Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Perspective

When I was younger I was sick for a long time, and my family put so much aside to care for me. They were so worried, and so scared. I can’t even imagine how they made it through what must have been dark and exhausting years of or lives (that I actually don’t remember much of; I think I’m lucky that way). 

I am sure all children feel that they owe their parents a lot, but for me it feels even more true. I owe them years, literally. And that’s why now, when my dad is going another round fighting infections and side effects from the heavy medication he is on to battle his metastatic prostate cancer, I can’t imagine being anywhere but by his side, just like he never left mine for all those years. 

It breaks my heart, again and again, but I will NEVER waiver.

I can understand why children struggle with being close to their parents as the shadows creep in: it is hard to watch someone battle and lose. Especially when they are your hero and the one who taught you how to win to begin with. 

Sometimes I don’t know what to say, and sometimes I find myself being forcefully shrill and cheerful as I try to keep the sadness at bay. And sometimes I can’t do anything but just sit there and we cry. Mostly me. He is still trying to keep it together; I suspect he cries more after I leave, just to protect me. 

He doesn’t know what day of the week it is anymore, and the pain rides his mind like a cruel cowboy. 

But my father still tries to protect me. 

GUEST BLOG: Ice Skater Louise Walden-Edwards talks about making ‘A True Champion’…

After enjoying reading Louise’s previous guest blog post, I asked her to write for me again.  This time after a conversation about the responsibilities we assumes as leaders.  Here is what she has to say…

Who does it take to make a true champion?            

When a sprinter is the first past the finish line or a tennis player scores the winning point of game-set-match or even an ice skater receives the championship winning score, it is the athlete that receives the applause, the medals and the glory.  It is the athlete that gets the credit, the prize money and their national anthem played on the top of the podium. 

“What some may fail to appreciate is what it has actually taken or how many people have in fact contributed to the success of the winning individual(s).” 

My own competitive sporting success, over twenty years took ten ice skating coaches, seven dance teachers, two strength & conditioning coaches, three physiotherapists, one sports specific doctor, two unconditionally supportive parents, one patient sibling, a support network of numerous lifelong friends & family members, four ice skating partners, many doubters, hundreds of dedicated fans and yet more people along the way that inspired me more than I can credit. Unfortunately, in sport there simply isn’t enough time or space on the top of the rostrum for all those people to publicly share that moment of attention in a victory. 

Now my competitive sporting career is over and I move through a new phase in my life, I can intelligently rationalise the people involved in my success became part of the team for their own reasons.  Through a very cold perspective, the professionals in the team were paid to help educate and support me and some also continued on to bigger and better things, helped by the results we achieved together. 

“Loyalty is something that I value immensely myself and when the going gets tough, it can be tested.” 

When there can only be one winner and isn’t you, perhaps performance related mistakes are made or it simply isn’t your day, it is still the athlete who is the head of the team and the one to bear the brunt of the criticism and in turn the guilt. For the athlete, there is no one to hide behind or to move on to, they are the face of the operation.  It is the athlete who must carry the responsibility of the team behind them, they are the ones who must endure the physical and psychological pain of injury, lose sleep over the financial hardship of training expenses and consequently battle to hold the team together and boost collective morale when the cracks show. 

What I can now take pride in with an objective view away from my competitive world, is that the one thing that all those people had in common is and was me. I channeled that concoction of talent, the recipe for success and that refined combination of knowledge, into a world-class winning product.

I was in a sense the managing director of the “brand” that won those medals and that in itself, gives me reassurance in my own ability to move forwards and transition from an athlete into so much more in the future.  The principals that I adopted and the skills that I learnt as an athlete through my chosen network, have given me the confidence that even though I may yet have to realise where my future lies, I will make it.

“With a simple dream of success, hard work, determination and self-belief, if you have the right people around you, with the same common goal…anything is achievable.” 

The true athlete in me still full of passion, will forever be touched by each and everyone one of the people who I chose to contribute to my sporting success. I will always believe the connection I made with these people was more than just business and that we created a “family” together, as opposed to a workforce.  Perhaps an athlete with a different attitude of their own ability would feel differently, but as a little girl with a humble beginning, having the phrase drummed into her by her doting mother “don’t hurt anyone on the way up my love, as you may need them on the way back down”, I will always feel indebted to my teachers, mentors and teammates.  

“I believe that everyone in my career and successes even now, plays a part in making me who I am, even if simply to teach me valuable lesson.” 

I know I have thanked everyone profusely for their involvement in my career but my gratitude and appreciation will never feel sufficient towards the people who have helped me achieved my sporting goals.  I think that perhaps in reflection, the perception I have of this is because even though I may not see those people daily as I once did, their values and principles that they taught me are those in which I live by each and every day in all that I do. Regardless whether it be sport, in business or life, all our experiences are what make me me and for that I will forever be grateful. 

Small efforts go a long way

I have started 6 companies, and am working on number 7. I actively run 4. I spend a lot of time with my kids (they are fun 🙂 ), and I chair a charity.

I find it interesting that people think the charity work is all-consuming, and will take over your life, and therefore they won’t volunteer.

Why would you NOT volunteer an hour a year?! You must understand that the “I don’t have time, I work full-time” makes me sigh deeply.

I don’t profess to know what is all going on in your life, and you may battle things I can only imagine. If so, this one isn’t for you, and I wish you strength, courage and best of luck.

But if you can find time, I know that ONE HOUR from each of us, will build amazing things.

Go ahead. Just do ONE.

Performance or Perception: what’s your problem?

You know that time when you worked so hard you thought you might actually disintegrate into a little pile of white dust? And you were SO proud of the outcome, because you knew exactly how many obstacles you had to overcome to be able to deliver the final outcome?

And then….

…someone tells you they weren’t very pleased. And you chose between:

  • going home to eat icecream
  • go to the gym to punch something really hard for a long time
  • quitting on the spot
  • call friends to have a good long moan how you’re not appreciated
  • ____________________________________________ (you complete)

You have a problem. You forgot that PERCEPTION and PERFORMANCE are two completely different things, and BOTH have to be managed.

Read more here on how to do that.

Performance and Perception: how to get it right

Nobody likes a bragger. Ever. And I am absolutely not suggeting you should go around tooting your own horn, thats just annoying. I am not even saying you should be telling people about the work you do in detail, because “just getting things done” is a talent in itself.

But if you have a problem with perception of your performance, I suggest you start by doing the following to change it:

  • Communicate enough, to ensure you share progress steps with those around you
  • Ask people for feedback, so you can address the perceptions they have
  • Share your workload in a constructive way: “when I managed a similar problem last week, I…”
  • find a few trusted colleagues who can be your sounding board for when you do something that rubs people the wrong way, so you can make sure your performance isn’t being lost because the perception gets in the way.

Sign up for my next post on how to coach and manage an employee who isn’t performing, and how to assess if it is a performance or perception issue.

Tough times hit hard: 5 things that may help.

Brexit, economic downturn, lack of funding, new regulations and changing personal circumstances  are all events that can rock the foundation of your startup business. Making it through hard times requires a steel determination and some serious grit. However, these days I think we need more than just fighting spirit. Here are some thoughts on what else to do when tough times hit.

Cut Carefully

I really don’t like this cutting, because I think one should always be frugal with money. In addition, for small and growing business, cost-cutting needs to be implemented with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Cut too deep and your business will never recover. Cut too shallow and cash flow problems could force you to the back of the unemployment line. Exercise care and judgment in determining what and where to cut and by how much. And keep monitoring the impact.

Use Low-Budget Marketing

When recessions and other difficult times hit, the marketing function of a business is the first to get cut. With less advertising and marketing, the funnel of incoming prospects is reduced creating even more revenue decreases and setting up a vicious cycle.

The key to salvage any business in hard times is NOT to reduce your marketing activities but to REPLACE them with  Low-budget marketing ( include tactics such as PR, networking, public speaking, online marketing and more.) If you’re already doing that, then figure out how you can do more, through new channels.

Invest your way out?

Are there others feeling the pinch? Can you buy yourself some growth, with efficiencies to be made through scaling operations?

Customer. Customer. Customer.

In good times, business comes easy. Your sales pitch or marketing message may be less effective but will still get results. Surviving hard times requires going back full circle to the fundamentals: Keep it simple, and give your customers what they want and need. Make sure EVERY customer is happy, because you certainly can’t afford a single unhappy one.

Forwards!!

It’s easy to fall into the trap of replaying the situation that got you here today. If you had a failed partnership, replaying your mistakes is a mistake. Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Lyubomirsky, Sousa, et al reveals analysis occurring during talking or writing is beneficial in difficult times while replaying negative events is detrimental.

There is a great book called “What got your here won’t get you there”, and that phrase is a great reminder of the need to pause, take stock, realign and move forward.
Go win. If it was EASY, ANYBODY could’ve done it already.

The kids won’t EVER be silenced

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.