Explanations always beat Exclamations!

Date: 1st November 2019
Speaker: Sally Hindmarch
Business: Partners with you
Topic: Communication – Explaining what you do

3 key points

  1. Instructions alone = commands: people may passively comply (especially if you’re in a position of authority), but they won’t understand ‘why’ and so won’t be engaged.

  • Put on this coat.
  • Put on this mask.
  • Put on these gloves.


2. Instructions + explanations = engagement: people will understand what they’re being asked to do…which means they are more apt to actively comply and provide feedback to enhance the process.

  • Please put on this coat – because we want to see whether your new overalls will fit properly?
  • Could you try on this mask – because we want to check that your new safety googles are OK?
  • See how these gloves fit – because we want to ensure they provide adequate protection for you.


3. Engagement + Encouragement = results: this is where employee engagement is at its most effective.

Employees want to feel connected to the business they work for and know that the work they put in every day is meaningful and valued.

When employees are fully engaged, they feel there is a direct correlation between themesleves and the success of the business – they are emotionally invested in the business and will go the extra mile for it.



“When people are financially invested they want a return; when they are emotionally invested they want to contribute”

The benefits of engagement are not just confined to larger businesses – they can easily be replicated on an individual basis, in terms of dealings with suppliers, clients, or colleagues.

Click here to view Sally’s Cross Reference page.

Nobleword – Blog tips n tricks

Date: 18th October 2019
Speaker: Matt Wright
Business: Nobleword
Topic: Copywriting – Tips n Tricks for Blog Writing

3 key points


1. Think like a reporter

• Always start with a good hook – this means spending some time thinking about your title.
• Connect with the reader’s emotions – don’t be overly descriptive, be dramatic!

For example:

ARRESTING TITLE: “Boris Johnson’s BREXIT strategy is straight out of Nixon’s Cold War playbook”

1-SENTENCE SUMMARY: Game theory can teach us a lot about Johnson’s Brexit negotiating strategy.

So, the arresting title grabs the reader’s attention (dramatic!) then the first thing they read is the 1-sentence summary regarding what the blog is about (descriptive).


2. Be topical

Give your blog a context for the reader to identify with and relate back to your product/service.

For example:

• Time of year (Hallowe’en, Valentine’s Day, Easter)
• Sporting-related (Rugby World Cup, Premiership Football)
• Weather-related (Autumn, Thunderstorms)
• Politically-related (OK, maybe not BREXIT!)


If your business is particularly seasonally based, consider having an evergreen blog pre-written; i.e. one that you can adapt every single year; e.g. 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Hallowe’en (if you’re in the retail trade).


3. Start with a Bang!

• Be punchy and concise
• Put your main argument upfront
• Don’t be afraid of being provocative, assertive, or short on detail….you can expand upon this later on.



“Remember your angles…always keep in mind how you need to engage with your audience.”


Click here to view Matt’s Cross Reference page.


Put your OAR in and get out of BED

Do you own challenges or sidestep them?

Date: 18th October 2019
Speaker: Tim Brooker
Business: Beyond Numbers
Topic: Accountancy

“OAR and BED are two sets of attitudes that mark successful and unsuccessful businesspeople apart.


Victors in business exhibit the following behaviours – they play ‘above the line’:

Ownership – not just in a legalistic sense but also in a holistic sense covering all aspects of an organisation, not just financial aspects; e.g. employee welfare, commitment to achieving missions & goals…etc.

Accountability – a willingness to be held answerable for one’s actions (note this is explicit versus ownership which is intrinsic).

Responsibility – being in charge of a task or event (note that responsibility can be shared, unlike accountability)



However, victims in business tend to react as follows – they play ‘below the line’:

Blame – they blame somebody else.

Excuse – they make excuses for their actions.

Denial – they deny there is a problem in the first place.



Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility are ‘above the line’ attributes – they relate to people who are willing take control of their lives and their actions.

On the other hand, Blame, Excuse and Denial are ‘below the line’ attributes – they are exhibited by people who devolve responsibility and allow external factors to determine their success.

Hence, for those business people who live their life ‘above the line’, success becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more they succeed, the more they become used to success and the more their actions create success.


Click here to view Tim’s Cross Reference page

Own your social circle

Date: 4th October 2019
Speaker: Emma Hollings
Business: Emma Hollings Photography
Topic: Social Media

“Social media is a funny thing – the busier you are, the more people appear to be interested in you!”

3 key points

1. Document what you do
• It’s surprising how many people are interested in what you’re up to and who you’re meeting – the number of times that sparks a conversation is amazing!
• So, don’t ‘overthink’ it – just get into the habit of posting and you’ll soon get a better feel for it.

2. It’s not just about posting – it’s about engaging 
• People love stories…they don’t like selling.
• As you post more, you’ll become much more aware of what generates comments and interaction.

3. Create intrigue
• For example, Emma noted that photos with her in (as a photographer) seemed to attract far more engagement.
• The rationale: clients generally don’t like having picture taken, but view it as a ‘necessary evil’. Therefore, a photographer stepping out of her comfort zone and appearing in front of the camera provides a fresh new angle.


What works in social media? Well, it depends upon your business, but a personal summary from Emma highlights the following:

• Facebook – great for engagement / have a separate business v personal account.
• LinkedIn – great for connections – shows how many views a post has received.
• Instagram – ‘credibility’ (for a photographer) but note that you do have to do it from your phone (you can’t upload photos from your PC apparently).

“I really don’t like social media that much, but I’ve taught myself to be disciplined…and it does work!”

Click here to view Emma’s Cross Reference page.

Cyber Security: Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT

Date: 4th October 2019
Speaker: Olly Denhard
Business: IT Trouble Free – IT solutions for small & medium-sized businesses
Topic: Cyber security


“Cyber security is a journey not a destination.”

3 key points

October is the month for ghouls and ghosts (Hallowe’en), so perhaps it’s apt that it’s also Cyber Security month?

Olly outlined some basic housekeeping for our most-oft used electronic devices:

1. Desktop
* Back-up of data – don’t back up to the same device you are transferring from!
* A physical back-up to an external hard disk combined with an automated cloud-based back-up will ensure business continuity
2. Laptop
* Antivirus software – whilst primarily designed to protect computers against viruses, many antivirus programs now protect against other types of malware, such as spyware, adware, and rootkits as well.
* Sophos is a very reputable (free) product which protects both Windows and Mac laptops (yes, Macs are vulnerable to viruses too!)

3. Phone
* Passwords – use 2-factor authentication wherever possible and don’t use the same passwords over and over again.
LastPass saves your passwords and gives you secure access from every computer and mobile device.



October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.”

In a rare moment of global co-operation, NCSAM is taking place simultaneously across Europe and the USA.

Europe: https://cybersecuritymonth.eu
USA: https://niccs.us-cert.gov/national-cybersecurity-awareness-month-2019

Remember that if you hold any client data on your electronic devices, under GDPR you are legally required to make sure this data is safe and protected.


Click here to view Olly’s Cross Reference page.

Friday morning networking 20th Sept

What a beautiful morning to be out early. The sun was up, the drive to Gerrards Cross across Slough easy at this time of the morning.

We had two visitors today –

Moira Hamer and Anthony Jones and an interesting talk from Charles Fraser on how to pay for your care in old age. Some good advice and tips on things to watch out for if sorting this out for elderly relatives. 1. paying with your assets, 2. through the local council if you do not have enough in your assets to cover the costs or 3. through the NHS continuing health care.

One point that was stressed was that proper planning can get over some issues that the council will try. They will try their hardest to make sure they have the least amount of financial input into your care situation!

Karen Pawlowska was telling us about a new initiative from Sky TV, where small companies can now – through companies like TakeOne – do complete TV adverts aimed at specific target markets! Pretty amazing and a great opportunity to play against the more usual suspects of the big national companies. The targets can be on post code, number of children and a multitude of other categories…somewhat scary what these companies know about us, and thus what is used to target market us.

Great meeting and we are now in the planning stages of a Visitors day in November –

Next meeting is 4th October

Hypnotherapy – Subconscious Success

Date: 16th August 2019
Speaker: Ian Thomas
Business: Debt Talk
Topic: Hypnotherapy in business

“The most common request for hypnosis… is to cure a fear of public speaking”


3 key points

  1. Ignore TV hypnotists – these work upon the notion of ‘selection’ not ‘hypnosis’; the audience is rigorously screened beforehand to gauge ‘suggestibility’ and selected accordingly.
  2. Anybody can be hypnotised – nobody can be ‘made’ to do anything they don’t want to do – otherwise the conscious part of your mind will intervene. Hypnotism merely temporarily shuts down this conscious element.
  3. Your subconscious brain is the most powerful – it works 24/7, keeping all your involuntary bodily functions going (heart beating, lungs breathing…etc). We can lapse into this state whilst performing a routine task; e.g. driving the same way to work every day.


Hypnotism helps you to access your subconscious state of mind.

By doing so, hypnotism enables you to put aside the fears and doubts that routinely plague your conscious mind.


Click here to view Ian’s Cross Reference member’s page.


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Open questions – why do they work and when do they work best?

Don’t just dream a dream – Plan it, Picture it, Post it!

Date: 16th August 2019
Speaker: Patricia Buckland
Business: Debt Talk
Topic: Financial Literacy & Planning

Picture your dreams

How do you plan for your dreams and make them a financial reality?


How to Achieve your Financial Goals – 7 steps:

  1. Define your Goals : a new house? exotic holiday? early retirement?
  2. Passion Test your Goals: score from 1-10, where 1 = no passion, versus 10 = total passion
  3. Name your Goals: be specific and creative; rather than just ‘Holiday’, try ‘Turtle diving in the Caribbean’ (or whatever takes your fancy!)
  4. Time Stamp your Goals: set a date
  5. Picture your Goals: create a ‘mood board’, with printed pictures; place this board where you can see it daily, such as next to your desk or downloaded onto your screensaver
  6. Create sub-accounts: to allow you to save for your specific goal
  7. Automate your Success: set up a direct debit/automatic transfer to your sub-account so you don’t have to remember yourself



The 7-step method [above] was authored by a US psychologist (Dr Brad Klontz) and represents a tried and tested psychological technique – to achieve a goal (or a dream) you need to write it down and visualise it in order to commit to it.

“If you write it down, you make it real..it forces you to focus…and opportunities will come into your life.”

Click here to view Particia’s Cross Reference member’s page.

Marry your skill with your will

Date: 2nd August 2019
Speaker: Ash Taylor
Business: In2out Business Growth Coach
Topic: Business growth and efficiency

Marry your skill with your will

What is stopping you from getting ahead with your business?

What are the ‘blocks’ that you encounter on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?


3 key points:

  1. Create a Skill/Will graph – label the horizontal axis ‘Skill’ and number it from 1 – 10 depending upon how good you are at a task (1 = rubbish, 10 = amazing!) and then do likewise for the vertical axis labelling that ‘Will’; i.e. how keen you are at doing that particular task.
  2. Plot daily tasks – e.g. Accounts – if you have neither the Skill nor the Will to do your own accounts, then that goes in the bottom left quadrant.
  3. Am I any good at it…do I like doing it? Identify the business-critical tasks over which you are procrastinating (low ‘Will’ level).


If you are afraid of failing at the things you find challenging, use the Skill/Will graph to identify what you are not good at.

From here, you can take steps to outsource these tasks from your business (or become more efficient at doing them), leaving you free to concentrate on the tasks where you can add value to your business.

Click here to view Ash’s Cross Reference member’s page.