Short answer is yes, but here’s a slightly longer one.
My first mentor was Mike Sparkes who started as my agent when I was freelance but ended up my friend and business partner before his untimely death aged 38.
During the time I knew him this is what he gave me: -
- Inspiration: I couldn’t wait to be with him because of how he made me feel
- Knowledge: he knew more then than I know now and he was utterly selfless in sharing what he knew with me and with others.
- Experience: he liked me to have a go and was OK with me failing provided I learned from the experience.
- Challenge: he wasn’t a great believer in comfort zones and the status quo. Always pushing and helping me realise my potential.
- Confidence: he always believed in me and was never shaken by my many catastrophes.
- Support: especially in the early days he was always there for me particularly when my confidence was low.
- Motivation: I just wanted to do more for him.
- Friendship: not really a prerequisite for a mentor but he gave me his anyway.
Since then I have had many mentors and each has provided one or more of the above. I have no doubt that a great deal of my success in business stems from the contribution these men and women made to my development over the years. Even better than that it hasn’t cost me a penny.
I hope I have repaid my debts down the line though (but you’d have to ask those I have tried to mentor of course) and I will continue to do so. I think it’s as important to give as it is to receive - be generous with what you know.
My advice then: if you don’t have a mentor seek one out that you can trust and who can help you become what you are capable of being. You won’t regret it and it will make a big difference to how successful you will be.
Why do it all yourself when there’s an easier way.
Well done Europe and commiserations to the USA who came very close to nailing it. Great golf but what can we learn from it that would be useful in business?
Well the first thing to say is that everybody on both teams were great golfers; that’s a gimme. Each player has enormous talent and ability but more than that they are used to delivering under pressure and in the spotlight. Pretty similar to life in the second decade of the 21st century really: everybody is pretty good. The recession has cleared out most of the poor performers so quality is no longer the edge it used to be.
So what was it that made the European team raise their game and win? I think it came down to 3 things.
Jose Maria Olazabal provided truly great leadership: support, discipline, belief all in abundance. After the win he said to his team “All men die, but not all men live. And you have made me feel alive again this week”.
As Rory McIlroy put it “He has made us cry in the team room this week, some of us have broken down into tears with some of his speeches”. Even after the game was won Olazabal was urging on Francesco Molinari to win his match.
Never underestimate the power of inspired leadership.
Passion for the Cause
The late Seve Ballesteros became the cause for this European Ryder cup team. Olazabal had partnered him on numerous Ryder Cup teams in the past and had a special bond that went beyond their shared homeland. But Seve was so well liked and respected he became the cause that everybody rallied around.
Olazabal said ”Seve will always be present with this team” a sentiment added to by Sergio Garcia who said “We did believe, there’s no doubt that we’ve been inspired by Seve, through our captain.” Again Rory McIlroy summed it up “knowing that Seve’s looking down on us, it’s just been one of the most incredible days that I’ve ever had on the golf course.”
Wanting to win is natural in all sports people but having a shared cause that everyone has a passion for lifted their performance to a different level and one that the Americans were unable to match.
Having a shared passion for a single cause that sits above the obvious prize makes all the difference in the world.
There may have been momentary doubts; there must have been. To be faced with 12 matches and the opposition only has to win 4 of them would seem an impossible task especially when faced by a talented and pumped up USA team but they always hung on to the belief “we can win”.
Justin Rose said after his amazing win over Phil Mickelson “Jose told us to believe and we really wanted to, we really did.”. Belief helps you to pick yourself up when you have fallen and can steer you through the narrowest of gaps to pass the finishing line first. In short, belief promotes persistence – which will surely conquer all that lies before it.
Following one of Olazabal’s dressing room talks and even though they were 4 points adrift Ian Poulter said ”We weren’t four points down. We felt like we were all square. We just knew we had a chance. And do you know this is history right here.”
If you believe in yourself you really can achieve miracles.
So what can we take away from all this?
In business we can’t just rely on being better than the next firm we must look within ourselves and ask these questions: do we really have a cause not just a target and are we all passionate about it? Do we believe in ourselves and those around us and finally do our leaders support, believe and inspire us to achieve the seemingly impossible.
So, with the week in front of us about to unfold how do our organisations match up to the European Ryder Cup Team of 2012?
Richard St. John is a success analyst who spends his time researching, speaking on and writing about success. These 8 secrets stemmed from a question a schoolgirl asked him on an aeroplane for which he had no clear answer.
This simple question inspired a 7 year journey of discovery that embraced over 500 interviews of successful people like Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Frank Gehry and Norman Jewison across business, the sciences and the arts.
- do it for love not for money.
- if you do it for love the money will follow.
- passions are the first thing you thing of in the morning and the last thing you think of at night.
2. Work hard
- the harder you work the more you will achieve
- success rarely comes without hard work; lucky winners are few and far between.
3. Be good at what you do
- work long and hard to be good at something
- practice; practice; practice
- when it comes down to it if you aren’t good at what you do you can’t be a success and sustain it
- concentrate all your efforts into one or two goals.
- without focus your resources will be too thinly stretched to achieve real success.
5. Push yourself
- physically and mentally push yourself to your limits
- push through shyness and self-doubt
- make it a privilege to serve people
- serve other people something they will find of value
- think more about the needs of your stakeholders than of your own needs
7. Have ideas
- you must find the time to think
- seek inspiration from whatever and whomsoever you can: books; TED; mentors; gurus
- listen; observe; be curious; ask questions; problem solve; make connections.
- persist through failure
- persist through CRAP: Criticism; Rejection; Assholes; Pressure
I happen to think that these simple, yet powerful, ideas are both accurate and inspirational. Also since they are Mr St. John’s and not mine I feel justified in asking you to Tweet this out and pass onto others who are searching for their way forward.
You know, pressure can produce outstanding results in some people but stress (its first cousin) is always harmful and counter productive. It often causes physical as well as mental problems and will generally make you less effective. In short stress is NOT your friend.
This is how it all unfolds: -
- Stress causes unhappiness; pain and under-performance.
- Lack of control always causes stress
- Lack of the 3 P’s results in less control (preparation; planning and practice)
- Lack of time is why we don’t spend enough on the 3 P’s.
- Lack of discipline is why we don’t have enough time (we say “yes” too much and do things that don’t matter)
- Lack of accountability and strong working habits weaken our discipline.
- Lack of the right stakeholders causes lack of accountability.
So here’s what I suggest you do if you want a largely stress-free and happy existence: -
- Get the right stakeholders in your life: don’t compromise on your team and have somebody who you can make commitments to and will hold you accountable.
- Establish strong working habits.
- Say “no” when you need to and only do what matters (get a clear set of objectives so that you know what matters).
- Always plan, prepare and practice for every key event or responsibility.
All of these will result in putting you in control of events rather than the other way round and bingo! hardly a glimmer on the old stress-o-meter.
What do you think?
This is a guest post by Barry Hoffman who is the Group HR Director of Computacenter. I have known Barry for many years and I can honestly say he is one of the most productive and successful leaders I have ever worked with. Lazy? Perhaps not but he rarely attends meetings, works a standard day and always has time to meet useful and interesting people. Read on to find out how he does it all…..
When the Flair man asked me to write a blog on how to be productive, successful and lazy, I predictably and inevitably said I couldn’t be bothered, and even if I could, I’d be outsourcing it to some lesser mortal. But after some, frankly, undignified, begging for a man of his maturing stature and the promise of fine dining, I relented and so here is the secret to a productive and successful career: Let people do their jobs.
Believe it or not, it’s easier to write than it is to do – but it soon becomes a habit. I am, I think, quite successful – by lots of measures (financial, hierarchical, family, health and so on), but I am apt to look on the bright side, I grant you.
In all seriousness though, to be successful you need to let go – trust those around you (give them support, guidance and clear boundaries) but don’t interfere with the experts, listen to what those around you say and then allow them to fulfil their potential. Don’t take opportunities from them – they may do things 80% the way that you wanted but the other 20% might be better than you could ever imagine – or indeed better than you could ever achieve yourself.
So many of us feel the need to speak, to have it our way and to be superior by knowing more about everything than those beneath us. It’s primeval and natural. But overcome this and you are unlocking a rich seam of productivity. You will achieve more through others than you ever imagined and, if you do it with magnanimity, encouragement and genuine permission, then you will have the most loyal, engaged and committed team you could hope for. They will cover more ground than you could ever hope to alone. It’s no accident that Newton’s quote “standing on the shoulders of giants” is a cliché. Use the strengths of those around you and you can cover great distance (operationally) and see for miles around (strategically).
This approach is hard work and takes lots of practice. But once you’ve cracked it you will be productive and successful. If you want to know how to start then my advice is to listen, really listen to your people, let them do their jobs and try as hard as you can to encourage, support, guide and not interfere.
And how do you do that – well of course, it helps if you’re lazy!
So here they are; my top 10 TED videos and the reasons why you should check them out. Just on the off-chance that you don’t know what TED is it’s like YouTube for grown ups where the contributors are invited to contribute. Video clips tend to be less than 20 minutes and covering an eclectic mix of subjects – at home we often watch TED instead of the TV!
Read on if you want to be educated, inspired or just plain entertained. Beware though: TED can lead to addiction issues!!!!!!!
1. Steve Jobs – Stanford Address - http://bit.ly/rZL53R
The inimitable Mr Jobs is speaking at a Stanford University graduation ceremony. He recounts three different parts of his life each offering at least one important message but beyond that these episodes provide a fascinating insight into what made the great man tick. Seriously it nearly moves me to tears every time I watch it.
2. Simon Sinek – why do people buy from you - http://bit.ly/vLk0ev
Sinek recounts some real-life examples (again one of them being Apple) of how people buy what you believe above all else. If you have to persuade people or sell to them as part of your job this brief clip WILL make a difference. I changed the way I present what I do after I watched it.
3. Sir Ken Robinson – Killing creativity - http://bit.ly/us1MOy
I’ve seen Sir Ken speak live and he never fails to entertain, educate and perhaps most importantly make you contemplate. Here he is talking about creativity especially in kids but you can relate to what he says no matter what you do or how old you are. Particularly relevant if you have kids at school I might add.
4. Derek Sivers – Starting a movement - http://bit.ly/sZtLY8
Sivers narrates a video clip of somebody who starts an extraordinary movement at a pop festival, of all places, and then draws lessons that anybody who wants to be a wow on the internet will want to learn. Want to grow a community? Well check this out. Also it really is fascinating to watch the community form before your eyes.
5. Malcom Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce - http://bit.ly/tdTAKn
Ever wondered why some people prefer one product over another? Could this help you to promote your offering to better effect? I think so and the way Gladwell achieves it is by recounting how the perfect spaghetti sauce was developed; or not as the case may be.
6. Sheena Iyengar – How to make choices easier - http://bit.ly/x7Wqll
When I watched this clip for the first time I was struck by the simplicity of Iyengar’s argument: put some effort into the way you build features and choices into your offerings and the way you present them to your clients. Love it!
7. Niall Ferguson – the 6 killer apps of prosperity - http://bit.ly/s2vd9z
You may have seen the TV programme but either way this is a great talk which explores a) why the west was so successful in growing powerful and rich nations even though it started later than the east and b) why the east is now overtaking the west. Very thought-provoking and ingeniously presented by using the modern concept of Apps but for nations.
8. Nigel Marsh – how to make work-life balance work - http://bit.ly/sqqQT5
One of the biggest challenges we face in the modern world is getting balance in our lives: how much time for work; how much for our friends and families and how much special time do we need for ourselves? A relatively easy question to answer you’d think but if you can’t seem to get there (you’re definitely not alone if you can’t) then try this talk by Nigel Marsh for size.
9. Paul Gilding – the Earth is Full - http://bit.ly/zhUmyQ
I don’t want to get into the whole green debate but wherever you stand on the subject this talk will certainly make you think. Gilding avoids the easy targets of lonely polar bears, shrinking icecaps and unusual weather patterns and comes from an angle that even made me sit up and think. If you watch it do so with an open mind – the logic behind his arguments is sound and irrefutable.
10. Cat vs Washing machine - http://bit.ly/fFQ6O1
OK so this isn’t a TED video; I’ve watched it a hundred times and it makes me laugh every single time so go on, cheer yourself up and watch the cat who’s left his iPhone in his jeans which are now in his washing machine. One of many TRANSLATION vids by Chris Cohen.
So there you have it; my very favourite TED videos but I’m sure you’ve got loads others so please add your favourites as comments so others can share.
Vive le TED!!!
I just wanted to say thank you to everybody who has supported me this year through doing business with me, providing me with help and advice and collaborating on-line and in person. I am very grateful for everything you have done and only hope that I have at least given the same in return but hopefully a little more.
One last thought before we all leave 2011 for good.
The New Year is bound to bring new challenges especially with the economy the way it is. We are bombarded daily with gloomy predictions of double-dips, growing unemployment and much harsher trading conditions.
Well, my advice is to ignore it all, tighten your belts as much as you can and sell more. Seriously, whatever you’re selling I can practically guarantee you have a tiny percentage of the overall market share which means enormous potential for growth.
Even when you have knocked out the time-wasters, messers and tight-wads there is still more than enough to go around but make sure you go out to them and don’t wait for them to come to you. Added to that you really are better than your competitors so all you have to do is demonstrate this to the right people and you’re in – that’s called selling.
So there you have it: in 2012 sell more and market less – you know it makes sense.
Once again thank you for your support and I sincerely hope we can do more “stuff” in 2012.
Have a very merry Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Regards … Mike
I have found that there are three kinds of people in life: -
- Vampires – who suck the joy out of your life and the energy from your very soul. Think: negative, critical, snide, arrogant, know-it-all, taker, won’t listen, exploitative, secretive, petty – I think you get the idea.
- Vanillas – who don’t really taste of anything much and don’t have a positive or negative effect upon you. Think: John Major
- Voltages – just fill you with energy. Think: giver, listener, encourager, positive, open, honest, suggestive, fun and interesting.
Here’s another thought. What are you to other people? I’m guessing you’d like to think you’re a Voltage but are you sure? What about this for a suggestion: as you connect with people during the next week or so why not ask yourself as you finish the encounter “did I just make them feel better about themselves or worse?”. Just a bit of fun really but could be quite illuminating.
I happen to have a list of people who I see solely because they are voltages: I can’t do business with them; they won’t introduce me to anybody I can do business with; they may not have information or expertise that I want but they all lift my spirits and bring me alive.
So here’s the skinny: actively get rid of the vampires, avoid the vanillas and seek out as many voltages as you can.
What’s your ratio of vamps to volts then and what are you going to do about it?
Of course, the fruit I am alluding to are Apples (iPads or iPhones), Blackberry’s and Oranges (or any other network for that matter) and I am really talking about not using them for work purposes rather than as a way of keeping in touch with the kids at the beach.
But why would you bother?
I recently took a week off and before I went I had been wrestling with a few strategic challenges within the business. Operationally I was in good shape but I just needed some away-time to think things over at a leisurely pace – not a luxury I usually get during my normal working week.
Usually I do take along on holiday my iPhone (and was planning to slip my iPad in too this time) but I decided not to. And here’s why: -
- Mel is a first rate support person who can handle anything that comes along and if not would find a way to contact me.
- We took some time to do a proper handover.
- I am not that crucial to events that if I’m not there the world will stop.
- I need a chance to let myself empty of work before gradually reintroducing it. Step away, step away and see so much more that way!
- It’s not fair to my family – it isn’t the few minutes you spend on your emails it’s the distance it creates when you stop. You’re kidding yourself if you think it doesn’t affect them: it does.
As it turns out we were unable to fly due to a sick daughter but I took a staycation at home instead. Same rules applied and for the same reasons.
After a whole week of working in the garden, going for walks, some outings with Mrs Ames and time spent working with my youngest son on his house I had completely emptied my head of work – it wasn’t easy to keep away from the electronic office but I managed it. The results: I was utterly refreshed, eager to get back to work and had a clear way forward for each of my challenges (mostly the answers popped into my head right at the end of the week).
So next time your holidays are looming do yourself a favour and leave your work behind. Get a good support person in, do a proper handover and focus your attention on your family where it belongs.
If you do you will most likely come back much stronger, more refreshed and with more ideas than if you had been checking emails and texts every day to “keep on top of things”.
Happy holidays and let the only fruit you encounter be in a bowl at breakfast time!
Think back for a moment. When did you last come up with a really innovative and ground breaking idea? When did you solve that business problem that had been dogging you for ages? When was the last time you made a business development breakthrough? When was the last time you had a revelation about your future?
I’ll bet a pound to a penny that it wasn’t whilst you were slogging your way through your emails or on the telephone to an irate client and I am darned sure it wasn’t in a meeting. No; the kind of outcomes we have been describing come from reflective introspection in an environment that you find conducive to thought. This is called Purple Time.
The big problem with Purple Time is getting enough of it. Come to think of it, drop the Purple and apply the statement to time in general but whereas with Red Time (activity) you can use, pretty much, whatever you have available to get things done this does not apply to Purple Time. This is especially true if you have a job to do and are expected to do some business development as well.
Consider the time you spend doing activities as fast food time: get it and consume it on the hoof. But, Purple time is more like preparing a fine meal at home for someone special. The lead up to it is all important and the consumption should be considered and savoured and it should definitely not come with a deadline. “Hurry up with your creme brulee would you darling I’ve got the property team arriving in 5″. I think not!
So if you want to be more in control and have a clear idea of where you are going here are my three steps to Purple Heaven: -
- Figure out your Purple Time. It can be different for all of us. Mine used to be running but since I can no longer run it is walking. I also experience Deep Purple Time when I am driving with the radio off although I don’t recommend this as it can be highly dangerous. What were you doing when you had your last Eureka moment?
- Stack the Purple Deck. If you don’t make Purple Time it just won’t happen I’m afraid. It’s not really a matter of booking it in; I’ve yet to add an entry to my Outlook calendar that said “Experience Purple Time”. Whatever your Purple activity is make sure that you go out of your way to get some, preferably on a weekly basis.
- Write things down. If you are not very careful your special time will turn into a sort of a thinking-shop in the same way that many brainstorming sessions at work become nothing more than talking shops. This is all very well but it is the outcome we want not the experience. So, when you emerge back into a less than Purple reality write down what you came up with and, where necessary, insert some tasks into your chosen task management system. Action, action, action!