Enhance success by controlling your inner chimp

enhance success

How to enhance success – The groundbreaking mind model to help you achieve your goals

Do you ever get email remorse? When you reacted to something someone said to you, wrote a reply in anger or irritation, and pressed send, only to have the sharpest feeling of ‘OMG – I can’t believe I actually sent that’ envelop your whole being?

Have you been in a work situation where someone claimed your work as their own, or made you feel inadequate? Did you want to come right back at them? Did you feel an inner, burning desire to thump them? Did you react?

If you have ever had a challenge with your internal voice, telling you something won’t work, questioning why you are doing a task, or telling you not to do an activity because it’s dangerous, then let me introduce you to your inner chimp.

I was lucky enough to spend time at a conference recently where Dr Steve Peters was the final keynote speaker of the day. I was very excited because I read his book ‘The Chimp Paradox‘ earlier in the year. In person, he delivered a 40 minute, highly entertaining, funny and very thought provoking speech, outlining his model of how the brain works, and how we each need to recognise, nurture and control our inner chimp.

Dr Steve Peters is a consultant psychiatrist who has been credited by many of this country’s greatest sports stars as being the secret ingredient to their success. Victoria Pendleton, British Olympic Cycling Gold medalist, has said “Steve Peters is the most important person in my career”. Sir Chris Hoy has said “The mind programme that helped me win my Olympic Golds”.

The ‘Chimp Paradox’ is a groundbreaking mind model, which is set out in a very easy to understand format. It is broken down into 3 key areas:

  1. Your Inner Mind Explored
  2. Day-to-day Functioning
  3. Your Health, Success, and Happiness

Your Inner Mind Explored

In the first section, Dr Peters simplifies the anatomy of the brain for us all. What is a phenomenally complicated organ surrounded in mystery for the majority of people, is explained as being a set of seven independent brains that grow and fuse together to create what we all think of as THE brain. The biggest challenge is that these separate brains think independently and don’t always agree. He simplifies further by introducing us to the three most important parts of the psychological brain:

  1. The Frontal (Human)
  2. The Limbic (Chimp)
  3. Parietal (Computer)


Basically, the Chimp is the oldest part of your brain and is conditioned to think about survival. The human brain is a rational and logical, thinking brain. The Computer is where data is stored – data that can be input by either the Chimp or the Human.

When we lived in the jungle, the Chimp was very useful, as it kept us safe. Now that we are no longer in the jungle (at least not in a jungle with trees and wild animals) it is less useful, and can be quite destructive if not managed correctly.

The Chimp assumes it is being attacked or under threat, and responds appropriately (for a Chimp). The Human thinks things through and applies logic, and has the ability to see things from a number of different perspectives. The Human can think about consequences, whereas the Chimp will likely act first and deal with consequences later.

Because the Chimp is very strong, and is the oldest brain, it can over power the Human, and cause it to act against its better judgement – hence the email remorse, and other regrets we have all experienced after an argument or other stressful situation in which we have spoken or acted before thinking.

As we grow up, we are storing memories and behaviours in our Computer, and because the Chimp brain is so powerful, it can easily put gremlins in our Computer which don’t serve us very well, can be very illogical, and can be debilitating. Of course, there are examples we can all think of when the reactions of a Chimp are right for us, and storing these in the Computer is a good thing. For example, if someone pulled a knife on you, you’ll be thankful that your Chimps survival instinct kicks in and causes you to run away, and puts into the Computer a pattern that tries to ensure you avoid that type of situation again.

On the whole though, the Chimp is responsible for inputting many gremlins into your Computer that are very hard to change. But, with an understanding of how your mind functions, and with Dr Peters’ mind management programme, you can start to change the way you think and react.

Steve Peters does something clever in the model – he states that the Human brain is YOU, but that the Chimp brain is just a Chimp. By dissociating yourself from your Chimp, it makes it far easier to look at your reactions, and behaviours objectively. De-personalising traits and characteristics that you would rather not have enables you to identify with your logical, thinking self, and see the Chimp as a badly behaved teenager.

This does not absolve anyone from the responsibility or consequences of their Chimp’s actions, just as the owner of a dog which bites a child is responsible for the dog’s behaviour. However, the dog owner is not the dog, and can look at the dog’s behaviour objectively. So it is with identifying your Chimp as being separate to YOU.

The following sections of the book (Day-to-day Functioning, Your Health, Success and Happiness) provide a great insight into how to manage your Chimp, deal with gremlins and achieve greater success through understanding, acknowledgement, responsibility, management and control.

I give ‘The Chimp Paradox’ 10/10 and thoroughly recommend it to everyone who wants to accelerate their personal and business performance.

Check out this interview for more information from Macs Magazine:

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Marketing Budget Calculator: How much should it really be?

Marketing Budget Calculator

When I was running marketing in Europe, I wished there had been a ‘Marketing Budget Calculator’ that I could use that was based in real logic. Instead, as is so typical in many organisations, finance issued a budget that was based on nothing more than a very modest revision of what was allocated the year before. If last year’s allocation had been fantastic, that wouldn’t have been such a problem. But budgets were so far under what they should have been each year, so finance’s approach piled more misery on us than we’d faced previously. Sales, of course, had bigger targets. They were expecting us to contribute much more.

I would go through the motions of building a detailed budget, based on the reality of how much things cost, and the returns we had seen in the past. I would put in for a number that was significantly more than I had had in previous years. Finance would say no. Sales would demand that we contributed towards more of their new business pipeline target than was even possible with a budget twice the size.

This may be a scenario faced by many of you. The problem was, while I had data about what realistic budget allocations should be, I didn’t have a way of showing it in an easy to digest way.

I have now spent some time building a calculator, in which you can plug your revenue for the previous year, target revenue for the next year, and it will calculate your growth. Based on a load of complicated formulas, it will then show you what percentage of revenue should be spent on marketing. It further breaks this down to show budget based on programs and personnel. The data model behind the tool differentiates between companies of different sizes – $0-100M, $100-500M, and $500M-$1B. The variables will change depending on which group your company falls into.

The calculator will also show you how much of the incremental revenue should be contributed by marketing (vs sales). It is fair to say that not all companies’ marketing functions are as well developed (or not) as each other, so you can also choose whether you would rate your function as poor, average, or high performing. Be honest here. If your company’s marketing team is small, and you haven’t yet got your act together on many aspects, you should probably pick ‘poor’. If on the other hand, you have a well organised marketing calendar or great content marketing, integrated into social media, and other channels, with full marketing automation, you should choose ‘high’. Anywhere in between and you are ‘average’.

The calculator has used data from a number of different sources, including research carried out by Sirius Decisions.

What this calculator can do for you is help you understand, and articulate easily what the budget should be (based on research and evidence) to achieve the goals being requested. It will also make sure you are not forced to commit to marketing pipeline contribution which is simply impossible to meet. Lastly, it will enable you to have a conversation with both of these factors represented together. If the budget you are given is lower than it need to be, then the amount you can contribute to the pipeline will also need to be lower, and vice versa.

Have a play with the calculator and see whether it is useful for you. I’d love to hear back from you with any comment or stories.

Input data into the green cells, and the rest will calculate automatically for you.



Job evaluation: Are you in the right job?

job evaluation

Have you undertaken a job evaluation lately? Are you just miserably commuting every day thinking it’s safe, comfortable, and OK? But ask yourself, is it stimulating? Are you growing? Are you being given opportunities to lead? Are you recognised for your effort? Is the pay worth it? Is the 6.30am daily commute worth it?

In order to perform to your best level, you need to have a look at your environment, your approach to work, and the work itself. If you are not enjoying your job, you are unlikely to give it your full energy, or achieve your best work. There are many factors to consider when evaluating whether it’s time to move on.

Here’s a list of some things that are important to people (based on Towers Watson survey 2012):

Job security
Base pay
Healthcare benefits
Vacation/paid time off
Organization’s reputation as a great place to work
Length of commute
Career development opportunities
Retirement benefits
Challenging work
Promotion opportunities
Relationship with supervisor/manager
Organisation’s products/services
Caliber of co-workers
Learning and development opportunities

Which ones are most important to you? Could you rank 10 of them in order of importance?

If you do that, it becomes very easy to evaluate each of those 10 factors against your current job. On a scale of 1-5 (5 is high) how much does your current job fulfil each factor?

Below is a simple online job evaluation tool, which allows you to add the 10 factors that are the most important to you. Then you can rank them from 10 (most important) to 1 (least important). Lastly, rate the amount of each factor from your current job from 5 (highest) to 1 (lowest).

Make sure you add a minimum and maximum of 10 factors in order for the result to be accurate. (That means add 10. Not 8, or 4, or 7. Make sure it is 10 otherwise the result won’t be right).

Each factor must have a different number in the ‘Importance’ column from 1-10 (no doubling up on numbers, or equal importance for any 2 or 3 items).

The form will tell you whether you should start looking for new pastures, or stay put.

Have a go at your own objective job evaluation.

Note: You may have many other important factors of your own to add, rather than the list above. Feel free to put in whatever is important to YOU. This calculator is for you to evaluate what’s important to you in your job.


Consulting Fee Calculator: How to be confident with your charges

Consulting Fee Calculator

Emily felt embarrassed pitching her new client for work. ‘If only I had confidence about what to charge’, she thought. ‘I need a ‘Consulting Fee Calculator’ to help me feel less awkward’.

When I started out as a freelance consultant, I had to get over a few internal gremlins. Firstly, there was no security. Effectively I had become a 100% commission only sales person. This was a significant shift in thinking, and I had to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ if I was to build up a sustainable practice. The next hurdle was getting to grips with everything it takes to run a small business; from VAT, to corporation tax, to working out how much to take as salary versus dividends. This required a bit of upfront time investment, but wasn’t actually too bad. Gremlin number three was centred around whether to have a value proposition or not. Some people advise that the best approach is to simply talk to everyone and then see what needs doing and do it, whilst others advocate having a niche, or even a micro-niche, and promoting your services within it. That took me a little while longer to resolve, but eventually I found the balance that works for me.

The last gremlin was about how much to charge customers. Even if you charge for a project, you will build your costs up based on an assumption of the time it will take to complete the task, so everything boils down to ‘what should I charge per day’ in the end.

I have since discovered that I am not alone. Many successful consultants struggled with this at the beginning, and those newbies I talk to on a regular basis find this one of the most difficult things of all. Somehow, a feeling creeps in that what you can do for them is not that hard for you, so you feel a slight embarrassment in asking for what seems like a lot of money. When you are starting out, you are just grateful that anyone should want your services too, so you feel that a lower price is a good thing. After all, you don’t want to appear to be money grabbing, taking the piss, or the worst possible scenario, be priced too high so that they don’t go ahead with you. The thing is though, when you are new at it, you don’t really know what is too high. And it’s probably only you that thinks you will appear money grabbing.

The best way to get over these fears, so that you have confidence in pricing for a project, is to think logically about it. I am very surprised at how few new consultants put together a spreadsheet with all their costs, the number of days billing they are likely to have per year, and the amount they are used to earning. Being a self employed consultant is just the same as running a business – you need a plan. A plan for your business, including business development/marketing, targets per month, and above all, a cost model.

I constructed the calculator below so that anyone struggling with this topic can model a number of variables, and project what their minimum day rate needs to be. Explanations for the cells are below the calculator.

I hope this is useful and helpful.



  • Input cells are green. Change them and the totals will automatically recalculate.
  • The green cells are pre-populated with numbers so that there is something to start with. It should not be inferred that these numbers are correct. Add in the numbers you will realistically need in your business.
  • Before you became a consultant/freelancer you would have earned a salary (plus bonus maybe) from your employer. What was it gross? Or what would you like it to have been?
  • For your country, add in the number of days that are public holidays when no-one is working. In the UK it is 8, but in other countries this will be different.
  • How many days will you take as vacation during the year? 25 days (or 5 weeks) has been added as this is standard in the UK. You may want to take more, or fewer. Change it to reflect what you’d like it to be.
  • The number of potential working days a year is calculated for you
  • The day rate equivalent for every possible working day is calculated for you
  • How many days per month do you think you will reasonably bill?
  • Being a freelancer/consultant means you need to constantly generate new leads for new projects. How many days per month will you devote to business development?
  • You are running a business, so will need a few days a month on admin, proposal writing, chasing invoices, writing blog posts, marketing, etc. How many days a month will you devote to this?
  • This will calculate the number of days per month and year you will be working. Business development days and practice management are both working days on which you should be paying yourself.
  • Make sure that the two orange cells have the same number in them. If not, adjust your billable, business development and practice management days so they match the total available working days total above.
  • Now add in the estimated costs of managing your business
  • When you were working for an employer, it is likely they were contributing to your pension, and providing you with medical insurances. You deserve to be contributing in the same way to these. Change the pension percent to whatever you want it to be and the total contribution will automatically update.
  • Practice management and business development totals are calculated automatically based on the number of days you specified above, multiplied by the day rate equivalent above.
  • If you were running any other type of business, you would think in terms of the business making a profit after it has paid all of its costs. There is no reason why you should not do this as a freelancer/consultant. After all, by nature, this type of work can be very lumpy, and retaining funds within the business is sensible to smooth out the peaks and troughs of cash flow.
  • If you work directly with customers then the Day Rate is calculated for you
  • If you work through an agency, or umbrella company and they take a percentage of your billings, then add the percentage of the total that they take
  • The final number is the day rate you need to charge a customer through the agency
  • This calculator is for example only, to help in your planning, and does not constitute any form of advice, nor does it negate your need to seek any specific advice from your accountant

Sales and marketing alignment – if they aren’t aligned then who wins?

Sales and marketing alignment

Sales and marketing alignment is so often an after thought, if it’s a thought at all. How many of these do you recognise?

“What are marketing doing? I have huge targets to hit and they are worrying about the font and colour of the corporate presentation. Why aren’t we getting any well qualified leads through that I can get in there and close?”

“We’re trying to run these campaigns, and yet sales won’t give us the data to add to our mailing list. If they don’t provide their customer and prospect contact details, we can’t be expected to generate the demand they want. I just don’t understand why they don’t want to work with us more.”

“The slides created by marketing aren’t quite right. I’ve added my own slides, and changed a few of the facts and figures around. It’s better now. I don’t understand why marketing don’t just give us what we need. They don’t seem to get what it’s like in sales.”

“Whatever we give sales, it’s never good enough. They complain and then change the material we provide them. We must have at least 50 different versions of the new corporate story by now. How are we supposed to ensure that the messaging is right when they treat everything as the Wild West?”

This is something I have faced throughout my career. As a sales person I looked at marketing and wondered what on earth they were doing that was relevant for me, and as a marketer I saw sales protecting their own customers, data, and environment and keeping me out.

The bottom line is that sales and marketing have exactly the same ultimate objective – to sell more services to existing customers and to attract new logos. The problem is that they are two different types of character, with two different sets of process goals along the way to the ultimate joint goal.

Aligning sales and marketing (and product) and creating greater collaboration helps to speed up the journey towards attaining the new business needed. Imagine both sales and marketing collaborating fully on lead generation initiatives, follow up with the prospect or customer, and on the development of messaging and campaigns. A sales person is likely to know more about the customer challenges and environment than anyone else in the organisation, and marketing are crying out for that information in order to develop more targeted messaging and campaigns. Marketing are the custodians of the messaging and collateral, so sales being involved at its creation stage would greatly enhance the effectiveness of any material, or campaign.

I work with sales and marketing teams to align their goals and working practices through joint workshops, followed by one-to-one coaching. I also bring new technologies to them that can act as catalysts, or the common watering hole, around which both teams can gather to further their joint ambition to generate more business. If you could do with a look at your sales and marketing alignment then I can help you develop common ground, better working practices, and a lead to opportunity process that everyone is happy to support.

Sales coaching – accelerate sales achievement

accelerate sales achievement

If you want to accelerate sales achievement for your team, then you need to do more than inspect their pipeline, read them the riot act when the numbers are poor, or send them on a training course. What they really need is personalised focus.

If people are really the most important resource in any company, why are they often treated as robots who need to deliver on their objectives, without adequate help or development? Professional (and for that matter personal) development is critical to the success of any team, function or company.

Take Philip, the marketing manager for a large technology company, who has been tasked with achieving a 40% increase in MQL this year with the same budget, and a more complex set of services. One option is to let him figure it out, after all he was hired because he has experience and knows what to do. Then watch him fail, or worse still fail while creating unnecessary stress and knocking his confidence. A second option is to provide him with coaching and training so that he is supported in this Hurculean effort.

Training enables Philip to gain new skills or ways of doing things that could help him reach his goals. A more efficient way of using the MAP so he can reduce time spent on inputting data. Or training to provide greater insight into the CIO challenges and pain points, which enable him to develop better and more relevant messaging for his campaigns. There is also training in new digital marketing practices, more effective lead generation, and managing the gap between sales and marketing.

Then there is the more personal approach of professional and ongoing coaching. A one-to-one session every few weeks with a coach will enable Philip to bounce ideas around, discuss different ways of doing things, even just get stuff of his chest. Coaching is usually centred around a particular task or set of objectives and is therefore very focused. It involves Philip’s manager too, so that everything is aligned. It is possibly the most useful investment a manager, or the HR department can make in their people, with results being visible very quickly.

Imagine Philip has had some relevant training, and has been supported with professional coaching. Imaging that with this scenario he makes his incremental 40%, and this gives him immense satisfaction, his confidence is high. The company has spent a bit in his development, but has benefited from the return they wanted, and a confident, happy, and engaged employee. Now imagine Philip had been left to swim on his own. He achieved an incremental 20%, he is stressed, burned out even, he feels unsupported, and is on the verge of quitting. The company has saved on professional development but at what cost?

I provide coaching and training to sales and marketing people in order that they can accelerate sales achievement and performance, and be fully supported and engaged for years to come.

Forget the customer value and forget any ROI

Customer Value

One thing I have learned is that if you forget the customer value, you can kiss goodbye to your ROI. How does the following resonate with you?

The guys from product have just come up with a new feature release. They tell you it means that customers can see their data in seven new ways, and that they can do all of that through a self-service portal. The product guys are pleased with themselves because the self-service portal pushes a number of things onto the customer, meaning that they have less manual work to do. They go on to tell you about the 17 new features and how technically cool they are. ‘Wow’, you think, ‘these guys really know how to create some great features.’

You leave with a list of things that the product does today that it didn’t do yesterday. Things you can tell your customers about. They are bound to think they are as cool as the product guy did, after all they buy technology all the time and can surely see just how great these are.

You spend thousands of dollars on a campaign to boost the awareness of the new features, and feel great because you’re meeting your objectives of having new stuff to talk about to customers, and will generate at least 20% of your annual MQL from this one campaign alone.

A couple of weeks later you have your head in your hands, and are in front of the CMO, trying to explain why your open rate was low, and the click through rate non-existent. Your ROI looks shot on this campaign, and your CMO is not happy. Not one bit.

As you crawl back to your desk, you try to work out what went wrong. The features were cool, but no-one seemed interested. You call your colleague and coach for their advice. After a few minutes listening silently, they ask you, “What does the customer need?”. You stop short and don’t have an answer. It’s then that you realise your mistake. Instead of focusing on the customer’s need and relating this back to your new features, you simply went ahead and pushed a load of meaningless things at them.

I see this scenario almost every day. Product, Marketing, and Sales not well aligned around the customer. And let’s be clear, the only reason you sell products or services is because a customer perceives that they address their requirements, be those opportunities or problems. Smart companies centre their product, proposition, and offering development around customer needs. Positioning then becomes easy. If you really understand your customer’s business, their needs, and market challenges, you can tailor your offering accordingly. If you then understand your purchaser’s persona, you can tailor your messaging to address their needs.

I work with clients to develop a deeper understanding of their customers through workshops, developing user scenarios, and mapping customer needs to the portfolio, so that they accelerate their sales and marketing performance, and deliver the ROI that the CMO needs to see. Focusing on customer value is key.