Motivational Monday #88 Toiling Upward

Couple Canoeing on Lake Portage Valley SC AK Summer

Motivational Monday #88 Toiling Upward

“The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Poet

From his poem The Ladder of St. Augustine

The self-development road can be a rocky one. When you quest to be a better person, fitter, more content, more personable as an individual, striving for greater and deeper relationships with those around you it can sometimes seem that disappointment and setbacks become the norm.

People you first liked turn out not to be as expected, fitness regimes started with enthusiasm spark sickness or injury and are thus put on ‘hold’ which often becomes permanent, and those glorious goals that you chase can forever dance tauntingly out of reach.

There is no doubt about it but it’s a tough road. It would be a much simpler life to accept ‘middling’. To go with the average ebb and flow of life and not try to over reach yourself.

You could easily coast through your career, set minimum goals, accept shallow friends and anaesthetise yourself every night with vapid television. And indeed I fear that the general direction of society is to move in that direction. To make the minimum effort and accept minimum returns seems to be the order of the day. Unless of course we are watching someone else do something on a ‘reality TV show’ and then we are supposed to care.

To stand in defiance of that cultural malaise takes personal effort, determination and continued persistence. There is no other way.

And whilst that might seem like a real weight to carry I think the salvation of the situation is encapsulated in this week’s quote.

“But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.”

Yes it’s toil, yes it’s hard and sometimes you really don’t want to make that extra effort but every time you do toil, every time you do make that extra effort not only do you travel further towards your goals but you strengthen and deepen as an individual.

We might live in a culture that celebrates big successes and triumphant outcomes but it’s the nightly toil that is the real success.

I accept that sometimes it’s harder to do that than others. When you are tired, sick or when you’ve just had a setback then it can be doubly hard to put in that extra effort. It’s those very moments however that make you as a person because the real rewards of personal development are enshrined in the journey itself.

Every time you restart or renew your efforts, or simply accept the setback with a determined grin, then you are achieving more than most.

So take comfort in that and heed the last verse of Henry Longfellow’s poem.

“Nor doom the irrevocable Past

As wholly wasted, wholly vain,

If, rising on its wrecks, at last

To something nobler we attain.”

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart   

Development Specialist,
PS The above image is desktop wallpaper size – click on it for the full sized image and you can read the whole poem here

Five LinkedIn Profile Picture Mistakes To Avoid

Broken LinkedIn Logo

Five LinkedIn Profile Picture Mistakes To Avoid

It would seem that one of the most common places that people make mistakes on their LinkedIn profile is their profile picture. And this isn’t me making idle speculation, I provide a LinkedIn Profile Review Service (details here) so I look at A LOT of profiles and I can statistically say that the vast majority of people have pictures that could be better!

So here is a quick run-down of five of the most common mistakes – with examples!

(I have hidden the identity of the individuals with black lines across their eyes however in no other way I have manipulated the images and these were all in active use as profile pictures in 2014)


LI logo profile pic example

This is just simply wrong. A person’s LinkedIn profile should be a reflection of their personal brand first and the company brand second. Show that there is a person behind the profile and let people take a view of the real you. I’d almost have any of the other mistakes than see a logo in place of an individual … well almost …

Wearing underwear

bad LI photo example - anon

Now this lady is a perfectly attractive woman and such an image in the right place online might be entirely suitable but I think we can all agree it doesn’t say ‘business professional’ in quite the right way. Whatever image you use do please select one where you are suitably dressed for business networking.

Compromising views

LI compromising views example - anon

Yes we might as well address this one whilst we are here! Again in a different place online this might be acceptable but this isn’t what LinkedIn is about. LinkedIn is about creating and presenting a professional business profile. Yes a picture like this might get attention but it won’t get it for the right reasons and it’s unlikely to get the right kind of attention.


LinkedIn Selfie ... example

This is a great example of a job half done. On the one hand I applaud that this gentleman has taken the effort to dress properly and adopt a proper stance for his photograph but couldn’t he have got someone else to take the picture? Does he not work with anyone else? This demonstrates either the wrong mind-set or a lack of thought. A bit like getting a penalty kick in football and then forgetting to take the shot. Not good enough but better than the following …

Not having an image

No picture LI

Whilst the above at least got the chance of a penalty shot this one doesn’t even make it onto the pitch. At best it says that the person is just too lazy to upload an image or at worst that they don’t care enough about their network to upload one. Overall it smacks of extreme laziness. 

The good news is that they will reap what they sow with something like 40% less profile hits than profiles which feature photographs. Serves them right!

How Good is Your Profile v2


You can see from the above that it wouldn’t take a lot of effort to avoid the above mistakes and I trust it has given you some pointers of what not to do. 

The good news is that as soon as you upload a new photograph onto LinkedIn your old one is gone for good so if you have made any of the above mistakes it’s very quick to fix things up!

More LinkedIn profile photograph mistakes in a future article.

What about you – what was the best example of a bad LinkedIn profile picture that you have come across?

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #87 Waste No Time

quote wordle

Motivational Monday #87 Waste No Time

Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.

Marcus Aurelius

 If you are online and throw a digital stick you are going to hit a motivational or personal development quote. They are simply everywhere online.

And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. After all there are far worse, less meaningful messages out there as well! However I think one of the ironic dangers of these messages is that we can spend a lot of time looking around and waiting for the right quote to inspire us.

Now sometimes people have a view or a slant on things that I think is just spot on. Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill, Mark Twain and Marcus Aurelius are all authors who have a knack for really summing up things beautifully; but still even their most insightful points are fairly self-evident.

It  can be tempting to wait for the perfect quote to come along to inspire us to action – the one that we want to print out, put on the wall and follow on a daily basis but what is important is that we don’t wait for them to come along because by waiting we are giving up our own power and disregarding our internal power.

I believe that each of us has an innate moral compass, that we genuinely and truly know how to act in a proper and morally upright manner. It might be that through upbringing, environment or association with others that we have drifted from our moral course but I do truly believe that we all know the direction we must travel.

Think back to school when you ignored your homework and rushed it at the last minute. It might have got you off the hook as far as handing your work in but it wasn’t the same as doing it properly – and I bet you could feel that difference even at the time. (I’m guilty as charged on that one.)

I don’t believe anything has changed since our school days. I think we are still fully capable of knowing when we have actually done our best work, made a real effort and generally played full out versus slacking off and rushing things at the last minute.

We don’t need some modern guru or long dead sage to tell us that. So let’s keep these motivational thoughts and quotes in perspective. They can add fuel to the fire but we should have our own fire burning with the fuel of our own sense and depth of morality, duty and dedication.

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart   

Development Specialist,

Motivational Monday #86 Friendly Harmony

picture of sunlight in a cave

Motivational Monday #86 Friendly Harmony

Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within.


For the ambitious among us I suspect there is a mental race that begins shortly after rising each morning. It’s a going-through of all the things that need to be done in the day coupled with a hope and desire that some, if not all, of those activities will result in some progress towards our financial goals.

And whilst its good to consider what you are planning to do in a day, that continual chasing after financial rewards can be mentally exhausting.

We mentally run ourselves ragged thinking ‘must make money, must make money’ when in fact that’s focusing on the outcome rather than the actions we should be taking to get to it.

Perhaps Plato has a better starting point for us:  “Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within”

It seems to me that one of the consequences of that line is that if we want to be rich on the outside then we need to be rich on the inside.

It’s also directing us to look at something much closer to hand.

Consider that financial riches come about as the consequence of our actions, the actions of others and probably a fair measure of fate and luck combined. Consequently our financial goals are actually quite removed from our direct influence.

On the other hand our internal richness comes about as a consequence of our attitude and the thoughts that we are thinking. Two things that are very much within our immediate reach.

So mentally running through a check list that relates to our internal richness might be a more positive way to start the day. By remembering the qualities and values that are important to us rather than wondering how we will achieve some far off goal, I think we will be mentally fresher and more positive.

By focusing on that which we can immediately influence we will feel a sense of empowerment and calmness. And by remembering those qualities and values we can take control of and make the choice to act in harmony with them.

When we feel in control we feel powerful and secure and to me that sounds like a great feeling to have first thing in the morning!

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart   

Development Specialist,
PS I’d like to give a shout out to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park who ran a Greek themed day on Saturday 30 August 2014 and where I came across the above quote. When the weather’s good it’s a great place for a day out. I highly recommend it. 

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #12 Dealing with Receptionists

Picture of a wolf pack which represents recruiters

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #12

Dealing With Receptionists

Love them or hate them you are going to talk to a lot of gatekeepers over your time in recruitment.

I had felt over the last few years that the problems with gatekeepers were becoming something of a historical footnote but I’ve been asked by a few recruiters recently to give them some advice on the topic hence this blog.

Now to be clear I define a gatekeeper as anyone who isn’t the person you want to talk to. That means managers; directors or other senior individuals within an organisation can also be gatekeepers if they are between you and the person you actually want to speak with.

The ones we traditionally think of are the receptionists; secretaries and PA’s and it’s receptionists that I will focus on in this article.

First up I want to say that they should always be treated with respect. They are human beings and doing their job just like you and I. The fact that their job might include not wanting to put our call through is just an unfortunate fact of life but it isn’t grounds to be rude to them.

When it comes to me making the call and getting a gatekeeper on the phone I take the view that they are there to put my call through. I base that assumption on the fact that I know my business proposal has some value for the company and that it should be presented to a senior decision maker who can then make a decision about it.

Given that companies exist to make profit for their owners and other stakeholders and that my proposition can increase their profit then in fact it is in their best interest to speak to me. From that simply, yet powerful, mind-set I act and speak assumptively with gatekeepers. I expect them to put me through and I act accordingly.

I also do as much as I can to take the decision away from the gatekeeper as to whether or not to put my call through.

I use a strong tone, clear, concise requests e.g. “Bob Smith, please” (rather than waffling) and lots of silence to create the clear impression that I know what I want, it’s important, potentially I’m important, and consequently the call should go through.

Sometimes there is a need to give them just enough information to help them reach the decision about passing the call through. Your company name is one such piece of information. I spent a good number of years advocating that people only gave their name first and then made the receptionist ask for the company name. I don’t hold with that now. I think for the most part when asked the classic “who’s calling” question that you should say your name and then the company name.

Things change and evolve in sales and recruitment and one of those things is that many receptionists now know that when a person only gives their first name and no company name they are attempting to hide their origins!

What I would advocate is saying both with strong confidence and also, where you can, spell out the company name and fairly slowly at that. I worked with a consultant last week who quite nicely got through a gatekeeper by spelling out the name of her company a heartbeat before the question of “what is the call about” was raised. It broke the receptionist’s rhythm and she put the call through.

Obviously if you have a very simple company name then this doesn’t work. (If you are in the unfortunate position of working for a recruitment company who put ‘recruitment’ or some such in their company name then try to simple use the first name or even use an abbreviation.)

Banner advert about Recruitment Guild Podcast coming soon - September 2014

In Summary

The key is confidence and asking with a tone and manner that makes your call seem important.

There is a lot more I could say on this topic (and indeed I have written about it twice before here and here) and it will most definitely be coming up in the Recruitment Guild podcast!

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,


Motivational Monday #85 Making Mistakes

Broken clock

Motivational Monday #85 Making Mistakes

“Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.”

I’m sorry but I’m not ready.

I have no Motivational Monday article written. Now I could explain. I could outline all the things that I have been doing, and trying to do, in both my personal and business life over the last week but the reality is that I let other things get between me and these articles.

Yes I worked a particularly long week and then spent the entire weekend hip deep in DIY but those are simply reasons for not having done what I have committed to do which is write one of these articles, ahead of time, for the betterment of all.

So I’m sorry. It’s my fault and my responsibility. I made choices, did other things and arrive now on this Monday morning unprepared.

So as I sit here at the laptop I have a few choices. I could let you all down by not writing something this week, I could hash out something quickly which would arguably let both of us down – you would get poor advice and I would diminish the reputation of these articles or I can accept that I’ve made an error and do something to fix it and make it right.

And that last option seems the best one to me. It seems to be the one that has some value and some honour in it. And no it isn’t convenient. I have other things demanding my attention this Monday morning but they will have to wait. (I have time, if I work quickly and with dedication, to catch up this afternoon with those.) So it isn’t convenient but it is the right option.

You see the thing is, we all screw up in life at some point. And let’s be honest it’s probably more often rather than less often.  Not necessarily in life threatening, end of the world ways but in small ways that are irritating to the people around us.

(Any married men reading this who don’t agree with me then just ask your wives if you ever get things wrong and see what they say!)

So if to ‘err is human’ then surely one of the tricks to life has to be working out how to manage our mistakes well.

What do we do when we mess up?

I think first of all it comes down to how you emotionally respond within yourself. Denial and defence seems to be the default reaction in most people (or maybe that’s just me) and I think that comes as a reaction to protect our ego’s.

It can be embarrassing to admit that we have messed up and we are trying to save ourselves that emotional pain when we respond ‘it wasn’t me’ like a three year old caught with their hand stuck in the cookie jar.

I genuinely feel that a great step forward emotionally for all of us would be to immediately change

‘it wasn’t me’ to

‘it bloody well was me!’

And the thing with making that change would be that it wouldn’t just make us feel better but it would make those around us happier and more confident about us. They would learn that if we tried something and got it wrong that we would take ownership of that error and that we would take steps to put it right.

And that leads me to the second mistake that I think many of us make after we have erred … we walk away from the mistake thinking, and sometimes saying, ‘it will be okay, no one will notice’.

What we need to realise is that someone has already noticed; we have. As John Wooden wrote

“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”

Each time we don’t fix one of our hidden errors I think we erode our strength of character just a little and every time we duck and dive to avoid public responsibility for our error we do the same thing, simply on a bigger and more public scale.

And I think the reverse is true. When we admit our mistakes, both to ourselves and other people, we strengthen and build our character.

Consider how your life would be different if you followed the following two step policy every time you were at fault:

  1. Genuinely and sincerely accept that it was your fault
  2. Asked yourself “What can I do to make it right?”

I think those two steps could fundamentally change your life and for my part I sincerely hope that this article has made amends for my error in time management!

SUBSCRIBE FOR FREE – If you’ve liked this article then you might like to subscribe to emailed updates (it’s free) – simply add your email address into the box on the right of your screen

Until next time, be successful!

Stephen Hart   

Development Specialist,

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11 The Power of Individuality

Picture of a wolf pack which represents recruiters

Lessons from the Wolf Pack is an ongoing series of recruitment advice articles taken from, or inspired by, situations and events observed during our phone coaching sessions with recruitment consultants making real, live calls to win business and find candidates. This is advice directly from the recruitment front lines!

Lessons from the Wolf Pack #11

The Power of Individuality

Do you know how many recruiters there are in the world? Quite a lot.

Even just in Britain we are talking tens of thousands. And that’s the problem. When you reach out to someone whether a head-hunt target or an active job seeker you are just another recruiter / head-hunter / faceless minion from the recruitment industry.

And candidates don’t like that.

What they want is for you to be a real, credible and genuine person who is interested in them as a real, credible and genuine person.

Now that part about treating them as an individual is something that we talk quite a bit about in recruitment. (Sadly the truth is we talk about it more than we do it but at least we do talk about it.)

What we don’t talk about as much is the power of us recruiters setting aside our generic cloak of ‘being a recruiter’ and instead wearing the cloak of ‘being a very specific, unique recruiter who is also a genuine human being’.

There are a large number of benefits to being more individual:

  • you become more memorable
  • you appear more real – which helps build rapport which in turn leads to trust
  • it creates ground for conversation – and the more they talk the more information and leads you can get from them.

And those are just three benefits, there are lots more.

So here are some specific examples of how you can demonstrate your individuality:

When you approach a candidate

  • Mention how long you have operated in their sector
  • Refer to something in their past, from their CV or LinkedIn profile, and make a personal reference to it e.g. – “I see you worked in Hull – I went to University there. Did you ever go to / see X thing, (I did that once it was amazing).”
  • When describing your client tell the story around how you won the client.
  • Compare this role with other ones like it that you have worked on e.g. – “how this one differs from the usual is …” or “I had a similar role to this in X location and the person who got the job tells me x, y, z good things about it” etc.

When you are approach a client

  • Mention your background prior to recruitment e.g. “I spent ten years in X industry prior to getting into recruitment and what that taught me was …” or “having been in x industry prior to recruitment I think that x is key to successful recruitment / business relations… ”
  • Mention specific roles you’ve worked on and get into the details e.g. “I specialise in x types of roles, to give you an example a recent client was looking for Y. Not the normal type however they had to have a, b and c now you’ll probably know how important it is for someone to have c …”
  • Tell stories about how you find candidates – don’t just say ‘head-hunting’ but go into a story about a particularly interesting networking / head-hunting experience. Especially when you did something unusual / different to get the result.
  • Share your personal views and state them as such – “Personally I like to see x in a candidate. I have that view because …”

On LinkedIn

  • Inject something of your personality into your LinkedIn Profile. Present the person who lurks inside your business clothes … share with the viewer of your profile something of what makes you tick. Consider this question

What’s special about doing business with you?

Whatever the answer consider how you can write it up positively and put it on your profile.

Banner advert about Recruitment Guild Podcast coming soon - September 2014

In Summary

The more you can be a real, genuine individual the more other people are going to remember you and the more natural you are going to come over. This is going to go a long way to defusing the natural suspicion that us recruiters are held in as well as creating an environment for the other person, candidate or client, to be more natural, individual and real.

So what about you – how do you express your individuality when you recruit? Feel free to share and comment below.

Until next time; be successful!

Stephen Hart
Development Specialist,