Never, never, never give in

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense”

Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was known for his inspiring speeches. Unlike most politicians today, he wrote many of his speeches himself. In business, as leaders and managers we could do far worse than be inspired by some of Churchill’s famous speeches.

Never giving in? Often in the face of adversity it is easier not to make the extra effort to achieve the outcome required. As I reflect on my journey of establishing and managing a business, Churchill’s ‘never give in’ speech resonates.

Back when the business was just starting out, we were given a 3 month contract with a major Australian retailer to manage their Christmas overflow. This effectively doubled our existing business and would have prevented the business from failing. After we had signed the contract we then received a phone call saying ‘sorry, we’ve decided not to use you’.

Large Australian retailers are notoriously ruthless in dealing with suppliers, especially small ones. Although we had a contract we were in no financial position to seek redress for them breaking the contract. If we had taken legal action we would have been out of business before the matter was addressed and, we could not afford it anyway. With our backs to the wall, we went back and negotiated successfully with the retailer’s manager and convinced him that the honourable action was to adhere to the contract. This gave us our first big start in the business.

Several years later, our largest customer owed us a six figure sum and was reluctant to pay. Failure to pay would have meant our business would have collapsed unless we were able to secure a bank loan to cover working capital. This was something we were reluctant to do as our houses had been mortgaged to establish the business. Negotiations were not fruitful in reducing the debt owed to us and we became extremely worried. We kept the pressure up without success. Luckily the customer decided to cease using our services but they needed to move their stock. This presented the lever we needed to get paid. Put simply, “no payment no stock” and our business was saved (post note: 12 months later the customer went broke). Never, never give in had saved our business on a number of occasions.

Finally, successfully selling our business was our last example of ‘never, never, never give in’. After 2 failed sales attempts in 12 months it looked as though the business would never be sold and we would not receive a reward for our 15 years of hard work (and worry!). Seven prospective business brokers were interviewed to assist in selling the business and were rejected for one reason or another. It looked like another failure. However, I encouraged one of the brokers to try another approach. After weeks of trying to convince all my partners to use his company’s services, he was appointed to sell the business. This proved a decisive. The broker had international experience and was able to sell the business to an international buyer well above expectations.

I recently read a great blog about not giving in where the author states “Anything worthwhile is worthwhile sticking with until it is done” this applies to not only business but life itself.

(http://www.letstalkcoaching.com/587/perseverance)

In business as in management, staying power or persistence will often win out in the end………sometimes when you least expect it.

Priorities………

“Having my priorities in order has really helped me look better, fresher and more relaxed”
Kim Cattrall

Maybe a quote from a TV star (Sex and the City) is not what you would expect to head a blog about priorities in work and business. However, it does highlight the fact that if you have your priorities in order, you can achieve great things and not be side-tracked by unimportant issues.

Let me give you an example. A friend of my daughters popped in recently for a quick catch up. I asked casually how things were going in first 12 months of her job. She started to complain that the new managing director (and this was a multinational company) had decreed that only white coffee cups were to be used and she wanted to use her Lord of the Rings coffee cup. Other people were complaining as well.

These types of decrees are not uncommon as shown by the linked article about the former managing director of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company. He put out an edict about desk ‘etiquette’ that bordered on the neurotic, at a time when the company had both great opportunities and of course many problems. He subsequently left the company with very little to show for his tenure at the helm, in particular the missed opportunities.

http://www.afr.com/p/national/the_obsessions_of_marius_kloppers_Ik8genyb7aErjerd7S9fjI

Micro management is normally a red light that may indicate that management does not know how to prioritise; treats staff as unimportant, and is not up to the “real” job. I once worked for a manager who was obsessed with orderliness, where all prospective customers were placed in labelled manila folders and filed (and that’s where they stayed!) whilst he complained that I should not keep active files on the floor near my desk as it made my office untidy. Perhaps it did make my office untidy, it certainly did not stop my success in achieving sales. I can remember another good example from years ago. I was studying whilst working full time and thought it would be a good idea to give my then manager a draft of one of my one of my assignments (which was about the industry we work working in). He proceeded to mark the spelling and grammar (this was before Spellcheck)

…………..little wonder he was dismissed some years later.

So what would be your advice to my daughter’s friend?

Be defiant and show independence and continue to use her Lord of the Rings cup?

It’s all about priorities.

Is it important?

………possibly demotivating, irritating and annoying ‘yes’ but important ‘no’?

We asked her:

“Is this important to you doing your job to the best of your ability?”

“No”

“Then it’s not a high priority is it?”

As the link to blog below, the expression “when a dog is in the hunt, it has no time to search for fleas” has relevance.

http://www.letstalkcoaching.com/463/problem-or-solution

 Remember it is up to you get your priorities right………………..

If you do, life and work is far less complicated and you are more likely to be much happier and more successful.

 

 

Networking

“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person’s needs ahead of their own”

Bob Burg

A current business buzz word is “networking”. To be successful in your career or business, networking is considered a vital tool.

So what is networking and does it really work? I once attended a training course where networking was the topic. We were told that the way to network successfully was to attend an event and take 50 business cards with you, work the room handing out your business card and collecting the other person’s card, before moving onto the next person. Your success was gauged by how many business cards you collected. I was horrified at such an approach and argued that this would not work because it was all about what’s in it for them and offered nothing to others. I was derided by the presenter.

How would you react to such an approach?

Would the person handing out the cards ever consider your needs?

As the Bob Burg implies in his quote above, putting other people’s needs before yours will make you a more successful networker. Heiner Karst in his Let’s Talk Coaching blog on networking defines networking as “the building and maintaining of relationships that lead to opportunities for all parties. It works with the right attitude and is based on such “laws” as law of reciprocity or clichés like “what goes around, comes around”’. (http://www.letstalkcoaching.com/1990/what-you-want-to-know-about-networking-a-sixology)

Here is a great networking example.

I have a friend I met whilst undertaking a course over 25 years ago. We kept in contact and bounced ideas off each other and this lead to:

• him joining a company I was working for at that time
• this lead in turn to him recommending I undertake further studies as he had done.
• he subsequently changed employment, which lead to the establishment of a new business where I became involved. His employer’s services were outsourced reducing their costs and improving their service levels.
• my further studies opened up the opportunity of casual post-graduate lecturing in Asia for an Australian university as well as a new full time career opportunity
• my friend was in Singapore and had several of his staff enrolled in the post graduate program.
• whilst this was occurring, the new business in which I was a major shareholder grew significantly
• last year we decided to sell the business. We contacted him in Hong Kong where he was residing and he recommended a buyer – this proved successful and they purchased the company
• he is now in contact with the business agent who assisted us selling our business and this is now leading to opportunities for both parties in Asia.

All this was achieved through maintaining a relationship, and looking after other’s needs, before your own and not burning bridges.

When I started up a new business there were several people in my consulting network who gave freely of their time and expertise to help me. (http://www.smartcompany.com.au/leadership/professional-development/35254-hate-networking-stop-trying-to-get.html)
They put my needs ahead of their own and showed a genuine interest in my business. They have since been “repaid” as I have been able to engage them to work on some of my business projects – “what goes around comes around”.

Consider networking as helping others because they in turn, will help you.

So next time you wish to network, what will be your approach…………?