Asides

Your Loss is My Gain, dear corporates

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!

 

 

 

4 things that are cool about being in STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics

STEM is a term that refers to the academic disciplines of science,[note 1] technology, engineering and mathematics.[1] 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.[2] 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[46] as well as mentoring programs, such as the Million Women Mentors initiative connecting girls and young women with STEM mentors[47] and Verizon’s #InspireHerMind project

Other variations

  • STM (scientific, technical, and mathematics;[4] or science, technology, and medicine; or scientific, technical, and medical)
  • eSTEM (environmental STEM) [5][6]
  • GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage females into these science fields.[9][10]
  • BEMS (Boys in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage males into these science fields.[citation needed]
  • STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine)
  • AMSEE (Applied math, science, engineering, and entrepreneurship)

Top 4 things that are cool about STEM for me:

  1. I like making things (Engineering)
  2.  I like clever gadgets (Technology)
  3.  Mathematics is great when you want to run a P&L in black
  4. I work in medical devices (Science)

Here is my podcast with Gary Bridgeman on the topic of STEM from 9th May 2017.

Is there such a thing as growing too fast? And are we? Here is how you know.

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

  • scouting
  • training
  • Samples
  • case support
  • Follow up
  • procurement

….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

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.

 

How Your Leadership Affect Your Company’s Culture

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.
2. Mission
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.”
3. Vision
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.
4. Values
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.

Dad before Awards

A little while back I mentioned how important it is for me to be nominated and rewarded with awards. As you may have seen, I have recently been shortlisted as Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 by First Women, something I am immensely proud of.

There is just one problem.

The judging process works in such a way that the Finalists are asked to attend a judging session in London (this year on May 16th), to answer questions (not previously shared with attendees) in front of a judging panel.

And I can’t be there. I will be in Sweden, with my father whom I love so very, very much. He is not well (prostate cancer), and this will be a time when all his three children are there together for the first time in a long while (my sister lives in Mexico). So obviously, I am going to Sweden.

I thought about flying back to attend the interview, but my heart tells me no.  We will see what they say: if this means I am forfeiting my place as a finalist or not.

I wanted to share this for two reasons:

  1. Family ALWAYS comes first. Always.
  2. Look around. There will be SO MANY people around you who were never awarded a trophy of ANY kind. But they may be brilliant, amazing people, who just chose to put family before fame. Always give people the recognition they deserve for a job well done.

 

Why it is important for me to be recognised with Awards

It is always flattering to be nominated or suggested for awards and nominations, and obviously, I would be lying if I told you it doesn’t boost my ego or confidence I am human; of course it does! But I want to share with you the most important reason why it is important for me to be recognised as a leader, as an entrepreneur and an innovator. It is much bigger than just me.

I come from a small town in Sweden. I grew up pretty uncertain about a lot of things, but I always had a strong (some would say too strong) sense of what is Right and Wrong. I could handle a lot of things, but I always struggled with unfairness, and with undeserved authority (again, some would argue any authority…). A lot of the times this would get me in trouble, as I was fiercely (and naively) fighting for what I believed was right.

I haven’t given up that approach, but I have become much smarter about it.

Winning awards does two things for me:

It validates what I am doing: I run my companies not just to make money (I haven’t taken an actual salary yet, and the small profits are reinvested in research, development and staff training), but to do good. My work with Direct Relief and The Fistula Foundations are two tangible examples (read more here).

It also gives me a platform to speak from. I have almost 10 000 followers on twitter, and a large network on LinkedIn. I have been asked for comments by The Washington Post, on CNBC, BBC and other media. This means that when the times comes for me to really make a difference, I can start with a very large network, and go from there.

There are also numerous other benefits: It validates the companies to customers and partners, it gives my teams a boost, it brings us tremendous joy to go to award ceremonies together (and win!). Obviously, none of the awards would happen without I, M, T, D, E, R, O, J, L, L, R and T, which they know very well: a leader isn’t a leader without the team who chose to follow her. And the fact that THEY chose to follow ME, is the biggest award a true leader could ever get.

THAT is the real reward.

Are staff retention policies outdated? I say Yes.

“Let me know how you will find your next skills, and how you can continue to grow , inside or outside the company?”

I lean back to let her think, before I speak again.

I am having a development meeting with someone in my staff, and my question makes her frown involuntarily. That warms my heart, and I have to stop myself from grinning. I like when people want to stay!

I can see I need to remind her what it means to work in this generous and people focused environment, built on striving for excellence and constant improvement; I spend a lot of effort on making sure I get the communication right; encouraging people to learn from outside doesn’t always mean I want people to leave!

We are not your average company 

I get that it is not common to be encouraged to look both inside and outside for your next learning and challenge. I know it is certainly not what you usually get from a manager who thinks you’re a top performer, in a company you’ve been told you are highly appreciated. But we are not your average company, and we certainly don’t aim for average growth and development for our staff. I am an Improver, in its truest form, and that is highly visible in my relentless push for finding talent and then making it better, brighter, faster.

We are a fairly young company, and as such, each and every employee is tremendously impactful on our small and tight knit team. We are growing fast, which means there are ample opportunities to grow both in role, as well as move to a new position. We have more chances of providing new responsibilities internally than most other companies – we are lucky that way. However, in 2017, that means very little. Let me explain.

Don’t get laid off!!

It used to be great to keep a job your whole life. The goal was to never get laid off, to learn on the job and to be as experienced as possible – that was the best way to increase your salary. But all that has changed: technology and innovation drives faster much quicker than ever before, and the most effective way to raise your salary is often to switch companies every two years. It is no Ionger suspicious to having have more than 3 employers in a lifetime, and certainly the pure REASONS for working has changed with different generations. We are no longer satisfied with doing something we are capable of, we also want to do something we love. And that is exactly it:

I hire smart people. I hire people who are clever, hungry, eager and driven. And then I give them a carefully balanced mix of support and opportunity, tailored to the individuals personality. So then, the inevitable happens: they grown. And learn. And they love it.

Which is maybe why they want to stay, and don’t get me wrong, that’s awesome. But it may not be what is best, neither for them, nor for the company. Continued and accelerated growth is better, and we get that from people bringing in new thoughts and ideas, new viewpoints, new skills and experiences. If we can keep a great balance between harnessing the talent we have, combined with the new intelligence we get in, while continuing to support the learning we see, we will be a hot, magical melting pot of brilliance, where the love of growth, learning and progress brings out the very best in all of us.

In my companies staff retention policy has changed to staff returning policy. Give it a go. You might learn something new!

Sometimes I surprise myself: Work Ethics

I was chatty. I don’t know how that fits with being an introvert, because I am told they aren’t chatty. But on the radio yesterday (1.5h!) I was happily chatting. Perhaps because it was mostly about business and people around me, both being topics of interest to me.

Lately, I am getting a lot of invitations to speak and write. I am absolutely delighted, as it means I have something worth listening to, and if that can help and/or inspire someone, that’s great.

Sometimes I say things that I didn’t know I was thinking. For example, I don’t think I realised how much work ethic my parents have instilled in me. Perhaps that is both a strength and a weakness?

Strength, because it is natural to me, and I always do my very best, and I work hard. I am committed, and dedicated. You can trust me with getting it done.

Weakness, because when I was younger, I would get it done at any cost. I think I may have frequently bulldozed over people if they weren’t on board. (Sorry about that.)

Potentially also a weakness, because what I take for granted may not be natural to others. Am I expecting too much from my team?

I don’t have any answers – this is another area where I am still learning.

And….is there anyone out there who thinks they DON’T have great work ethics? Maybe we all think we do, and we are just fooling ourselves?

 

 

 

I’ve been on Holiday!!!!! My oh my…

Time out of the office

I am on an airplane, and next to me is a man in a suit. He just hung up the phone as we were pushing back, mid argument with what I am assuming was his partner. Apparently he works too much, isn’t focusing on the kids enough and hasn’t been with them on holiday for the last 5 years. I didn’t meant to eavesdrop, but it was hard not to hear – they were sort of agitated.

On my other side is my nine year old daughter. She is building something in Minecraft, her hair is tousled and her freckles are sparkling like stardust on her golden cheeks. She is in a grumpy mood, but I know it is just because she has absolutely loved our holiday, and doesn’t want it to be over, so I forgive her.

We have just spent a week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, and I haven’t worked a single minute. For the first time since I started company 1 (I have 3), I have taken a whole week off, and I have absolutely loved it …..once I figured it out, which took me about 24h. Turns out I forgot how to relax.

Interestingly enough, I always go on about work-life balance, and I am very good at it at home, I think. I spend a lot of time with my family, and I manage my work so that it doesn’t impact our daily lives too much. But…this whole holiday thing I have completely overlooked in the last 4 years.

So I have learnt two things this last week:
– Nothing fell apart while I was gone.
– I like holidays.

I think I will have to book another one. Who knew. (And how silly is it that I am actually slightly surprised by that?!)

(And You, Guy in suit next to me:
Hi. I am hoping you are reading this over my shoulder. (Or that youre already following my blog — then you’ll see it anyway)

I just wanted to remind you to make sure you are happy with your choices. I get that it is not always easy, and I don’t know your story. But I DO know that family and love ALWAYS comes first.
Happy to chat about it if you want to. Just ask about my vacation, and we can get started. ‘
key?)