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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 72: General update

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

YESTERDAY: You know what?  Sometimes I think the western working world has turned into much more of a cut-throat, unethical, selfish place to operate than it was before.  People promising contracts to keep their options open. People – with whom you have invested in establishing good and respectful working relationships – just blanking you: not bothering to return calls or emails if they don’t need you.

Maybe it’s always been like that and I know it’s much worse in other places.  I say this because the oil and gas company that we spent 4 months and 3 proposals courting; the one that sent an email accepting the proposal and saying they’d just get the written formalities sorted out; the one that I’ve been telling everyone about and banking on the revenue of – is now not in communication.  We can’t reach them.  They haven’t cancelled – but will this evaporate?  What’s going on?!

Here’s the email we got from the BIG potential client 6 weeks ago:

Many thanks for our discussion today.

To confirm, it is our intention to proceed on the basis of the proposal (attached) and as such we will look to raise the Service Order next week for the initial amount in order to secure your services ahead of the kick-off meeting.

We will look to have the kick-off meeting soon (April/May) with the bulk of the work occurring in a few months time as more technical aspects of the project take shape.

I look forward to working together on this aspect of the project.

Best regards,

Nothing since and it’s now mid-May.  We think they could just be busy and will get back to us next week to set up the delivery time frame. I’m going to actually cry if it falls through.

Meantime, thankfully, this ‘gap’ has been overshadowed by enthusiasm from an even bigger opportunity.  It’s with a training company via Mr.P (I mentioned him a couple of blogs ago).  This is where Mirror Mirror turns into a team effectiveness TRAINING for teams.  The company has gazillions of contacts from past clients, which gives us a very high chance of an in.  We met yesterday and here’s the first sentence from a note we just received:

            “Great seeing you and Lindsay today and we are looking forward to working with you both in the future. We are happy with the revised offer so I think we can start to get the ball rolling.”

AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR.  Just those one or two companies who will try it, run it, spread it, repeat it….   This is fantastic! I’m on the train back from London right now – along with my mini bottle of prosecco and salt and vinegar crisps – lovely – musing that even though this blog is humbly entitled ‘General Update’ – maybe we have cracked it!  Maybe that email is the break that will finally get the ball rolling. We have agreement on commercial terms and everything is good to go.  Maybe we’ve silently sailed into a new sea.

I also met with a guy yesterday who works a lot with start-ups and Private Equity companies.  It was all a bit speculative – the appointment time changed 3 times during the course of the day, so I’ve been scrambling a lot.  But he likes the product.

He gets that teams in post-M&A environments could use it and explained to me that Private Equity companies buy businesses, turn them around in 3 years and sell them.  They need great team integration.  This could be a way in to that market because I hear that once M&A contracts are signed, there’s very often no budget to run team optimisation exercises.  Seems crazy – seeing as presumably, those involved would want to ensure the M&A works,  but apparently not.   Back to that cut-throat, selfish culture I described: people want to make their cash and don’t give a shit about the bigger picture. No wonder the banking crash in 2008 happened.

Anyway – this guy is super-well connected and so I won’t get too hopeful but it does look good.  There are individual angels out there who fly down occasionally and help when it’s needed 😊

I have several other companies interested / proposals in hand so it feels good. Meantime I plan to train 5 – 10 of my potential delivery partners in June and July up so they can feel comfortable delivering or talking about Mirror Mirror.

The reporting tool is coming on well.  I’m going to be so pleased when we’re happy and fluent with that – should be finished around June or July.

Looks like we’ll be raring to go in August / September.  Lots of reasons to keep the faith!

And I’m still focused on getting the nuances right:

Before: ‘get Mirror Mirror established as an agile intervention’

After: Get Mirror Mirror established alongside agile interventions – subtle but crucial difference

Before: lots of potential markets – scattergun approach

After: M&A as THE area to focus on proactively and find a way in, via

  • internal buyers
  • acquisition support consultancies
  • private equity companies

And another realisation.  I have some money in the bank.  Now is the time to use that to grow the business!  I decided to spend it on a few hours of professional market research (via Upwork) so that I can fast track to talk to the right people in my target M&A market.  Right?! No point in wasting time and having 250 Euro sitting in the bank when it could be working for me.

TODAY – email from the BIG potential client:

Hi all,

 Apologies for not being in contact recently.

 This is due to workload – we have had a number of organizations through our pre-qualification tendering process and we are now in the process of having our strategy, tendering process and other internal alignment signed off.

 We go out for full tender on 12th.  Ot is hard to get a minute sometimes.

 The good news is that the need for the work with you has be reaffirmed each time we meet internally and with the supply chain.

 Hopefully I will be able to get back to you properly in a few weeks.

 My apologies again.

Wow. What a rollercoaster. I’m so grateful! It’s been nearly 3 years and I feel like we’re out of getting this off the ground and now in a new phase – stablise and scale up.

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 71: Devil’s in the detail

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I’m getting on with everything after having had a couple of weeks off. Nothing big to tell you, except about nuance and how important details are in getting things right.

For example, apparently there’s a 33% higher response rate to a more personalised communicationsthan generalised communications.  It takes a little more time to customise, but it’s detail well worth paying attention to.

Here are a more on those lines I’ve found:

The devil is in the detail with …. social media

Social media experts will tell anyone that investing in social is a great idea.  But there’s a payback scale to watch out for before you spend time or money:

  • Level 1 –how much people know the concept – WHAT you are selling (such as socks, widgets)
  • Level 2 – how much people have seen the brand you are putting to that product or service
  • Level 3 – how many touch points people have had with your brand and product or service, and the quality of those (such as heard a presentation, read an article, experienced the product).

The lower you are on that scale, the less effective social media marketing will be – because the extent to which people can relate to your offer determines their likelihood to react.

MBTI is a very well known, widely implemented psychometric tool. Social media promotions will probably get a return on investment.

Mirror Mirror however, is actually selling something people don’t know they need, the brand is not at all known, and people are very unlikely to have experienced its story, philosophy or process.

Everyone needs a digital footprint, however.  That’s why I’ve decided to go for a marketing plan with 95% relationship building and 5% online PR.

Now I can focus better.

The devil is in the detail with …. data reporting

Now that we’re more than half way through building up our new reporting tool based on Tableau, I can see our draft report formats in a new light.

The way that lines are shaded, that blocks are coloured, that space is made on a page of data is absolutely critical, let alone bringing the numbers together in a way that tells an insightful and compelling story.

The devil is in the detail with …. almost everything, it seems… Gone are the days of flippant, adrenaline-fuelled, gut instinct.  Boring, but better, I guess 😊

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 70: We have lift off

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

What a high – I feel as if we’re lifting off!  A big part of the boost is working as an associate of this consultancy in London with my mate Mr. P.  He’s just GREAT.

Meeting in London last Tuesday.  Insurance company.  Our contact there is a personal friend of Mr. P.  Within an hour, the guy is sold and wants to send our pitch up to his HR Director. Apparently, the timing is perfect, the company motto is ‘People First’, and they’re going through lots of changes that need some kind of support. It fits.  I’m heartened.

We walk down the road to a café.  Mr. P gets a sandwich. I grab some soup.

Next up is a well-established training company.  Again, our guy there is a personal contact of Mr. P.  Within an hour, him and the Director of Learning he brought along to the meeting with him are sold.  Apparently, the timing is perfect because they recently launched a ‘team productivity’ training programme and it flopped. They need something in its place right now.  Mirror Mirror slots straight in.  I never thought of it as a training programme before, but people going through Mirror Mirror learn how to be more effective together.  Wow.  Next steps, I write the training materials, Mr. P organizes the contract.  It fits. Again. I’m ecstatic.

Mr. P goes back to his office.

And to finish the afternoon, is an appointment I’d set up for myself. They’re a huge start-up out of San Francisco who basically run an app that delivers targeted content to employees and gathers employee feedback data.  I’m thinking they could do with something extra that adds 5 levels of sophistication to this transactional feedback loop, right?

The European Manager took an interest.  Could lead somewhere…  somewhere big.

I did get a bit neurotic about that appointment a few days in advance, to be honest.  It is the kind of situation where they could buy a ditty-bitty like Mirror Mirror up, if they liked it.

What scared me is that I could feel in my heart of hearts that I’d have to accept if the offer was half-decent.  Why? Because as much as I love Mirror Mirror, I’ve had three years of scrabbling around trying to sell it with NO funding, NO organized marketing, NO pre-established brand or credibility, and NO big product all figured out, like the guy from the San Francisco app had when he started selling his app in Europe.

But it’s amazing how two good sales meetings can turn one’s confidence.  Now I’m all cool.  I’m just fine as I am. I’d have to think about an offer.

Now, if this training company and their endless contact list gets going, I need to prepare myself:

  • To turn my little one-man-band into an established, incorporated company
  • Completion of our Tableau-based reporting tool
  • Some trained delivery agents
  • A pretty good administration system to make sure all the contracts and invoices are properly processed.

And that’s what I’m going to spend the summer on. People are starting to buy. WOW!!!!!!!!

Mirror MirrorWe identify and close alignment gaps between people in organizations to improve engagement and performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 69: Crucial subtletiesDEFINITELY GOING AHEAD!!

creativity

What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

HEADLINE– We have confirmation that the multi-team contract to support a merger with our oil and gas client – IS DEFINITELY GOING AHEAD!!  Just 4 days after hearing that, I’m already in a new normal 🙂  Of course I’m very happy – and now I’m looking ahead again.

Remember me writing about my target market areas and investigating which would be the best to focus on? I had 6 areas that I was looking at based on the thinking that Mirror Mirror is best for

  1. a) teams in complex situations, where misalignment is rife, and / or
  2. b) in companies where the value of employee alignment is very high.

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Lindsay’s In Business: PART 68: Why agile rocks!

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

I’m sitting at gate 38 at Bangalore airport, waiting for my flight home and it’s 00.32 local time.  I can feel myself getting a tad irritable. It started with the slow-moving queues at the check-in desk.  But I suspect it’s more because I had 2 glasses of prosecco 4 hours ago, I didn’t sleep well last night, and had to get up at the equivalent of 3.00am this morning.

I’m also noticing a stronger feeling that is overtaking this mild irritation. It’s a quiet but deep kind of excitement.  In just 1.5 days at the Agile India conference in Bangalore, I made some great connections: people who might be interested in adding Mirror Mirror to their training portfolio, people who might be interested in buying Mirror Mirror for their teams, people who might be interested in running an interview about Mirror Mirror, and a whole bunch of really friendly, open, non-judgemental new contacts.

My 90-minute talk went well this morning.  Even though it’s difficult to read the local audience, there was a lot participation in in the interactive sections, there were good questions afterwards and I ended up on the Best Rated Speakers list (at least for now).

Continue reading

Lindsay’s In Business: PART 67: Big Break

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What happens when you realise your path is entrepreneurship rather than employment? Lindsay takes up the challenge and shares an account of her journey as it unfolds…

WHOA!!!! Finally!!  Here are the headlines….   (cue heavy, dramatic drum beat)

  • Oil and gas major
  • 8 teams plus the leadership team
  • Merger and change situation
  • MIRROR MIRROR AGREED AS THE INTERVENTION TO DELIVERY CULTURAL INTEGRATION

Yes! we have verbal agreement on a multi-team cultural integration programme in the UK.  With some proposal tweaks, we expect contract signing in 2 – 3 weeks.  So, it’s not quite full celebrations yet but we are 98% there.  I couldn’t wait to share the news! : )

The story behind that is that there’s a huge change going on alongside a multi-team merger.  Our contact there is responsible for helping it all go smoothly from a people perspective.  He’s aware that there are multiple realities going on that are not aligned: different cultures, different levels of understanding around what is happening and why, different levels of exposure to the change management activities that have taken place so far.

He wants to use Mirror Mirror to:

  1. assess the extent to which behaviours (the operating culture) in the new organization are compatible,
  2. assess current perception on the shared changing context,
  3. use those insights to inform stakeholders driving the change, and evaluate the work done so far,
  4. work the data collected at a team level to improve shared understanding and behaviours, increase engagement and ownership, leading to more successful integration and change.

This is exactly what we’ve been working towards. The implications are a huge new case study that could open doors to more such work.  It’s huge and almost as if everything so far has been leading to this point, which is a bit fatalistic and dramatic, but hey.

Work should begin next month.

I’m ready.

Mirror Mirrorbecause a collective focus, with each team at the centre, drives performance.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com

How to stay focused on what’s most important

 

Italy…

What a beautiful country. Before I even visited it, I was seduced: the food, the wine, the history, the style, the language – what’s not to love. I’ve long harbored fantasies of speaking fluent Italian in Italy, freely conversing with Latin intensity and big hand gestures, making even the most arbitrary conversation sound like a passionate call to arms. I’ve downloaded and used two different language apps. I’ve bought and listened to half a dozen Italian language audiobooks. I’ve watched Italian movies in Italian. But I still can’t speak it. Life is busy – there’s always something getting in the way and preventing me from really progressing with my Italian language learning.But that’s precisely the point. If learning Italian was truly so important to me, it would be Italian interrupting my usual pursuits, not the other way around. That may sound obvious, but the day I admitted that to myself I was freed from a significant amount of anxiety and mental stress – not because my apparent inability to learn Italian was such a major factor in my life, but because I realized the extent to which this was a pattern in my general behavior. Like most people, I have a long list of interests and “I’d-love-to-do’s” – things that I want to achieve because they seem interesting, fun or fulfilling. Everything from learning how play the piano to walking the 88 Temples of Shikoku. Learning Italian has always been on that list, but getting honest about what is most important to me right now and into the foreseeable future helped me focus on what’s truly valuable to me.

The 21st century human is subject to unprecedented amounts of daily distraction. Managing this distraction requires conscious effort and focus – a critical part of improving productivity. By when I speak of focusing on what’s most important, I don’t only mean in the moment. I mean long term focus, the kind that keeps you committed to the most important goals in your life.

Here are 5 tips on how to do that:

  1. Get clear about what’s important

One of the pleasures of being alive in the 21st Century is that everything seems possible. The digital revolution and advent of elearning makes it possible to learn almost anything online. Our exposure to foreign cultures and tastes has been made easier and more immediate through the effects of globalization and relative reductions in the costs of travel. And if we need help achieving our goals, we can even access world-class coaching without leaving our chair. Suddenly, it seems, we can learn more, do more and see more than ever before. So, we try to do it all. We create wishlists and bucket lists and end up dispersing our attention across them: work, exercise, surf the net, spend time with friends and family, plan the next holiday, learn a language in the grocery line, play a game while waiting for the bus, dabble with guitar when we have 10 minutes free at the weekend. The trouble is we end up doing a lot, but not achieving very much, which has a negative impact on our long-term happiness and sense of self-worth. Results are only achieved with sustained focus and commitment on the things that matter, even though what matters will inevitably shift over time.

So, what’s truly important to you? My favorite system for answering this comes from über-investor Warren Buffet:

  • Write down 25 things you want to achieve on the foreseeable future. Don’t overthink it. Go with your gut.
  • Now identify the 5 most important things. These are not necessarily the most urgent.
  • Those 5 things are now your exclusive focus, not your ‘I’ll focus mainly on these and work on the other 20 in my spare time’. No. You spend all your time and attention focused on achieving these 5 goals until you’ve ticked one of them of the list, then you can add a new one in its place.
  • Regularly remind yourself of these 5 goals and why they are important to you. Keep them visible so that you see them often. Don’t just focus on WHAT achieving these goals will look like, connect to WHY you want to achieve them – what is the deeper meaning for you and your life.
  1. Get clear about what’s not important

Spend some time identifying where your extra time and attention have been wandering to. What has been pulling your focus away from achieving these goals? Be honest with yourself; if you have an illicit Candy Crush addiction, own up to it, no-one else needs to know. Do you watch TV series 5 episodes at a time? Are you hitting the snooze button every morning? Are you secretly inventing extra things to do so that you can justify skipping gym? Whatever it is, add it to the list.

This list is now a powerful weapon against distraction and procrastination. Don’t be ashamed of what’s on there – we all have our vices. Rather, use it to help you spot those times you are wavering from your top goals, and then recalibrate. Every time you do that it will become easier the next time.

  1. Stop multitasking

Despite how good you may believe you are at multitasking, it is not technically possible. The human brain is only capable of processing tasks sequentially, one after the other, not concurrently. Yes, it may feel like you’re doing 5 things at once, but you’re actually just flipping between those tasks really quickly. That flipping radically depletes your brain’s energy resources, leading to lower focus, easier distraction and less emotional stability. And, the more often you multitask the worse these effects get.

Pick a task and commit to focusing on it for a specific period of time eg. one hour, followed by a short rest before changing tasks. If you know that you have a bunch of small tasks that need your attention, then set aside specific time just for that and refocus on a single task later. Always do your most important work earlier in the day when your willpower and energy are highest. And get to know your working patterns. Come up with your best ideas at 4 in the morning or 10 at night? Keep time aside then for creative work.

  1. Get to know your anxiety

Important tasks can often raise anxiety, either because we know we’re not getting to them or, when we do commit to them, we are endlessly distracted. If left unrecognized, this anxiety can stimulate further anxiety.

Learn to anticipate these uncomfortable emotions. If possible, get curious about them, but at the very least acknowledge them, label them and know that, even though these feelings are just trying to protect you in some way, you are well and capable of achieving success.

  1. Improve focus

Easier said than done, but very possible. This actually has two parts: improving your faculty of focus and reducing distraction. Focus is like a muscle which is strengthened with regular practice, the most effective practice by far being mindfulness, which improves your ability to pay attention to what’s happening in the moment and make better choices about how to use that attention. Intelligent energy management is also key.

Distraction is constant and the only way to manage it effectively is through taking action. Have important work to do? Serious about getting it done? Silence your phone, close down email and close your door if you can. If this is difficult, start with 10 minutes at a time, with the aim of working towards one hour pockets of distraction-free work. The results will astound you.

Visit Koach.net to discover how our coaches can help you find clarity at work and at home, and can lead you to a more successful and fulfilled you.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

For more content visit our website http://www.femflection.com