Category: Executive coaching (page 2 of 3)

Energising conversations

“How do I know what I am thinking until I have said it” is the comment that sparked this blog post.

It was made by a client of mine during one of our monthly meetings where we talked about how to grow their business.
They talked about their ideas, their expectations, concerns and vision for the future. We swapped stories about situations at work and how it impacted the other areas of their life and those around them.We talked, we listened and then we agreed an outline plan of activity or homework.

What was so energising about this was exchange was the actual conversation itself. It was usually fast, wide ranging, free flowing, give and take and equal opportunity to talk and listen. Both of us learned more about each other and in so doing came away bigger than when we entered.

So how was it that an unscripted, unstructured chat could have such a motivational impact on us both.

Here are my starters for ten:
1. As there was just the two of us we both had to contribute in equal measure. It isn’t therapy although there might be some therapeutic effect as a consequence.
2. We talked about anything and everything that mattered to us both.
3. The conversations were rich in metaphor, stories, parables and real life experiences. They were alive.
4. We laugh a lot.
5. We listen hard.
6. We were open and honest, well as far as we can be.
7. We had no boundaries. The clients are looking at ways to grow their business and it was this that framed the conversation. As owner managers the overlap between work and non-work was massive and so the conversations could be wide ranging
8. No one had a role to play. We talked as normal human beings having a conversation about business growth that normal people would have
9. We appreciated one another’s contributions and each other’s feelings.
10. We held tight to the important and release the hold on the unimportant as we want to learn and expand.
11. We said what we needed to say. Positive, negative, irreverent, funny, gossipy.
12. We had one goal – to enjoy the sessions.

The outcome is always that we are both energised because we had the chance to open our minds and fly unconstrained by reality, ego or expectations.

Sometimes we clashed, sometimes we were in violent agreement.

It mattered not. What is key is that words were said and heard, that in turn sparked more words, more ideas, more lines of thought. New lines were open that allowed further reflection, or confirmation or dissonance that needs resolving.

If you think that having energising conversations could help, then find a trusted adviser who has the bandwidth, chemistry, value set and experiences and get talking or call me on 0117 230 3166 to see if I am that trusted adviser for you.

Have you had any energising conversations recently?

Team of two – making it work

Team of Two  

This is one way to improve job satisfaction and organisational effectiveness.


The idea

Much of the business of an organisation takes place between pairs of people. These interactions can be positive and developing or frustrating and destructive. You can improve them using simple methods, providing people are willing to listen to each other.

“Team of two” will work between secretaries and managers, managers and directors, consultants and clients or engineers working on a job together. It will even work between life partners.

It does not work when the relationship is so broken down that either party would rather have a battle than do anything to make it better.

The method

Each person writes down 1) How they think they could help the other person and 2) How they think the other person could help them.

The hypothetical example of a manager and secretary will make this clearer.

Manager’s list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing

Secretaries’ list

Things I, secretary, could do to help you Things you, manager, could do to help me
Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use Listen to me when I am overloaded
Learn to use the spell checker! Say “Hello” to me when I come in

The parties then share their lists and create a joint list as below.

Combined list

Things I, manager, could do to help you Things you, secretary, could do to help me
Let you know where I am going when I leave the office. Tell me what you need from me so you can give me the best help.
Listen to you when you are overloaded Talk to other secretaries on site to see if they have good admin. ideas we could use
Stop giving long urgent tasks after 4pm Organise my office and filing
Say “Hello” when you come in Learn to use the spell checker

The two people now discuss the information and decide what they will do.

A person may say:

  •  “I can’t do that because……” . The request might violate your values, by being (say) unethical, or it might be politically unacceptable, or take too much time.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.
  • “I would be prepared to meet your request if you would help me with this one of mine”. The request might demand work or a change of attitude. You would both win eventually.

It helps people to follow through with their decisions if they record and preferably display their agreements.

Play the negotiation straight. If you use tactics or manipulation, then people will not use the technique again. They will also become suspicious of all the management techniques you use.

Make your requests small, clear and doable. It is more useful to ask someone to say “Hello” in the morning than to “Be more considerate”.

Aim for equity in the negotiations. If people “give in” to every demand they will feel exploited later. People who want something for themselves for everything they give will lose co-operation. People will think they are mean.

Give the process enough time. The expectations take time to clarify. This is often the first time people have talked directly about how they work together.

I have used these ideas and found that the exercise easily led to free, open and positive discussions and decisions about all aspects of the work together, from the day to day, filing etc to the strategic, about priorities. One common decision was for the two individuals involved to attend some meetings together so she or he would understand more about each other’s work and thus be able to make better decisions about what was important. This tool will not work if the relationship has so broken down that the parties do not want to make improvements.


Please play with these ideas and use them in any way that makes sense to you. If you stick to giving and receiving practical help and treating both parties fairly it will work well, if the people want to make their relationship work.

I am indebted to Nick Heap for his creation and development of the content above.

Motivating myself by becoming a jobsworth

Strategic Sales Management Training CourseHaving read umpteen books on motivation I knew that the key to success lay in writing a list of activities, prioritise them and reward myself when completed. Note that the key was in writing down the list. There is something about writing it down that somehow seems to make it more real than typing it, or dictating it.

Here are the five things on my list as it stands now:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Johari’s Window
  • How to promote DISC personality assessments
  • Get new client

After my second cup of coffee I sat down to go through the list and found it very demotivating. So much so that I closed my special Moleskin finely crafted notebook, purchased specially as a component of my motivational toolkit, and went off to reflect. This blog is the outcome.

Looking at the list it was obvious that the activities were either huge chunks of work, or not SMART or were outcomes in their own right and not activities.

So I rewrote the list:

  • Website – finish off formatting the text by end of Thursday
  • Write one 400 word blog highlighting an aspect of work that clients might struggle with by 10.00 Thursday
  • Read three articles on Johari’s Window and make comprehensive notes to assess if it should be part of the coaching offering by COB on Friday
  • Review Google analytics for DISC personality assessments to calculate if it is viable as a means of promoting it
  • Using the dB of HR contacts, make 10 calls to discuss their attitudes to coaching and mentoring by COB Friday

Much better. These are jobs that I can crack on with and do. It was worth working on the list to make it work. In fact, the second one on the list is now complete and it is only 09.16!!


Make yourself scarce

Exit signMake yourself scarce

No, I don’t mean go away. I mean make what you do or who you are a scarce resource and see what happens next.

It works for me. Too many times in the past I have made myself a commodity and then wondered why no one was prepared to pay a premium. If I delivered copy writing it generated little in terms of value. If I delivered marketing advice it had the same impact. Why? Because they were generic and there are so many others out there promoting a similar service.

I like it rare

So I changed my offering that reflects who I am and what I want to be. My personality, background, training, education, experiences all add up to make me unique. And that uniqueness is where the value is. Because what people buy in the coaching, mentoring, knowledge industry is a point of view. One that is interesting, insightful, worth hearing.

By focusing my offering on my uniqueness I am being authentic and in doing so make it easier to be found by those people who value my point of view.

Slow down a moment

Before you go finding out what makes you unique in the hope of making a fortune there is another part of the puzzle to solve. Uniqueness or scarcity is not enough. If I were an underwater basket weaver I will most likely be alone in my skills sets. But I will not justify high fees because there is no need for this service, no matter how good I am at it. (If I am wrong, let me know and I will start the training to become one.)
The other factor that determines value is the ability to make a positive difference. If your uniqueness makes a real difference in another’s life then they will pay for it. The bigger the difference the higher the premium.

Compare and contrast these two offerings.

One is the ability to rework the formula in a spreadsheet so that it is error free. That is worth paying for if it matters to the person who owns the spreadsheet.

The second offering is the ability to negotiate the best exit strategy for a CEO of a multi-million pound company. This too is worth paying for.

The question is – who gets more? I suggest that it is the latter who gets the bigger paycheck.

So make yourself scarce and make a positive difference and then see what happens next.

Agreeing on the problem – Seth Godin

Seth GodinSeth Godin is a prolific author churning out reams and reams of high value content.

I read this and just wanted to share it with the people who read my blog. I take no credit whatsoever for it as all of that goes to Seth himself

Agreeing on the problem

Please don’t tell us it’s complicated.

Organizations, scientists and individuals always do better in solving problems that are clearly stated. The solution might be complicated, the system might be complex, but if we don’t agree on the problem, it’s hard to find the resources and the will to seek out a solution.

For a business, the problem might be that:

  • there aren’t enough customers
  • gross margins are too low
  • word of mouth is poor
  • hiring sufficiently talented people is too difficult
  • competition just moved in next door
  • production quality is off.

Identify and agree on any of these and we can get to work. Denying the problem doesn’t increase the chances it will go away.

This is the political/lobbied challenge facing our stalled response to the melting icecaps. There are a variety of possible problem-denials along with one simple statement that actually opens the door to progress:

  1. The world isn’t getting hotter, the data is wrong.
  2. The world is getting hotter, and that’s okay.
  3. The world is getting hotter, but it’s not caused by us, and anyway, we can’t do anything at all about it.
  4. The world is getting hotter, it’s urgent, we need to hurry, and dealing with it is a difficult technical and political problem.

Which category are you in at work? What about the people you vote for and work for?

Often, the reason people don’t want to agree on a problem is that it’s frightening to acknowledge a problem if we don’t know that there’s a solution, as if saying the problem out loud makes it more real, more likely to undermine our lives.

The irony, of course, is that fear of the problem makes it far more likely that the problem itself will hurt us.

Words make big things small

Words make big things small


“How do I know what I am thinking until I’ve said it” said a very good friend of mine during a coaching session. She was coaching me and I asked her how she felt about something I had said.


Words matter


And that is the one point from this blog. That words are the very essence of thought. And if you don’t have the opportunity to say them or write them down, then you are at risk of losing the value of any given thought.


Loneliness is such a drag*


In any business role we are lonely. Whether it is the CEO or the admin clerk. Loneliness in the business sense is tangible. It has an impact. That feeling of loneliness can bring with it a whole heap of issues. We become anxious about what others think, what they are saying about us and our abilities.


Coaching culture


The answer is straightforward – develop a coaching culture where people can speak out their thoughts. An open, free ranging, time to talk and listen.

Productivity will increase, engagement will increase and well being will soar.


Call us 


If you dont know how to set up a coaching culture give me a call on 0117 317 8147

*Jimi Hendrix – Burning the midlight lamp

World Cup Content Marketing

World Cup Content Marketing

Hurricane Media Content marketingWe are delighted to host a guest blog post from Jon Mowat. Jon is MD at Hurricane Media and has produced successful video marketing campaigns for a host of clients, both large and small.

“Big international sporting events offer up huge opportunities for content marketers and advertisers as audiences of millions or even billions sit glued in front of their televisions, computers, tablets or even phones to cheer on their national side. And they don’t come much bigger than the World Cup. With the competition now in the nail biting knockout stages, it’s not difficult to see how the rules, tactics and strategies behind the beautiful game can throw up striking analogies into how businesses conduct winning content marketing campaigns.

Like great football teams, great marketing campaigns don’t achieve success without a lot of hard work, regardless of the kind of talent you have in your team. Behind every championship win, lies hours and hours of training, coaching and practice. Consistency in each of these areas will help build up the strength and skill of each individual player, but it’s ultimately teamwork, tactics and strategy that bring it all together. Just like bad passing, a weakly joined up content marketing campaign can let the entire side down.

Executing a successful content marketing campaign requires careful analysis of how you intend to exploit the competition across various areas by playing your key talent in the right areas. As in football, every team member needs to be clear what their role is for the strategy to come off.

The Manager

Behind every winning football team is a great manager. The manager leads the team and focuses on strategy and the game plan. Content marketing also requires a good manager at the helm to make sure that a clear message is being given, to the right people and in the right place. The content marketing manager can help to steer the campaign in the right direction and to ensure that all team members are keeping their eyes on the ball at all times. If necessary the manager can change strategy to adapt to the challenges as they present themselves.

Mid Field

Mid field players strive to set up goals for the strikers. Content marketers need to plan for success, understanding who their competitors are and how they can execute a game plan that ensures victory. Good midfield play involves a degree planning, foresight and intuition. In the same vein, good marketing requires identifying opportunities whenever they present themselves across a multitude of platforms and then exploiting them quickly and effectively. This requires a deep understanding of what the competition is doing, what they are offering and why their content marketing strategy is bringing them success (or failure).

Defence / Goalkeeper

Like winning football teams, successful content marketing also needs a good line of defence, whether that is ensuring the brand’s image is protected online assessing any content risks. If a certain piece of content doesn’t produce results it can end up draining resources unnecessarily or even produce a negative effect. In this case it’s your job to spot it quickly and go back on the offensive. Just as the goalkeeper is every football team’s last line of defence, every digital marketing strategy should always include an element of reputation management in case of negative comments or publicity.

Star Strikers

Great footballers look for opportune moments to strike and gain an edge on their opponents. Equally, every content marketer needs to seek out, and not overlook, new opportunities and challenges that could give them a shot at attaining their goals. A football manager should know their team’s strengths and weaknesses and play these to their advantage. The content equivalent to star strikers are content marketers who consistently produce brilliant viral content that can be reused again and again, across platforms.

Half Time and Post-Match Analysis

At the end of every football match, the manager and the team will take time to analyse how the game went. They use this opportunity to learn from for future matches. Even at half-time, managers are constantly assessing the game and may make adjustments to optimise performance and goal prospects for the second half. Content marketers similarly need to analyse how their content is performing, both part way through campaigns and at the end.

Understand what form of content works well for your business, be it video, newsletters, images or review pieces. Just as football should excite and invoke emotion and passion in its fans, good content marketing should have the same effect on those it is aimed at.”

You can read his original blog post on World Cup Video Marketing here.

How To Create Marketing Materials With Irresistible Appeal

Guest Blog from Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield

Albeit a bit slanted to the US audience, the key points are equally valid here in the UK.

“How can we create lead magnets, free reports or blog posts that have almost irresistible appeal? One of the easiest ways to do this is to let the mainstream media do the hard work for you. Let’s look at some examples for how this works, and how you can apply it to your own business.

Big, mainstream media is in a hugely competitive fight to keep readers and attract new ones. Thus, they’re spending a lot of time and energy trying to decide what topics will most interest readers. What’s really hot right now? Read more here

How do I start a sales presentation?

Sales TrainingThis week I offer a guest blog from Mike Kingston FInstSMM. Mike is an accomplished
Sales & Marketing Trainer, Speaker. He delivers training and coaching on proven, highly effective sales strategies, skills and tactics.

“How do I start a sales presentation?”

Whenever sales people ask me this question during my sales seminars, I tell them this.

Perhaps what is more important is to consider what questions are in the customer’s mind at the beginning of a meeting. Prospective customers won’t consider what you have to offer until you satisfy three subconscious questions. If you don’t deal with these questions at the very beginning, they’ll spend the whole meeting trying to find the answers and won’t really engage with what you say. Here are the customer’s three subconscious questions.

1. Do I like you as a person?

No one likes doing business with a salesperson they don’t like. Smile and call the customer by their name, Mr/Mrs Jones to start and, only when appropriate, by their first name. Also demonstrate that you are there to talk about them, not to give a product/service dump.

I always start a meeting by commenting on something interesting about the customer. Have they just secured a big contract, won an award or launched a new product? (Research the company and relevant news items on the internet). Start by saying, “I noticed that you have recently…” If you need guidance, read Dale Carnegie’s book (the new version) ‘How to win friends and influence people in the digital age’. You’ll soon get the idea. Best sales training book ever. Should be compulsory reading for all sales people.

Also use sincere praise. Everyone likes to be praised for what they have achieved. Don’t overdo this or you might be seen as insincere. For example, if a production manager tells you that she has increased output by a substantial amount then praise her with words like; “That’s quite an achievement in today’s business climate. How were you able to make such a large improvement?” They’ll love you for it and want to extend the conversation and deepen the relationship.

2. Are you a credible supplier I can trust?

Have you delivered similar solutions for others? Name drop other customers with what you’ve helped them achieve. Justify taking up their time – how you can be of value to this person and their company – how can they also expect to gain. Show interest in the things that are important to them, like reducing their costs, increasing their efficiency, safeguarding their markets etc.

3. Do you understand my business?

A salesperson must demonstrate that he understands the customer’s business and aspirations (in relation to what is being sold). This is in addition to product or service knowledge, though that is less important.

If you understand the customer’s business you’ll know what’s strategically important to them. If you don’t understand, you have little to offer except your product/service which buyers really aren’t that interested in. (They want to know what it will do for them!)

Here’s an example:
The best approach is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Imagine you’re selling an executive coffee/tea vending unit to chief executives for use in their own office. How would you conduct the meeting? What’s important to them?

What do they want from you, the sales person?

1. Someone they can talk to easily and who they like personally.

2. Relevant product benefits; who else bought this vending unit and what did they say about it. Impress me. Make me confident in my purchase.

3. Someone who clearly understands their needs:
– Beverages served quickly at a temperature that can be drunk immediately.
No waiting for drinks means shorter meetings, something every busy chief
executive wants.
– To release their secretary from drinks duty, to do more important work.
– A real coffee taste that my visitors are certain to enjoy every time.

I wouldn’t mind a cup myself!
Good luck

Thanks Mike for this wonderful insight into how to construct a sales presentation.

Motivating sales people to enhance productivity

Sales Management Practices

Companies are becoming increasingly aware of needing to boost their sales in order to emerge ready for battle after the economic downfall. But taking on the management role of the sale force is a tall order and requires special touches and technique. Sales people in particular need specialist support. Why? Because great sales people are optimistic, very good persuaders, visionaries of the bigger picture and very team orientated. But they feel rejection acutely and being on the outside they can feel isolated.

Business CoPilot Sales Mentoring

The best salespeople are also big into problem solving and driving to deliver the best results, their attitude is positive, powerful and authoritative. These traits and qualities make them so good at sales can also cause issues and problems for management as they can come across as impulsive, unrealistic in their expectations, disorganised and lack attention to detail.

Depending on what type of person is overseeing the sales function it can be very stressful. For instance if that person is methodical, analytical or process orientated they will may get easily frustrated in the day to day running of the department. The two personality types will clash unless both sides can learn to appreciate what each side brings to the table.

Here are my 4 top tips when managing sales people:

1. No Rules – Salespeople absolutely love freedom and don’t generally like abiding by rules, compliance does not work for these people at all! The better you are able to remove obstacles for them to sell, the better the results they will get and the faster the targets will be reached. Telling them what to do will only spark their creativity on overcoming rules and that is where there focus will be!

2. Coach Them Not “Manage” Them – Becoming a coach means asking them and not telling them what to do, this is very important as this also coincides with rule making. Let them own the solution to whatever obstacle it is, for example when you have an issue ask them to put themselves in your shoes and let them come up with their own solution to the problem. They will need support in implementing their solution and staying on the task, but even the way that is managed can be negotiated

3. Cut the Admin – If you find you have some salespeople who are amazing at selling but not so much on drafting reports, then let them sell and figure out a way of capturing the details. Get them some admin help on that area and let them so what they do best!

4. Reward Their Efforts – For many salespeople I have found that money is not the driving force behind their sales, it is the respect they gain from reaching targets, it is achieving those results that makes them sell really hard, so recognising them and giving them that “pat on the back” will work very well in their favour and will increase their productivity.

These are my 4 tips to enhancing sales force productivity. If you are managing a team of your own then try following them and see what results it produces, I can guarantee an increase in sales.

Author: Sophie works in the HR department and has done for a little over 10 years, she has also helped out in the workforce management industry where she got some experience in sales management, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and Sophie will get back to you. Or email her here



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