The more I do leadership development and presentation training, the more I find them converging. If you cannot create (or even curate) the story of your organisation – its past, present and future – and tell it well, then you’re not leading. A story has purpose, meaning and choices. At least.
This blog by Leo Widrich of Buffer (the social media app) beautifully summarises why stories have power, and the neuroscience behind that.



Since 2001 I have been playing L. Vaughan Spencer, the Gangsta Motivator. His show is called “Don’t Be Needy, Be Succeedy”. Profile Books published a book of that name too. He’s a pastiche. But I’ve said I won’t do the full show after the performance on 17th November at the London Comedy Store. It has sold out. So now I am running a Kickstarter campaignto raise funds to film it and distribute DVDs (and their online equivalent). Plenty of individuals have pledged and we’re hoping that some organizations will too – in return for a bespoke Succeedy video or even a personal appearance at their offices from my absurd alter ego.

I’ve had enormous fun playing this satirical character. He may well appear in video form or performing cabaret sets in the future. However my work now has become more sincere. It’s “management training/leadership development” , yes, but pushing towards something more profound.

On 18th November, the day after the show (as it happens) I will be talking, not as a spoof, but as me at a conference in Brighton called Meaning. I agreed to it because I will have to push myself beyond anything I have done before.


Many thanks


I read this fascinating article about Steve Coogan and the changing emphasis of his work. In it, he says, “It’s tiring to never be sincere. It’s tiresome and tiring, and ultimately not very satisfying.” Yes, I notice plenty of people in comedy moving in later life towards something else. For me, the story has been towards teaching people the joys of improv theatre and how it can be a powerful way of connecting with others. And I mean that most sincerely.

Improvyourbiz February 2013

I rarely do open Improvyourbiz workshops. So don’t miss the one I am doing on 27th February 2013 in London. Early bird offer if you book before 26th January. What will you be missing if you fail to attend? This
If your browser didn’t show up the links above here they are…
For more workshop details click here
For the 5-minute show reel click here

Neil Mullarkey shows nerves can be tamed

The BBC asked me to talk about doing your best at interviews. On a sunny day I gave them the Four L’s


(Hello – these are a few notes, just to jog your memory if you were there, or spark your interest if you weren’t …Neil)

Impact: Where does it reside? Why so important?

An organisation is a social process. Not a thing, not an entity at all. In scientific terms, an organisation cannot be said to exist at all. Far less be like a machine.

An organisation is a series of processes of interactive communications – that’s improv! It is constantly being created through social interactions.
Leaders are “in charge but not in control” (Phil Streatfield).
Leaders need to connect with people, be influenced by as well as influence others. They need to continually respond and update.

“The meaning of a gesture is in the response” George Herbert Mead 1934

Ten Tweaks to Help Your Personal Impact (all beginning with L – hurrah)

1. Logistics
Get there early – so you can make it your territory
Prepare: left brain (where to sit, find socket, set up laptop) & right brain (clothes, visualisation)
Networking event: have some targets in mind.

2. Learn:  Learn names in advance. “A man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in the English language.” CARNEGIE   Learn about the other person. Become genuinely interested in them.

3. Look: Good eye contact linked to being seen as sincere and friendly.

4, Listen:
What stops us listening?
Real listening: much of our reaction to others comes from memory. A stored reaction not a fresh response. There is a difference between thinking and thoughts. Intelligence – inter and legere; “to gather between”.

5. Link:
“Talk in terms of the other man’s interest” CARNEGIE
Link now to what they said. and link back to older offers
Yes And rather than… Yes But

6. Let:
Things you disagree with: let them pass.
” The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it… Never tell a man he is wrong.” CARNEGIE
Trying to sell by telling the customer he or she is wrong to love their current product or service won’t work.
Let the other person talk about him/herself.
What is the outcome you want?
Let there be gaps: Use of pause/silence

7. Lighten:
OK to use humour
Smiling and nodding bring good reactions

8. Like
Assume you like the other person and they like you.
Find something you share: establish that you are alike.

9. Limbs
Hands: open palms tend to be persuasive
Think Status: assertive not aggressive Body Language

10. Leave well:
Good finish
Eye contact
Be the one to finish the encounter
At a networking event, pass them on to someone else
Give a promise to call and/or a business card

neilmullarkey at TEDx

This was a step into the relatively unknown for me. Talking seriously about myself and my work. I talk about my first encounters with improv, that has become a life-long love affair. I continue to perform with The Comedy Store Players but nowadays I spend most of my time teaching the skills and drills of improv to help people with their creative and communication skills. I’m finding more and more applications. The future is exciting. Here is something about my past… Neil Mullarkey at TEDx.

Christmas Fun

So Maria Franzoni liked Succeedy Song so much that she asked me to do a festive video for her. Here is the result Christmas of Love. We had fun making it. Those sprouts were fairly unpleasant. And that is real fire, rather near my face.

L. Vaughan Spencer on Biz Intelligence

Just released today – April 1st 2011. My alter ego gives his thoughts on the finer points of business analytics. You could learn a lot. Why Thinking is the Enemy of Innovation

The Secret of Comedy

I was asked by a newspaper to write about the Secret of Comedy, summed up on one word, explained in 150. Here is what I came up with. What do you think?

The Secret of Comedy … is Listening

Whatever kind of comedy you are performing – solo or ensemble – you need to listen – to your audience, to your fellow player, to your director, to the writer, and to yourself. Why yourself? Because comedy is about cadence and rhythm. You can’t drift off.

Though when writing you need to listen to your unconscious.

In front of an audience you really need to sense them. I toured with Eric Sykes ten years ago in “Charley’s Aunt”. He is partially deaf (his spectacles contain no lenses, they’re a hearing aid) yet his timing was razor-sharp.

Mostly I do Improv, in which listening is ninety percent of the skill. That surprises many who attend my “Improvyourbiz” workshops. It’s not about generating lots of stuff yourself. It’s about using what is given you by others, whether or not you expect it or “like” it.

So who is the best listener I have ever worked with? Mike Myers.