David Parkin on the false modesty of Linkedin

WELCOME to Linkedin Jesse Marsch.

The Leeds United head coach joined the business networking platform this week.

The American, who replaced the hugely popular Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road in February last year, has gathered more than 8,000 followers in his first few days.

He told them: “There’s so much football and business can learn from one another, so I’m excited to show you guys my thoughts plus a little about me and what I get up to, on and off the pitch.”

He promised to give “a real insight into the life of a football manager, so thought I would kick things off with a Q&A”.

Given that two of the first responses were someone asking when Leeds were going to win a match and another user posting a link to a guide to show how to add to your Linkedin profile that you are ‘open to work’ it is perhaps not surprising that Marsch told his audience that he will “give them some thought and come back with answers!”

There haven’t been any pearls of wisdom yet, but he’s probably currently got other priorities rather than networking with a business audience.

One of my friends who is a Leeds United fan has, over the last few months since Marsch took charge at Elland Road, gone from sceptical to hopeful to frustrated about the fortunes of his team.

I asked what he thought of Jesse Marsch and he replied: “He’s an American PE teacher. A pound shop Dale Carnegie.”

Damning stuff, but a view probably shared by many other supporters of the Elland Road club who have watched the team’s recent travails with a growing sense of frustration which is swiftly turning to desperation.

I learned of Marsch’s arrival on Linkedin on BBC Radio Five Live’s Monday Night Club.

Normally I find the views of former footballers about football annoying enough, never mind their thoughts on the wider world.

But former Blackburn and Norwich striker Chris Sutton, who has been on Linkedin for the last year, hit the nail on the head when asked what he thought of the platform this week.

“Linkedin’s all about self praise isn’t It? A lot of patting on the back,” he told host Mark Chapman.

And he’s right.

The worst offenders are those that wrap up their stories of self praise in a blanket of modesty.

You’ve read plenty of them.

Whether it is the people that post a photograph giving money to a homeless person on the street to those that drag up some story of conquering adversity from the distant past: they are aimed at delivering the unsubtle message: aren’t I wonderful?

The good thing is that Jesse Marsch has plenty to be modest about.

Notwithstanding the 5-2 FA Cup replay win over managerless Cardiff City the other night, there haven’t been many bright spots for Leeds fans in recent months.

So I wish him well both at Leeds United and on Linkedin.

And let’s hope he turns around the club’s fortunes and won’t need to use that ‘Open to work’ sign on his profile.


I WAS shocked to read about the death of Yorkshire public relations and business personality Di Burton.

The firm she founded in 1987, Harrogate-based Cicada, announced this week that she died, at the far too young age of 68, earlier this month.

I hadn’t spoken to Di for several years since she sold the business and moved into semi-retirement with her husband Andrew who is a well known investor in SMEs in Yorkshire from his time with the Viking Fund, Finance Yorkshire and Braveheart Investment Group.

But Di was one of those people who, once met, you never forgot.

South African-born, she had an approach which could sometimes be, at best, blunt, or just bloody rude.

But she also had a charm and warm smile that meant that she could always smooth out those who she rubbed up the wrong way.

I was one of a long line of Yorkshire Post business editors who Di attempted to charm to make sure her clients got maximum exposure.

If charm didn’t succeed then she took the gloves off and gave you a verbal pummelling until you relented and her press release was included in the next day’s business pages.

I remember once drawing the line at including one of her releases.

She couldn’t understand why news that her firm Cicada had won the contract to do the public relations for National Insect Week wasn’t front page news.

But I held firm.

Until the following week when I saw the offending story in the Yorkshire Post Business Tuesday supplement.

She had turned the charm on my deputy, invited him to play tennis with her in her local village of Birstwith, north of Harrogate, and the press release got used.

I wasn’t there to stop it as I was at a long lunch at La Grillade with a high level contact.

Di only ever employed women at Cicada and would often send them out to wine and dine journalistic contacts.

They were good company and good at their jobs, so it wasn’t the biggest hardship I’ve had to endure in my career.

She only ever employed one man and he didn’t last very long.

I think he may still be receiving some form of therapy now.

Di was an influential figure in the Institute of Directors both in Yorkshire and nationally and she built a reputation that was bigger than you would naturally credit someone who ran a small PR firm in North Yorkshire.

Part of that was down to the fact that she never missed an opportunity to promote what she did.

She was a member of the Cabinet Office communications review team.

I never knew what that was, but if you bumped into her on her way to London, she would lean towards you and in a conspiratorial whisper would say: “I’m on my way to Downing Street, they’ve called me in to give them some advice.”

She was an “alumna” of Harvard Business School – I think she only spent a weekend there one summer – and like any good PR operator she milked it for all it was worth.

I used to say that if Di Burton did PR for her clients as well as she did it for herself, they’d all be FTSE 100 companies.

The thing about Di is that for all her blandishments and blarney she was very good at what she did and always good company and liked and respected by those of us who knew her and worked with her.

She lectured in PR and inspired many young students to pursue a career in the industry.

Her funeral will take place at All Saints Church, Ripley at 2.30pm on January 30.


MY continuing rants about the shambles that is the roadworks being done by Leeds City Council in City Square saw an email arrive from a former colleague.

Robert Cockcroft is a former editor of the Barnsley Chronicle and restaurant critic of the Yorkshire Post and is an accomplished organist and composer.

He sent this note:

“Hello David,

“Another good column – but not much changes with road-tinkering in Leeds.

“I came across this cutting from the Evening Post while tidying a drawer!

“In 1975 I was a cub reporter under the brilliant news editor, Geoff Hemingway.

Happy days!”


MY piece on Pele a couple of weeks ago referred to my claim to fame that both he and I played in teams managed by the same man.

It prompted this response from food entrepreneur and Yorkshire International Business Convention founder Mike Firth.

“Football’s loss is journalism’s gain!”

When I replied that it was kind of him to find a positive in the fact I’m an awful football player, he said: “Luke Shaw is a crap journalist!”

Have a great weekend.

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