Stress Workshop – Special Offer!

stress workshop - special offerI’ve mentioned many times the benefits of having a proactive stress strategy – one where people don’t have to share their worries, where they are not made to feel that they are weak, can’t cope or inefficient.  A stress workshop which is fun, cost effective and interactive which gives all of the attendees loads of exercises and strategies for managing their stress  and preventing the reoccurrence of familiar stress patterns.

The stress workshop also changes the way that you think about stress, allowing you to see it through fresh eyes for what it is and why it is causing anxiety.  This alters the way that the attendees deal with stress on a day to day level, helping to create a motivated, productive and healthy workforce.  Less lost days through sickness due to stress and a happier team is surely a result that every company wants…

Special offer for the Stress Busting Workshop!

At the end of the workshop, the attendees normally go away with some course notes and  MP3’s of a couple of mindfulness exercises (sent to the company to distribute). However, for any bookings made between now and the end of the year, every attendee gets a free CD with these exercises on, as well as a brilliant stress relief hypnotherapy track! The Hypnosis track is over an hour long with beautifully soothing background music along with powerful subliminal suggestions to eliminate stress, improve sleep and leave the listener refreshed and ready to face the trying situations that we come across in our day to day lives.  This could be the best Christmas present you will ever get your employees!

The workshops can be for any time this year or next but must be booked before the end of this year to take advantage of the offer.

For more information about the Stress Busting Workshop, click here.

Get in touch now to arrange the workshops for your workforce for a stress free start to the New Year!

A show that you must see!

Just a quick post to tell you about a fantastic show I saw on Saturday at The Woodville Halls, Gravesend.

Sixth Sense by Luke Jermay

luke jermay

Luke is, in my opinion, one of the best mindreaders in the World.  With a style like no other, Luke has been creating and performing incredible feats of mind reading for many years, as well as being an advisor for Derren Brown, Dynamo and Criss Angel amongst others.

In this intimate show of over two and a half hours, Luke demonstrates his amazing skills, revealing the innermost thoughts of the audience, often causing gasps of astonishment.  The audience at the Woodville Halls studio theatre was entranced and came out all thinking one thing – this man really can read minds!

I happen to know Luke fairly well and have seen his show a couple of times now. But I am always blown away by it and can honestly say that there are quite a few parts of the show which have me completely flummoxed!  His interaction with the audience is at times warm, sometimes cocky, invariably quirky and always fascinating.  I don’t think you will ever see another performer quite like him.  I don’t know why some TV producers haven’t snapped him up, but perhaps it is because he is totally uncompromising in his performance.  Luke is an artist in the very true sense of the word.

There are only a few more dates left on his current tour – you can see when and where he is performing here.

If you can’t get to see his show this time around, then make a mental note to catch him on his  next tour and I can guarantee you won’t be sorry.

A Proactive Stress Strategy

proactive stress strategyIt struck me recently while speaking to HR directors at various companies that whilst many now have a Stress Strategy in place, they mostly tend to be reactive. There may be a helpline to call, or someone that you can talk to when feeling under pressure or stressed and these are to be applauded.  However, very few companies have a proactive stress strategy…

One of the problems with reactive stress strategy is that it relies on a couple of assumptions..

  • That people know when they are stressed
  • They are able to admit they are stressed
  • They know who to talk to
  • They are comfortable talking to a stranger

For some people, the mere mention of the fact that they may be stressed will cause them to clam up as they may feel that this implies that they can’t cope with their job.  For some (particularly men) they may feel it is a sign of weakness and so will ignore all the warning signs and refuse to get help.

The other problem is that whilst talking to someone may help rid them of that particular stress related problem, it doesn’t help them to cope when something else happens that causes them stress.

How many days of sickness does your company lose through stress?

This is why I believe that a proactive stress strategy is essential in any business. This involves giving people techniques that they can use to de-stress (often mindfulness based), creating an “anchor” to help them when stressed and also powerful re-framing ideas that can turn around the way they deal with their everyday problems.

I run a 1 hour Stress Busting Workshop which is suitable for up to 30 people where they will learn all of the above and more.  As a proactive stress strategy it has the following benefits:

  • Cost Effective as it suitable for up to 30 people at once
  • Easily rolled out for the whole workforce
  • No-one has to admit they are stressed
  • A relaxing and fun session that everyone will enjoy

It gives everyone the strategies to cope with any type of stress before it happens, whether at home or at work.  At the beginning of the session the attendees are told that this workshop won’t take away the causes of stress. Instead, it will allow them to manage their own stress levels and re-structure the way they think about stressful situations.  It will also give them powerful techniques that they can use at any time they are stressed to calm down.  One of the most important exercises taught is a meditation technique that they can practice at home for 10 minutes a day.  This will increase everyone’s resistance to stress and could also lead to increased productivity at work.  Each attendee also gets an MP3 which they can use at home of this exercise.

Do you have more than 30 people in your workforce?

If so – I am more than happy to provide a free taster workshop for up to 6 people so that you can try it out and make a valued judgement as to whether it would be suitable for extending to the whole workforce.

Click here to find out more

 

 

The Tyranny of the “Shoulds”

Tyranny of the ShouldsI was recently reading a book on psychology when I came across this resonant phrase, coined by psychologist Karen Horney.  She posited that people have two versions of themselves. The “real” self and the “ideal” self, where the person is continually disappointed because their real lives don’t match up to the lives they imagine they should be leading.

It struck me while reading this that the phrase is as appropriate (if not more) in this day and age.  We are constantly bombarded in the media with unrealistic goals, and being tempted and teased by images of what we should look like, what we should have and what we should have achieved.  This causes discontent and a feeling of being unfulfilled.  This in turn can lead to stress and in some cases financial and relationship problems as to attempt to get what we feel we “should have” we spend more than we can afford.

To me, the biggest concern is that by constantly thinking of what we should have, we are in danger of ignoring the most important thing and that is what we have now.  I feel that all of us would benefit from taking some time out to appreciate the present moment.  After all, time is our most precious commodity – once a moment is gone, you can never get it back again.  So, instead of thinking what “should be”, think of “what is” and appreciate that.  It is raining and cold – instead of thinking “I wish it was warm and sunny”, perhaps stand outside in the rain for a few moments head raised to the heavens and appreciate the marvel of mother nature and the benefits that the rain gives us. Then go inside and warm yourself up with a cup of hot chocolate.

 

Let’s replace the phrase “the Tyranny of the Shoulds” with “The Serenity of Reality”.

Tyranny of the ShouldsLook at the world around you and see the positives, appreciate the beauty of it, smile and laugh often.  Mindfulness exercises are brilliant for this, as one of the key principles behind Mindfulness is becoming aware of the “here and now”.  Accepting things as they are and being fully focussed on the present, putting aside past failures and future uncertainties. Try stilling the hundreds of silly thoughts running through your head and creating a moment of inner peace.  A “mindful” walk can do wonders for you – not thinking about anything except the feelings of walking and your surroundings.  A small moment of meditation to brighten up any day.

Have a lovely day – not worrying about what “should be”, but rejoicing in what is.

For more information about my Stress Busting Workshop click here

The Best Christmas Entertainment Ideas!

Ok, so you have the Christmas Party venue sorted, the food organised and the booze bought….

Do you feel something is missing?

Walkabout entertainment is a great option at any Christmas Party.  But, what to choose?  It can be so difficult in this internet age to be sure that the act you’ve booked is as good as their website says they are.  It is so easy to get some great photos taken and a video starring your friends who say how marvellous you are. Suddenly you get a magician who looks like the next dynamo and when he turns up at your party, is barely able to shuffle a pack of cards!

So, to help you sort the wheat from the chaff – here are a few friends of mine who I have worked with over the years who I heartily recommend for any Christmas Bash:

Best Christmas Entertainment Ideas

Caricaturist

three options here as they are all so good that I can’t choose one over the others

best christmas entertainment ideas - rick coleman

Rick Coleman – a brilliant iPad caricaturist who is great : http://www.caricature.co.uk

best christmas entertainment ideas - Luisa Calvo

Luisa Calvo – probably the busiest iPad caricaturist around : http://www.wickedcaricatures.com

best christmas entertainment ideas - Simon and Sheba

Simon and Sheba Cassini – a quirky, loveable couple who do fantastic caricatures: http://www.bitterandtwisted.org

Close up Magician

You really can’t do better than my very good friend Sav:http://www.deceptionist.co.uk

best christmas entertainment ideas - Sav

The coolest dude around town – Sav is the ultimate party guest!

Silhouette Cutter

best christmas entertainment ideas - Charles Burns

There is only one – the inimitable Charles Burns: http://www.roving-artist.com/charles-burns

Lookalike

best christmas entertainment ideas - Tim Oliver

One to make any office bash go with a bang (get him to do the dance!) my very good friend and Ricky Gervais lookalike Tim Oliver: http://rickygervaislookalike.com

 Spontaneous Poet

best christmas entertainment ideas - Judge the Poet

Certainly something very different, Judge walks around and makes up funny poems on the spot using random words from the audience – amazing! http://www.judgethepoet.com

Stilt walkers and Contact Jugglers

best christmas entertainment ideas - Calvos

Incredible act and lovely guys and a great looking costumes which fit in nicely with Christmas – Calvos: http://calvos.co.uk

And finally – for amazing walkabout mindreading and “weird stuff”……

There’s me!

best christmas entertainment ideas - Alex Crow

For more info about any of the acts, please click on their links and if you want to check my availability and find out how I can make your Christmas Party one to remember, please click here

 

The Impact of Stress

stressI was contacted by a client of mine yesterday who told me that they had been looking at their figures for sickness.  They realised that the overriding reason for sickness was stress and that the impact of stress, both work and home related, was costing the company a lot of money in lost days and lost production.

The reason they contacted me was to ask about my Stress Busting Workshop.

But, it struck me while we were talking, that while companies may try to manage stress the best they can in the workplace by implementing new strategies etc, there is very little they can do about the stress outside of work…

The impact of stress can be expensive to companies and devastating to employees

Relationships, housing, difficult neighbours, money and many more factors cause people to suffer from stress and although not directly related to work, it does impact on their job.  Sickness through home related stress is one obvious result, but stress can have many effects on a work environment.  Lack of concentration at work, snapping at colleagues, shoddy work and poor results, all can be caused by stress.  But what can you do about it?

stress 2

Does your company have a structure in place to help people cope with the impact of stress both at work and at home?

My stress busting workshop is designed to give people strategies to cope with stress both at work and outside of work.  Using Mindfulness and powerful NLP techniques, the attendees go away with many effective ways to manage and cope with stress which are easy to do and can be incorporated into their daily routine.

Now, some people might say “well, I’m not stressed now so there is no point in learning how to cope with it” – I would say that you don’t start shocking the parachute just before you are going to jump out of a plane!   By practicing mindfulness techniques, it will not only prepare you for when or if you get stressed, but also by spending 5 minutes a day on them – you are not so likely to get stressed anyway.  So, daily mindfulness practice is a preventative technique which should be done by everyone.  Not only that, it has been shown to improve creativity and productivity as well!

My stress busting workshop lasts for an hour and is suitable for up to 30 people. At the end of the workshop, everyone comes away with course notes and an MP3 of a fantastic breathing exercise.  Still not sure?  If your company has more than 30 employees, I am happy to come to your offices and give a free taster session for up to 6 people for free! This allows you to see the benefits for yourself before booking for the whole workforce .

Get in contact today and arrange your free taster session or to have a chat about my Stress Busting Workshop can help your company to eliminate stress related sickness.

A great example of body language

Occasionally you come across a photo which is a great example of body language. Such a one popped up yesterday on my newsfeed….

body language at its most obvious

Three of Northern Ireland’s most senior police officers are under investigation for alleged misconduct in public office and criminality that could amount to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Chief Constable George Hamilton (centre), Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris (left) and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton (right).

When I saw this photo, I just knew I had to post about it as it is great example of body language and the hidden (or not so hidden) message that we convey.

I think it would be pretty obvious to anyone that these three gents are not looking very happy.  But it is a great example of how our body language matches how we are feeling internally.

My analysis of their body language

Each are displaying “comfort” gestures which people tend to do when under pressure, but each tells a subtly different story:

The Deputy Chief Constable on the left has his palm wrapped around his face. While some might see this as a sign of boredom, in this case, with his eyes staring at the person in front of them, it seems to me to be more of a challenge. Almost saying “this has nothing to do with me, I’m therefore bored and nothing you are saying is impressing me and making me sit up and take notice”.

The Assistant Chief Constable on the right has his fingers over his mouth, almost as if to stop himself blurting anything out. But if you notice, his second finger is almost in his mouth and certainly touching his lips.  This is a massive comfort gesture which subconsciously simulates the feeling of breast feeding as a baby!  Of course, he won’t be aware of this and would deny this if it was brought to his attention.  He just knows that this makes him feel calmer but chances are, that this is the deeply rooted reason.

The most interesting one for me is the Chief Constable in the middle with his chin resting on his hand.  On first glance, it could be considered a pose which indicates a person is thinking and considering what is being said. But I think it means much more than that.  The look in his eyes clearly shows the seriousness of the matter and if you look at his mouth you can see it is turned down. So,  I think the subconscious reason for his chin resting on his hand is to stop “chin wobble”.  You will have seen this whenever you see someone who is about to cry or is trying not to cry.  The emotions kick in, the mouth turns down and in a effort to stop our selves from crying, our chin starts to wobble.  So, by resting his chin on his hand, he gives it some support and stops the tell tale sign that he is very upset and worried.

Do you agree?

So, there you have it.  Just my opinion of course, but nevertheless a very interesting photo.  Do you agree with me?  Or am I reading too much into one single image.  This is a very good exercise to brush up on our body language reading skills.  Even if you are not right (and often you won’t know), at least you are looking at people in certain situations and weighing up what signs their body language may be giving off. This makes you more aware of what to look for in any real communications you may have.  So, any time you see a photo, try and analyse what is really going on. Try to work out what thought the person may have running through their head. Pretty soon, you will be picking up these signals without even thinking about it.

For more information on Body Language, NLP, Memory Techniques and more – check out my 3 hour workshop which I run for groups of up to 30.

Have a good weekend.

Alex

A new idea for Christmas!

A very inventive event organiser friend of mine came up with a brilliant idea for a small Christmas dinner.  Imagine the scene – you have 12 or so people sitting around the table having a meal.  What can you offer that is a little different in the way of entertainment?  A singer would be too much and there may not be a lot of space for anything too energetic (think a small private room in a hotel here)

A table is set with presents for all…

Now imagine a small table full of boxed presents – small ones, big ones, all shapes and sizes all done up with a bow.  Each of the guests chooses a box and places it on the table as they start their meal.  Now in-between each course they choose which boxes to open as I am introduced…

christmas

A tale of demons a severed finger and a fortune told!

In each box is one or more items and I use the items in a box to create a spell binding mystery  for the group.  It might be a couple of books where the audience members choose some words and I guess what they are.  Or, it could be something more exotic with a book about vampires and a box made from coffin wood.  A strange tale unfolds as the props behave in a strange way to bring about a sharp intake of breath from the guests, followed by laughter.

christmas tale

A spooky story where the spectators try to find the real Jack the Ripper!

Each guest has a box to open – you could even place a small gift into each one as an extra surprise.  A truly unique style of entertainment to serve up to your guests for a Christmas dinner they will  remember for ever.

spooky christmas

An unbelievable Voodoo routine!

Please get in touch to check availability.  But hurry – Christmas dates are filling fast so don’t leave it too long!

Alex

Booking Entertainment? 5 things you should know…

Are you booking entertainment for an event?  Perhaps you are looking at the Christmas Party or some after dinner entertainment for a conference next year?  You may have a Client Networking event that you want to “spice up” or perhaps you are looking for something for your Wedding..

Regardless, next to the Venue, (and possibly the food) the entertainment is probably going to be the most talked about component of the event.  So, it can make the difference between something that is talked about and remembered for weeks and months to come or something that is instantly forgotten.  The pressure is on and you start researching what you could have that will fit the bill…

 

5 factors that may make you choose the wrong entertainment:

 

1. Price

Apart from budgetary reasons, the cost of the entertainment should never be an option.  This may sound like a strange statement, but  you may make a decision on one entertainer over another purely based on their cost. If this is the case,  then you can pretty much bet that you are going to come unstuck.

As a mindreader, I am  lucky because there are not many of us around and we all pretty much charge a similar fee (I’m not counting the magicians that do “some mindreading” – that is like booking a pub singer because he can sing Nessun Dorma and expecting him to be brilliant in your operatic recital).  Consequently, I rarely have people contact me and compare my price to another mindreader.  I must admit to being a little thrown last Christmas when I was speaking to a potential client. After I quoted my fee she said “Oh, don’t worry.  I have spoken to a magician who is cheaper than you!”  Of course you can find someone cheaper – in fact, if you look hard enough, I’m pretty sure you could find someone that will do it for free or next to nothing!  The question is – are they any good?  In my experience, the minimum fee you can expect to pay for a good magician or mindreader is £500+.  Now, of course, you can get a magician for cheaper.  But generally speaking, put a £300 magician next to a £600 magician and you can very clearly see why you are paying the difference.

2. Website

It is easy to get a good website these days relatively cheaply. This makes it is really hard to judge how good someone is purely based on it.  There was even a case a couple of years ago of a mindreader (I don’t think he works much now) who was found out when it was spotted that most of the photos on his website of him in the company of “celebrities were actually taken at Madame Tussauds!  The ones that weren’t had been photoshopped to include him in them.

3. Testimonials

Most websites are littered with them (I have quite a few on my own website). The problem is – how do you know if they are genuine or just made up by the entertainer?  One of the major problems that I have is that I get really nice feedback and testimonials from well known companies. Unfortunately, they then won’t allow their name to be used because it is politically incorrect for them to have “entertainment” at their events.  Consequently, I have to put “corporate client” instead of the company name, which is nowhere near as impressive.  But I have spoken to other entertainers who quite openly have admitted to making up the testimonials on their website.

4. Video

Whilst video can be good indication of a performer, again you have to bear in mind that those fantastic reactions that you see on film could have been staged entirely for the benefit of the camera.  Quite a few well known youtube magicians have been caught out recently using friends in their films, with the reactions being completely fake.  The other thing to bear in mind is that they may use editing and camera tricks to enhance what they do.  It is also very different filming a piece to camera with a couple of people on the street to working a busy room at a networking event.

5. Recommendations

Ok- I know this is counterintuitive (especially as 90% of my enquiries come from this source) and of course recommendations are invaluable, but I just wanted to point out a couple of things to bear in mind.

  • Does the person recommending the act have a similar taste to you?  My brother and I have very similar tastes in music, film, art and theatre and I know if he recommends something to me I am going to like it.  However, my wife and I have very different tastes (particularly in films) and what she says is brilliant may well seem really boring to me)
  •  Are they qualified to recommend someone.  Many an amateur magician gets his head turned when someone says to them “you are brilliant – the best magician I have ever seen, you should definitely be on the TV”.  The chances are that they are the ONLY magician they have ever seen so have nothing to compare them to.
  •  Have they seen them in a similar environment to the one that you are booking the entertainment for?  A close up magician may be fantastic, but are they going to be able to cope with standing on stage and performing a show to 300 people?

So – by all means check out a website, look at videos, read testimonials and listen to trusted friends and colleagues.  But by far the best way to judge is to meet the entertainer and see what they do.  I appreciate this may be difficult if the act is a high wire trapeze act, but it is very easy if it is magician or a mindreader.

I think one of the difficulties with my sort of entertainment is that very few people would think of it independently, yet, when they see it, it gets a far stronger reaction than a magician.  I am always more than happy to come to a meeting to show a potential client what I do – because invariably, when they see it – they want it!
If you can’t meet with the entertainer – at least have a chat to them on the phone as it is much easier to ask the relevant questions regarding experience, previous clients etc (it is much harder to lie on the phone than when hiding behind a computer screen.
Don’t forget – the entertainment is often a key component of an event.  Make sure you get something that will add to it and not be an embarrassment!
Have a good week.
Alex

Incredible Hi Tech Magic!

I recently saw the latest showreel, featuring the Hi Tech Magic of a very good friend of mine, and it was so brilliant, I thought I would do a quick blog about him..Hi Tech Magic

 

Keelan Leyser is a genius when it comes to “iPad magic”!  This is a very popular form of Hi Tech magic nowadays, whether as a walkabout performance or on the stage and Keelan is one of the best in the field.  He is also very busy!  He creates bespoke presentations using iPad magic and is much in demand all over the world.

Keelan’s stage show really has to be seen to be believed – at times it almost looks like you are watching special effects in a film. As a mere mind reader, I don’t do Hi Tech Magic, but if I did, I would want to do stuff like Keelan – it looks so cool!  Keelan is also a really lovely chap and great to work with! We regularly meet up on the corporate circuit when clients want two performers of very different styles.

Check out his amazing showreel here:

and don’t forget to check out his website for contact details and more info :http://keelanleyser.co.uk

Have a good week

Alex