Tuesday 28 August 2012

Reach the top of your own mountain!

As an active networker, I’m often asked to represent groups that are run and operated by someone else. “It’ll raise your profile!” is the usual reason given.  Although that’s not in question, have you ever wondered what it’ll be like to lead your own? Operating ‘third party’ groups is great and I would recommend it.  I’ve done so myself and what I learned in a short space of time has been invaluable. Running your own is an entirely different ball game! There’s no big ‘system’ to lean on and the ultimate responsibility is on you.

With a solid networking grounding, here’s a question:  Why not climb up and reach the top your own mountain?

My late father, a distinguished army officer in WW2, who fought alongside Lord Mountbatten and his troops to help liberate Malaya, (now Malaysia and Singapore), mentored me to lead. Until I started my own business, I hadn’t really considered that I was in fact more active than most in various leadership roles from a young boy, throughout my adolescence, (more in my LinkedIn profile), and into the business world. I’ll never forget his pride when I became Head Boy of a UK boarding school, despite my not being considered a top academic.  Heck, when I arrived at the school at nine years of age, I was the boy who had the “funny accent”, (the Couplands and extended family were – and our family ‘hub’ still is – based in Singapore).

The bar is constantly being raised. Expectations are higher. Effective leadership can be a great solution.

I have come to the realisation that, in order to make a real difference, great leadership has to be at the core of almost everything one does in the world of business. I have shared with those I coach in marketing that the bar was and is still being raised. People’s expectations in what a business person has to offer are higher than ever. Why?  Well, there are several reasons. The main ones are lack of time; ever increasing competition and what I often term as ‘noise’.

So what do I mean by noise?

The fact that we live in a busier, more crowded world is a given, so that’s not what I’m covering here. What I mean is I often hear fellow networkers claim that they’ll start something for themselves, however don’t really deliver – assuming they started in the first place!  Ideas are the easy part. Most can come up with great ideas so, to me, there’s nothing in the slightest bit exclusive about that.  Action and action with great results is an entirely different matter! Sure, there are and will be plenty of mistakes, disappointments and regrets along the way. Isn’t life about that anyway?

Being a leader should no longer be regarded as something one can aspire to be. In my view, it has never been so vital in the business world.

Ever presented in front of audiences that consist of your customers, your network and your competitors? I can tell you, it’s no mean feat, however seldom have I found such a rewarding experience. In fact, taking on the mantle such as this has so far been one of the best things we have done so far since I started my business. Great relationships and business that resulted exceeded our own expectations.

So whether it’s networking, a committee or your business, why not climb and be at the top of your own mountain? I’m not saying I’m there yet however, for me, one or two mountains aren’t enough, I’m climbing more and, although my legs can sometimes hurt like mad, there’s no way I’m turning back!

There are no “you have to’s!” here, I‘m deliberately being thought-provoking.

…and what about representing someone else? (I’m not referring to advocating here, which is of course a great thing to do). If you represent someone else, ever considered removing the billboard of him / her / their logo at events and representing yourself?  It could well be time to move on and, usually, the best time is when you feel you’re at your (or their?!) peak. Don’t just imagine being at the top of your own mountain, why not do something about it?  It’s called change and a change that should have an even better view!

Reach the top of your own mountain! It doesn't have to be the tallest

What I seldom see are people truly aspiring, taking focussed action at coming out of their comfort zone and at least trying to lead and carve their own way, representing themselves and leading – no matter how large or small the initiative.

Those that do get more respect through what they have achieved anyway and, even if they end up doing something else later, it’s most certainly not failure as they’ve climbed their own mountain, took a deep breath of satisfaction and took in the view.

 Now how exclusive is that?!

John Coupland
@networkerplus Social Media

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Organisational Stress and Sustainable Wellbeing

Stress is a real issue in the workplace and a growing problem. 

Employers recognise the benefits of a stable and well trained workforce; the immediate benefits include an engaged workforce as well as reduced recruitment, training and sick pay costs.

Poor health is one factor that can undermine a sustainable workforce.

More than ever, a wellbeing strategy is a must have if you want your staff to compete and gain an edge from your competitors then you need to look after them.

Firstly, it is very important to understand the culture of the company, the market, the environment, the clients, the demand of the jobs and on the very top knowing your people. They are the ones the day in day out deal with those factors regularly.

The approach used will determine the results. Involve your people, ask them about their challenges, about what they need andhow you can support them as an employer.

Define your strategy to achieve sustainability. It’s not good doing something for the sake of it. You will achieve sustainable wellbeing if you use a holistic approach considering the mind, body and spirit about the employee.

Psychological health, physical health, emotional wellbeing, financial wellbeing – consider all of these then bring the organisation into the equation. Important aspects such as culture, values, internal procedures, communication channels and other factors in your organisation should be looked at.

Sustainable wellbeing will not only make your organisation a stronger business to compete in the market, but also will prevent health and wellbeing absenteeism through a cared approach where the employee comes first. If you get the balance right the results can be magnificent in your business, reducing illnesses, stress levels, increased motivation, sense of belonging and loyalty.

The corporate world is evolving all the time. Do not spend time and money providing training and development that nobody wants; focus on people’s wellbeing now.

It’s all about the approach, it’s all about people.

With a big thank you to Joao Bocas, CEO of Sports13 for submitting this article.

Sports13 are Specialists in Health, Performance & Wellbeing

T - 01273 810277
M - 07731983936

Monday 6 August 2012

Follow that star! Harnessing our city’s thriving economy

The British economy shrank by 0.7% between April and June, sending everyone into a spin yet again. But according to an article in The Argus, Sussex’s businesses are bucking the economic trend with confidence surprisingly high.

Despite the gloom and doom, in Brighton and Hove we’re fortunate enough to be experiencing steady economic growth. And we’re doing it all on our own, without much help from those in power. Well done, us.

What can local businesses do to take advantage of the situation?

The news is a serious shot in the arm for local businesses like ours. So what can small business owners do to ride the wave?

Catching different fish

If you haven’t done it already, get cracking and update your prospect database. There’s plenty of fresh potential in town. 

Most of our members operate business-to-business, so think creatively about the kind of businesses that will benefit from your services. If you’re not in the new media sector, it’s the hottest industry in town – can you hook into it? Scour the Argus for inspiration, check the jobs pages to see who’s recruiting (therefore growing).

Making sure you look the part

Does your business look, feel and sound professional or is your public face letting you down? If you’ve been putting it off because you’re too busy, or too busy trying to get busy, now’s the time to overhaul your online and printed collateral. When you look and sound the part, you’ll attract more business. 

Putting yourself about

Are you networking yet?

There are loads of business networking events in Brighton and Hove, all different. If you haven’t experienced a Curry Club event yet, sign up for the next one. Alternatively, pick your weapons based on personal research: choose your top six networks, going by what they say on their websites, and sample them for real so you know for sure the winner (or winners) tick the right boxes.

What about marketing? If you don’t do much, it’s time to make your voice heard so the city’s exciting new prospects can find you. It’s a bit like that film, Field of Dreams. You can’t just build a business and hope customers will magically arrive. You need to tell them you’re here.

Altering your mind-set

There’s a growing body of evidence proving that believing success is possible, better still probable, helps you achieve it in real life. Positive thinking is a handy business tool, and this week’s good news about the local economy gives everyone a solid reason to perk up, gird their loins and take a fresh look at the possibilities.

Don’t believe a word of it? Here’s a fun experiment for you

First, think of something that annoyed you recently. Go over it again and again, re-running it and remembering the feelings you had at the time. Continue for ten minutes and notice how you feel worse as time passes. By the end of the process you’ll probably be livid, fit to kill.

Second, think about something that made you feel really happy. Ruminate, daydream and re-experience it for ten minutes and notice how much happier you feel, and how much more positive you are about your working day. Better? 

You’re in control of how you feel, so let the good news about Sussex’s lively economic landscape drive your attitude to business. You might as well be optimistic, there’s nothing to lose! 

What are you doing to make the most of Sussex’s thriving business scene? Leave a comment and let us know.