40 pieces of advice nobody asked for

During the Pandemic, I turned 40 years old and despite another lockdown birthday, it was the nicest birthday I’ve had yet. I got lots of video messages from friends and family and spent the weekend with my little family celebrating in our little bubble. When the kids finally came down from the birthday cake sugar high and I sipped on a lovely whiskey gift and spent some time reflecting and feeling grateful. It made me think of where I am and how I got here and what pieces of advice helped me along the way.

So here are 40 pieces of advice nobody asked for.
1) Your mind is like computer software – you can upgrade it at any time. If you grew up in the
70’s, 80’s or 90’s there’s a good chance you were surrounded by some toxic environments
which taught you unhelpful habits. You can unlearn them if they don’t serve the world or your best
2) Be careful how you speak to yourself because your brain will believe it. Many of us would
never dare to speak to someone the way we speak to ourselves. For years I had a damaging
negative internal dialogue that was affecting my confidence and mental health. It took me
years to learn to speak to myself more kindly and any time I catch my inner critic giving me
hassle I acknowledge it as feedback and move on.
3) Let go of any shame you picked up when you were a kid. You didn’t deserve it then and you
don’t deserve it now.
4) You are the product of the people you spend the most time with. We’re social animals and we’re like sponges and we soak it all up. Try to add positive people to that circle and you’ll soak that up too.
5) Your perspective will create your reality. Sometimes things are out of your control but you can control how you see them and this can make the difference between your happiness and your mental health.
6) Writing is a skill that will always benefit you no matter where you go. Job applications,
emails, letters to friends, letters to your kids, articles, loan applications.
7) The mind can be a noisy chaotic place. Getting a sheet of paper and writing down those busy
thoughts will give you clarity and quieten your mind. Similarly, writing down your problems will diminish them in size. If you can name them you can claim them and you’re back in charge.
8) Don’t sweat the little things and in the grand scheme of things, they’re all little things.
9) ‘The body needs movement and the mind needs silence’. Find some exercise that you like
and build it into your day.
10) Similarly, meditate every day. It’s not just a nice serene feeling you’re building resilient
neuropathways that will serve you in times of stress.
11) Get sunshine on your face every morning. It’ll tell your body that it’s morning and set your
clock for the day and you’ll sleep better that night.
12) Own your feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they might feel. Your mind is trying to give
you a message so don’t run from them. Try to resist distracting yourself with your phone, TV,
alcohol or work. If you’re angry, lonely, sad, frustrated, or heartbroken then sit with the feeling, acknowledge the message and let it pass.
13) Take responsibility for everything that matters to you. It’s really empowering when you own
the important things and not make excuses for where you are and what you have.
14) Take responsibility for your health: your body and mind can be subversive and they’ll always
find an excuse not to exercise.

Cian turns 40

15) Take responsibility for your career. If you don’t take the wheel you’re letting someone else
drive your career.
16) Take responsibility for your food. You really are what you eat. You can be a carrot or a sausage.
17) Take responsibility for your relationships. Don’t leave it up to the other person to make an
effort or to make the first move to communicate or to be the first to apologise or be vulnerable.
18) Take responsibility for your rest. We seem to wear exhaustion like a badge of honour – both
internally and externally. The world will demand you keep working but it’s up to you to make time for rest. Your body might get over tiredness but your brain is more sensitive to exhaustion than previously believed.
19) As comforting as it would have been, I’ve never believed that ‘things happen for a reason.’ I
believe you make your own luck with your actions and habits and that ‘Luck is opportunity meets preparation.’ I’ve always felt that I was incredibly lucky in relationships, career and music but looking back I can see it was the work I put into relationships demonstrating that I was talented or open to learning or that I was reliable and easy to work with. These relationships opened opportunities and I was prepared.
20) Don’t let a bad yesterday ruin a good today. If you’ve had a nasty encounter or a conflict and it’s hanging over you like a dark cloud ask yourself is it worth ruining the rest of your day. I don’t know how many times I’ve found myself having an imaginary argument in my head
living out imaginary conflicts before realising I can just stop and think about something else. It’s a much more pleasant existence letting go of things and moving on.
21) Don’t give yourself the excuse of ‘I don’t have time’. Everyone has the same 24 hours they just use it in different ways. If something’s important to you then make time for it, not excuses.
22) Listen to music every day, it’s good for the soul. Create a soundtrack to your life and you’ll feel like the hero of your own movie.
23) Take pride in your work but don’t be too proud to be wrong sometimes.
24) Keep friendships alive with contact. You have to grease the wheels of friendship with contact. Reach out, send a text, write an email and meet up in person. And don’t be embarrassed for reaching out. Women are much better at this.
25) Systematic prejudice and biases exist. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes it’s very subtle but there are systematic invisible barriers and challenges impeding people’s progression in life. Be open to learning about these challenges, be empathetic and be open to helping. If you’re a white straight male the odds are you’ve had it a lot easier than most. (Extra points if you’re from Cork.) The word ‘privilege’ is now emotionally charged so I’ll avoid it but if you’re in an advanced position have a look around and question why and help out.
26) You make your habits and your habits make you. These subtle little fellas can be the difference between success and failure. Have a look at your day and see which habits work for you and which ones you should cut loose.
27) Stay intellectually curious and seek out information. It’ll keep your brain alive, build your confidence and self-esteem.
28) Surround yourself with smart people. If you’re the smartest person in the room then you’re in the wrong room.
29) Be present. Try to ignore distractions in your phone or in your mind and be present in the moment.

30) Genuinely listen to people when they’re talking. Being a good listener is a gift you can give to
someone who needs to talk. And wait until they’re finished instead of wanting to jump in with the great thing you want to say.
31) Having kids is the greatest test of patience you’ll ever have. It’ll serve you to regulate your
emotions or otherwise you’ll unload them on your kids and it’s not their fault.
32) You’re not raising the people they are now, you’re raising the people they’ll become. So be aware of what habits and coping skills you’re teaching them. If you’re flying off the handle and losing it you’re teaching them that’s how they’re supposed to handle things. It’s never easy but there are a few tricks that have helped me:
33) Share your adult calm, not join your kids’ chaos.
34) Treat your kid’s tantrum with empathy. They’re frustrated and angry and can’t communicate
or ask for help and a tantrum is as unpleasant for them as it is for you. Don’t hold it against
them. Treat a tantrum like they’ve fallen and hurt themselves and help them through it.
35) When you have kids and are completely sleep-deprived make time for naps. They use sleep deprivation as torture for a reason.
36) In trying times look for things to be grateful for. There’ve been times at 3am when I’ve found myself walking up and down the hall trying to get my kid to sleep. And instead of indulging in the perceived ‘injustice’, I tried to be grateful I’m not walking up and down the halls of a hospital.
37) Turn up to events occasions. When I was younger with much lower self-esteem I didn’t think
my presence would add anything and I quickly found out showing up actually means a lot to
people. Your presence at a party, table-quiz, gig, open mic, art gallery installation or a funeral could mean the world to someone.
38) Life can be tricky and conflict is inevitable and handling that conflict in a calm manner is a valuable skill. Anger for the most part is hugely unhelpful. I can’t think of a single instance where I got angry and the situation was better as a result. Conversely, when I’ve kept my head and stayed calm it’s helped the situation and my mental health. And I felt a bit cooler like Bruce Willis walking away from an explosion.
39) Having a vice can be great and everyone wants a break from reality and an outlet to let off
some steam. Just make sure your vices are working for you and not the other way around. It’s worth checking in to see if it’s an outlet or a crutch. If the relationship isn’t working out with the vice then break up with them.
40) Try to fit in a hearty laugh every day. Watch or read something funny and indulge in a good belly laugh. Life is far too serious and, in the immortal words of The Frank and Walters,
“You deserve to be happy”.

‘I Love That Ad’ – Foe Podcast

Really enjoyed being a guest on Foe’s Podcast, ‘I Love That Ad’. In my formative teenage years I recalled what really left a mark on me:

  1. Music
  2. Advertising
  3. Culture (and peer pressure 😅)

So it had to be Levi’s amazing ads in the 90’s. Hope you enjoy!

Taking Part in the GOAL Mile Campaign


This year AIB have partnered with Goal for the GOAL Mile – a fantastic fundraising activity that has become an Irish institution over the Christmas period. As part of the AIB Group Marketing Team who would be promoting the activity, I was happy to take part in the early PR shots which featured prominently in the PR collateral. 

The Corbett family PR Shots, skipping through Herbert Park for the Goal Mile 2021
The Corbett Family PR Shots Goal Mile 2021 (Pic Credit: Julien Behal)
Eve and Robyn Corbett GOAL Mile PR, holding a GOAL Mile Instagram Frame (Pic: Julien Behal)
Eve and Robyn Corbett GOAL Mile PR Image (Pic: Julien Behal)
Eve and Robyn Corbett, sitting on a bench in Herbert Park, GOAL Mile PR Image (PIc: Julien Behal)
Eve and Robyn Corbett GOAL Mile PR Image (PIc: Julien Behal)

My little family was only too happy to get involved as the kids got out of school early and my wife got to meet her literary hero, GOAL Mile Ambassador, Paul Howard, author of the hilarious ‘Ross O’Carroll Kelly’ books. 

Paul Howard and Niamh Corbett, GOAL Mile PR shoot

The Digital Campaign itself was a joy to work on with Digital and Social playing key roles in reaching communities across Ireland which featured registration links, Influencer videos we even added a nice GOAL Mile GIF for participants to share their GOAL Mile story.

On Christmas Day itself despite the icy rain, I joined the fantastic crew in Phoenix Park for my local GOAL Mile where we were joined by many of the Dublin GAA team including Dublin stalwarts The Brogan Family. The immense sense of community across Ireland was amazing to see and I look forward to making the GOAL Mile a family Christmas tradition.

Cian taking part in the GOAL Mile at Phoenix Park 2021
Cian taking part in the GOAL Mile at Phoenix Park 2021

Innocent Drinks Linkedin Tone of Voice Masterclass


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In my ten years of lecturing in Social Media, I’ve made no secret of my admiration for Innocent Drinks and their use of Social Media. If you’ve ever really resonated with a brand’s social media content it’s likely that it’s reached you on a human level. That rare moment of connection where you feel a brand really understands you and your life. 

Over Christmas I couldn’t help but admire Innocent’s Linkedin Posts – yeah, Linkedin! 

Did any of the following resonate with you over the Christmas break? 

As well as being thoroughly entertaining these posts serve as a great reminder of creating social content for the channels it will be posted on. That means resisting the temptation to blast your TVC everywhere and instead consider each channel and the nuances of those channels. What I really love about these posts is it not only acknowledges the channel it appears on but the copy anticipates why the viewing audience might be there. This creates a moment of connection through empathy – a subtle wink to the business audience who aren’t there for business purposes but are on Linkedin to potentially escape the family they’ve spent too much time with over Christmas. 

A question I’ve seen in multiple brand recollection studies is, ‘Does this brand get me?’

Well, bravo Innocent Drinks – you spotted me on Linkedin and you got me. And you get me.

Happy Christmas everyone!

Speaking at 3XE Social 2021


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I was delighted to be back at a real-life social media conference to speak about the work AIB has been doing in social over the past 18 months. My presentation titled, ‘Putting the Social Back into Social Media’, examined the refocus of social media from being simply a full-funnel sales solution to a valuable channel to build better relationships with customers.

The key takeaways included:

  1. Social Media was at risk of becoming overly focused on selling and broadcasting
  2. The Pandemic forced customers to move their lives online vastly increasing their time spent on social media platforms meaning more opportunities to connect.
  3. Google’s Matt Brittin noted: “The pandemic has sparked a leap forward of 5 years in our use of digital technology and brands must adapt their approach to customer epxerience accordingly.”
  4. Brands can put the social back into social media by:
    • Choosing Story-Telling over Selling
    • Living their Purpose through Content
    • Creating Acts not Ads.

Playing 3Arena with Frank and Walters and then the Social Media Awards with AIB


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That was an eventful Thursday night!
Had the pleasure of playing on stage in the 3Arena with The Frank and Walters and the Irish Chamber Orchestra🎻

The Frank and Walters onstage at the 3Arena with the Irish Chamber Orchestra as part of Feile Classical

Then jumped on the Luas to Liberty Hall to attend the Social Media Awards. Super proud of the AIB team for picking up 4 Awards:
🥇Gold – Best Instagram Brand
🥇Gold – Best Social Media Strategy for Financial Services
🥈Silver – Best Video Series for Stories of Brave
🥉Bronze for Best in-house Design Team

The AIB Digital Team at the Social Media Awards 2021

I’ll spend the weekend recovering 😅

Putting the Social back into Social Media – Speaking at the CCMA Member Forum


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Having won the best use of Social at the CCMA Awards at the past two CCMA awards, I was honoured to be asked to speak at the CCMA Members Forum event. I called our presentation ‘AIB – Putting the Social back into Social Media’ in which I outlined:

  • AIB’s presence on Social Media
  • The Be Human methodology
  • AIB’s Customer Care social experience process

I was thrilled to share the stage with my colleague Eimear who has been instrumental in implementing our new strategy and was proud of her presentation delivery. You can watch our presentation below and feel free to tweet me if you have any questions.

Cian Speaking at Social Media Dublin 28th January 2021


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I really enjoyed speaking at Social Media Dublin last week – I didn’t realise how much I miss conferences!
And I especially liked Cormac McCann’s campaign for Dublin Rape Crisis Centre titled #100Consent which you can read about here. I thought it was a great example of Influencer Marketing done well and it’s always so great to see Social used for good. 

Hopefully, we’ll get back to physical conferences at some stage next year – without seeing peoples faces I’ve no idea if those social media jokes landed or not!

AIB win Best Use of Digital Channels at CCMA Awards 2020


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2020 will be known for lots of strange behaviours and wearing a tuxedo to stream an event in your attic will be one of them. At least my daughter Eve was willing to get dressed up with me to make it feel like more of an occasion.

Cian and Eve Corbett dressed in tuxedo and princess dress all ready for the CCMA Awards 2020. AIB won Gold for Best Use of Digital Channels in Customer Care.
Cian and Eve Corbett ready for the CCMA Awards 2020

And the effort wasn’t in vain – I’m delighted to report that AIB’s entry won Gold for Best Use of Digital Channels for Customer Care. I’m thrilled for the Social Team for the tireless work they do at @AskAIB and it’s fantastic to see our strategy recognised by our peers.

So it was Ribena and toast in the attic instead of a meal and a pint in the Clayton but hopefully we’ll have another cause for celebration next year.

AIB win 5 Social Media Awards at #Sockies2020

I think we’d all agree that we needed a lift in 2020 and the Social Media Awards certainly gave us that. I’m delighted for our Digital Team for picking up 2 Golds, A Silver and 2 Bronze at #Sockies2020 including Best Social Media Strategy for a Financial Organisation.

Social Media Awards 2020 Winner - AIB for Best Social Media Strategy

And while it’s a shame we couldn’t all be there together this year (I streamed the event from my attic) it’ll be all the more special when we’re hopefully all together at the RDS for Sockies 2021!