Running a company

Lonely? Well…

“It’s windy up here.”

I turned to my left. An old woman stood beside me, gazing out over the water. She looked familiar somehow, but I didn’t have time to place her before she spoke again, softly: “And lonely.”

All of a sudden I felt tears burning in my eyes, and I couldn’t speak.

She is me.

Years from now, I will be standing there, looking at the water. I will be proud, pleased with what I have done. I will feel accomplished, appreciated, grateful, honoured….and I will be looking into the distance with that same knowledgeable look in my eyes.

I can feel it already: the wind is getting more powerful. It pulls my, pushes me around. It tries to get me off balance, tries to distract me from what I want to do. It has been playful up until now, but recently…it is changing tone. Up here is …intimidating. Not threatening (few things scare me), but harsher, sharper. Not nice.

I am higher up now, and I am less sheltered. I am more visible, more exposed. I am a target. and that leads to a question: Do I back down? Do I take shelter? Do I retreat?

I turn to tell her that I know what she means, but there is nobody there. I am alone.

It is windy, but I knew it would be.
It is lonely, but I brought friends.

Buckle up if you want to take me for a ride, because nothing scares me. I’ve already been through rougher weather than anyone can ever imagine.

My Dream-Me is pretty harsh…

Angela Spang

I have embarked on the daunting journey of writing a book….or three, more accurately. Apparently I have a lot to say (who knew)…

I have always been a fan of objective viewing of self, as we tend to be either overly critical or alternatively not clear on our strengths and how we should manage them in relation to other people (and their potential shortcomings in the same area), but I have to say that I am taking it to a new level now!

The other day I woke up in the middle of a dream, and clearly the book writing challenge has made quite an impact — I am obviously pretty occupied with the idea since I was actually DREAMING about it. This is slightly concerning since I haven’t actually written a SINGLE word yet! I am worried what is to come.

Stick to Twitter

Dream-Me

I woke up offended.

My Dream-Me was telling my real me to “stick to Twitter”. Ouch. I am all for straight communication, but that is HARSH feedback to someone who hasn’t even started writing yet! Clearly Dream-Me is not wasting any time! She isn’t wrong though: I have said for years that I like Twitter — the limitation of characters is a challenge and a blessing — better be succinct and not waffle. I have seen the same tendencies in myself when it comes to writing: I struggle with filling in long blank spaces in applications for funding or similar (maybe that’s why I never applied for anything apart from an epic double failure in a Horizon2020 application a couple of years back where the second attempt was actually scored WORSE than the FIRST one. I gave up after that.).

Realise when you are not the best person for the job

One of my strengths as a leader is to put the right person in the right place. I match make well between people and roles, and sometimes I see futures for people that they may have not realised themselves. This strength is useful here….I have absolutely no plans to become a writer. Just because I have STORIES to tell doesn’t make me a writer…those are different things. People who believe that authors should only write their own stories or you aren’t a real author if you don’t do the actual writing yourself haven’t thought long enough about it, imho.

After all, Authors have editors, illustrators, designers….and they use computers 😉

I will have a writing partner

She will take the jumbled words, the blurry memories, the ugly and unsaid, the beauty and the magic…and she will use her skill and talent to turn my secrets and my scars into something that we can all learn from. I will have to trust her; I know it will require me to be brave. I will tell her things I have never told anyone, and I am already scared.

Maybe that is why my Dream-Me is saying stick to Twitter. She is not wrong.

Will you read my books?

Summarize me and JUNE: Attempt 1

I have tried to summarize me in a few words for the Goldman Sachs 10k I am just about to embark on. How do you think I did?

Here is what I wrote:

Making healthcare better for the women and girls you love.

Multi award-winning innovator and serial entrepreneur. (thats from LinkedIn, true but braggy sounding on here.)

I don’t like Brexit

I am Swedish, living in the UK since 12 years, still struggling to not translate and try to explain swedish expressions (eg “There is no danger on the roof”) during business conversations.

Useless education

Trained ballerina, rocks parallel parking but can’t cook. Once burnt boiling eggs.

It’s complicated

Like talking strategy, change and people. Enthusiastic introvert who has to do the hakka before networking. Residential will take all my energy, but I am really looking forward to learning from everyone on the programme.

JUNE Medical

June was a code name from the beginning, but it got stuck so I kept it. We focus on surgical women’s health, anything that is in the operating theatre and give women the opportunity to get back on their feet faster, back to the life they want to live. We distribute medical devices for some of the largest companies in healthcare, as well as making our own solutions when we don’t find good products (Galaxy II is such a project).
I have been supporting The Fistula Foundation with surgical equipment for many years, and my GalaxyII project is an important cornerstone in that goal.
I am on the programme to ensure I make the best choices and optimise where and how we can contribute to improving healthcare for women and girls.

Why simplicity is important in innovation

It is so easy to fall into the trap of ego. You know you have a great idea, and you want to show the world how clever it is…well, it is easy to also want to show the world how proud you are of having thought of it!

And being proud is a good thing.

…Just not so proud that it derails your innovation. Let me give you a good example, witnessed often in previous roles in large corporations:

Clever person solves a problem. Clever person then tries to share solution with other clever people, but makes the pitch lopsided, and the OTHER clever people end up offering to help with THEIR solutions to the problem. Clever person leaves feeling devalued, demotivated and misunderstood.

So what went wrong?

The mistake was made to make the PROBLEM bigger than the SOLUTION. (We tend to do this when we want to build suspense, to really milk out the praise we think we deserve for our brilliant solution.) It then back fires, because we focus too much on the stage before the solution, and once everyone’s brain is in help and solution mode, it is very challenging to present a solution. Intelligent creative people love problem solving and are so eager to help, they can’t stop!

Try this next time

Instead of building up the problem too big and subsequently losing your moment to shine, try summarizing the discussion you want to have up front. Try starting with saying something along the lines of : “You know that x we have been mulling over? I have a solution I want to share with you today, and I am really proud of it!”

Be honest, know yourself and use your strengths. Innovation is only beautiful when it is simple, and everyone gets it.

(Just like a good joke is only funny if you don’t have to explain it.)

Leadership struggles

As a leader, one of the hardest things is to figure out when to push your employees, and when to back off. Finding the balance, different for each person you lead, is hugely challenging.

Sometimes leaders get fed up too, because in the end of the day, we all have rough days when we just want to roll over and pull the covers over our head. But as the leader of a team or a company, that simply isn’t an option. Your actions would impact too many, and for a long time. You need to stay professional, at all times. Moping has to be done at home, hidden away from those your emotions will influence, worry or offend.

Supportive leaders are great

But how do you make the decision to just stop helping and stop coaching? When do you say “enough is enough” and draw a line in the sand? For example, how much of our personal life’s should we bring into the office? When should we tell our teams to be professional and just get on with it? Is it right to have team members not pulling their weight because they are going through a tough time at home? Should a boss be a mentor, a coach or a psychologist? Or all of it?

Lead with kindness

I always advocate empathy and understanding and believe leading with kindness is right. But….here is a thought for consideration: Is it right to spend extra time and resources on the ones who aren’t performing? Is it fair to the other ones in the team, those who are doing well, even great? Shouldn’t THEY be the ones who get the time, the coaching, the support and the help?

If you want to lead a team of high performers, is it strategic to spend most of your time worrying about the low performers? Or is it time to just ditch the deadweight and go with the stars?

Pondering continues.

Product development and Launch – the JUNE MEDICAL way

I’ve done The Big

Because I have had the pleasure of working with larger corporations (I spend 10 years with JNJ, 3 with Allergan and 3 with American Medical Systems ENDO) I have quite a lot of experience of new product development and taking new things to market. I have had my finger in design, development, research, early stage testing, pre-launch and launch, as well as training and port market evaluations.

Long process, not always for the right reasons

Usually in one of the large corporates, a new product development idea goes through many rounds of iterations, with a lot of people who don’t have the faintest idea of what the patient symptoms are, what the available solutions are, what the surgeon need is or what the possible outcomes should be.

That’s where JUNE MEDICAL is different. Let me give you the example of this month’s launch: The GOKit.

I was sitting with Maria, nurse at St Marys Hospital, when she got yet another call from the consultant asking her to run upstairs and fetch something from Theatres (she works in Outpatient). When she came back, I asked about what I just observed, and it turns out that she quite frequently must run upstairs to collect a piece of equipment that is missing from the resterilizable trays they use in Outpatient. (Which also means she opens a complete sterile tray just for one or two missing pieces!)

Digging deeper

I asked her more questions, and then suggested a product we could make for her that would solve her problem of missing, broken or incomplete trays. She laughed and said “A new product will take years to be put together and approved!”.

I winked and reminded her that we are JUNE MEDICAL (!), and asked her to give me 3 months. She laughed and said the challenge was on. I was pretty pleased with myself when I casually strolled in just before Christmas and presented her with the first sterile sample kit of the new outpatient Gynae Tray, and she was absolutely over the moon – blown away with the quality and the low cost, saving the trust money.

In summary:

  • Know your stuff
  • Watch your customers and solve their problems
  • Work fast

 

Oh, and GOKit? See for yourself! www.junemedical.com/gokit/

 

Mentoring Questions Part 3: EXIT STRATEGY

My goodness, I had more to say on this than I thought!

Thanks for coming back to read this third part. 

I got a letter in the mail a couple of weeks ago, from a company who asked if they could sell my company for me. As one of the things they wanted to discuss with me, they had listed my exit strategy for when I wanted to sell my company. I told them I would #neversell , but I would be happy to hear what they thought the company would be worth. They didn’t respond. 

Anyway, it reminded me about something I always used to try to install in my teams when we embarked on large projects in the corporate world: Exit strategy. 

I have observed, as well as been a part of, teams or projects that keep going long after any sane and remotely objective person would have called it quits. Why? Because it is hard to say “I give up”. And it is even harder to do it in a corporate environment where nobody wants to be pegged as being negative or pessimistic. 

So what is the responsible and strategic way to go? Make an exit plan. (And then hope you never have to implement it!)

Why leaders with egos are bad for business

Here is what a leader with a big ego will do:

  1. Being defensive. (Early sign: Defending ideas. Ultimately turns into becoming defensive.)
  2. Comparing to others. If you continually compare yourself to others, you will actually become less competitive. Too inward focusing!
  3. Seeking  acceptance to justify your ego needs. You crave respect and recognition from others, which eventually interferes with your success.
  4. Show off: You make a point of showcasing your brilliance.
  5. You think you have all the answers.
  6. Reject advice. Not smart.
  7. Can’t admit to being wrong. Ever pushed an idea through, even though you had that sinking feeling in your gut? Cut your loss and regroup instead. Only weak leaders have a hard time doing this.

None of this will make your business stronger, bigger or healthier, and none if this will foster good leaders around you.

Got a big ego? I suggest you send it on holiday for a few weeks and see how you get on without it. You just may be surprised.

I’ve yet to meet anyone complaining someone’s ego is too small.

“Whaddaya mean, it ain’t personal?!!!”

Oh yes, it is.

Me starting a company is personal. VERY personal. I put my career into this, my skill, my talent, my goodwill, my credibility. I have used every contact I have, every favour I was owed and every connection I could think of. I have convinced people I CAN DO THIS, despite their lack of belief, their concern for my family, or their worry about my future.

I have had talks with every employee coming onboard, convincing them that this is THE PLACE TO BE, we are going places, we will be a company to grow and develop in.

So if you for even a second think that a startup or an established company isn’t PERSONAL to the founder and owner, think again.

Every single record on Companies House is a manifest of a dream, a vision, an act of bravery. It is a rebel act against facts and statistics, and a streak of both genius and crazy.

You may not like what we do. You may not even care. But know this: for EVERY company out there, there is at least ONE person for whom it is personal.

Very, very personal.

Open plan office pitfalls?!

I like open plan offices, as it encourages communication. But does it work as well as we think?

Think about average number of distractions during an average work day…..Now take that number and multiply it by 23.

That’s how many minutes of concentration you actually lose. You see, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after an interruption, according to Gloria Mark, who studies digital distraction.

Distractions side track you for up to a half hour!

In other words, that “30 seconds to check Twitter” isn’t just 30 seconds down the drain. It’s 23 minutes and 45 seconds. (very few of the twitter posts I read are worth that kind of investment, but perhaps I am just following the wrong people… !)

And all these distractions not only hurt effectiveness, they make us stressed, grumpy and less sharp: “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity,” Mark wrote.

Are we victims or villains?!

 

Interestingly enough, half the interruptions were self-inflicted. Working on a task and switching tabs to check Facebook, for example, is a self-inflicted interruption. As opposed to, say, a coworker walking over to discuss a project.

We are, essentially, playing tennis with our cognitive energies, volleying them back and forth at a moment’s notice. Only unlike a tennis ball, our brain takes a little time to switch directions. More like a really large ferry…!

And the problem isn’t just the time wasted. We’re sacrificing some of our best thinking: if you keep jumping between different topics and thoughts, how deep can you really get into a subject?!

Does this resonate with you? It does with me. I just don’t know what to do about it yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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