The post-BREXIT landscape: what does it really mean?


The pre-hype to the EU referendum caused the people of Britain (myself excluded) to vote for a British exit, or Brexit, from the EU in a historic referendum on Thursday June 23, 2016.
I personally attended several high profile events before the EU referendum vote to hear senior Fortune chairman’s and ministers of government provide their expert predictions and visions on the likely probability of the vote and the outcome for the UK economy.

The London-economy for small businesses, investment and growth, was put into hold, postponement or cancellation, which effected many businesses and the economy: in August the FTSE 100 hit a two-week low as investors withdraw a record £3.5bn from UK investment funds, the retail price war emerged with sales for the company Asda falling by 7.5 per cent in the three months to 30 June – its worst quarterly performance on record and noticeable recorded as the worst ever month for billings in the software, media, support services and engineering sectors.

The outcome of the BREXIT’ prompted jubilant celebrations among Eurosceptics around the Continent and sent shockwaves through the global economy.
Up until June 23, London was pretty sure of its place in the world. Building on its centuries-old position as a trading hub, it had become increasingly confident as a cultural centre as well as, in recent years, a hotbed of technological innovation.
The referendum vote in favour of Britain’s exit from the EU pulled the rug from beneath the feet of the city, one of the few parts of the UK that had voted definitively (60 vs. 40 per cent) in favour of remaining part of the bloc.

Though it will take years to discover and negotiate exactly what Brexit means in practice, many Londoners felt an instant instability, both personally and professionally and on two fronts: the uncertain outlook for Britain’s ability to sell unrestricted into the EU-wide single market; and the even bleaker prognosis for so-called freedom of movement.

For businesses, though, the bigger concern is about market access and the extent to which exporters will be able to retain anything of the seamless single-market access they currently enjoy. Nowhere is that more crucial than in London, where the dominant financial services industry and the ancillary sectors of law, accountancy and other professional services have ballooned over the past 30 years, in large part because of the capital’s status as Europe’s dominant financial hub.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of voices arguing that London’s role as one of the world’s main financial hubs will not be threatened fundamentally. That is partly because rival European centres have their drawbacks — being too small, with restrictive labour laws or lacking the stability of English law — but also because of an underlying confidence that London will adapt even if it does lose some business.
But as stated in my recent blog ‘The future of fintech and why London is the capital of the fintech universe’, London does possess other areas of growth: start-up financial technology, for example, which should be relatively unaffected by Brexit. London is the world’s most vibrant fintech hub. TheCityUK which continues to highlight the sector as a priority for expansion.

The mood in the City, as across the UK business environment, has undeniably been knocked by Brexit and the pervasive uncertainty on rules and regulations that will now follow, potentially for years to come. A weaker economic environment will make life tougher for many financial services operators, which is bound in turn to trickle down to the broader London economy.

Another consideration is an Asian intervention: the unusual publication by Japan’s foreign ministry of a Brexit paper. Japanese companies, it said, were huge employers in Britain, which took almost half of Japan’s investment in the EU last year. Most of that came because Britain is a gateway to Europe. The paper advised Mrs May to try to retain full access to the single market, to avoid customs controls on exports, to preserve the “passport” that allows banks based in London to trade across Europe and to let employers freely hire EU nationals.
These interventions worry Tory Brexiteers, who fret that having won a famous victory in June, they could lose the war. Their fear is that, given the choice, Mrs May and Mr Hammond will lean more to staying in the single market than to taking back full control of migration, money and laws. Mr Davis said this week that having access to the single market was not the same as being a member of it, and added that giving up border control to secure membership was an “improbable” outcome. But he was slapped down when Mrs May’s spokeswoman said the remark was only Mr Davis’s personal opinion. He also talked of retaining as much of the status quo as possible, not least in areas like security and foreign-policy co-operation.

The case for staying in the single market is simple: economists say this will minimise the economic damage from Brexit. A “hard” Brexit that involves leaving the single market without comprehensive free-trade deals with the EU and third countries would mean a bigger drop in investment and output. Brexiteers claim that many countries want free-trade deals and the economy is proving more robust than Remainers forecast. Michael Gove, a leading Brexiteer and former justice secretary, scoffed that soi-disant experts predicting economic doom had “oeuf on their face”.


Yet Mrs May is less complacent, acknowledging that it will not be “plain sailing” for the economy. Domestic business and financial lobbies are pressing to stay in the single market. As for trade deals, although she won warm words at the G20 summit from Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, she was told firmly by Barack Obama and others that bilateral deals with Britain would not be a priority. The climate for free-trade deals is not propitious these days, and Mr Fox’s department is bereft of experienced trade negotiators.
Mrs May has ruled out an early election and a second referendum. She refuses to provide a “running commentary” on her Brexit plans. And she insists she can invoke Article 50 without a parliamentary vote. Yet she is being urged by some to delay, since it would set a two-year deadline for Brexit that can be extended only by unanimity among EU leaders. In a thoughtful paper for the think-tank Open Europe, Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Treasury committee, says the government should first decide what sort of Brexit it wants, adding that its leverage is greater before it pulls the trigger. He suggests waiting until the French election in the spring or even the German one in September.
Yet Mrs May might not be allowed to wait by her own party, let alone by fellow EU leaders eager to get Brexit out of the way before the European elections in mid-2019. The phoney war may soon turn hotter.

The Trillion dollar question is: is the UK now up for grabs?
I believe firmly that Brexit vote will fuel concerns in Westminster that the future of the United Kingdom is now in serious doubt.
The SNP warned during the campaign that if – as has happened – the UK overall voted to leave the EU but Scots voted to remain, Scotland would be taken out of the EU “against its will” and this could be the trigger for another independence vote.
There are also concerns in Northern Ireland about the implications of the Brexit vote for its relationship with the Republic of Ireland. Remain campaigners warned that a Brexit vote could herald the return of “hard” border controls between the North and South. The Irish government has said the future of the border is one of a number of priority issues in its contingency planning. Sinn Fein has called for a vote on the reunification of Ireland but this has been rejected by the UK government.

A final thought: Don Tapscott once said:

“Collaboration is important not just because it’s a better way to learn. The spirit of collaboration is penetrating every institution and all of our lives. So learning to collaborate is part of equipping yourself for effectiveness, problem solving, innovation and life-long learning in an ever-changing networked economy”.

When we think Tech, do we need to think Speed to be effective?


Is fast the only way in this sometimes cynical world of the one way or the high way. Every Millennial I interview tells me of his or her aspirations to create the next unicorn company and the only ‘skin in the game’ they have is £2,000 in the bank, ‘we do not need to be investor ready’, look here is my pitch deck, investors are guaranteed to back this deal, without crying in laughter or pain or both, I kindly close the meeting down for other meetings of the day.

There is a saying “Move fast and break things”; “done is better than perfect”; “code wins arguments”: such aphorisms litter the walls and pitch decks of start-ups and venture capitalists, and recently the Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, seems to have completely changed his ‘Move Fast’ famous quote.

Carl Honor, the author of In the Praise of Slow and a huge inspiration of mine, states you can only squeeze so much productivity out of a human being. Eventually people burn out or lose interest, but working too hard and too fast takes a toll from the very start. Staffers become less creative and more error-prone. A long-hours work culture also leads to a lot of wasted time as employees hang around pretending to be busy when all they’re doing is putting in face time.

Study after study has shown that time pressure is only useful up to a certain point. Beyond that, it takes a toll. When people feel too rushed and are constantly working with one eye on the clock, they become less creative. Instead of coming up with bold, innovative ideas, they go for the low-hanging fruit. That is why forward-thinking companies are looking for ways to help their staff slow down. Some are giving employees more control over their schedules so they can work at their own pace, slowing down and speeding up when it suits them. Others are capping work hours. Even Wall Street banks have taken steps in this direction in recent months.

People often assume that, as a proponent of the Slow movement, I must be against new technology. They assume slowing down means throwing away the gadgets, yet nothing could be further from the truth. I am no Luddite: I love technology and own all the latest high-tech goodies. To me, being able to speak and write to anyone, anytime, anywhere is exhilarating. By freeing us from the constraints of time and space, mobile communication can help us seize the moment, which is the ultimate aim of Slow.
But there are limits. The truth is that communicating more does not always mean communicating better. You see parents staring at smartphones while spending “quality time” with their children. Surveys suggest that a fifth of us now interrupt sex to read an email or answer a call. Is that seizing the moment, or wasting it?

Whenever a new technology comes along, it takes time to work out how to get the most from it. Mobile communication is no exception: It’s neither good nor bad—what matters is how we use it. The challenge is to use communication technology more wisely. To switch on when it brings us together and enriches our lives, but to switch off when old-fashioned, face-to-face communication—or even just a little silence—is called for.

Human beings need moments of silence and solitude—to rest and recharge; to think deeply and creatively; to look inside and confront the big questions: Who am I? How do I fit into the world? What is the meaning of life? Being “always on” militates against all of that. You cannot daydream or reflect when your mind is constantly wondering if you have a new text message or if it’s time for a fresh tweet.

slowness (more on “the tortoise and the hare”: link)

The bottom line is that technology can help us slow down if we deploy it judiciously. That means using it to get things done efficiently and thereby save time—but then switching it off so we don’t waste that saved time by being constantly distracted. We also have to dedicate that saved time to Slow pursuits rather than simply cramming it with more work or consumption.

The world is changing: swaths of jobs are at risk of automation; consumers expect products to be available on demand, updated, personalised and yet also secure.

How many businesses can claim they have the technical skills, digital culture and leadership needed for the changes under way? The answer is: “Not enough”.

Recently I was in the US with my business partner, Mark Herbert, discussing some of the US’s business leaders, their creativity, skills and tech start-ups. Spending time in the US is always an opportunity to observe some of the knowledge and experience of the world’s biggest, most successful tech companies. UK business leaders across all sectors have always travelled to Silicon Valley or other US tech-hubs, seeking insights into what it takes to create a “unicorn”, a business launched after 2000 with a value of $1bn-plus. But the pace of change means the world has moved on by the time executives fly home with their intel.

A few years ago, the talk among big-business leaders was all about the recruits: they asked, “How do we get those bright tech minds out of start-ups and into our team — or just how do we stop them leaving us?” A few expensive hires later and some were left wondering why their business had not changed that much. Now their question is about organisational culture: “What is it that enables a tech culture to identify, create and ship products at the speed of light? And how do I plug that into my business?”

The issue of current and future talent shortages “plays to the strengths” of people and capitalising on them. That requires building supportive cultures, strengthening skills, creating important conversations and assigning development projects to enhance collective IQ and EQ – in my new book ‘Meaningful Conversations’ I have written extensively on the subject.

We are learning more about a new area of innovation and creativity within people: maximising cognitive functioning and the partnership of IQ and EQ. Given increasing overseas competition for talent and business results, the author (“The World is Flat”) and New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman points out that in North America differentiation is through innovation and creative relationships and partnerships. He speaks of moving from a world of command and control to one of communication, consulting and collaboration.

As Amy Poehler once said:

“As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.”

Update and bookcovers of my new book: “Meaningful Conversations”

Though we all are working very hard on my new book: “Meaningful Conversations”, we had to postpone the publication date until January 28th, 2017. Certain elements in rewriting the third section and aligning the launch plans created a few challenges, but we are nearly there!

It gives us some more time (and a Christmas break): I plan on doing another video-interview, both on what happened since my first book: “Freedom after the sharks” and what this new approach and strategy of “Meaningful Conversations” will be about. Plus some general observations and experiences, of course.

I’m truly excited to share the new bookcovers with you! Jeremy and his committed team at Troubador Publishing have been amazing, and working hard on delivering the final book, not only across the design, content and editing the book, but also by putting the sales-pages ready! Meaningful Conversations will be available in e-book/kindle, paperback and hardback formats.

Hard-cover: Troubador Info

Meaningful Conversations - hard-cover

Paperback: Troubador Info

Meaningful Conversations - paperback

Do we still hold cross-border ‘The Special Relationship’?


Politics have recently been rife in the headlines: not just in the UK and Europe, in all quarters of the globe there has been much unsettlement – exactly what will this mean to our relationships around the world, and indeed will we still have those ‘special relationships’?

American reaction to Britain’s referendum on membership of the European Union was divided sharply along party lines on Friday. Republicans mostly sympathised with the desire for greater sovereignty. Democrats struck a more exasperated tone.
Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton stressed the endurance of a special relationship with the UK and their respect for its decision, but hinted at challenges ahead.
“Yesterday’s vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalisation,” said Obama during a trip to Silicon Valley, revealing he had called David Cameron and Angela Merkel to discuss the referendum and Britain’s “orderly transition” out of the EU.

“Our first task has to be to make sure that the economic uncertainty created by these events does not hurt working families here in America,” said Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a lukewarm statement.
In an apparent swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, who welcomed Brexit during a visit to Scotland, Clinton added: “This time of uncertainty only underscores the need for calm, steady, experienced leadership.
“It also underscores the need for us to pull together to solve our challenges as a country, not tear each other down.”

Later, a senior state department official told the Guardian newspaper: “This is obviously not the outcome that either of our governments wanted but it’s democracy and so we’re moving on. We have to. It’s just too important not to. The relationship’s too important, the issues that we’re working on with the UK are too vital. “You name it: Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, the Asia-Pacific region. The Brits are such a key partner on so many issues that it’s just too important to allow this to derail a lot of that cooperation.”

We often hear policy-makers talk of the ‘special relationship’ between the United States of America and the United Kingdom, and it’s easy to dismiss this as politician speak, yet the truth is the US and UK have a deep, complex and successful partnership that has benefited both sides economically, socially and culturally for many years.
The UK imports around £43bn in goods from the US each year, alongside receiving more than £440bn of direct investment from American individuals, institutions and companies. As a nation, the UK has invested more than £330bn into the US, and it’s estimated that British investments account for nearly a million US jobs. If you add to this the number of tourists we exchange each year, plus our shared culture, media and more, you quickly see that the US and the UK have a dynamic and deep connection.

I visit the US frequently and have a business partner in the States, so I am fortunate to have the great pleasure of seeing some extraordinary work done by startups and entrepreneurs on both sides of the Atlantic, whether it is Silicon Valley, Tech-Start up’s in Phoenix or UOA (University of Arizona) or elsewhere. One of the ideas you hear often is that in America there is a culture where not only is it ok to fail, but it’s almost expected – like a badge of honour. This is true to a point, but that implies a cut-throat culture that is more legend than reality and is actually bad for innovation. It is important to remember the human element in attempting to get a business off the ground – both in the UK and in the US. Whatever the culture, people struggle and work hard and need all the support they can get, whether that be from family and friends, mentors, other businesses, government grants and resources.


I personally believe there are major opportunities when it comes to shared opportunities and collaboration. Certainly, a key one is the maturing of the digital economy. Advances in AI, robotics, the IOT, autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, nano- and bio-technology, materials science, quantum computing and financial technologies are creating new opportunities. And there will be increasing importance for companies to do business in environments and markets with transparent intellectual property protection, and predictable rule of law. As strong trading partners with shared and enduring values for attracting and supporting companies from each other’s jurisdiction, the UK and US are well-positioned to be mutual winners in this new digital age of opportunities.

The key to all of these ideas is cross-border collaboration, collaborating with colleagues across borders brings the benefit of new perspectives, further expertise and experiences, as well as a potentially different approach to the profession as a whole. There may be differences of culture, in the language that we use with donors or many other contextual differences.
Even once those differences are understood, theoretical knowledge can be quite different when it is put it into practice. You will need a strong dose of flexibility and capability to adapt to other ways of conceiving your job as well as your approach.

For example, working on corporate fundraising in one country could differ widely in another country – not better or worse, simply different. Understanding the context requires hours of back-office study before starting a project abroad. For example, fiscal regulation determines different advantages – and perceptions – for those donors interested in donating to certain projects. A deep understanding of such points will determine the most suitable ways to engage donors and, as a consequence, to set a proper fundraising strategy.

The truth is that it’s not always easy. Sometimes there is a lack of information about common or shared objectives and the opportunities for collaborative working.
Of course, working internationally could be costly in terms of time and effort and, most of all, it is certainly demanding, and will be dependent on your overall objective for export, company development and expansion, I have worked internationally for 25 years and can honestly say the benefits outweigh the barriers to entry.

Watch out for misunderstandings. Even if your language skills are second to none, the English language – which is often used even when it is not the native language of the parties involved – can mean that the same word has a variety of meanings.

To conclude, it could be said that collaborating across borders is a challenging way to share concerns and objectives with colleagues, learning more about cultural approaches to problems and causes and different ways to cope with them. This process brings added value to the organisations involved.

As Simon Mainwaring once said:

“Creating a better world requires teamwork, partnerships, and collaboration, as we need an entire army of companies to work together to build a better world within the next few decades. This means corporations must embrace the benefits of cooperating with one another.”

Do companies really understand big data and how to execute this data effectively?


The Myth that Marketing Automation Reveals Buyers’ Journeys.

Big data is a disruptive technology that is changing how enterprises gain insights into their most valuable revenue generator: the customer. Knowing big data’s potential and its importance in customer analytics is one thing, productively managing and leveraging it is another.
I had a discussion recently with business associates on the effectiveness of email DM and social, it was a mixed response, but the group response was everyone had a story to share about emails being sent to the inbox that had no remote correlation to a qualification of interest and everyone was frustrated by following someone of Twitter and the first message you receive via DM was an automated offer to sell you something.

So thinking about the human interface vs automated or robotic, do you think senior citizens are the only people who still complain about not being able to talk to a live customer service rep? Think again. When a recent poll asked 1,000 U.S. consumers for their number-one customer service complaint, not being able to get from an automated phone system to a live person was the top complaint among Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers alike, these are really interesting observations.

Although often portrayed as wanting to interact with businesses entirely online, 32 percent of Millennials say their biggest frustration is customer service automation and being unable to reach a live person. Thirty percent of Gen X consumers and 47 percent of Baby Boomers feel the same way.

I recently read a few reports on marketing automation. Here is why I was stunned: marketing automation is one of the most valuable tools the modern day marketer can employ and yet it’s been adopted by less than 10% of companies.


In this context when I discuss marketing automation, I am not only talking about email automation. That is just a small piece of marketing automation. Email automation and automated drip campaigns have been around for over a decade and when they are included into this discussion the adoption numbers are higher. Real marketing automation is a tool that allows marketing departments to more effectively market to multiple channels (usually social, blogging, email, landing pages, etc.) and automate certain tasks.

A true marketing automation system requires implementation with a company’s website, social media accounts, CRM, and a few other existing infrastructures, this can cause some smaller companies who do not have the budget or time some heartburn.
Psychologists have compared the human instinctive aversion to change to the way people avoid pain or experience fear. Yet one of the primary responsibilities of CEOs is to facilitate cultural, organisational and strategic change in response to evolving market dynamics, a tall order when your opponent is human nature itself.
According to Forrester, 75 percent of the buying cycle is completed before Sales is ever contacted. IDG found that 60 percent of prospects look at nine or more digital sources to research products they are considering.
The buyer expected control of their experience. Vendors that do not put customers in the driver’s seat will have a hard time closing deals and keeping customers.
The only way to make the right changes is to align your entire organisation with the customer’s buying process. To do so successfully you will need an in-depth understanding of the customer that only comes from research and a partnership with your customer base.

The starting place is to interview them. Customers are happy to lay out the steps they take from the trigger event through purchase. Asked the right way, you will discover what type of information they look for, where, and to whom they turn for trusted feedback and advice. They will even tell you when and how they want to engage with your sales teams and their expectations of what, for them, makes a valuable customer experience. All you need to do is ask and then act on that information.

Fast business
Fast business

Executives might be afraid of what the customer says, but a vendor’s survival hinges on their ability to overcome those fears; to really talk to their customers and then tune their organisation’s culture, business model and processes to match the customer’s experience expectations.
Marketing automation, CRM, and sales automation systems cannot interview your customers, ask probing questions. Marketing automation does not help you build relationships or understand customers. These are not qualities we can purchase off a shelf.
What these systems can tell you is where in the buyers’ journey a prospect might be based upon the behavior you’ve been able to capture. Software has value, but vendors won’t get ahead just because they bought marketing automation.

What defines winners are CEOs who muster the courage to create change. To truly listen to their customers, build deep cross-organisational relationships based on value, and change from internally-focused, product-obsessed organizations to customer-centric businesses. That means overcoming fears of change and driving different values, culture, processes and ways of doing business.

Only when we understand customers’ trigger event, buy-cycle and what influences trust can we paint a story-board for the organisation to follow that guides us to customer alignment, loyalty, and sustainable growth.

As Simon Mainwaring once said:

“Companies and their brands need to reach out and speak directly to consumers, to honor their values, and to form meaningful relationships with them. They must become architects of community, consistently demonstrating the values that their customer community expects in exchange for their loyalty and purchases.”