Here I sit in the fantastic splendour of Madingley Hall in Cambridge writing the second posting for my blog. I am here today making a video that I hope will reach out to employers who are serious about tackling the stigma of mental health in the workplace. I admit to being a little nervous because the chap who will be interviewing me is a former Managing Director of mine. It is ironic that I will be talking about how I hid my anxiety disorder throughout my career which includes him from 1994 to 1997. Today I will call him Paul but he knows that for the past 22 years I have called him Mr.Cucumber. I suspect that you want to know why but I will save that for another blog. I feel I need to get to know you a little better first.
One thing I did commit to sharing in this blog is the huge role played in my career of Mr.Fish. I could argue that he is the architect behind my brand, part of the fabric that made up my mask that hid my anxiety and he certainly should be on the Christmas card list of Heinz!! Wow that was a big sentence let me attempt to explain how he came in to my life.
I was sitting in a training room in the mid 1980’s waiting for the external trainer to arrive. The room was reasonably silent as there was only about six of us and none of us had met before. Suddenly, the door burst open and a very ordinary man entered in complete silence doing what I can only describe as the ‘breast stroke’. He continued to walk around the room for what felt like a couple of minutes but it was probably only 30 seconds, all the time still doing the breast stroke saying absolutely nothing. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing. He eventually positioned himself at the front of the class and straightened his jacket and tie. He then said these immortal words “Good morning everybody my name is Mr.Fish, whatever you think of my session today you will never forget my name” and I never have. God knows what the session was about by the way!!
Well he made such an impression on me that when I became a sales trainer in 1986 I thought how can I steal this man’s ‘genius’ opening, after all my surname is not Fish its Beeney. Then of course I got it….I will tell them the story of Mr.Fish and give out tins of baked beans saying I’m no Mr.Fish but my name is Beeney and hopefully you’ll remember me. I reckon in the past 30 years I have given out over 1,000 tins of Heinz baked beans!!
Looking back now, although it has resulted in a lot of humour in and outside of the classroom I had a real purpose for giving out tins of beans. My own anxiety was usually at its worse at the start of a session with new people. The act of giving out beans didn’t just help the attendees in the room to relax, it got the session off to a fun start and massively reduced the chances of me having a panic attack. Just like getting my balls out at a conference it was not purely the act of someone very creative but the act of someone hiding a mental health issue. It has become part of my brand and I owe a lot to Mr.Fish.
In my pursuit to stop people suffering in silence with anxiety and depression I will be speaking to hundreds of employers and likely to give out 1,000 tins of beans a year. My daughter’s boyfriend works for Heinz and is under huge pressure to get them to be one of my sponsors!!
In the next posting on my blog, I will share the dangers of getting into the same lift as me and my desire to get naked.
Tags: mental health
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