Impressed by new MP

I was pleased to attend a networking breakfast in Chippenham this morning, organised by Monahans Accountants, where Duncan Hames had been invited to speak about his experience of his first few months of being an MP. He is the Lib Dem MP for our constituency and he is new to the job. As he said, building empathy well with his audience, becoming an MP is in many ways similar to starting a business (for example because a new staff team has to be built).

It was good to meet him again, to chat about the importance of continuing with those parts of government support for business that are going well and to hear his commitment to ongoing support for business, and to hear his talk. I was impressed that he spoke for some while without notes. He did so in an interesting and cogent way which put across well his understanding of key issues for our country, and the perspectives that need to drive current strategy for the economy.

I was interested in his comment along the lines that the government do not create jobs through employment in the public sector, because the money to pay for those jobs is always financed by the public sector. Therefore job creation has to be done by private sector businesses (his audience this morning) and government have to foster that. There were entertaining stories too of his first few months in office.

I'm in the business of helping people to find work in which they will thrive, and to thrive in the work that they do. So I was pleased and moved to see our new MP getting to grips with his new role and relating so well to his audience of constituents. It's never easy starting a new job, particularly a high-profile public one (do MP's have coaches?!) so all the best to him.

Troubled by the demise of Business Link

Last night I attended a meeting at Bowood. Wiltshire Council had gathered together about one hundred local business leaders to gather opinions as to how the council might improve support for businesses in Wiltshire. Many of the people there had been invited because they are members of local Chambers of Commerce (I am Vice President for Corsham).

The trigger for the event was the government's announcement that it will scrap Regional Development Authorities, Business Link, and Train to Gain. Although their plans are far from clear, it looks as if support for business will have to be provided increasingly by local councils or groups of councils (“Local Enterprise Partnerships”). The meeting was well organised, with discussion in small groups about concerns and priorities, and speeches from Council officers Steve Stone (Chairman of Wiltshire Strategic Economic Partnership Ltd), Andrew Kerr (CEO), and Leader of the council Jane Scott OBE.

Recent news items have highlighted that seventy graduates are chasing each graduate job at the moment, and that 10% of last years' graduates are still unemployed. Those who fail in a search for employment will either end up with less-than-satisfying jobs for which they are over qualified, become long-term unemployed, or choose to set up their own business. Young people, whether graduates or not, can no longer rely on stable long-term employment with a large employer as they could a few decades ago, nor is a degree or college qualification a ticket to a job, so increasingly starting a business is an important option. This means that young people need to develop a range of skills for work-readiness to equip them for a career which may include starting a business.

Therefore government support for business start-ups needs to be extended not abandoned, and organised nationally where appropriate. It troubles me that support for business start-ups may be reduced just at a time when it is needed more. (Business Link training is motivating and informative and, as well as covering marketing and strategic and financial planning, briefs people on all the national legislation they need to obey. National legislation seems to me to need nationally organised training.)

Other topics discussed included the need to balance education at different levels, develop apprenticeships, publicise Wiltshire's business good news stories, encourage Wiltshire people who go to university elsewhere to return to Wiltshire to work, develop careers information in schools so that young people think career rather than college, improve transport, and more. Such consultations have not happened before, so it is difficult to know what the outcome will be.

You and I will watch with interest. If Business Link's services do not continue in some way, then those starting up businesses, or seeking to develop them, will have to rely more on the private sector for training and coaching, such as your own Finding True North.

More on the Entrepreneur Summit by Chris Cardell

Further to the comment on my last article, here's some further reflections.
I'm glad I attended the conference. The visiting speakers were informative and inspiring, especially those from UK/Ireland. Chris gave lots of useful information which had much value of itself and one could get more by buying various products. I did get a bit fed up with attempts at upselling, including from Chris, but then since I'm also seeking to deliver knowledge the challenge to see what works and what doesn't is useful.
I can believe that applying the material can bring the rewards stated (the input was mainly around PR and Google Pay-Per-Click) but naturally I shall judge that later. Two people leaving (excercising their “guarantee”) out of about eight hundred people present is actually an impressive statistic.
I'm happy to offer coaching to people seeking to develop their businesses – it's what I do!

Being an Entrepreneur

Last week I attended Chris Cardell's Entrepreneur Summit in London. There were some great speakers, I found it encouraging, and am now seeking to implement various marketing and strategy ideas. I'd like to share some of the highlights, which I can do because Chris has posted some video clips. Enjoy!

Sir Bob Geldof on the run up Sex Pistols, politics, and attidute to failure
Sir Bob Geldof on the run up to Band Aid, the new world order, and entrepreneurship
Gerald Ratner on how he revived after calling some of his firm's products “crap.”



This week I heard some fascinating presentations about helping people to reach their full potential. The occasion was one of the regular get-togethers organised by the Institute of Business Consulting in South West Britain. The evening, yesterday, was hosted at At-Bristol by Veridian plc who wanted to tell us about their learning tool Freemind, designed by Tom Fortes Myer.

This is a collection of recordings on CD which individuals and organisations can use to get rid of the blocks to achieving their full potential. The underlying belief which Tom explained, and which I can agree with, is that performance = potential – interferences. So achieving potential is about getting rid of blocks. Before the talk I spoke to someone who had used Freemind. She spoke of how it had transformed her life since she started to understand that every situation she faced was an opportunity for her own development. That statement is, itself, transformative. by which I mean that it changed my own way of thinking.

The recordings are available on CD or by download from the Freemind web site, which includes some sample recordings free of charge.

Tom's talk was complemented well by a talk by Jan Childs of EQ4U about Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how it is much more important in the development of leaders than IQ. I recommend her book “Understanding Emotional Intelligence in 90 minutes,” which can be purchased from the web site.

Part of my own fascination is the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence. Spiritual Intelligence is to me about the uniqueness, connectedness, and vocation of human beings in creation – which embraces the growing desire amongst employees in particular and people in general for meaning and purpose in their work. I notice that Jan heads off in this direction in her book, particularly in the final chapter, and I see the Tom's approach to unlocking potential as drawing together the spiritual and emotional.

Robin Hood Ministries

In my work as management consultant and coach (Finding True North) I've been asked to do some interim management work for Robin Hood Ministries – to head up their staff team part time for six months to help steer the charity through its current growth stage.

The charity is based in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and helps alleviate poverty in various countries by supporting projects that help communities to be more self-reliant.

They also encourage businesses to support them through the initiative Business Against Poverty.

A satisfying week of work

This last week I have been pleasantly busy with work through my coaching and consultancy business (Finding True North). Having set the business up at the end of 2007, I find that it is gently growing, as I seek to help individuals and businesses to be more creative and profitable by operating in a way that draws on their unique personality and strengths.

This week I have completed consultancy work for a charity to help them to review their needs for larger premises, facilitated a vision-building workshop for some Church of England parishes that want to work as a team, and continued to provide spiritual direction.

A couple of contacts are pending for providing coaching training for the management team of a Wiltshire firm, and individual coaching for a recently promoted company director. Leadership and Management funding from the government for coaching and training continues to be a way to help these things to get started in the present economic climate.

This is all satisfying, as I like to spend more time delivering the service than seeking clients!