How did it start – the personal version
I started life as a researcher at a university. In fact my PhD looked at things in the environment which might be causing children to get leukaemia. To be honest, it was more to do with ‘very hard statistics’ that medicine, but we made some good progress in understanding how to prevent leukemia. I then spent over 24 years as a professional researcher at universities. (I also worked as an actor, lighting designer and a few other things as well as being a fire-eater!).
I got interested in how things were explained when we had to try and get the basics of, say, 18 months of research into the head of politicians and policy-makers who hadn’t been involved in the research.
Sometimes in the back of a taxi, sometimes in a report. But always in clear, non-technical ways… but ways which allowed for no mis-understanding.
After that, I got interested in how things got done. Why? Because I needed to get more done myself. The final kick up the pants was when I had a conversation with the publishers for my last book (Presentation Genius was published by Hodder & Stoughton and got to the top ten!). After some fussing on by me I finally agreed to write the book. They were pleased but (not to put too find a point on it) said something like “Great. But the publication deadline hasn’t changed while you’ve been mucking about!”.
When you look at Presentation Genius you’ll see it’s based on reading nearly 400 individual research papers, plus interviews, dozens of books and countless conversations. I did all that, and then wrote the book, in under three months. And while I was doing that I:
- spent more time with my wife
- spent more time with the rest of my family
- had more time with my friends
- went on holiday
- continued to run a successful small business.
Clearly, I thought, I was on to something.
I’m not pretending I’m perfect. I have team members here who still laugh until they cry when they’re forced to think of me as a grown up, let alone an organised, successful one – so this whole AIR thing is as much for me as it is for anyone else. You’re welcome on my journey.
Why develop AIR as a productivity tool – the business version
The “background reason” is that I was looking to expand the range of things in my portfolio as a professional speaker. The foreground reason is much more important.
We included AIR in lots of the workshops my training company delivered. We found clients liked it when we included it in workshops on anything and everything from productivity and traditional time management to emotional resilience and handling stress. Over and over again we found it crept in. And clients turned up for workshops asking for it if it wasn’t part of what we were supposed to be doing.
More often than not, when we got to the end of a full-day training workshop we asked people what was most useful to them from the day – as part of the revision and embedding, so that they remembered the day – up to two thirds of attendees said AIR, without hesitation.
The other third nodded and said they’d wanted to say that but felt they couldn’t because that wasn’t what their bosses had sent them to learn.
So we took the hint…!