About Me

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The business bit: I have had 25 years experience in the IT sector encompassing equipment finance to computer recycling. The coaching bit: is about delivering business mentoring and personal performance coaching. My clients range from senior executives to the unemployed and I delight in working with them all to build excellence and promote growth. My specialisms are working with business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and enjoy themselves in the process, and helping individuals to realise their full potential. I also work with young people to build confidence and life skills so they can grasp life's opportunities and make the right life choices.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

SO...What IS an Entrepreneur?

What makes a great entrepreneur?    For starters, most famous entrepreneurs make their own luck. Oprah Winfrey, a famous entrepreneur,  recently said “Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity” while talking with Simon Cowell about how he became so successful.

And what is an entrepreneur anyway?  The entrepreneur definition in Webster’s Dictionary is “one who organises, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” 

So let’s look at the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur.  Some sources offer loads of different entrepreneurial characteristics,  from being creative to being able to describe situations with numbers, however let ‘s keep it simple for now.  Setting aside making your own luck, the common traits needed for becoming an entrepreneur include:

Self Belief
Entrepreneurs find their need for status is met through achievement rather than how big their house is or how many holidays they take each year.  They believe in trying things out, following their ideas and their self-belief builds through their experiences.  They are also able to deal with things not going to plan and can assume responsibility for their own failures and successes.  

Entrepreneurs who feel in control of the situation will be persistent in the pursuit of their goals.  Confidence is bred from a positive attitude towards a challenge.

Determination and Persistence
Stories of famous entrepreneurs show they never give up.  They also get going, they don’t sit around, rather they have a sense of urgency to get up and do something...
"The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer."
- Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese's

Desire for Challenge
This entrepreneur characteristic is about grabbing opportunities.
"An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he'll quickly learn how to chew it.”
- Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries
Although most people think entrepreneurs are huge risk-takers, invariably they have assessed the situation and they are taking on the challenge not just the outright risk.

Good entrepreneurs lead.   They assume responsibility, direct and organise.  As they need to be creative while they are doing this, their objective is not to wield power, but to drive forward.

Decision making
This is the balancing act, the juggling characteristic of the entrepreneur.  The bit that helps them to identify the relationship between parts and the whole, the bit that helps them conceptualise order, set goals and make the choices.

Without this there is no entrepreneur......
"Business opportunities are like buses, there's always another one coming."
- Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Enterprises

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Purpose and Pleasure

It has long been understood by those in the coaching profession that in order to feel 'happy' people need to have a sense of enjoyment but also a sense of purpose in what they are doing.  Nothing particularly new there.

The key to real happiness however has been highlighted by Professor Paul Dolan who emphasises the difference in the way we view our happy state.  In essence, instead of seeing happiness as a view of how we are, we should understand it to be how we experience life.  Echoes of Epictetus here - it is not what happens to us but how we experience it that affects how we are, or as he put it “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them".  Epictetus was a Stoic philosopher, the guys who propounded the idea that to be happy you should be virtuous and not frivolous  (simplistically put). 

Putting aside whether the pleasure part of happiness necessitates frivolity, it is worth looking at the idea of purpose as a constituent part of that state.  Recent research suggests that having a purpose can add years to your life.  Dr Patrick Hill who conducted the research said "Our findings point to the fact that finding a direction for life, and setting overarching goals for what you want to achieve can help you actually live longer, regardless of when you find your purpose." 

Well, this all sounds great, and as coaches we know it works, so find out more about how you can find your life purpose and get in touch with us.  And in the meantime, watch Adam Leipzig's talk on finding your life purpose in 5 minutes.  And remember these are the questions to answer:

  • who are you?
  • what do you do?
  • who you do it for?
  • what do those people want?
  • how do they change as a result?
Let us help you find the answers. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

How qualified are you really?

You'd think that when unemployment is high, there would be few vacancies in the job market.  And that when unemployment is low, there would be quite a few vacancies not filled.  This is the Beveridge Curve.  It usually looks like this, with a downward curve, reflecting what we've just said.

A PwC report last year suggested that £930 million pound is lost annually through a lack of productivity in mismatched talent across the UK.  So what happens to the Beveridge Curve when you get this skills/job  mismatch?  Something like this...

The process of getting the right candidate for the job has been so refined through on-line processes that it is in danger of obliterating the person in favour of the tick-boxes and algorithms.  Where is the real person in the applications?   The nuances and judgements that a good interviewer would bring to the selection process don't come in to play until way down the line, after all the skills and talents have been 'processed' by the clever automated application software.  How do you read someone's personality effectively from an on-line form?  How do you assess those all important soft skills, non-verbal and physical communication, influencing skills, conscientiousness etc?

Well here are a few tips from those in the know for applicants generally:

  • Use 'doing' words e.g. managing as well as management
  • Ditch the word 'assistant' in favour of 'executive'
  • Follow up on your application by calling the HR department or recruitment agency
  • Make sure your CV is scannable - no fancy boxed formatting and the like
  • Your LinkedIn profile is important - many employers will check it to verify your claims
  • Don't be flippant - these were genuine comments in CV's : "I have technical skills that will simply take your breath away" and "I can type without looking at the keyboard"

It's a tough world out there and one way to up your chances is to get some career coaching to help you with your application. Get in touch and we'll hold your hand

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Are you doing what you love?

Everyone has choices - everyone is accountable for what happens to them - everyone can be their own enabler.

Easy to say, and not always so easy to do.  Our lives are affected by our environment, our circumstances, the people we are involved with, and all of this impacts on the decisions we make and the direction our lives take.  So how many of us are doing something we love, or even just like, in our daily work activity?  If you were to ask any successful entrepreneur they would say that an essential part of their success was in pursuing something about which they are passionate. 

Therein lies the crux - is it essential to do what you are passionate about, or to do something passionately?  Here is an interesting viewpoint from Miya Tokumitsu on the 'Do What You Love' theory of work:
"DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn't happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker's passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.
We don't all get to do what we want to do (however if you would like to try, then get in touch) .  The drivers for our work are often needs rather than desires.  Is it just the case that only those with a financially secure base can afford to do what they love, or can this be anyone?    And does our society value those who follow that route less than those who follow the path of need and obligation?  It would be great to see the best path being the one where you do your work with passion even if you are not passionate about it - wow, that would be something!  Here's Pugh's view...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Invest to Grow

Business gurus in the know are advising small and micro firms to invest in their businesses in 2014 to ensure growth and maintain market presence and sales.

Alongside this advice are statistics showing that businesses which seek external advice are more likely to succeed: the FSB stated that "research has shown that 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive for five years or more which is double the rate compared with non-mentored entrepreneurs".  Data from the BIS Small Business Survey 2012 shows that medium sized businesses are more likely to seek business advice than SME's. And 68% of the SME employers canvassed for the survey intend to grow their businesses over the next 2 to 3 years, with 60% focusing on developing leadership capability, 65% on developing new products or services and 74% by increasing their workforce skills.

So for those smaller and micro businesses not to lose out on valuable external business advice,  it is worth pointing out that business advice does not need to cost a fortune.  Carefully selected, clearly scoped coaching or mentoring with agreed outcomes can be a worthwhile investment.  Growth Accelerator is offering workshops for micro businesses with between 1-4 employees to explore routes to growth without great expenditure.  Ready for Business offers business plan support for start-ups and the new Enterprise Nation initiative will provide a supportive community for enterprising business owners.  Find out more about any of these schemes, and how business coaching can be a valuable development tool, by contacting Yourcoaching isla@yourcoaching.co.uk

Monday, 9 December 2013


Heston Blumenthal is pretty successful  - chef, restaurateur, author, television personality - and he is hyper busy with a more than heavyweight schedule that is enough to make mere mortals reach for the smelling salts.  However he has quoted that "Just because I have done 120 hours a week doesn't mean that's the best way to do it."

And herein lies the nugget - is it really necessary to prostrate ourselves with industry and rushing around and 'doing'? Certainly it seems to be a bit trendy.  There are articles popping up all over the place mentioning witty acronyms like FOMO (fear of missing out) and SHARENTS (parents who have to share the wondrous mega achievements of their kids) and concepts such as 'Out-interesting' others (what it says on the tin).

This all rather smacks of reducing our lives to a list of goals and overachieving rather than finding a balance and sticking to our true values and motivations.  If you feel the pressure to 'out-do', 'over-excel', 'out perform' or you realise you are stringing yourself up on being in some way better or bigger it might not be that you are just trying to show off, but rather that you have got caught up in this increasingly ridiculous myth of 'doing'.  Maybe you should be looking at the real WHY of what you have set yourself to do.  It isn't just about being seen to be doing so much all the time, there isn't anything particularly impressive about overarching busyness.  Reflect instead on the real meaning and purpose of why you are pursuing those goals.  

And what better time to do this than in the festive season? Think 'Silent Night'... all is peace, all is calm....

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Pascal's Wager - a good bet?

What a clever bloke Pascal was

Settle down and concentrate on this one.....Pascal's Wager was about whether or not there is a God. If you wager against there being a God and there IS a God, that is bad news for you, so you should wager for there being a God.  Pascal believed that religious belief was not a rational, but rather an existential  choice, i.e. a choice you make in the face of uncertainty.  So how do we make the right choice if we aren't basing it on a betting outcome? 

We have talked about uncertainty before and one of the things that comes up a lot in building the ability to make choices in an uncertain world, is to think about two things; 

  • Firstly, do you HAVE to make that decision at that particular time?  Sometimes we get hung up on making choices and decisions, when what we might need is a little time to step away from the decision making process, clear some mental space and let the ideas and emotions free reign, leading to those moments of enlightenment that help us make the right choices.
  • Secondly, it is okay to change what you are oding if things don't feel right or go the way you intended.  Someone mentioned recently that one of the reasons Angela Merkel keeps being re-elected is that she is not rigid in her political life. She is very determined but  she tries to see things from different perspectives (even her opponent's standpoint) and be collaborative and she is not afraid to change the way she does things if it will help her achieve her objectives.   

If you want a gently challenging hand in making your choices or checking the odds get in touch and we'll help you lay your bets.   Or you can visit our website to get some ideas.