A view from Mike Etherington

Lack of depth hinders an otherwise interesting read

Mike Etherington, former UK and Ireland marketing director, Lenovo, reviews Jolt by Richard Tyler

The predicament we all face as marketers today is how we can make our companies stand out from the crowd.

Universal kudos is always given to the likes of Apple, GoPro, Red Bull and Coke for their creative and innovative marketing campaigns, but what learnings can we take from them and how can we use this information to improve our own work?

Jolt aims to inspire and effect the type of behavioural change needed for us to upgrade our own thinking in order to drive extraordinary success.

Written by former actor, turned "chief possibility architect", Richard Tyler, the book focuses on the insight he has gathered from years spent in the acting world and his experience coaching senior executives, to take the reader on a reflective journey. He argues that you don’t need to be a creative genius to change the world, but that even those with an ordinary or mediocre set of talents can achieve remarkable things with incredible perseverance.

Tyler uses the concept of  'Jolts', or moments of realisation, to get the reader to examine every facet of their working lives. By reassessing our views on failure, accountability and vulnerability, Tyler maintains that any individual can become better than great. Embracing possibility by asking the right questions, creating the right conditions in which to think, and increasing sensory overload to get ideas flowing, is the only way to unleash creativity.

For the most part, Jolt is an interesting read. Tyler’s views and ideas make sense, but trying to cover such a vast array of information in a relatively small book results in only a surface examination of key creative and management attributes. Tyler needs to spend more time discussing in greater depth case studies from his years in consultancy, rather than his time in musical theatre.

Trying to cover such a vast array of information in a relatively small book results in only a surface examination of key creative and management attributes - 3/5

As a standalone business management book, Jolt is fairly light-hearted, but would make a good companion to other titles aimed at improving management performance. Its key message is clear: leaders and organisations need a continual shake-up in order to remain relevant. Complacency will kill your business. However, by learning to be observant and identifying triggers, we can improve our own management performance.

Stepping out of our comfort zone is scary. What is better – becoming a better leader, or descending into a career of irrelevance?


Key takeouts


  • No one can get by playing it safe in the workplace. You can no longer excel by delivering good work alone; only by listening out for new and emerging trends will you become an extraordinary leader.
  • Inertia breeds ordinary, and as a result, ordinary ensures inertia becomes the organisational mindset. Being brave and continually road-testing new ideas helps unleash creativity. Over-planning and constant deliberation also results in loss of courage.
  • Making a 180° change is overwhelming for any team, but making constant tweaks can have an outstanding effect. Tyler uses the example of parallel tracks, by simply making a 1° change in direction, 50 miles down the line, the two tracks will be a mile apart.
  • Feedback can be liberating. However, rather than concentrating on what is going wrong, offering suggestions and insights or feeding forward helps to make positive changes to a project.
  • Change your language to change the story. Language can paralyse forward thinking, "try", "don’t", "but", "should" and "maybe" are dangerous words that can limit action. Choosing masterful words like "will and "do" can shape an enabling mindset.
  • Becoming a brilliant leader, a creative genius, or an extraordinary visionary isn’t a destination, it’s a journey and something you have to continually assess and address for the duration of your career.

Jolt by Richard Tyler is published by Capstone.