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!)
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.
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:
- Family ALWAYS comes first. Always.
- 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.