Who are ‘they’ anyway?

“But they said we had no choice!”, I overheard a rather frazzled individual say to another in the reception of a rather large organization. “Turns out we did. It was an unmitigated disaster!”

My client then appeared so I know not how the dialogue continued.

‘They’ seem to be quite a powerful bunch, I couldn’t help but wonder.

When we don’t know who specifically is responsible or accountable, the collective ‘they’ tend to appear with punishing regularity and untold influence.  In the same way that when we’re perhaps anxious about a significant event, we start considering, sometimes unrealistically, what ‘they’ will think.   Do we stop to think who ‘they’ really are? Not always.

The media is currently awash with news about what ‘they’, collective politicians, company executives, did or didn’t, will or won’t do.

When ‘they’ becomes a specific individual, it is so very much easier to make progress and identify who is doing what. Useful when it’s all going swimmingly, even more so when it’s not!

I wonder if those executives at Tesco knew who ‘they’ were , the ones that were supposedly accounting for what was going on financially and should maybe have been accruing more effectively?

They (!) evidently hadn’t come across the salutary little poem ‘Who’s job is it’.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Do you know specifically who is doing what for you in your organization or personally?

It seems that ‘they’ have a little too much power in the world. Is it timely to start reclaiming some of it back and redressing the accountability and responsibility balance.

After all when people are given autonomy, generally individuals rise to the challenge and deliver……very, very well. Richard Branson knows this and has recently announced that his employees can choose exactly when and for how long they take a vacation.  Productivity will soar.

People are very able and have names with history and heritage, let’s be specific and perhaps the collective ‘they’ might just start to go away or at the very least have a little less influence.

Have a fantastic week.


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,



New Year – what does 2008 hold for you?

Making the right choices;

A few little words stood out last week, ‘being constantly concerned about other people’s perception of you will never make you happy’! That was the sentiment anyway – I was reading Russell Brand’s autobiography, half-way up a hill in Tuscany – so that may not be word-perfect!

At this time of year, a time for reflection, review and looking to and planning for the year ahead – as individuals, managers, chief executives – it is sometimes easy to be swayed by others views and doing the same thing. Not rocking the proverbial boat! I work with many clients to make choices that are for them, truly for them and not what they believe others desire from them. How they should behave, what they should drive, how they should live etc……. be true to you and the rest will follow.

I was party to a conversation just before Christmas about ‘choices’. One individual in the debate was of the belief that some things we just ‘have’ to do, and he believed that there was no choice in certain situations; his example was the following; a friend supporting a large family and large house with correspondingly large mortgage, and commuting to London from the home counties, and working for a boss that he dislikes….. One of my colleagues rather artfully assisted him in changing his thinking… having a large family – a choice, a large house with a large mortgage – a choice, commuting to London – a choice, working for a boss you dislike – a choice……all of the above can be changed if you truly want to.

Of course these are all choices, each and every one and whatever it is that we are doing in life, there is always a choice…

  • People will always give you differing opinions on which choice you should make.
  • You will never know if you made the right choice.
  • Someone will always feel you made the wrong choice.
  • Not all choices have a “right” or “wrong” answer.
  • Any choice can be “right” or “wrong” depending how you treat them.
  • What you choose is not as important as how you choose and what you do with your choice.
  • You can live with any choice you make.
  • You can take responsibility for any choice you make.
  • Only you can make your choices.
  • Making a choice is an act of will that shapes your life to your dimensions.
  • Everyone inevitably makes “wrong” choices sometimes but that’s okay.
  • You are the choices you make in life and your future will be determined by them.
So, because you know what happens if you put off thinking about the important stuff i.e. you then put off making things happen.
A few thoughts to help you on your way;
How do you decide what you really want? Try considering your options at each of the five stages that go into every decision.
Usually, we choose so fast that we don’t realize just how detailed the process is. But when you think about it, there really are five parts to every decision:
  • Identify the issue
  • Think through possible solutions or alternatives
  • Evaluate the ideas
  • Take Action act out the plan
  • Learn for the future
For example, during a rather smart meal at Christmas I was confronted with some oysters – which I really don’t like.
Identify the issue (how to not eat the oysters and not offend the host), Think through (feed to the dog, slip into handbag, give to some-one else, be honest), Evaluate the ideas (dogs outside! don’t want oysters in new handbag, paper napkin!), Take Action (honesty won – apologized elegantly – then gave to nephew!), Learn (find out before hand what’s for dinner to take pre-emptive action or carefully position dogs).
So, have a wonderful New Year – filled with all the success, prosperity and excitement that you deserve. For an executive coach to assist you along the path and avoid whatever your own ‘oysters’ maybe, call or email me and I’d be delighted to speak with you. http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk/, or 01763 853 924.

There is always the need for creative thinking..

As a CEO it is essential that the innovative ideas and creative ability of the talent within your business is harnessed. Much like the disappointment when one goes to a favourite café or restaurant and the coffee, the service, whatever you like the place for, is no longer as it was. Or is it? Is it perhaps just that you’ve been to the same place for so long, doing the same things and it’s time for a change. To move on.

Of ten I think the same can be said for meetings, essential to business, essential to the forward propulsion of a company, and essential for new ideas. Meetings are wonderful tools for generating ideas, expanding on thoughts and managing group activity. But this face-to-face contact with team members and colleagues can easily fail without adequate preparation and leadership.

Business challenges require lateral and creative thought to make sense of, or impact on a situation and therefore really facilitate a change. Sadly, many meetings all to often are ‘flat’ and a bit ‘same old, same old’? Or worse, there is a danger that there are so many meetings and therefore no time for actions.

So, to ensure that you get the most out your meetings;

Do you regularly ask the following questions;

X Is the agenda always formatted in the same way?
X Do people invariably take the same seat?
X Who chairs the meeting?
X Is it relevant ? Is it currently relevant?

X Are the right people attending? Stop for a minute to consider the hourly cost to your company of the people attending your meeting. You’ll realise that calling a meeting is expensive, so it’s important to ensure that every person attending and every minute of your meeting adds value.
X Are you inviting people who won’t participate but will simply report back to you or their team (sending a copy of the minutes will be a more effective way of achieving this).
X Are you using meetings to tell people things that could be communicated just as effectively by email or memo.
X Is anything different going to happen? i.e. 10 minutes for ideas, start by asking a question?
X Are there one or two people there with different responsibilities that will challenge and ask questions?

X Finally, embracing creative thinking, allowing ourselves to think of many, many different possible solutions to a situation and therefore not
impoverish our ability to find a solution or idea is the way forward.

And remember;

X Challenge is never a criticism……..
X Set out to be provocative to encourage creative thought……….
X Treat all possibilities seriously ……..

Companies such as Gore, Apple and Saatchi are well-known for embracing creative thinking and it is in these companies where brilliance and success happens……….often.

As the great creative thinker himself said;

‘There is always the need for creative thinking – it is essential and not a luxury’ ,
Edward de Bono

Until next week..

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at X fusion; http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk