Brain Food: Speaking Out - Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough

Mallon may have his faults, but being humble isn't one of them. Who can forget his robust 'Robocop' TV appearances when he brought zero tolerance to Teesside, a policy that eventually set him against some of his Cleveland Police bosses? He bounced back two years ago when, standing as an independent, he was elected Mayor of Middlesbrough. It's clear he has learnt from his experience. Addressing a chief executives' summit in Dublin, Mallon said in strong north-eastern tones: 'I'm here to talk about Middlesbrough, not Ray Mallon.' It was going to become a designer label city, he said. And this would happen on the four pillars of environment, regeneration, transport and business. He went on to say how he was courting a Leeds restaurateur to set up in Middlesbrough, whose main concern was the likelihood of his clientele's cars being broken into. Mallon apparently persuaded him that car crime had plummeted in Middlesbrough. 'He's coming to see me next month and he will open his restaurant.' There's no doubting Mallon's passion, but his presentation sometimes verged on the menacing, and some of his management-speak seemed naive.

Yet he had his audience eating out of his hand. They know where Middlesbrough is now; whether they'll set up business there is another matter.

Key moment: The revelation that Mallon went to Dubai to persuade the head of the biggest property developer there to come to Middlesbrough to create 'another desert development in another kind of desert'.

Key lesson: Self-knowledge is a valuable asset. It can turn a potentially hostile audience.

Silver tongue or foot in mouth? ... Silver tongue

- Khalid Aziz is chairman of the Aziz Corporation and a professor of business communications at Southampton University - khalid@azizcorp.com.

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