you turn inwards, your outer needs start to be met in new and exciting ways.

Text and photo copyright John Purkiss 2010. Further information on Brand You is at

How to discover who you could become

When David Royston-Lee and I run Brand You seminars, the Values exercise is one of the most popular. We help people to identify their values by asking them (a) to make a list of everyone they admire, and (b) to list the qualities for which they admire each person. The same qualities come up over and over again. The qualities you see in people you admire are those you possess but haven’t fully manifested. In the meantime you project them onto other people. 

You might say, “But I’ll never be like Michelangelo or Mother Teresa”. That’s not the point. If you dig a little deeper and identify the individual qualities that you admire in them, you will find that you possess them too. You may have repressed them or you may not have given them full expression – yet.  For example, you might admire Michelangelo’s creativity or versatility or vision. You might admire Mother Teresa’s compassion or dedication or humility.

Once you have identified a quality that you admire in lots of people, it’s time to dig deeper still. The key question is How? If you admire people who are creative, in what way are they creative? Do they have ideas out of the blue which they then execute?  Do they take existing components and assemble them in a new way?  Do they develop creative solutions to tricky technical problems? Do they bounce ideas around among a group of people until something new emerges?

Once you recognise a quality that you have projected onto other people, you can reclaim it and make it your own. If you admire people who are highly creative in a particular way, it’s time for you to be more creative in that particular way. If you admire people who are influential in a certain way, it’s time for you to exert more influence in that way. You don’t have to give up your current job or business. You can start right now, exactly where you are. Reclaiming your projections makes you whole and helps you fulfil your potential.

Copyright John Purkiss 2010. With thanks to David Royston-Lee, whose latest book How To Win From The Start, was published on July 1: Further information on Brand You is at

A media strategy for your personal brand

This week I spoke at Media Hungary, an annual conference which takes place on the shore of Lake Balaton, shown above. In Hungary as elsewhere, personal brands are becoming increasingly important, particularly in comparison with corporate brands.

After my talk there was a lively discussion which raised familiar issues. Some people don’t use social media at all, perhaps hoping they will go away. For the rest of us, the key questions are (a) which media should I use, and (b) how should I use them?

Among the panel members was Péter Kóczián, one of Hungary’s best-known broadcasters and political commentators who has become a highly successful blogger. He argues that each medium has its own special characteristics and requires a particular combination of skills.

Here are four questions to help you develop your media strategy:

1)    What is your purpose? The exercises in Brand You* will help you clarify this. Once you know why you are communicating via the media, the how becomes much easier.

2)    What is your target audience? Which groups of people are you trying to reach and why? What are their needs?  How can you serve them?

3)    Which media do they consume? For example, many corporate executives read certain newspapers, put their profile on LinkedIn and watch the news on TV. That’s about it. Twitter and Facebook are very popular among the self-employed. They appreciate the banter and sharing of ideas that employees enjoy in the workplace.

4)    Which media best suit your talents? If you don’t have a talent for a particular medium, it’s best to try something else. Hence the old jibe about having “a good face for radio”. Some people write pithy prose, which works well on Twitter. Others – like Seth Godin – have lots of ideas that are ideally suited to a blog. Some cannot write, but build an enormous following by appearing on television and having a book ghost-written for them.

Once you get started, it helps to keep experimenting. A big advantage of social media is that people give you feedback. By establishing a dialogue you can find out what people like and adjust your aim. Sometimes you post something and get no response. Then you post something quite modest which leads to a big discussion.

* Brand You: Enmarka in Hungarian:

Text and photograph copyright John Purkiss 2010

How the Jester can help you succeed in business

The Jester is one of twelve archetypes that are very useful for anyone who wants to market a company, a product, a service or themselves. For those who are new to this subject, the Greek root of the word archetype means first-moulded. Carl Jung pioneered their use in psychology. Consciously or unconsciously, we recognise and respond to archetypes all day long. Nike evokes the Hero. Amy Winehouse evokes the Creator and the Outlaw. Innocent smoothies evoke the Innocent…