When parents are still searching for their missing children and the number of deaths is still counting higher by the hour, it is so hard to stay hopeful. My heart bleeds for Manchester.
But we have to.
We cannot change the plans for today out of fear, only out of compassion. And we can not change our plans for tomorrow, or the day after that.
A little while ago it was my home country that suffered at the attack of a crazy evil person, out to kill as many as possible. Last night it was my adopted home country. No matter where we are from or which language we speak, I know this: you can’t silence the generation that was attacked last night. Those who have learnt to keep singing when the music stops will never ever be silenced.
When the music stops, we have to remember what the lyrics were. And Ariana Grandes “Dangerous Woman Tour” is as much a political and gender equality statement as anything else. She has gone from Disney princess to a strong activist fighting for womens rights.
She has taught millions of young women that their voices can’t be silenced, and they are proving her right, without apologizing for it for a second. They demand their own voice is heard and recognised, demand it to belong to them and nobody else, because they know they can.
They can, and they will.
They have already learned to not be pretty and sit in the corner until spoken to. Trust me, as scared as they may be, they will NOT run and hide. And neither should we.
If you’re like me, you often find yourself with two options, both appealing for your young startup: one risky, the other is safer.
The risky option promise big growth, great opportunities and fast revenue. Even though you know it’s more than you can take on, you leap. Your heart is shouting a clear Yes, telling you how great it will be and how proud it will make you. Shouting No (almost) as loudly is your sensible and cautious head, which instructs you to slow down and think about it some more.
People around you (especially as you start up) will likely tell you to “listen to your heart,” and “believe in yourself”. Oprah Winfrey (link is external), too, suggests you follow your emotional inclinations rather than those logic would suggest. But is that really good advice? Think back on the times when you did follow your heart. How did it work out?
Don’t trust your own memory!
Unfortunately, we tend to be bad statisticians when it comes to reviewing our own prior experiences. Research on reminiscence shows that we tend to remember the distinctive events in our lives, particularly those that were pleasant. For most people, even traumatic memories tend to fade with time (hello childbirth!). As a result, we’re almost programmed to go with our heart because we favour and remember the occasions when it provided correct guidance.
Go rational or go home
Your rational decision-making processes probably have a pretty good track record. You just wont remember as much of it: when you followed logic, it just wasn’t as memorable. It’s also possible that when reason prevailed, it told you not to do something; therefore, you have less to remember.
But guess what? All that being said: following your instinct sounds so much more fun.
Decision made. (As I was typing this I was debating with myself if I should follow the logical approach, or follow my heart about who to hire for our next team member. I’ve just clarified for myself that I should trust my gut. )
I know there are a couple of people who might be frowning as they read this post, and for that I am truly sorry. It isn’t personal.
I am often asked if it was scary to take the leap to become a business owner, and I am always slightly surprised by that questions. It wasn’t scary at all. To me it is a very natural state, as I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, where problem solving was paramount to everyday life. When I think back now, corporate life was the scariest out of the two!
Perhaps that is why I never really felt like I fit in into corporate life — when your fundamental aim is to solve the bigger problem, the following 6 thing don’t work well at all:
- red tape
- multi lateral politics
- Staying in your lane
- “It’s just a job” attitude
- Personal positioning
Several of the above points is of course things that a lot of great leaders in the corporate world is trying to counteract. They understand fully how it holds people back, stifles innovation and slow down growth. (So those of you who are now frowning: remember, it isn’t personal!)
Is “just do it” the only solution?
Is there a scenario where we can continue to encourage more entrepreneurship in the corporate world? Or is it simply not possible, and the budding entrepreneurs out there should just take the leap and get going, because their profile will never be truly appreciated in the corporate environment anyway?
The observant follower may have noticed that:
a) My amazing PA has gone on maternity leave
b) I have been announcing my search for her replacement
Holy macaroons, there are some talented people out there, who are DYING for the chance to work flexible hours, from home. I have been flooded with brilliant emails from clever people, who are keen, eager, skilled, experienced and bright. Impressive, to say the least.
And that tells me this:
- There is a LOT of available talent who are more interested in work quality than a high salary
- The requirements for working parents are difficult to live up to for parents
- The world still hasn’t fully adapted to using meeting and communications technology to enhance collaboration across geographical distances
- If companies could be more flexible, they could increase commitment and engagement for staff, and they would be repaid loyalty and productivity in return
We use whatsapp, zoom, FaceTime and perch. Have a look, and see if you can rethink some of your headcount. It is absolutely worth it!
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics
STEM is a term that refers to the academic disciplines of science,[note 1] technology, engineering and mathematics. The term is typically used when addressing education policy and curriculum choices in schools to improve competitiveness in science and technology development.
The acronym arose in common use shortly after an interagency meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation chaired by the then NSF director Rita Colwell. A director from the Office of Science division of Workforce Development for Teachers and Scientists, Peter Faletra, suggested the change from the older acronym METS to STEM. Colwell, expressing some dislike for the older acronym, responded by suggesting NSF to institute the change.
Increase gender balance in STEM
Current campaigns to increase the gender balance within STEM fields include the UK’s WISE as well as mentoring programs, such as the Million Women Mentors initiative connecting girls and young women with STEM mentors and Verizon’s #InspireHerMind project
- STM (scientific, technical, and mathematics; or science, technology, and medicine; or scientific, technical, and medical)
- eSTEM (environmental STEM) 
- GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage females into these science fields.
- BEMS (Boys in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage males into these science fields.
- STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine)
- AMSEE (Applied math, science, engineering, and entrepreneurship)
Top 4 things that are cool about STEM for me:
- I like making things (Engineering)
- I like clever gadgets (Technology)
- Mathematics is great when you want to run a P&L in black
- I work in medical devices (Science)
Here is my podcast with Gary Bridgeman on the topic of STEM from 9th May 2017.
Apparently the percentage of startups failing within the first 3 years is really high. I don’t want to talk about how many — I think I’d rather not know. (Sort of like the bumblebee legend: it shouldn’t be able to fly, but no one told the bumblebee, so it does just fine.)
Growing is great fun, and everyone strives for it. But nobody really talks about how expensive it is.
A couple of weeks back I sat down and looked through the cost of winning a new account for my medical device company. Once we have done
- case support
- Follow up
….we have spent around 13.000GBP. Now, if you multiply that with 20 (the number of new accounts we started up last year for Galaxy), it becomes a big chunk of cash! No matter what the profit on each sell is, that is still an investment of a lot of time and money up front.
Sales growth + Profit decline
Overall we grew sales with 48% last year….an absolutely oustanding number in medical device. But profit declined dramatically, as we invested in growing the number of accounts.
Do your calculation of how much it costs you to win a new account. Now you have a great insight to how much cash you will need to grow your business.
Once upon a time there was a girl who was told by her boss that she was great at getting things done, but she wasn’t very good at making sure everyone was with her. He said that he always had to spend time picking people up and dust them off after a project or task was completed.
The girl was pretty hurt by that comment, and it stayed with her for a long time. He probably didn’t mean it to hit so hard, but the girl was sad, and her confidence dropped to even lower levels. You see, she was already not sure about what she was really good at, so she tried so very hard to get her tasks done as fast and efficient as possible, so people would like her more. She was heartbroken when he told her that what she was doing wasn’t good enough, her approach didn’t work.
Strategy was really not in her job remit at the time, so her abilities of seeing the big picture and set plans in place for that to happen wasn’t appreciated at all. She didn’t know it was strength of hers, so when others couldn’t see the big plan and the end goal, and didn’t do what was needed, the girl got very upset. Did they not care? Did they not do their best? She didn’t understand at all; how could they not do what so clearly needed to be done!?
She worked harder and harder, and despite getting promoted and awarded, she was still not very happy. The words were still with her, in every meeting, and in every task force.
It took many years for her to meet other leaders, who could see her strengths (and teach her what they were) before she bloomed, and truly became a leader, admired and followed by her trusting teams.
Dear reader, look around. Is she working for you? If she is, tell her she is Good Enough.
Every organization has a culture. For some it is intentional and for some, it just is what it is.
When I think of culture, I think of how the world sees my organization. I also think of how the people inside the enterprise treat their work and the people they engage. A formal definition of culture is this: Organizational culture is the guiding operating system by which people interact and get things done.
I have always been very aware of culture. I am sensitive to the unspoken word, and how people feel has always been very important to me. Despite this, I have in the past found myself employed in companies I didn’t fit into at all. I didn’t like the people that much and I certainly didn’t have fun. With my own companies, I decided that I didn’t want that to happen again.
For me, culture comes from these 4 things:
1. Strong leadership
It takes work to define the culture elements and a continuous process to keep the company operating by them.
Leaders are responsible for defining the elements of culture and the work to ensure that the company is leading by the principles that shape the organization.
The mission is the point of the organization. Every organization has a purpose. The reason “why the organization exists.” Leaders define how to take that purpose and make it bigger. It is about the impact on the community and the world. It can never be just to make money. Mission guides the future you are creating and how you intend to contribute to it.
As an example, London Medical Education Academy’s Mission is to “Make doctors better surgeons without harming patients during training by using cadaveric tissue samples for surgical skills labs.”
The day-to-day experience is the vision of the company. Vision paints a picture of what the organization looks like over a set time frame. JUNE MEDICAL uses a 2-year vision as part of our culture to frame the experience for each employee.
Vision tells the story of how the organization will look as it is in service to the mission.
The values are guiding principles of the organization. Values become the tool by which each employee does their work and interacts with the people that come in contact with the company. It tells us WHO we are and HOW we are.
For my companies the values become the guiding principles.
Values become a central part of the company’s unspoken conversations. The key point is to make sure you are using values that really matter to the company, mission and vision of the organization.
One word of warning though….: Don’t put values on the wall, unless your values are visible in your work each and every day.
Unless you are authentic in your leadership, no Mission/Vision or Value statement in the world can help you build a truly winning team.
Most things in my life I feel like I can control. I can master my companies, budgets, strategic plans, people and business relationships.
But my body is driving me crazy. I just don’t WORK! It makes me frustrated and angry, and I hate the feeling of weakness. I battle my health fairly constantly: one thing after another — if it isn’t an infection, is muscle pain, or a bad hip, or any other stupid problem. Most days I am so tired I am down by 9pm, and drag myself out of bed at 7am when the children wake up.
Now I am standing here with a heat pack on my neck, since I am so stiff I can’t really move. I have of course tried some stuff, but my point is I don’t HAVE TIME to go see a chiropractor or get massages or see doctors or do tests every month! Can you IMAGINE how much I would get done if I would just be strong and healthy?!
That being said, when I was younger I was very sick for many years, and I was in pretty bad shape. I am MUCH better now, and I know I should be grateful for what I have, and that it didn’t leave bigger injuries than this, but it is just SO frustrating to never be fully well.
Ok, rant over. Sorry. Back to budget sheet for potential new office building.
(Point is: if you’re well and strong, appreciate it!!!!)
I am sitting on the side of the room, watching my team. That’s what I do most of….I watch.
Usually I watch as someone else talks (watching while talking is not the same thing) and I learn so much. Who is comfortable, who is passionate, who is concerned. For me to keep an eye on words, tone, body language and side conversations, I know exactly when to lean back, when to step in, when to steer and when to keep silent.
I was asked this morning what my secret leadership skill is. Perhaps it is this: my geeky interest in communication, skills and strengths.
I wonder how much more I get out of my team, because I can immediately do what I just did: sent a little WhatsApp to my PM, as I watched him spending longer than expected on his iPhone 🙂
Most of the time I watch a finely tuned machine — based on respect for individual people and their strengths, interests and experience. The way the group collaborates and communicates, often broken up by joking and laughter!
Here is how we got to that and what you could do:
- Be clear on roles and responsibilities, and make sure everyone is appreciated for their personal skills
- Balance the agenda to make sure you build in parts of personal development and growth
- Self insight: not everyone is a great people leader: if you’re not, don’t beat yourself up. Find someone who is, and concentrate on what YOU are good at.