Nigel Cumberland

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Nigel Cumberland is a British author, leadership coach, and a founder of The Silk Road Partnership. He is the author of at least eight self-development and leadership skills books, a number of which have been translated into foreign languages, including into Arabic, Bulgarian, Slovakian, Dutch, Romanian, Russian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese. His books include 100 Things Successful People Do: Little Exercises for Successful Living (2016).

"Preparation and planning are everything - ask any chef"


"If you deny a toddler the chance to play and then put him in a preschool where he is always competing and being measured, you get fear and that leads to an unwillingness to take risks. You end up with boring adults."

Miscellaneous Quotes in the Press (2002-Present)[edit]

Your Job-Hunt Ltd – Advice from an Award-Winning Asian Headhunter (2003)[edit]

(Published by Pilgrims Guides in 2003; ISBN 0-9532796-5-0 and in Hong Kong Chinese by Wan Li Book Co. Ltd. In 2004; ISBN 962-14-2809-2
  • Poor quality job-hunting can be the surest way of remaining without work, of being depressed and of feeling that life has no direction.
    • p.13
  • Yes, first impressions do count but every single impression counts. You cannot fake being positive, but you can practise and teach yourself to appear and act in a positive manner.
    • p.18
  • Employers do not wish to hire victims, rather they try to hire balanced and flexible people who do not blame others for their situation.
    • p.21
  • Employers are not going to hire a candidate who is stressed by cashflow and family problems. With this kind of baggage around your neck, you will choke your job-hunting opportunities.
    • p.25
  • Rather than let the rejections deter you from your objectives, simply aim to learn what the rejections teach you.
    • p.35
  • Even if you are penniless and desperate for any type of paid employment, you must work out what are the ideal jobs for you if you want to avoid future upset.
    • p.42
  • If you don’t know where you are heading, no employer is going to hire you to give you a lift to ‘Don’t know where land’!
    • p.45
  • Be able to sell ice-cubes to Eskimos – you may have to!
    • p.65
  • I am often asked when can you stop networking. I would say never – networking should be a lifelong activity.
    • p.75
  • Everything matters and the little things do count in life..So often in this fast world we forget the importance of effective communication.
    • p.91
  • Preparation and planning are everything - ask any chef.
    • p.99
  • No one owes you a job, least of all the person across the table interviewing you!
    • p.105
  • Whatever you start, finish well!
    • p.109
  • No longer be one of the many job-hunters who are blinded by your ignorance and self-confidence, who after a lengthy period of unemployment still feel that the world owes them a living.
    • p.126

Successful Recruitment in a Week (2012)[edit]

(Teach Yourself series - published by Hodder Education in UK & McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. in US in 2012)
  • Today knowledge and human capital are becoming an organisation’s key resources, and the ability to find, attract and retain talent has become an essential skill that any successful organization must embrace.
    • p.2
  • Hire people who can deal with crisis and uncertainty
    • p.119

Managing Teams in a Week (2013)[edit]

(Teach Yourself series - published by Hodder Education in UK & McGraw-Hill Companies Inc. in US in 2013)
  • Very few people can succeed in their careers without having to manage, supervise and lead other people...virtually everyone is part of a team, and at some point in their working lives they must take a leadership role – if only to chair a team meeting or a project in their boss’ absence.
    • p.2
  • Any team, consciously or unconsciously, agrees a set of understandings around which all of their thinking and activities are organized. This is your team’s culture.
    • p.108

Secrets of Success at Work – 50 techniques to excel (2014)[edit]

(Published by Hodder & Stoughton in UK & McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. in US in 2014; ISBN 978 1 473 60024 9 and also published as 50 Segredos do Sucesso no Trabalho by Self-desenvolvimento Pessoal in Portugal in 2015; ISBN 9789898781352
  • It is better to struggle at work you really enjoy than to succeed in work you find boring and which fails to excite you.
    • p.5
  • Knowing ourselves is one of the most important skills that we must possess if we hope to improve how we work and interact with others.
    • p.6
  • You may discover that part of your problem is that you accept too much work and do not say no enough times.
    • p.18
  • Being a person that others can trust is one of the most sought after qualities in the workplace today. So many leaders and their staff have shown in the recent global financial crisis a lack of trust and integrity amongst themselves and with their clients and other stakeholders.
    • p.19
  • Remember above all to be true to yourself. It is ok to act and to pretend that something is ok, but admit the truth to yourself.
    • p.23
  • Do not become someone who regrets leaving a job or resigning from a company when with hindsight you realize you should have stayed longer and stuck it out.
    • p.29
  • Life is too short to spend too long at work and also to waste your time while in the workplace.
    • p.36
  • The working world needs more empathic leaders, staff and colleagues. A person’s high level of empathy will make up for a wide array of other skills and attributes.
    • p.37
  • Help others to explore the challenges and problems facing them through what is called coaching. This is not sports coaching where a coach would simply tell others what to do, but is a work-based form of coaching, sometimes called executive coaching.
    • p.47
  • Successful people in the workplace like to recognise and to congratulate those around them. Too often we forget to thank and to recognize when someone else has done a great job.
    • p.51
  • Unless you work in a cave as a solitary hermit, your entire working life will involve connecting with various people...Do not wait until you have a particular issue or problem before re-connecting with someone.
    • p.60
  • The most successful people in the workplace are those who normally really like and ‘buy-into’ their employer’s mission and vision. In other words such people like what the company wishes to achieve and where it is heading. It is akin to being on a ship and liking what the ship is doing and liking where the ship is heading. Can you imagine being on a ship and not wishing to go where it is heading?
    • Page 62
  • The working culture in an organization is rarely spoken about and is often only discussed when someone is critical about where they are working. This is a shame as the working culture influences and affects everything around you.
    • p.70
  • Mastering and navigating around office politics is never easy and there are times when you may simply be on the receiving end of some negative gossip or rumours.
    • p.75
  • It is surprising how blind we can be to what we are communicating both verbally and non-verbally.
    • p.77
  • Humans do not seem to like changing and the majority of people with whom I have worked actually hate leaving the status quo of their comfort zones.
    • p.80
  • By trying to do what is right will often entail you having to disagree with others, and this is not easy. Once you start doing it more often, you will find it easier.
    • p.89
  • Learn to become like Britain’s wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who found that those moments of having to be humble and having to ‘eat his own words’ were invaluable.
    • p.98
  • We live in a world in which everything seems to needed now and working quickly is normally viewed as a positive attribute in the workplace...Do not let yourself become too frazzled and stressed by doing everything at high speed.
  • As I have coached hundreds of individuals in the workplace, I have discovered that we waste precious time by delaying and procrastinating. We might know that the work is very urgent and important but we still might find ourselves being slow to start the task.
    • page 100
    • p.102
  • Stress can be a killer and is far too prevalent in today’s workplaces. You may not die because of stress but stress can easily kill your energy levels, motivation, relationships, health and mindset.
    • p.107
  • Good decision-making is like playing chess and you must avoid making hasty decisions without thinking of how that particular decision will impact on different aspects of your work and organization. The worst kind of decision-making is to decide to delay a difficult decision until later or to pass it to someone else to have to make. You will never excel and be valued by your colleagues if you get into these habits of procrastination and passing responsibility to others.
    • page 170
  • Many people find it hard working with their boss and often leave their jobs because of their boss’ working style, behaviours and attitude. I once heard someone say, “I joined the company, but I left my boss”.
    • page 184
  • Too many teams are dysfunctional and are plagued with poor communication, lack of direction, selfishness and little sharing – they are teams only in name. To create a high performing team the key is to align all members of your team so that each member is moving in the same direction and understands their role and contribution. A good analogy is to think of a team of rowers where if the each rower is not totally aligned with all the other rowers the boat might go around in circles or even capsize.
    • page 190
  • Diversity is a very popular business topic today while the negative side of diversity, discrimination, remains a touchy and sensitive topic. Even in organisations which follow the letter of the law in terms of not discriminating against any individuals, it is common for people to show prejudice and bias...Have the courage to stand out from your colleagues by being very open to and comfortable with all kinds of diversity amongst your colleagues and stakeholders. When you sense someone is being ignored or marginalized spend time with them and bring them into discussions encouraging them to speak up as needed.
    • page 198
  • Seek feedback on a spontaneous basis. After you have completed a particular task do get into the habit of asking colleagues for feedback about how you performed. The best feedback is the instantaneous kind where feedback is given as soon as something has happened
    • page 200
  • Always be honest with yourself about how you are feeling, no matter what kinds of emotions might be building up inside of you. ...Pretending to ourselves that we are not feeling something, does not make that emotion disappear.
    • page 204
  • Some people seem to operate on an auto-pilot and when they become emotional they immediately react. What triggers you to react in a potentially negative way at work?
    • Page 205
  • It is not just a question of needing courage to do something. There may also be a cost of not acting in the first place and sometimes doing nothing is not an option, with the challenge being to minimize the potential risks of any choice you do make.
    • page 210
  • The best way to learn something is from experience – to actually try doing the task or activity. Great learnings can come when you face challenge and difficulty and when you might not succeed.
    • Page 214
  • So many people give up too easily and as a result they never achieve the level of work success that might otherwise have been possible. People might overcome any hesitation in trying out something once, but in the face of the first setback, rejection or failure the majority of people would not continue and would simply give up. It is impossible to excel in your job and career if you are part of this majority - you would be leaving the minority who would be persevering, trying again and in many cases eventually succeeding. Can you imagine how many other light bulb inventors tried, failed and gave up during the time that Thomas Edison was showing amazing resilience by trying again and again until he eventually succeeded. Not giving up in itself is a form of excelling and would enable you to stand out amongst your colleagues.
    • Page 216
  • Mentoring is a combination of skills and you would find your own mentoring style as a result of your work experience, personality and work environment...Mentoring is more of an intention and mindset as opposed to a specific set of skills or processes and it is never too late to start mentoring and helping others.
    • Page 226-7
  • The best method of ensuring that you will leave a great legacy behind is to plan and to work on your legacy while you are still working and the
    • Page 232
  • Always ask yourself: “How would I like to be remembered after I have left and moved on?”
    • Page 235

Management in 4 Weeks – the Complete Guide to Success Teach Yourself series (2015)[edit]

(Published by Hodder & Stoughton in UK & McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. in US in 2015; ISBN 978 1 473 605 268
  • Leading a group of people in a team involves so many variables including each team member’s personality, expectations, experience and ambitions. Putting a group of people together can produce all kinds of outcomes – sometimes negative...The role of a team leader or manager is to minimize any potential negative outcomes while maximizing the positive potential of the team.
    • p.249

Finding and Hiring Talent in a Week – Teach Yourself series (2016)[edit]

(Updated new edition of Successful Recruitment in a Week – Teach Yourself series) (published by John Murray Learning in UK & Quercus in US in 2016)
  • However recruitment is also an art and involves developing people and leadership skills that cannot be totally taught. Only through experience can you become a better judge of whether a certain candidate will be the best fit for a particular job role, company culture and management style.
    • p.2

Leading Teams in a Week – Teach Yourself series (2016)[edit]

(Updated new edition of Managing Teams in a Week – Teach Yourself series; published by John Murray Learning in UK & Quercus in US in 2016)
  • We live in a world of teams made up of all kinds of people. We see this every day on TV, in newspapers and on the web – it might news about a winning sports team, a company’s leadership team who have succeeded in buying another company or it might be a about a group of homeowners who have won a battle against a big developer.
    • p.2

100 Things Successful People Do: Little Exercises for Successful Living (2016)[edit]

(Published in UK by John Murray Learning in 2016; ISBN 978-1473635043
  • Do you have what it takes to succeed in life, in work and in your relationships?
    • Intro to the book
  • What does success mean to you? What kind of success would you like in your life?
  • Success is the accomplishment of any number of possible aims, dreams, aspirations or goals. It’s very personal and unique to you. Your greatest desire could be someone else’s idea of hell; you might want to be an award-winning chef while your best friend hates cooking.
  • Dreams are the fuel for your success. Without them there can never be any meaningful and lasting success in your life. Like a car engine without high-quality fuel you risk living a life that never quite gets started.
  • Successful people never forget what they love to do and are passionate about. They quickly learn to follow their own path and to make the right choices, no matter how crazy or unpopular they might appear to others. Just look at Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, who quit studying at a prestigious university to pursue his dreams.
  • Saying ‘I don’t know’ takes guts but it’s an immensely positive reaction and a clear sign that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Knowing when you don’t know the answer and being honest about it is one of the greatest skills you can have. If you aim to be perfect, you’ll only end up disappointed. When you admit your blind spots, people will flock to support you.
  • Life is unpredictable and uncertain. You can never be right all the time. Sometimes the best thing to do is to chill, step back, admit you could do with some help and stop taking yourself so seriously.
  • Successful people never rely upon chance or fate.
  • You might look at someone successful and think they got lucky – a case of being in the right place at the right time perhaps? The truth is, every piece of good fortune is the result of hours, or even years, of hard work and preparation.
  • Never resign yourself to what the future holds. I coach too many individuals who have given up on trying to influence their future. They have abdicated responsibility, giving all kinds of lame excuses, blaming bad luck or other people for their lives to date and what the future holds.
  • It is too easy and simplistic to feel that, if you have not succeeded yet, you will not succeed in the future. Overcoming fatalistic thinking is essential if you really want a great future.
  • Not allowing what happened in the past to determine your future starts in your mind. What you think and feel is key. Are you able to say and believe that you are creating your own future or, to paraphrase the William Ernest Henley poem ‘Invictus’, that you are the master of your fate?
  • It’s easy to laugh at someone like celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who swears and shouts in his kitchen, but to ensure a successful life you must avoid making others sad, unhappy or fearful. To do this, you have to learn to keep your emotions in check.
  • If you need to get upset or angry with someone, do so in a very conscious way so that you don’t lose control or react without thinking. You cannot spend your life apologizing for having lost control of your emotions.
  • True empathy is not about waiting to understand another person; it is about proactively seeking to do so. It takes effort to give another person your full time and attention; to ask others how they are feeling and if they coping well with things. And don’t overlook those closest to you. Never take anyone for granted. Avoid being too preoccupied to sit down and talk with your children, partners and colleagues.
  • Unless you think that the majority of people are living successful lives, chances are that at some point you will have to act differently from those around you. Success can take many forms and it is often about standing out from the crowd or being above average, spotting when the crowd moves one way and making sure that you move the other.
  • Thinking and doing the opposite of what the majority is doing isn’t about being different for the sake of being different. There are lots of times when the well-trodden path is the right one to take. Your challenge is to know when it will be in your interest to do the opposite.
  • Doing the opposite might make you feel uncomfortable. It can be scary and make you feel lonely and exposed. It is never easy to be seen as going against the grain and ignoring the advice of your colleagues, friends or family, but if you are prepared to explain what you are doing and why, they will come round.
  • Do you enjoy your work? Are you happy to get out of bed each morning and dress for the office? If you answered ‘no’ to either of these questions, you are not alone. In a 2014 Conference Board survey, 52 per cent of Americans claimed to be unhappy at work and in a recent CIPD study 23 per cent of Britons claimed to be looking for a new job. In the same survey only about one-third claim to feel engaged with their work. You can see the effects of this in absence, stress and depression. In fact, you can see it in the rush hour in the tired and sad-looking faces of so many commuters.
  • The majority of people I coach are unhappy or dissatisfied with their working lives. They describe their work in so many depressing ways – as ‘boring’, ‘tedious’, ‘mind-numbing’, ‘stressful’, ‘painful’ or even ‘scary’. I hear similar opinions as I travel the world from all types of people no matter what their background, education or choice of career.
  • Unless you have retired or inherited a fortune, you need to work to fund your life. You owe it to yourself to ensure that your working day can be as positive and enjoyable as possible – so much fun that it does not feel like work anymore.
  • If you are unable to change many aspects of your work, you must alter your mindset – learning to stop thinking about your work as boring or dull; viewing the glass as half full rather than half empty; finding the positives in your daily work and career.
  • Start each day badly and you wave success goodbye. How you start anything plays a key part in how successful you will be. This is true for how you begin each day. Everyone knows the adage about ‘getting out of bed on the wrong side’ – it may not be literally true but metaphorically it is 100-per-cent correct.
  • You cannot change your past, only the way you think and feel about it. When you look back, is there anything you remember that troubles or upsets you? Do you regret missed opportunities, failed relationships or people that you hurt? Do you feel guilt over things you did wrong and poor decisions made, or anxiety over what people did or said to you?
  • Be careful that your memory is not biased – recalling the negatives and forgetting the positives of past events. It is easy to think that you were hurt or upset in the past when in truth you might have only partially understood or remembered what actually occurred.
  • During your typical working day how often do you stop and take a break, step away from your desk to recharge? Too few breaks can kill your productivity.
  • The business author Stephen Covey explains it well using logging as an analogy – when you are trying to saw a tree down you must take breaks to sharpen your saw. Being a workaholic and failing to do so will leave you blunt and useless.
  • ‘Once you stop learning, you start dying.’ I first heard this maxim by Albert Einstein in my twenties. At the time I thought it was nonsense. How wrong I was. Learning and success are totally interlinked. Do not make the mistake of thinking that learning ends when you complete your final exams.
  • Thankfully, life is a university. Everything that you do or experience can teach you something, triggering inside you new thoughts, insights and realizations. You might be inclined to forget or ignore experiences that did not go well. Don’t. Learning from your mistakes and things that cause you pain is invaluable. The greatest lessons can come from the lowest moments in your life.
  • Do you ever consciously try to sense your gut feeling by asking yourself, ‘What do I feel about this person, situation or decision?’ Trusting your gut can help you in the workplace and beyond. The danger is when you let external noise drown out what it’s telling you, letting other people’s views and opinions take priority over your own.
  • You might find the idea of listening to your gut feelings odd or even ridiculous. Some people I coach, normally left-brain individuals who use logic and facts all day like engineers or accountants, are not used to following their intuition and feelings. Instead of asking themselves ‘What do I feel?’, they are more comfortable asking ‘What do the facts tell me?’
  • The most powerful way of being able to listen to your own intuition is by being silent. Find a quiet space, slow down and calm your mind. Your goal is to eliminate all that noise going through your head – all those thoughts that appear from nowhere.
  • Stress can destroy your life.
  • Stress ruthlessly puts out your dreams and robs you of your happiness. It can destroy your health, lead to tensions at home and ruin your career plans. It strikes when you are not at peace or uncomfortable with aspects of your life – and pretty much anything can bring it on.
  • Your overall aim must be to try to live a stress-free life. This can involve making some difficult choices such as spending less time and energy with certain people or in particular situations. It might involve resigning from a very stress-filled job or walking away from an abusive relationship.
  • A truly successful life is one filled with friends so it helps if people like being around you. If you suspect they don’t, have a think about how strongly you exhibit ‘likeable’ qualities such as listening well, being trustworthy, kind, generous, compassionate, fun, positive and unselfish. The good news is that you can learn such qualities even if they don’t come naturally to you.
  • Try to be likeable but stay true to your self. There will be times when you have to do or say something at the expense of being popular. If you’ve built up enough goodwill, you’ll get away with it. People understand that difficult decisions have to be made and, if you’ve paid enough into your ‘likeability deposit’, they will hate the decision but not the person making it.
  • There may be moments in your life when you have to choose between ‘being liked’ and what you really want to do. Imagine your future spouse is a vegan and does not enjoy being with people who eat meat. Could you imagine putting aside your beliefs and feelings, to show support, love and understanding for your partner’s?
  • Successful people are the ones who say ‘yes’ when others say ‘no’. What would you say if you were offered a job promotion overseas? Would you go for it? What would you say if your partner suggested a new holiday destination, say, Greenland. Would you give it a try?
  • OK, so saying ‘yes’ is great – but saying ‘yes’ where you mean ‘no’ will never be a winner for you.
  • Saying ‘yes’ to major life decisions when inside you are crying out to say ‘no’ is more serious. Doing the opposite of what you feel is right can destroy your chances of achieving your dreams and goals. I have coached too many people who regret going with the flow on major life decisions and now need help living with the consequences.
  • The choice is yours. As much as you might want to be loved and thanked, you can’t please everyone in your life all the time without causing one person to suffer – you.
  • Real success is about helping other people succeed. To be well educated in a society of increasing illiteracy is not real success; neither is to be well fed and healthy while millions die of malnutrition.
  • Stop worrying about what you cannot control. It’s a total waste of your energy, energy that could otherwise be used to help you focus on what you can influence. I spend large parts of my coaching sessions helping people to sift through their challenges and concerns – helping them to determine what they can change and what they have no control over.
  • You do not need to be a millionaire to feel successful or be successful. Financial wealth is only one of many possible indicators of success. However, to achieve your dreams and life goals you’re going to need money. And making it requires financial planning and goalsetting. I do not know of any successful person who has been able to simply ignore their finances.
  • But how do you come ‘offline’ when so much of our daily lives is moving ‘online’? Every month new sites and online services are launched. If you need to check anything – about a new school for your children, medical treatment, tourist destination or recipe – you go online. Bill Gates put it so well when he called the Internet the ‘town square for the global village of tomorrow’.
  • Could you spend a week or even a day without reading your emails, using social media or going online? Someone recently joked with me that having Internet access is more important than having food or water.
  • Success requires a focused attention of your time and energy. This is true no matter what you want to achieve – to change the world or simply change apartments. All success stories come down to one person having a focused aim – so focused at times it can look like an obsession.
  • Stop trying to be a Jack-of-all-trades and be a master of one thing. Whether it’s writing an email, kicking a ball around with your kids, driving through the city or simply being alone and meditating. For those ten minutes you’re doing something – or for whatever period of time it takes – do it with 100-per-cent focus.
  • The new disease of our age is being OK doing everything at exactly the same time.
  • Love is either a wonderful thing or a psychological disorder depending on your perspective. One thing is clear: successful people are powered by love as a positive force.
  • The secret to your success lies in surrounding yourself with sustainable love, and that starts with loving yourself. This is your hardest challenge. Through hundreds of hours spent coaching I have observed a common pattern – we can easily express our love for other people, possessions or experiences but find it difficult to say we love ourselves.
  • Sometimes planning a major change or U-turn in life can leave you with feelings of guilt; a sense that you have failed somehow or been forced to start over. Do not feel guilty or embarrassed. Reinventing yourself is an essential process if you want to grow and flourish.
  • Working yourself into the ground serves no one. It only decreases your chances of living a long and healthy life. Do you really want to sacrifice your health and long life for a big house, fancy car and hefty bank account?
  • Refusing to forgive never made anyone feel better about anything. All you are doing is holding on to feelings of upset, anger and jealousy and that can never be good. I once read that being angry and unforgiving towards someone else is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

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