Are Events Still Key to Creating Relationships that Drive Sales

London recently held its Technology Week and the majority of key companies and players in the industry used varying marketing channels to position and showcase their products, services to the mass market, I decided to visit some of the events to gauge the level of interest at exhibitions and customer events to see exactly how companies were developing business in the current economy.

What I noticed was that all of this pressure on immediate value-creation did accelerate a process that has been underway for some time in the marketing sector. Brands are increasingly making a break with their ad-centric past by re-centering campaign strategy and creative across a variety of mediums.

To drive sales by persuasively engaging marketing-resistant customers in a targeted manner, business-to-business and consumer brands are now giving below-the-line channels such as Web marketing and events an opportunity to originate campaign strategy and creative as well as integrate with other mediums from the bottom up.

As a result, it seems that now is an unprecedented time for marketers to more deeply explore their organisation’s investment in the event marketing discipline and how it drives integration with other marketing channels.

Confronted by a turbulent economic climate and the changing ways in which audiences consume and are influenced by media to make purchase decisions, the C-suite and boardrooms of major brands are looking to senior marketing and sales executives as a source for innovative new strategy. They are looking for measurable ROI on every investment.

Face-to-face interaction continues to be the reason respondents attribute to event marketing’s high ROI rating and overwhelmingly so. Face-to-face interactions are essential in forming customer relationships as they provide the kind of in-depth customer insight, trust building and immediacy about a brand that drives top-line performance.

By correlating marketing investment to its business impact instead of narrowly focusing on the success of the marketing tactic alone, marketers not only more easily secure investment for their programs but are able to create more targeted and effective programs in the process.

Event marketing is a discipline that seeks to evolve from the simple “features and benefits” sales dynamic that characterises most event marketing into more comprehensive and compelling interactions that physically, intellectually and emotionally involve audiences in the demonstration of the brand promise. The result is a powerful increase in the depth and volume of brand differentiation, conversion and loyalty.

Today’s business leaders have charged marketers to invest in areas that both drive revenue and build the brand – a challenging mandate as consumers and business buyers stretch out the purchase cycle, demand personalization and reject mass marketing.

In light of these realities, what is most important in this pressure-filled environment are relationships. Based on trust and intimacy, personal affiliations with brands, products, services and fundamentally between the people behind them are catalysts to business growth.

Senior executives clearly believe that events provide sound ROI but it’s up to event marketers to improve on this perception even further by ensuring executives’ agreement on ROI methodology and communicating those measures in language that more effectively articulates the validity and impact of the metrics.

Developing more efficient communication and measurement systems are thus the twin imperatives of today’s marketer. Those who do so successfully will achieve greater success for themselves and their organisation by becoming a force of profitable change.​

Do banks support SME’s – HSBC does

IMG_20140618_142834 small
Don, Andrew and Richard by Geoff Hudson-Searle

I was recently invited to a day with HSBC at the prodigious ‘The Grove’ property in Herfordshire to play golf and understand more about the HSBC support to SME businesses in the UK.

Interesting enough, the number of private sector businesses in the UK increased to 4.9 million at the start of 2013 – a record high. BankSearch report that there were 447,000 new business start-ups in Great Britain during 2013. This is 9% lower than 2012, but is still healthy and higher than in 2008 and 2009.

We discussed that small and medium-sized businesses account for 99.9% of private sector companies and provide 60% of private sector jobs. These enterprises have an important role to play in driving growth, opening new markets and creating jobs

The facts are when it comes to small businesses, data is more scanty, but a survey from law firm Taylor Wessing has revealed that 84 per cent are either “confident” or “somewhat confident” about growth in 2014.

Geoff Hudson-Searle
Geoff Hudson-Searle

Top priorities include increasing profits (29 per cent) and growing their customer base (25 per cent). 11 per cent said they were prioritising cutting costs, while nine are focusing on expanding internationally.

The survey also logged the challenges small businesses see for this year (list below).

The number one concern will probably be ameliorated over coming months. Earlier this week, EY published a report which found that lending is set to rise in all areas of the economy, with UK bankers’ confidence higher than anywhere else in Europe.

Data from the Bank of England has shown that, although there was a sizeable drop in loans to big businesses towards the end of 2013, small business lending rose.

And in terms of interest rates, the fall in inflation to two per cent has, according to economists, slightly reduced pressure (for the time being) on the Bank to raise rates.

Top 10 challenges for 2014:

1.     Access to lending from banks (13 per cent)

2.     Increases in tax and interest rates (13 per cent)

3.     Increasing costs e.g. energy and travel (11 per cent)

4.     Retaining and boosting competitive USPs (11 per cent)

5.     Skills shortages (9 per cent)

6.     Transitioning from start up to SME (9 per cent)

7.     Accessing international markets (7 per cent)

8.     Overregulation (7 per cent)

9.     Economic volatility (6 per cent)

10.  Compliance and regulatory issues (5 per cent)

In a bid to contribute to Britain’s economic growth, HSBC has announced the launch of a £1.5bn funding pot for SMEs.

Last week, HSBC dedicated a £500 million funding pot to West Midlands SMEs in a move to allocate £6 billion of new lending facilities across its network.

Amanda Murphy, Head of Business Banking for HSBC, said: “Ambitious British businesses are saying they are going to invest this year and get on with growing.

“We want to support their ambitions by significantly increasing our net lending to businesses this year. We are helping more than 6,100 businesses start up every month, and want to support our hard working SME business owners on their drive for growth.”

HSBC also published a new report last week called ‘Business of Growth’ in conjunction with the funding pot, which claims 2014 will be a turning point for ambitious businesses in the West Midlands.

The bank identified Britain’s business growth potential for 2014 by incorporating analysis of 39 separate forecasts of GDP and investment.

The report also highlights the constant upwards revision of GDP growth over the last 12 months. The UK economy’s outperformance of the Eurozone and a rise of business confidence are seen as apt surroundings for growth.

The analysis itself is supported by the bank’s own experience, where new term lending us up 16 per cent year-on-year, and the overall value of lending that is being approved is even higher, at 37 per cent over the same period.

To support SMEs right across the UK, the bank will also:

•             Host 100 ‘Access to Finance’ workshops, to help small companies maximise their chances of securing funding

•             Hold over 50 ‘Fast Lane to Growth’ events across the UK, sharing strategies to accelerate growth and enter new markets;

•             Hold five ‘Global Connections’ thought leadership events where the UK’s best business leaders will share their secrets to success.​

As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Goal setting for Start-Up Businesses – tips and things to consider

Tips for start-ups GHSDepending on the type of business you set-up, you could experience a number of challenges along the way and not just in customer late payments. How you handle those problems may show how you will manage issues that come up when the business is up and running. If you to do proper research, strategy and planning when setting up your business, you will likely avoid some common pitfalls.

Delays

When setting up your business, you may come across people or organisations that delay your progress. Some delays are manageable while others are completely out of your control. For instance if you learn that you need a special permit to run the business late in the planning process, you may have to push back your plans until the government agency reviews and approves your application. Always have a backup plan ready in case of these issues, such as a later date to open the doors of your business.

Financial Challenges

Lack of proper funding is a common reason businesses fail. A snag in the process of securing financing for your new company could halt your plans altogether. For this reason it is wise to take steps to seek and apply for financing early in the start-up process. Cash reserves to run your business and fund the first year of operations of your business may not let you to sustain day to day cash flow until the business can generate any real revenue. So make sure you get your personal financial matters in order and start saving well in advance of attempting to start your own business. Lenders and investors commonly look at the financial status and character of the business owner when evaluating the company for financing.

Poor Organization

Issues regarding your organisation may also plague a prospective business owner. This issue is far-reaching because lack of organisational skills can negatively affect every step of the business setup process. Poor organisation may also affect the way other parties perceive your business concept in general. You can avoid problems related to lack of organization by consulting a business mentor, buying programs to help you organize and hiring help to help you with the process.

Some risks to consider when setting up a business:

1. Select a business structure that limits personal liability. Change your business structure from a sole proprietorship where you are personally liable for business operations to a corporation or limited liability company where you have limited liability.

2. Transfer risk to insurance companies by insuring against major risks such as damage to your facilities, product liability, injuries to customers or suppliers and death or incapacity of company principals.

3. Perform a risk analysis by evaluating the consequences of risky activities, the likelihood of the consequences occurring and the benefits of the risky activities. Avoid risk by not carrying out activities that have severe and likely consequences and low benefits.

4. Transfer the risk of activities with severe and likely consequences but high benefits to other parties. Create a new, independent company to carry out these activities or assign them to suppliers or partners.

5. Reduce risk from product failure and warranty claims by implementing a quality assurance program. Develop a system of reporting from customer service to identify problems. Structure the quality assurance program to document production tasks and product testing. Link the problems reported by customer service to specific failures in production or testing procedures and start corrective action.

6. Reduce risk of surprises in operating results by keeping accurate records and instituting effective controls. Put in place a system that limits who can authorize specific actions and how much they can spend. Implement a reporting system that gives you key information about company performance. Evaluate the controls and reporting system by comparing actual practice and performance to the control procedures and the reported information.

7. Reduce financial risk by managing your accounts receivable to minimize outstanding balances and identify poor credit risks. Implement credit and payment standards, specifying which credit scores and payment records are acceptable. Evaluate customer payments and ask for advance payment from customers who don’t meet the standards.

8. Reduce financial risk by keeping outstanding loans and financing needs to a minimum. Control growth at a rate that the company can finance internally. If the company can’t pay off some loans, replace short-term credit with long-term, fixed-rate loans.

If you have any questions, please do ask. Here to help you succeed!

Love is … simple!

book cover Jo March "Love is simple!"
book cover Jo March “Love is simple!”

A large amount of discussion in entrepreneur and business groups has been around the subject of love and passion in the workplace for what we do. Whilst I understand this is a very subjective matter, exactly what is love and how do we apply passion to our thinking and execute this in our daily work and everyday lives?

There simply is not a one-size-fits-all formula for discovering what you’re passionate about and then transitioning to a new or existing career. That being said, I have learned a few things about doing what you love for work—and this was the précis for my book Freedom After The Sharks.

I decided to interview a love expert and special friend in the subject matter, Jo March, and author of Love is Simple. After several cups of tea at the Terrace Room at The Meridian Hotel in Piccadilly – London, and much discussion sharing past and present experiences, Jo explained:

Why people should live in love and why we are not communicating and forging meaningful and unconditional relationships, love is simple right…?

Love is simple when we understand the true meaning of unconditional love. The kind of love that transforms and transcends us as human beings to a higher level of consciousness, in those moments when we truly love, we become alive, we feel passion, we feel life in every breath. Love is life, at the core of everything we do on this life path it is love that is the driving force.

I believe we are not forming unconditional relationships because of the environment we live in, the world of technology, the fast paced, instant access, immediate response world, we receive things immediately, therefore we expect everything instantly, we are conditioned to having it all “now”.

As with the greatest things in life, the magic only happens when things are given time to breathe, when thoughts are clear, when the mind is at peace. It is only in this environment that unconditional love can flourish. The magic ingredient to unconditional love is finding peace within your own mind; for when your mind is at peace others will be at peace. It is with this level of peace that bliss exists.

Listen to what your relationships are telling you: love and listening go hand in hand. To love unconditionally you must have the ability to listen to what another person is asking of you; not listening to what your emotions and desires are telling you, but really listening to what that person is asking of you. When we listen to what another requires above our own needs then we create trust, and we create understanding; when we understand things, the fear goes away. It is only then can we become selfless, allowing the time for love to flourish unconditionally.

For love is simple… if you just listen…

Jo’s interview was invaluable and if made me think of 3 very valuable points around love in the workplace and in key relationships:

1: Do what you love and the money will follow.

If there’s one thing that holds us back from pursuing our passions, it’s the fear of not being able to take care of ourselves. It’s what keeps us in unfulfilling jobs: the guaranteed salary that’s enough.

But this ignores the fact that succeeding in anything requires a great deal of work and uncertainty. Risk is always part of the equation. For everyone who has made a good living doing something they enjoy, there are countless other equally talented people who were not able to do it.

This does not mean we should not pursue our passions; it just means we’re more apt to feel satisfied doing it if we define success in terms beyond financial gain. That might mean we need to live on less. It might mean we need to balance our passion with other work.

Do what you love and enjoyment will follow. Do what you love and you will feel more fulfilled. Do what you love and the money will seem less relevant. These things I have found are true.

2: Leap and the net will appear.

Fear can be too much to  make a leap, especially when you have no idea where you’ll land or how. A lot of us get caught in the planning stage because we want to know with absolute certainty we won’t make a mistake we’ll one day regret.

So we wait, we gather information, we imagine all possible outcomes and plan to avoid negative ones, and generally anchor ourselves with good intentions that, sometimes, never lead to action.

Confidence is that we need to have faith that we won’t fall flat on our faces. But the reality is that we sometimes we will.

What’s important to realise is that we are strong enough to get back up if this happens, and we can do it knowing that every fall is valuable. Every time a net does not appear, we learn a little more about how to weave one for ourselves. We also learn to be comfortable in the drop, which, if we’re honest, is where we always live. Life is uncertain, whether we take large risks or not.

It’s not just the leaps that dictate our success; it’s our capacity for soaring through the unknown, and our willingness to learn from the landing.

3: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

With any job or business, you often need to do things you would not choose to do.

But that’s not the only reason doing what you love can feel like work. There’s also the inevitability that most tasks feel different when they become things we need to do to earn. When the monetary compensation increases, suddenly the money becomes the motivation, and as a result, it feels less enjoyable.

I suspect this comes down to freedom: we tend to best enjoy the things we feel we’re doing entirely by choice. Since work, in any form, requires commitment that supersedes our moment-to-moment whims, we need to know going in that even the most enjoyable paths will have their ups and downs.

History has proven this is not universally true. Some of the most passionate, successful people are those who have sacrificed many of their needs to push toward one all-encompassing goal.

We all have different advantages, some based on good fortune and some based on choices we have previously made. We can only ever start from where we are. If we have the strength to play our hands, instead of questioning why we don’t hold different cards, then we can decide at any time to work toward doing what we love.

The important thing is to remember that so much is still possible. We all deserve to enjoy the way we spend our days. If we’re willing to dream, work hard, learn, and navigate uncertainty, we all have the potential to do it.

Jo’s book Love is Simple is available on Amazon.

Micro Management – looking at the bigger picture

Geoff SearleI had a very interesting discussion recently with one of my associates who works across the public sector. We were discussing micro management. As you can imagine, this became a very passionate discussion.

  • Why do managers not delegate to others
  • Is it even realistic to ask that question?

How can education transforms people to enable learning and growth so they will be able to embrace new challenges and develop leadership learnings?

Do successful entrepreneurs fear delegating?

Collecting responsibilities, multitasking, and wearing multiple hats can at times give a false sense of security and control to someone in a position of authority. But when 20% of their time is spent on one task, and 30% on another, and 10% on another…well, you’re not 100 percent focused on anything!

Strategic planning deserves your full attention. Delegating can help you use your time and staff more efficiently, ultimately reaching your strategic goals regardless of whatever roadblocks might lie ahead.

If you go to Wikipedia to look up the word micromanagement you will find the word “symptoms” in the table of contents. Symptoms are used with sickness and illness. Cancer and diarrhoea have symptoms. Like cancer, micro management can kill team spirit and enthusiasm.

The effects of micromanagement to your business

Micromanagement is a destructive way of leadership. It can destroy trust, morale, and you could damage your line of communication. You can get disengaged employees and then creativity will drop. Employees self-esteem will then drop as well and over time, their performance. All in all, you become a large contributor to a hostile and dysfunctional work environment.

What should you do instead of micromanage?

What drives employee engagement? Engaged employees produce amazing results, there is no doubt about it. Employee engagement is the main building block of a winning culture and all companies need a solid foundation and strategic plan to work from.

Keyword: Trust

Trust is a key component to drive employee engagement. Have faith in your employees and leave them room to perform. You will soon see an increase in productivity. Trust will also give you valuable feedback, as micromanagement leads to employees shutting down the lines of communication.

Keyword: Time

You spend a lot of time micromanaging, is it worth it? Could you be better at time management? Should you focus on growth strategies instead of being detail oriented?

Keyword: Communication

When you micromanage you are shutting down lines of communication. Your employees will stop talking to you in fear of becoming micro managed. Laying low will become a strategy in your office, resulting in no communication, no engagement, no growth, and you will not have enough information to do your own job effectively.

Implement Trust, Free Time and Communicate

Display trust, become a better communicator. Try to motivate performance and use positive feedback to accomplish your desired outcome. Be clear about what you want in results. Engage the employee in conversations. Listen, ask questions, and listen. Talk with the employee and display trust until you are sure that the message is understood.

You need to see that micromanagement can damage the work environment and that micromanagement is a result of unhealthy communication skills.

The New Digital Business Economy

man watching many tv screensInternational leaders face an era of unprecedented change. The recession and financial crisis that ended in 2009 caused a seismic shift that has reshaped the global business landscape. The world economy is now characterized by sluggish growth in the West, a shift in power to the East, and value-driven customers and rising risks everywhere. At the same time, the downturn has hastened the adoption of key technologies—mobility, cloud computing, business intelligence and social media—that are transforming businesses and sparking a new wave of wealth creation, particularly in the emerging world.

Economic growth and technology are inextricably linked. Current economic conditions are fostering investment in technology as emerging markets ramp up their demand for technology to fuel growth, and advanced markets seek new ways to cut costs and drive innovation. This becomes a virtuous circle as digital technologies drive consumer income and demand, education and training, and efficient use of capital and resources—leading to increased economic growth, particularly in emerging markets.

Executives must be aware of the new challenges facing their firms as market momentum accelerates. Rising middle classes in places like China and India offer extraordinary potential for companies that understand their needs. Emerging markets are also spawning rivals that are unencumbered by legacy systems and corporate bureaucracy—with their sights set on advanced economies.

Against this backdrop, there are potentially several significant shifts companies will need to address
over the next five years:

1. The global digital economy comes of age.
2. Industries undergo digital transformation.
3. The digital divide reverses.
4. The emerging-market customer takes center stage.
5. Business shifts into hyperdrive.
6. Firms reorganize to embrace the digital economy.
7. Restoring trust

Research has shown that an emphasis should be placed on reducing the level of organisational complexity and enhancing the ability to move quickly and effectively in following new opportunities or countering threats.

The sharing economy, collaborative economy and crowd business models are all variations on a theme. A clear strategy on how to engage with and profit from this trend is key.

The new mobile and social business models bring myriad challenges and contradictions, notes Wharton management professor Harbir Singh. “Most businesses today understand that they need to exist in an ‘ecosystem’ that includes other companies, some of their competitors. “ He advocates careful monitoring of what it being yielded, vs expenses put into, such models. He also advocates opening up of products/services to create a platform that others can contribute to.

Executives should have a forward-looking mobile strategy for emerging markets, where the phone is the primary means for internet access. At the same time, they must consider how to improve data analytics to anticipate rapid global market shifts. Remember that in a fast-moving world, the threat of security breaches increases; companies must build stronger safeguards into their operations.

Trust is also a huge subject in companies, there are two avenues of restoration that businesses need to consider, the first relating to employees’ trust and the second consumers’ trust. Business must show that it has a broader skill set and can execute on engagement and integrity-based attributes , which can involve a complete overhaul of the company culture, ethic, moral and humanity based issues in business.

Finally, while emerging markets are growing quickly, companies should remember to protect market share in their home countries—rivals in emerging markets will be looking to play in your backyard

What do you believe companies should change in 2014?

The Power of Communication

Maia Kincaid, photograph by Pam Taylor
Maia Kincaid, photograph by Pam Taylor

I had the most amazing fortune of being introduced to Maia Kincaid, PH.D whilst I was in Sedona, Arizona, on a recent trip.

Maia works as an animal and nature communicator and is the author of several books. Our venue was a superb organic restaurant on the West Side of Sedona called The Field. As I walked into the restaurant to meet Maia there was an excellent quote on the wall “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about” – Rumi.” This inspired me deeply. I was received by a smiling Maia and a delightful lunch menu.

Maia asked me about Freedom After The Sharks, my recently published book. Then the conversation turned to her work across animal and nature communication. She wanted to know if I ever wondered what my pet was thinking or what my pet would say if he could talk. Did I know that animals do speak as humans do? 

Two years ago, I read a book called Animal Speak by Ted Andrews. Animal Speak teaches that our relationship with animals on this earth is not merely a physical one. It involves our mystical side too. The lessons learned will benefit the animals in our life by increasing our communication with and respect for them. In general, animals teach us valuable lessons. They offer guidance and support if our heart is open to shamanic teachings.

I explained to Maia that I have seen butterflies dancing around my head at 4500 ft of a hike, eagles circling my head at 7000 ft, and squawking red breasted Colorado hawks at 6000 ft. I had tarantula climbing on my foot during the daytime on a hike, watched mountain lions, elks, hummingbirds, ravens and many other species. These animals all carried a message at a certain time in my life and wanted to communicate with me. What if I could actually communicate with these animals and form a two-way communication and bond? Imagine the power of human nature, wisdom, and how this could change my life! I was amazed just with the possibilities.

From Maia’s website: “Talking with an animal directly is a powerful way to provide exactly what they desire, what they need, and what is in their highest good. And, besides that, animals have the most amazing and enlightening things to share with us about their way of viewing and living life, and they have great wisdom to share with us on living our own unique lives.

We communicate telepathically with all species of animals large and small including; wild animals, whales, dolphins, insects, plants and the Earth. It brings us great joy to inspire and guide others in awakening their own innate animal and nature listening abilities through our Telepathic Animal and Nature Communication Classes and a Certification Program in Telepathic Animal, Nature and Veterinary Communication. We work with veterinarians and other animal specialists training them in animal communication as a powerful tool to add to the already profound difference they make for people and their pets. And, we have the ongoing joy of training animal and Nature lovers and upcoming Telepathic Animal Communication Specialists in animal and Nature communication and coaching them on the development of their fulfilling lives and new careers.

I was fascinated and had a revelation. I had met Maia who teaches humans to speak with animals. Humans often have difficulties communicating with each other in our  business and personal lives. Why is this so?

Have you asked yourself why technology is so important? Just look around and you see why. Literally, at every instant of time, you are surrounded by technology. Whether you are working, resting or playing, you are always using technology. It is used everywhere and all the time.

Technology is about speed to reaction, performance, and 24/7 delivery. There are very few things that your smart phone will not allow you to complete: work, book a holiday, arrange a tennis match, entertainment. It is all possible. You can even find a new wife or husband online without speaking to them. It is all virtual but how is this effecting society? What are the long terms effects of virtual communication vs. an interactive discussion or meeting?

The internet, and especially social media, is having an impact on American couples as technology becomes more deeply integrated into people’s lives. A new study published by Pew Research Internet Project reveals that couples are feeling both the positive and negative effects of digital communication tools in their relationships.

The researchers found that 27% of American adults online who are in business, married, or in committed relationships report that the internet has had an impact on their relationships. A majority report that the impact has been positive. However, in some relationships, technology has been seen as a negative source of distraction. For example, 25% of cell phone users in serious relationships report that the phone distracts their spouse or partner when they are alone together.

Technology has changed the face of many relationships, affecting the way couples communicate, grow closer, plan, fight, and make up. The findings look at the role of technology in the lives of married or partnered adults, exploring both the positive and negative effects.

Maia has achieved an amazing revelation in her journey for communication with animals and nature. It certainly proves that simple communication whether verbalized or through telepathy is incredibly important to the relationship. It enhances our ability to build relationships and not deconstruct and build longevity and lasting relationships which is the traditional and social model that has survived.

I think that in the last 15 years, technological developments have given humans permission to evolve from purely direct communication to an advanced form of connection. We still need to meet face-to-face, speak on the telephone, and handwrite letters and cards primarily. But, now this interaction is enhanced and embellished by what we people define as connected technology.

Maia finished our discussion by saying that we all need smiles, feelings of fulfillment, feelings of empowerment, feelings of love, appreciation and gratitude. It inspires one’s unique creative expression and it enriches the human heart, mind and soul. These are things that unite humans. We need to be more thankful for the simple joy of being human.

The thrill lies in the challenge

Sedona, AZI was recently asked to go fishing with some friends in Sedona, Arizona, on Grasshopper Creek. Apart from many interesting challenges, this is a beautiful creek in the Red Rock and one on the most beautiful destinations in the world.
So why exactly do people fish? Ask most anglers why they enjoy spending time in the outdoors and you’re likely to hear the word “freedom.” Spending a day afield casting for trout on a cool mountain stream or bobber fishing for bluegills on a pond helps to release us from our highly stressful, everyday environment. Nothing brings on the sense of being alive and helps to rebuild our personal reserves like a day spent interacting with nature.
Fishing has a way of fulfilling an age-old need of pursuing and catching. The thrill lies in the challenge, such as stalking an elusive wild trout or matching the hatch. But there are many who will be quick to profess that it’s not the catching of fish that’s important, but the immeasurable life lessons that you will experience along the way.

Fishing provides that connection with the living world. It gives you the opportunity of being totally immersed, turning back into yourself in a good way. A form of meditation, some form of communion with levels of yourself that are deeper than the ordinary self.

– Ted Hughes

My partners were Rob, a successful budding entrepreneur in the Internet world, Shafeeq, a successful director of medicine in Neurology and Electrodiagnostic disorders, and Jon, a senior partner in law for investments and securities.

fishing 1 750

They were my company on a two-day fishing experience. We discussed many subjects including innovation and strategy of new inventions and creativity. In summary we came up with what strategies you should be consider from an embryonic blank page to insight, which were:

1. Creativity
2. Mindset
3. Engage
4. Customer connected
5. Observe insights
6. Ask the right questions
7. Always challenge
8. Create a think tank

fishing 3 750

Rob mentioned one really cool business that was launched in 2010: Pulse, an elegant news reader. The app has been downloaded by more than 20 million people and stands as one of the original fifty apps in Apple’s App Store Hall of Fame. Interestingly enough, the founders got many things right:

  • They started with a ‘driven’ mindset and were not content to merely comply with the standard requirements of their graduate program.
  • They minimized planning and maximised action, interacting with customers immediately.
  • They prototyped quickly and cheaply, fueling thousands of variations that ultimately resulted in their wildly popular final product.
  • They thrived in spite of time constraints, investment and spurred on by necessity to constantly develop creative ideas at an accelerated pace.

What companies do you follow or admire based on culture, values and performance and why?

Meeting Adara Blake

Adara Blake
Adara Blake

I recently had the pleasure to be in Sedona, Arizona, contemplating my next book.
Sedona is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona.
Sedona’s main attraction is its array of ed sandstone formations. The formations seem to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun.
The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.​
Sedona is also the city in the US where I wrote Freedom After The Sharks.
I decided one evening to have dinner at my one of my favorite restaurants in uptown overlooking the red rock, when I had the fortuitous of meeting Adara Blake. Adara’s revolution as a musician was greatly influenced as she began to record & produce her own music. She started a small recording studio out of her home & began to produce & record other local musicians as well. Delving into the world of recording, really affected the way she thought about, wrote, created & heard music.

Adara began learning piano about six years ago. Becoming a pianist, opened up Adara’s scope as a songwriter & singer.

We began talking about the meaning of words, the depth of the message in music and compared notes as artist’s in writing from poetry, music, performing arts to writing books, the power of words as a message that reaches audiences with love, compassion and prospective, how words can affect people’s moods, their light and even some of their darker moments.

The popularity of music and books show us that this is a part of our culture, but researchers continue to find that music and reading can also be an part of our health.

Scientists at the University of Missouri have found that people can boost their mood simply by listening to upbeat music or reading a book. Although pursuing personal happiness may be thought of as a self-centered venture, research suggests that happiness relates to a higher chance of socially beneficial behavior, better physical health, higher income, and greater relationship satisfaction.

People can successfully focus more on enjoying their experience of the journey towards happiness and not get hung up on the destination.

Once I provided the synopsis of Freedom After The Sharks, Adara spoke greatly about the love and passion for one of her songs Free Fall, which she decided to perform, which I must say was an excellent solo piece that caused an ovation of applause.

FREE FALL

Have you ever wandered
Lost in the dark
Nothing to hold you
No glimpse of a spark
No one to save you
As you’re falling apart
No one to love you
When you forgot who you are

Let it all come tumbling down
Laid deep, so deep into the ground
Let go, let go of all you know

Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall

Have you ever wanted
A place for your heart
Where it’s held softly
Safe from the dark
Have you ever needed
A break from the knots
That tie up your joy
With the pain that you got
Let it all come tumbling down
Laid soft, so soft inside the sounds
Let go, let go of who you thought

Should catch you, catch you when you fall
Should catch you, catch you when you fall

Have you ever pleaded
With your soul to be strong
When you feel half naked
& everything’s wrong
When you’re left to remember
All that you’ve lost
& you can’t find shelter
From the storms in your heart

Let it all come tumbling down
So deep, so deep into the ground
Take hold, the hand that’s placed beneath

It’s there for you if you just breathe
It’s there for you if you just breathe

Let go of your control
The fear that you’re all alone
We are so simply intertwined
More that you can ever know
So slow your spinning down
Feel the drifting of the flow
It is there to catch you
If you let go of what you hold

Let go of all you hold
Let it all come tumbling down
Laid soft, so soft inside the sounds
Let go, surrender, to it all

Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall
Be fearless in the free fall

Adara loves to write, “no matter how I am feeling at a certain moment in time or time of day, I know my words are the truth that will never change even when my feelings do, so I will write, I will write when I want to, giving myself love, grace and balance and having gratitude for the devotion and abilities to; write, create and perform to others which is the greatest gift of all

Adara’s new album New Crossing is available shortly, do visit her website!

Book Review: Murray Eldridge’s “Leading High Performance”

book cover "leading high performance"A good friend and fellow Non-Executive Director Murray Eldridge, has just launched his new book Leading High Performance.

Over the Easter break, Murray asked me to read and critique his book. Not only was I honoured with such a request, I decide that this week’s blog post should present Murray and a synopsis of his new book.

Murray rowed for Great Britain at Junior World Championship level. He won at Henley and other national competitions. Completing a career at sea as a captain at twenty-nine he embarked on a thirty year business career. He ran companies in China, Singapore, and the UK in oil & gas, and telecoms. He was also active in the water sectors where he remains a shareholder in a desalination company.

Murray runs a consultancy company, carries out board evaluations under the Governance Code, and delivers leadership and strategy workshops for the Institute of Directors. He is a Chartered Director, Chartered Manager, Fellow of the Institute of Management, and an MBA.

Murray’s book provides an excellent and candid summary of the winning principles that rip apart the methods used in many such books, as well as arguments from evidence-based management.
The book focuses not only on leaders, but on the people who work in complex and highly competitive environments. Those environments need people not only to be the best they can be individually, but to cooperate closely over time to secure long-term winning performances.

In sports, coaches are intimately involved in developing athletes, squads, and teams and bring an impressive array of technology and wide-ranging expertise to bear on all aspects of high performance development. There is much that businesses, especially leaders, can learn from coaches and sports.

Leading High Performance takes those elements of sports coaching that are relevant to businesses and shows how the principles of coaching, sports science, training, and even psychology offer tremendous opportunities for achieving high performance in all organisations. It looks at ways in which high performance is achieved in sport and describes, using examples, how this approach develops individuals while encouraging them towards high performance. It then analyses the most relevant ideas and techniques, converting them into easily applicable business models and tools.

The book then goes on to describe how not only leaders, but people in general rely on their connections with other people for business sustainability, that other people can change our very physiology and our emotions, and how people, especially in groups, can inevitably “catch” feelings from one another. This is especially true of the leadership simply because everyone watches the boss. Even when the boss isn’t visible, his or her attitude affects the mood of his direct subordinates, and a domino effect will eventually ripple through the company’s emotional climate. In this way, the author demonstrates the reason a successful leader must be credible at all times.

The last part of the book describes exactly what is required of the high performance leader to effect results, demonstrating through a bespoke methodology, the performance triangle, how leaders can select followers and develop these people in ways that will offer the highest possible chance of achieving high performance in the organization.

In summary; great performance is as much about the belief system and culture in the organization. These beliefs are found in the vision, ethos and values, leadership, the strategy and plans, in people, and importantly that people are trusted to make things happen.

Murray continues to state that if these core attributes are applied to the business then high-performance leaders must have an overwhelming desire to lead – and that the desire to lead must be for the right reasons. It is only through having this overwhelming desire that they will have the energy, enthusiasm, stamina and drive to undertake the unremitting pressure and sustained hard work required to turn an average organisation into a high performing one.

Recommended reading!