Monday, November 30, 2009

Be Bold – Push at Doors

Here is a practical tip for aspiring leaders. Push at doors because, in my experience, doors that may be seen as closed are more often than not ajar.

This was brought home to me most when I got Sir Alex Ferguson to endorse my book simply because I rang him direct – spoke to his PA and managed to get an exchange of correspondence with him that resulted in the book endorsement

The ‘easy’ option would have been to tell myself it was impossible to actually get to the great man but when I pushed at the door, sure enough, it was ajar.

It has always been my experience that the thing that holds us back most from being bold enough to achieve what we really want is our own reluctance to just ‘try things’ that might seem out of our reach. I imagine many people give up because they fear a negative or non-response.

I remember Tom Peters saying he asked his friend Bob Waterman when they were both senior consultants at McKinsey ‘How do you become a partner at McKinsey?’ and Waterman replied – ‘You just start acting like a partner and they will make you one.’ – So he did and they did!

I’m not pretending this is easy for some people and of course we are not all Tom Peters. Another important thing to remember is that Being Bold mustn’t be confused with being pushy, over confident or at worst arrogant. We have to have some insight about when the door is shut or even locked. That insight is partly about intuition and partly experience. But I really don’t think it's terribly complicated.

Like any other management or leadership skill we have to practice to make it work for us. I’m sure with practice we will get better about making the right call about pushing at the door or recognising when the door is definitely not for opening.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cross Country and Virgin - Chalk and Cheese

Regular readers of Simplicity Blog know that I travel almost all my business miles by rail.

I've often congratulated
rail providers publicly on this Blog for their excellent service. On Thursday I had an awful customer experience on a Cross Country train from Chesterfield to Birmingham New Street. I got so annoyed that I fired off an email on Friday to the rail public watchdog called "Passenger Focus - Putting Passengers First"

When service is excellent I like to tell the provider ... when it is absolutely crap we should also tell them.

This was what I wrote:

"I just wanted to vent my feelings.

Yesterday afternoon/evening I STOOD (along with probably 30 other passengers) for the entire journey on a Cross Country train from Chesterfield to Birmingham New Street. The announcements over the tannoy were awful – a very low volume and the announcer clearly had no idea that his diction is dreadful and indecipherable. No refreshments at all. It was - by a mile - the worst journey I’ve had on a train for five years and I travel about 5 times per week on average on business.

Contrast this with my onward journey with Virgin from Birmingham New Street to Coventry. I walked on to the train – a completely different ‘feel’ to everything about it. No problem finding a seat. The very friendly and reassuring voice of a pleasant train manager came over the tannoy to welcome me on board and tell me the details of the journey. I strolled along to the refreshments carriage – an absolute pleasure to be dealt with perfectly by a charming young lady who smiled a lot.

The contrast between Cross Country and Virgin was like chalk and cheese and I guess my question has to be is how the hell did Cross Country get that contract over Virgin – do the people who award the contract not take into account customers opinion?

Please do let me know what you can do with my feedback. For instance, can you forward this email to both Virgin and Cross Country on my behalf please?

Ironically enough I was returning from Chesterfield having just delivered a training session on customer care!!! – This journey gives me plenty of REAL data for future customer care workshops.

Hope to hear from you."

I will let you know if I hear anything!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Malcolm's New Blog!

Malcolm pictured with his son at the launch of "Its a Goal" at Manchester United Football Club in 2006

My friend Malcolm McClean – well known entrepreneur and Director of Bearhunt has started a Blog.

In 2005 Malcolm wrote “Bear Hunt – Earn Your Living by Doing What You Love” published by Capstone, which has since been translated into Chinese; Turkish; Romanian; Korean; and a special version has been created for the Indian market. Malcolm says “You would expect me to say this, but these principles really work – whenever I get stuck or distracted I get a coffee and re-read Bear Hunt myself as a reminder to keep on doing what I’ve been doing. Ever since that momentous decision to do great things with great people, I’ve been able to do something that we all should aspire to – earn my living just by doing what I love.”

Malcolm is not only one of the most creative thinkers I’ve come across in business but crucially he is also a ‘doer’ – he gets results.

Among his achievements Malcolm was the founder of the brilliant initiative “It’s a Goal” which engages young men in football to reduce the incidence of depression in a target group of the population where depression is often ‘kept under the carpet’ and not talked about. The initiative now involves 4 professional football clubs in England including my beloved Manchester United.

Malcolm’s new Blog can be seen at this link

I’m sure you will enjoy reading it and I hope you will respond to Malcolm’s views.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dreaming of a Holy Night

We are delighted that our Church in Coventry is to have Graham Kendrick appearing for one night only on Tuesday 8th December as part of his his US and UK tour. The concert tour is called "Dreaming of a Holy Night."

If you click on the arrow under the picture of Graham in the side bar you can hear more about the concert.

Graham has his own own website is at this link where you can read more about him and the tour

Graham Kendrick has been described as a ‘father of modern worship music.’ For more than 30 years he has been at the forefront of Christian music in the UK having written and recorded hundreds of songs, many of which are well known around the world, including Shine Jesus Shine, Knowing You, The Servant King and Amazing Love.

Graham is based in the UK and travels internationally participating in tours, festivals, conferences and training events, as a worship leader, speaker and performer.

Judging by the reviews of Grahams similar tour last year we are in for a memorable event in Coventry and
by clicking on the picture below you can see details of how to obtain tickets for the concert - a very reasonable £10 per ticket!!!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It hurts!

On Monday this week my 4 year old grandson Sebastian had an accident at school. This resulted in a trip to the hospital for an overnight stay and surgery on Tuesday morning on his broken arm. Here is a picture of the brave young soldier in his hospital bed. I'm sure all parents and grandparents are just like me - seeing our own children or grandchildren suffer pain hurts us.

The great news is Sebastian is much better and back at school tomorrow (Thursday).

This made me laugh

My darling wife Annie found a brilliant birthday card today for my son Simon. It is hilarious so we scanned the card and here it is.

I thought it was really funny - hope you agree.

Apologies for absence :-)

Sincere apologies for being away for a while – work commitments have meant I just have not had enough time to Blog as much as I would like. That in itself is great – we all have bills to pay - and it’s good for my health to be busy. But I genuinely miss making my regular postings on Simplicity Blog. However, I’m back and I will find time in the next few weeks to get back to regular Simplicity postings.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Another thank you to rail providers

I’ve just been reviewing my work diary over the last month.

1st to 31st October
- 19 days on train journeys – a total of 55 individual trains given various changes.

Train slightly late: 2 occasions

Significantly late: 0 occasions

On time or early: 53 occasions

I would say that’s superb given the complexity of rail travel and the number of variable factors.

Just as with the NHS there are often sweeping generalisations about poor rail services in England.

Rather than listen to those doom spreaders I speak as I find and as I have said many times on this Blog I feel we have a very good rail service in England.

The last month has again confirmed my opinion.

So thank you Virgin and Cross Country (both pictured above) These are the two main providers I've used in the last month.

November looks almost as busy for me on the rail network and I'm optimistic!