Black was born 2 May 1968 in West London. He is the son of advertising executive Brinsley Black (1930-2011), named as one of the best-dressed Englishmen in the inaugural issue of Men in Vogue in 1965, and his second wife, Lady Moorea Hastings (1928-2011). She was the daughter of the Labour Peer and academic Francis Hastings, 16th Earl of Huntingdon (1901–1990), and Cristina Casati Stampa di Soncino (1901–1953), the only child of Camillo, Marquis Casati Stampa di Soncino (1877-1946) and Italian heiress and eccentric patroness of the arts Luisa Casati (1881–1957). Through his mother's earlier marriage to politician and diarist Woodrow Wyatt, Black has one older half-brother, Pericles (born 1963).
In 2007, Black proposed to Joanne Cash, an Oxford-educated barrister, and they married in December of that year.
The couple live in the Westminster North. They have a baby daughter.
Upon graduating from university, he joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a business analyst, where he worked predominantly in the Financial Services practice.
Black was brought into AGB Research by Mark Booth to help turn around the market research business, owned by Robert Maxwell. After the disappearance of Maxwell the business went into administration.
Black joined Smythe, Dorward Lambert as their sixth employee. Black became the Sales and Marketing Director of the leading employee communication consultancy of its time with 100 employees and a turnover of £10 million. The consultancy was sold to Omnicom in 1996.
Black is also on the Advisory Board of Teaching Leaders.
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Black started at his kitchen table in 2000. The organisation aims to "improve a company’s performance by changing the way employees think". He co-founded the business, which has made him an authority on employee-related business issues. Mind Gym has been, independently, evaluated and endorsed by the BBC.
Black has also co-written three Mind Gym books (The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up, The Mind Gym: Give Me Time, The Mind Gym: Relationships).
The Mind Gym: Wake Your Mind Up reached number two on amazon.co.uk and was translated into 27 languages. ‘Success without the sweat…of practical use at work.’ Financial Times.
Black frequently comments on the BBC, Sky, and in the press on the human aspects of business, including topics such as attracting and retaining talent, increasing productivity without spending and moving from the public to private sector.
Black's Mind Gym also gives out the largest prize in Europe for original psychology research
Mind Gym ran its first workshop in September 2000 with Deutsche Bank. It has since been adopted by over 40% of the FTSE 100 as well as many other global organisations, including British Gas, RBS, BP, O2, Accenture, Unilever, Pfizer, Cisco and Sainsbury's.
Mind Gym’s technique is based on rigorous but bite-size psychology.[according to whom?] It was the first organization to deliver learning in 90-minute workshops that claim to have the same impact as a traditional full-day course.
A BBC independent evaluation, comparing one of Mind Gym’s 90-minute sessions with a BBC one-day and a two-day training course (all on influencing), found Mind Gym's session to outperform its own. The programme has also been covered in an article by the Financial Times.
Black's parenting programme, Parent Gym, claims to be the UK's most robustly evaluated programme. Pilots in early 2010 showed improvements in parenting capability, children's behaviour and a reduction in discipline problems after three months. Boris Johnson showed interest in rolling out the scheme across London.
Parent Gym has been selected as one of the government suppliers for a pilot parenting scheme in Camden.
- Eden, Richard (7 February 2009). "David Cameron finds new 'guru'". Daily Telegraph (London).
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- "Acquisition: The motives behind Omnicom’s latest buy - Omnicom has had its chequebook out again, this time to buy up Fleishman-Hillard. The move mirrors the approach it has taken to building its advertising agency networks | PR & public relations news | PRWeek". Mediaweek.co.uk. 1997-04-18. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- http://www.teachingleaders.org.uk/supporters,39.html[dead link]
- Octavius Black (2010-08-09). "‘I don’t have time to think’". FT.com. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
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- Mattu, Ravi (2010-10-06). "Give more power to your people". FT.com. Retrieved 2013-10-06.
- "Business coaches offer skills to struggling parents". BBC News. 7 October 2010.
- Boris Johnson (2010-10-11). "The road to a university place must begin when a child is five". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-10-06.