Skip to main content
NonsenseAtWork

NonsenseAtWork

By The Chief Nonsense Officer
Nonsense stops you from being successful. Nonsense is always at work. It never stops. That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is always some sense in nonsense, if you look for it. The Chief Nonsense Officer aims to help you make the nonsense at work work for you (in 60 seconds. No more, no less). Make contact via james@nonsenseatwork.com
Listen on
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Breaker Logo

Breaker

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Overcast Logo

Overcast

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Stitcher Logo

Stitcher

#160: Fire Everyone Except Your Star Performer
Or fire your star performer and see others shine
00:59
September 16, 2020
#159: Bright Is Not the Same As Wise
Bright outshines shadows allowing only one answer: The Answer
01:00
September 15, 2020
#158: Effective Leaders Are Two-Faced
But there’s a right and a wrong way to be two-faced.
01:00
September 10, 2020
#157: Skilled Doers Deserve More Respect Than Skilled Thinkers
Thinking for yourself does not automatically trounce manual skills.
01:00
September 8, 2020
#156: You Will Be Subtracted When the Value You Add Becomes Negative
What every manager must explain to every employee.
01:00
September 3, 2020
#155: How to Argue Your Way to Wisdom
Where you focus could make you wiser.
01:00
September 2, 2020
#154: The Cost of One Thing Undone
One thing undone can mean day interrupted and project stalled.
01:00
September 1, 2020
#153: Think on These Things to Stay True
Reflecting before responding makes us more honest.
01:00
August 27, 2020
#152: Want to Be a High Flyer? Get a Little Black Box.
The black box records failure and overwrites success.
01:00
August 26, 2020
#151: Want to Be Promoted? Do This.
Your promotion depends on whether you see outcomes or deliverables.
01:00
August 25, 2020
#150: Denying Change Creates Innovation Sickness
Change can be sensed when not seen.
01:00
August 20, 2020
#149: How to Decide Between Success and Failure
It depends on how you weigh two key elements.
01:00
August 19, 2020
#148: Go Deep to Survive the Power of a Fool
We have spawned a generation too confident to appreciate the depths of experience.
01:00
August 18, 2020
#147: Were You Prejudiced This Week?
You probably were, because it is so easy to pre-judge.
01:00
August 14, 2020
#146: How to Make Yourself Hot and Bothered
Procrastination might fool others, but it won’t fool you.
01:00
August 13, 2020
#145: Remember Me? I Work for You.
Now is exactly the time you should be more caring with your feedback and diligent with your appraisals. People at home need to feel remembered.
01:00
August 11, 2020
#144: When Is a Problem an Opportunity?
A problem is an opportunity when the opportunity is not the problem.
01:00
August 6, 2020
#143: What outcome do you want from what comes out of your mouth?
Speaking intentionally always trumps mindless waffle.
01:00
August 5, 2020
#142: How to Tell if You Are Mentoring or Meddling
Either way, your mistakes will matter.
01:00
August 4, 2020
#141: Why Being Rudderless in Life Brings You to a Stop
The trick to smooth sailing in life is to use your purpose as a rudder.
01:00
July 30, 2020
#140: If You Wait for Feedback, Your Career Will Be Buried in Sand
You own your performance. Own your appraisal as well.
01:00
July 29, 2020
#139: Pick a Mask, Any Mask
Wearing a mask is normal. It’s part of social lubrication.
01:00
July 28, 2020
#138: A shared joke can yoke us in ways not funny
Laugh with and laugh at have different outcomes
01:00
July 23, 2020
#137: Why “Cultivate Your Change” Is Not a Jingle
We fail when we treat change as an event and not as a process
01:00
July 22, 2020
#136: Chew on This Thought if You Can
Now, more than ever, we should think with purpose. I think.
01:00
July 21, 2020
#135: You Could Be on the Downhill to Sticky Success
Do this in July if you don’t want to repeat January’s resolutions next year
01:00
July 16, 2020
#134: Go With the Flow Until You Are Hungry
Why I questioned one of my favorite seven rules to easy success.
01:00
July 15, 2020
#133: When You’re Feeling Down, Look Up
You probably have scattered thinking blues
01:00
July 14, 2020
#132: If You Don’t Get It, Fill It or Zip It
Two strategies for so much to know in so little time.
01:00
July 9, 2020
#131: Failure comes from tools to blame
I often catch myself thinking, “If only I had that smart phone app, or this new tablet or that thin laptop or this stunning software, then I will....”
01:00
July 8, 2020
#130: Lazy likes it hotter
People who show little respect for their personal space are unlikely to show respect for public space. This lack of respect is killing our planet.
01:00
July 7, 2020
#129: How to step lightly and smell like roses
Here's a tried and tested way to create more time to smell the roses.
01:00
July 2, 2020
#128: To succeed, don’t play nice at work
Do you work for a nice organization? You do? I’m so sorry to hear that. Nice is not always successful.
01:00
July 1, 2020
#127: Which will you be, stubbornly persistent or persistently stubborn?
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Except that sometimes you will appear to be stubbornly persistent and at others persistently stubborn.
01:00
June 30, 2020
#126: Seek multiple sources of unlikeable feedback
Tell me, what is worse than not asking for feedback? Yes, not heeding feedback is rather bad. But having only one source of feedback is even worse.
01:00
June 25, 2020
#125: Rough becomes smooth and so should you
Take a look at pebbles in a stream. Which ones do you like, the smooth, round ones, or the sharp, rough ones?
01:00
June 23, 2020
#124: Speak funny so that others will understand you
Do you listen to hear or do you listen to understand?
01:00
June 19, 2020
#123: Be wise enough to stay positively stupid
What is wisdom? If you don’t know, then you are obviously not wise enough. But don’t worry, if you live long enough you will be.
01:00
June 18, 2020
#122: Don’t let perceived rules trigger conditioned nonsense
Why don’t you slow down when you drive at night? Here’s why. Because the posted speed signs tell you not to.
01:00
June 16, 2020
#121: A bully at the top promotes team work
The typical organization is a hierarchy of imbalanced power, which makes it a perfect bully factory. Unless the leaders stop it.
01:00
June 10, 2020
#120: Here's the one skill we don't need in our leaders
If there is one thing I have learned in the land obsessed with leadership, then it’s this. I’m a silly old fool.
01:00
June 9, 2020
#119: The right way to be all right is to be comfortably wrong
Being right is a moment-to-moment affair. Right becomes wrong as easily as wrong becomes right.
01:00
June 4, 2020
#118: Cut out playacting to re-invent forward, not backward
Any fool can rewrite history and only fools will believe him, which is why I’m not jealous of that skill.
01:00
June 3, 2020
#117: Advice for wannabe leaders: Keep your shoes on
What exactly would you feel if you put your feet into someone else’s shoes?
01:00
June 2, 2020
#116: How to know which lead in leadership you should use
What do the letters “L E A D” spell?  Lead as in leader or lead as in heavy?
01:00
May 28, 2020
#115: Why we still don’t believe your “I didn’t do it!”
Too many people in power don’t understand what it means to be responsible. Responsibility is the ability to respond.
01:00
May 27, 2020
#114: Why we walk the same path with different expectations
To this day, I imagine lions and elephants where none are to be expected.
01:00
May 26, 2020
#113: Please care enough to criticize someone you like
When people stop caring about you, they stop criticizing you. They have written you off and given you up.
01:00
May 21, 2020
#112: How to make big decisions easier to take
Few of us enjoy making big decisions. And yet make them we must. So it helps to understand a few things about big decisions.
01:00
May 20, 2020
#111: Why you are the anchor in the puzzle of your life
A single piece of a jigsaw puzzle makes little sense. When linked correctly with other pieces, the sense appears.
01:00
May 19, 2020
#110: Why facts don’t really matter
A fact doesn’t care; a fact just is.
01:00
May 14, 2020
#109: Violent prude shocked by toilets
It seems to me that the more graphically violent our movies and television shows become, the more prudish we become in voicing what is more natural to the body.
01:00
May 13, 2020
#108: Big shoes to fill leave footprints to clean up
The need to be remembered is equally damaging. It creates a lot of nonsense for our children to clean up.
01:00
May 12, 2020
#107: Don’t ask for serenity. Just change what must be altered.
Don’t ask for the serenity to accept the things you cannot change. Just get on with it.
01:00
May 7, 2020
#106: Your success depends on your choice of effect
Do you do things for effect or do you do things for effect? This is an extremely important question, so please take your time. It is such a critical question to ponder that I will now pause for effect.
01:00
May 5, 2020
#105: Don’t waste wasted time
Do you feel guilty about wasting time? Here’s how to get over it.
01:00
April 30, 2020
#104: Please don’t fake it for my benefit
Faking upwards only works if you have the foundation but lack the self-belief. It does not work if you have loads of self-belief but no grounding in reality.
01:00
April 29, 2020
#103: When negative thoughts are positive
Negative self-talk serves a positive purpose – to stop you getting positively hurt or becoming positively dead.
01:00
April 28, 2020
#102: Create a sound bark rather than a sound bite
For your next phone/video call: stay nice on air.
01:00
April 23, 2020
#101: When the going gets tough, real toughs go where they can see clearly
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Tell me, how do you interpret the part about the tough get going?
01:00
April 21, 2020
#100: Spring back from knocked into shape and cut down to size
Oh! To be able to recover like that every time I get knocked into shape and cut down to size.
01:00
April 16, 2020
#99: Nothing happens until you make a move, any old move
Nothing happens until you make a move.
01:00
April 15, 2020
#98: Beware the not quite empty promise
Thanks to those empty symbols of fake fertility, I am perpetually suspicious of anything too nicely wrapped.
01:00
April 14, 2020
#97: When downers are uppers
Don’t be sad. Depression could be good for you. Maybe not the deep kind, but the odd bout of the downers could lift you up.
01:00
April 7, 2020
#96: Feel safe enough to be happier now
What matters more, being safe or feeling safe?
01:00
April 2, 2020
#95: Fixating on the pooh side of a task is not a game
Don't fixate on the pooh side of the task.
01:00
April 1, 2020
#94: Managing our leaders to get things done
I get annoyed when people act as if leadership and management are interchangeable.
01:00
March 31, 2020
#93: Why working from home is impossible
According to basic science, it is impossible to work from home, so how can it increase performance?
01:00
March 24, 2020
#92: Using intuition without experience can hurt
When it comes to making decisions, do you go on intuition and gut feel or do you deliberate and evaluate?
01:00
March 18, 2020
#91: There is no charm in being late
Many a date who kept me waiting had real charms at play, but I have yet to find the charm in those who keep me waiting at work.
01:00
March 17, 2020
#90: It is time to blame we the people
We blame the organization when we should blame the individuals who comprise the organization.
01:00
March 12, 2020
#89: Get out, get fresh and get high
It’s time to get high. All this stress and uncertainty, anger, and fear is driving me to it.
01:00
March 11, 2020
#88: How to lead with your leadership gap
Do you think leaders should be good at what they do or great at what they do?
01:00
March 10, 2020
#87: Want my business? Call me Mister.
Your job is to make me feel important, not commonplace.
01:00
March 4, 2020
#86: Too many lost leaders clamoring for attention
You can tell how lost people are by how much time they waste on leaders and leadership.
01:00
March 3, 2020
#85: Stand for the right to be against any solution
I stand for the right to be against any solution until I get hurt by the problem.
01:00
February 27, 2020
#84: Innovation at work is often a creative waste of time
Unless your business is the art of the new, it is better to teach focused action than free association.
01:00
February 26, 2020
#83: Why people don’t behave according to your strategies and instructions
To deal with the information overload, we use mental shortcuts to make quick deductions and draw rapid conclusions.
01:00
February 25, 2020
#82: Gallery boost for your business is no team building time-waster
Trying to make sense of visual art is a good way of exploring perceptions and practicing to see differently.
01:00
February 20, 2020
#81: This cubicle can predict whether your business will sink or soar
This cubicle shows how much you respect your employees and visitors, and how much they respect your company.
01:00
February 19, 2020
#80: We will feel nice if you stop being a nice boss
Can a nice boss really make a difference? Will it boost your confidence, your performance, your commitment? I don’t think so.
01:00
February 18, 2020
#79: Be warned, your smiley face can trigger my glaring frown
Researchers have shown that it can backfire on you to make positive statements about yourself, which you don’t really believe. I think the same happens when someone who sprouts can-do affirmations to boost his aura triggers my nonsense detector.
01:00
February 17, 2020
#78: Understand context or be swept along with the rabble
People in the same context may experience it differently.
01:00
February 13, 2020
#77: A trade in noisy disagreements is not a meaningful debate
What happens in Washington is not a debate.
01:00
February 12, 2020
#76: It’s time to change your default setting
We all start out with a default setting. What matters is whether or not you have changed yours.
01:00
February 10, 2020
#75: How to prevent unintended thinking consequences
It’s wiser to sound foolish before than look stupid after.
01:00
February 6, 2020
#74 If you want to be a leader, first be a time traveler
You must be able to imagine the future and to explain how best to act today to prepare for that future.
01:00
February 4, 2020
#73: If outcomes don’t matter, then practice single-minded multi-tasking
Multi-tasking works well enough if the outcomes of the different tasks that you are doing at once don’t matter much.
01:00
February 3, 2020
#72: You will be left behind if you mistakenly follow right
Why do we only have positive role models?
01:00
January 30, 2020
#71: When in self-doubt, talk negative to do it
If you don't believe in yourself, better to tell yourself that you cannot do it.
01:00
January 29, 2020
#70: Encourage your pet pessimist
 Do you have a pet pessimist at work? Good. Every organization should have at least one.
01:00
January 28, 2020
#69: You can peak wiser if you trend carefully
 Go for slow burn, not burn out, in your career, your start-up, your business plan, your relationships and so on. 
01:00
January 23, 2020
#68: Should you dress to impress when working from home?
I’ve always realized the truth in “dress to impress.” What I did not realize is that the person most often in need of being impressed is me.
01:00
January 21, 2020
#67: I plan to be seduced quickly. So should you.
Don't squander precious time to save a few measly bucks.
01:00
January 16, 2020
#66: Give in now or be exhausted by June
You might believe that life is a constant struggle, but I commit to success through the Easy Way.
01:00
January 14, 2020
#65: The year of resolutely obeying Dear Prudence
I’m going to be a prude, as in prudent. I plan to avoid undesired consequences.
01:00
January 9, 2020
#64: How to be irritated into a better you
Make a small resolution with huge clout. Meet a real friend a week and be irritated into being a better you.
01:00
January 7, 2020
#63: Bless your headwind, not your tailwind
To soar with the eagles, welcome the wind in your face.
01:00
January 3, 2020
#62: Connect your manners to build relationships
By all means reach out to others, but please handle the connection with care. Mind your manners.
01:00
January 2, 2020
#61: To make it stick, resolve to behave badly
It’s so much easier to make resolutions stick if you start off from a low base.
01:00
January 2, 2020
#60: Tidily cheating at resolutions
Some months ago I made a New Year’s resolution. You read right. Months ago.
01:00
December 31, 2019
#59: Speed up to slow time
The older you get, the faster time ticks as it runs out for you. But for a child, the same year can feel like an age unto itself.
01:00
December 30, 2019
#58: Your approach to the great unwrapping is a clue to your future
How you reacted points to how you are likely to respond to what awaits you in the coming year.
01:00
December 27, 2019
#57: Bliss in hand is worth two hopes in the mud
We shouldn’t be surprised when we land in the mud of the moment.
01:00
December 24, 2019
#56: ‘Tis the season when some sellers won’t sell
Your job is to sell it to the customer standing in front of you.
01:00
December 23, 2019
#55: How to dump the American way
I am disappointed that they refuse to do the American thing. Boost the economy by buying new stuff.
01:00
December 18, 2019
#54: The 4th Way to beat the Joneses
Why do some people keep up with the Joneses better than others?
01:00
December 17, 2019
#53: Your annual jolly fat expectation comes with a catch
It’s the time of year that sets you wondering.  Wondering whether you’ve been good enough to expect a reward from the jolly fat man in the corner office.
01:00
December 13, 2019
#52: When you plan, plan to fuhgeddaboudit
If you must project, then at least start with zeros. Zero-based thinking will help you lose your memory.
01:00
December 5, 2019
#51: Why you struggle to look blown-away busy
Fake busyness has taught me three lessons.
01:00
December 4, 2019
#50: You will fail unless you check the order of things
As with much in life, it’s all in the order of things. Sequence matters. In the beginning was not the end.
01:00
December 3, 2019
#49: Your one habit is making you a pessimist or an optimist
The word ‘expectation’ has two meanings. It can mean ‘looking forward to’ or ‘it is my due.’
01:00
November 27, 2019
#48: You will benefit from being entitled to give thanks
Here we go again, the time of year that highlights entitlement.  Thanksgiving is simply too close to Giveme, that other celebrated family holiday.
01:00
November 26, 2019
#47: Your goal has a gap between promised and delivered
We have been conned into believing that shouting a goal will force us to achieve it. Or risk being embarrassed. This is simply not correct.
01:00
November 22, 2019
#46: You must dance to get stoned
We get stuck when we don't do and we don't move.
01:00
November 21, 2019
#45: How fearful is your short-sighted hierarchy?
Fear at any level on the hierarchy makes all of us short-sighted.
01:00
November 5, 2019
#44: To be a leader, be a leader
You want to be a leader? Then be a leader. It’s that simple. However, there’s just one little problem.
01:00
October 31, 2019
#43: Get lost to get fresh
Get lost for a fresh perspective on life.
01:00
October 29, 2019
#42: Why you can’t live your life in a straight line
The turns determine where you end up.
01:00
October 24, 2019
#41: No tantrum needed as you add bad days
Why do infants throw more effective tantrums than adults?
01:00
October 22, 2019
#40: Trying to be glum is too much fun
Happy chappies with their fake smiley faces and their ‘have a nice day’ choruses annoy me into grumpy retorts. 
01:00
October 17, 2019
#39: Can the bad, then raise the praise
It seems that every generation repeats the same old debate: should we reward good behavior or punish bad?
01:00
October 15, 2019
#38: Become a bigger Who as you shrink your What
By now you know there are only three ways of changing.
01:00
October 10, 2019
#37: Give goals the laser treatment before it’s too late
Here’s the trick to achieving your goals. When you are running out of time, it’s time to make like a laser.
01:00
October 8, 2019
#36: When in a moral morass, think with your gut
Are you a moral hypocrite? Of course you are. So are we.
01:00
October 3, 2019
#35: How to avoid written tomatoes
Yes, you have a powerful way to stop the on-line bully. 
01:00
October 1, 2019
#34: Why a calm center leads frenzied activity
The closer you are to the center of things, the slower you need to move, the less you need to do, to get somewhere new.
01:00
September 26, 2019
#33: When teamwork means specializing in nonsense
Too often, at least for my liking, I encounter teams that allow people to specialize in nonsense, and to become very good at it too. 
01:00
September 24, 2019
#32: When slipping on uncertainty, follow your heart
All small decisions, if you know the facts, should be dealt with consciously. But in large matters, where facts are missing and things uncertain, you must follow your heart.
01:00
September 20, 2019
#31: How not to join the dark side of emotional intelligence
The dark side to people skills has always existed. We join the dark side when we assume we are too intelligent to have our emotions manipulated.
01:00
September 17, 2019
#30: Stop encouraging leadership at work
What are leaders supposed to do? That’s right, leaders are supposed to create a passionate vision that will inspire me to live up to my full potential.
01:00
September 12, 2019
#29: Don’t ignore clueless communicators who have earned respect
I get very annoyed when I read a garbled report, a jumbled email or a truncated text message. Surely, being able to write well is a basic requirement for success.
01:00
September 10, 2019
#28: Let them make excuses for you, not use you as the excuse
Politics, it seems, is everywhere. It is supposedly a good thing because it helps you to get things done. Actually, it is a way of claiming success without being seen as the snake on the corporate ladder.
01:00
September 5, 2019
#27: Success depends on having access to gossip without passing it on
The trick is to have access to gossip without passing it on.
01:00
September 3, 2019
#26: Don't judge a culture by its covers
Americans are truly strange. So I thought many years ago on my first Memorial Day in the USA.
01:00
August 29, 2019
#25: Leadership tricks for a summer holiday
Are you one of those executive types who simply cannot shrug off the leadership mantle on your day off? Then try these tricks.
01:00
August 27, 2019
#24: Liking you is not a recommendation
I like you.  But I’m not sure that I can recommend you.
01:00
August 22, 2019
#23: Struggle free of nose grinding
As you recover from your vacation, give yourself a break and walk the easier path.
01:00
August 20, 2019
#22: Create imbalance to make change happen
 The way to create change is to first create imbalance. Let me explain.
01:00
August 15, 2019
#21: Vacation time is wasted time unless you're in time
Are you going on vacation?  Oh well, it will be a complete waste of time... unless you are in time. No, not on time. In time.
01:00
August 13, 2019
#20: How to be a real manager on vacation
August is the month when real managers go on vacation while juniors hold the fort. It is also when a lot of MBWA takes place.
01:00
August 8, 2019
#19: Delegate your office to have a proper vacation
The fear of being held responsible stops many managers from delegating effectively. And thus from having a decent vacation.
01:00
August 6, 2019
#18: The safety in setting nonsense goals
Have you seen that ridiculous sticker on the back of big trucks?  You know the one.  “Safety is my goal.”
01:00
August 1, 2019
#17: Bad mood rising makes you less gullible
Bad moods help me to think clearer about how to be cranky.
01:00
July 30, 2019
#16: What is the key aspect of leadership?
Is there one aspect of leadership that is critical above all others?
01:00
July 25, 2019
#15: The sticky memory in balanced threes
 Use this trick when giving a talk and you want your message to stay standing even after the audience has left. 
01:00
July 23, 2019
#14: Science made me shifty
The human face is mentally demanding, and so, to focus my brain, I look away. To think.
01:00
July 18, 2019
#13: Why I look away to give you a thoughtful response
I learned long ago that looking away keeps stray thoughts at bay.
01:00
July 16, 2019
#12: Don’t only build your strengths
Your strengths might make you a superstar for a while in one special  area, but those same strengths might make you a dysfunctional manager,  parent or spouse. 
01:00
July 12, 2019
#11: Whistle as you (stop) work
Remember when we had a time limited for work? It was called the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week. 
01:00
July 10, 2019
#10: The three most important words I have learned
When a leader makes a statement, outlines a plan or offers a solution, followers stop thinking.
01:00
July 3, 2019
#9: Periodically pull the plug to wipe your life
What do you do with too many emails, too many text messages, too many articles saved for later? You don’t cut out, shut down or stop saving, do you?
01:00
July 2, 2019
#8: How your curvaceous bottom can lead to liking (your job or project)
Don’t give up when it feels like you’ve hit bottom. That’s where you find the curve that takes you to the top.
01:00
July 1, 2019
Please match your content with context
If you want to act a part or show off, then use a stage. If you want to build a solid foundation for a concept or a career, then use a platform for support.
01:00
June 28, 2019
Why I expect nonsense in every cubicle, corner office and boardroom
From that day onwards I treated organizational life with a great deal of suspicion, expecting nonsense in every cubicle, corner office and boardroom. I have inhabited them all and nonsense has not disappointed.
01:00
June 27, 2019
Slow down, you speak too fast
Speaking too fast is a common mistake. We know that we can listen faster than a speaker can speak, and so when it is our turn to speak, we speed up.
01:00
June 22, 2019
What has me dumbfounded and keeps me flabbergasted about amazing, astounding and astonishing teamwork
It is ridiculous for business teams to try to be like sports teams. And it can be dangerous. Here’s why.
03:50
June 22, 2019
Why nonsense happens at work
Organizations are strange concoctions. They are staffed with people who agree to strive for collective objectives in exchange for individual rewards.
01:00
June 22, 2019
Why nonsense is abundant
Why is nonsense so abundant? Because it is a natural, renewable resource.
01:00
June 22, 2019
Why Nonsense At Work Will Be in Little Bytes of 60 Seconds
The Chief Nonsense Officer explains why future episodes will be exactly 60 seconds in length. (More on www.nonsenseatwork.com)
02:22
June 21, 2019
Introduction to Nonsense At Work
What is nonsense (at work)? Why is there a podcast about nonsense at work? Does nonsense have a purpose? How should you react to a podcast on nonsense at work? Answers supplied in this episode. (More on www.nonsenseatwork.com)
01:51
June 21, 2019