Ash Taylor and stepping up your game

Ash Taylor gave us a great example of how important it is to be around people who are often better than you are, simply because it pushes you to be better. Sometimes top managers surround themselves with “yes” people who will never push them, this means actions will not get questioned and stunts growth. It’s far better to encourage an environment where people feel able to raise questions; as a result everyone tends to work better and more efficiently.

Being positive and not overthinking things is something to be aware of because the important thing is to prevent progress paralysis: action is what takes you forward.

‘Just do it….what’s the worse that can happen!’

Obviously, these suggestions do not hold true for some jobs; for instance, I don’t think anyone would feel comfortable if pilots or dentists took the ‘Just do it…’ attitude when flying a plane or working on our teeth! However, there are many occasions where relaxing rigid control can enhance your business.

‘Letting people have responsibility helps them to learn and grow….’

Cross Reference is a local, long-established business networking group that meets on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month for breakfast, business and development. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch via the website.

Roger Rawlinson and the need for safeguarding

Roger gave us a talk at the meeting today on the need to safeguard staff and whistle-blowers within a business. He explained that in his experience, when dealing with staffing issues it is always better to get a difficult discussion kicked off before it turns into an impossible conversation.

‘Encourage people to express their concerns informally before the proverbial molehill becomes a mountain….’

All companies should have some idea of the procedures required to ensure their staff are able to voice concerns; once concerns are voiced then it’s equally important that there is an agreed process for dealing with the issue that respects all parties.

‘Deal with concerns in a way that is respective and not seen as dimissive.’

Roger’s business, Elite Coaching, offers HR Consultancy Services with an emphasis on change and organisational development. Roger is always happy to give advice on Human Resources issues and his experience over many years speaks volumes!

Visitors’ Day: They came, they saw, they breakfasted…and will hopefully come back for seconds!

Friday 15th Nov 2019: Cross Reference Visitors’ Day

All networking groups profess themselves to be ‘friendly’…but are they really?

  • Do they go out of their way to welcome visitors (after all, networking groups do always require ‘new blood’)?
  • Do they network with them (sounds basic, but true)?
  • Do they ‘put on a good show’?

Here at Cross Reference, we’d like to think that we live by our values – hence our Visitors’ Days.

We aim to hold 2 of these a year – in Spring and Autumn – to demonstrate what Cross Reference is about and how visitors might benefit from becoming members.

 

Attendees for Nov-19 Visitors’ Day:

  • Chris Higgs (Travel Consultant) – The Travelling Experience
  • Tanya Dickinson (Virtual PA) – Platinum PA
  • Chris Bantock (Digital Marketeer) – Be Digital
  • James Constable (Solicitor) – BP Collins
  • Andrew Davidson (Windows & Conservatories) – Three Counties Ltd
  • Tom Woodhead (Design & Fit-out) – Image Interior Systems
  • Darren Head (Electrician) – Limitless Electrical
  • Charles McClelland (Business Advisor) – Icon Business Solutions
  • Donna Wilkinson (Business Development Officer) –  Bucks Council

Own your niche

At Cross Reference we have a saying,  ‘Own your niche’, which means 1 person per business in Cross Reference.

However, even if you think your area of expertise might already be covered, please do ask us first as there are often subtle differences between businesses in the same industry. This means that a number of people from the same profession can happily co-exist in Cross Reference; e.g. there are many different types of legal professionals – criminal, divorce, trademark…etc.

 

Next Visitors’ Day – March/April 2020 – to be announced

 

Quiz n Chips: The Total raised was…

Quiz n Chips Evening: Friday 8th Nov, Royal British Legion Marlow

Well, what a close-run affair that turned out to be! After 80 questions, including 2 picture rounds, only four points separated the top three teams, with the Brain Sturgeons running out winners by a short head (or a gill?)

Rennie Grove is Cross Reference’s chosen charity and Steve Brehm (Corporate Fundraising Manager for Rennie Grove) spoke for a few minutes before the start of hostilities (I mean the Quiz!) about how important fund-raising is for Rennie Grove and what it helps them to achieve.

With that in mind…drum roll…

Total raised £530.94

 

So, thanks to all those who attended, to the winners, and in particular, those Cross Reference members who organised the event:

  • Una King (Overall Boss & Cake Sponsor)
  • Matt Wright (Planning, logistics, and general underling)
  • Emma Hollins (Question Mistress and Photography)

 

Same time again next year? 

The Word according to AVI Support (in 3 brochures)

Date: 3rd January 2020
Speaker: Justin Leese
Business: AVI Support

Topic: 2020 Product Range

 

“Chairs a pain to sell – everybody wants to try them out for themselves!”

Background

1990: AVI Support started off life as a stationery company; stationery accounted for 100% of its revenues

2019: Nowadays, AVI Support largely furnishes and fits out offices; stationery accounts for less than 10% of its revenues, the bulk being Audio Visual (AV) 65% and Furniture 25%.

Product range

AVI Support’s product range is available both online and hard copy (brochures). There are 3 main brochures, depending on what you’re looking for, and the 2020 editions are hot off the press!

  • Bible: 20,000 products
  • New Testament: 7,500 products (a slimmed down version with the most popular products from ‘The Bible’)
  • Furniture: 700 products

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

AVI Support is the one-stop-shop for everything an office might need, from paper clips to projectors.

As a family-run business, whilst prices are always competitive, the focus remains on service and client care.

Click here to view Justin’s Cross Reference profile

 

Ensure your Financial Planning pays off

Date: 1st November 2019
Speaker: Una King
Business: St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc
Topic: Financial Planning – Diversification

5 key points

  • Rule 1 – Hold enough cash to cover your short term needs
  • Rule 2 – Be aware of the damaging effect of inflation
  • Rule 3 – Invest for the longer term
  • Rule 4 – Diversify
  • Rule 5 – Select the right fund managers

 

Click here to view Una’s Cross Reference page.

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.

 

Conclusion

“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.

 

Conclusion

“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.

OAR

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)

 

BED

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.

 

Conclusion

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