Small is big….

 

frost

The millions of small droplets of moisture that came together to form an extraordinarily tough layer of ice on my windscreen this morning was stunning. Though thinking about the year ahead I couldn’t help but notice the analogy to never underestimate the power of lots of small things coming together to make something amazing, albeit thick ice in this case. It was early!

It is the time of year when the goals, resolutions, new targets and horizons have been envisioned and set. It’s exciting, often bold and usually big.

However hurtling towards the end of January, sometimes those goals and perhaps even dreams might appear a bit too bold, too big or too exciting. And that’s when we have to up the effort and energy to make progress.

I believe it was Vincent Van Gogh said, ‘great things are done by a series of small things brought together’. Small changes can indeed translate into the most profound successes in your single and wider endeavours – both professionally and personally.

As humans though, we aren’t terribly good at change and inevitably big, bold newness is going to require it. There is a remarkable human reluctance to change and as a great deal of psychological research attests, a monumental amount of discomfort people can tolerate before they acknowledge the need for change.

Change is invariably uncomfortable, even if it’s magnificently for the better, at least at the beginning.

So, in leading the change to follow those goals and ambitions for yourself, your team, your company, ponder the following to help you hone the effort and energy required to manifest them.

• Anchor yourself in the future. Constantly have the big picture in mind especially whilst doing the small things. It will ensure that all the small things are going in the right direction to make the big thing happen.
• Transform your narrative. Many would say that we are our story. Not so much the story of our lives but the story we tell about the role we played in the events. Does it need a re-write?
• Constantly break all your big dreams and goals into smaller more manageable and ultimately achievable actions, which you can do on a daily basis.
• And finally – be here, now. Not one single technique or inner evolution is as powerful an antidote to the past and a potential springboard to the future as the capacity to be in the present in the here and now.

Staying fresh, evolving and being current looks seamless and often effortless but like the swan there is a huge amount of drive, tenacity and hard work at play, notwithstanding, out of sight.

Jaeger faced bankruptcy three years ago and the first thing that CEO, Colin Henry tackled when he joined in 2013 was to strip the brand back to the foundations and improve quality. In early 2013 there were just 15% of the clothes made in natural fibres now it’s nearly 80%. Small, incremental and daily changes have brought the brand back to its former glory. The last reported quarterly figures state that sales are up 8.3 % and online sales up 78%. For Jaeger, 2015 is looking big, bold and exciting.

And don’t forget, as I rediscovered last night, the powerful maxim of Winnie the Pooh “ Remember, you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Have a fabulous 2015 and if you would like some assistance with the big, the bold and the exciting, you know where we are.

small things

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach and Managing Director of X fusion.

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On the run….

Is there something of a feeling of being constantly on the run…..? Leading, tweeting, speaking, emailing, reading, exercising, building, posting (new age not postman styley), inspiring, eating, drinking, socializing, friends, family, travelling, ticks off the list, YOLO of course and then there’s sleeping…. Unless we physically turn stuff (technical term) off, it will happily buzz, bleat & chirrup news, info and more stuff ad infinitum….

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We’ve heard recently about people attending ‘digital detox’ programs, however is this perhaps missing the point. For all the distractions and disadvantages to our time from the digital world, the advantages and new ways of living, communicating, helping others and running businesses are extraordinary. Is it perhaps as it ever was, just different?

Carving out time to just ‘be’ has perhaps always been tricky in a busy life.

Not for nothing did WH Davies write the poem Leisure…..’What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’……..in 1911.

I’m working in collaboration with a neuroscientist and I discussed with her that there appeared to be greater need for people to stop and pause even if just for a few moments. With a wry smile, she looked at me and said, no, for the brain to truly reinvigorate not a pause or a stop, after all our brains don’t stop or pause, unless of course something wholly terrible has occurred, just observe, take time to just look, observe and notice. It clarifies thinking and gives the brain a ‘rest’ – layman’s (my) term.

So, with permission from the pinnacle of current neuroscience to be nosy, I mean curious, perhaps we could all do with a little ‘time to stand and stare’.

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After all, a key component of the vast majority of successful businesses is watching, listening and learning about customer, employee and client activity and then doing something about it. Hard to do if we don’t know what ‘it’ is.

Have a wonderful summer.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

And if you have time for the whole poem, here it is….

Leisure by W.H. Davies:-

 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

 

My first boss was fond of saying “it’s the little things that make big things happen”. 

More specifically noticing the little things, the details, and also intuitively spotting how others feel. 

 

In the course of the last few months I have interviewed some extraordinary people for my forthcoming book; a young lady who, from a very hard childhood indeed, now has an apprenticeship and is studying for a degree and is possibly one of the most uplifting people I’ve ever met, the CEOs of several Fortune 100 companies, and some elite sportsmen and sportswomen from netball to racetrack.  I have felt humbled, awestruck, slight terror and excitement, as the passenger of a well-known former racing champion on a track. And huge inspiration. 



2013 BTCC Media Day. #5 Rob Collard (GBR). E-Bay Motors. BMW 125i MSport.These people all notice, they notice lots (or have learned to). One trait they all shared almost palpably was the sheer ruthlessness around attention to detail.  Be it personal fitness, technical excellence, product detail or superb team communication, nothing was left to chance.  Nothing that is, that was within their control.  It was the racing driver who articulated it most powerfully. Listening to him, it was evident that he went to incredible lengths to ensure that everything that was within his control was exactly that, under his control.  Can’t control the weather, track conditions or what other drivers are doing but you can know exactly what’s going on with you and with your car. 
 


Nasty Gal is a $100m, 7 year old, online vintage retail company with more than 350 employees.  Sophie Amoruso, the straight-talking, irreverent and fabulous CEO and founder, talks compellingly about attention to detail, the painstaking attention that goes into styling, sourcing and curating outfits.  Most importantly noticing the customer, ‘ignore your customer, at your peril’.  If an item sells – they stock more items that are similar, if it doesn’t or a customer complains, that’s it – they don’t go near it ever again. 


SophieAmoruso

There are countless examples of organizations that haven’t listened to the customer and certainly not minded the little things so that the big things take care of themselves. 
 


As Giorgio Armani succinctly put it ‘to create something exceptional, your mind must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail’.
 


Do you need to pay attention to any little things today? 
 


My warmest wishes,
 


Kate Tojeiro

 

Having built up a string of prestigious FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 clients over the last 15 years, Kate Tojeiro works as an executive coach with the boards, senior leaders and teams of some of the world’s most illustrious organisations and some of the most cutting edge, organically-grown start ups.

Contact her at www.the-x-fusion.co.uk. 
 

 

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

When the going gets tough……

When the going gets tough ….
My eldest daughter was recently somewhat embarrassed to hear that I love “When the going gets tough…” by Billy Ocean and the occasional power ballad! It wasn’t just the admission, it was that I happened to air this guilty pleasure while being interviewed on the radio.

She then went on to say, musing a little, ‘It’s cool to say what you like though’. And that, was that.

I couldn’t help but ponder later: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is something of a mantra for the best leaders out there. Their words, of course, might be very different. The fine line between successful leaders and less successful one’s, is nearly always evident when the going gets tough. The same can be said of great sportsmen and women who, under great physical and mental stress make things look effortless. But you know for sure that a massive amount of hard work, energy and effort has gone into honing that ability, even if it’s on a foundation of natural skill. They practice daily!

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For many of the banks, the going appears to be getting even tougher, and the proposed PFIZER takeover of Astra Zeneca is proving challenging for many, at industry, city and even government level.

‘Getting going’ when it’s hard, navigating a path through uncertainty, challenge and difficulty, means taking into consideration all those involved around you. I recently discovered through a fascinating discussion with a neuroscientist, that through rigorous research it is understood that ‘successful people’ do indeed have a very high level of self-awareness and that of others.

Whilst dealing with complex technical scenarios, compliance, product issues, markets, the press et al, they are also very aware of the impact a challenge is having on the individuals involved. And they subsequently take the actions and interventions needed to make it easier for them. Sometimes, just admitting that it’s tough goes a very long way too.

Some years ago, I was at a company meeting with the CEO of a tech company that was six months from running out of cash. They were only just making payroll each month. The CEO got the team together every single morning, in person/ via teleconference call/ Skype and candidly told everyone what was happening and what needed to be achieved in order to turn the company around. He also told them how much he believed in them. He shared a document weekly that quite clearly stated how much money the company had, or didn’t have, too!

Six months later, with a few new deals and an investor on the horizon, things were looking better. He now lives in Boston, MA and the company thrives, they still fondly remember the engine room, as it was called, over a shop on Oxford Street in London when the company nearly went to the wall.

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When the going gets tough or even when it doesn’t, do you know what your strengths are? And do you practice for whatever it is that you want to achieve daily?

As Yogi Berra eloquently put it: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is….. Successful people practice….. a lot.

And of course, if you’d like some support and assistance through the tough ‘stuff’, you know where we are.
My warmest wishes,
Kate

Kate Tojeiro is Managing Director and Executive Performance Coach at X fusion.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out

 Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

Having spent some of the weekend with nieces, nephews and assorted friends under eleven, Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ is still playing in my head. I can’t claim to know the words, as the kids all had slight variations to Pharrell’s original lyrics. The ‘ Happy, Happy, Happy……’ was a consistent and a constant though.ImageWhen life is throwing various shades of excitement and challenge sometimes the ‘happy’ bit seems a bit hard to find. Whether you’re the CEO of a global business with hundreds of thousands of employees or running a neat charity full of volunteers, one thing I’ve observed clearly is that the most content and comfortable in their own skin perhaps, are more often than not being ‘themselves’.

What I mean to say is; they say what they think, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and maybe, in fact often, put themselves out on a limb, so to speak. This can take bravery and courage and of course, we are all bound by certain processes, systems and rules however those that work the rules so that they can be themselves rather than be or do or say what they think others wish them to be are generally happier and achieve whatever it is that they’ve set out to achieve. Do we really ever know what others think anyways?

I met with the founder and CEO of a well-known fashion label a few weeks back, the company had just been offered a significant amount of growth funding. ‘I can’t take the investment, Kate’ he said, ‘it would suck out our soul and we wouldn’t be who we are’. It just didn’t feel right. So, they didn’t take it and whilst to some, that might seem a harder path, it’s their path and it works for them and innovation and creativity (without pots of cash) is thriving.

Divine Chocolate is a brilliant brand known for standing for what it believes, once awarded for “its courageous and creative marketing stance in favour of fair trade in the highly competitive chocolate confectionery market”. Way to go!

An amazing lady, Steph Jeavons left the Ace Café in West London yesterday to travel around the world on her 250cc motorbike with £5 a day to spend on food. The challenge; living, learning and enjoying by circumnavigating 42 countries across at least 6 continents and following her dream. Just fantastic!

She’s being herself . When we do the thing that is utterly what we believe and syncs with our purpose (even if we don’t know it on a conscious level) but it just feels right, the results speak for themselves.

As Sir Martin Sorrell, of WPP once said, ‘impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible’.

And as As Dr Seuss beautifully put it ’why fit in when you were born to stand out’.

ImageHave a fantastic Spring and if you need a little help putting a little bounce in your stride, you know where we are.

If you were truly being yourself today, what would you do differently, now?

Alternatively……a little bit of ‘Happy, happy, happy…..’ goes a long way…….

My warmest wishes,

Kate

 

Clarity, feedback, football ….and the lure of a V8.

‘Epic! But what was your Mum doing there?’ exclaimed a friend of my daughter’s in barely disguised shock.  ‘She knows nothing about football!’

And so it was, a few weeks backs, I was pinching myself at the UK launch of a long-awaited supercar surrounded by those at the very heart, one might say, of football, past and present and from sport, and the motor industry.  Whilst I perhaps didn’t fully appreciate this until after some stealthy googling, I was indeed in the company of greats; players, managers, coaches, fans and the inimitable Jose Mourinho himself, the new UK ambassador for Jaguar. Image

Having a discussion with the former CEO of a Premier League football club was in itself fascinating and an honour, and a conversation ensued about leadership.  That much discussed topic of leadership in sport and leadership in business. He was telling me about a football coach whose particular modus operandi was of two guiding principles; clarity & feedback. Clarity; what are our goals and aims for the next match and the season, and feedback: in the moment and definitely on the same day.
I’ll be surprised if anyone reading this doesn’t fully agree to being clear and giving clarity and focus at all times, especially when in a position of leadership.  Most recognise the power of feedback and that it works exceptionally well both in sport and business. However, only a minority of companies do this really well, where feedback is a genuine part of their culture and the results speak for themselves in the business, and on the bottom line.

Feedback is often the once a year review (incidentally that’s not feedback),  or it is feared , clumsy and ill-delivered, especially if it’s a difficult message.

With a modicum of practice, feedback can be one of the easiest, least complex and potentially game changing (forgive the pun) tools in your kit as a leader or indeed friend, partner, colleague or team mate.  In this world of complexity, changing markets and an ever-developing customer and consumer, something easy and that works, is surely a good thing.

Feedback at best is clear, honest and specific. It is also frequent.  The aforementioned CEO asked his coach why he always gave his players feedback on the bus on the way back from a game, even if it was difficult. His response, I like to start each day on a high and if that means challenging feedback at the end of the day that the action occurs, so be it.

‘Tis currently the season for company results and if this isn’t a good time for greater clarity and feedback to either grow and learn, or improve and vitalise performance, I don’t know when is.

Feedback is the breakfast of champions, as Ken Blanchard once said, and in the world of football I can see testament to that and perhaps the bridge between leadership in sport and business is closer than we think.

The V8, the stunning F-type R Coupe, metaphorically spoke for itself.  Jose Mourinho, very much his own man, said “I know what I like and I know what I don’t. I like this.”

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Enough said. Clear as day.

And if you’d like a little help with clarity for 2014, you know where we are. If, on the other hand it’s football advice you’re after, I know a man who can!

See you soon.

Warmest regards,

Kate

Board rash.

Board rash I discovered, can develop as a result of friction between one’s torso and a surfboard due to sand adhering to the wax, this is easily remedied by wearing a rash-vest. Unlike, I couldn’t help musing, the friction and tension I had observed developing during a board meeting the week before.  The feeling of discomfort however was probably similar.

For the first time this summer, I tried surfing, it has always been something of a wistful desire. Sitting on a board waiting for a wave and then feeling the slight swell of the ocean, paddling hard, becoming aware of the bubbles of water at your feet, the surface of the water ahead of you changing to peculiar flat swirls with almost a stalling motion signifying the moment to get up. Then up, the adrenalin rush, the feeling of being literally on the water at the behest of nature is just breath-taking…..

surfer_cornwall
That moment was, in truth, the odd nanosecond amongst hours in the sea, falling off more times than I can recall and many times realizing the moment had passed. Much ingested seawater later, I can just about ride a (little) wave.

A delegate appeared in the break at a recent workshop and said ‘leading’s hardest when people are upset or emotionally charged, the rest of the time it’s ‘relatively easy’, right? ‘Well, yes’, I said ‘a leader that notices what’s going on and takes action especially during tough times will stand out significantly from those that notice what’s going on but don’t actually do anything.” ‘No quick fix then, okay, thanks’, he said and went off for a coffee looking thoughtful.

Metaphorically speaking, we can either take action and go for that wave even if the net result is more seawater and another plunge into the sea, or we can watch the moment go by, observe from the sidelines and wash up on the beach. Alternatively we can act and get stuck in, the experience is richer and the more accomplished we become. Awareness develops and that’s better for everyone!

In 1969, two young men Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer set up RipCurl.  The culture and ethos today is still all about the surfer and the sea although there is of course now a mighty successful commercial element too. It is a great case study of noticing what’s required, getting stuck in and doing something about it – be it product or a changing market. The people who run the company were and still are the test pilots. And even today on a clear day with a brisk wind running straight from the land, you’ll be pushed to find anyone in the RipCurl offices  – hurrah for that!

Billabong, the embattled global surf brand, in contrast, has perhaps not taken action where it may have and has just announced losses of almost $860million.

take_action_ii
An inspiring adventurer and explorer I know oft lives by the adage ‘better to die on the adventure than to die waiting for it’, he has achieved much, is a brilliant motivator and has made many things possible both for himself and those around him. This adage may be a little extreme for some of us, however if taking action makes the difference, I reckon it’s worth the risk. As TS Eliot put it ’only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go’.

Have a fabulous autumn and if you need a little assistance in how far you can go, you know where we are.

My warmest wishes,

Kate