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Rolling with the In crowd: The State of LinkedIn and what it might tell us about the power of delusional positivity

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Rolling with the In crowd: The State of LinkedIn and what it might tell us about the power of delusional positivity

We’ve all got our go-to social media accounts when we’re looking for a good laugh or just need a bit of cheering up.

I started at Faces In Things (@faceinthings), moved on to Angry People In Local Newspapers (@angrypiln), then Fake Showbiz News (@FakeShowbizNews).

My most recent Twitter jam, though, has been The State Of LinkedIn (@StateOfLinkedIn).

For the uninitiated, it’s a glorious conveyor belt of humble-bragging, people livin’ their best LinkedIn life (Porsches and Rolexes in pics a must) and supreme takes on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme tune (really).

It can be funny. It can be painful. It can make you believe the human race is doomed.


Speech marks, white background with blue wording: one of the biggest mistakes we can make is assuming all our thoughts are true

Delusional positivity

Recently, I also stumbled across the concept of delusional positivity – and began to wonder if these LinkedIn ‘legends’ might be on to something.

In his book Soundtracks, a brilliant guide on how to overcome overthinking, author Jon Acuff explains how the term delusional positivity was deliberately crafted by an American advertising agency.

They believe that a “relentlessly positive attitude” is what keeps them moving forward and pushing the boundaries of possibility.

The word delusional was chosen very much on purpose. Aware of people’s innate cynicism around the topic, they wanted to make it easier to digest and more accessible.

Cod psychology or inspirational thinking?


The science bit

Harnessing the power of positive thinking is nothing new, but nor is it something created to help life coaches and self-help gurus shift books.

The impact of words on our actions and behaviours is eerily powerful. One famous study involved two groups being asked to make sentences out of seemingly random words. One group’s list contained words like bald and wrinkle.

Then, when asked to walk down the corridor after the test, those whose lists included the words associated with old age walked at a far slower pace.

This effect is known as priming – the ability to cause a physical change through thoughts. In truly scientific terms, this is also known as the ideometer effect – how our thoughts and ideas influence our actions.


Think yourself happy?  

If there is one thing the repeated displays of self-promotion on the State of LinkedIn have in common, it is overwhelming positivity.

Sure, confidence in the wrong hands can translate to arrogance, but there’s little doubt that these characters have grasped the concept of delusional positivity – and, for better or worse, have shared it with us. Ask them the secret of their success and you’d guess a “relentlessly positive attitude” is likely to be high on their list of responses.

So how can we grab ourselves some of this mental nectar being supped on LinkedIn? The Soundtracks book has a few handy suggestions….

1. Change the record –
the core belief at the heart of the book is that we need to retire and replace our broken soundtracks – unhelpful, distorted truths we hold on to that serve us no purpose. One of our biggest mistakes we can make, Acuff argues, is assuming all our thoughts to be true. Change them to a more positive or realistic soundtrack and you really can begin to think yourself happier.

You might already do this or have a different name for it – an old boss was forever telling me to ‘reframe’ things. But whatever you call it, it works. Soundtracks author Jon Acuff replaced a soundtrack about a difficult task to it being ‘light and easy’ instead, making it far more approachable. I recently started to replace the soundtrack of something being stressful or pressurised with it being my energy and motivation. Believe me, it makes a massive difference.

2. Develop a gratitude attitude –
starting to change your soundtracks encourages you to start viewing things through a new, kinder lens. We all know how easy it is to focus on the negative – a colleague’s behaviour, a boss’s decision you don’t agree with.

But there’s always a flipside to everything – and also perspective worth applying. That person may be a pain, but they may also be brilliant at what they do. That decision may have annoyed you, but it may be the best thing for the long-term. Try and change your soundtracks about people and your experiences to focus on the positives. Acuff borrowed a typically understated quote from Kayne West – “My life is dope” – to kickstart his gratitude attitude. It’s not a bad place to start.Speech marks, white background with blue wording: developing techniques to turn down the dial can help recalibrate your thoughts

3. Turn down the dial – the biggest, self-defeating element of overthinking and negative thoughts, argues Acuff, is thinking of them as a switch. That they are something that can eventually be turned off.

And that belief is a one-way ticket to unhappiness, as sadly you’re never to going to completely stop negative thoughts. Instead, we need to think about them as a dial – something that you can turn the volume down on, if things get too loud.

Developing techniques to turn down the dial can help recalibrate your thoughts. Everyone will have different things that work for them, but making them easy and accessible is important so you can turn to them when you need them. For some people it might be exercise or enjoying a craft or hobby. For some it might be making a list to get stuff out of your head. Sometimes, choosing a dead simple task that you can finish (e.g making a cuppa or hanging out some washing) is enough to pull you out of a sticky mental block and provide the motivation to get back on track.

There’s no guarantee these techniques will have you posting about your new Porsche on LinkedIn anytime soon, but we’d probably just all settle for just being that bit happier, eh?

We’ve found a few examples from @StateofLinkedIn for you to enjoy…

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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