Fri Aug 04 2017
Left-handed, lefty, southpaw, mollydooker…whatever you call it (mollydooker is Australian slang, apparently), being left-handed could actually be a distinct advantage. Not just in sport, but in life and business too. And as a retailer, the dominant hand might determine which way people turn when they enter your bricks and mortar store.
Left Handers Day is on 13th August every year - here are five interesting facts about why it matters, peppered with some famous left-handers. While we’ve got you, we suggest you don’t do an online search for ‘names for left-handed people’, it’s not the most flattering of lists.
Being left-handed in sport is often coveted by right-handers, probably because lefties can be harder to mark, can play the non-dominant side of the field with ease and sometimes have the element of surprise on their side. The same isn’t so overtly true in business. In fact, in writing this we realised we have no idea which colleagues are left-handed and which are right.
However, a quick bit of research throws up some interesting facts and surprising stats about the world’s left-handers. Here are five of our favourites.
A whole string of lefties have taken their seat in the Oval Office, from Gerald Ford (1974-1977) and Ronald Regan (1981-1989), to George H. W. Bush (1989-1993), Bill Clinton (1993-2001) and Barack Obama (2009-2017). Whether or not they were good leaders we’ll leave up to you, but interesting that while just 10% of the world’s population is left-handed, five of the last eight (62.5%) US Presidents have been lefties.
And if you’re a fan of the Royal Family, you might also be interested to know that Queen Elizabeth II (and her mother, the Queen Mother), Prince Charles and Prince Williams are all left-handedi.
Are you a left-handed leader?
Studies have found that the right hemisphere of the brain is more developed in left-handed people, than in those favouring their right hand. And that’s the side of the brain said to be more involved in creative thinkingii. And with Bill Gates, Henry Ford Jr., Albert Einstein and Marie Curie all part of the left-handed club, this potential increased creativity could mean southpaws the world over are destined for great things…
It’s certainly true of Paddy Moogan, co-founder of digital marketing agency AIRA. We found out if he thinks he’s creative, and discovered he’s a very proud left-hander…
To me, it means being able to think differently to other people on a particular thing which allows you to see solutions/ideas that others may not see as easily or as quickly. This implies that anyone can be creative if they can get outside the norm and think differently. I think it also means being prepared to challenge how things are done and then change how things are done based on what you find.
Honestly, I wouldn't describe myself as creative in the perhaps ‘normal’ sense of the word, but I'd like to think that I fit within my own definition above. I know that I'm someone who tends to think quite logically about things and enjoys seeing/working through processes when it comes to solving problems. Logic isn't necessarily seen as creative, which is where I think the idea that I'm not creative comes from!
I think the way that I run our business is different to how most approach it. We put a lot of trust in the team to get their jobs done without strict processes or procedures. We like to hire people who are smart and ambitious with the idea that everything else will be much easier if they inherently have those traits. Based on feedback from our team and seeing how other companies work, I don't think this is normal at most companies so I'd probably describe it as creative!
Are you a left-handed creative genius?
Scissors, pens, sports equipment…a lot of everyday objects are predominantly designed for right-handers. Not so the computer keyboard it seems. Despite 90% of the world’s population being right-handediii, just 187 English words are typed with the right hand, compared to 1447 typed solely with the left handiv. Assuming you type “correctly” – following the touch-typing rules - that is.
Are you a left-handed wordsmith?
There’s no hard science to back this up, but studies have suggested that growing up as part of a minority can mean children develop an outsider’s mindsetv. In basic terms, that means seeing themselves more as individuals and less as part of groups. This has been linked to qualities such as creative thinking and innovation.
We asked so-called ‘alternative entrepreneur’ James Rix, 34, Founder and CEO of Harrix Group, owner of StreetPR and brains behind London’s biggest music-led student night Sneak @ XOYO, his thoughts on being a non-conforming lefty.
I was 17 when I launched the first incarnation of my current business, StreetPR. It was a very simple proposition. The clubs paid me £2 for each person I got through the door and I paid my promotional staff £1 of that money, and that was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.
People tend to assume you have to be artistic to be creative, but there are actually lots of forms of creativity. For me, being able to look at something and find a different, more effective and successful way of doing it is highly creative.
I’m often described as being creative in my approach to doing business. I try not to have any preconceptions and I think this gives me an edge because I’m able to find a way to create something original or do things in an unusual way that will stand out.
All my businesses tend to take different approach to others in their sector. We tend to be considered maverick, but I believe it’s this approach that makes us successful.
Back in 2008 when I owned clubguestlist.co.uk I had this idea that everyone was going to move away from guest lists and paying on the door to get into clubs. I predicted mobile technology would mean they would buy tickets in advance. So way before mobile ticketing had taken off I built my own ticketing platform. As a result, we became the first independent promoters in the UK to have this and to push their customers to buy in advance.
At the time people thought it was crazy and that no one would be interested. Of course, it really took off and people continue to purchase tickets in advance through their mobiles, meaning the business remains successful 10 years on.
Oh yes definitely – how long have you got? Joking aside, if you own a business, being held back day-to-day is something you get used to. I really think that each barrier presents you with an opportunity to do things differently or to reinvent yourself.
A business that turns over £100k a year looks very different to one that makes £250k, which in turn looks different to one generating £1 million, etc, etc. So as you grow your portfolio of business, I find you need to take time to pause, restructure, perhaps even take a step back in terms of revenue, pricing and customer base, think carefully about your next step, then move forward. I think having to restructure at various stages in this way is the biggest hold back to any business, as it delays growth.
I think many left-handed people are naturally non-conformist due to the challenges they continually face.
I actually love being a maverick, not conforming and confounding expectations. It seems like you’re a member of a special club, and I always look for signs of other people being left-handed, such as wearing their watch on their right wrist.
When it comes to business, I think being left-handed has helped me overcome barriers that other people less used to constantly overcoming challenges wouldn’t be able to. Plus I think it helps me look at things in a different way and to find new and original solutions, all of which have been the key to my success as an entrepreneur.
Do the left-handed traits listed here ring true for anyone you know? Let us know @BcardBusiness – we feel a ‘Left-handed legends’ campaign coming on…
Look out for our next article on Conor McGregor, also a left-hander, FYI.
Right-handers, there’s no day dedicated solely to you, but take comfort in the fact that 90% of the population is on your side of the handedness world.
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i http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/whats-on-news/international-left-handers-day-twelve-7605857 (Aug 2016)
iii http://time.com/4451303/international-left-handers-day-why-are-people-left-handed/ (Aug 2016)
iv http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/whats-on/whats-on-news/international-left-handers-day-twelve-7605857 (Aug 2016)
v http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/left-handed-personality-psychology_us_58331757e4b058ce7aac163a (Dec 2016)