Rob Ashton

Brighton, United Kingdom


Words and their effects on us fascinate me. They're central to almost everything we do, yet we so often struggle to get them right. This simple fact lies at the heart of a huge number of misunderstandings, conflicts and failures in relationships – at work and at home.

This is true not just of speaking but of written communication. These days, writing is what we spend most of our working lives doing, given our reliance on text, email, social media and instant-message platforms like Slack or Yammer. And the business world produces around half a billion documents every year. Every single one of those is an opportunity either to build a relationship or to damage it – perhaps fatally.

This is what drives me to spend most of my time these days on research in this area, sorting fact from pure fiction and sharing the results. I started my professional life as a molecular biologist, and I’m still a scientist at heart. So it bothers me that so much of what passes for communication advice seems to be based on little more than pseudoscience and wishful thinking. Worse, most people receive no training at all in this area. They just muddle along and wonder why their ambitions are continually frustrated. Written communication is usually seen as something we can just do. But the evidence just doesn’t support this.

The company I set up in 1998 has so far enabled more than 50,000 people in 32 countries to tackle this problem head on. (See below.) I work with amazing, dedicated colleagues and I still love what I do, even after 21 years.

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Leadership 30.27
Marketing 30.30
HR 30.20

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5 Article/Blogs
I never dreamed it would be like this
June 21, 2018
On this day in 1998, I was sitting in a cage. As cages go, it wasn’t bad. It had a small desk, a bookcase, a printer, even a computer. But one of its four walls was a sliding, impenetrable steel grill. My cell was just 10 feet (3m) square.

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Tags: Marketing

The 15 writing habits of people who build amazing careers
May 27, 2017
One of the great pleasures of my job is that I frequently get a chance to talk to people who really are at the top of their game.

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Tags: Leadership

We really need to talk about poor communication
March 13, 2017
Most people think their driving is above average. That’s a statistical impossibility, of course, otherwise it wouldn’t be an average. Still, it’s what we believe. In one study, no fewer than 93 per cent of Americans questioned placed themselves in the top 50 per cent of drivers.

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Tags: HR

Writing for the board? Here's what you really need to know
May 19, 2016
‘What people don’t realise,’ Nick said, ‘is that I’m just like them. I get tired. I worry about stuff. I think maybe I should get to the gym more. And I have too much on my plate. I’m not superhuman.’

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Tags: HR

Stop researching and start writing. (Here's how.)
March 22, 2016
There’s no getting away from it: research is addictive. And there’s a good reason for that – we’re all hard-wired to search.

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Tags: Leadership



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Rob Ashton