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You’re not as good as you think you are…

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Some people seem to have all the luck. Good things happen to them, they always win, they never seem to make any mistakes, and life appears to come easy to them. We used to say; they always come up smelling of roses, or they always land on their feet.

Others have to fight for every victory, they never actually win anything, success doesn’t come easy, life doesn’t seem easy, it’s a constant up-hill struggle, and if anything can go wrong it usually does.

Which are you?

If you are the second, and you feel you have to fight to succeed and that good things don’t come easy, but bad things do, then change something around you. Life isn’t written, and tomorrow truly is a blank page. You really can make small or drastic change in a heartbeat, and then like ripples on a pond, the change will create more change, much of it unpredictable, but all of it new.
One change is all it needs… Changing a job, or how you do your job, will change the prospect of success. Changing your friends, or how you interact with them, will change what happens to you when you are with them. Changing how you manage or interact with your family will change how they make you feel.

The great bonus for these people is when they experience joy or success, they love it, because they have never taken it for granted. These people can be the most fortunate and rewarded of all. But they have the hardest time changing the little things in order to find happiness.

If you are the first type of person, and you always expect to win, things usually always work out, and success is a habit you have learned to enjoy. Then watch out! You are heading for the biggest crash of your life, and you’d better start preparing for it. You believe that your positive attitude, your cool confidence, and your natural life skills have led you to this high tower of success and happiness that you mostly enjoy. And you’re right. You have no doubt expertly crafted your surroundings in order to promote success and happiness, but you are surrounded by those who envy your positon. But even if they don’t get you, something unexpected will. That’s just the random element of life. Even though it fears you the most, you will one day have to face the no-win-scenario – something you just cannot get right or succeed at. Prepare to take this in your stride, and don’t let it destroy you. It will just make you humble, more likeable and more real.

So if you are the person who fights for every small success, and you feel that things don’t normally work out for you, then look around at what and who is around you when you feel this way, and begin to plan those small changes. It may be something simple to start with, like letting someone go in front of you in a queue or letting a packed train go by. But it’s a start, it’s a small change, which will make you feel like a better person and also make you more open to how small changes can have a big impact.

If you are a natural winner, and you always land on your feet, then keep your eyes open as you jump, to make sure no-one removed the crash mat. If you prepare for a fall, then your knees will absorb much of the impact. If you don’t prepare, it will hurt like hell.

Where is your passion?

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So, I am 3 months into puppy ownership, and one of the most unexpected discoveries (apart from the amount of poo a tiny puppy can actually produce on a daily basis) is how lovely dog-world actually is. When we are out walking our puppy, other dog owners stop and say hello. They ask our puppy’s name, and they introduce theirs. This even happens on the tube! In London! Where normally people generally try their hardest to get from A to B without catching anyone’s eye or crossing anyone’s path, let alone stopping en route for a chat.

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Release your inner puppy

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For those that know me well, it will come as no small surprise, that my partner and I have recently taken a puppy into our home.

It’s also fair to say that although it’s very cute, it comes with super responsibility, and it is a real life-changer, but hopefully when the ‘training phase’ is over, we’ll be left with a joyous bundle of fluff.

It did make me realise though, the way a puppy views life is a not something to be sniffed at, and perhaps a lesson to us all.

One of the most rewarding things about having a puppy is the welcome you receive when coming home. The puppy is never in a bad mood, never too busy to look up when I walk through the door, and never grunts a half-hearted ‘morning’ when I see her for the first time each day. She leaps and bounds and tells me her day just got better because she saw me for the first time. I’m not suggesting employing such a greeting in your office, but a chirpy and genuine ‘good morning’ to your friends and colleagues will tell them that you care, you are interested in them and with that, you help them to approach their day with a smile, rather than a heavy heart.

In a puppy’s world, everything is new and exciting, and that excitement is a joy to watch. A walk is always fun, a stick is like Christmas, and an old sock… well words cannot explain! Look around your team and spot the puppies; those that approach everything with a smile. They like to learn, they like new things, they have a slight bounce in their step, and they are super positive. They are probably the best performers too, certainly the clients’ favourite. Don’t you prefer to work with the puppies in your team?

There is also a lesson in puppy training. Positive encouragement is always better than punishment. Scold a puppy and you end its world, its sad eyes can melt even a cold heart. But reward and encourage a puppy to do things right or better, and it doesn’t just learn, but it enjoys the process. This is the best way to train a new member of your team. Highlighting or even ridiculing mistakes as your new starter is learning will only encourage them to hide their next mistake. Too much telling will stifle creativity and experimentation, the only route to real change.

A puppy can change you, and so can each new person that joins your team.

So as they learn, make sure you do too. Learn from their fresh new view of the world, it could in a small way, make yours better.

Is your manager a bad Apple?

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Last week the latest IOS update for the iPhone was released by Apple.

Until Apple changed the world, software updates were boring.

An update from Microsoft has always meant that you have to stop what you are doing, hand over control of your computer to Microsoft for an indeterminate length of time, and wait, while your computer downloads and then installs its latest update.

Everything stops. Nothing works. And you have no idea how long the interruption will last. Time passes. Time is wasted.

Then when the update is completed, you restart your device (more lost time) and you continue where you left off. Nothing has changed. Nothing seems new. Nothing is different. You soon forget the interruption, you rush to make up the lost time, and you carry on regardless.

Apple has changed all that. As soon as an update is even announced, there is a frenzy of social media speculation and media interest in what new features the new update may bring. Experts offer opinions, hackers present apparently stolen insights, reviewers anticipate the effects. We are excited, or at least curious to know what treats the forthcoming update will deliver.

When the update is ready to download, Apple experiences an instant and enormous surge of activity, as the world downloads the update, all at the same time. It’s a surge that Apple has had to invest huge amounts of money to ensure its systems can meet the massive and simultaneous peak in demand.

Work doesn’t stop whilst we download, as with Microsoft. We carry on, not losing time, trying to stave off the excitement and anticipation.

Once downloaded, we are ready to go. No need to restart. We simply dive in, discover what’s new, adapt our lives to incorporate the update and carry on. A little better that before. Maybe a little faster, maybe for a little longer. Perhaps with a few new tricks or shortcuts.

Apple has taught us to anticipate every update, to value it, to adapt to it, and we expect to be a little better as a result of it. We look forward to every update, we download it right away and it doesn’t interfere with our lives or waste any time. In a small way, each update makes us better, faster, more efficient, more content. Certainly we are at least a little better equipped to deal with the world today.

Microsoft updates remain uninspiring, time-robbing, seemingly pointless, and the updates themselves are often something we actually put off until absolutely necessary. They give us nothing. They just slow us down.

So, which one is your manager….?

Do you value the time you spend with your manager? Do you learn anything? Do you go away a little better? More confident, more motivated, better equipped to deal with your work today?

Or is listening to your manager just a waste of time. Seemingly pointless, something you try to avoid, and something that just slows you down?

Good manager downloads should be just like those from Apple. Improving your life in small but meaningful ways.

If yours are not, perhaps it’s time to upgrade…

Without change, nothing happens

As a ball rolls down a hill, the journey it takes is totally controlled by the terrain. If it’s smooth, the ball will take a predictable, and direct route to the bottom of the hill, where it will come to rest.

But we have the power to completely change, and almost control, not only its route, but also its final destination.

By placing obstacles in its path, we can change its direction. Adding a sand patch to the hill, will slow down its decent. Diverting the ball to a running stream will make it speed away, and head to a completely different destination, perhaps miles away from its start. By placing a small ramp in its path, the ball will fly.

Without change, the ball simply rolls to the bottom of the hill. With change, the ball gets a longer, more varied journey. It can travel, it can fly.

Our lives are the same. We roll along, reacting to what is in our path, but we can see the bottom of the hill, and we know we will end up there.

So, without change, nothing happens.

Change, is a decision, a move, an intervention, a determined search, a different perspective, a different view point. This could relate you how we manage our family, or friends, our home, or our career.

Change something, and something new happens as a result.

We are not balls rolling down a hill. We have the power to choose our own path. And if we don’t like the one we are on, we can stop, face the other way, and start a new one. We don’t even have to roll at all. We can climb, we can stand and watch. We can even fly.

Our journey is totally unpredictable, but only with change.

Without it, our lives are inevitable.

Without change nothing happens.

Why are event managers such bad parents?

There are basically two types of parent.

The best type of parent will coach and praise their children, in order to build their confidence, and they inspire or challenge them to try harder and achieve great things. They focus on success and outcomes. These children grow up to be winners, leaders, and happy, capable self-sufficient adults.

The other type, often called helicopter parents, constantly hover over their children, giving detailed orders and instructions for the simplest of tasks. They correct every mistake, and they never give their children a chance to experiment or fail. They focus on the detail of doing something, rather than the result or purpose. These children grow up without the ability to make tough decisions, or handle any kind of pressure, and they are usually dreaming of a happier life, which they will never find. Basically because you don’t find a happier life, you make one.

Now imagine an event manager as the parent, and the conference delegate as the child…

Most event managers behave like a helicopter parents; even when managing a conference attended by senior managers, business leaders, or law partners. These people can, on a normal day, not only get to their office all by themselves, but they can manage to find the closest train station without the help of a ‘personalised travel guidance pack’, or if they drive, they cleverly ask their sat-nav for help. They can pack what they need for the day, without a list of ‘things you will need’, they can find their way to a meeting without the help of human signage and branded arrows. At the end of the day, when all their meetings are over, they are not thrown into a tailspin if they can’t spend the night in the same building as their meetings, they seem to be totally at ease with walking down the road to the closest hotel.

So, why is it, we event managers assume all our delegates are like clueless 5-year-olds, who have to be molly-coddled through their day, signposted round ever turn, and eased into any change of environment? These are grown ups! They can run companies, they can hire and fire people, they can win business, they can do really complicated things like catch planes by themselves, track down a place to buy coffee and even hail a cab.

Event managers unite – stop being helicopter parents !

It’s time for us to make our delegates grow up.

The next time you are with a client, planning an event, try to use some of these terrifying phrases…

I’m sure they will find their own way to the Hilton, even from the airport;

I think the hotel signage is fine as it is;

Let’s let the delegate chose which hotel they want to stay in, and then they can make their own way there and back each day;

If they want a coffee, they can order one;

If it gets too crowded here, they will just move to the other end of the room;

If a queue builds up, they’ll just have to wait in line;

If they have so many dietary requirements that all they can eat is sun-dried, organic kiwi fruit with the peel cut off, they will surely bring their own…

Shall we just let them sit with their friends?

If they forget their badge, they’ll just have to ask for a new one;

If the front row doesn’t fill up first, it surely will when there are no other seats left !

If they don’t visit all the exhibition booths, it’s because THEY DON’T WANT TO !

If there’s a pillar in the room, people will surely just not sit behind it !

If they don’t want to dance, THEY WON’T DANCE !

Let’s inspire our delegates to do great things, just like we would our own children. Don’t condemn them to a life of unfulfilled dreams…

to be or not to be…?

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Most of us have ‘to-do-lists’

We fill them with tasks.

The tasks themselves don’t really change or achieve very much, and the only real satisfaction we get is by crossing something off the list. It’s not the task itself that makes us feel good, or proud, it is the fact that it has been completed, and now behind us.

Do we ever get to the end of a to-do-list, or do we just continue to add to it? So is it never ending, ever changing, and just a way of ordering and filling our time?

Consider the difference it would make if we replaced our to-do-list with a to-be-list.

When we were children, before we learned the concept of ‘tasks’, we used to work with to-be-lists without even realising it. We wanted to be older, we wanted to be a pilot, a teacher, or a footballer. We wanted to be popular, to be a prize-winner, or just to be playing outside. During our early childhood years is when we changed the most, perhaps because we were focussing more on what we wanted to be. But who says we can only change as we move from toddler to grown up? Maybe if we continue to focus on what we want to be, we can continue to change ourselves, and also those around us.

So rather than adding to the list of tasks you need to get through today, why not use a few quiet moments to list the things you want to be, the things you want to achieve, the things you’ve dreamed of, or wished for?

My to-be-list would look something like this;

I want to be:

  • A positive influence on everyone in my world
  • Different
  • Controversial
  • A leader who inspires others to be better and do better
  • The favourite uncle
  • The best son, brother and partner
  • Remembered

Once uncluttered by tasks and the never-ending to-do-list, perhaps a brand new to-be-list can really make a change to our future selves, and at the same time have a massive effect on those around us. It’s never too late to change, and it’s never too late to achieve your dreams.

Trade shows – and everything you were afraid to say about them…

The barfly, The blagger, The stuff it in her bagger

 The blogger, The nodder, The flush it down the bogger

 The nagger, The swagger, The finger wagger

 The waster, The racer, The more than two facer

 The shirker, The worker, The business converter

 We all love a trade show.

Having spent a couple of days at Imex this week, I was delighted to see that most of the players at this excellent industry event are, on the whole, playing fair and well. But I’m ashamed to say, there are still a few who generate a lot of cost, a lot of fuss, and very little revenue…

My blatant rip off of a recent McDonald’s ad, above, names and shames a few of the worst culprits. Do you know any of them? Or worse still, are you one of them?

The barfly: his first job of the day is to check out which stands serve alcohol, are close to the loos, have comfy seating, good wi-fi, but don’t have CCTV or too many hungry-looking account managers who might pester him with business reviews.

The blagger: always has a really big enquiry, totally right for your destination. In truth, it’s where he fancies his next holiday, or where he’d like to have his wedding ceremony.

The finger wagger: things she may say whilst she waggles her finger at you… “You really shouldn’t be charging for wi-fi, your central res desk is no good, the arrival experience at your hotel is poor, my coffee was cold this morning, I had to queue for 3 minutes at check-in, my driver didn’t know my name, my badge doesn’t have my full title….”

The blogger: watch out for him, he is tweeting, posting and gossiping. He will say nice things if he likes you, and bad things if you neglect him. He’s a good friend to have on your side. You can spot him, because he is tapping on his phone as he walks, and he never engages with anyone. Take his picture and post it on your website, then tweet it, and you have a friend for life.

The nodder: a waste of time. He looks like he’s listening, but really he’s working out how many Airmiles he got for this trip, and wondering where to go for happy hour.

The flush it down the bogger: a bit like the nodder. This guy will take all your brochures, your CD, your USB pen, and your business card, but nothing will make it past the recycling point.

The nagger: She’s just had an event go bad. Probably her fault. But she’s looking for someone to blame, and it’s about to be you. She’s easy to spot, as she will make a beeline for you. She will be dragging a small wheelie case, walking like she’s the Queen with a Corgi, and she’ll be pointing. She may even have a pen stuck in her hairdo, and glasses on a chain around her neck.

The swagger: he’s been everywhere the world. And he thinks he’s the biggest agent at the show. If you don’t know his name, you shouldn’t be in business. Truth is, he was big one day, but that’s before we went decimal. Now he’s usually on the golf course, or at trade shows. Nothing he says will be true, so switch off, and think about where you will go for happy hour, once you’ve gotten rid of him.

The stuff it in her bagger: shows up for all the free stuff. He can always be spotted by the size and weight of his conference bag. He keeps changing shoulders, as it’s so heavy… It’s filled to the brim with chocolates, local cheeses, USB sticks, flags, squeaky stress balls, post-it pads and pens.

The waster: see blagger.

The racer: checks in for her return flight, just as she lands. She is here for the party, and that’s all. She’s easy to spot, as all she talks about is which party she’s going to and what she’ll be wearing. She’ll also be troweled in make-up as thick as blackout curtains.

The more than two facer: he’s a dangerous one this one. He’ll tell you how much he want to move business to your venue, but only if you can improve your offer or your service. He’ll tell you how awful your competitors are, and how he’d love to move business away from them. He’s told the same story many times… Beware this delegate. Just nod and smile…

The shirker: He barely knows why he’s here. In fact he might not even know where he is. He’s pointless and lazy, and has no business at all. He’s easy to spot, as he’ll look a little scruffy and won’t ever be carrying anything except business cards.

The worker: She has come to work, and she has real business to place. She is easy to spot, she will have a briefcase or at least a folder or a pad. It will have real live enquiries in it. If you see this person, sit her down and treat her well. She has come to work, and she has real business to place.

The business converter: She is not so easy to spot. She is the business influencer rather than an actual booker. A business owner or a senior manager. She will arrive at her appointments on time, she will listen to you, and then she will tell you about her business. She speaks the truth. Make a good impression here, and watch her business move to your venues. 

We all love a trade show, but we don’t love everyone who goes to them.

Exhibitors invest thousands of pounds in these events, and the least we humble agents can do is play along.

Be a good delegate.

How to get perfect abs…

Most people who strive for perfection in fitness and good health want, more than anything, to have a good six-pack. The six-pack, or the abs, represent core strength and discipline. A strong core makes other exercises easier to perform and more precise. But a six-pack takes not only the right amount of physical exercise, it also takes the right diet, the right amount of cardio, and focused form during workouts, to isolate the core muscles.

I’m proud to say that I have the perfect six-pack. It’s not on my body though, it’s in my business, and it’s an Absolute six-pack. Absolute Corporate Events is my company, and an Absolute six-pack is a business strategy, and to be strong, fit, and agile, every business needs one. The perfect set of abs consists of six muscles, hence the six-pack.

The perfect business six-pack:

1. Client bonds – for these muscles to be at its peak, you need to not only know your clients, and what they want, but you need to appreciate how they like to experience your service. At what pace do they operate, what level of detail do they expect, how much personal time and banter do they like to enjoy, how do they define their relationship with you? Know your client this well, and they will cherish the relationship you have with them, and their loyalty and trust will build.

2. Team commitment – teams work best when they believe in the cause, or the vision of a company. Teams that are engaged with its leaders and their strategy, involved in the ambitions of their business, and rewarded for its success, are motivated to work harder, more passionately, and more successfully, in order to achieve these ambitions and goals.

3. Stakeholder engagement – there are others who have an interest or influence on your business. These could be shareholders, financial backers, regulators, associations, government bodies or other divisions. If this muscle is neglected, and stakeholders don’t feel engaged or involved with the business, then they may toss in an unexpected spanner at any time. Know who your stakeholders are, find out what they need, and work or communicate with them in order to keep them involved and engaged,

4. Supplier and partner loyalty – suppliers or partners are essential to your final client experience. These suppliers will lean towards their clients with whom they have the closest and most mutually appreciative bond. Is that you? If not, it’s one of your competitors. And they will be getting better rates, a faster service or more concessions. Take time to understand and appreciate the pressure, demands and needs of your supplier network. Understanding and appreciation leads to trust and strong bonds.

5. Challenge and innovation – without change, nothing happens. To grow a business over time, or to steal market share, a business needs to continually innovate. Your team or business should have a change culture, one where new ideas or experimentation is championed, applauded and rewarded, without fear or failure or the unknown.

6. Commercial astuteness – we are all in business to make money. This commercial awareness needs to be the blood that runs through every person in the company, like the heart pumps blood to every part of the six pack. Each of your team needs to know how much income they generate for the company, and the costs associated with that income. Does everyone in your company know how income becomes profit, and how much it costs to deliver an event for a client? If not, how can this person work to drive efficiency and profitability?

When developing abs for your business, each muscle in the six-pack needs to be trained and developed equally. Neglecting just one, will not only make the abs look deformed, but it will negatively affect the posture, or the stability of your business. Untrained or unequal abs will lead to long term difficulties and injury, making your business less nimble and prone to accidents or disaster.

A well developed six-pack shows discipline, focus, determination and balance. It is the product of a healthy diet, the right amount of mental and physical effort and performance, and it is the result of a long term, rigorously followed strategy. A good six-pack looks great, and no one can resist admiring and respecting it.

Shouldn’t you get one for your business ?

No more Mr Nice guy?

Do the hardest negotiators get the best deals?
Do the toughest buyers get the best price?
Do the most demanding clients get the best service?

If you think of the hardest negotiator you deal with, do you strive to give them the best deal, or do you delight in not giving them quite what they want? So, more accurately, you try to win, right?

Now think of someone you like to deal with. Someone who understands that a negotiation is not a battle, but a compromise. And they also know, like you do, that a successful negotiation is one where both sides feel like they have won. When you deal with this person, don’t you try your hardest to give them the best deal possible, because you want them to go away happy with the outcome, so that they will come back next time? Of course you do. You like to deal with nice people. People who treat you with respect. You return their kindness and respect the best you can, by giving them the best deal you can.

If you think of your toughest buyer, do you always give them your best price, or is it better to let them think they got the best price, but really, you know that you’ve given better?

Now think of a buyer you like to deal with. Someone who wants a good price, but also appreciates you need to make a margin too. and that if the price is cut too much, then somewhere along the line, someone will have to pay. Usually by dropping quality or service. When you deal with this person, you don’t try to screw them with an inflated price, you give them the best price you can right? A price that they can be happy with, but one that still guarantees service and quality, and a fair margin for you.

If you think of your most demanding client, do you give them your best service? Or do you avoid them as much as you can, because the less you see of them, the less they have to complain about?

Now think of one of your favourite clients. They are considerate, reasonable, respectful and calm. They know what they want and you strive to deliver it right? Because it means something to you, to make this client happy. You know they will repay your efforts with continued business and perhaps even referrals. Rather than avoiding them, you try to surprise or impress them, so they get your very best service, and you find it a pleasure to give it.

So, does Mr Nice Guy always win? Yes of course he does. We all like to spend our time with nice people. Nice means respectful, appreciative, considerate and calm. Nice people make and keep more friends, they have a more fulfilling social life, they get more favours fulfilled, they get better deals, better service, better quality, more attention, and when needed, they get more time and more forgiveness.

The hard-nosed, single minded negotiators, the tough, uncompromising buyers, and the shouting, screaming clients need to get comfortable in their rightful place, and that place is ‘history’. They belong to a time now past. They should step aside and make way for a new breed of winners in business.

The future of successful business lies with the nice people. Those that are able to demonstrate true understanding, genuine concern, those that can listen and appreciate as well as speak. Those that understand that positive relationships deliver results, and long term, meaningful benefit.

Long live Mr Nice Guy…