Some ‘CV clinic’ pre-work

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Photo by Domenico Loia on Unsplash

I really enjoy helping people pull together a great CV. However, this seems to mostly involve giving the same initial advice each time!

Going forward, my aim is to make sure conversations focus as much as possible on substance rather than style. To that end, this article articulates some areas to tackle first.

Most of this advice isn’t foolproof or original. However, in almost a decade of doing this, these five basics are the things I’ve found the most effective to come back to.

Before you start, put yourself in the shoes of a person who might be reviewing your application.


A summary of John Warrillow’s ‘novel’ about creating a business that can thrive without you

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A sound business built with a sale in mind — even if that option is never used — has much more value, carries significantly lower risk, and can be much more personally enjoyable to run, according to John Warrillow.

The author uses two different approaches in Built to Sell to make this point. The first is the fictional story of Alex Stapleton, design agency owner, his serial entrepreneur mentor Ted Gordon, and their quest to sell Alex’s business. …


A summary of AG Lafley and Roger Martin’s book on ‘How strategy really works’

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Told through the lens of AG Lafley and Roger Martin’s journey to double P&G’s sales and quadruple its profits in the 2000s, Playing to Win is an explanation of what business strategy is and how it works.
At the book’s core is ‘the Strategic Choice Cascade’, a framework they demonstrate with case studies about brands such as Gillette, Pampers and Olay. …


A (long) summary of Daniel Priestley’s book on personal brand and entrepreneurship

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Who is Daniel Priestley anyway?

A serial entrepreneur, Priestley is the founder of Dent Global, an accelerator which specialises in scaling traditional service businesses with 6–7 figure revenues, by helping founders differentiate their brand.

I don’t have time to read it, what are the main points?

  1. A Key Person of Influence is one of the ‘top 10 percent’ of their industry. These leaders make more money with less effort, get more recognition, have more enjoyment at work, and attract more opportunities that are a good fit for them, than the other 90%.
  2. Priestley claims those who follow his KPI Method can be Key People of Influence in their industry within 12 months.
  3. There is a catch — the first step is tightly defining what constitutes your ‘industry’, identifying a highly specific micro niche you can dominate. …


A summary of Gino Wickman’s book on getting a grip on your business

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Traction is essentially a framework of (not very catch-ily named) templates and meetings to clarify an SME’s vision, and execute it. Leaning heavily on the work of Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Michael Gerber and Dan Sullivan, Gino Wickman aims his method at business leaders who:

  • Lack control over their businesses, and instead have their time controlled by their businesses; and/or
  • Are not on the same page as their customers, employees, partners, or suppliers; and/or
  • Have growth or profitability challenges, despite having ‘tried everything’; and
  • Are willing to be open minded, vulnerable and growth orientated, taking risks, discussing difficult issues and making difficult decisions. …

A summary of Greg McKeown’s book on ‘The disciplined pursuit of less, but better’

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Essentialism is to your mind what Marie Kondo is to your wardrobe. McKeown’s mantra — ‘the disciplined pursuit of less, but better’ — seems apt in a modern western world full of anxiety and excess, where many of us feel ‘overworked and underutilised’.

What are the best insights and quotes from Essentialism?

  • ‘We can multi-task, but we can’t multi-focus’; concentrating on two things at once doesn’t work;
  • ‘Don’t ask ‘What do I want to give up?’ but ‘What do I want to go big on?’ — the latter makes the former fall into place;
  • ‘A graceful ‘no’ is better than a vague maybe’; ‘Trade popularity for respect’ by being clear, focused, honest and consistent with…


A summary of Eric Reis’ book on how new businesses can survive and thrive

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Without proof from ‘real’ customers that business ideas have genuine potential, founders risk building a new organisation around a product or service which nobody wants or will pay enough for.

Reis pitches his approach to starting a new business as an alternative to ‘just doing it’ on the one hand and traditional, inflexible business planning on the other. It has broad applicability — he defines ‘startup’ as any human institution designed to create a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.

I don’t have time to read it — what are the book’s main messages?

Ries proposes:

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ONE: IDENTIFYING

Methodically identifying the assumptions founders have about:

a. The best offerings to present to consumers (Value Hypotheses)…


The Business Anthology

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There are a bewildering array of business books out there.

Amazon warehouses propel them into bookshelves and Kindles around the world, on the basis of word-of-mouth recommendations from kindly mentors or enraptured fanatics, advertising of many forms, and those *imaginatively* titled ‘seven books all millionaires under the age of 29 have read’ articles splashed across various social networks.

Few of these books are superb from start to finish, few of us need everything in any of them, and few of them fit together with other titles on similar topics in a straightforward way.

A management consultancy career gives me (among of the…


A summary of Dr John Briffa’s book on how to boost your performance — in work and general life — by optimising your energy

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Photocredit — Hero Shot https://www.websta.one/hero_shot_

I don’t have the time to read it — what is the book’s main point?

A Great Day At The Office is based on the premise that however impressive our capability or resilience, flourishing in life and work requires energy. The amount of energy we have available impacts our willpower, physical performance, mental capacity, and mood. The book is about optimising various aspects of lifestyle for energy, in order to improve how its readers feel and function.

Who is John Briffa anyway?

A practicing doctor, journalist, and international speaker, Briffa’s consultancy provides wellness training services to organisations, focusing on how dietary and lifestyle factors can treat and prevent health issues that erode professional performance.

This plays out in his pragmatic approach, rooted in the reality of the working world, rather than a series of unobtainable edicts you’d have to dedicate your life to following. He also spends a large chunk of each chapter backing up his points with the various underlying scientific concepts and supporting research for the more cynical among us (i.e. …


A summary of Charles Duhigg’s book on how habits work and can be changed

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Modern life is driven by habits — many of them cued by smartphones

Habits are important; they make up some 40% of our daily decisions. Charles Duhigg’s book aims to help readers understand these vital elements of our lives, and how to change them — within ourselves, our organisations and our society.

How habits work:

  1. Habits operate where the basal ganglia, one of the most primitive parts of our brain, runs ‘chunked’ sequences of actions almost automatically. Meanwhile, the ‘higher functions’ of the brain largely shut down to conserve energy. The more developed the habit is, the less thinking we do.
  2. Habits are triggered when the brain recognizes a cue it associates with starting to run that habit. A three step loop is followed— the cue, the routine, and the reward (which helps the brain figure out if the habit is worth remembering for future). …

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Niall Crozier

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