Tag Archives: Business Leader

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. 

We sit, we walk, we shout and we fika.

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We sit, we walk, we shout and we fika, all in the name of productivity.

Having spent many years in large corporate companies, massive giants with 50,000-100, 000 employees, I don’t even dare to estimate how many of my working hours were spent locked up in meetings, or my favourite part, preparing slides for meetings. Since I started my first own company, we don’t do that anymore. Ever!

So how do we make sure everyone is informed, is up to speed and delivers a stellar performance? With a few simple house rules around respect and integrity, and three key important methods:

1. We Fika – The Swedish coffee break where my employees and I (often across companies since several of the companies I own operate from the same address) have coffee and tea and eat cake. It is an informal break to the day, and it is usually spontaneous.

It doesn’t happen every day, but it is a simple way to stop and reflect on the day in a relaxed environment. It helps us talk things through and get each other’s input, it gives a relaxed place to iron out potential misunderstandings and it fosters communication, sharing, understanding and collaboration. And we get to eat cake.

2. Group brain exercises regularly. Just like any employer who promotes employee wellbeing, we encourage fitness and healthy lifestyles, but we also encourage exercising the brain. After all, that is the body part we use the most in our job. We have training sessions several times a week, and work both individually and as a group.

A great example last week was when our marketing assistant needed to work on her tone of voice to become more assertive when discussing with suppliers. We spent 20 minutes using body language, observing each other, making physical adjustments and shouting at each other to learn how the body position influences the voice. Loud shouting and then loud laughter. Good for everyone!

3. Walking meetings – going for a walk instead of sitting down to talk; These work best with only two or three people. It helps with energy levels, concentration and clarity. It is more difficult to get frustrated and angry while walking than while sitting in a chair so it can really take the edge off any challenging or sensitive topics that you may have to discuss with your team.

Packing bags, moving to Ireland?

The CEO of an award winning Medical Device company is considering expanding to Ireland or Germany after the EU referendum

Angela Spang, CEO of medical device provider JUNE MEDICAL, is contemplating a move from London to somewhere else in Europe following Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

Spang is concerned that Brexit will make it harder for her to obtain innovative products from across the continent for her company. Fast paced and award winning JUNE MEDICAL has already grown over 100% since it was founded in 2013.

“There is a huge demand for high-quality medical device and any advantage a company has in accessing innovative products is a huge factor,” she told XXXX. “Mutual recognition for regulatory approval provided access to European wide launches — this is a powerful engine for growth that may now be removed.”

Access to European funding and access to European markets for her own new products will also influence Spang’s decision, she said.

Potential new office locations for JUNE MEDICAL include Ireland and Germany but the company won’t be making any hasty decisions. “We’re monitoring what impact this has over the next 1-2 quarters. If we see a big change in the availability of products or dramatically changed terms, then we will consider alternative geography for investment and growth.

She added: “It doesn’t change our current commitment to the UK, but could change our growth plans significantly.”

When Idea Meet Market, Magic Happens

I frequently meet people who, wbig eyeshen finding out I have three companies, widen their eyes slightly. I have learned that it usually means one of three things:

  1. You think I am a workaholic
  2. You want one too
  3. You think I am really rich

I am going to leave 1 and 3 out. Neither is true. More on that later (that is a different post entirely). Continue reading When Idea Meet Market, Magic Happens

Me and 1,279 Business leaders in the UK say Stay

The bosses of more than half of Britain’s largest companies are
urging voters to back Remain in the biggest endorsement from
the business world to date.
Some 1,285 business leaders who together employ 1.75 million

people — including more than 900 small and medium-sized firms and 51 of the FTSE 100 — say in a letter to The Times that Brexit would damage the British economy.

“Britain leaving the EU would mean uncertainty for our firms,
less trade with Europe and fewer jobs,” the business leaders say.
We are concerned we would have to reset the terms of trade
with Britain’s biggest market “from scratch” after an exit from
the European Union and single market.
Mr Cameron predicted an investment boom if Britain backed
Remain, telling the Financial Times: “Businesses, wealth
creators, job creators will think: Britain has made a decision,
let’s pile back into the economy and create jobs and opportunity
because it’s a great place to do business.”
I happen to agree with him.
Britain Stronger In Europe