• Paul Rutherford


So, you've built a very successful business. You've put heart and soul into it, burnt the midnight oil, taken risks, made sacrifices, reached your goals. You are now richer that Croesus and more famous than the Queen. Next step? The business biography. You interview some 'co-writers', select one you like, set to work and within a few months your draft is off to the printers. The promotional tour is arranged, the Oprah / Richard & Judy sessions diarised, the launch party on your yacht is in hand. Then the publisher calls: "What are we going to put on the front cover?" Well obviously, it's going to be a picture of you; after all, you are your brand. But you doing what? Sitting behind your desk; shaking on a deal; walking the golf course? No; it's going to be a portrait, direct into the camera. You're going to connect with the reader. You're a straight talking exec, so you're going to look them straight in the eye. All well and good. But the big question is still unanswered: what are you going to do with your hands? Can't decide? Then here's the Business Bio Arms Guide. Body language speaks volumes: chose carefully.


The Defensive Cross is the most popular option (see left, and many others in the genre), even though it makes you look like you may have something to hide - which, given the frank advice you're offering, is counter-intuitive. Facial expression is important here. Too smiley, and it'll look like you're giving yourself a hug because you're so wonderful. Too serious, and you'll look like a nightclub bouncer (but hey - you 'mean business'). .

The Iococca Lean is only a safe choice at the end of your tenure.

Hands linked at the back of your head, body angled back in your seat, shirt under-arms displayed for the world to see - this is a great pose if you're running a dry cleaning business, but otherwise you'll seem incredibly smug.

Especially if the business that you personally saved is now dependent on multi-billion dollar government bail outs.

The Engaging Clasp. Don't lean back, lean forward. Rest your forearms on your knees, and interlock your fingers.

The readers will be interested in you because you are be interested in them. You are the warmer, softer, more human side of business. It doesn't all have to be swearing and fighting.

This is not a polemic; it's the beginning of a dialogue.

The Cool Cut really only works if you're in the fashion business.

Look like you've spent too much time worrying about your appearance and you'll look like you've spent too much time, well, worrying about your appearance. But that's OK if you have fashion in your portfolio.

Careful about your hands, though: for every person who sees you as nonchalant and debonair, there'll be someone else thinking that you're counting your change.

Shoulder the Blame. Only to be undertaken when all the skeletons are already out of the cupboard and it's time to clean house. More a confessional than a self-celebration, it only works for those who can handle a little humility and are willing to be stand-up, admit mistakes, learn and move on.

A paradox, this one. The least appealing look, but you probably have the most to teach.

The Supporting Hand(y). Do not attempted if you do not have time to listen to Thought for the Day, never mind to write one. Probably not suited to those still in the thick of things.

Can make you look like you're listening to a conch shell, but that's okay because it implies deep seated, at-one-with-the-real-world wisdom.

The Trump. Just don't.

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#humour #people #business

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