Tag Archives: psychology

How Do “Suck Ups” Damage Your Business And Career?

Suck ups in your business

  • Why do we hire the people that we do?
  • How do we get “suck ups” in our business in the first place?
  • Most importantly – what is the effect to your bottom line?

In working with many large organisations I always ask to see the documents that describe leadership or management behaviours that are expected. Typical examples include: “communicates a clear vision” or “helps people to develop to their maximum potential”.

I have yet to find one profile that includes “effectively sucks up to management”. Although, somehow, these people infiltrate organisations. While almost every company says it wants people to “challenge the system” and to “be empowered to express your opinion” and “say what you really think” there sure are a lot of performers who are stuck on sucking up.

Leaders say they don’t encourage sucking up – or do they?

Almost all the leaders I have met say that they would never encourage such a thing in their organisation. I have no doubt that they are sincere. Most of us are irritated, if not disgusted by these gluteus maximus kissers.

Which raises the question: if leaders say they discourage sucking up, why does it dominate the workplace? And keep in mind that these leaders are generally very shrewd judges of character. And yet they still fall for the super-skilled suck up. They still play favourites.

The simple answer: We can’t see in ourselves what we can see so clearly in others

I use this test with my clients to demonstrate how we all unknowingly encourage sucking up.

I ask a group of leaders “How many of you own a dog that you love?”

Big smiles cross the faces of the executives as they wave their hands in the air.. They beam as they tell me the names of their always-faithful hounds. Then we have contest. I ask them “At home, who gets most of your unabashed affection? Is it a) your husband, wife or partner, b) your kids or c) your dog?” More than 80 % of the time the dog is the winner.

I then ask the executives if they love their dogs more than their family members. The answer is always a predictable but resounding no.

My follow up question: “So why does the dog get most of your attention?”

Their replies are all similar: “The dog is always happy to see me”, “The dog never talks back”, The dog gives me unconditional love, no matter what I do”. In other words the dog is a suck up.

3 step process for finding out who is a suck up in your team

  1. How much do they like me? (I know you can’t be sure. What matters is how much you think they like you. Effective suck ups are good actors. That’s what fawning is: Acting)
  2. What is their contribution to the company and its customers? (In other words, are they A players, B, C or worse?).
  3. How much positive personal recognition do I give them?

What the 3 step process means to your business

What we’re looking for is whether the correlation is strongest between one, and three or two and three.

If we’re honest with ourselves, our recognition of people may be linked to how much they seem to like us rather than how well they perform. That’s the definition of playing favourites.

And the fault is ours.

We’re encouraging the kind of behaviour that we despise in others. Without meaning to, we are basking in the hollow praise, which makes us hollow leaders.

This quick self-analysis won’t solve the problem. But it does identify it – which is where change can begin.

For more information that would help the business performance of your organisation you can contact me at the following email: Ross@incpetionbusinesssolutions.com


The 5 Biggest Myths of the Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Ross Kingsland

As the rise of entrepreneurs continues in our communities today there have been a lot of myths and untruths that have developed. Many of these have been “discovered” through academic and government research, although asking civil servants and academics for their insight into entrepreneurship is a little like asking the beer-belly football supporter how he would score a goal during the World Cup Final.

Myth number 1: Successful Entrepreneurs are self-starting loners

Successful Entrepreneurs are very good at the initial idea, the genesis of a business. However, they are also quickly recognise what is within their skill set and what is needed to get a business moving. They understand that speed to market, especially in the digital age, is critical so they build networks, form virtual teams, outsource tasks, project manage and use a coach to keep them focused.

While the idea remains theirs they can only grow the company to a point. Those entrepreneurs who are most adapt at growing companies in the fastest possible time assemble teams who are committed to the tasks the entrepreneur sets.

Amid this, the entrepreneur can be easily distracted, easily lose sight of the big picture. At which point all successful entrepreneurs have sought a coach. This is to help keep them focused on what they are doing and what needs to happen next.

Myth number 2: Successful Entrepreneurs are academically brilliant

Ken Robinson’s brilliant TED talk “Changing Education Paradigms” is now a recognised internationally as a bucket of cold water to our hungover education system. The education system was designed for the industrial age – not the digital one.

In fact recent research from Illinois showed that 44% of high tech entrepreneurs have a bachelor’s degree, 30% have a masters and 4% have an MD, only 10% had a PHD.

What successful entrepreneurs are exceptional at is investment in their continued learning. We recognise that to stay current and competitive the entrepreneur must invest in themselves first to gain and acquire knowledge.

Myth number 3: Successful Entrepreneurs have innovative and novel ideas

There are over 7 billion people in the world today, right this second. Which from a statistical view means that there is no such thing as an original thought. Everything you have ever thought of has already been thought and done.

So what are successful entrepreneurs good at? Action.

They seize the opportunity and follow through to completion against the odds, against the competition, against the disbelief and negativity of others.

The Wright Brothers soared into the history books with the first powered flight over a set distance. However, they were not the only people trying to achieve this feat at that time. Amongst others was Samuel Langley, a famous astronomer and scientist who had full time staff at his disposal and a $50,000 government grant from the US War Department. He was a Harvard professor and former Mathematics professor at the Naval Academy. His influential friends included Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell.

And he was beaten by some bicycle shop owners.

Myth number 4: Successful Entrepreneurs are business gurus

Successful Entrepreneurs are outstanding in their own business, and know that market inside and out and are able to anticipate their needs and wants.

When I met Richard Branson he told me that on his birthday he was in a board meeting and his group of company directors were discussing the figures for the year. There was a lot of discussion about net and gross profit. Richard sat there and asked at the end of it “so are we doing well?”. His senior financial advisor spoke with him afterwards and said “Richard, do you know the difference between net and gross profit?”. “No” he confessed. At which point his financial advisor drew a picture on the wall that showed a school of fish and a big net catching some of them.

It was his 50th birthday.

Myth number 5: Successful Entrepreneurs have all the answers

Successful Entrepreneurs learn many things along their journey from just “entrepreneur” to “successful entrepreneur”. One of the biggest lessons that they all confess to is truly understanding themselves. What they are good at, what they are bad at, where they need support and where they excel.

Most have built their businesses around their strengths whist acquiring people to supporting them through their weaknesses. Speak with any truly successful entrepreneur and they are hungry to hear what you have to say, they want to know your thoughts, they want to see how you can help them. Because they know that their success can just as easily slip away due to arrogance and hubris.

A successful entrepreneur is always a student, and always applying their new learnings.

If you enjoyed this blog please feel free to share it, leave comments or contact me directly at ross@inceptionbusinesssolutions.com

LinkedIn’s Top % Award – What It Really Says About You


Love it or hate it, this is a clever little bit of marketing that has divided LinkedIn members.

With LinkedIn now with 200 million profiles – notice that I didn’t say users – LinkedIn decided to reward their most active subscribers with a formal badge of honour.

Look at me! Oh wait hang on a second….

Let’s quickly do some sums here though to understand what it actually means. I have seen several subscribers proudly displaying their “I’ve in the top 10% of LinkedIn” so I thought it was worth breaking down what this actually is.

20% of 200 million = 40 million received these “awards”

10% of 200 million = 20 million received these “awards”

5% of 200 million = 10 million received these “awards”

1% of 200 million = 2 million received these “awards”

To give this a little perspective on this:

20 million people live in New York, California, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio and Dallas……combined.


40 million people is the total population of Argentina

Here Come The “how to be as successful as me on LinkedIn” Services

So why have so many people posted this accomplishment? This has routes in our deeper psychology and self image. We all want to be respected and acknowledged for our contribution and without LinkedIn naming publicly the most viewed profiles they have given their subscribers to do the job for them.

This makes the top percenters feel somewhat exclusive – part of an elite on LinkedIn. It can also have the effect of those who did not receive an award a sense of desire to achieve this badge of honour.

As with all awards it often presents more questions than it answers. For which there is always a market. I expect that there are already some savy social marketers who have started work on their new product “how to be a 5%er on LinkedIn”.

Social proof

And this is why social media will continue to grow. One of our natural mentalities is that of belonging to a pack. In the psychology of influencing social proof is one of the most effective forms of influencing someone – “how many twitter followers do you have?”, “how many LinkedIn connections do you have?” etc. We are hard wired to believe to go with the majority. Social proof isn’t just psychology – it’s biology.

Without getting too scientific our brains evolved over millions of years – developing our use of social proof. It is only in the last few thousand years that the prefrontal cortex developed to provide rational, cognitive thought. And those who say “I’m not swayed by what everyone else does” is engaging this part of their brain.

There are other aspects of influencing psychology that this campaign develops upon very well. But these will have to wait for another time.

Finally consider this:

I was reminded this from a friend high up in the entertainment industry: “Don’t believe your own hype”. Be proud of your accomplishments, your achievements, your contributions and your successes. But be proud of the right ones for the right reasons.

Why Is Your Content Marketing Not Working?

Content is King Bill Gates Ross Kingsland

Content Marketing is consistently poor.

There are many discussions over what good content actually is, however most of it is unfocused, psychologically unsound and poorly executed.

So where is successful content marketing implemented and demonstrated? Rarely is it in large organisations. And they are not to blame for this. It is endemic. Content Marketing in the digital age has only just begun to be exploited. And most senior marketing managers have no experience of it.

But there are those of us out there who not only understand psychology and internet behaviour patterns but use them to our advantage to make content meaningful.

If you take one thing away from my post please let it be this.

All content marketing starts with this mindset: “You can have everything you want, if you help everyone else get everything they want

…….and I dont mean discounts for your “loyal” subscribers.

For a quick start on content marketing – get someone who is an expert on psychology. And I don’t just mean that they have read a book or two. Or partner up with someone who is.

The Content Marketing train is already pulling out of the station – don’t be left behind

Do You Fall Into This Trap When Trying To Influence Someone?

How Do I Negotiate Better

Have you ever had a situation where someone was committed that they weren’t going to move on something. No matter how many alternatives you suggested? It might be at work or it might be at home.

Him: We never go out anymore

You: Why don’t we go out tonight?

Him: Where were you thinking?

You: How about the cinema?

Him: Not really anything I want to see

You: Quiet drink at the pub?

Him: It’s a bit cold

You: How about a 2 for 1 meal?

Him: I’ve got to be up early in the morning

You: Fine! We won’t go anywhere then!
This is called the “Yes, But” Game. It goes nowhere and is a psychological game we all play. Unfortunately most of us get into this game when we are trying to influence or convince someone of something.

Why is this important?

This is one of the most common traps in a conversation that we can all find ourselves in without realising it.

I posted this on LinkedIn and many of the responses that came back focused around open and closed questioning techniques.

These work fine – to a point.

The reason is this – the example conversation has nothing to do with wanting to go out. It is started by the man who wants to reinforce his belief that they never go out.

If you fall into the trap of playing his “game” you will ultimately lose because the game you started cannot be won playing by his rules – in other words if you offer solution after solution you will eventually get exhausted of his excuses.

Step 1

The first step to get out of the loop is to have awareness that you are suddenly playing the game.

Step 2

Next immediately stop playing the game.

Step 3

Agree with their initial comment. It is very difficult to disagree with someone who is agreeing with you

Step 4

You now have two choices:

a)   Redirect the conversation by asking them how to solve the problem – this must be done elegantly so it is not noticed by the other individual

b)   Acknowledge their belief and then physically leave or change the conversation completely

For examples of where this example of negotiating has worked in corporate environments have a look here:


Best wishes



What Is The First Word You Think Of When I Say “Sales Person”?

“Greasy”, “deceptive”, “liar”, “slimy”, “manipulative”, “sleazy” one person shouted out “great guy”

So I asked “how many of you in this room are sales people, raise your hands?”

About 50% of the room raised their hands.

However, not all of them were aware that they were sales people.

“If you’re an owner of a business you had better be raising your hand” a further 30% raised their hand, and my last question had 99% with their hands in the air….

“If you are a parent you had better be raising your hand”

And I used the example because are kids great sales people. You don’t have to teach them with how to deal with rejection, they let it pass on by and keep coming. “You can’t have an ice cream” 10 minutes later they’re licking a cornetto with a smile on their face. No one taught them any scripts, nothing

What I want you to understand is that the single most important skill in life come down to one thing. We hate the word selling and all the negative conetations that come with that, but it’s the word that all leaders have.

So I’ll give you the word that it really is – influence.

What changes companies? Leaders. The only way to change a company is leadership.

Leaders solve problems and maximise resources.

If you could solve the problems then it would already be solved. You have to get others to help you do it, and that requires influence. If you can get people to maximise thier resources that requires influence.

If you’re going to get people to partner with you, provide resources or capital you need influence, develop supplier relationships. If you’re going to have an impact on your kids, on your community on the world then it requires influence

And yet most of us think of it as selling as so we don’t master it

If you can’t influence, you can’t lead

But if you can influence powerfully, intelligently and with integrity there is no limit to what you can envision and make real.

And if your influence becomes more than you just you and you are able to influence systems, people, companies, cultures,

If you can turn other people into influencers, now what ever you envision about can be made into reality.

So the question becomes, how do you influence? And how effective is your current strategy?

How Do You Develop A Relationship With Clients On Email?


When I ask business leaders, CEOs and Managing Directors where does most of their business come from the reply, 99% of the time, is the same.

From our existing customer base.

Yet very few businesses have a strategy on how to continutally engage, upsell, cross sell or sell more to our existing customers. Instead 80% of budgets and usually more, will be spent on attracting new customers.

So let’s turn that on it’s head.

How do we leverage our customer base so it is generating revenue at an optimal level.

The psychology behind increasing sales from within our existing customer base is that they have already bought from you, or at the very least are on your mailing list. You have a dialogue, and from that you can start to build trust.

You will, of course be segmenting your lists of customers to establish at what stage of the customer cycle they are at and how you want to move them along.

No? Well let’s leave that for another day. In the meantime let’s focus on developing a relationship with a client.

Newsletters are dead

Just because it is news to you doesnt mean that anyone else cares. In the 3 second world we live in today, unless your communication instantly speaks to your client they will ignore – or worse – unsubscribe.

The Trust Bank Balance

Trust in you is very low. First you need to start increasing that trust through thought through, deliberate trust building communication. As you repeat this their level of trust in you will slowly increase. Then when you are at a stage where they trust in your AND see the results then ask them for the money.

If you do it before this you are likely to wind up the same as every other company out there – shouting at the customer to try and get them to part with their hard earned money.

There are several ways to do this which I will share with you in a later blog.

Test: How Far Will You Or Your Business Grow?

One of the most frequent questions that I am asked in my group coaching, workshops and talks is this: Why can’t I grow my business or career – I’m stuck!

Rather than try to give an answer for the individual I ask everyone to do this quick exercise to find out what’s happening.

Every time people do this they discover the key piece that is missing from the puzzle.

This literally takes 3 minutes.

One Rule: Be honest to yourself and Dont read the Correct Answer until you have answered the question

  1. Get a pen and paper
  2. Look at the island at the top of this post. You have given permission for me to take you to this island. Let me tell you a little about the island. It’s warm and sunny with the perfect temperature for you. The sun’s out, there are no animals on the island, it’s a very non-threatening place. If you could imagine a place that you could want to go to, this is where you would want to go. That’s the island.
  3. You’ve given me permission for me to take you there.
  4. Now, there are some rules about going.
  5. I promise to bring you back in 15 minutes, so don’t get nervous about being left on the island.
  6. I would like you to leave your religious beliefs behind. Not that those beliefs are not important or that they add value but for the purpose of the exercise I would like you to put those beliefs to the side for one moment.
  7. I would like you to go to that island and I would like you to sit down on the sand with the waves just in front of you lapping at the shore.

Here’s the question:

  1. I would like you to leave all of your roles in life behind. Leave them with me for 15 minutes. This means that you are no longer a father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister. You are no longer a person who is employed, managed, directed or has any responsibilities. You are not a person who has achievements or accolades. And remember you can have them back in 15 minutes.
  2. And while you are on the island, sitting there by yourself I want you to rate what is left. In other words, what is left as you are alone on the island without your roles to define you.
  3. I’d like you to take a look at yourself and put a rating on a 0 to 10 scale. 0 being without your roles in life you are completely worthless and 10 being without your roles in life you are of great value and there is the scale inbetween. When you have that number write it down.

The Correct Answer:













Everyone is a 10

If you put anything less than 10 what’s happened is, is that you have been programmed, conditioned and influenced by the world to believe that you are less than 10.

What you rated just now was your own self identity and self esteem. All that was left on the island once all your roles are gone. So many of us believe that our value is the roles that we have in life. But the  point is this, you came in without any roles and your leaving without any.

Why is this important to you?

The number that you have written down determines the rest of your future business, career and happiness. Big claim right?

How can you use this?

Let’s say you wrote down a number of 5 and you are hoping to progress to a job that is, from your perspective, a 7. All the time you are preparing for it the 5 in you will be saying “you’re trying to be something you’re not” or “you could never do that job” or “you’re not worth that much money” or something else.

Conversely, if you rated yourself as an 8 and are in a job that you perceive as a 5 then you are coasting, and if you are not already, you are probably bored.

This affects you in looking for new jobs or your business also. If Mavis the cleaner loses her job she will probably go and look for another cleaning job, if Donald Trump lost all his millions he would be working to get back to that level as soon as possible.

It’s all a matter of understanding what your self identity is as a starting point, where you want to get to and then developing and implementing a strategy to take you there.

The ideal: You rate yourself as a 10 and you see the job that you are doing as a 10.

It is incredibly rewarding when you make these breakthroughs and I hope this post has helped you towards it.

The Master Key To Succesful Sales

I learnt this master key when I first started out in sales as a store assistant at my local Clarks shoe shop.

I was about 15 and had started in the Men’s section. I had no idea what I was doing. Sales training for Saturday staff didn’t exist back then and my results spoke for themselves.

It got so bad that I was called into the managers office one day and told that if my sales didn’t pick up soon he was going to have to let me go. This was a kick in the guts and I was determined to be the best sales person they had ever had.

So I went back on to the shop floor and was even more enthusiastic, even more helpful, even more “salesy” – and my sales dropped even further.

I was devastated. My dad picked me up one day from work and we got chatting about my ineptitude at sales.

“Son, you have to realise one thing. If a customer loves their shoes why would they want to buy a new pair?”

And that was one of those light bulb moments that we’ve all had. There was nothing “wrong” with their shoes, so why did they need a new pair?

I went back to work the following weekend and worked this into my sales patter – “Sure is hot out there today, you must be hot in those shoes?”, “You’ve got a job interview on Monday? First thing an interviewer looks at is the quality of your shoes”, “I turned my ankle on a trek because I didn’t have the right walking boots, has that ever happened to you?” (obviously these are examples thrown in during the conversations).

And that day I was second in the store for total sales. The following week I lead the store in sales. And from that day on I was the leading sales person in the store for 4 years. All thanks to that one piece of advice.

An undisturbed prospect will not buy.

I will caveat this master key with one thing – you cannot overtly “disturb” them through any form of emotional statements. If you do this and they pick up on it they will very quickly turn on you and you will lose the sale. Instead help them to uncover that they have this pain and that only your product or service can bring them relief.

Check out my other blog post “the New ABC of Selling” that has a little more about questioning techniques.

What Is The New ABC Of Selling?

Always Be Closing………… is for amateurs.

Glengarry Glen Ross is one of my favourite films written by David Mamet with an outstanding cast of Jack Lemon, Kevin Spacey, Vincent Price, Al Pacino and Ed Harris. Originally written as a play it gathered support and was quickly greenlit to be made into a film. However, the most famous scene with Alec Baldwin was added for the film when Mamet felt it needed a punch in the gut half way through.

And Always Be Closing was unveiled to the world.

Of course as sales professionals we had known this for years. Now the cat was out of the bag.

Procurement managers and sales contacts were quickly taught with how to “deal” with pushy salespeople who followed this patter. The sales person would try the Ben Franklin close to take control back. You know the one where you make a list of pros on one side and cons on the other for buying this product or service. That was developed over 100 years ago.

You think they don’t know that?

The 80’s and 90’s gave us the Powerpoint sales pitch. The sales person would start the sales pitch with a power point presentation and at the end hope that the customer has seen enough to say yes (if they were still awake).

Then in 00’s came the selling with some NLP (neurolinguistic programming) techniques thank to people like Tony Robbins but the customer adjusted to this by training their staff on what to look out for and expect.

So where next for the sales professional? Is there something that trancendes decades?

Here’s the thing. People, regardless of who they are can all be sold to. At some point every person in the world has bought something that a sales person somewhere has sold them. It might just be that it isnt you.

And for most people it’s technique of “here’s what I’m selling, do you want it?”

The truely great sales professionals – and here’s I’m talking about sales professionals who make millions in a day closing deals – for them it is about adapting what they are selling to the customers psychological needs and wants.

So, to give you a tool that you can use immediately try this.

Always Be Curious

That’s it. Always Be Curious.

You can never persuade anyone of anything. But you can help them discover it for themselves. And they only way that you can do this is through elegant questioning.

“I’m curious, why do you think other customers pay us more than the average?”

“Help me understand how we can get funding for this project”

“Can I check if my understanding is correct?”

Or some other variation. Try, experiement, have fun.