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The upside to cold calls?

My phone number has escaped. Lately, I’ve had a fair number of calls from breezy, chatty people I don’t know. You know the routine… a very familiar, “Hi David how’s your day?”. Err, “do I know you?”. Ignored. “What are you up to?” etc. Today’s was a property agent. So, I’ve decided on a new response. Instead of grumpily hanging up, I’m going to interview them and see if I can hire one. The companies I work with are always looking for fearless sales people. This could be the answer.

You reap what you sow

“What’s the one piece of advice you think I should take?”. “Do you have one rule you live by and what is it?”.
Looking me straight in the eye were two students I’d just spoken to along with 50 others. This was the Q&A part and they expected answers. Stumbling around with a “depends” kind of response wasn’t going to cut it. If being 50 years older than them was any value at all, now was the time to step up. I apologised for the cliché but told them, “You reap what you sow”. Because you really do, don’t you? When an unconditional act of help is satisfying for that alone, not held in reserve, or bargained with now or later, you’re on the right path.

StoryPack collaboration: Expert knowledge through short business stories

The Monday Revolution is packed with business stories and anecdotes that can revolutionise your working life. One such story is about Clare, a marketing director who identified a way to create loyal customers and sell more products, but with no additional cost.

David Mansfield has collaborated with StoryPack, an App that shares expert knowledge through short business stories, to share an audio of him telling Clare’s story. Access the App for free for a limited period: to hear about Clare’s brilliant solution.

Every little helps…

Every little helps… CEO Dave Lewis rescued Tesco from a financial accounting disaster, the onslaught of Lidl and Aldi, and re-set the business for growth. All justification for applause from shareholders you would have thought, but apparently not. In order to pay out his final bonus before he leaves an adjustment to his incentive scheme was required. His bonus depended on Tesco outperforming a number of peer group shares. Inconveniently, Ocado had rocketed to such an extent that Tesco couldn’t beat the required index. But hang on, Ocado aren’t what we thought. When they were included, they were an online grocer. But almost overnight they’ve become a food tech company (what’s that?). Without consulting key shareholders (established best practice but we know what they would have said) the board re calibrated excluding the outlier and Dave will get his £1.6M cash. Every little helps.

Time for a wake up call?

People often joke that on their death bed, they wouldn’t look back and wish they’d spent more time in the office. Perhaps working from home will change that reflection. Although not necessarily. Some pined for the office in the early days but now they no longer want to commute. Because no one else is there or likely to return anytime soon. And who can blame them? Occasionally I succumbed to a meeting that required the Northern Line at 8am. After waiting for 5 full trains to depart, I wondered how these people managed to summon up the energy and drive to do this every single working day. Hopefully now with the option of home working, flexible hours and some enlightened thinking, it will mean they don’t have to. At least as often. There are nearly always better ways of getting things done. Sometimes we need a wake-up call to seize the day.

Why I’m feeling bullish

Perhaps it’s my generation, but I’m struggling to find anyone with a positive outlook. I feel surrounded by people who can only see the downside. I’ve tried pointing out that it really was only months ago that unemployment was at record lows, wages were finally growing ahead of inflation, and interest rates weren’t bothering anyone who borrowed. And the stock market was on the longest bull run in history. OK, Brexit wasn’t a great trip and it’s yet to kick in, but that apart we seemed in pretty good shape. Furthermore, we’d elected a government with a significant majority, so no more dithering around on matters of policy and execution. No Banks have imploded, and the housing market hasn’t tanked. Andy Haldane, Bank of England chief economist, told us the recovery is going faster than predicted and that we’ll be back to some new kind of normality before too long. So I refuse to be downhearted. We’ve recovered from much worse. I feel positive for the younger generations and it’s incumbent on me and many others to help them step forward, not saddle them with paranoia and fear that’s only of our own making.

Focusing on the things that matter

Why isn’t Skype the go to service for screen meet-ups? For years it was the generic term for video conferencing, but Zoom is now the most overused word in the working day. According to Wired, Skype became over engineered to the point of becoming unusable. Owners Microsoft have past form in tinkering. Remember when they removed the big button from the original Windows interface and had to put it back? That’s often the trouble with tech. Too many choices and the basic functions become drowned in a sea of optionality. Could it be a useful metaphor for how we spend our time perhaps? We’re trying to do too many tasks at the same time because we can, when focussing on just the things that matter would be far more productive.

Time to act…

Time to act… Navigating challenging times requires clear thinking and a developed sense of purpose. Waiting for normality to resurface is not the best option. The survivors and winners in this unprecedented moment will be those that recognise the need to change. Reassuringly, there are early examples of businesses re-purposing their capabilities and creating different routes to market. Innovative leadership seeing opportunity beyond survival, or adversity kick starting actions that have laid in waiting – often for too long. There are endless stories of hardship and loss. Whether corporate leaders, business owners or sole traders it is our duty to help, support and protect our colleagues and workers wherever we can. Society will review the responsibility of businesses, setting new expectations and priorities. We will be held to account. Our companies need to reflect and embrace this new paradigm. Our customers are expecting a response from us beyond the well intentioned, but cynically viewed email shot of “we’re there for you”. Practical advice and thought through questions are a much better order of the day. Stronger organisations and new opportunities will surface from this unplanned, left field moment. Now, not later, is the time to act.

Evidence always helps…

Evidence always helps….. I recently was part of an interview panel for a candidate who’d applied for a management role. We asked about using evidence in decision making versus experience, intuition and gut feel. After some thought, our candidate preferred the latter. Interestingly most people do. Our candidate was thinking of examples where “it feels like the right thing to do” had worked well. And this of course was evidence itself of previous successful decision making, even if not quantified specifically. But decisions are rarely clear cut. They require facts, introduced early on to help our thinking. They shouldn’t be ignored or deemed irrelevant if they don’t suit the answer we’ve already settled on. Experience and intuition have a critical role, but not exclusively. For example, evidence of customer preferences, purchasing history and demographics is the lifeblood of successful companies. Analysed and used wisely it is the key to areas such as loyalty, pricing and customer care. Evidence should always be the starting point. What do we already know about our customers? It’s an important question and the answer is more than we think, in virtually every case. When we weighed up the evidence of our candidates suitability, he was offered the role.

Should I say or should I go?

When the Clash recorded “should I stay or should I go?”, they weren’t thinking of a global pandemic. But regarding work, that’s the question. Go to the office, stay at home – or some hybrid option? Safety issues dominate, but there’s another important consideration. People are going a bit nuts. They’re missing ‘social interaction’. Plainly put, hanging out with colleagues, swopping ideas and stories. Not spending 24 hours under the same roof. I’ve collected some positive steps from a number of people. Here they are – pick a tune that gets you in a good mood and play it loud in the bathroom first thing. Exercise daily even if only a few minutes – again best first thing. Work from Costa or a local café twice a week for 2 hours. Agree a finish time and go for a walk – this your commute back home. Have a repertoire of mood lifting evening viewing, such as Mrs Maisel or Larry David. Avoid the 10 o’clock news. Each to their own of course. And if the office is available, and you want to go, plan with workmates to make it enjoyable and productive.